La Baranca Del Cobre: The Copper Canyon. Breakdown and Resurection

I peeled out of Urique early. Urique sits at the bottom of the Copper Canyon, the largest Canyon in North America. The drive down in is about 2 hours on a loose, steep, single lane road. 95% of the drive has thousands of ft of exposure on one side, with no guard rails. What do you do if you encounter another vehicle on one of the myriad of hairpin turns? Well, that question kept me up all night.

It was a Saturday morning, so thankfully there were no cars on the road. I blasted to the top with my bag only falling off once. I also ditched my windshield. I needed synergy between my bike, the dirt, and me, and the windshield was fucking it all up.

Thing were going well until I started decending towards the Rio Tubares. The road deteriorated due to the hundreds of dump trucks that drive it everyday because of the mine about 10km above, and unfortunately I got into some loose, sharp rocks. I held on tight, and managed to stay upright, but my bike died. I tried to start it, but it would go. Specifically, it would not run in gear. Nuetral was fine.

Bullshit. No crash, just some turbulence on a rough road. I`d be lying if I said I was in an okay spot when this happened. I was still deep in the mountains, about 6 hours from any semblance of a town that would have a mechanic. I did all I could to fix the bike, but eventually it got to be late in the day and I had to start worrying about myself. I didn`t have any water, nor had I drank anything all day. The sun was beating down on me and I was starting to feel light headed.

The mine a little ways up the road, so I threw everything I deemed essential in a backpack and hitched a ride to the mine in the back of a gigantic pickup truck, about 10km up the road. I was dropepd at a garage full of engineers and mechanics (unfortunatly their ability to fix mining equipment doesn`t translate to motorcycles). After trying unsuccesfully to locate someone with access to a truck, and just about ready to wallk an hour up the road to a small village with a smaller likelihood of there being anyone to help me, the boss rolls in with a group of guys, all visibly hammered. One of them speaks a little english, and next thing I know we are heading down to my bike with five guys, tecates in hand.

After a little troubleshooting and still no luck we put the bike in the back of the truck and drove back to the mine. They assured me if the bike was left on the side of the road, it would have been gone the next morning. These mountains are notorious for marijuana and opium farming, so there are bad guys around.

Now to give you an idea of how this mine works, guys work 14 straight days and then have a week off. While they are here they work 12 hours a day, sleep in dorms, eat in a cafeteria, and get driven to and from their job sites in busses. The operation goes around the clock, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The only vehicles driving in and out are busses every two weeks for the purpose of shift changes.

Thankfully the guys who helped me get the bike took me under their wing and assured me not to worry. They brought me to the dorms, unloaded my bike, gave me a bed, and let me eat with them in the cafeteria. Despite the fleas and other nasties that bit the hell out of me, it was pretty comfortable. The boss of the garage even let two of his guys work with me to try to get the bike going, but no luck.

Eventually one of the guys who works here called a friend of his in his hometown of Choix, the one about 6 hours away with a mechanic, and negotiated a deal for him to come get me in his truck.

I really can`t even begin to comprehend how fortunate and grateful I am for the help I have been given. Although I stand out like crazy, I`m the only gringo, and the only person not wearing a faded, dirty one piece dickies mining outfit and a hardhat, I’ve definitely felt welcome, safe, and as if people really want to help me. This place is as remote as places come, like being in the middle of the biggest mtn range you can think of.

Two days after the incident, a truck cam for me and the bike. It was a big, old f350 meant for carrying cows. The truck sounded like it was about ready to explode. The tires were all bald. I can’t believe we made it.

The guys who drove dropped me at the nastiest hotel I’ve ever stayed at. I’m really not a stickler for nice accommodations, but I’d prefer not to listen to prostitutes and thugs pacing outside my door all night.

Then next day a mechanic fixed the bike, and I was back on the road.

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