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Old 12-16-2004, 09:12 PM   #1
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Gaspipe's "No Te Ahuitas" Tour - Urique/Batopilas

My last Copper Canyon run was a partially successful attempt to forge an all dirt route into the Copper Canyon. It coincided with Horizon's Unlimited's Creel Meeting in October. I still need to go back and finish that route up.

That ride can be seen at The Road Less Traveled

This time, the point was to get into the lower canyon and ride fast. My out west riding buddy, Killer, and I hooked up with Justin Lopez, of Rosen's Rides fame. Killer rides my ex-bike, a dual sported and hot rodded '00 XR600R. I took my '01 640 Adventure [Diezel's old bike].

The rest of our group was made up of two hilariously funny California Policemen, a rather well known motojournalist that is also an ex-Green Beret, and an ex-Marine fighter pilot. Tough company, and damned good guys.

Killer and I beat it to Douglas, arriving at 2130, way behind the rest of the guys. It was cold, below freezing, when we arrived. Justin found us within minutes, and offered to take us to the border to do the paperwork polka. Since we were late getting there, we knew he had some things to do, and having been through the drill before, we headed down to the border and got our paperwork done on our own. No problemo.

Our motel room was small - no way the bikes would fit inside, and the temperature continued to drop. Dinner consisted of Fritos, beef jerky and Coors Light at 2300. Some cheesy flic was on the idiot box. I don't know if was even in english.



Morning came fast. We packed up our crap and tossed it into Justin's truck. SAG wagons rock, when you have them available. Traveling light and quick is something I am not used to, and not having to lug 50 lbs of gear on your bike makes them much quicker and more responsive. And you have the added benefit of knowing the SAG runs sweep, and even if you're bike or you goes NFG, the truck can pick you up. I like it, it's a great change of pace.

The temp was about 20F when we went for a breakfast of huevos revueltos con chorizo - and lotsa coffee at the historic Gadsden Hotel.

Killer's bike would not light off. Too cold. Before I started laughing at him, the Adventure decided it wouldn't light off either - at least not on the electric starter. The rest of the group took off without us. No biggy, I know the way we're going and told Justin we'd catch up. After an hour of screwing around, I finally push started Killer's bike. The Adventure lit off after a few prods on the kicker, and away we went.

We flew along Chihuahua 2 towards Janos at a good clip in an attempt to catch the other four guys. As we passed the dirt road that was our last trip in Mexico, I longed for the dirt instead of the highway.

We raced through Janos, and then turned south.

I could see the guys as we hit the checkpoint north of Casas Grandes, but we were detained for about 5 minutes. We finally caught the sag in town, and caught up to the group at Galeana, where the road forks again.



The group consisted of two KLR650's, a Yoshi equipped DRZ400, a sweet sounding LC4E, Killer's unbelievably loud XR600R, and my 640 Adventure. The tire of choice appeared to be MT21's.

It never warmed up to more than about 40 degrees, and the trip was cold. The skies to the west looked ominous, and I knew rain was coming.

But this is the dry season, right? It never rains here this time of year. Impossible.

As we droned along, I couldn't get that song Mexican Radio by Wall of Voodoo out of my head. I probably should have worn a tin foil hat under my helmet.

We holed up in Gomez Farias for the night. It gets dark early this time of the year, and we all elected to not ride at night. After 240 miles in the cold, Gomez Farias seemed the likely choice to rest up to make an easy 150 mile run to Creel in the morning.



The skies looked bleak at sunset, and it was cold. After acquiring a load of Modelos and chowing down on beef arrachera, we settled in our room, and drank a billion cervezas. Have you ever watched Full Metal Jacket in spanish?

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Old 12-16-2004, 09:36 PM   #2
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Old 12-16-2004, 09:40 PM   #3
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At dawn, the cloud ceiling had lowered, obscuring the local hills and mountains. A light drizzle began to fall. Inconceivable, this is the dry season you know.

After coffee and more chorizo eggs, we suited up, pushed the bikes out of the rooms, and were ready to roll.



We cut across the mountains just outside Gomez Farias towards Temosachi - an awesome road. Unfortunately, the drizzle became a steady rain as we climbed upward into the clouds.

We stopped at the dirt bypass around Guerrero to warm up and goof off for a bit. The rain had subsided into a drizzle once again. A truly gray and dreary day, yet brightened because we were riding.



The sole survivor from last night's festivities rode along on the back of the Adventure, no doubt awaiting a certain fate just 75 miles away when I reach Creel. It should be perfectly chilled.



