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Thread: Mexico Passion

  1. #1
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    Mexico Passion

    Copper Canyon, Mexico

    Many more to come!








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    hey, nice pics man.
    did that guy in the white fr bike get off because he couldnt handle the technical terrain?
    in the last pic, did the trip include riding up and/or down that wide flat doubletrack?
    nice indeed

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    Quote Originally Posted by jaco
    hey, nice pics man.
    did that guy in the white fr bike get off because he couldnt handle the technical terrain?
    in the last pic, did the trip include riding up and/or down that wide flat doubletrack?
    nice indeed
    LOL! Dude was a 54 year old lady and she was tough! She attempted most of the tech stuff and this was tame compared to some of it. She got off the bike because the fence was up at the time.

    That wide DT was covered in loose rock and yes, you go down and up a 6000' climb over 32 miles.

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    Wow

    Great shots , great time for that trip now that the Delaware Valley trails are quite a bit moister
    it's a big sh*t sandwich and were all gonna have to take a bite

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    Amazing. That last pic reminds me of Machu Picchu. If that canyon was in the US it would be a national park probably. Where in Mexico is that?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mighty Drop Off
    Amazing. That last pic reminds me of Machu Picchu. If that canyon was in the US it would be a national park probably. Where in Mexico is that?
    Mexico does not have any National Parks or preserves. It's a real shame. There is so much beauty and history that needs preservation. This is the Copper Canyon area of Mexico. It is bigger and deeper than the Grand Canyon. It actually consists of five canyons which finger out. This is Batopilas Canyon.

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    what im trying to find out is if all the climbs are DT or you also go up technical ST like the one on the pic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jaco
    what im trying to find out is if all the climbs are DT or you also go up technical ST like the one on the pic.

    There are both types of climbs. I would say it is about equal, but even the DT climbs are loose. I would also say that they ST trails were mostly technical in nature as you will see when I post the whole report. We had 10 people on our tour but only five of us were capable of riding most of the trails. Either they were too steep or too technical for the others. The trip is billed as intermediate / advanced but I would say you better be at the top of the intermediate food chain both technically and physically. Some people came on the trip for the sight seeing. They would have been better off taking the week long train ride through the canyons.

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    More Mexican Passion - Long!

    It's funny how most American's view Mexico. It's always a vision of the border towns that taint our view of what a country can show the world. Once you reach the interior, one is opened to a unique culture full of vibrant friendly people. Though they do not have much, it doesn't seem to bother them and they make the most with what they do have.

    This is my adventure report. Yes, it contains mountain biking but it also contains history, culture, and an understanding for what makes us all unique in this world. Beauty is everywhere in Mexico. It is in the hills, valleys, homes, and people. It is the innocence of the children, who have not been spoiled by video games or kept inside by predators. It is the miles of trails cut by the indigenous tribes who to this day use them as their roadways to each village.

    The Copper Canyon is a general name used to describe an area of Mexico that is actually five different canyons branching out like fingers on a hand. These canyons were formed millions of years ago by tectonic and water activities. Unlike the Grand Canyon, the Copper Canyon is a lush green semi-tropical environment filled with a variety of plants ranging from pine trees to cacti and a variety of wildlife. The Canyons are home to the Tahamara Indians. Until the discovery of Silver in the late 1800's, they were so remote that they were able to preserve their heritage.

    The trip was run by Western Spirit. It is actually their first branded trip to this location. Our guides Scott and his wife Rachel were fantastic hosts who spoke Spanish and had a good knowledge of the area. They were also not afraid to drive on the crazy roads of Mexico. I am traveling with a JAR club buddy, Roger. There were eight strangers who we quickly got acquainted to.

    Day 1

    It's not an easy task to get to the Copper Canyon. It took me a day to fly into El Paso, Texas we're we spend the night. First thing in the morning, we load up the van and I'm glad to see my bike has made the journey.



    We head out across the border and arrive at Mexican immigration. My previous experience with Mexico was 13 years ago in Cancun. This isn't Cancun and it took an hour and a half to get through here!



    A stop to gas up the van nets this lovely little food stand. Do I dare attempt to eat something from here? After deciding that I have not even ridden a foot yet, I leave the possible belly busting to later in the week.



    Our destination today, is Creel. Creel is located 7450 feet above the canyon. I begin to feel the altitude and I'm glad I'll have a day to adjust. On the way into town, we follow this Mexican version of a horse trailer. In this case it's a burro standing in a pickup. We all thought it was quite amusing and would certainly lead to legal problems in the states.



