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Old 05-27-2013, 04:34 AM   #114
miguelito OP
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Joined: Mar 2009
Location: San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico
Oddometer: 505
Durango-Santiago papasquiro-Parral

I'm gonna tack this on here. This was a nice alternative ride north to Parral. With getting lost in San Bernardo and breaks the ride took about 8 hours. Sorry, no pics, as my camera lens is broken, but I will ride this route again someday, and bring a functioning camera with me.

Yesterday: Durango to Parral

Leaving the colonial city of Durango, I took MX 23 north through Santiago Papasquiaro, where I had a late breakfast. After Santiago the riding improves as the road ascends into the high mountains of the Sierra Madre and its cool pines. There were views that reminded me of the Sierra Nevadas as well as the coastal range in California. Still other views reminded me of how the foothills of the Colorado Rockies meet the Great Plains.

I found this road a bit dangerous, as I was torn between gawking at the views and focusing on riding the more or less continuous curves for about 100 miles. When you take the turn off to Santa Maria del Oro, you're in a special place. The road is concrete, and virtually brand new. There is some uneven-ness to the surface, but it is minor. The road is in excellent condition, and the views are sublime. As I crest the first range, the future is mapped out for me by the bright white line snaking it's way through the pines, and over the next ridge. That scenario would repeat itself many times, before the road begins to wend its way down out of the high mountains, along mountainous spurs, before corkscrewing down to the plane below.

I reach Santa Maria del Oro, and gas up, then follow the road I was riding through town and beyond as my map tells me to do. I reach a small town, which must be the one just before I exit this little detour and head north on MX 45 to Parral. But the road turns to dirt. I ask directions from three different people and they all tell me that I must return to Santa Maria del Oro, then take the carretera east. I'm looking at the map, and none of what they tell me makes sense. Could these people be messing with me? I've never had anyone ever give me intentionally bad directions, but I'm beginning to feel like there must be a town-wide conspiracy to f@#k with any Gringo's who become lost around here.

So I begin riding around looking for other outlets, because I'm convinced there must be one as the map says there is. I ride down one paved road for about 5 miles, then it turns to dirt, but I check the map, and there should be a road further on that connects to the highway. I should note that what we call a highway here in Mexico is often just a 2 lane road, just as I have been riding all day. Eventually the dirt road gets to a homemade cattle grate made out of wood, logs, and likely a member of the cedar branch of the family. The logs are pretty widely spaced, and two on each side are broken. I decide that this is as far as I'm going to ride down this road.

As I head back to the turnoff near the small town, I see a road sign indicating that the town is called San Bernardo. It is the first and only sign I've seen indicating the town's name. I check the map, and find San Bernardo, and I can see now, that I'm not where I thought I was. There is no town-wide conspiracy to play with the gringo's head. My assumption to ride straight through Santa Maria was apparently as flawed as these overpriced maps of Mexico are. I should have known that the map was unreliable. I've been here before. That's the true conspiracy, and it's a confederation of dunces at the mapmaking department. I should add that the other major mapmaker, (Guia Roji), is no better. I guess they figure most Mexicans don't drive, so the need for an accurate map is diminished by the lack of demand. Oh dear, there's that invisible hand of the free market at work, providing a useful, well designed product at a competitive price. Or not.

I ride back to Santa Maria, and stop at a cervezeria for a pop. I'm joined by a guy about my age, and we discuss our day so far. It's hot out now, and I have seconds before sayin' hasta lluego, and I'm off on another curvy stretch, but this one has potholes scattered fairly frequently. So I begin a game of hopscotch with the potholes which I'm convinced I'll lose badly if this keeps up. They never quit, but I squeak through without any damage to my tires or wheels, so I'm happy. I head north toward Parral through some straights that turn to sweeping turns punctuated by a few tighter ones.

I get to town, check into a hotel, and find they don't have the correct password for their own internet modem. Welcome to Mexico...

It was a great day's ride, slightly seasoned with my frustration with the state of the Mexican map industry.

Today: Parral to Guacochi to Creel to Madera

I had a great long ride from Parral to Madera, via Guacochi and Creel. I had thought that at least part of this ride was on dirt, and traveling 2-up most of my visits to the area had elected not to do it. After talking with inmate SR about the ride while visiting Durango, I got better beta. I highly recommend this ride to anyone coming through the area.

It was only 2 o'clock when I got to Creel, so I decided to ride on to Madera. This is a little town, with just about no restaurants that I could find, other than the one at my hotel, Hotel del Bosque. So that's where I'm sitting drinking beer and checking Emails. The ride was spectacular. Like riding in the high Sierra Nevadas with all that granite, then after the turnoff to Batopilas, dropping into and out of Copper Canyon, or possibly one of its side canyons. Spectacular. The turns were a little too tight and continuous going down into and up out of the canyon, and I was actually glad when the road straightened out a bit. Some of these turns put me down into first gear on my Tenere. Then after Creel you drop out onto a high plain, reminiscent of Wyoming, and wend your way north over a couple of ridge lines. Most of the riding between Ciudad Guerrero and Madera was scenic, agricultural, and pretty straight.

Tomorrow, I'll try and head north from here, and find the road that connects me back to head north thru Buenaventura, and Casas Grandes. We'll see how it goes. The maps are screwing me up. I even bought a 2013 Guia Roji atlas for about 180 pesos, and it still left me hanging getting through Ciudad Guererro. :(
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