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rail trail (mexican style)

The idea of following the abandoned railway track to Durango appeals to us and so armed with directions from Abraham we set off in the late afternoon sun. We are still negotiating our way out of town when Abraham unexpectedly joins us on his mountain bike accompanied by an Australian blue heeler, one of the only things on earth guaranteed to give me a momentary pang of homesickness for Australia.

Abraham.

Abraham and his blue heeler accompanies us out of Tepehuanes on the disused railway.

After cycling with us for a few kilometres, Abraham leaves in time to get back to Tepehuanes before dark while we continue until the sun sets and a full moon rises over the rocky gorge where we stop to make camp.

The guys are still enamoured, it seems, with their new hats in the morning.

Cowboy Cass.

Cass, is clearly sporting today's cowboy fashion...

Cowboy Jason.

...as is Jason.

We set off along the track and our way diverges from the railway line for a while on a sandy jeep track populated by real cowboys astride real horses.

Trail.

A sandy trail...

Real cowboys.

...populated by real cowboys...

Cycle cowboy posse.

...as well as the cycling cowboy posse.

As we pass through villages people stare, agape, at the strange spectacle we must present and cry, “Hola, turistas!” Clearly they are not fooled, for a second, by the cowboy hats. We come to a river which we cross before discovering that we missed the turn which will return us to railway line and so have to make the ford again: river crossing aren’t particularly good for bicycles.

Back...

Back...

...and forth.

...and forth across the river... (Photo: Jeff Volk.)

Watering the horses.

... while cowboys water their horses downstream.

Bemused local children with donkeys, stare in amazement.

Bemused local children with donkeys, stare in amazement as we make our way back to the railway line.

We find the railway line again and ride past forlorn abandoned stations.

Back on the rail trail.

Back on the rail trail.

The thorny vegetation manages to pierce tough Schwalbe tyres and Cass ends up with a flat, resulting in an impromptu lunch break on a railway bridge while he works on his bike.

Thorny ground leads to a railroad puncture repair.

Cass repairs a puncture and replaces a tyre on the railroad bridge...

... which we take advantage of to eat lunch under the bright blue sky.

... while we take advantage of the break to eat lunch under a bright blue sky.

When we finally continue on the other side of the bridge, the trail becomes more and more uncertain before disappearing completely.

We are constantly astonished by the unreliability of the information that we are given in Mexico. Abraham had indicated with great confidence that we could ride all the way to Durango on the rail line but it now seems that it won’t be quite so simple as we had imagined.

When we continue we discover that the trail fades gradually into the vegetation.

When we continue, we discover that the trail fades gradually into the vegetation until it becomes all but impassable.

We backtrack for a while and then cut across country towards the highway which we can hear and see in the distance on the other side of the valley. We chance across a path that seems to lead towards a village where we are sure there will be a road leading to the highway.

Trying to make our way to the road we find a bit of single track and send a startled bunch of cattle fleeing across the field in a cloud of dust.

Trying to make our way to the road we find a bit of single track and send a startled bunch of cattle fleeing across the field in a cloud of dust. (Photo: Jeff Volk.)

However, the track turns out to run up against a series of barbed wire fences and a river. We make our third ford for the morning only to be confronted by yet another barbed wire fence.

Only to find ourselves confronted with more obstacles.

We cross the river again, only to find ourselves confronted with more obstacles.

As we are still trying to negotiate our way to the road a couple of cowboys mozie on past on horseback, clutching tins of Tecate, one of Mexico’s most popular beers, judging by the amount of empty cans we find cast by the side of the road. After a brief discussion, we are set on the right track and emerge without warning from the river bank into the middle of yet another amazed village.

After a consultation with some bemused and tipsy cowboys on horses we make our way through a village and back to the highway.

After a consultation with some curious and tipsy cowboys on horses we make our way through a village and back to the highway.

We are slightly disappointed to find ourselves back on pavement but we are keen now to arrive in Santiago Papasquiaro where the local mountain cycling club, alerted by Abraham, is expecting our arrival. As the guys disappear over the first rise on the highway, I discover that my Schwable tyres have also succumbed to the travails of the terrain and spend 45 minutes wrestling with a puncture by the side of the road. Eventually I make my way into Santiago where I find Jeff, Jason and Cass waiting for me in a carpark on the outskirts of town, deep in conversation with three Mexican mountain bikers. One of them escorts us to a large family compound, with an expansive lawn which noisy troupes of pea fowl, guinea fowl and chickens stalk about on and an open car port where we set up camp.

Our new found friends gather around to help me resolve some minor problems with my bike before taking us to their favourite bike shop to meet some more mountain bikers and give us the opportunity to pick up some various bike bits and bobs.

The bike shop where the local mountain bike crew hang out.

The bike shop where the local mountain bike crew hang out.

Workshop muddle.

A collection of objects in the workshop.

We get taken to dinner of gorditas, where the route of tomorrow’s mountain bike ride is the topic of hot discussion. Finally we end up back in our carport campsite and roll out our sleeping bags and settle in for the night.

Jeff and Jason organising and mending gear.

Jeff and Jason organising and mending gear in our carport camp.

Cass, working on his computer.

Cass, working on his computer.

{ 7 } Comments

  1. Lucie | February 14, 2010 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    You made my day, Anna, again, by updating:-) I read your recent posts while eating my breakfast and having coffee – triple pleasure! Your pictures and words are stunning, and I am more an more fascinated by your trip. There are many postcard pictures, but for some reason, I really liked the one of the guys entering one of the remote villages. I can imagine how startled the local people have to be when they see you there – I don’t think there are many other tourists in those areas. And finally, it looks like the snowy nights are over, aren’t they? I hope the medicine worked and you are feeling strong again! Thinking of you. Lucie

  2. anna | February 14, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lucie,

    I’ve been thinking of you recently and trying to think of a way to persuade you to join me in Cuba for a couple of weeks cycling. What do you think?

    Anna

  3. Kat | February 17, 2010 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    you might be able to persuade me :)

  4. anna | February 18, 2010 at 1:06 am | Permalink

    You got a bike, Kat? :-)

  5. kat | February 19, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Several. :)
    When are you planning to be there?

  6. anna | February 19, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    ah, that’s a good question! in a couple of months maybe. i’ll have to get back to you on that.

  7. Kat | March 2, 2010 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    see how you go! I need to pluck up the courage to tell my work I am leaving… and I need three months notice. So if not Cuba, maybe elsewhere…
    I’m restless for sure, am teetering on the edge of big changes
    loving reading your inspiration
    travel well
    xk

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