    We have a nice dinner at the hotel and get a good night's sleep for tomorrow's ride which is supposed to have some nice technical singletrack.

    Day 2

    We get ready to head out on today's ride and are greeted by some future MTBers. There's something about shiny expensive mountain bikes that seem to grab everyone's attention. I brought a whole bunch of stickers with me which go over well with this bunch.



    We are introduced to our Tahamara local guide, Enrice. Then up the hills we go. Lot's of loose brittle lava rock on this climb to keep us on the edge. I'm huffing my lungs out because of the altitude and guild isn't even breaking a sweat. The Tahamara are known for their remarkable endurance. They are some of the greatest runners in the world. Some can run a hundred miles in one shot! Enrice has incredible stamina and he's not a bad mountain biker either. He's one the MTB race that is held here.



    At the top we get a great view of Creel.



    These trails are used by humans, burros, cattle, dogs, chickens, and horses. They all live and die here. I'm hoping this is not a sign of how hard things are going to get!



    Technical is the nature of the day. Enrice climbs these carved stairs, the rest of us opt for the left line. I take my share of spills here, but it's all good!





    Enrice is a very accomplished rider. He is only 25, one of the best in the area, and serves as a guide for other tour operators as well. The Santa Cruz Superlight he is riding was given to him by one of the Western Spirit guides for $350. That may seem cheap to us, but it's a lot of Pesos for him! He was jumping like a kid in a candy store when they gave it to him. He was riding a cheap hardtail before that. He's still learning English, but it's actually fun to speak Spanglish to him with a little sign language.



    The bikes take a rest and we look out over the valley.





    Now it's time to move down into the Valley of the Monks. This is a beautiful area named after the rock formations which look like monks standing in a line. It's a nice technical descent to the fields below.



    We stop to ask the permission of a Tahamara women to ride through her field and I snap a quick picture. They are very shy people who usually turn away from the camera.



    We reach the valley of the monks where the van is waiting with lunch.





    After lunch we head down to Lake Arareco. It's a pleasant well maintained park area. Usually it's crystal blue, but some recent rain has mucked it up a bit.



    We then ride some non-technical singletrack through fields to Mission San Ignacio which was built in the 1600's.





    More technical singletrack up the hills and then back down to the hotel through this steep and loose downhill chute.



    Back in town we have dinner at a local restaurant and check out some of the stores.

    Day 3

    Quiet in the town this morning as we get ready for a huge day.



    Today we ride down into the Batopilas canyon. We load up the van and drive to our launching point. Off the main paved road we slowly navigate the van and trailer until a big enough clearing.



    Then it's the beginning of our 6000' drop into the canyon. We ride the loose dirt road to a small store where we will wait for the Van to catch up and leave the trailer. This is because it will get very steep from here on in and the Van will have a hard enough time on it's own.



    The owner's children come out to greet us while dad heads out to tend the field in traditional Tahamara dress.





    The bikes take a rest while I buy three ice cold Coca-Colas.



    We head off again and the road becomes looser and steeper. Too fast and you can easily wipe out, as some of us did (not me). The views from up here are breathless. And a look down shows us the road that lies ahead.





    All along this road are little shrines. They are there for those who drive trucks up and down this treacherous exposed one lane road. At night they light candles to pray for safe passage.



    Our Midway destination on this 32 mile mostly downhill ride is the bridge that you can barely make out in this picture.



    This is perfect terrain for the Titus, but too much speed around these switchbacks could send one plummeting.





    My arms are beginning to feel the burn and we stop for everyone to catch some views and a group shot.





    I think the burro (donkey) must be the Mexican national animal. They are all over the place and very tame. Here's a family of eey-ores along the way.



    Finally, after seventeen miles straight down, we reach the bridge and take a dip in the Rio Batopilas. The water is very cold, but so refreshing!







    The next stop is our hotel, just 15 miles away. Although mostly downhill, there are some steep climbs interspersed along the way.





    The first of a few suspension bridges we will see along the way. Some of them we will even walk across. Yes, they swing side to side!



    Finally! We reach Magarita's La Hacienda in Batopilas. It is a magnificent hotel restored from the old Alex Sheppard silver mine ruins. The rooms were huge with vaulted ceilings and a shower that could fit my bike! We sit on the patio and have Cervesa's and a Coke for me before a wonderful homemade dinner.





