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Old 11-18-2018, 11:35 AM   #1
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9 or 10 to 3: The Copper Canyon Sprint

Me: "Hey, JT, let's go to Copper Canyon."
JT: "Okay."

With that simple sentence and one word response, the game was on.

We discussed the logistics - when, where, and who - and made our choices. My son was getting married on a November Saturday in Terlingua so it made sense to start our adventure the day following the wedding (despite my wife's less that enthusiastic response to the timing).

For the where, I wanted to spend some time exploring the canyon. My Uncle and I had visited Copper Canyon in 2006 yet for a few reasons didn't spend much time at the bottom. At the time we marvelled at the superb (but now gone) dirt road to Batopilas and enjoyed a wonderful revolution parade put on by the local school children but that was the extent of it. For this trip it was high priority (for me) to see Sinforosa Canyon, visit Urique, and experience more of the dirt roads criss-crossing the canyon.

I drew up a tentative route and emailed it to JT, who then informed me that it was almost exactly the same route that he had ridden a few years past. Despite that, he was game to do it again, since he enjoyed it so much the first time.

Our plan was to take two days to get into the canyon. I would leave Terlingua mid-morning on Sunday and meet the guys in Presidio about noon. From there we would ride a few hundred miles and overnight in Cuauhtemoc. Monday we would continue cross-country to Guachochi and then begin our descent into Sinforosa Canyon, ending the day in Baborigame. Tuesday we would ride dirt to Batopilas and Wednesday would be more dirt to Urique. Thursday we would climb out of the canyon, enjoy the great vista at Divisadero and then make our way to either Cuauhtemoc or perhaps even as far as Chihuahua. On Friday we would arrive back in Texas. Here's what it looked like on the map.





The who was the most fluid part of the plan. We decided we wanted a small group of not more than 5-6 riders. This would allow the group to move relatively quickly, make logistics easier, and reduce the risk of bike problems (simply because there were fewer bikes to break down). We invited a few riders to join us. When those riders invited a few more to join, our ranks swelled to 9 or 10 who said they were all going.

Well, that's too big of a group to travel as one so we decided we would split into two groups, both travelling the same route.

With the logistics worked out and the plan in place, all that remained was personal prep and the long, seemingly endless wait for Sunday, Nov 11th to arrive.

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Last edited by Trail Boss; 11-18-2018 at 12:02 PM.
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Old 11-18-2018, 05:09 PM   #2
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Re: 9 or 10 to 3: The Copper Canyon Sprint

Assuming more pics on the way.
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Old 11-18-2018, 09:13 PM   #3
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Re: 9 or 10 to 3: The Copper Canyon Sprint

More more!


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Old 11-18-2018, 09:42 PM   #4
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Re: 9 or 10 to 3: The Copper Canyon Sprint

In!

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Old 11-18-2018, 09:55 PM   #5
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Re: 9 or 10 to 3: The Copper Canyon Sprint

Well now... this will be worth following!

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Old 11-19-2018, 01:03 AM   #6
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Re: 9 or 10 to 3: The Copper Canyon Sprint

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Old 11-19-2018, 10:48 AM   #7
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Re: 9 or 10 to 3: The Copper Canyon Sprint

In 1970 Chicago released the song 25 or 6 to 4, which climbed to #4 on the charts. The song is about being awake at 25 or 26 minutes to 4 in the morning while trying to write a song. Borrowing some inspiration from that song, even though it has nothing at all to do with adventure, I titled this report 9 or 10 to 3. In this case, the title means we started with nine or ten riders initially signed up to attend but on the day we crossed the border into Mexico our group had shrunk to three.

The domino effect of riders cancelling began in July when JT had a motorcycle wreck and sustained severe injuries to his left foot (for those not aware, he is still recovering as of this writing but the prognosis is good). Others dropped out, here and there, over the next few months. By early November our group had dwindled to four. The freezing weather forecast for Copper Canyon resulted in one final cancellation, leaving our group at three.

