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Old 08-19-2007, 06:28 PM   #1
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South Texas to Tula (Mexico)

Father/son weekend trip from Harlingen, South Texas, to Tula (State of Tamaulipas, Mexico). This one took us on Day One via Los Indios International Bridge south using Highway 205 to Hwy 101 and then 180 to Soto La Marina. Day two to Tula via Ciudad Victoria Hwys 85 and 66. And day three all the way back to Browsville South Texas via Hwy 101 for a total of about 789 miles.
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Old 08-19-2007, 06:35 PM   #2
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Day 1

Garage party



Leaving the home late in the day, around 4 pm on a Friday. Bridge crossing was practically empty. Hotter than hell until sundown.



Looking for a room on Hwy 101. We didn't like the accomodations, so we drive at night on Hwy 180 towards Soto La Marina. Big mistake, the road is under construction with oncoming traffic. No fun.



Hotel in Soto La Marina the next morning. Not that great either, but, it was 9 PM and were tired.

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Old 08-19-2007, 06:35 PM   #3
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In the heat of summer?

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Old 08-19-2007, 06:53 PM   #4
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Day 2

From Soto La Marina, a friend in Brownsville told us about some pre-hispanic ruins on a side road that was "not too hard". I was pretty much over my head after taking the wrong turn on a very steep curve with several step like bumps and ate it.



Prior to the above shot, we had to use a very tight single track through the trees to avoid a mud hole. Damage wasn't too bad and we continued on 2 up on the same bike towards the ruinds. All we could think was these ruins better be a f@*#&$ good....



after a short hike, the first circular walls appeared. not too bad.



After hiking through a series of circular walls about 5 to 10 feet tall on one side and the other of the path on what seemed to be a main street lined up with homes, we got to the main "plaza" and its temple.



With an impressive series of 20-30 feet tall structures. You could still see the blood on the floors from the sacrifices...

just kidding.

But these ruins do date back to the 1200's and about 2500 people lived there.



After that it was all rain for the rest of the day and evening.



Here is the view looking to the rain clouds and mountain tops east from Hwy 85, south of Ciudad Victoria. Beautiful road and scenary, even in the middle of rain storms.



We explored El Cielo, which was supposed to be our final destination, but were surprised to find no hotels and it was early in the afternoon and was raining so hard, I didn't want to deal with finding a place to set up camp. We were also surprised to find signs after the pavement ended stating that motorcycles were prohibited...El Cielo is an impressive tropical rain forest worth visiting again, but perhaps we need to enter it through another route if we want to ride it, not in Gomez Farías.
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Old 08-19-2007, 07:18 PM   #5
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Day 3

This was by far our best day. We found a great hotel in Tula, which is a cute colonial town. This is the main plaza and church.



Food was great throughout the trip, by the way, so breakfasts, lunches and dinners were all very good and economical, about $5 a person.

Here's Hwy 101 from Tula South Toward Ciudad Victoria, with El Cielo mountains on the right hand side. Beyond the mountain range of El Cielo was Gomez Farías and Hwy 85. You can see the loop we rode on the map on the first page of this post.



We took a side trip from Hwy 101 towards the Town of Bustamante. This was an impressive road, probably one of the best paved roads I've ever ridden. It descends about 400 meters in little less than a couple of miles in a series of great switchbakcs.












This is the town square in Bustamante.



Typical "abarrotes" store that every single small town in the Sierra Madre has with all the essentials you need, including gas.


Shortcut to go back into Hwy 101.





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Old 08-19-2007, 07:35 PM   #6
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Day 3 (continued)




Two of the several working burros we saw that day. Another father and son team...






We then climbed all the way up to Hwy 101 again but on a different road than the descent. Awesome too.



The white cross to the right of where my son is parked marks the spot from where the picture below is taken. I'm sure the poor fellow at least was admiring the plunge.


From Bustamante there are hundreds of miles of dirt roads leading deeper into the Sierra Madre, all worth exploring. But having little time left and with my son's F650's rear shock leaking oil, we decided to cut the trip short and stay in pavement for the remaining of the trip back. This is the second time this happens to us. All I can say is that stock shock sucks. The extra $800 for the Ohlins is in our future.

So anyway... we took the old Hwy 101 down to Ciudad Victoria. If you are ever in this area DO NOT MISS old 101 to Tula. Don't take the newer highway or you'll miss a thrilling ride either way.



We plunged from 2,000 meters to 300 meters in what was a roller coaster ride of awesome twisties with practically zero traffic. This is what is most fun about these f650's, despite the rear shock issues, they are fun on either surface.
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Old 08-19-2007, 07:58 PM   #7
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Day 3 final

Here is the profile of day 3.





