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Mountain Bike Bill, Get the Dirt on the Dirt

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Matzalan Mexico

Work took me to Matzalan Mexico for a couple of days and I managed to squeeze in a day of riding.   From some internet research I found a couple of guide companies that offer quite a few options from a couple hour strolls to 5 day epics.  Since I was unsure if I would actually have time to ride I decided to find something near town that I could get myself to.

    As luck would have it Matzalan hosted one of the 1999 World Cup races at a ranch about 10 miles north of the city in an area called Mazagua.  The ranch is called Peoria Blanca.  Arrangements were made the evening before for a early morning ride to try to beat the sweltering heat and humidity of the regions rainy season.

Matzalan-15SEP02-08.jpg (39757 bytes)Matzalan-15SEP02-09.jpg (41124 bytes)I was up and on the road toward Peoria Blanca by 5:45 in the morning and was dropped off at the gates of the ranch while it was still dark.  I waited for about 10 minutes until there was enough light out to make out the trails.  I was breaking one of my own rules for solo riding at a new place.  I had no map.  However I did know that the north and west side of the area was bounded by nearby roads and there were valleys to the south and east.  Besides I was not very far out of town.  I did have have my GPS with me so I strapped it on the stem for a ready reference.

    Starting out in the new light of morning was very interesting.  I could barely make out the trail as I rolled through vegetation tunnels. Within Matzalan-15SEP02-07.jpg (98702 bytes)Matzalan-15SEP02-30.jpg (70938 bytes)20 minutes I was able to clearly make out all the trail features.  It was right about this time that I realized another mistake I had made.  I had forgotten bug repellent.  The instant I stopped moving I was swarmed by hundreds of rather large mosquitoes.  Within 10 seconds of stopping I would have at least a dozen of them on each limb siphoning off my blood.  I quickly found that swatting at individuals was pretty inefficient so I took on a technique of sweeping them off with my hand.  This however would only help out for about 10 seconds.  I found the best way to get rid of them was to start riding again and then sweep them off.  As long as I was riding I was alright.

Matzalan-15SEP02-12.jpg (43970 bytes)Matzalan-15SEP02-20.jpg (49450 bytes)    After rolling along in the low land area the trail started working its way up hill.  This is were I realized that all those Tecate and  Pacifico Cervezas from the previous two days were not helping my riding any.  The climbs were short but technical with ruts and small loose slate-like rocks.  Once up at the top of the main hill of the ranch there were good views of the ocean and resorts to the southwest.  By this point the humidity had everything damp.  I was almost prepared for this with some paper napkins in a small ziplock bag so I would have something dry to wipe of my camera lens.   The humidity was so bad that I had to wipe off  my digital camera's lens every time I took it out to take a picture.  I found this out a little to late and you will see that many of my pictures have an unplanned "artistic blur" effect to them.  

Matzalan-15SEP02-26.jpg (102472 bytes)Matzalan-15SEP02-27.jpg (145617 bytes)This is the view from near the top of the hill.  There are trails weaved all through the "jungle" below.



Matzalan-15SEP02-21.jpg (59647 bytes)Matzalan-15SEP02-22.jpg (63056 bytes)The upper trails that circle and weave around the main hill were rather tight single track had some pretty technical sections.  Many times is was a combination of rocks and roots with slippery dirt in between.    With this being the rainy season there were a couple of sections that I had a hard time determining wither I was on a trail or riding in a stream.  



Matzalan-15SEP02-18.jpg (47186 bytes)Matzalan-15SEP02-23.jpg (74019 bytes)I had my helmet camera with me and I was shooting some video.  However as I was working my way down the back side (north side) of the hill it caught a branch that managed to rip it off my helmet and sever the cord for it.  I stopped the bike right after and started the process of trying to find it.  It was black and most of the leaves, ground, and undergrowth were dark colored.  After about 5 minutes of searching I realized I had it on video.  After reviewing the video I found the guilty branch and there was the camera about 5 feet away just off the trail.  From that point on I had to see up the camcorder along the edge of the trail and ride by to get any footage. 

Matzalan-15SEP02-28.jpg (111810 bytes)Matzalan-15SEP02-14.jpg (64762 bytes)Oh well, once I was down at the bottom of the hill I found myself along the edge of a perimeter fence made of hand cut tree branches and barbed wire .  I followed the perimeter fence all the way around the ranch which gave me a real good set of navigation boundaries to work with.  I hooked up with another trail that worked it way back up to the main hill.  Once back on top of the main hill I ran into some locals who were out for a Sunday morning ride.  I did not know squat for Spanish, and just about the only English they knew was Roland Green.  Anyway we figured out enough common words to ride together so I did another run down the back side of the hill with these folks.  


Matzalan-15SEP02-24.jpg (138037 bytes)Matzalan-15SEP02-25.jpg (133351 bytes)One of the locals showed me a Mexican apple tree.  They are pretty interesting looking with a really hard skin.  Of course considering that I did not see any of them eat one it could be a deadly poisonous plant ;->   They were all on low to mid range hard tails and they seemed pretty interested in my dually :-0.   



    I did do a good deed while I was there.  One of the locals fell and gave himself and nice one inch gash in his leg.  I always carry a small first aid kit so I cleaned it all up and closed up the wound and put a good bandage over it.  Good Karma for me.  After patching up the guy they were ready to call it quits so I went through the trail system one more time.   After that I rode my bike along the roads and streets for about 12 miles back to were I was staying in Matzalan.  All total I worked in about 28 miles on riding that day.

I am sure there are much better places to ride in the area, but if you have only amount of time this is not a bad deal.

Some more pictures from Peoria Blanca

Matzalan-15SEP02-10.jpg (38599 bytes)    Matzalan-15SEP02-11.jpg (42102 bytes)    Matzalan-15SEP02-19.jpg (122874 bytes)    Matzalan-15SEP02-29.jpg (65920 bytes)    Matzalan-15SEP02-32.jpg (86739 bytes)



RIGHT CLICK to save to diskCheck out the video I shot during this ride on September 15th, 2002


Click here to see other videos.