This is in no way a criticism of any of the riders who were not able to make the ride. It is simply to point out the fact that despite our best intentions, stuff happens. Life has a way changing our plans sometimes, often without our consent. All you can do is roll with it.

And speaking of rolling with it, the predicted freezing weather had all of us discussing redirecting the trip to someplace warmer. We could stay in Big Bend and ride the national and state parks. Or we could head over to Arizona and its predicted warmer temps. But, in the end, we decided we really wanted to go to Copper Canyon and the forecast only had one serious, below freezing day. We decided we could deal with that so talk of riding elsewhere faded away.

We did make one concession for the forecast - we reversed our route. We had initially planned to take two days to ride to the southern end of Copper Canyon, which meant we would be around 7000 feet in altitude Sunday through Tuesday morning. We would start at altitude on Tuesday and then spend the day riding down into the canyon, ultimately ending up at about 2000 feet in elevation. The challenge was that the forecasted low for Tuesday at the top of the canyon was 14 degrees with a high not much above freezing.



On the other hand, the lows and highs at the bottom of the canyon were much more agreeable. Temps were predicted to just dip below freezing and then to rise to the mid-60s with abundant sun. Those temps and conditions were much more agreeable to us.



After thinking about it we figured out that if we reversed the route we could be in the bottom of the canyon on Monday evening and then mostly stay at lower altitudes the next two days, avoiding the much colder temps at the top of the canyon on Tuesday and Wednesday. With the route reversed we wouldn't be back at altitude until Thursday, after the worst of the cold front had passed through the area and temps had risen back to their normal (and more pleasant) levels. It seemed like a workable plan. With a consensus reached, it was time to get the party started. Copper Canyon, here we come.
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Last edited by Trail Boss; 11-19-2018 at 11:05 AM.
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Old 11-19-2018, 01:25 PM   #8
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Re: 9 or 10 to 3: The Copper Canyon Sprint

Just curious, but has Connie ever ventured South with you? Obviously, not on a bike, but perhaps in a car/truck/jeep? Or is this a part of your life you want to keep to yourself?

I've thought about the possibility of taking Beth and/or the kids South, but...

As for group size, if I plan a ride, I make it a point to let the other riders know it is NOT an open invitation ride. I don't like the large groups either. Much more than 6 and it really changes the whole nature of the ride. But, you are right. Life has a way of thrashing the best laid plans... Nothing to do but go with the flow

As always, I am sure the pics will be awesome
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Old 11-19-2018, 01:43 PM   #9
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Re: 9 or 10 to 3: The Copper Canyon Sprint

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Just curious, but has Connie ever ventured South with you? Obviously, not on a bike, but perhaps in a car/truck/jeep? Or is this a part of your life you want to keep to yourself?

I've thought about the possibility of taking Beth and/or the kids South, but...
I would love to take her to Mexico in our car. Unfortunately, while I could probably get her to go, she would be so nervous about it that she likely wouldn't enjoy it very much. She has been to Ojinaga and Boquillas but that's as far as she has been willing to venture.

Just yesterday I brought up the idea of riding the train through Copper Canyon. While she didn't say no immediately, she didn't say yes either...
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Old 11-21-2018, 08:28 PM   #10
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Re: 9 or 10 to 3: The Copper Canyon Sprint

Here we go

My wife and I successfully married off our oldest son, Hammer, on Saturday evening to the wonderful and beautiful Sabrina. I stumbled off to bed sometime after midnight following a sunset wedding in Terlingua ghost town, a reception at the Starlight Theater and an after-party at the (world famous) palapa at Uncle's place. The good news was I managed to moderate my alcohol consumption throughout the evening, leaving at least some possibility I could get moving on Sunday morning early enough to meet Thomas and Jeff in Ojinaga about noon.

Connie was not happy about me missing out on the Sunday morning clean-up but she didn't complain too much. I rolled out of bed about 8 am, packed the bike, kissed her goodbye and headed west.

