September 29, 2010 GMT
Mexico - Durango - Mazatlan

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Plaza De Armas, Durango

I arrived in the city of Durango with last weeks dual celebration lights and decorations still up. They celebrated their 200th Independence Day and the 100th anniversary of the Mexican revolution on the 16th September. The party continues in Durango with nightly free performances in the main Plaza De Armas whilst I was there.

I was staying in a hotel just round the corner from Plaza De Armas with all the downtown sights within walking distance so the bike could stay in the hotel car park.

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Las Alamedas, Durango

One of the reasons for coming here was that the Durango to Mazatlan Highway 40 was supposed to be one of the best roads in Mexico. I left my camping gear in Durango so I was travelling reasonably light for the 190 mile ride which descends 8500 feet to sea level.

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Durango - Mazatlan Road Crossing A River

The scenery was certainly spectacular but on my journey to Mazatlan there were numerous hold ups for road works and on the continuously twisting descent a lot of rockslides and several trees had been washed down onto the road. The biggest rock I saw was a metre diameter sphere sitting in the middle of my lane. There was also an accident where a large truck had overturned on a hairpin bend shedding its load. The cab was crushed down to the seat on the drivers side so it is difficult to imagine how he could have survived. There are a lot of potholes to watch out for too which can be difficult to spot as the predominantly tree lined road plunges between bright sunlight and dark shadow. I was glad I had ridden the road but I was also glad to see the Pacific Ocean and the end of the journey as it had been a tiring day.

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Looking Down At The Clouds

As I stopped to take a photo four local guys swept round a corner and skidded to a halt beside me on their small motorbikes. One of them rode down the wrong side of the road, turned round and wheelied back up then wanted me to do the same. I declined citing too much grey hair, brittle bone disease and the lack of health insurance. Iím no Charley Boorman and believe God gave motorcycles two wheels for a reason!

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Then It Was Supposed To Be My Turn

In Mazatlan the bike chain showed signs of serious wear and will need replacing soon. This will be the third chain I have fitted in the 34,000 miles on this trip so far. Had I realised I would be changing the chain so often I would have brought a chain link splitter and done the job myself. Up till now I have paid a mechanic each time. A number plate support tube which had cracked has now snapped completely in two places although the number plate assembly still feels solidly attached. I think I remember seeing an additional number plate support listed in the Touratech catalogue but was confident at the time that if additional support were needed BMW would have fitted it! I will endeavour to get the tube welded as soon as possible and will try to stay clear of rough roads in the mean while.

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Mazatlan Beach

Mazatlan offers good beaches and fabulous sunsets but my favourite area was the old town with its narrow streets and a quiet tree lined plaza with European style cafes with tables and sun umbrellas out on the pavement.

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Mazatlan Plaza

It was 8C (14F) degrees warmer at the coast in Mazatlan than on the high plateau in Durango. I like the idea being able to ride to a warmer or cooler climate within a day. The rainy season is due to finish at the end of September which is in a few days time although I havenít seen much rain since leaving Creel and the Copper Canyon area.

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Mazatlan Sunset

The return journey back to Durango along highway 40 was a bit smoother as most of the rocks and trees that had been washed onto the road had been removed although workers were still clearing up the last of them. I saw one guy breaking up a large rock with a hammer and chisel which seemed a brutal labour intensive approach but incredibly macho. A new rockslide, or one I somehow failed to spot on the way to Mazatlan included a rock as big as a medium sized car lying in the drainage ditch and extending into the road. Another rockslide still completely blocked one lane of the road.

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A Good Section Of Durango - Mazatlan Highway 40

The 8500 feet ascent was marred by trucks trundling slowly round the endless bends making overtaking difficult for a European. The Mexican drivers simply overtook the trucks around blind bends and as it happens survived to tell the tale every time whilst I took the cowardly approach of waiting until there was sufficient road in view to know I had time to complete the overtake before any oncoming traffic made mincemeat (hamburger meat for those from the US) of me. If a car wanted to overtake me I would pull over and signal them to pass and occasionally one would reciprocate for me.

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Durango - Mazatlan Highway 40

The trucks use all of the road to make their turns and when two trucks approached a bend at the same time the one coming downhill would give way to the one coming up. Anything smaller than a truck was just expected to get out of the way regardless of whether they were going up or down and I certainly wasnĎt going to get into an argument with one of them.

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Durango Plaza De Armas

The roads on the Plaza De Armas round the corner from my hotel were closed by police when I got back to Durango leaving me to find an alternative route to the hotel car park. As there was usually some kind of free entertainment on each evening in the plaza I assumed there was going to be some kind of parade so walked back to the plaza after dinner. There were hundreds of police in full riot gear on the streets as some kind of student demonstration was taking place. I didnít hang around too long but think it passed off peacefully as I was close enough to hear any trouble from the hotel.

Posted by at September 29, 2010 04:06 AM GMT

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