• El Espinazo del Diablo

    Posted by Loren on January 22, 2011

    “The best motorbike road in the world”, the man said, “160 miles with 3800 perfectly banked corners”. Mexican legend says when the Archangel Michael threw Satan out of Heaven, his broken spine formed a jagged ridge that winds across Sierra Madre: El Espinazo del Diablo or The Devil’s Backbone. This is the road to which our new friend referred, but first, we have a bit of a trek to get there.

    Creel is a tourist town at the head of Copper Canyon. The Lonely Planet generously notes as “vaguely reminiscent of an alpine village”. It will forever be remembered in our minds as the town that provided the real Mexican burrito – two spoonfuls of ground meat tightly wrapped in a maize wrap. The 18 peso ($1.50) price tag should have indicated that my meal was going to be somewhat less satisfying than Murray’s 90 peso filet mignon. Creel will also be remembered as the town that dispelled the common knowledge that a room inside a building is warmer than outside. Should the science of this be determined, electric freezers will be a thing of the past. On the plus side, the beds in our hotel were extremely soft, more due to the fact we slept in every piece of winter clothing we had, rather than number of springs per centimetre.

    The Copper Canyon is 4 times larger than the Grand Canyon, and consists of 7 main canyons that are accessed by road or train. The marketing department for the train option must be working overtime, as there was barely another soul, excepting a local Mexican off to the market and another BMW motorcycle carrying NY plates. We had a full day of outstanding motorbike riding and incredible scenery through the Copper Canyon and beyond to our bush camp. It is starting to appear that Mexico has a group of motorcycle enthusiasts in their road planning department, as the roads are built for 800cc twin engine German motorcycles.

    We have been caught up north for a little longer than expected, so need to beeline it south so our trip doesn’t remain Vancouver-Mexico. A very, very chilly -3C predawn start on arrow straight roads got us well on the way south, providing a scenery, of….. well nothing. Over a cup of instant coffee at a cafe, Murray was vocalising how he had been trying to find words words to describe the scenery, and had arrived at: boring. Bring on El Espinazo del Diablo.

    Riding is the only way to believe The Devil’s Backbone as it weaves its way down from 2440m to sea level in 48km. I am not sure there are the advertised 3800 turns, but there are certainly a lot. Each corner is brake, head-up, focus on the apex and accelerate. This is tremendously fun, until the moment you get behind a semi truck who uses both lanes to go around the corner. It comes to mind that if you happen to come around the corner at the same time as one of the hundreds of trucks which are coming the other way, you will become another one of the many crosses on the side of the road. This must be the Devil part of the road’s name.  Warning heeded, acceleration much more tentative.

    After 4 days above 1500m, a 12 hour, 691km day (2km off our record!) it is good to hear the sea crashing in Mazatlan.

7 Comments | Leave a Reply

  1. Merrilyn on January 23, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Love the photos,especially the canyons…they dont look boring!!!

    • Loren on January 24, 2011 at 2:40 pm

      Oh the canyons certainly weren’t boring! Was the straight road the day after. I loved it, Murray is just hard to please!

  2. Davimac on January 23, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    What an adventure thus far guys!!I’m just a bit envious,great photos

    • Murray on February 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm

      Hey Davimac – there is still time to join us….. 13,000km to go

  3. marlene on January 28, 2011 at 1:23 am

    just wondering where you guys are – we’re waiting for you to stop in if you wish!! Lots of extra beds at our house here in Costa Rica…if you feel like stopping.

    • Loren on January 28, 2011 at 1:36 am

      Hi Marlene, we are in Mexico, loading up on coffee for the ride to Guatemala. You can click our “tracker” link on the website to see where we are exactly. We will be in Costa Rica in 2 weeks. Would love to stop, just not sure of your exact location?

  4. Captainken on February 4, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    After you wind through Puerto Vallarta, you eill enjoy the conopy covered roads along the sea. Stop and see the Night of the Iguana film site on your right. Enjoy Manzillo as well. Safe riding, Ken in Mn Survivor of 7 trips throughout copper canyon and mexico.