I intercepted Thomas and Jeff at the Banjercito in Ojinaga, just finishing their import paperwork. A few minutes later my paperwork was done too so we headed into town to grab some lunch and then change dollars into pesos.

Lobby's Restaurant in OJ is always a fine choice. They serve traditional Mexican food (not Tex-Mex) or, if you prefer, they also offer some American food, such as a hamburger and fries. Either way, the food is good.


While Thomas and I are both Mexico and Copper Canyon veterans (though we have not ridden together before) this was Jeff's first time to ride in Mexico. What an introduction - going to Copper Canyon on your first adventure ride in Mexico. In my opinion it was a heck of a good start.

We elected to take the free road out of Ojinaga, which allowed us to pay a visit to the spectacular Peguis Canyon just 25 miles south of the border. If you've never visited, I highly recommend it. You don't even need to do any import paperwork to go there - just cross the border and ride south. It's in the tourist zone and there aren't any checkpoints along the way.



Jeff enjoying the great view and providing a sense of scale at the same time. It's a really deep canyon.
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Last edited by Trail Boss; 11-22-2018 at 10:38 AM.
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Old 11-22-2018, 11:22 AM   #11
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Re: 9 or 10 to 3: The Copper Canyon Sprint

With the Peguis Canyon sightseeing stop complete, we climbed on our bikes and headed southwest at 60 miles an hour. I was riding a KTM 500 EXC, Thomas was on a Honda CRF250L, and Jeff was on a Honda XR650L. Thomas told me that the top speed of the 250 was about 65 mph, so we agreed that would be our limit. For this trip we mostly stayed in the 60 - 62 mph range when riding pavement. Of course, when riding the twisties or on dirt, our speeds were quite a bit slower.

Speaking of my 500 EXC, this was her first really long ride. I've ridden her quite a bit over the past two years (about 7000 miles) but never on such an extended trip. I wasn't worried about her capabilities - this model has proven to be a real long distance performer as illustrated by Aaron S who has ridden his 500 EXC more than 100,000 kilometers with more to come on his RTW ('round the world") trip - but she isn't set up for hauling all the luggage I would need. I could carry what I needed for a short summer trip but I needed more carrying capacity for a long trip, especially since I would be carrying bulky winter clothing.

Here's how she was set up prior to the ride. The globetrottin rear rack is awesome but won't work with pannier bags. I replaced the Wolfman panniers in the photo with Mosko Moto R40 bags last year, which are excellent for short summer trips but couldn't hold everything I would need on this trip. I decided I was either going to a) buy a Mosko Moto 80 or a Giant Loop bag to work with the existing rack or b) buy a new rack that would work with panniers.


While I like the Mosko Moto bags I didn't really want to spend $600 buying the larger R80 version. After having previously used the Alt Rider version of the Giant Loop bag, I knew I didn't prefer those types of bags. Instead, I opted to go with another version of the Globetrottin rack, one that would work with panniers. I have a good set of Wolfman panniers so I just needed a rack I could use them with. I contacted George at Globetrottin and let him know what I was doing. He promptly made a rack for me and had it shipped out a few days later. I can't thank him enough for his willingness to expedite my order and his great customer service. Here's what this version of the rack looks like.


The rack is strong, sturdy, and transfers most of the weight of the luggage to the frame of bike so concerns of breaking the subframe are alleviated. Note - I am not associated with Globetrottin in any way. I'm just a very happy customer.

Here she is, ready for Mexico, with Wolfman panniers, a Mosko Moto tail bag, and a Giant Loop tank bag.
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Last edited by Trail Boss; 11-24-2018 at 08:08 AM.
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Old 11-22-2018, 11:45 AM   #12
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Re: 9 or 10 to 3: The Copper Canyon Sprint

Our goal for Sunday was the city of Cuauhtemoc, 200 miles south of Ojinaga. It was an uneventful ride, with the small exception of getting off course while trying to ride through the city of Chihuahua. The sun was out, the temps were mostly warm, and the riding was pleasant.

