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Old 02-20-2015, 10:00 PM   #1
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Copper Canyon on the Big Bikes

After a month of planning and a hundred e-mails shared between us, it was time to meet up in Phoenix for our Copper Canyon ride. Last year, I rode the Lost for a Reason Arizona Backcountry Discovery Route Ride put on by Eric Hall from Beyond Starbucks. While doing so, I met some great guys from Washington. In December, I got the itch to head to Mexico and sent an email to those guys. Within a few minutes, Ronald and Jesper responded—“We’re in!” Within a few days, another friend of theirs (Sam) also responded with interest.

I live in Cortez, CO and Jesper, Ronald, and Sam live near Seattle. The plan was to meet at GO AZ in Scottsdale on Saturday 07 FEB. They rented a uhaul trailer and loaded a 990 KTM Adventure, a GSA, and a GSAW for the trip. I took off from work the day earlier and rode across the Navajo Nation.
I stopped by Church Rock, east of Kayenta.


I am a dealer for Giant Loop and Wolfman Luggage. So, in preparation for the trip, I loaded the Giant Loop Great Basin and also loaded the Wolfman Expedition soft bags with a large Expedition duffle. After tossing a coin, I took the Wolfman set-up and was pleased with the gear throughout.
At a little around rush-hour, I arrived in Flagstaff. I knew that I would be missing Valentine’s Day, so I stopped at Walgreens to find the right cards for my wife and kids. I picked up some water and a large bottle of IPA for a night in the tent.
Then, on my way out, my bike pings me about loss of air pressure in my tire. Sure enough:


No big deal, of course. A couple minutes later, I was cruising down the highway, looking for a place to camp. Due to it being FEB, the forest service access roads I encountered were all closed. There is a place that I can usually access east of Munds Park. Sure enough, the gate was closed. But, as I turned around in the lot, my eye spies a F800GSA and a F650GS in the corner. I am enthusiastically waved over and invited to camp. I love this stuff!

Meet Sheldon and Jenna. This is the best thing about motorcycle travel—meeting great like minded people.




We cooked some dinner and shared a bottle of rum and my IPA around the fire. They were testing out Jenna’s new F650 and had the same challenge finding a good campsite. We just figured it was all meant to be. I told them about the trip to Mexico and that I was meeting them at GO AZ. Our intention was to find a place to camp between Phoenix and Tucson and the only thing I was finding was a KOA. Well, wouldn’t you know it—Sheldon and Jenna insisted we stay at their place.

It was a cold night and a peaceful morning.

I met the boys at GO AZ. They were hungry for In-N-Out Burger so we stopped for a late lunch.


Soon after, we arrived at Sheldon and Jenna’s place.





Ronald got tired of the KTM jokes (because soon enough he'd be picking up our GSes...)


In the morning, we set off for Mexico




It was a bit chilly as we left before the sunrise, heading to Nogales. We crossed over via the truck route and stopped a few kms down the road to get out visas and TVIPs. Sam, who had never ridden in Mexico, arrived with an enhanced Washington State drivers license. Jesper, Ronald, and I had no problem getting visas with our passports, but the immigration official would not give Sam his visa. Sam had read otherwise and that she should have provided this to him. Without a visa, he was unable to get his TVIP. He walked out to his bike. We had to convince him to stay and that we could work this out on down the road. Perhaps he could go to Hermosillo tomorrow while we made our way towards the canyon and meet up the next day. At the very worst, the likelihood that we would get checked for documents was very low and we all offered to shell out the bucks of a bribe was required.

Sam reluctantly rode with us that day. We tried to improve his mood by stopping for food just before Magdalena.





Sam was asking if we thought Mexico was dangerous...


We then rode to Magdalena and headed east on our way to Banamichi to stay with Tom and Lyn at Hotel de los Arcos.
We had to cross a few water crossings and rivers


Ronald was liking the ride today


The Four Amigos


Yours Truly

We had a great ride on the twisties north of Banamichi and arrived at Hotel de los Arcos a little before 5:00pm.




Tom is a great host

Had dinner down the street

Bikes all parked in the back...