    Day 4

    Today is billed as an easy day. After yesterdays long and technical ride, it's a good thing. We ride into the town of Batopilas. It's a very quaint town of 1150 and they are slowly overhauling it. They are putting pavers in the roads and fixing up buildings. Obviously, the tourism money is starting to kick in. It looks very nice!









    Yet another suspension bridge to hang around on!



    We then head on up the road to another old mission. This is the "Lost Cathedral" of Satevo. The mystery is that it pre-dates the town and no one knows how it got there or who was responsible for it.

















    Once again we are greeted by children and stickers are handed out to all. One of the kids digs two holes in the sand a few feet a part, then finds two small flat rocks, and a game of Mexican horseshoes begins. We spend quite a while here talking and playing with the children.



    We ride out of this particular area and back into town for lunch on the porch of someones house. Later I am told it is a restaurant, but I certainly didn't see a sign. The food was very good (soup and salad with fresh tortillas) and freshly prepared on a wood burning stove.



    On hour way to visit the grand old hacienda ruins, we run into this Tahamara native dressed in full regalia and resting on some rocks. They are very interesting dressers. The outfit consists of a loin cloth, loose blousy shirt, cowboy hat, and sandals made out of old tires glued to a piece of leather and secured with leather string to the foot.



    Batopilas was "discovered" in the 1800's when Alex Sheppard, an American moved down there to open up a silver mine. It was very productive for many years. He loved the area so much he moved his entire family down there and eventually died there. His grand children still run a foundation which is raising money to restore the ruins of the Hacienda he lived and ran the company from.







    Our "museum" guide points out four spots on the floor which were the footings of a pool table. We were embarrassed to ask how old he was, but he told us he saw the mine working in 1935.



    A four seat throne room!



    The rest of the day is spent goofing off and walking around town. I try my hand at a little free climbing. I think I'll stick to biking.





    A silver mine shaft next to our hotel. It smelled pretty bad, so I didn't venture any further.



    Day 5

    We cross the river, go through town, and begin traversing some very technical singletrack on our way to the town of Cerro Colorado in an adjoining canyon. This is the toughest trail we've ridden so far, but lots of fun!













    We'll have to do a few river crossings on this trail. At first I was hesitant to get my shoes wet for the rest of the trip, but the heat of day convinced me that the refreshing coolness of the river was worth it. At one point I stood in the river for ten minutes.





    There was even some exposure to scare the crap out of me as it normally does.



    It was an amazing trail built on top of and next to an aqueduct! We finally reach the town and here come the kids! Those darn shiny bikes again! Although the stickers certainly were a hit, the item most requested was not money or candy. Pencils would have made the biggest splash. If only I had known that, I would have brought a crate of them. My kids go though a pencil a day. These kids want to learn and the barest necessity of education is not available to them.



    We eat lunch at a little shop here and then leave the bikes for a walk across a suspension bridge to the old silver grinder. Water powered huge boulders which smashed the rocks that were taken out of the mine. Then mercury was used to leach the silver from the dust. This mill is still functional when the water level is higher.



    In other parts of Mexico and most definitely in the states, one would have to worry about leaving a $4000 bike alone. No need to worry when guard pig is on duty! She wasn't letting anyone near the bikes, not even the owners.



    We cross the river for some more single track and for the first time, we get lost. However, not before several miles of rocky technical goodness which causes me to OTB two times.





    The next hour is spent traversing mounds of foot wide ankle breaking river rocks until we get back to the trail. When we finally get back on track, I nearly step on this interesting group of insects. These a leaf cutter ants. They actually cut leaves and carry them back to their nests. I've seen them on TV, and now I get to see them up close!



    We finish up the day with more technical goodness back to the hotel. I crash pretty hard at one point turning heads with the loud thud and putting a nice bruise on my thigh.



    Day 6

    It's time to leave the canyon. This means a 6000' climb out. We are given a little over three hours to get as far as we can. The idea is to climb until we rich the spot where we left the trailer. I'm psyched and head out. I reach the bridge in very good time. At first I thought I would just save my energy and wait for the van, but I'm feeling pretty good so I start heading up the switch backs. At one point a truck with a few Americans stop me. It's reporters from the LA Times doing a story on mountain biking in Copper Canyon. They ask me a whole bunch of questions, take a few pics, and continue on. It should be in the outdoors section around the end of March.

