México: Tepehuanes to Durango

During our travels through the USA some climbs were easier than others. The easier ones often followed the route of old, and now near-forgotten railways. Even narrow-guage railways take hills at a steady and manageable pace. Leaving Tepehuanes, and for much of the journey to Durango, we followed an old railway line; but this time looking for a route that stayed as flat as possible. We’re not sure how long this stretch of ferrocarril has been abandoned, but what looks passable from the air (via GoogleEarth) is often very different on the ground. Thankfully we knew some of our route was possible from others who’ve passed recently, but even then forward progress required a certain amount of our rare brand of stubbornness…

Faced with busy highways to Durango with their attendant miserly camping opportunities and noise we soon got quite gung-ho about trying a bit of rail-trail in the hope of escape. Compared with some of our previous efforts and my misplaced sense of impending doom; we actually mostly succeeded.

Sarah pondering the narrow railway sleeper that bridges the gap in the first bridge after Tepehuanes. In hind-sight there was a farm road that bypassed this, but we were being "pure" and trying to stick to the actual railway - a fine example of "we're going to make this thing work, no matter what!"
Once we'd relaxed and opted for the path of least resistance minor interruptions such as absent bridges weren't a problem :-)

Approaching Santiago Papasquiaro at lunch-time we misjudged things and ended up hitting town hungry. Both of us are not at our best with the hustle and bustle of towns, and stomachs making noisy protests don’t help. I was just returning to the bikes from a petrol and water mission when he heard “hey you! Hello!” in english. After a small pause he turned round to see a man reminiscent of George Harrison smiling at him and clutching a small boy who only had eyes for the traffic. “You’re a biker?” was the question and the reason for the greeting. “Yes…”, then “I am too” in reply, lead to “Are you Cocono?” on my part. Cass Gilbert and the others who’d trod this route at the beginning of 2010 had met, and been royally looked after by one of the local mountain biking clubs (the Coconos Salvajes). It turned out that we would get the same treatment and then some.

Jorge quickly extended the hospitality of his daughter’s lawn for our tent, took us and our bikes to the local shop (well stocked) and then fed and watered us at his house. That evening when he dropped us off at his daughter’s house he carefully told us not to worry about gun-shots in the night as the high wall around the garden meant we were safe! Through-out the afternoon he was greeting people who turned out to be Coconos, and some who were not; and the making plans for a mountain-bike ride the next day in our honour.

After a somewhat reticent question on Sarah’s part it became clear why a group of men who get together to laugh, chat and generally poke fun at each other while enjoying the outdoors have anything to do with Turkeys (Coconos Salvajes means Wild Turkeys). With an impish grin on his face he confessed that some of his friends have some middle-age spread. The metaphor is further realised by their squawking and grumbling on up-hill sections followed by even more noise and hoots of glee on the much faster down-hills.

We are challenged to imitate Wild Turkeys, and not wanting to judge our middles, will let the viewer call our success (photo Coconos Salvajes)

We left Santiago Papasquiaro along an old road suggested by Jorge towards Chinacates before re-joining the Durango/Tepehuanes railway after Nuevo Ideal.

Leaving Santiago Papasquiaro behind using a dirt-road route suggested by the Coconos Salvajes

A short highway section saw us back on the railway or parallel farm roads/track through Canatlan and most of the way to Durango

On the highway near the the old railway there are some suspiciously large and robust fence posts. Maybe the better to withstand the dry-season brush burning.
Between Canatlan and Durango the railway passes through some wetlands with lots of apple orchards. The surrounding sierras border the flatlands.

Now we’re in Durango staying with Frida and Jorge Luis (Warmshowers) for a few days including Christmas before heading on to Zacatecas. Having now done some route-work, here’s a URL for the planned route. http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/26356398


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