Apr 01, 2014
We wake up to frost-covered bikes this morning. A hearty breakfast was served at the lodge, just as amazing as the dinner last night. Everything’s handmade with local ingredients.
Today we get an early start so that we can make it to Urique while it is still light out deep in the canyon. We follow a very nice twisty, paved road for many miles until we hit the main overlook for the Copper Canyon. The road seems like a racetrack with its flowing curves and nice pavement, and in fact, Juan tells us he works with a car club that hosts an annual rally race in this area.
We stop at a train station at the upper rim of the canyon and take in the awesome view. Ivan tells us this is actually a canyon system, where three different canyons meet up. The local kids clamor to take turns sitting on our bikes and look at pictures of themselves. After a lunch break of gorditas, we begin our descent into the heart of the canyon, to the town of Urique, following the “lower road.”
The road is unpaved but in decent condition with some rocks and rough sections thrown in. It crosses the rail line several times along the way. At one point, there was a bridge out of service, so we had to ride down the river a little ways to connect back to the road. All the construction workers paused to watch as we crossed the river one by one on our big adventure bikes. Luckily, this was accomplished without issue.
We visit the Cerochahui Mission Church before making the final, steep descent. The road is rough with switchback after switchback but offers some amazing views of the canyon and the town below. We drop about 5,000 feet of elevation in just a short stretch.
Our GPS elevation profile from the day's ride. The final descent into Urique drops over 5500 feet in 15 miles!
At the bottom is the small town of Urique, where we stay for the night. Upon arrival, we’re met by another group of riders at our hotel with similar plans of exploring the canyon. We share some beers and stories, inflate and hand out more balls to the local kids, then settle down to a nice dinner. Some of us with more adventurous palettes also try out the locally made lechugilla, a tequila-like moonshine.
It will be another early morning tomorrow, as we will have a long day of off-pavement riding. We will double-back on the same road out of the canyon, then make another crossing of the canyon before we head towards the coast.