We all blasted off on the La Junta bypass around Guerrero, headed for the Highway 16 intersection, and then San Juanito for gas. The group broke into three parts: The LC4E and the XR600R handily took the lead. The 640 Adventure traveled alone in the middle, and the DRZ and the two KLR's were sweep, each group separated by a half mile.

Justin followed a few minutes behind in the SAG.
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Old 12-16-2004, 10:04 PM   #4
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On the south side of Guerrero, the rain eased up a bit, and the skies looked a little brighter. However, just a few miles later as we approached 16, the drizzle started again.

The XR600R and the LC4E were on point, and bulleted off to the east on that little bit of a jog on 16 until you turn off towards San Juanito, Bocoyna and Creel.

I was about 1/2 mile behind, but hell bent on catching up as I twisted the throttle up. The first two riders crested the hill, and I noticed I was doing about 6500 rpm in 5th, and catching up.

As I crested the hill, there were two trucks blocking the road. The XR600R and rider were already down and sliding on the left lane of the road, the bike pirouetting on it's footpeg. The LC4 was skidding off the right side to the shoulder, but still upright.

With no where to go, I rolled off the throttle, but instinctively did not hit the brakes as I felt the rear of the bike skidding on the road surface. The rear end of my bike began a slow pivot as the rear tire skidded on the pavement, from just the effects of engine braking. WTF? Ice? Not cold enough!

OIL SLICK!!!



I was still doing over 70MPH and coming up on the two trucks blocking the highway. I managed to just miss the right truck as I threaded the needle, whizzed past him at 40+MPH, over the dirt shoulder, and caught air as I hurtled over the embankment of the road into the grass.

Killer was in the grass, his bike still in the middle of the road, slowed by a footpeg that dug into the asphalt.



Although I never went down, two of the bikes coming up behind me did by time I had stopped, turned, checked on Killer and began to head back up the hill to warn other motorists.

Everybody survived unscathed with the exception of some minor bruising and abrasion on the gear. ATGATT. The road was as slick as owl shit on a wet slate roof. The DRZ, a KLR and the XR took a tumble.

The Adventure, LC4, and the rental KLR stayed upright.





Relieved no one was damaged, we set to work performing some mexicanada to repair the bikes. Killer's XR took the worst beating, needing a bit of tweaking to make it useable again.

So much for the brighter skies. They turned black, and the rain got steadily harder and harder. By the time we reached San Juanito, it was an all out deluge. The proverbial cow pissing on a flat rock type rain.

Then the front wheel bearing failed on the SAG truck.

[con't]
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Old 12-16-2004, 10:23 PM   #5
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This is the dry season, right?

We were all wet and cold when we reached Creel. Sinc the SAG was FUBAR'd, we checked ourselves into the Best Western. That was a decision that proved it's meddle later on in the evening.

All our clothes were in the SAG. The Hotel sent out the van and retrieved our stuff from the SAG. A few veinte notes to the maids yielded freshly dried clothes. Boots, gloves, jackets, etc. were carefully arranged around the gas stoves in the rooms.





The rain came down in buckets. The roar was deafening. The drops were so big, you can see them in this pic as white specs.



While Justin rousted up another sag, we went to eat, having some awesome steak sandwiches, chicken burritos and Tecates.



Our waitress.......



As we sat there, there were a few bright green flashes, as transformers blew outside somewhere in the storm. Then power then went out, and the storm raged on.

Thanks for the gas stoves and having the insight to buy lotsa beer before the power went out.
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Old 12-16-2004, 10:44 PM   #6
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At dawn, I awoke to find the rain had subsided to a slight drizzle. But the power was still out. No water pressure = no shower.

I wandered up to the office and got some coffee. The power was out all over town because of the storm. The temperature was dropping, too.

Justin arranged for another pickup to become the SAG, and we loaded up our stuff. This one was only a two wheel drive, and it was piloted by Raul, since Justin elected to ride his KLX400 from this point on. Seven bikes. That's good luck, right?

We set out towards Batopilas under gray skies and occasional drizzle. We stopped at the bridge crossing over the Urique River to get a look at what the rain has been doing to the river level. We need to cross the Urique tomorrow.......









Here's to the great weather so far:



[more coming]
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Old 12-16-2004, 10:51 PM   #7
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As we were piddling around a waterfall, a lone BMW rode by and waved. I snapped a pic.

Little did we know that it was the last known pic of Mike from Ireland's brandy new R1150GS before it got deflowered on the road to Batopilas. A shitty deal for a nice fella.

We run into him again a little ways outside Samachique.



[more coming]
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Old 12-16-2004, 11:11 PM   #8
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Time to get some gas and head down to Batopilas. Just one more look at the mighty Urique:



At the gas station, right before you turn off the pavement onto the dirt road to Batopilas is the solution to all your Copper Canyon map woes.







