Cycling at Riverside

Riverside on bike

Exploring this giant, impassable territory under my power, with no windows blocking the view, a couple of burritos and my tools in my sweater, I discovered the magic of the canyon.

The days I spent in the canyon have been the hardest days on the bike. No audience, no cheers, no trophies or prizes waiting; just the warmth of the lechuguilla and the laughter on the porch. A reward adapted to the purity of a terrain where a bike is not only my choice, but the best option: from city to city, from canyon to canyon faster than anything with a motor.

A tiring day, a flat tire, a 3000m climb, a fast and smooth descent between pillars of ancient volcanic rock that the guidebooks call “monks” but we all know the truth. The food always tastes better, the Tecate a little cooler, the mind clearer and ready to do it again tomorrow.

There are many routes in Streva near us. I’ve compiled three of my favorite routes here. There is something for everyone and enough for the hardcore.

Batopilas Outskirts

Batopilas is the largest canyon. 6,000 feet deep, much of it vertical or “wa-ha-ha-hooey” as people like to say. The city is less than 2,000 feet, so the air is thicker and much warmer. The pines have given way to prickly pear cactus, and the slippery igneous rock is replaced by metamorphic vomit. Strava is full of gravel roads and singletrack stretching in all directions from Batopilas. Below are three of my favorites for any type of day.


After a rough few days, I like to cruise downstream from Batopilas, where the canyon widens to the lost cathedral of Satevo. The entire route is on good dirt road, with only a few ups and downs. A great trip on a recovery day or a morning before the trip. On particularly hot days, riding near the cliff provides shade along the river. Once there, Father will open the church; he is usually always nearby. When I’m feeling a little extra energy, the trail continues south past the mission, but it climbs in short order, and the short, easy day is at risk. Better to turn around for some fresh fruit in the yard and save my legs. Strava Route


A bit more adventurous than Satevo, if only because it is upstream. An early start on asphalt for 10 km out of town before heading up a short but steep climb to the quiet village of Yerbabuena. The climb is high enough to get some lovely views of the canyon, and it’s a short enough trip that there’s time to stop and enjoy them. The early start is rewarded with golden views as the sun rises over the canyon rim and illuminates the opposite wall. It starts to get hot, but it’s all downhill on the way back, and the brisk wind cools the sweat gained on the climb. We get onto some side trails on the way back and take photos at the bridge. Strava Route


The big favorite day in Batopilas. We got an early start on the trip to El Rodeo for a real adventure. The road starts at the south end of town, straight ahead. We ascend about halfway up the road and enter a wide valley.

From the top looking west, we can see the vastness of the canyon system. The descent is challenging and beautiful (as is the ascent back home), we dodge a small herd of cattle and stop to get directions from some kids along the way. From this point in the valley I can see small roads and trails winding through the distant cliffs long enough for a lifetime of exploration.

The village itself could be considered bustling for the area. A small store, kids playing soccer outside the school and herds of cattle, goats and pigs clogging the road. We stopped for a snack near a corral and one of our gloves almost became a snack. Cannibal cows, apparently.

It’s a great day, but with correct sprockets and respect for the canyon is within the capabilities of most (plus, there’s always the sweeper or crash cart).Strava Route


These routes are explained from Batopilas (starting point), but can also be traveled up and down from the [upper lodge]. Clean route
When I get to Batopilas on the bad road from Urique or Samachique, taking the paved route home is tempting. The smooth floor is softer on my joints, but the route is as challenging as any road trip I’ve ever taken. The route out of town climbs and climbs slowly up La Bufa, until a strip of pavement snakes up the cliff for about two kilometers. And I mean, two vertical kilometers. The road engineers in this area don’t waste any time. What’s the best way out of this canyon? All at once! One view, after view, after view, after view, we stop to look down the road we came from. No need to make excuses to rest as the temperature drops and the air thins, we simply stop to take it all in. Once out of the canyon proper, the road climbs gradually through the pines to the town of Samachique.

We have a van waiting in Samachique to take us the rest of the way to Bosques when we leave, but we might as well turn around and roll back to Batopilas. Either way, there’s a well-deserved bottle of wine and a five-star meal waiting.
Strava Route


Everyone knows the expression “we don’t need no stinkin’ badges”, but right after that in “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” is the lesser known, but more relevant quote, “biking from Batopilas to Samachique on the back road is a terrible idea”.
Well, we love terrible ideas (especially with a sweeper, to boot). This day is big. This one is hard. This one will take 8 to 10+ hours. This is the reverse route of the Batopilas 105 mountain bike race, the downhill version that takes 4 to 5 hours for the best riders. It’s like that, except uphill.

In proper Barrancas del Cobre fashion, this route starts straight up and out of the Batopilas canyon, on a steep, rocky road with no breaks. Even the switchbacks offer a small escape from the relentless incline.

Once the cacti turn to white pines, a glance over the shoulder reveals the huge layered cake-like cliff in front of the canyon illuminated by the sunrise (always get out too early for this one). The rest of the trip meanders along the ridge between the canyons of Batopilas and Urique. This piece of land forms a peninsula, 2,000 meters deep on either side. The two-track road crosses the mountain, the valley and “we are very close to the rim”.

The climb takes me hours and I’m grateful for the small herd of donkeys that forces me off the bike for a brief respite. My decisions quickly come into question as the sun gets hot, and they were definitely bad. Never mind the group, the steep grades and required focus that separate us until we are alone with our thoughts and the canyon.

We are in Samachique to a van waiting for us to take a nap on the way to Bosques for what will be the best meal we have ever eaten. I usually only go to dinner in my robe; after this day, no one dares to question it.

Strava Route