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Old 01-06-2008, 08:16 PM   #7
Gustavo OP
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Joined: Jun 2004
Location: Sometimes in Hillsburrito
Oddometer: 2,286
Chihuahua to Durango

After X-Mas I took the wife and kids to the train station, where
they were going to ride the CHEPE to the coast (it's considered one
of the most scenic train rides on the continent. I have taken it
before, it is indeed a beautiful ride, but I am not patient enough
for the ~16 hour ride to Los Mochis)

http://www.chepe.com.mx/ing_html/presentacion/presentacion.html










It was rather cold, so I wasn't in much of a hurry to leave. My
destination for the day was Durango, about 660 kms away the short
way. But I wasn't planning on taking the short route...

V-Strom ready to roll:



By 9 AM the sun was making it's presence felt, I geared up and
got on the road. The plan was to go explore a road that goes
through Santa Maria del Oro in Durango, there is a paved road that
continues to a couple of other small towns and then it's not clear
whether it's paved going on toward Guanacevi. There is only one
way to find out...

The sky was clear, the sun was shining and there was little
traffic at this time.

These guys never fail me, always parked in the same spot:



This is where it starts getting interesting:





Dangerous Curve (or pay attention, it's about to get really interesting):



Even when the road is straight, the rugged scenery keeps things interesting:




I'm not sure Mexican's invented the speed bump, but they have
certainly adopted the tope to become the most common speed control
device in existence. Every dinky little town has at least 5 topes
on the main road. If you are lucky, they give you some advance
warning. If not, it's marked as you get to it. If you are SOL,
it's not painted or posted, you usually figure out it's there just
as you are about to hit it...

Tope. HERE!:




Fast but interesting:




Someone forgot to shut the paint valve:





I got to the Villa Hidalgo intersection. There is an Army check
point there. I always get stopped but rarely searched. They
usually more interested in the bike than anything I may be trying
to smuggle, if I chat with them about the bike and traveling, they
don't make me open my bags. I asked them about the road to and
past Santa Maria del Oro. They said it wasn't good. I told them
I'd check it out anyway. They couldn't understand why would I
want to go there instead of staying on the main road to Durango.
It's hard to explain to someone who doesn't ride.

The road to Santa Maria del Oro - New road, no markings:




Cows crossing:





I got to SM del Oro and the road continued past the town as I
expected. I followed it past a couple of small towns to what I
think was San Bernardo (no signs anywhere).




A couple of blocks past the plaza the road ended. Where does
it continue? An older seņor told me to make a right after the
plaza and go up hill. The road turns to dirt for about 5 km to
the main road, stay to the right at intersections. Seemed to
make sense, so up the hill I go.

It started in fairly good condition, nice ride through the
country:



Ten miles (!) later I got to this section, I thought this would
be close to the main road:




Five miles after the small town I got to this ranch:




I asked about the way to the main road. Go right at the intersection,
across a couple of arroyos, it's about 5 kms (can you see the pattern?)
to the main road. Five miles later I was here:




And no sign of the main road in sight. After about 20 miles, finally,
I see a road:




At least it looked paved from a distance:




Suddenly I get to a Y in the road. No signs. There is a Vulka,
the owner isn't there, but the kid says the road to Santiago
Papasquiaro is the one on the right. He says it's 2 hours from
here. I'm looking at my map, and I can't figure out where I'm at.
Obviously, not where I thought I was going... I should have pulled
the Guia Roji atlas, but I didn't. After 45 minutes I get to a marked
intersection. Now I know where I am at. And I really had no clue
before, because I was not on the road I thought I was. It turns
out the dirt road I took looped me back almost all the way to Santa
Maria del Oro. No wonder I had been on the road for much longer
than I expected. Maybe I need to break down and buy a GPS. No,
that would make these trips way too easy... I was starting to run
low on gas. My estimate from the map was that Santiago was 60 kms
away. But 60 kms came and went and I didn't get there. The road
was twisty and pavement wasn't that great, so I wasn't making
good progress either. As I was coming into Tepehuanes I was very
happy to see the green Pemex sign.

Vaqueros in Tepehuanes:




It was getting dark, I got on it to make Durango before I ran out
of daylight. I didn't make it. This is starting to become a habit,
riding into Durango at night. If you asked Tony or Brian, they'll
tell you that is not a good habit to have. It's usually not
recommended to ride in Mexico at night. The roads are not always
properly marked (forget reflectors, simple painted center and shoulder
markings would be nice), the burros, cows and horses you see during
daylight are still there, only impossible to see until it's way too
late if they decide to cross the road. Do as I say, not as I do...

It is the night. My body's weak.
I'm on the run. No time to sleep.
I've got to ride.
Ride like the wind to be free again.
And I got such a long way to go.
To make it to the border of Mexico.
So I'll ride like the wind.

Gustavo
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