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Old 12-06-2017, 07:47 AM   #61
Trail Boss
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Re: Expedition Big Bend

One last thing about Boquillas: there is no cell phone service. Zip. Zero. Nada.

To my surprise, while we were waiting on breakfast an older gringo man appeared. His name was George and he is a Terlingua resident that volunteers his time installing solar panels in Boquillas. It is the only source of electricity for some here in Boquillas so George is well known and liked. The restaurant owner called out a happy “good morning George” when he arrived.

George owns a Yamaha WR250R and when he spotted our bikes he felt compelled to say hello. We had a pleasant visit with George, discussing bikes, riding, and this part of Texas. George is also a musician and part of a well-known local band called Los Pinche Gringos.

After breakfast I gave Raul some money for his assistance and then we started putting our gear on. It was time to ride.

A word about our route: When we initially starting planning this ride I knew that, barring any major problems, it would only take two days to ride from Acuna to Ojinaga. However we had three riding days available. What should we do with that extra day? We could have taken the two day ride across Mexico and then spent our third day riding in the Terlingua area. Or we could spend an extra day in Mexico. JT and I have both ridden the Big Bend area a lot so an additional riding day in Mexico seemed like a fine idea.

One of the cool things about the E32 map is that the guys who make it color code particularly note worthy dirt roads. They highlight these special roads in magenta to make them really noticeable. My experience has been that those magenta colored dirt roads are actually worth seeking out. For example, the dirt roads around Galeana, where the annual MexTrek rally occurs, are fantastic and they are all highlighted in magenta.

Well, the E32 had a long magenta colored road in this area. Its northern end started at the paved road running between Boquillas and Muzquiz and its southern end was the town of Ocampo, about 175 miles away. JT and I discussed it and decided it was worth checking out. Our planned route was to run down to Ocampo and stay the night. The next day we would backtrack north and then catch the track west to Ojinago. It seemed like a good plan. We would get a third day of riding in Mexico and get to check out a new magenta road –and, after all, the other magenta roads we had ridden were truly gems worth exploring. You can see the road on the map below.



Except in this case, it wasn’t worth exploring. As it turned out, this is the road that they use for the Coahuila 1000. We speculated that the race organizers needed the course to pass by Pemex gas stations ever so often and the one in Ocampo was the closest one accessible via a dirt road. So the road wasn’t picked by the Coahuila 1000 due to it being an exceptional dirt road – it was picked for convenience only. A fact JT and I were blissfully unaware as we started our day.

In any case, after waving goodbye to Boquillas, we headed south, backtracking from the day before. I remembered to take a picture of the road this time.



Upon reaching the magenta road, we discovered it was a gravel super highway. A really long, straight superhighway. There was nothing special about this road but at least we could make good time.



Unfortunately, things went downhill from here. After about 50 miles of gravel superhighway riding, the road deteriorated badly. The main industry in this area is mining and the big mining trucks are tearing the **** out of this road. It was the worst washboarded road I’ve ever been on. I thought it was going to beat my Husky to death and kill my Garmin Montana with vibrations. It was terrible. There was no speed at which you could ride to smooth things out. The faster you went the more your bike vibrated. And the road went on, and on, and on like that dang energizer bunny.

30 miles. 40 miles. 50 miles. Is this terrible road ever going to end?

I thought the washboard ripples were bad until we started catching the big mining trucks. Remember, this is the desert, so there is sand dust everywhere. The big trucks were kicking up dust clouds so thick you couldn’t see through them and, therefore, had no idea if any vehicles were coming from the other direction. The trucks would see us approaching from behind and would pull over to the right to allow room for us to pass. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see if there were any on-coming vehicles so we had no idea if it was safe to pass. Our only two options were to either ride behind the trucks, which were moving at 10-15 mph, or pass and hope we weren’t killed in a head-on collision with an unseen vehicle.

We opted to pass. Each time we did so, it was an incredible pucker moment. One I would prefer never to repeat.

Finally, after eternity passed, we reached pavement. It is the yellow colored, magenta lined part of the road in the map above.

If you are thinking, “Great, the guys are back on pavement. Everything is good now.”, you are wrong. Unbelievable but true, the pavement was actually worse than the washboard road. No kidding. The pavement was so potholed and torn up it was impossible to miss all the holes and the pounding on our bikes increased 3x while our speed dropped by a factor of 2. When a dirt road gets a pothole, the edges of the pothole are relatively smooth. When a paved road gets a pothole, the edge of the hole is a sharp edged, tire eating, rim bending monster just waiting to destroy you.

The paved road was so bad that even the locals don’t want to drive on it. They have made an impromptu dirt road by riding in the ditch alongside the dirt road. Since this dirt road was created by cars & trucks and not a road grader, it’s just about as bad as the paved road with the extra advantage of the holes and ruts being camouflaged under a deep coating of dust. I couldn’t decide which was worse so I alternated between riding the paved road and the dirt road. I would ride along for a mile or two on the paved road, curse loudly in my helmet, then jump off the pavement onto the dirt road. I would ride the dirt until I finally got tired of hitting hidden holes so big they threatened to crash me and would then jump back on pavement.