We reached Cuauhtemoc as the sun was getting low on the horizon and the temps were starting to drop. I had been sweating earlier in the day wearing my winter riding suit in the 70 degree temps in Ojinaga but Cuauhtemoc is about 4000 feet higher than OJ (2600 feet versus 6600 feet) and we could definitely feel the difference in temperature. It was a cool 55 degrees or so in Cuauhtemoc. In fact, despite our concerns about the predicted cold weather during this trip, I actually spent more time sweating than being cold during the first three days of our ride.

Once in Cuauhtemoc we started searching for a place to stay. For this trip we did not make hotel reservations, since we weren't sure exactly how far we would be riding each day. Our plan was to find a place in whatever town we ended up in each evening. We located a nice Best Western a few blocks from downtown Cuauhtemoc and decided it was the right place for us.


The obligatory "motorcycles from the hotel" pic. The Best Western has an enclosed courtyard but we chained the bikes together for a little added safety - a precaution we employed the entire trip.


The Best Western is located on a hill and provides a pretty nice view of the city. Sunset was spectacular.
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Last edited by Trail Boss; 11-24-2018 at 08:09 AM.
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Old 11-22-2018, 12:30 PM   #13
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Re: 9 or 10 to 3: The Copper Canyon Sprint

Richard, was that ktm 500 the one you were going to take to Baja? That rack looks well constructed, all steel? Do they make these out of aluminum, or would that not hold up to lay downs?

Nice find with the best western. That looks to be very nice place for "Egypt" Mexico. What did they charge?

Your group size ended up perfect after all. Your right about groups past 5 since it get strung out too far
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Old 11-22-2018, 12:37 PM   #14
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Re: 9 or 10 to 3: The Copper Canyon Sprint

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Richard, was that ktm 500 the one you were going to take to Baja? That rack looks well constructed, all steel? Do they make these out of aluminum, or would that not hold up to lay downs?
Yes, that was the bike we were planning on using for the Baja 1000.

The rack is all steel. I don't think they make an aluminum rack. I'm not sure how an aluminum rack would stand up to crashes - I don't know enough about metallurgy to answer the questions.

Quote:
Nice find with the best western. That looks to be very nice place for "Egypt" Mexico. What did they charge?
$51 a night for a single, with a very good breakfast included (I had a tasty three egg omelet.)
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Last edited by Trail Boss; 11-22-2018 at 12:38 PM.
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Old 11-22-2018, 12:49 PM   #15
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Re: 9 or 10 to 3: The Copper Canyon Sprint

Its so hard for me to lay down a hundred bill which so many hotels end up being close to in the US these days for a 12 hr bed with your eyes closed, ripoff.

This is good stuff
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Old 11-22-2018, 04:15 PM   #16
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Re: 9 or 10 to 3: The Copper Canyon Sprint

Richard,

Awesome report! A few years ago we tried staying at the same Best Western but it was full. We opted for a budget motel at $20 per night with courtyard parking. The food nearby was excellent.

I look forward to the next installment.



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Old 11-22-2018, 06:52 PM   #17
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Re: 9 or 10 to 3: The Copper Canyon Sprint

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Its so hard for me to lay down a hundred bill which so many hotels end up being close to in the US these days for a 12 hr bed with your eyes closed, ripoff.
I find it easier to pay $100-150/night the older I get There is something about a clean bathroom, hot shower, nice bed, and AC (and hot tub if we get the right place!) that appeals to me at the end of a long day on the bike. That said, I often like to find the little out of the way motels that are $50-60/night so long as they are decently clean, even if a bit worn because of age.
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Old 11-22-2018, 06:58 PM   #18
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Re: 9 or 10 to 3: The Copper Canyon Sprint

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I find it easier to pay $100-150/night the older I get There is something about a clean bathroom, hot shower, nice bed, and AC (and hot tub if we get the right place!) that appeals to me at the end of a long day on the bike. That said, I often like to find the little out of the way motels that are $50-60/night so long as they are decently clean, even if a bit worn because of age.
Yes, that hot bathtub is a must for cramping legs which I get after riding all day

That one in goldwaite was kinda like what you describe, clean enough and around 50 bucks. Nice indian folks running it. Its all part of the adv experience thats for sure.
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Old 11-23-2018, 09:47 AM   #19
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Re: 9 or 10 to 3: The Copper Canyon Sprint

After getting checked into the hotel and putting our gear away, it was time to search out food and beer. Not necessarily in that order.

