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er, various…

A long excellent day. First of all, the day track below for reference. This is almost half the length of the country. Small, the nearly 7M people make it the mostly densely populated Central American country. Screen Shot 2013-05-15 at 5.10.02 PM

So I had to head back to El Tunco this morning early. Something I’d forgotten. There are two ways south down to the plains from the volcano. The way through Santa Maria (the way I came up yesterday) or through Berlin. So off I went for the steep ride down and lo and behold it’s perfect dirt the whole way. But from the top, the morning view down through the volcanoes P1060312

Looking the other way P1060310

Then down quickly into the jungle! Yay! Monkeys (no)! P1060317

Lovely, fast, narrow P1060333

See the house? P1060337

To the bottom, 20 miles later, and another pretty river. There’s a fisherman almost in the centre of the pic, just a bit to the laft P1060345

So I walked down to watch him, and caught his net just before it hit the water. He only casted twice in ten minutes. Patience P1060349

Then, on the flats, navigating cows. For the moment i’d blanked and forgotten how to say *get out of the way you fucking cows!* in Spanish, but they don’t spook easily anyway so we steered through them P1060322

And the ride down was over. So the loop up to Alegria and down, with the connecting main road, is now my favourite all time loop. Why do I think I’ll be back to do it again? Here it is, for your trip down here Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 9.23.01 AM

Then off fast to El Tunco for a couple of hours to get my chore done. Then back again, but we took a diversion about 30 miles down a dirt road, following the Rio Lempa to the ocean, which was just out of sight at the start. It was a dead end so we saw virtually no one. This can be a bad thing, and we had a random incident with a local in a pickup who didn’t think we should be here.

Incredibly lush land down the road

Exotic trees

Until we got to the end of the road. No ocean access without a hike and I’m not leaving Lucinda alone

But we were beside the Rio

Then, tired, we raced up the side of the volcano, pavement side, back to Alegria.


A quick note, as this written a day late.

We’re headed for this, Volcan Tecapa, and a small town that sits just several hundred meters from the top, on a shelf, Alegria.

But first we head across the lowlands, crisscrossed by rivers coming down from the highlands, on our left and we ride south, to the sea, close-by, on our right. Every one is beautiful.

First a quick picture tour of the lowlands

The war ended only 19 years ago, so there’s plenty of this about. A feature of wartime construction is metal doors in brick walls and it looks damn grim. I’ll remember to get a photo. Lots of grim things in El Salvador from that era.

A huge river, Rio Jiboa

A typical town on the way

Then, after maybe 50 miles, there’s a road heading up to volcano and Alegria. There was just about nowhere to stop for photos on the switchbacks, but here’s the thing: it’s maybe the best 20 miles of asphalt I’ve ridden on this tour, if not ever1st and 2nd gear for most of it! Better, for it’s distance than Dragon’s Tail in North Carolina, better than Devils Spine, Mexico. Unphotographable because it’s narrow, no shoulders, precipitous drops occasionally, blind corners, steep, everything, but i’ll try. A track of a section – what this doesn’t show is it’s steep
Screen Shot 2013-05-15 at 6.57.37 PM

Once you start you can’t stop, and to add to the beauty, one side’s a jungle. But what I’ll remember it most for, other than the crazy view, is the half dozen brilliant chicanes, just flip-flopping into perfectly cambered and perfect -radius bends. Pictures of the view, from another road down to the plains, in the following post.

Into beautiful Alegria



La Libertad y Lago de Coatepeque

What a difference a border can make. El Salvador is a completely different animal. More on this in a few days.

I’ve read a few ride reports from others and I can’t remember anyone whining as much as I have about the heat. And I can’t use being Canadian as an excuse because some of the others have been too. Oh well.

So the plan was to head up to altitude to escape it for a few hours.

Next to El Tunco is a town of 35K, La Libertad, which seemed like a good place to explore.