As we hit the dirt, Nick (LC4e), DK (KLR), and Justin (KLX) waxed me and took off. I couldn't catch them. Somehow, I ended up by myself running at my pace. Killer (XR600R), Clem (KLR) and Paul (DRZ) were somewhere behind me.

I came up on Irish Mike (on that beautiful R1150GS), who wobbling in the mud, and he graciously waved me by. Poor Mike stuffed it soon after, and the three behind me and the sag truck helped him out of the ditch. After tending to his chin wound and using a pile of zipties, Mike was on his way to find a BMW shop to fix his ailing bike.

At the rim of the canyon, we were greeted with fog, and more steady, soaking rain.





You can just see the river peeking out of the fog........





The rain began to get harder. It's the dry season, right?
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Old 12-16-2004, 11:20 PM   #9
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So much for visibility........the rain steadily grows harder as we descend into the canyon. Despite the crazy weather, the views are still breathtaking when they revealed themselves through the fog.







If you look closely at many of these pics, you'll see waterfalls all over the place. It really was quite beautiful.

And the rain kept falling....
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Old 12-16-2004, 11:27 PM   #10
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More of Day Three and the trek to Batopilas tomorrow.

Gotta get some sleep.

A sample of tomorrow.......

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Old 12-17-2004, 07:02 AM   #11
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Good that no one was hurt in those get offs.
This is great stuff.

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Old 12-17-2004, 07:37 AM   #12
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Awesome ride report. I can't wait to read the rest.
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Old 12-17-2004, 07:58 AM   #13
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Old 12-17-2004, 08:02 AM   #14
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In between trains, so here's a little more.

The riders deserve some introduction:

Justin - Rosen's Rides Main Man. On a KLX400. Very quick rider.
Nick - Policeman from California. Great rider, on an LC4E.
Dick - Ex-Marine F4 pilot, with offroad racing experience. You'd be surprised how fast a rental KLR650 can go. I certainly was.
Paul - Nick's boss. On a pimped out DRZ400. Also a good rider.
Clem - Motojournalist, with probably twice the mileage than all the rest of us combined. Another accomplished rider. On a new Kawi supplied KLR650.
Killer - On my old XR600R. XR's Only stuff. Very fast, very loud. I've been riding with Killer since we were eight years old (what, 32 years or more?).

Anyway, this was a fast group, and aside from some mechanical problems, we were never waiting for each other for long.

Back to the story.......

As we descended the canyon on the numerous switchbacks, the road became more and more eroded as ad-hoc streams and rivers gouged their way across the dirt surface, creating mini-canyons to wheelie over. There's a lot of rock in the dirt, so although it was muddy, traction was pretty darned good. Waterfalls were everywhere as the rainwater drained from the canyon, seeking the mighty Batopilas River in it's quest for the Gulf of California.






Stream and water crossings were everywhere.

Nick traversing a fast moving stream on his LC4E:



Then disaster. As Nick and I waited for the rest of the group to catch up, we smelled coolant. He looked at me, I at him. I checked my bike, we then checked his - his bike was dribbling coolant.

Upon inspection, his Big Gun pipe loosened and the right headpipe came into contact with his radiator. It had evidently happened a while back, and the pipe finally wore/burned a hole in the soft aluminum. It was raining very hard at this point, so as the group caught up, Nick elected to coast to the bridge over the river where we'd see about some repairs. Luckily, the bridge was just coming into view.



We were probably as far from civilization as we could get at this point, being about 20+ miles from Batopilas. And the rain was coming down in buckets.
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Old 12-17-2004, 08:31 AM   #15
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The bridge at the bottom of the canyon was the designated place to regroup and take a closer look at Nick's KTM.

Killer's XR was kind enough to pose for the camera in a soaking rain.



Note the rage of the rapids - the water was deep and fast. And rising!





A convenient rock ledge provided a little bit of shelter to assess Nick's radiator. As wet and soaked and filthy as everything was, Nick decided to limp the bike to Batopilas, coasting on all downhills, starting the bike for uphills, and refilling the radiators constantly from all of our spare water bottles pooled for his necessity.



The elbow at the bottom of the radiator had been worn through completely by the head pipe. We figured it was fixable, but not in the pouring rain.

So we headed out to Batopilas on a very muddy, yet still quite fast road.



The rain got progressively harder as we headed west towards town, the clouds enveloping the canyon walls.

Nick stopped about 30 times, even resorting to relieving himself on his motor to cool it down after the short uphill runs.

Every now and again, the clouds and fog would part, revealing a breathtaking view.







[more later]
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