Had a great night hanging at the hotel, but we could tell there something was up with Sam...
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Old 02-22-2015, 06:26 PM   #2
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We got up early at Hotel de Los Arcos and Sam wanted to call the U.S. Consolate in Hermosillo so we waited until they opened. Sam was going there to straighten out his visa situation because they also have some Mexican immigration officials on site. The plan was to meet on our way to the canyon, updating each other via Delorme. We felt good about this plan...




We checked the maps...

The road south of Bananichi was a lot of fun.

Jesper was feeling good!

Ronald was feeling it too...

Not sure what I was feeling! (But all is good.)

We stopped for breakfast in Ures

We realized that it is better to ask about the price before you order. We got the feeling we were charged twice as much as everyone else--but we weren't complaining. We were having a great time...

Our plan was to hit Mazatan for lunch and Sahuaripa for dinner and a hotel.
My Navigator V routed us on some dirt and we ended up in Santa Rosalia because my gps cannot be trusted. Hitting the dirt was a good change. We stopped near a school to check the maps and the kids came running.


The kids were great. A little girl wished us a warm buen viaje.
We made it to Mazatan and stopped at a roadside cafe. Everyone we met this far was welcoming and warm.

Sending Sam a message on the Delorme


Lunch was great. The fresh bread arrived just as we did...

Traveling with these guys is a lot of fun.

Jesper's GSAW is pretty cool.

Highway 20 was quiet other than a tour bus coming the other way...

Just beautiful

Ronald approved


Stayed at Hotel El Molino in Sahuaripa and met Steve and his girlfriend riding a GS. He showed us to a great restaurant on the north end of town--log cabin with great menudo and enchiladas.
And, with some local tequila, we had a good time.




On the way back to hotel we really enjoyed the town. I'll be back. It'll be a great first night town.


We were a little bummed receiving Sam's message. He decided to leave Mexico and was already in Phoenix...

HeadShrinker screwed with this post 02-23-2015 at 10:04 PM
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Old 02-23-2015, 06:43 AM   #3
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The road south from Sahuaripa was pretty fun. One interesting occurrence happened when a beautiful huge Doberman runs out into the middle of the road near some farmland. Now, what type of farmer has a huge great looking Doberman. Yeah, that kind of farmer. So we eventually made it to Yecora for breakfast. But before we did, we enjoyed the twisties.
This is where it was getting dangerously fun...


Breakfast in Yecora


16 is an amazing road...




HeadShrinker screwed with this post 03-01-2015 at 05:03 PM
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Old 02-23-2015, 08:20 AM   #4
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Looks good so far...let's see some more.
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Old 02-23-2015, 10:41 AM   #5
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In!
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Old 02-23-2015, 02:54 PM   #6
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What I appreciated about Ronald was that he went at his own pace. He's an excellent rider but was never in a hurry. Jesper and I would usually hammer it and then wait for Ronald. I appreciated getting to know Jesper more on this trip.

Here we are waiting and chilling out. I was actually catching my breath after a near death experience. A truck was passing an oncoming semi, heading straight for me in my lane. Jesper had a view of the whole thing from behind and I came across the truck while hauling the mail around the corner. I slammed on the brakes and aimed for the shoulder. It was close.

Perhaps the Ruta Cadaver was right!

We had breakfast near the square in Yecora and headed for lunch in Baseachic. We filled up in Baseachic and I was treated to talking with 10 and 12 year old boys on bikes. They were interested in our bikes and helmets. I paid them 10 pesos each to show us where to eat lunch and Jesper treated them to cokes while we ate. We never would have found the restaurant ourselves.



I am hoping that Jesper and Ronald have pics of this. If so, I'll include them here.
Here's a pic of the restaurant in Baseachic.


We took the cut off to San Juanito. I knew that the Canadian family was robbed on this stretch in the recent past and lost a Ducati. Jesper, Ronald, and I agreed that we wouldn't let anyone take our bikes. At any rate, I started getting "weird vibes" while my compadres were simply enjoying the ride. I was hammering that twisty stretch to San Juanito, having the time of my life in Dynamic mode on my new GSAW. We made it into Creel before 4pm.



