The entrance to a horizontal mine shaft that we could ride our mountain bikes into was music to our eyes. The stone opening to the Porfirio Diaz Tunnel sat solemnly on a hillside in the middle of a barrio in Batopilas, Mexico. Sure, it’d been abandoned for 70 or 80 years. But that was of no consequence to us at the time. The entrance was circular and at about 12 feet in diameter, a little bigger than we’d each envisioned it to be previously. A flat dirt surface/pathway- perfect for mountain bikes– led into the darkness. Even though the place had the ominous appearance of almost being eaten by the solid rock, its beckoning call was persistent and ultimately won us over.
I was in Mexico’s Copper Canyon with a group of adventure traveler “Chavochi’s” (non-indigenous/devil people as some of us gringos are fondly known among the Tarahumara). Some things happened while we were down there in Batopilas Canyon and the town of Batopilas, which may or may not be related to each other. I think they are.
“You’re not lost, if you don’t care where you are.”
By this point, we were some 20 miles from the last little outpost of a town that we’d been through. But theoretically, at least, we were about to come to another. Jerry had the best available maps of the area loaded onto his GPS. But it only told us where we were relative to whatever data it was loaded with. The adage, “garbage in, garbage out,” came to mind and was soon followed by the vision of a web page that simply said, “no data available.”
An interesting turn of events while mountain biking some Copper Canyon singletrack.
Afterward, we began to call it the Trail of Death.
For the longest time, Batopilas, Mexico, was connected to the small town of Cerro Colorado by just a little bit of dirt road and seven or so miles of trail, just barely wide enough for local burro traffic. Then, a few years back, that same dirt road was bulldozed into the little Copper Canyon town. Most of the old trail was “improved” for vehicle use, although the last mile or so was left untouched where the road took an easier route.
A race of sorts via mountain bike to the top of Batopilas Canyon in Copper Canyon, Mexico.
I set off from Batopilas, at the bottom of Copper Canyon, intent on riding my mountain bike up the 40 or so mile gravel road ascent to the intersection with the paved highway, as fast as I could. The unofficial record for doing it was 4 hours, and my goal was to beat that. Whether or not my quest was realistic, will forever remain to be seen.