Pine and Eucalyptus Covered Mountains

Trip Start Jul 04, 2010
Trip End May 10, 2011

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Flag of Mexico  , Central Mexico and Gulf Coast,
Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Quiroga to Morelia: 27 Miles/ 44 km

Quiroga is near the Patzcuaro lake and according to Google Earth we had one 300 meter climb through a pass before dropping into Morelia 27 miles to the east. Quiroga was quiet when started around 9 am. The steady climb began immediately in town and in about a mile we reached the OXXO  convenience store which was as good as any for a big cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich. Mmmm  

The two lane hwy 15 was in great shape but had no shoulder. Fortunately, we only had to worry about tourist traffic and local buses. Commercial traffic takes the less scenic and more direct road. It still was pretty hairy at times as we crawled around blind curves especially. All in all it was a 7 mile/11km climb and we were able to ride most of it with frequent short breaks. Slow and steady is our motto. The sky was overcast which made it cool enough to be great cycle weather.  Before we knew it, we had climbed over 300 meters to 2300 m at El Tigre. El Tigre appeared to be more like a bus stop with a few restaurants than a real town. From there, it was all smooth sailing down.

It took us 2 hours of riding to get the first 7 miles and 15 minutes to get the next 7. We enjoyed the scenery of pine and eucalyptus covered  mountains. We passed the small artesian village of Capula, where earthen ware pottery was displayed outside businesses along the roadside. As we zoomed around one bend, we saw a reddish monolith of a mountain protruding from the green landscape in the distance and it looked cool. As we got closer, we could see vehicles climbing the monolith. Still closer, we realized they were large dump trucks loaded with the red rock from the mountain. We speculated this is either a unique gravel pit and they were tearing down the whole mountain or they were mining iron ore. After another tiny climb, the expanse of Morelia laid out before us. What looked like elaborate and spread-out cemeteries from a distance turned out to be cookie cutter sub-divisions stretched out for acres and acres.

Our road merged with others as we reached the outskirts of Morelia. Smoke belching truck traffic increased and buses and combies cut in front of us. The riding became nerve wrecking. We reached a road construction detour and asked a traffic cop for directions to El Centro. He pointed for us to ride through the barriers and against traffic on the other side of the road construction.... no problemo. The on-coming traffic did not seem to mind either.  It did spare us from riding into bowl we'd have to climb back out of. We finally made it to the center of town with its beautiful colonial buildings, the Cathedral and plazas.

We spotted a little sushi place for a late lunch. It was not the best but we have had worse. Once we were refreshed and oriented, we quickly found the nice little hotel El Carmen. Our small room had view of a small plaza and Templo El Carmen. We parked our bikes in hallway on the first floor. We planned to stay awhile and did not feel the urge to rush out and see the sights yet. But we did take a quick look around and found a few Dia de los Muertos displays. This was good because the next morning, work crews were taking them away. 
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