We located a sport(ish) bar about a block away from the hotel - I've never been in a sports bar in Mexico since I usually don't stay in towns big enough to have one - with a decent menu and a good selection. The salsa was hot (for this gringo), the food was good, and the cerveza was cold. What more could you ask for?


I ordered bistec ranchero thinking I was going to get a steak. Instead I got a bowl of steak soup. Initially I was a little disappointed at not getting a steak - note to self, you really need to work on your spanish more - the soup was actually very good. I would eat it again.


After dinner Thomas and Jeff wanted to walk to the centro, do some sightseeing, and have another beer or two. I begged off, feeling tired (and old). It had been a fairly long week so far, what with all the wedding stuff, and I was feeling the residual fatigue. I headed back to the hotel and in short order was sawing logs.

Ten hours later, though, I was feeling spry as a spring chicken and raring to go. It was at this point that I discovered that my two travel companions are not morning people. I was up, showered, dressed, and out walking around with my camera by 7 am. They were just getting out of bed by 8. As would be our routine for the next few days, I would go to bed earlier than them and then would be up and ready the next day before them. It wasn't a problem though, as we weren't in a hurry and didn't have a particular time schedule we needed to stick to.

We rolled out of Cuauhtemoc about 10 am, which became our standard departure time, and headed west toward Creel. Today's destination was Urique, a town at the bottom of the canyon.

The ride to the town of Creel was uneventful and even included some fun twisty pavement. Creel is at about 7000 feet in elevation and the air was brisk. The temperature was in the low 50s when we left Cuauhtemoc but the sun was out and it was a beautiful day for a ride.
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Old 11-23-2018, 01:48 PM   #20
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Austin
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Re: 9 or 10 to 3: The Copper Canyon Sprint

The day and a half of travel to get to Creel had all been prep work. Now it was time for the good stuff, for the great riding and unbelievable scenery. We were at the edge of Copper Canyon and about to kick the excitement into high gear.

Creel is in the mountains at the top of the canyon, at a little below 8000 feet in elevation. While it had been 100% pavement to get here and we would have prefered more dirt with our adventure, the closer we got to Creel the better the riding got, with the road getting increasingly twisty and with more elevation changes. In Creel we turned west toward Urique and the bottom of the canyon.

About 20 miles or so west of Creel is an overlook known as Divisadero and it was our first sightseeing stop of the day. The views from here are incredible and I have yet to see a picture that does it justice. I had been here on my 2006 trip with Uncle yet the views weren't any less stunning today than they were a dozen years ago. If you haven't been, I recommend it to you.




There is a train, the Chihuahua al Pacifico Railway, that runs from the city of Chihuahua through Copper Canyon to the city of Los Mochis, on the west coast. Called the most dramatic train ride in the world, it runs daily and is the last long distance passenger train in Mexico. Along the way, it makes several stops, including Creel and Divisadero. At these stops, the locals are set up to sell food and souvenirs to the passengers.

We decided that we might as well grab lunch while we were here as there were plenty of options and we weren't sure what might be available further down the road. As we walked into the area where the locals were cooking, each called out to us, trying to get us to buy our food from them.

Gorditos were what's for lunch and they were very tasty. The man takes the order while the lady makes your plate.


There were lots of meat choices.


Mmmmm...


Check out the design of the stove. Each food stall/vendor has one of these. They take a 55 gallon drum and cement it to the ground. Then the cut a door in the side, install in a "floor", and create a wood burning stove. A large metal plate is welded to the top of the drum, creating the cooking surface. It's quite clever.
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