More views from Old Hwy 101.



Marking the territory.



Raspas (real snowcones, no machines used, all hand powered, which is a big deal if you grew up like I did with the real thing, a block of cristal clear ice, a hand tool, and traditional flavor with sweet condensed milk) in Ciudad Victoria.





Parting shot




and a looong ride back to the Texas border.



We rode at night on 101 which was quite nice, cool and little traffic, the border crossing on the US side, which is usually a nightmare on Sunday afternoons, was only about a 20 minute wait.

I'd like to say I planned the picture below, but I pressed the shutter button by mistake, with the flash on...it turned out pretty cool.


Adios,

By the way, one of my fellow riders comented jokingly that my postings will bring too many riders down to the Sierra...I hope so. While most of us, well, OK, some of us, are kind of cheap when it comes to spending while traveling on two wheels, I think every penny we spend in some of these towns is a big deal to the locals. For example, I was surprised that while attending Mass at the church in Tula one of the petitions was offering thanks for the tourists to the town. It's a beautiful area, relatively unexplored, safe and with all the amenities cheapstakes need. Anyway, enough talk.

Adios, until the next trip report to the Sierra Madre and enjoy!
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Old 08-20-2007, 12:42 AM   #8
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Adv'ers from the valley! Props!
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Old 08-20-2007, 01:05 AM   #9
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what a nice report! thanks for sharing. I bet the people down there were happy to see you, and the trip looks like it was a really nice chance for you two to bond. Wish I could do the same.

On that note, what's the weather like there during the winter months?
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Old 08-20-2007, 01:37 AM   #10
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Wonderful pics and report!! looks such a nice place!!! looks like great riding country!!

Hope you're all safe from this new hurricane coming!!!

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Old 08-20-2007, 06:52 AM   #11
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Fantastic quick-trip to a great destination! The more of this the merrier. I talk to people all the time who think Mexico is one big border town at 3 am - nothing could be further from the truth!

Great riding duo as well, I couldn't think of anything more rewarding.
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Old 08-20-2007, 08:00 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ejtv
...

We explored El Cielo, which was supposed to be our final destination, but were surprised to find no hotels and it was early in the afternoon and was raining so hard, I didn't want to deal with finding a place to set up camp. We were also surprised to find signs after the pavement ended stating that motorcycles were prohibited...El Cielo is an impressive tropical rain forest worth visiting again, but perhaps we need to enter it through another route if we want to ride it, not in Gomez Farías.
Strange, I was in El Cielo years ago and there was a very nice hotel in Alta Cima, which was run by the local Coop. It was called Hotel El Pino. Seems like there are more now.

And I also find it strange that motorcycles would be prohibited since when I was there a 4x4 caravan was going through. The biosphere's Transportation page does not state any prohibition.

By the way, El Cielo is technically a cloud forest, and the northernmost cloud forest in N. America, just six hours south of Brownsville, TX. A great place. Thanks for sharing your trip!
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Old 08-20-2007, 10:19 AM   #13
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corrections regarding hotels/motorcycles in El Cielo

I meant to write that "all hotels in Gomez Farias were full", rather than "there were no hotels in El Cielo."

Yes, there were lots of ATV's and 4X4. But the signs about no motorcycles were there...at least at the end of the paved road at Gomez Farias.

yes, you are right about the type of forest there, mostly a cloud forest and not a rain forrest. Here are the types of forests in El Cielo, in Spanish:

El Bosque Tropical Subcaducifolio

Bosque Mesófilo de Montaña or Bosque de Nubes

Bosque de Encino-Pino

Bosque de Pino

Matorral Xerófilo
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Old 08-20-2007, 11:50 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ejtv
I meant to write that "all hotels in Gomez Farias were full", rather than "there were no hotels in El Cielo."

Yes, there were lots of ATV's and 4X4. But the signs about no motorcycles were there...at least at the end of the paved road at Gomez Farias.

...

Ah, on the way in to El Cielo we stayed at a hotel in Gomez Farias (very nice) and ate at the "restaurant" (someone's back yard but I still dream about the food!) back down the street; it had the Coca Cola sign at the top of the steps. Inside the park we stayed in Alta Cima at the Coop, which was very rustic but nice. After trying some hotels just across the border from Brownsville I can easily say the Coop in Alta Cima is nice. I proposed to my wife in the hills above town...

Sorry to hear about the motorcycle ban - did you check with the locals? Doesn't seem likely, unless it is because the motorcycles were tearing it up off the roads.
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Old 08-20-2007, 11:52 AM   #15
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Nice report
I found this hotel in the newspaper, looks nice and has several interesting activities.
http://www.hotelcumbres.com.mx/index.html
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