Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Copper Canyon Tour: Part 1: Vamanos Muchachos! We Ride!

Intro to the Cast and Crew:

The circus came to Creel. Wherever we went, we got some stares:

Our group had a great mix of people. Ages ranged from mid 30s to 40s.

Elena and John were from San Diego. Elena was fluent in Spanish and she chatted everyone up and got all the local tidbits of info that we'd never have known.

Pete and Lisa hailed from Durango, CO. Really sweet people that run an adventure Hiking service on the Colorado Trail: Colorado Mountain Expeditions. They have their act together and it sounds like they really take care of you on the hikes.

Bill was from Portland, OR. He hadn't been on a mountain bike in 15 years. And he rode incredibly well.
He did, however have the worst crash of the group with the biggest bruise I have ever seen in my life. Unfortunately, the bruise didn't resemble the Virgin Mary or Elvis, otherwise his buttcheek would be on ebay right now.

Kim was from Steamboat, CO, Doug and Karen out of PA, and Andrew and Cheryl out of Minnessota.

The Guides:

Rachael(in blue) was the head guide. She a career guided that just exudes professionalism and really made the trip. A logistical pro she can also drive a mean 14 passenger van with trailer.

Sue and Simon (right) are guides who were on vacation in South America and were just checking out the tour to possibly guide it another time. Sue should change her name to Hoss Cartwright as she was on a single speed Moots YBB and was working it hard. Simon based out of Fruita, also in the single speed mafia was pure entertainment and turns a mean wrench. He also enjoys punk rock like me. Even in the remotest tiny village in Mexico, they also love their punk:
*There is a huge used clothing market in Mexico, so if you hipsters are low on vintage clothes go down there.

Tim (left) is from our neck of the woods, Ashville, NC. He had the prettiest Vicious 29er singlespeed. DSC00785. He is starting a cycling clothing company called Hip Toggs *not active yet. Basically marrying style with function for cycling clothing. I would make a great test pilot because I was the dorkiest looking cyclist in Mexico:
If he can me look good, he'll make a mint.

Enrique was the local guide.
You HAVE to have a local guide out here. There are hundereds of trails, with many 5way multiple intersections. Enrique understands English but his vocabulary was limited. I liked how he described the riding:
Climbs: Eeez Big Up.
Downhills: Eeez Big Down.
Technical sections: Eeez No Problem.

The whole group got along wonderfully and it was great to hang and ride with them

The entire first day was spent shuttling to Creel. A typical Mexican town that is in the middle of sprucing itself up to take advantage of the coming tourist boom.

Street dogs abound, and the scariest part of the whole trip was riding bikes around the town.

We stayed in a decent motel DSC00564. There are many lodging choices available in Creel.

We had breakfast in the hotel then got ready for the first ride. I had not been on a mountain bike in more than 3 weeks and was chomping at the bit to ride. We started with just a rude awakening. Creel is at 7,700 feet. Sort of shock for us eastern fools. To get to the schweet singletrack we had to climb a short but steep dirt road. The thin dry air clamped around your chest like a vice. I found that I could actually breathe through my nose better than I have in years, except for the fact that it burned!!! But I was stoked to clean the hill and pull off to the first singletrack.


Ahh!! Singletrack. I totally felt like Homer Simpson... Ahhhh. Doughnuts. After the regroup we took off. There is some seriously sweet trail around Creel. The trails have been worn in over hundereds of years by the local Tarhumara Indians. They walk everywhere. There are trailheads and intersections every 100 yards. Just this spider network of great riding.

I tried my best to keep of with Enrique. I had to remind myself time and time again that he is riding in his backyard, and that I shouldn't try to keep up. We are more than a day's drive from a US hospital and this is not the place to try out some new moves. But it was hard to not let it rip.

I was in heavan and the smile was ear to ear. Bill came up to me later in the week an said something I appreciated very much. He said that one of his favorite parts of the trip was seeing me smile when on the bike. Now I know full well that I take this training stuff and gear stuff way to seriously with all the talk of power, redline, losing weight, etc... But the plain truth is put me on a mountain bike on some dirt and it is pure joy.
Bottle it up and sell it to triatheletes and I'd be rich. It was cool to see my joy of the bike bring a smile to someone elses face.

The trail went from forrest singletrack on pine needles , to dry loose single track, to lava rock, to slick rock, and all the above. Rolling with some short ups/downs. Pure fun. The loose terrain took some getting used to for me, and I found my front tire washing a few times.

We meandered our way to an overlook for a break. This wasn't truly one of the Canyons, but pretty darn deep.

Later we passed some local Indians collecting fire wood on Donkeys. There is no undergrowth in these forrests, and any dead wood is collected within months by the locals for firewood. It's not every day you pass two burros on the trail.

We then worked our way through some more great riding to the Valley of the Monks. There were so many singletrack offshoots that we passed it was amazing. It was sweet rocky drop down to the Valley:



The Van met us at the Valley for lunch. A note on FOOD. There is plenty. You will never lose weight on one of these trips. Between the lunches that WS provides to the Mexican food at dinner, I gained 3 pounds even with all the riding. WS provides plenty of snack foods, though I would be happy if I never saw another Cliff Bar again. And I'd probably hurl if I saw a Poppy seed one.

Once our stomachs were full and our legs tight we took off again on the ever plentiful trails. We went by several of the local Tarahumara Indian houses and their livestock. It's funny there are animals everywhere, just chilling. Usually in the middle of the street. We even saw a coyote running through the woods.
DSC00596 DSC00595

The trails went right through people's fence lines. No one seemed to mind, unlike in America.

We stopped by at a local lake. The locals know where the tourists are going to be and they hang out there looking for a sale. The kids are so cute, and it is hard to say no. Bring some pesos with you on your ride, or bring some candy or crayons for the kids, they get a kick out of it, and as you can imagine they don't have a whole lot.

We then made our way to an old church where a school had also been constructed

Just like kids in any country, they were excited to see the ferners.

One last singletrack back to Creel

We'd been out for 6hrs. Tired, cold, getting darker in the trees. Last run of the day is prime season for stacking it. The very last section down to Creel scared the heck out of me, thankfully I didn't roll it.

Back to the motel for snacks and fussing with bikes
*Simon and Tim did a field rebuild on a rear shock on one of the rental bikes.

We had snacks at 6 then dinner at 7, but don't order anything simple like a burrito cause it takes the longest to get served.

I was SOO tired. This is the longest I've been in chamois in over 5 years. I thought for sure I burned all my matches on the first day and was going to be hurting for certain the rest of the week. Good thing my training has been in blocks of back to back days.

Next post: Eeez Big Down: Into the Canyon.


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