Ride Report: Day 5

Day 5 / Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Start: Batopilas, Chihuahuaa, 9:00 am
End: Hidalgo del Parral, Chihuahua, 6:00 pm
Mileage: 174

I knew I had to get an early start today as I had the whole canyon to climb out of and wanted to make it to Hidalgo del Parral, about 140 miles away on tarmac. But when I went out at 7 am, I realized the town was still asleep and no one was out and about. Dona Micas opened for breakfast about 7:15 and then suddenly the whole village sprang to life with trucks going through town, children playing in the street, etc. I had breakfast with two local cowboys, but didn't get to find out exactly what they did, as in, were they really herding cows or was that just their normal gear.

Waiting for the sleepy town of Batopilas to wake up so that I could get some breakfast. Looks like a few others were waiting for Dona Micas to open, as well.

Breakfast: some Heuvos con Chorizo (scrambled eggs with spicy Mexican sausage), Chile Relleno (big green chilly filled with cheese and deep fried), Frijoles (refried beans) and some Quesadillas (cheese in tortillas). Excellent way to start the day!

Nice map of the whole Copper Canyon region under the table mat. Sorry for the poor quality.

As I was packing up the bike, a British couple came over and we chatted. The lady was wondering how I navigated around Mexico and I pointed to my GPS, "Oh, you have Sat-Nav!" Satellite Navigation, the term Europeans use for GPS. She also asked the same question of, "What does everyone do around here? Do they just sit around? Don't they get bored?" I think she was hoping for a Puerto Vallarta kind of Mexican vacation instead of her husband's ride down to Batopilas kind of vacation. She said she wasn't looking forward to journey back up.

I, on the other hand, was down here specifically to ride that road and was eager to get going. I thought the downhill part was going to be the toughest, since gravity is pulling the bike down faster, but the uphill ride proved to be trickier. In street riding, I prefer going uphill to downhill as you can control your speed with only the throttle, but going downhill, more brake needs to be used to control your speed, which can lead to low-sides on gravel and what not. But on gravel roads, especially this one filled with a couple inch-sized rocks, giving too much throttle would make the wheels slip resulting in a fall. I haven't had any real training in off-road riding and I know if you stand on your pegs you can get better stability, but I wasn't there yet. The first hair pin from the bridge was the trickiest with me almost dropping the bike and stalling her twice trying to feather the throttle. But I made it out alive and took about 3 1/2 hours for the trip up.

Heading out of Batopilas back up the canyon to Hwy 127 and onwards to Hidalgo del Parral. Note the succession of canyons and their fainter shade of green.

The easy part of the road.

Very steep rock faces

Nice place for a picture, but hoping there was no on-coming traffic, which is quite rare.

Are those some canyons or what.

Looks like a few too many cervezas were consumed when cutting this path, looks a bit slanted. Note the face in the rock, the nose is sticking out.

And there were mountain goats hobbling about, who got scared as I roared by. Sorry.

auDRey heading out of Batopilas.

That's some rough terrain.

I thought going uphill would be easier (as it is on pavement for me), but one slip on a loose rock and you could lose momentum, possibly leading to a tip over and like here, there's no guard rails anywhere. That's why we come to ride this road…

The uphill hair pins were quite challenging and I stalled the bike a few times trying to get over some big rocks.

All done with the tough riding and was impressed with myself that I didn't fall even once. Yeah.

The rear tire was holding up just fine and no new knobbies had fallen off, meaning I was good to go down to Guadalajara and try and get a new tire.

Towards the end of the trail, there was lots of construction going on and looks like they plan to make this a smoother road as there's only one road into and out of Batopilas for all supplies and people.

I was so thrilled to see the toys that I played with as a kid in the mud being used in real life. I've never seen Caterpillar trucks this big being used in their intended environment. Look at the person on the right to get a size comparison. Wow. It was fun having the dump truck pass real close by... not.

The detour around the last part of the road. Note how they just turned the sign to the village upside down to have it point in the right direction. Excellent.

The detour sign that I missed on my way to Batopilas. I wonder why the town names are written backwards... So you can see it properly in your mirror…?

Ahhh, putting much needed petrol and air back in my tires. I reduced the air pressure for the dirt road to get better grip. From now on, it would only be pavement riding. I carried my own little air compressor running off the bike's battery to also help when fixing tire punctures.

After gassing up at the same Pemex (11.5 liters for 89 miles = 29 mpg, not bad for 1st and 2nd gear riding) and putting air back in my tires for street riding, I was off to enjoying more twisties heading towards Hidalgo del Parral. The road quality was amazing and I was really pleased with how flowing the whole road was. It made for an enjoyable ride.

