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|After a couple of days in Las Cruces, visiting family and
friends, it was time to start making my way south again.
As usual, I left really late, and I started to worry that this would be a problem at the Mexican border. The parking lot was rather full on the Mexican side of the border, but it didn't take that long to get the tourist visa and even less time to get the bike registered for temporary import into Mexico. In less than 30 minutes I was blasting south on the Pan American highway. I got to Chihuahua just in time to go to dinner with friends.
The weather forecast for this week looked very questionable, especially for the Sierra, so I decided that there is no point in waiting, and went for a day ride to check a road I had not been on in a long time. On ADVRider someone said he heard it had been paved (it was dirt last time I rode there), so I figured it was time to verify the road condition. The fact that this road starts at the Basaseachic falls didn't hurt, as the section between La Junta and Basaseachic is a fantastic motorcycle road (actually, Mex16 is a fantastic road all the way to San Nicolas, some 120 miles further west from Basaseachic). I left Chihuahua around 9 and it was still chilly. It only got chillier as I climbed up into the mountains. Good thing I had brought a fleece in addition to the heated jacket.
The road from Basaseachic to San Juanito is about 60 miles and it is definitely not paved. Not only is it not paved, in some sections it cause me to wander if the Givi top case would still be there next time I looked in the mirror. Of course, those sections usually came right after a nice and smooth one in which you pick up the speed to something that way out of line with the bumpy and rocky sections. There was little traffic, but once in a while I'd run across a truck coming the other way whose driver seemed to be practicing for next year's Baja race. I managed to avoid becoming a hood ornament on those trucks. Some drivers were a lot more considerate, moving over and slowing down a bit to reduce the amount of dust they kicked up as they went by. It turns out that there is some construction going on on the San Juanito end, but it looked like they were re-grading the dirt, not preparing it for paving.
As I was getting gas in San Juanito, there was a small group of kids that was very interested in the bike. But they wouldn't come close or talk to me. They just stood there, hiding behind a column and stared, fascinated, at the bike and the guy with the astronaut suit (you see very few people riding in full gear in Mexico).
Unfortunately, those 60 miles took a little over 2 hours, which meant I was running out of daylight (and nice temps) when I got to San Juanito. I decided against going up to Creel, opting instead to start making my way to Chihuahua. The section between San Juanito and La Junta doesn't suck either (although it's much faster than the one going to Basaseachic) so I had a nice ride down from the Sierra towards Chihuahua.
I took the toll road back into the city (it saves over 30 minutes driving time). Technically, toll plazas should have services for the paying motorist, but in many states the services were limited to a dirty bathroom (you want paper or towels? Not even if you pay extra). In Chihuahua (as has been the case in previous trips) not only do they have the cleanest facilities I have ever seen on the road (anywhere that is open to the public), they often offer free coffee, maps and info. And they give motorcycles a 50% discount over car rates only state to do so, AFAIK). Almost makes me want to use highways more often.
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