Yesterday, all I could think about was getting out of San Luis Potosi. I’d been riding for eight days straight covering about 1,900 miles and needed a break anyway. Looking for a city that wasn’t too big nor too small, I set my sights on Rioverde 80 miles to the east on Mexico 70. Once I had the ramps in place, I wheeled my bike from the inside of the Hotel Progreso and set off.
Mexico 70 is the first road I’ve encountered that’s fun to ride. Rising up and over portions of the Sierra Madre Oriental, the road passes through a 5,000 acre national park. As the road twists and turns, it rises upwards eventually placing you in the clouds. Here the temperature drops and the heated grips come on. A heavy fog approaching mist covers the visor further reducing visibility. The flora changes dramatically as the cacti are replaced with deciduous trees and large pines.
The road is a delight to ride except for a few minor problems: it’s difficult to see in the fog, the road surface is moist from the heavy atmosphere and rambling trucks create an unwanted caravan of vehicles. It’s not too long before I get my passing opportunities and leave the train of motorists behind… With an open road and then dropping below the clouds, motorcycle nirvana! It’s here that I spot my first tourists on this trip: three bikes headed west. How do I know they’re tourists? From the make and model of the bikes and because they gave the “motorcycle wave.” Mexican cyclists don’t wave.
East of the ridge line, the landscape remains changed. Gone are the higher elevation pines, but the earth is fertile now, with small tractors tilling black soil. About ten miles west of Rioverde, orange orchards appear and continue to the outskirts of the city. A bustling town of fifty thousand, Rioverde feels much larger. Small specially stores line the avenues for miles with a steady stream of pedestrians and traffic. The shops congregate in groups. So you’ll encounter 5 or 6 hardware stores, then fruit stands, then auto parts, then meat counters, etc. The shops around my hotel sell handmade furniture. One sad row of shops are the taverns. Sequestered about four blocks from my stay on a quiet street, they’re all whitewashed concrete structures with no character. Wide, open entrances have a panel in place that allows fresh air in, but no line of sight to the inside. I think this is done to protect the identities of the boozers within. Seedy in appearance, they have the aura of drinking establishments for lepers.
My hotel is one block from the main city strip. Across the street is an auto repair shop complete with a chain link fence surrounding what can only be described as junk cars. And so, true to form, there are two junk yard dogs keeping an eye on the inventory of trash. No need for an alarm clock here. I nod off once the Hell Hounds stop barking each night… about 11:30 and awaken in the morning to the sound of grinders and fruitless attempts to tune small displacement engines with no exhaust systems.
With a number of chores stacking up, I decided to spend an extra day here. I mentioned the dogs and the desk offered to move me to another room. Nah… It’s all just part of the overall experience. So today I found a laundry to drop my dirty clothes. Cost… $1.89. Then I stopped for a haircut. She spent a solid twenty minutes shearing my scalp and did a nice job. Cost… $3.03.
Seeking some recreation, I packed my swimsuit and rode about two miles west of town to a southbound road that parallels an irrigation canal. The source of water for the canal is a natural hot spring, six miles down the road. The water source has been developed into a recreation park, complete with swimming, scuba, food and drink vendors, and camping. Admission is $2.27 per person for the day. Camping is free. Named La Media Luna, the lagoon is fed a constant supply of crystal clear 84 degree water. The main pond is shaped like a half moon, hence the name, and drops in depth to 100 feet. Radial arms extend from the depths of the main pond where shallower (about 5 feet) canals offer safer swimming conditions for families. Hitting a changing room, I emerged showing off my snow-white legs and torso to an admiring and appreciative crowd. After a 30 minute soak I was sufficiently pruned. Mounting the bike in my still dripping swimsuit, I was completely dry after a few miles down the road.
The bike’s been purring like a kitten, er I mean Tiger. But after 2,000 miles and a billion bugs, she’s in need of a bath. There’s a place in town that washes bikes. Only bikes. So I’ll treat the Tiger to a scrubbing tomorrow morning before setting out.