So I rode around the backstreets on my way to the Lake this morning. Here’s the town behind the waterfront


Then off. John 3:16. Uh oh, looks like he means it.

Up to the mountains. The road around the lake was superb

Our first view. It’s a massive volcanic caldera and new, about 60K years old.

A few miles of  pavement down from the crest, then dirt for a few miles around the lake. It’s a continuous community


We arrived at a tiny restaurant over the water.

The water, according to all reports is supposed to be cool. It isn’t, it’s like a bath. Back to the temperature thing. My usual greeting to people isn’t *Buenos Dias*, it’s * Mucho color. Es normal?* which translates roughly to *Christ it’s hot. Is this normal or what?*. The Latinos are pretty intuitive and reply, kindly, * no it’s not normal* which means *as your host in this country, since you’re obviously suffering, I’m going to be tactful and pretend this is abnormal*

After lunch, up to the caldera rim and back onto this beautiful road

Here’s the riding perspective


With great views of the lake below. Lucinda insists on hogging the photos, showing off her new Rotopax, which she thinks is very ADV’ish

On the other side of the road, the landscape is gorgeous, and mostly farmland. El Salvador is tiny, only 8K square miles, with 6M people. But it doesn’t appear that densely populated so far


Then back to the coast. A cop pulls me over, mostly just curious again. Things are slower here for the most part and he reads the registration word for word. Patience…

Then the ocean

The track. Yup another wrong turn in there
Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 6.58.14 PM

Overnight ferry and on to Durango

We’re cautious and head directly over the hills behind La Paz to the ferry with hours to burn. After getting a handle on the time we’ll need later to go through customs, get our permits and insurance sorted, we head off a few miles to a beach for a general check-in on any issues any of us are having. We go through our various tool choices and share new maintenance and repair ideas

The group is cut into two groups psychologically – winners and losers. The previous night we drew straws for boat cabins – only three of us have plumbing. I’m among the pee-in-a-bottle losers. Damn.
Back at the ferry terminal, we start the paper process using a shed for for home base out of the sun
About three hours later all’s done and we ride over to the ferry for the 17 hour crossing
First they have to load all the Bimbo’s. Tons of those in La Paz. I’m guessing they’re shipping more to Cancun. Lucinda laughs as they go by
We ride on first, just like on our beloved BC Ferries, and down to the bowels of the ship. In the dark and dirt, we tie the bikes down.
Ferrying gear through passages
Navigating up to the sunlight, we get our room keys and depart at about 5:00 pm
Random boat shot
We crash early as we ride to Durango as soon as we land. Sunrise
I notice a Harken bullet in the rigging. Huh?
Arriving at Mazatlan. After La Paz we’re happy we’ll be driving straight through
Soon we’re climbing up into the mountains to the Devil’s Spine, a 100 mile ridge ride of twisties through mist and rain forest. Helge and I decide to ride together at the front and he blasts off. We only stop twice so only a few pictures.  Lunch stop is here
A gap in the forest
Then down for the final stretch into Durango. Militia and heavily armed police are everywhere. Young guys in Oakley’s, laser sighted rifles and bad-ass trucks with custom rear decks for firing on the move. Very cool. Lucinda looks a bit wary
Into Durango
The whole town is partying for some reason. They have a band and it’s surrounded by adoring fans. They’re really terrible but the crowd looses it. We’re loosing it too but with exhaustion – a long couple of days

Baja, day 4

Up early and a stunning ride along Baja’s east coast for 50 miles before heading inland.

Back into the mountains. Wonderful

Carving along the walls

And onto a flat plain. In a small town, David the veteran pulls in while I’m chugging water

Then into La Paz for the ferry crossing. Entering La Paz is chaos. The traffic’s backed up everywhere in slow rivers of tourists. Oh boy, we haven’t seen this before. Our hotel’s on the main drag. Sitting outside for an always welcome cold beer we watch the depressing parade of worn-out ex-pats disconsolately walking by

Sunset, almost