I went for an impromptu 3 day ride last week. Left San Miguel de Allende, intending to ride the cuotas all the way to Zihuatanejo, but rain around Patzcuaro convinced me to overnight there on night one. The next day I decided to replicate some of the ride that Jimmex, Tricepilot, Schizzman and I made last January, from Apatzingan but going straight down towards the coast, rather than the detour we took toward Colima/Comala. Only problem was that the maps I had hurriedly stuffed into my topbox ended right around Uruapan, so I was using my memory to put me on the right road out of Apatzingan.
All I can say is that the road I exited Apatzingan looked kinda like the road we'd ridden in January, but after 25 miles or so I began to realize that I had probably made a mistake. I decided to just keep riding and see where it took me. After a lot of topes, the road eventually began winding its way up into the coastal range of Michoacan. Very beautiful. Eventually I got to the town of Aguililla. This town was occupied by more Federal police and federal troops than any place I've been in Mexico. There had to be 50 Federale cars, and armored trucks parked around the plaza. There were additional federal troops in camo patrolling the area.
Volcanic peak near Colima, (I didn't ride here onthis trip, but it is in the general area).
I stopped for lunch just at the edge of town, and asked some of the locals if there are this many policia around the town all the time, to which I was told yes, they are here every day. I got a nice grin from one of the soldiers as a troop transport drove by my lunch stop. Just after that I saw a local walk by with a "Libre Aguililla" T-shirt on. This town is obviously occupied territory.
I hadn't read much news lately, but after my return I saw this article about
about what had occurred just before my arrival in Michoacan. That violence was centered around the town of Los Reyes, which we had ridden right through last January. Once again, I had skated thru Mexico with only good experiences, but as with much of life, I think that timing is everything. Would I ride to Aguililla again? Probably not. That is not so much because I feel the area to be inherently unsafe, but rather because of the long ride thru tope central before you get to the fun part of the ride, and because there is no egress other than the road you came in on.
Mountains of Michoacan
the route on day2
My total detour off the cuota at Nueva Italia had amounted to about 260 km, and when I got back to Nueva Italia, it was only about 3 PM, so I decided to make a [long] day of it and ride the libre to the coast at Playa Azul. This is an extremely twisty section of road, and while I enjoyed it, I was thoroughly exhausted by the time I reached playa Azul 3 hours later. I would recommend leaving a little more time if you ride this stretch.
As I neared Playa Azul, the thunderstorm that had been in the far distance most of the way down the libre began to break. As I made it through the last twists and turns of the libre, the storm gusts started and began to spritz water on my face. As I rode into Playa Azul it was still just threatening to rain, when the heavens were split asunder. I quickly found a beach restaurant that happened to have a covered parking space for about 4 cars, and pulled in. I sat there with the owner drinking a beer, and smoking cigarettes as we watched the street flood to about 6 inches of water. The restaurant closed, but left me to enjoy the view of the flooded street until the rain stopped and the water began to recede a bit. I rode a few blocks and found what is probably the nicest hotel in town. Can't remember the name of it but it was located a few blocks to the south off the main drag coming into town on Av. Independencia, and it has AC and a bar/restaurant on the premises. My room was very nice for 450 pesos. This was the first time I stayed in Playa Azul, and I didn't particularly care for it. I think the next time, I would time my ride to overnight somewhere else.
Day 3 was a hammer up the cuota which included too many stops to plug a nail hole in my rear tire and air up. For the record, it took about 6-1/2 to 7 hours riding at fairly high speed.