    I am trying my best now, but I'm getting tired. This is a long steep climb. My new goal is to reach a restaurant about half way between the bridge and the trailer. I hear an engine coming up the trail and try to move faster. I look over my shoulder and there is the van, so I attempt to sprint uphill. Yeah, right! The van catches me about one mile from the restaurant. We pick up two more just a short distance further leaving only one other attempting this foolish feat. Kerron, is a Western Spirit guide on vacation for this trip. He's based in Moab and a very strong XC rider. We catch up to him only 1.5 miles from the trailer. No one wants him to quit so we ride by. Shortly after we stop for the trailer, he rides in.

    After hooking up the trailer, we head for tonight lodge in Cusarare Canyon. There's no electricity and the potbelly stove is real cool, except when it goes out at 3:00 AM and leaves us with no heat.





    After dumping our stuff in the room we head two miles down the road to a museum and another Mission.





    At dinner, we are treated to a father and son team playing some great Mexican tunes by the fire.





    A great way to end a very long day of riding!

    Day 7

    Today is our last day of riding and what is supposed to be another technical trail. We will ride from our lodge in Cusarare back into Creel. First we check out the local waterfall and some even try to ride across it.





    Then it's through some rocky fields and into a huge lava slickrock playground. I didn't take too many photos of it because I was having way too much fun! Lot's of one and two foot dropoffs with narrow passages between rocks and mostly downhill. It's the kind of trail that really beats you up. Too much fun!















    We're so tired after playing in the slickrock that we roadie it back in a paceline into town. Unlike road bikers, we looked pretty cool all mismatched with camelbacks on big bikes!

    Back at the hotel, the smiles across our faces show the delight we had all week. However, in the back of our minds we know it is time to leave this wonderful place. We're tired as we load up the van the next morning and bid a find farewell to the terrain, people, and culture that make this place so special.

  10. #10
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    I love the Sierra Madre Occidental

    Quote Originally Posted by JARhead
    Mexico does not have any National Parks or preserves.
    Incorrect, we do have national parks but since we are not as rich as other countries, they are attended in the same degree pretty much else is (that is, less than it should), plus the size of the cooper canyon area would make it hard to maintain even for the rich countries.

    Quote Originally Posted by JARhead
    This is the Copper Canyon area of Mexico. It is bigger and deeper than the Grand Canyon. It actually consists of five canyons which finger out. This is Batopilas Canyon.
    In fact, Cooper Canyon is both a generic name to designate all the canyon systems in that area and a particular canyon, it is very unlikely you actually visited the cooper canyon (which is not very impressive). Sinforosa, Urike (the deepest) and Batopilas canyons are much more common to visit and biggers than the cooper canyon.

    All those canyons are in the state of Chihuahua (south west). About 400 kilometers to south of El Paso Texas you find Chihuahua city, then take more kilometers to the west to Cuahutemoc, then eventually to Creel. From Creel you can visit a lot of places (canyons, waterfalls, lakes, etc.).

    I am going to go to Cerocahui and Urike in a couple weeks (more to the west). That part is less developed than the Creel area, but it is very nice also. If I can convince my wife to take my bike with me I may try to go from Urike to Batopilas (It is very unlikely that I will succeed, since there is just too much climbing in the process (to high gradient too).

    In Creel there are some guys that are specialists in cooper canyon bicycle trips (umairke.com.mx), I have never been with them in a trip, but they have good reputation, and I will try to book a trip next year.

    If anyone plans to come on its own, you should first try to learn as much as possible about the conditions here, there are a lot of things to consider, like weather, this mountains are in between canyons and both are surrounded by the sea or the dessert, so the weather is very different from one month to the other.

  11. #11
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    From Tarahumaras and other stuff

    Quote Originally Posted by JARhead
    It's funny how most American's view Mexico. It's always a vision of the border towns that taint our view of what a country can show the world. Once you reach the interior, one is opened to a unique culture full of vibrant friendly people. Though they do not have much, it doesn't seem to bother them and they make the most with what they do have.
    There are misconceptions everywhere, it is nice to see a "gringo" to take time to actually know more about Mexico than what the Hollywood movies show.

    Just a couple things. The name of the indians is Tarahumaras, and that is the name in Spanish in their own language they call themselves Raramuris.

    And the donkey is not the national animal, the eagle is (not the bald one, by the way). But an eagle is not of much use in transportation. In fact, it is very probable that what you saw were not donkeys but "mulas" (I have no idea how to translate that) they are half horse, half donkey, and they are slow but very strong animals to carry stuff around the canyons.

    Batopilas was the second place in Mexico with electricity. Incredible but true. The mines at that time were producing so much that it paid for electricity just after Mexico city and before anywhere else.