Finally, when despair and desperation seemed to be taking over my psyche, we reached the town of Ocampo. We stopped at a Pemex and JT looked at me and said “to **** with that road, I ain’t riding it again tomorrow”. It was a sentiment I completed agreed with.
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Old 12-06-2017, 05:56 PM   #62
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Re: Expedition Big Bend

We arrived in Ocampo about 4 pm. After topping off the bikes with fuel, our next task was to find lodging and a place to eat in that order. I asked the gas station attendant who directed me to a hotel next door. How convenient!



It was a nice enough place – the room had AC/heat, the sheets were clean, and there was both a sink and hot water. It even had in room wi-fi. Sweet!

I think my favorite thing though was the bedding. I felt like I was on safari. 



JT like them too.



Once unpacked and cleaned up, we set out on foot looking for a restaurant. The Pemex attendant told me there weren’t any restaurant in town. How could that be? Ocampo was a reasonably large town, surely there was at least one restaurant in town.

The only thing was we couldn’t find one anywhere. We walked all over the place, asked everyone we saw, but no restaurants were to be found. We couldn’t even find a taco stand. I’ve never been in a town this size and not been able to find at least one place to eat.

We were just about to give up and walk back to the hotel when we spotted a faded sign hanging outside a building next to an open doorway. The sign said something about hamburguesas and other food items so we decided to investigate.

An old woman and an old man, appearing to be in their 70s, were the only people in the place. The building appeared to older than either and to be in worse shape too. They had a few small tables and some rickety chairs but assured us they were open and could cook some food for us. I asked the woman if she could make tacos but was told no. She then told us she could make hamburgers, to which we agreed.






The roof beams were bowed but unbroken. Mostly.



A few minutes later, the woman served up our hamburgers, consisting of a hamburger bun, patty, slice of ham, and ¼ slice of yellow cheese. No fries. No ketchup, mayo, or mustard. No lettuce. No tomato. Just a bun, some meat, and a little bit of cheese.

I was really hungry – we hadn’t had a meal since breakfast. I took a bite of the hamburger and quickly told JT, “ahhh, this is terrible”. It was the worst hamburger I’ve ever eaten. It was bland and I’m guessing the hamburger patty had been frozen a long time. It didn’t taste rotten and I wasn’t worried it would make me sick. It just tasted bad.

Still, it was the only option in the entire town, so we ate them.

As bad as the hamburger was, the woman redeemed herself by serving up churros after we finally forced the last of the burgers down. Churros are a fried-dough pastry, long and thick, covered in brown sugar and, in this case, a bit of melted caramel. They were delicious. All was forgiven.

After finishing and paying the bill we wandered back to the hotel. A beer run scored a six pack of beer and we settled down in the room for the evening. It was still early, only about 6 pm, but the room was warm and the beds were comfortable so it didn’t take JT long to nod off. I managed to stay awake until 7:15 and then called it a night. One thing about adventure riding in Mexico – it sure keeps us out of the bars at night.

I thought sleeping 10 hours the previous night was quite an accomplishment. Well, I managed to sleep a bit more than 10 hours this night. Wow. Who knew adventure riding was going to be so hard on my body that I could sleep 10 hours two nights in a row.
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Old 12-06-2017, 06:32 PM   #63
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Re: Expedition Big Bend

Richard,
Excellent trip report!
I wish I could have gone with you all.
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Old 12-06-2017, 07:47 PM   #64
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Re: Expedition Big Bend

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Richard,
Excellent trip report!
I wish I could have gone with you all.
SAME HERE
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Old 12-08-2017, 04:34 PM   #65
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Re: Expedition Big Bend

Wednesday

I really wanted to ride the road between Boquillas and Manuel Benvides but we couldn’t stomach backtracking on those two terrible roads from yesterday, so we came up with a new plan for the day. We would head due west from Ocampo, across the desert, and then turn northwest to the town of Hercules. The map indicated it was a reasonably sized town and we hoped to find services there (fuel and food). From there we would continue northwest to pavement at La Perla. At that point, we would be done with dirt for this trip. It would be pavement to Ojinaga and the Texas border and they Hwy 170 (aka River Road) from Presidio to Terlingua.

Here is our track for Tuesday (Boquillas to Ocampo) and Wednesday (Ocampo to Terlingua).



The morning dawned cool but the forecast was for sun and daytime highs in the 60s. Since we already knew we wouldn’t be able to find breakfast we decided our best option was to hopefully find a restaurant on the road to Ojinaga. Maybe there would be some place to eat in Hercules.

The bikes were waiting for us when we awoke.



The morning view from our room was very nice.




The air was very brisk but the road was in much better shape than the bad roads from the previous day. While the road wasn’t exceptional in any way, at least the views were better.












