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Old 02-03-2010, 05:35 PM   #1
andyc740
 
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Talking Los Coyotes Rodantes y Real de Catorce - First Mexico Bike Trip 09/07

Part I - Corpus Christi to Saltillo

I live in Corpus Christi, Texas and ride a 2001 Trophy 1200 (since christened Rocinante). I've posted a number of ride reports to a Triumph forum, but decided to start posting here. TWT seems more active and more interested in reports such as these. The guys on the Triumph board are convinced I'm crazy. Here, I'm convinced almost everybody is crazy.

In September 2007, Lefty, a friend and CMA (Christian Motorcyclists Association) buddy, and I decided to take a motorcycle trip from Corpus Christi to Mexico. Lefty grew up in Eagle Pass, on the border, and I lived a few years in Central America, so we both speak Spanish and are somewhat familiar with Mexico, we just hadn't been there on bikes. We were both very much interested in going.

We spent some time reviewing maps and decided to make Saltillo our base for a loop south. It looked like there was a nice loop through the mountains, we could come out near Matehuala, south of Saltillo on Hwy 97, spend the night, ride back up to Saltillo, spend another night, then head home, for a total of four days in Mexico. Once we decided on the route, Lefty made some hotel reservations for us over the Internet, we boned up on requirements to get travel papers and did a bit of research into the area. Lefty was determined to have some cabrito during our trip and said the area around Monterrey, including Saltillo, specialized in cabrito. The trip plan would also have us in Saltillo for Mexico's Day of Independence celebration, beginning the night of September 15th and ending on the 16th.

We left on a Thursday morning, September 13, 2007, from Corpus Christi, waited in McAllen for my birth certificate to show up via FedEx (I couldn't find mine 2 days earlier and had ordered another to be overnighted to our Valley office) [Passports are now required to reenter the US from Mexico], crossed the border about 1:00 at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, picked our way through the outskirts of Reynosa, did the 120 miles of divided highway to Monterrey, rode through Monterrey at rush hour and wound up at our hotel in Saltillo about dark. We were surprised when the tolls to Monterrey came to about $25 apiece and decided to avoid toll roads for the rest of the trip.

The nervous but excited newbies ready to head out.


We wound up at Hotel Urdiňola about two blocks off the main square in Saltillo, a nice little hotel with rooms around an enclosed courtyard and adjacent, enclosed parking. We wandered by the plaza, then asked at the hotel about a restaurant serving cabrito. They steered us to one nearby, Restaurant El Principal. Man, the picture reminds me how good the food was. The cook was happy to pose for a picture.


The Saltillo Plaza Central was decorated for Mexico's September 16th Independence Day celebration.


Back at the hotel, we admired a nice BMW G1150GS in the parking lot outfitted with aluminum cases and Georgia license plates and were curious about who was riding it, but didn't find the mystery biker.

In the morning, Lefty needed to find some superglue to fix his glasses. I didn't think we'd find any at the convenience store we tried, but they had it, right next to the condoms. I thought that sounded like a recipe for trouble; superglue and condoms. After fixing his glasses, we wandered out looking for some breakfast, without much success, finally finding a restaurant where, since they didn't have a breakfast menu, we ordered some eggs, meat and beans. The tab came to a bit more than we expected. Oh well.

The cathedral by morning light:
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Old 02-03-2010, 05:41 PM   #2
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Part II - Day 2 Saltillo to Matehuala

Back at the hotel we ran into our mystery rider; Jay, a young man on his way to Honduras from Atlanta on his BMW GS1150 to get married and who happened to stay at the same hotel. Why does there always have to somebody around who can top your story? Jay asked us where we were headed and when we told him our route, he asked if he could ride with us. He said he was thinking of doing the same loop, but in the opposite direction. Having another rider along was fine by us.

Jay getting organized at the gas station before leaving Saltillo.


We could see the mountains on our left as we headed south from Saltillo and were itching to get up into them.