    Congratulations on your trip, now you know a part of Mexico better than most Mexicans do, and in the best way, by bike :-)

    P.S.
    Gringo is the world we use to designate the US citizens. We don’t like to use Americans, since in an strict way we are Americans also (from American continent, which I think you pluralize to designate the continent). Gringo is a contraction from “green go”, after one of the war shouts in one of the US-Mexico wars. It was used to be pejorative, but now is so common use that the pejorative meaning was left behind.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by rimugu
    There are misconceptions everywhere, it is nice to see a "gringo" to take time to actually know more about Mexico than what the Hollywood movies show.

    Just a couple things. The name of the indians is Tarahumaras, and that is the name in Spanish in their own language they call themselves Raramuris.

    And the donkey is not the national animal, the eagle is (not the bald one, by the way). But an eagle is not of much use in transportation. In fact, it is very probable that what you saw were not donkeys but "mulas" (I have no idea how to translate that) they are half horse, half donkey, and they are slow but very strong animals to carry stuff around the canyons.

    Batopilas was the second place in Mexico with electricity. Incredible but true. The mines at that time were producing so much that it paid for electricity just after Mexico city and before anywhere else.

    Congratulations on your trip, now you know a part of Mexico better than most Mexicans do, and in the best way, by bike :-)

    P.S.
    Gringo is the world we use to designate the US citizens. We don’t like to use Americans, since in an strict way we are Americans also (from American continent, which I think you pluralize to designate the continent). Gringo is a contraction from “green go”, after one of the war shouts in one of the US-Mexico wars. It was used to be pejorative, but now is so common use that the pejorative meaning was left behind.

    I knew I botched the spelling of the indians. It really was a wonderful trip and I would not be afraid to go back without a tour and drive in.

    It was funny when we were riding through town the childer would shout Gringos! Vomanose Gringos!

    I was also suprised on my trip back to find about 50 miles of farms tended to by the whitest blonde hair blue eyed english speaking mexicans I have ever seen. I had no idea that mennenites had moved there in the 50's.

    You have a great country and you should be proud of it.

  13. #13
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    we do have national parks but since we are not as rich as other countries,
    Yep, when I spent several weeks in the Yucatan I seem to recall several National Park sites on the map. We primarily visited many archaleogical zones which in some cases take the place of what gringo might think of as a National Park. There are also man amazing.World Heritage Biosphere sites in Mexico.

    There are misconceptions everywhere, it is nice to see a "gringo" to take time to actually know more about Mexico than what the Hollywood movies show.
    I just about got ill when we were on the plane down there, fricking people all excited about the Walmart in Cancun. We were in Cancun as long as it took us to pick up our rental car and get out of there. We have a great time touring on our own, small towns, my pidgin Spanish and wonderful, friendly people. Isn't the whole point of going somewhere else getting out of your environment?

    formica

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    yep, some people go to the end of the world to a resort and just hang out on the premises. When im out and about i dont even care where i stay cause im all over the place non stop looking for trails to hike or bike around, reefs, waves, anything to explore and enjoy in the great wide open.
    cant stand people that come back from a trip and only talk about how incredible their hotel and dining was.

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    Jarhead, looks like you had a really good trip. I envy you. I'm headed out to Chiahuahua next week but only for a day on business. So close yet so far.

    Thanks for posting the pics.
    I will not tiptoe through life to arrive safely at death.

  16. #16
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    Wow! Thanks for posting all those photos & the long trip report.

    Just hear about the possibility of heading down to the Copper Canyon area this spring so was searching through the archives to see what trip reports & photos people had posted in the past when I found the mother load!

    I'm currently downloading your video too, but it is a slow process as it is only coming across at ~40KB/sec.

    Copper Canyon video linked from this post:
    Copper Canyon, Mexico ~Video~

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    Deja Vu

    Nice Writeup! Made me feel like I was there. Wait a minute...I was there! I finished up almost the same trip last week but with another tour company. Enrickque gets around. We did Creel to Cassara and thought is was pretty tough with the last descent being quite the technical bit of riding. How did you like the Cassara to Creel route?

    I'm still getting all my pics and notes together so hopefully I can share about this magical place sometime this week.

  18. #18
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    Looking forward to seeing your trip report, photos & video.

  19. #19
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    I'm living in Mexico City, and my wife and I are thinking about visiting the copper canyon area around Semana Santa.

    Those rides look awesome, who can I contact in the Creel area about some guided rides?

    Matt

    Here's a couple from the Sierra Madre del Sur.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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