Roadside shrines like this are quite common in Mexico. See that really long, straight road in the background, heading across the desert? Well, that's what all the dirt today from this point on consisted of. Long. Straight. Kind of boring.







After riding in a straight line forever, we reached the right turn to Hercules. The sign pointing the way has seen better days.




We made the right turn and then spent an eternity riding in another straight line. We spent so much time riding straight across the desert that when I encountered my first curve two hours later I nearly crashed because I had forgotten how to make my bike turn.

We arrived in Hercules to discover it was now owned by a mining company and the town was completely fenced in and a pass was required to get in. Apparently the mining company bought the entire town and then fenced it in.
Luckily there was a Pemex and a restaurant just outside the gate. Perfect!





After a good, hot breakfast, we rode west on the last bit of dirt for the day. Then it was pavement all the way to the Texas border and on to Terlingua.




There isn’t much else to report on the day’s ride. It was mostly boring and uneventful. It certainly isn’t a route I would recommend to others. But that’s the nature of exploring the unknown, it’s a bit of a crap shoot – sometimes you find some great stuff and sometimes you find some stuff you never need to ride again.

We arrived in Terlingua about 4 pm, giving me just enough time to get cleaned up and get to Long Draw Pizza five minutes before opening time. As usual, Nancy’s pizza was excellent.




So the ride report of my tale ends with an unfulfilled mission. We set out to ride across Mexico from Del Rio to Ojinaga. While we did indeed start in Del Rio and end in Ojinaga, we missed the road west from Boquillas. That road is still there, waiting.

I’ll be back.
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Last edited by Trail Boss; 12-08-2017 at 04:37 PM.
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Old 12-08-2017, 06:21 PM   #66
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Re: Expedition Big Bend

Tanks Richard and JT.
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Old 12-08-2017, 06:29 PM   #67
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Re: Expedition Big Bend

Enjoyed the report! Thanks.
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Old 12-08-2017, 06:31 PM   #68
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Re: Expedition Big Bend

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I was really hungry – we hadn’t had a meal since breakfast. I took a bite of the hamburger and quickly told JT, “ahhh, this is terrible”. It was the worst hamburger I’ve ever eaten. It was bland and I’m guessing the hamburger patty had been frozen a long time. It didn’t taste rotten and I wasn’t worried it would make me sick. It just tasted bad.
Well, look on the bright side

This is a step up from the lunch experience we had in Weed, New Mexico, earlier this year

At least JT got something to eat
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Old 12-08-2017, 06:35 PM   #69
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Re: Expedition Big Bend

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Well, look on the bright side

This is a step up from the lunch experience we had in Weed, New Mexico, earlier this year

At least JT got something to eat
Good point.
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Old 12-09-2017, 03:52 AM   #70
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Re: Expedition Big Bend

You had a bad meal in Weed, NM?! I have always had great meals there.

Great report Richard!
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Old 12-09-2017, 06:57 AM   #71
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Re: Expedition Big Bend

Enjoyed every word!

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Old 12-09-2017, 08:12 AM   #72
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Re: Expedition Big Bend

Great report Richard.
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Old 12-10-2017, 09:58 AM   #73
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Re: Expedition Big Bend

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We spent so much time riding straight across the desert that when I encountered my first curve two hours later I nearly crashed because I had forgotten how to make my bike turn.
I did this on my SS1000 run. After riding half the day on the highway I exited to ride the five or so miles to the gas station to get my turn around receipt. The road was windy and I couldn't remember how to make the bike do that after running arrow straight all day. I totally understand this.

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It was mostly boring and uneventful. It certainly isn’t a route I would recommend to others. But that’s the nature of exploring the unknown, it’s a bit of a crap shoot – sometimes you find some great stuff and sometimes you find some stuff you never need to ride again.
This is why ride reports are great. Sometimes we find out great places to ride, visit, or eat at. Other times someone takes one for the team and lets us know where not to go. Thanks for being that guy.
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Old 12-10-2017, 10:04 AM   #74
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You had a bad meal in Weed, NM?! I have always had great meals there.
The substitute cook that day was Jeffrey Dahmer
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Old 12-11-2017, 01:24 PM   #75
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Re: Expedition Big Bend

Thanks for a trip down memory lane. In 2004, I road from Ojinaga to Del Rio with two friends. We made the trip on KLRs, and took five days. I don't remember having problems finding gasoline, food or beer. Is a trip taken 13 years ago to old to post a trip report?

Later, Bud...
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Old 12-11-2017, 02:58 PM   #76
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Re: Expedition Big Bend

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Thanks for a trip down memory lane. In 2004, I road from Ojinaga to Del Rio with two friends. We made the trip on KLRs, and took five days. I don't remember having problems finding gasoline, food or beer. Is a trip taken 13 years ago to old to post a trip report?

Later, Bud...
No expiration date on good storytelling.

Looking forward to your report!
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