We stayed up the street from the Best Western.

I was told to have the blue margarita at the BW by another Inmate. I am sure, though, that he was playing a cruel trick on me just to get this pic...

Ronald really enjoyed his, though...(not really--they almost fired me as ride leader for the escapade.

However, this place is better.

Creel


HeadShrinker screwed with this post 02-28-2015 at 08:34 PM
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Old 02-23-2015, 05:10 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadShrinker View Post
I was told to have the blue margarita at the BW by another Inmate. I am sure, though, that he was playing a cruel trick on me just to get this pic...
hehe hilarious, subscribed!
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Old 02-23-2015, 09:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadShrinker View Post

Sam was asking if we thought Mexico was dangerous...



Looking forward to the rest of your hijinx
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Old 02-23-2015, 09:37 PM   #9
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Creel is...well, it's nice but I really consider it just a stopping point. Plus, it was cold and there is not much happening.

Ronald was getting ready to hit some dirt and was kidding me about this being an off road trip.
"Come on, JJ! I've already worn out my TKCs on the pavement," he chides.

Well, we left the next morning at 0700 and the women next door to our room looked out their window and waved, signing the cross over us for a safe journey. Well, my NAV V routed me to the Valley of the Monks Penises, as it were on the way to Yoquivo and Batopilas. After an hour of routing us in the wrong direction, I decided to stop all navigation and depend on this map.

It's the best one...


Hitting some villages...



Dropping a bike in a beautiful place. The KTM was the first to fall.


Well, at least we weren't the only ones...

If you look at the map above, you can take the new road to Bato. You can also go to Guachochi. Or, you can take the old road to Yoquivo. The sign is easy to see after you go a few miles past Agua Calientes on 23.

We inquired about the road with the man who lived at the junction.

No, el camino es muy mal--and then something about the tierra taking over the road. I tried to explain that muy mal es muy bien for us. He thought we were crazy. And when we found ourselves at the point of no return on this road, we may have considered ourselves crazy. It was just that good.

It started out fairly easy...(taking a break to remove some gear)


It was great



Looks are deceiving, my friends...



Just take this road

With some friends to help you pick up your bike

It was tough, indeed...
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Old 02-24-2015, 03:42 PM   #10
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Always a good workout in Copper Canyon when you're doing "olympic" bike weight lifting.

Nice pics and looking forward to mas...
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Old 02-24-2015, 07:23 PM   #11
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Oh copper canyon...

Been there twice, both time it's been some of the toughest roads.
It's called the lawless land... Last time there was held at gun point, so be careful!
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Old 02-24-2015, 08:06 PM   #12
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Chabochi's in the Canyons

Nice photo essay! Keep up the good work. My desk will be ridden vicariously behind you.
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Old 02-25-2015, 08:41 PM   #13
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We spent around 4.5 hours on the old road to Yoquivo. As folks always say, the pictures never do justice to how challenging a route can be. When I mentioned in the recent Copper Canyon thread that we were planning on doing Batopilas to Urique on big bikes, we were cautioned about the route being very challenging for big bikes. We’ll get to that route in a few posts, but I will say that the old road to Yoquivo was more challenging that the switchbacks and climb over to Urique from Bato.

The old road is quite challenging AND doable. I usually rate a route to see if I would do it by myself. I’ve done the steps at Black Bear Pass by myself and most of the challenging passes and gulches in the San Juans alone. Granted, there are usually people around to help if you found yourself in trouble. It is not so with the Copper Canyon. I am a pretty good big bike rider and I would not do the old Yoquivo route by myself. There are a few sections where you’re like, “Am I really going to run this line??” because there is no other choice. You can’t really go back, so it’s time to hold your breath, choose your line, keep your bike moving, and keep it upright. The road is absolutely remote and I imagine that there were few who traveled this route within the past few weeks or months. The ones that traveled this road were probably riders like us and not the locals. So, this being said, if you are looking to camp in a pretty remote spot, I would feel quite safe camping out here. In fact, if we go again, this would be a comfortable place to spend the night with friends. If you are a good rider and have some friends, you will have an excellent time with the challenge. And, if you’re out there alone and happen to eat it big time? Well, you’re probably in for an interesting adventure.