After a quick lunch in Guachochi at Los Pinos restaurant, I continued onwards to Parral (as it's known by the locals). The road condition was so-so but the scenery was interesting as it changed from pine forests to open green valleys, almost resembling a scene from Scotland or Ireland. A few semi trucks were coming into my lane in tight corners, but otherwise I hadn’t seen any other bad drivers. Overall, I really enjoyed Hwy 127 from Creel to Parral: twisties set in the mountains. Once Hwy 127 joined up with Hwy 24, the fun got turned down a few notches as the road was very bumpy and traffic was pretty heavy.

The beautifully twisting Hwy 127 heading toward Hidalgo del Parral. The road conditions were excellent and the corners were marked very well. There's no suggested speed signs, but it's easy to get into the rhythm of the road and know how much to slow down.

Nice sweepers and the temps were a bit cooler as I was back up to near 7000 ft.

Lunch near Guachochi. Very nice and clean highway restaurant.

Spicy beef in a gravy with rice and corn and beans. Good food.

More excellent riding on Hwy 127.

More excellent riding on Hwy 127.

The scenery changed as the road approached the bigger Hwy 24. We left the pine forests for more simple flora.

What a view.

Looks like somewhere in Scotland…

Looks like somewhere in Scotland…

Excellent riding on Hwy 127.

Excellent riding on Hwy 127.

The road goes off to the left and sweeps back around. The views are quite distracting.

Since they really couldn't put any speed bumps on the highways to slow down traffic before dangerous turns, they've resorted to using painted white lines to get the driver's attention before dangerous turns.

I made it into Parral around 6 pm and after asking directions to the Plaza Principal (main square), I found my hotel for the night; Hotel Acosta for $23. I was the only guest in the hotel, and got a nice room with a view of the city. It started raining as I was unpacking and the owner told me to bring the bike into the lobby. I was pleased to see that safe overnight storage for the bike wasn't proving to be too difficult in each town. There was no hot water in the shower and I managed to convey that to the receptionist in Spanish and they said they'd have it fixed in an hour or so, which it was.

The city just spreads out across the valley and has a nice feel about it. It's known for being the death place for one of Mexico's famous revolutionary leaders, Pancho Villa. The city was also renamed to honor Miguel Hidalgo, who was the founder of the Mexican independence movement in the early 19th century.

As I was walking around town trying to find a place for dinner, I came across a big store called Coppel, which is a large Mexican department store chain. It looked like a mini Wal-Mart as it had many various products all crammed in a small store footprint. One aisle was tires, while the next was shoes, then the next TVs, then the next furniture. Must be the wave of the future since all developing countries are probably going towards big department stores with lower prices as opposed to small individual stores. This is probably what happened to retailing in developed countries about 10-20 years ago.

I had dinner at Morelos, a 24 hour diner and when the waitress figured I was English-speaking, a dish-washer came out from the back who spoke English. Humberto and I had a good chat, through which I learnt he had been all over the US and when I asked what he had done in the States, he calmly said, dealing drugs. Oh. He was jailed for 4 years after a bust, which saw him lose thousands of pounds of mary-jane. We had a good laugh over it. He was surprised that I could understand his English and was pleased with himself. He looked like a good-natured guy who easily got suckered into the underworld once making it across the border. He was set on living a clean life from now on.

Made it to Hotel Acosta in Hidalgo del Parral, which is right next to the main square, Plaza Principal.

It started raining just as I got there and the owner told me to bring my bike in to the lobby. How nice of them. I was also the only guest at the hotel.

My decent room for $22.

Clean bathrooms, although there was no hot water initially, which they fixed by the time I came back from dinner.

The view of the streets from my room.

Talk about a room with a view. The sunset was quite dramatic as it has just rained and the clouds were retreating. The city just seemed to crawl up onto the mountain side.

Sunset pictures are always nice.

The Plaza Principal.

A chapel near the plaza.

A Suzuki GS500, just like my first bike. Nice to see a real sized bike as most everything else on two wheels is primarily for transportation sporting around 100 cc engines.

A little courtyard that was open to the public that had some nice gardens. I think it was part of a museum.

Cowboy Boots. And what a crazy variety of them. There were quite a few boot stores and I'm sure a custom shoe could be made.

The prices were not even that bad for custom made cowboy boots (divide by 10 for US prices).

Had dinner at a 24 hr café, which was the only place that I had tortilla chips with dinner throughout my whole trip. There were nice thick chips with fresh butter and green salsa.

Chicken Flautas (small fried stuffed tortillas) layered with ham on top (?). Didn't know if I was supposed to eat the ham with the flautas or separately… It all went down anyways.

The view from the terrace of the hotel looking down at the plaza.

Next: Day 6, Riding the Espinoza Diablo to Mazatlan

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