Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Mascota MTB

It has been a long time since I last updated the blog. I received a temporary job offer that involved long hours, relocation to Chicago, and little opportunity for adventure on two wheels. The job only went until November 6 (hint, hint) so now I'm back in San Diego and itching for some adventure. 

Recently, the lady and I went down to Mexico for a couple weeks to visit her family in Sinaloa and Jalisco. I was able to borrow a bike in both places, although one was considerably better than the other. We went to a small town of about 8,000 people in the mountains between Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta called Mascota. It's technically on the way to Puerto Vallarta, but the roads are pretty winding and dangerous so the buses take the long way around the mountains and skip over Mascota. It's also not much of a tourist destination so you only really end up in Mascota if you are from there or have family there. Did I mention it's insanely beautiful? The cobblestone streets are traversed equally by bikes, horses, quads and cars and it is surrounded by rolling ranches and green mountains on all sides.  The town feels laid back and safe, though I did hear some warnings about straying too far into the hills solo as there are known to be some unsavory types growing things who wouldn't take kindly to random visitors.  The town itself was very welcoming and we were often stopped by folks just curious about how we ended up there.  When we stopped to take a picture of an interesting 1940s era bicycle with Trek Singletrack decals, the older vaquero who owned it chatted us up and insisted he was Ana's uncle.  Turns out it wasn't that much of a stretch of the truth.

The first day we climbed to the top of the small hill at the south of town, capped by a white cross.  The weather was perfect in December, probably about 70 degrees and clear.  In retrospect, this is the day I should have gone for a ride.

View from the top of the hill.


View from the road, can just barely make out the cross on the top of the hill.

On the third day I was able to borrow a 1990s era Giant hardtail from Ana's uncle and head off on my own.  I planned out a 30ish mile route that would climb a rough road up to a crater lake, then traverse over to a really small town called Navidad, finally descending about 3000 ft in 12 miles.  I had to forget about most of the ride as it took a while to get going and by that point the weather had turned a little.  I decided to just try to climb to the crater lake and return.

The road out of town.  Molcajete Volcano ahead.

After about 2-3 miles of gentle climbing over a cement, double-tracked road the rain started to pick up.  I stopped to take a drink of gatorade and mull over my options.  I thought about returning to town and hoping for a clearer day and earlier start the next morning, but in the end, I was enjoying the quiet road to myself too much and just thought that a little rain would add to the tall tale I could tell later on.  Eventually the smooth, cement road gave way to a patchy and rough cobblestone road that turned decidedly upwards.  The road became a relentlessly steep grind with pitches over 25% that just went up and up.  The rain also started coming down a bit more so the visibility wasn't great, but I did manage to catch a few views of the ranches and volcanoes.

A view of the ranches near the start of the cobblestone climb.

Up, up, up.
When the rain started to form small rivers in the road I decided I should probably turn back.  I did have to descend that beast still after all - stopping many times to give my braking hands a break.  The cobbles were a little slippery and I had a few sketch fish-outs, but managed to keep the rubber side down.  When I got back to the house and checked my GPS track I found out I was only about a mile away from the crater lake.  Oh well, maybe next time in better weather.  The rain didn't stop for two days, so it's good I didn't turn around in the beginning with hopes for better weather.

Rainy road back into Mascota.


Leaving town.

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