I was running a TKC front and a 150-70-17 Heidi on the rear. The Heidi was not that impressive on this route, for sure (it never really is). But, it wasn’t bad and still looks pretty good now.

We made it to Yoquivo and arrived to folks cooking chicken out in front of the store. We were definitely hungry, but we decided to move on to Batopilas because I wanted to guys to experience the town in full force.

On the way to Batopilas, coming out of Yoquivo, we passed a score of Tamahumara walking out of town. This was a first for Ronald and Jesper and it simply was a beautiful sight. This is one of the great parts of going to Copper Canyon—seeing the Native people. The men nodded and waved a little, the little boys were mesmerized by the bikes, and the women were shy, demonstrating no expression as we waved.

The ride up through the trees was fairly smooth, fast, had some whoops and flirted increasingly open views of the canyon. When we finally arrived at the overlook, Ronald and Jesper were enthusiastic. I was, too. We made it!







We then descended into the canyon. It was fairly loose in areas, which should be of concern to those riding more street oriented tires on this road.
I bombed down the route and waited at the turn off for the airport. I could see the new road that was built down below.

I was getting excited to get to Bato.










We rode alongside the river and crossed the bridge into Batopilas. You will see abandoned and stripped late model SUVs, young people gathering, folks walking along the river, and—as soon as you arrive near the square, youngish men in fatigues with AK-47s. I will try to find the video, but when I was heading into the square, I took a wrong turn, taking the street that was west of the square (behind the museum) and ran straight into a truck and a young man with an AK. I quickly hit my turn signal (as he and other guys) were parked by the hardware store, to show him we were turning into the square. He smiled and half-way saluted me—with me doing the same.

Welcome to Batopilas!

We parked in front of Juanita’s and she greeted us. It ended up to be $200 pesos for each of us. I got my own room—the one with the windows on the end on the first floor and Jesper and Ronald next door.



Entering in to the courtyard. Juanita is building a wall from her home to the courtyard and she made sure to measure the width of all of our bikes to ensure the safe passage through her living room for future travelers.













Jesper and Ronald made their way across the square to have some beers. They soon met Juan, one of the civil engineers working on the new road. He is from Chihuahua City but had been staying in Bato for three years working on the project. Jesper’s Spanish is pretty good from spending some time in Guadalajara in the past. Mine was just okay. However, when I found the guys, they were chatting it up with the locals and having a great time. When I arrived, I was able to join in and really enjoyed the warmth, openness, and friendliness of the people and town.

We had dinner at Carolina’s. It was good, as always. She asked us if we were going to eat breakfast there the next morning. We agreed. She had three place settings waiting for us at 0730.

Coming back to Juanita’s after dinner, we talked in the courtyard about the ride so far and the ride to come. While enjoying a few beers and bottles of water, a cigarette was flicked down near my direction from the roof. Soon after, what sounded like rain (but wasn’t) flowed through the rain gutters onto the patio below—right near where we were seated. Apparently, there were some folks on the roof. Could be construction guys or could be someone else keeping a lockout. Someone else mentioned that some narcos were staying at Juanita’s, so I am not sure if that has anything to do with the wall—or if she is simply doing some remodeling. We all decided to move under the veranda and not make a big deal out of it. Probably a wise move.

Meeting Steve in Sahuaripa, he mentioned that the river was not crossable by bike to go to Urique. He mentioned that a guy on a two wheel drive KTM Adventure had attempted this the week before and the river was too high. However, coming in through town, I glanced at the vado north of town and it looked fine. Further intel was that the crossing was fine. My guess was that the rider attempted to cross the river south of Bato. Our original plan was to do the high road to Urique anyway. So, we were happy that we didn’t have to change our plans.
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Old 02-25-2015, 09:04 PM   #14
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Great report! The photo with the SUV crossing the river is the exact spot where I crossed.
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Old 02-25-2015, 10:53 PM   #15
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Fast and danger riding. The best. Thanks for the report.
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