Joined: Jun 2004
Location: Sometimes in Hillsburrito
The weather forecast for the rest of the week looked very questionable, especially for the Sierra, so I decided that there is no point in waiting, and went for a day ride to check a road I had not been on in a long time. On Outer Darkness Lone Rider said he heard it had been paved (it was dirt last time I rode there), so I figured it was time to verify the road condition (the stuff I put myself through for you guys... ). The fact that this road starts at the Basaseachic falls didn't hurt, as the section between La Junta and Basaseachic is a fantastic motorcycle road (actually, Mex16 is a fantastic road all the way to San Nicolas, some 120 miles further west from Basaseachic). I left Chihuahua around 9 and it was still chilly. It only got chillier as I climbed up into the mountains. Good thing I had brought a fleece in addition to the heated jacket.
I went through Cuauhtemoc, the sun was shining, but it was still cold. After La Junta (or more precisely, after the Creel turnoff) the road starts to get very interesting. It's about 110 kms from that intersection to Basaseachic and it keeps you busy the whole time with just about every combination of curves you can think off (and some you can't ). A lot of tight curves with varying pavement quality and it makes for slow progress, especially when compared to what you get used to before you get to La Junta.
I love the Sierra Tarahumara:
You go through several smaller towns along the way, and you can basically count on have a warm and excited receptions from all the kids you see on your way.
Before I knew it, I was in Basaseachic. If you are wandering how to spot that turnoff, it's where the army checkpoint is.
The road from Basaseachic to San Juanito is about 60 miles and it is definitely not paved.
This is the road I was going to explore, on the Basaseachic side:
This is a picture for my friends in the PNWet. That blue thing above me is called "sky" :
I'm not sure these guys get a lot of business at this location:
Not only is it not paved, in some sections it caused me to wander if the Givi top case would still be there next time I looked in the mirror. Of course, those sections usually came right after a nice and smooth one in which you pick up the speed to something that way out of line with the bumpy and rocky sections. If you are riding something like an XR/DRZ, it would probably go un-noticed, their suspension would just eat that stuff up, plus, you more than likely don't have any detachable hard luggage to worry about.
This is one of the better sections:
There was little traffic, but once in a while I'd run across a truck coming the other way whose driver seemed to be practicing for next year's Baja race . I managed to avoid becoming a hood ornament on those trucks. Some drivers were a lot more considerate, moving over and slowing down a bit to reduce the amount of dust they kicked up as they went by.
The road follows this valley for quite a while, fantastic scenery:
Then it starts climbing up into the mountains:
The Copper Canyon is on the other side of that ridge:
It turns out that there is some construction going on on the San Juanito end, but it looked like they were re-grading the dirt, not preparing it for paving.
As I was getting gas in San Juanito, there was a small group of kids that was very interested in the bike. But they wouldn't come close or talk to me. They just stood there, hiding behind a column and stared, fascinated, at the bike and the guy with the astronaut suit (you see very few people riding in full gear in Mexico).
Bikes always attract kids, even when they are very shy:
Unfortunately, those 60 miles took a little over 2 hours, which meant I was running out of daylight (and nice temps) when I got to San Juanito. I decided against going up to Creel, opting instead to start making my way to Chihuahua. The section between San Juanito and La Junta doesn't suck either (although it's much faster than the one going to Basaseachic) so I had a nice ride down from the Sierra towards Chihuahua.
Traffic in Cuauhtemoc is chaotic:
I took the toll road back into the city (it saves over 30 minutes driving time). Technically, toll plazas should have services for the paying motorist, but in many states the services were limited to a dirty bathroom (you want paper or towels? Not even if you pay extra ). In Chihuahua (as has been the case in previous trips) not only do they have the cleanest facilities I have ever seen on the road (anywhere that is open to the public), they often offer free coffee, maps and info. And, as I mentioned earlier, they give motorcycles a 50% discount over car rates only state to do so, AFAIK. Almost makes me want to use highways more often.
Gustavo screwed with this post 01-28-2007 at 12:25 AM