We stopped for lunch at the intersection with the road up to Galeana and the highway from Saltillo to Matehuala. That's Lefty (on the left of course), myself and Jay.


We had a very nice ride, up towards Galeana, then heading south to Doctor Arroyo (no idea where that name came from), then turning right to Matehuala. I hadn't been sure the road was paved after looking at the maps, but it turned out to be just fine, crossing several ridges, running south through some valleys. It didn't flatten out till we were nearing Doctor Arroyo.
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Old 02-03-2010, 05:45 PM   #3
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Re: Los Coyotes Rodantes y Real de Catorce - First Mexico Bike Trip 09/07

... y qué más?
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Old 02-03-2010, 05:50 PM   #4
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Part III - Los Coyotes Rodantes

We found our hotel, the Casa Real, along the highway in Matehuala, then headed downtown in the evening, looking for an Internet cafe so we could send an email home to the family. It was rainy and downtown was full of cars, small motorcycles and scooters. Some of the motorcycles had whole families on board. After sending some emails home, we rode around town and passed a bunch of motorcycles parked along the curb, so went back to see what was going on. It turned out Los Coyotes Rodantes (Rolling Coyotes) of Matehuala were having their weekly motorcycle club meeting at a garage owned by one of the members. Mostly they were unwinding after work. The club was a fairly new one formed about a year earlier.


The Coyotes asked what we were up to and after we started talking, asked if we could do a bike blessing for their club (something CMA members like to do). We prayed for the whole club and their motorcycles, then handed out bike blessing stickers to everybody. We gave them some literature, but I'm not sure they got any good out of the English bibles we had with us. Note to self: find some Spanish tracts and bibles.


Lefty had a CD on his bike with some old-school corridos on it and the club wound up singing along with the well-known songs.


All in all, we had a great time with the Coyotes.
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Old 02-03-2010, 06:04 PM   #5
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Part IV - The Road to Real de Catorce

Matehuala has an arch alongside the highway at the north and south entrances to town. Locals says they're handles so God can pick up Matehuala and move it. I don't remember why he might want to do that. Saturday morning we took a couple pictures before heading out. Lefty insisted I better not get the Wal-Mart across the street in the picture, so I didn't. I did catch the truck going by.


Real de Catorce, a nearby mining town from the Spanish days of silver mining in Mexico is about 30 miles from Matehuala, at about 8,500 feet elevation, at the end of a 15-mile cobblestone road and 2-mile long tunnel. If you've ever watched The Mexican with Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts, it features Real in the movie, along with some of the local citizens.

Riding up the cobblestones, we learned the faster you go, the smoother the ride, but the worse the traction. By the time we got back down, I was doing 50 mph, but my front wheel bearings were complaining. Oh well. With 50,000 miles on the bike, what can you expect? Next time we'll take the bus to Real and leave the bikes in Matehuala. Or not.


Once at the top, we had to wait our turn to go through the tunnel, since it is only wide enough for one-way traffic. Toll was about $2.00 (only charged going in). We were geared up for rain, but by the time we got to the top of the mountain, the clouds had disappeared.


After getting through the tunnel, we admired the largely deserted town. It's population is a fraction of what it was during mining days. They do have a nice cathedral. Notice the worker on the scaffold.
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Old 02-03-2010, 06:11 PM   #6
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Part V - Real de Catorce

The Coyotes had told us to look up Humberto Fernandez in Real, owner of a local hotel and restaurant, and also a biker. He had a bit part in the movie The Mexican, appearing as the mounted nobleman at the end of the movie. Apparently, since then, he has also had bit parts in the Pirates of the Carribbean movies and had pictures on the walls of him taken with various actors and actresses to prove it. He was busy serving lunch, but treated us to coffee and was happy to pose with Lefty for a picture. One of these days we need to get back there and spend the night at Humberto's.


