Hermosillo, Mexico to Basaseachic
Motorcycling Adventure #5
6 days, Mar 2012
Ray & Jenny Jardine
This was the most amazing day of riding I have ever experienced, and I'm glad Jenny got in on the fun. If you like twisties, this road is the one. Its 200 miles of the tail of the Dragon.We left the motel at 7:30 and endured Hermosillo's heavy traffic for half an hour going south through the city. We had ridden this way a month ago, and fortunately I remembered the route, because the GPS was no help. We stopped for gas, drinking water, and a few snacks; then after another half an hour of route-finding (most of which was spent waiting for a train that was blocking the road), we got onto highway 16 and headed east. The first part of Highway 16 passed through an industrial region with lots of dust, smoke and foul-smelling air - poduced in part by a Ford plant and a Cemex plant. After the industrial area, there was very little traffic. There were a couple of long, straight stretches of road leading through the desert, and then the road began to climb into the foothills.
Our first town stop was at San Jose de Dimas, a pretty little town with lots of blooming bougainville and other flowering trees. We pulled up to the town square and pulled out our snacks, juice and water. There was a small store here, but no signs of a gas station. We did not need gas ourselves, but perhaps this will be useful information for others riding this way. From here the twisties began in earnest, as the road continued east, winding up and over and back down the lower mountains and intervening river valleys. The hillsides were covered with oaks and now and then a grove of pine. It was enjoyable riding, especially because there was very little traffic. We arrived in another town, Tecoripa, and were glad to find not just one, but two Pemex gas stations. (Eighty miles between gas stops.)
After more climbing into steeper mountains, the road descended, twistily, to the tall bridge over the Rio Yogui. It was a beautiful, large river, and we pulled off on the steep dirt road that led down to the river's edge where we enjoyed a shore break. Across the river, a fellow was pumping river water into a large tank on his truck. We sensed there might be some money crop being grown around here. A small plane flew overhead, probably looking for that same crop. That was our guess, anyway. Back on Highway 16, from here the serious and unrelenting twisties began. The mountainsides grew ever steeper, and more densely wooded with pines and junipers, and the views became expansive. The drop-offs were breath-taking.
We had hoped to find gas at Yecora, and indeed we did. (Ninety-five miles between gas stops). Yecora was a typical ramshackle town, but it had several small stores, taquerias, and a couple signs for hotels. It was 1:30 pm, and we were ready for a lunch stop, so We pulled off the highway and drove through town. We found one taqueria that was open but it was quite busy. So instead we bought some snacks, juice, and a gallon of water, and sat outside in the shade, eating our lunch.
The air was cooler now that we were in the mountains, and out to the east we could see some rain clouds building dark and fast. We had some wind, but mostly it was perfect weather. As the afternoon and twisties wore on, and as the clouds continued to build ahead of us, we would have liked to find somewhere to camp, but all along the way the road was lined with barbed-wire fence, indicating private property.
We had to be extremely careful of high-speed traffic out on this curvy mountain road. Large semis, buses, work truck, smaller pickups, and small cars. One immense, passenger bus came barreling down the road and was leaning way over as it careened around a curve. It was leaning so far over it looked like the driver was going to lose it. But no, that's just the way the fellow drives this road. The road was in very good shape, until we reached the border between Sonora and Chihuahua. After that point it was much more potholed and a few sections of rocks on the pavement. At one point, on a super sharp corner, the edge of the pavement had fallen away. Here the road was black with tire marks of vehicles coming too close. The accident rate through here must have been quite high, judging by the impatience of the high-speed drivers. At one point we had to stop on the edge of the highway to allow an 18 wheeler to negotiate a sharp curve using both lanes. Most everyone was friendly, we received a lot of waves. We should also mention road hazards: cattle, burros, dogs, potholes, rocks. Fortunately, all of these are not in abundance, but we had to stay alert. Just before reaching Tecoripa, an animal ran out in front of me. It was dark colored and about the size and shape of a Mexican wolf, but I couldn't be sure of that. Earlier, in the lower foothills, Jenny had seen two roadrunners running across the road in front of her. And in the mountains we saw a squirrel with an extra long tail. The tail must have been twice the length of the body. Also in the mountains we saw a lot of Ponderosa Pines, and also some Cypress and at the stops we noticed poison oak, bare stems only. As the afternoon wore on, the traffic increased and became more frenetic. We were ready to stop for the day, and just west of Basaseachic we stopped at the Hotel Alma Rosa, at 5:30 pm. The Alma Rosa was run by an older Senora who had quite a sense of humor. She makes burritos for the guests. We asked how much do they cost, and she asked us, how much do you have?
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