Road Report I: Mexico
My father and I are in the midst of a trip from Texas down to Panama (and hopefully beyond). We just passed out of Mexico into Guatemala and I wanted to post a brief overview of some of the best and worst of the roads we took through Mexico over the last month.
Piedras Negras to Saltillo VIA MEX57-Libre
We crossed over into Mexico at Eagle Pass-Piedras Negras crossing which was very straightforward. We were the only people at the Adunas station and got through within an hour. The road south was pretty blah, straight running through scrubby desert. Riding through Saltillo was not terrible as the roads were well signed.
Saltillo to Real del Catorce VIA MEX54
We wanted to take MEX57 down, but got turned around and ended up on MEX54, which worked fine and was actually a pleasant ride up into the mountains. The final road up to Real del Catorce, 26km of rough cobblestones, was difficult but doable on our loaded KLR650s. I definitely would not suggest doing it on any street bike. Once in Real del Catorce I´d highly suggest parking the bikes in the big lot at the entrance to town and locating your hotel on foot. There are a lot of very steep cobbled roads in the town and, if you´re not careful, you can find yourself driving down a hill that no motorcycle should ever go down.
Real del Catorce to Zacatecas VIA MEX54
This was a pretty straight, quick ride, which was good because my rear shock blew out coming down from Real del Catorce. Getting around in Zacatecas is confusing, but if you keep heading downhill you´ll eventually end up in El Centro.
Zacatecas to Guanajuato VIA MEX49-ZAC51-GUA110
This was a very pretty drive that suffered from some very vague signage in some of the smaller towns. We got very turned around first finding ZAC51 and then staying on it in San Felipe. If any of yáll are planning on driving into Guanajuato I would highly suggest hiring a taxi to follow to whereever you´re going. Confusing does not do the roads there justice, we spent two hours driving in circles before we finally got to where we were going, and that was with a map.
Guanajuato to Playa Azul via MEX37
From Guanajuato to Uruapan wasn´t all that great, and getting through Uruapan sucked, but from Nueva Italia south to the coast Route 37 was an absolutely amazing road. Beautiful, twisty, very few topes and no traffic. Don´t bother with the toll road, the libre road is gorgeous. It is very slow going, though, as you wind down through the mountains, so don´t expect to make great time. Also, some parts of the road below Arteaga were under construction, so be alert for gravel and freshly oiled roads.
Playa Azul to Puerto Escondido via MEX200
I´ve previously gone on record saying that this road is no fun at all on a motorcycle. Parts of it are very pretty, but the majority are nothing special. You´re only actually running alongside the coast for a few small bits. Furthermore there is a fair bit of traffic and passing isn´t always easy. Expect to spend a lot of time breathing truck fumes. Also, there are a ton of little towns on this road and each one has its 5-15 topes. I think that we hit over 200 topes in the two days we were on this road. Finally, getting through Acapulco is really difficult as there aren´t always signs on where to go.
Puerto Escondido to Oaxaca via MEX125
This is a flat-out gorgeous road with very little traffic. An absolute delight to ride. I´ve been told that there is a very good dirt road that runs parallel to it that´s even better, but I didn´t know about it until too late. It is a very twisty mountain road, though, and it took us all day to get from Pueto Escondido to Oaxaca, so again, don´t expect to make great mileage.
Oaxaca to Cosamaloapan via MEX175
From Oaxaca through to Valle Nacional this is another spectacular mountain road with very little traffic. Past Valle Nacional it´s another traffic'y, tope-y slog. Can´t have one without the other, though, and the mountain road definitely makes the valley road worth it.
Cosamaloapan to Villa Hermosa via MEX180D
Yes, a toll road, but we were sick and tired of dealing with topes. It is a very fast road (going 75mph was a nice treat) and, if you want to avoid them, the toll booths are located at Cosamalopan, Acayucan, and about 40km west of Cardenas.
Villa Hermosa to Palenque via MEX186 and MEX199.
This was a very pretty and fairly quick ride through rural Chiapas. It took us maybe 2 hours. Light traffic and relatively few topes.
Palenque to the Guatemalan border via MEX199, Chiapas ??? and MEX190
The highlight of this leg was the un-numbered road between Ocosingo and Comitan. Our AAA map showed it as unimproved but it´s actually well paved. It runs through rural Chiapas with very little traffic and is very pretty. I´d highly recommend this road as an alternative way to get to the border from Palenque. There are no signs for it in Ocosingo, but ask for the road to Comitan, everyone I asked knew where it was (and they all agreed on how to get to it) and it wasn´t hard to find.
Ciudad Cuauhtemoc-La Mesilla border crossing.
Could not have been easier. We arrived at 4:20 and were at a hotel in La Mesilla less than an hour later. No rip offs or shady officials, either.
Hope this is of some help to some of you. Unless I get lazy I´ll try to keep up with these posts as we pass through more countries in Central America.