Resbaloso, which is a Spanish word meaning slippery in English, is “that” word and also the name given to an infamous trail descent into the town of Creel.

The Resbaloso
Riding down the Resbaloso during the La Onza bike race in Creel.

Just seeing the word, much less speaking or hearing it, causes my pucker reaction to kick into high gear. Resbaloso, which is a Spanish word meaning slippery in English, is “that” word and also the name given to an infamous trail descent into the town of Creel.

Creel is in the highlands of the Copper Canyon area of Mexico and is something of the adventure sport and tourism hub of the region. It’s not that there aren’t other ways to drop down into the town from the surrounding mesas, but the Resbaloso, for whatever reason, became the preferred way. The elevation loss from the top of the mesa down to the town is only a couple of hundred feet, but it comes dramatically and in about as short a distance as is reasonably possible on that particular trail, making the thing steep.

Undoubtedly, it’s mostly walked. It’s one of the more direct ways into town and likely came to be since it was one of the fastest ways up or down, if coming from or going to the east. I certainly walked it from time to time, but ended up riding my mountain bike, mostly down it, more than just a few times. Even in the best of conditions, there are plenty of things that are tricky about it or that can easily go wrong when riding it, not the least of which includes falling or riding off of the downhill edge. Another issue is just simply the need to remain upright while moving forward at an uncontrolled speed under less than prime conditions. The latter would be any time when there is rain, snow or a bit of moisture in the air or when rocks or some other sort of debris block the main line of choice. Since it’s not an uncommonly dry area and the trail is heavily used, ideal surface conditions are, more often than not, the exception, as opposed to the rule.

I realized, early on, that successfully riding up the trail was not realistic, at least for me. Through the years, I did work out the technical moves needed for riding down it without crashing and ultimately rode it numerous times and under a variety of conditions without issue. But still, I never started down without some measure of trepidation or concern. Maybe, that’s because I witnessed, more than once, others riding off the edge, crashing into trees or doing what is known as face-plants. Without fail, when riding down it with a group under my care, I always breathed a sigh of relief (and had a touch of surprise) whenever we got down to the bottom with everyone and everything intact.

Through the years, I used the riding technique adage to ”look where you want to go and not at what you want to avoid” when instructing others in mountain biking skills. I also adhered to it myself and found it to be a simple truism. My reaction even today, when I think of the Resbaloso, is just further proof to me of the true power of visualization.

Vail Race 012
The end of the road……


Author: David Appleton

I was born and raised in Texas and currently live in the Texas Hill Country, spent some 30 years living in the smack dab middle of Colorado, and have spent a lifetime adventuring and leading others on adventures in many parts of the wild world.