Mexico on the Motorcycles
by Craig Littlefield
On November 14, 2005 we took a 2-day trip into Mexico on our road bikes. I had wanted to do this for a long time and a friend, Jose Sierra, who grew up in Hermosillo, offered to take Roger Austin and me to see his country. We left early in the morning, stopping for breakfast in Amado. After crossing the border we drove about 175 miles south to Hermosillo. We stopped about 10 miles south of Nogales for permits. The road is a 4-lane highway with some tolls. They take dollars everywhere. There was little traffic and we drove quite fast but we passed only one police car with radar. The speed limits are unrealistically low but enforcement doesn’t seem to be important to them. We stopped first to visit Jose's squash farm, 15 miles northeast of Hermosillo. A lifelong friend of his, Gus, runs the farm for Jose.
Our next stop was at Jose's home in Hermosillo. It is leased now for use by the US embassy while he is living in Tucson. It is on a hill that overlooks the town. Hermosillo is a pretty town with nice neighborhoods of well kept older and newer homes. We stopped for a while to visit some of Jose's family and friends before a going to McDonald's for lunch. Jose picked up some large, thick, beautiful, steaks at his favorite butcher shop before we headed east into the mountains.
We had 100 miles of great roads with no traffic. At sunset we dropped out of the mountains with a 10-mile dash down a steep winding road arriving at the small village of San Pedro De La Cueva. We found the secondary roads to be in pretty good shape. They are narrow with no shoulders but with few chuck holes or broken surfaces. The traffic is very light and off the main road we drove as fast as we wanted to. There are some people and dogs walking on the roads but we had no problem with cattle, wildlife or other drivers.
San Pedro De La Cueva is located at the north end of a 50-mile long beautiful lake. It has about 1500 inhabitants with many part time visitors from the US and Mexico. Jose has a vacation home there. The sky was clear and it was dead quiet except for the mooing cows and braying burros. We had really left the world behind. After meeting several of Jose friends, both long time visitors and residents, we ate a great steak dinner with Mexican trimmings and relaxed in the Jacuzzi.
he next morning we had planned to go back to Hermosillo and then go north and east taking back roads to Nogales. Jose stopped and talked to some locals and was told of a 40-mile dirt road shortcut that would save us 200 miles of pavement. It turned out to be 40 miles of single lane rough road. There was deep sand, cattle guards, cows and big trucks. We had a great time but we were all glad to see the pavement again. Roger’s and my K1200Ss took the smooth dirt and even the potholes fine but the deep sand was a bit scary. Jose’s LT did fine but the sand was an even bigger problem and he kept hearing all these rattles from his vast luggage.
We had about 3 hours and 200 miles of great twisting roads to Cananea. Cananea is just south of the US border and 100 miles east of Nogales. The road was in pretty good shape and had no traffic. There were fast sweepers and tight curves with a lot of hills and dips. The scenery was great with several small towns, farms and water crossings. Every town in Mexico greets you with huge speed bumps. We almost had to stop for each of them.
After buying gas we left Cananea and headed west on Highway 2, one of the main east/west highways with the setting sun in our eyes. This road was wide and smooth and passed through some beautiful mountains and over a 6000-foot high pass with views of the valleys below. Arriving at Nogales we passed through customs and back into the USA with no problem. We had bought insurance in Tucson before leaving but Jose says it really is not needed. We felt better having it. We had a quick stop at McDonald's for dinner and then home on I19 in the dark.
We had been told that going to Mexico was risky and dangerous. If it was we never noticed it. We found the roads in good shape and predictable. We had some very fast and interesting riding. There was no problem with customs or the police. Everyone we met was very friendly and helpful. I am sure it helped having Jose along but I wouldn’t feel at all reluctant to go without a Spanish speaking person along. It was another great ride with good friends. Jose was a wonderful tour director and host. We are looking forward to another trip south. Next time we are going to go to Copper Canyon.