Everything was ready on Friday for a great mini-tour. I left home at 4:40 am with all the energy available, happy, confident and fully loaded. Actually this year I tried to left some weight at home, not packing too much food and just enough clothes for the 3 days I was going to be out there.
The goal was Mesa del Oso Cabanas, where I had my reservation for two nights of camping. The place is located deep into the mountains and to get there I had to pass/climb a very step hill, the 3000 feet in 9 mi type of hill. I knew it was going to be tough but I expected that after that everything was going to be smooth or with very little hills going up. I was wrong.
The ride trough Carretera Nacional, the road one have to take to leave MTY, was pretty easy, I just stop twice, one to have a little breakfast and the other to take some pics.
At 7 am I was taking the road to Cola de Caballo, a waterfall, and one of the major touristic points of Santiago, N.L. from this point on, I was going up.
All until this point was pretty easy. That statue was there for a reason, for me it was clear, it was there to let me know what I was getting into.
From Carretera Nacional, it took me an hour to reach Cola de Caballo Hotel. I was stopping a lot. I just couldn’t do it at once. Here a couple of stops I made:
From that point on it was pure punishment, stops after stops, it was exhausting but I was confident that after El Manzano (the peak) everything was going to be ok.
A waterfall over Cola de Caballo.
When I was passing Cola de Caballo, a guy with his son (probably 10) passed me at an amazing pace. I told them where I was heading to, and they wished me luck.
I think I wasn’t even close to half way, and I was starting to zig zaging taking both lanes on each zig and on each zag.
It was tough, very tough, but I couldn’t stop.
It was 10 am when I reach Las Adjuntas, a Y point where you can go down the mountains to see some rivers, or keep going up. 3 hours had pass, and had 3 hours more to go.
I took a 20 min break there, eat an orange, bought some water and kept going.
I saw a roadie and another mtb biker going up.
I kept going, zig zags, stopping, resting and repeating all over and over.
Some stops where better than others…one for me and one for rodar:
I just had to wave to the Paletas seller.
Then the roadie showed up going down. We had a nice chat. He told me he does that climb twice a week. 50 min from Cola de Caballo to El Manzano. My respects.
I kept going and when I was 2 kms from the top the guy and his son showed up. By that time they have reached Cienega (the next town after El Manzano), have had lunch, rest, ride a couple of kms and were going down already. The guy told me they didn’t think I was going to make it, and really gave me some positive encouragement to keep going. And I did it.
It was 1 pm, 6 hours going up. I took another 20 min rest and then started to go down to Cienaga.
It was easy to reach Cienaga, I made another stop, bought some water and kept going.
After Cienaga, the road was all messed up due to last year Alex rains. Here is where I knew I was done; the pain caused for every single little rock was unbearable. Still, I rode a lot of it, until I reach a little canyon were cars were struggling to pass. I reached a Pick-up truck and asked…
They left me 3 km far from Laguna de Sanchez…it was close to 4 pm…guess what? Yes, those 3 km were going up.
The climb wasn’t that bad, but those 3km took me another hour. I was officially done, physically and mentally done.
Then a few drops started to fall…great, now some rain… I was thinking my luck wasn’t the best…in Cienaga the woman at the little shop told me they haven’t had any rain since Alex…. and just today with me on the road was going to rain!… I was pleased it stopped…for a while.
I reached Laguna de Sanchez. I was really worried about how to get to Mesa del Oso, Mesa del Oso is 14.5 km far from Laguna, off road and going up. Lucky me a guy from Mesa del Oso was in Laguna and he gave me a ride to Mesa del Oso.
The road and the scenery from Laguna to Mesa del Oso is one of the most amazing views I’ve ever seen, truly amazing cliffs, mountains…just stunning.
I refused to even think to take pics from the suburban I was in. Sorry guys. One, I would have had to ask the guy to stop to do it and second I wasn’t happy with the result of the day to take those pics from a non ridden road.
I got to Mesa del Oso, and just when I was starting to set the tent it started to rain again, I had to do as quick as I could…then ran to take a warm shower, ran again to the tent…and of course it stopped to rain just after that.
The view from the tent
The day had some light still to go but I got in my tent and didn’t get out untill the next day.
My night wasn’t the best, I had some trouble to sleep, I think I was over thinking what to do after what happened the first day, something that was clear to me when I got up.
I knew my plan to stay for a day and explore the surroundings by bike, go back to Mesa del Oso, stay for a night and then go back to MTY, just couldn’t be done, my legs wouldn’t allow it.
I also didn’t want to stay for a whole day in the camping site doing nothing, heck I didn’t even packed a book with me. In the end I knew what I was going to do, I was going home the very second day.
My camping site
As a breakfast I had some bread with sardines I had with me, and orange and a bunch of water. After that, I went to the camping office and asked when someone would be going down to Laguna. They give me an hour.
I took another warm shower, packed my things and was ready to go.
When I was waiting for the ride, a couple of riders appeared coming from Laguna, we chat a bit, great guys, they stopped to wait for 2 more guys. We exchanged some info. They were really happy about the ride there, as I said the ride from Laguna to Mesa del Oso gives you some great scenery. It just wasn’t my time to enjoy it.
They left me in Laguna close to 11.30 am and from there it was all down to Cienaga.
From Cienega to El Manzano I walked every single little hill…go figure!
Once in El Manzano I adjusted my rear brake which was a bit long and then the 3000 feet going down were….well, fast! hehe
I reached Carretera Nacional at 1 pm I think or close to it…I didn’t want to ride up to MTY and actually started to ask for a ride right there…no one was giving me one so I rode a bit…..glad a I did it….I found this on my way:
Rest for while and then started to ride again…just for a while…again, I found a parked pick-up truck and the nicest couple in it gave a ride to an OxxO just one block far from home.
That was it…I got home, took a shower…bought some Pizza…talk a bit to the family…and slept for almost 14 hours!
I got to a couple of important conclusions after this Mini Tour trial:
– I really really need to get in better shape if I want to enjoy the bikepacking I want to do in Nuevo Leon Mountains. I know I was carrying some extra weight with me, but I really need to loose those extra 40 lbs I carry WITH ME all the time.
– Even when I get in better shape, never, ever again, include a 3000 feet of climbing on a 3 days mini-tour. It just won’t make it enjoyable.
Numbers of this “Mini Tour”:
day 1: 44.9 miles, 7 hours 23 min pedaling.
day 2: 32.5 miles, 3 hours 43 min pedaling.