La Ciudad to Durango – Chasing storms or running from them?
When we left La Ciudad, we were well rested. The bikes were in tip-top shape and we were layered with extra clothing to keep ourselves warm. We were ready to put in some fast miles because once again, the weatherman was calling for thunderstorms to roll in around noon. Why were we taking this so seriously? Because the day before, while we were hiding in our cabin, a thunderstorm of biblical proportions unleashed itself on the town. Heavy rain, booming thunder, blinding lightning, and hail were all part of the show. Yes, hail! Fortunately for us, we were sheltered during the storm, but it reinforced just how much we didn’t want to get caught in something like that as we made our way towards Durango.
Hmmm, what is that?
Microondas las Rusias is how our chart labeled it.
Very strange rock formations.
We started off with dark clouds!
And they only got darker.
At least this time we were moving away from the bad weather, or so we thought.
The sky was dark when we left La Ciudad but that only worsened as we covered ground. Unlike the guys who intentionally chase storms, it seems as if we’re frequently running from them. Our initial thought was that we’d go as far as El Salto, 50 km or so down the road, and then stop there. As it turns out, El Salto is a huge place, relatively speaking. We had no idea. Although we could definitely have found a place to stay, we had made such good time getting there that it seemed a shame to stop. Looking ahead in our chart, we could see that another town, Llano Grande, was only another 20 km from where we stopped to have lunch. We looked to the sky and weighed our chances against the darkening clouds. Should we go for it? Of course!
As it turns out, we made excellent time getting to Llano Grande. If it weren’t for the wee bit of trouble that we ran into not 500m from the town, we would have even made it there without getting wet!
Screaming down a hill in top gear, rounding the final corner to approach the town, I heard a strange noise coming from my bike. I immediately stopped and dismounted just as Rebecca approached. She could see it even before I could: sealant was spraying from my rear wheel. I must have run over something to puncture it.
I wish we had a video to show how well we handled the situation. On a shoulderless highway, with cars and trucks whizzing by us only feet away, we plugged the leak and were back in motion within 5-10 minutes. What was especially cool was how Rebecca applied pressure to the hole to stop the sealant from leaking out, much like a paramedic would handle a severed artery. It was a thing of beauty!
By the time we actually arrived in Llano Grande, the rain was coming down in full force. Unfortunately, it took us a while to find a place to eat in the town, let alone a place to spend the night. We ultimately got it sorted, finding a room in a quaint little spot called Rancho Viejo (Old Ranch). It was warm and dry, which is pretty much all it takes to make us happy these days.
Plugged tire. You’d never know that it was the first time we’d been forced to do that repair.
Having covered half the distance from La Ciudad to Durango the previous day, we were determined to finish the job. As you can see from the pics below, Mother Nature wasn’t going to make our job comfortable. We were bundled up in multiple layers to stay warm and remained that way for the entire day.
Unfortunately, the beautiful road conditions we had before La Ciudad deteriorated after leaving the town. Instead of having the road to ourselves, we once again had cars and trucks whizzing by us, sometimes uncomfortably close. Who are the worst offenders? Bus drivers. Always! There simply is no excuse for how close they pass cyclists. The one that missed me by mear inches is extremely fortunate that we didn’t run into him down the road!
Do these multiple layers make me look fat?
Pine trees were giving way to more desert-like plant life.
We’ve been passed by a number of touring motorcyclists. They make it look easy.
Warm and happy!
Gone are the densely-packed pine forests of the previous days.
The terrain is much more open in this area.
I wonder who that little shelter is for? Shepherds?
I love it when the birds fly up from below us.
The cacti have returned.
This was the first day we have worn our rain pants. They kept us dry and warm.
Reminds me of the Colorado River’s Horseshoe Bend.
It would be cool to kayak down this river.
More river pics. I couldn’t help myself.
Yup, another one.
Short rest before a very long climb!
When we checked the topo lines on our map, we thought that we had pretty much all of the climbing behind us. That was definitely not the case. We had a couple of very long climbs to knock off before getting into position for the final beautiful descent into Durango. Of course, we were once again racing towards rain, or so the clouds would lead us to believe. I am happy to report that although we did get wet, the rain came without thunder and lightning. Wetness we can deal with. Being electrocuted is what we’re really trying to avoid!
Durango in the distance.
Do we really want to ride towards those clouds?
Fortunately, it’s all downhill from here, and we deserve it!
Durango. We made it!