Real de Catorce (Road 14, nobody's sure what the 14 stands for, but there are lots of stories) was all decked out for their Independence Day celebrations. The streets were steep and cobblestoned like the road to Real.


The town was full of (mostly Mexican) tourists in town for the holiday.


We left Jay in Real. He planned to spend the night, then head on his way south the next day. On our way back to Saltillo, we pulled off the road for a stretch at a place Lefty decided was officially the Middle of Nowhere. These houses were the only ones around for miles.
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Old 02-03-2010, 06:20 PM   #7
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Part VI - Back to Saltillo

For lunch we stopped at a taco stand alongside the highway. Lunch was about 40 pesos but the taco stand owner didn't have change for my 200 peso note and sent her little girl to all the businesses at the intersection looking for change. The little girl was not thrilled to do all the legwork. I felt rather dumb when I bought gas a mile or two down the road and found a 50 peso bill in another pocket.


The ride back to Saltillo was complicated by some rain, slowing us down quite a bit, then going into town we managed to get separated by traffic and both got lost trying to find our way back to the hotel. We independently managed to find our way back and decided we needed to work our our group city-riding skills a bit more and work out how to avoid getting split up in the future. We've actually done a lot better since then.

Back in Saltillo, we checked back into the hotel, then found the only room available had just a single bed. The hotel was full of mariachis and folk dance groups in town for the festivities. Lefty very graciously volunteered to bunk on the floor and I certainly didn't argue with him.

Mexico's Independence Day, September 16th, actually starts on September 15th at 10:00 PM with the Grito de Mexico, their cry for independence. We were on the main square in Saltillo for the fireworks, festivities and bands that evening. Crowds were gathering and the police were on hand. This fellow is the trainer for the motorcycle police for the state of Coahuilas.


After the Grito, we watched the fireworks show on the plaza. Once the fireworks were done, the band was getting cranked up and foot traffic got all jammed up, due to limited exits and entrances to the square. It took us about 45 minutes to cover the half block to the street. Lefty finally freed up the logjam by insisting everybody on the left needed to head towards the square, everybody on the right needed to head out. That finally got things moving before they could turn ugly. The cops were just standing around watching the crowds.


The next day, we headed back to Corpus Christi, dodging the Independence Day parades and me nursing some squeaking wheel bearings. We had lunch in Monterrey at a stand serving Pollo Asado (Roast Chicken), finally worked our way out of town on the surface streets to avoid paying tolls and got home about 6:00. It was a great trip.


Mexico bike trips are very addictive. No sooner had we got home than we started talking about making another trip to Mexico, this time farther south. Be nice and maybe I'll post our February 2008 trip to see Las Posas de Edward James in Xilitla one of these days.
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Old 02-03-2010, 07:36 PM   #8
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Re: Los Coyotes Rodantes y Real de Catorce - First Mexico Bike Trip 09/07

I love Mexico ride reports almost as much as going there. Thanks. Once, on our way to Real. when we were sitting at the entrance to the tunnel, awaiting our turn, I foolishly grabbed the front shock of my BMW R1150 GSA to see if it was warm from running over the cobblestones at fifty plus. It was unbelievable that the paint hadn't burned off.
We met up with many riders from Mexico City BMW club in Real. Great time had by all. We went to the mines above the city. When we were leaving town, running sixty or seventy mph, heading back to the tunnel, several of the riders Mexico riders passed us, standing in the pegs probablly running ninty or a hundred mph. WOW.
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Old 02-03-2010, 07:53 PM   #9
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Re: Los Coyotes Rodantes y Real de Catorce - First Mexico Bike Trip 09/07

Good times. Man, I really NEED to get back to Mexico. Your pictures exacerbated my DT's....
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Old 02-04-2010, 07:29 AM   #10
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Re: Los Coyotes Rodantes y Real de Catorce - First Mexico Bike Trip 09/07

Great report. Thanks for posting it.
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