Espinazo del Diablo

The Devil’s Backbone. Click on the link to read about it on DangerousRoads.org. Why is it that we keep seeking out “dangerous roads?” I’ve lost track of how many of the routes touted on that website we’ve ridden. Well, here goes another one. Actually, Deby and I have ridden this road before…. three times! And we keep coming back. Our compadre, Richard said he had never heard of it and wasn’t sure where we were taking him. The night before we were to ride it he found the Dangerous Roads website. At breakfast he expressed concern about our plan.

That plan was to make the two day ride from Batopilas to the city of Durango with an overnight stop in Hidalgo del Parrall. We would stay two nights in Durango and spend our “off” day riding the Backbone (or spine as some people call it).

We woke up to a cool morning at over 5,000 feet in elevation and got ready for the longest planned day of the trip. One that would end up exactly where we started. The Backbone is actually Ruta MX 40. The old road goes from Durango down to Mazatlán and is said to have over 2,000 turns in it’s approximate 150 mile length.

We would return up the mountains on the new road, Ruta 40D. The new road is an engineering marvel that is also listed in DangerousRoads.org. Click on the link to read about that one.

Below is the elevation plot from my GPS.

We decided to ride the old road and it’s 2,000 turns first while we were fresh in the day. At the bottom we would turn around and ride the new toll road back to Durango.

In less than 100 miles we dropped almost 9,000 feet! Yikes, that is a lot of twisty downhill road. 2000 curves is like doing the Tail of the Dragon (another famous motorcycle road in the US) over 6 times. Needless to say I was too busy hanging on for dear life to take many pictures. Somehow I managed to snag a screen shot of my route displayed on Google Maps.

Towards the top is a famous overlook that his this huge sign. Every motorcyclist who has ever ridden this road is required to stop and take this very picture as proof of being there. Here is mine.

Richard took a nice picture of us with the rock formation in the background that is called The Spine.

The scenery was beautiful, including the valley.

Soon we were back on the bikes and the real fun began. It was a Sunday so vehicle traffic was light but all the local motorcycle clubs were out in full force. We were frequently passed by sport bikes that were using the roads as a race track. We didn’t care. We did see, literally, dozens of Harleys along the way but they were all parked at the bars and restaurants and oddly we didn’t pass any on the tight narrow road. I took another screen shot from my phone. Deby thinks it looks like intestines.

I did manage to flip on my helmet cam, here is a short feel of what the ride was like.

Whew! Fun stuff! It took us 5 hours of endless focus to get to the bottom of the old road. We stopped at an OXXO (Mexico’s version of a 7-11) for a well deserved snack and hydration. I took a picture of this guy and his whole family with groceries getting on his bike for the ride home. All normal….

Soon it was time to head back up the mountain on the toll road. Instead of trying to describe it myself this is what DangerousRoads says about it:

Mexico 40D is an amazing journey in the western Sierra Madre of Mexico. Also known as the Autopista Durango-Mazatlán, it’s one of Mexico’s greatest engineering feats, with 115 bridges and 61 tunnels.

Opened on October, 2013, the road is paved. It’s 211km long and bypasses the infamous Espinazo del Diablo, a road stretching along the spine of a mountain with drops of hundreds of feet on either side. The road is impressive due its natural landscapes (tropical, pine forest, desert) and engineer marvel. The road links Durango, the capital and largest city of the Mexican state of Durango at an elevation of 1.880 metres (6,168 feet) above the sea level and Mazatlán, a resort town along the Pacific shoreline in the state of Sinaloa. Landslides, potholes, blocked tunnels and asphalt that is in poor condition are among the problems besetting the 211-kilometer-long highway. 

dangerousroads.org

Here is another short video going over one of the bridges. I like that the helmet cam records our voices, you can hear Deby’s expressions. This is one of those “must visit” places on a car or bike.

So pretty much we rode from 9AM to 5PM over 300 miles, our longest day yet. We returned exhausted to our hotel in Durango with a true sense of accomplishment. We did have a nice place to stay, Hotel Gobernador if anybody is keeping track or wants to visit. We found out our compadre Richard likes the nicer hotels. Great, we let him buy dinner in the nice dining room. The dining room had walls made of thin sliced rock with backlighting.

Deby loved it, of course….

I’m going to stop here and keep the Devil’s Backbone as it’s own post. It was fun and heck, I would even come back to do it again! Maybe soon?

As I write this we are staying in the tourist town of San Miguel de Allende for a few days. Clearly, we have good internet so I’m able to upload pictures and videos and spend time getting caught up with the blog posts. I’ll get one more post out tomorrow (I hope) covering our time in Zacatecas and San Miguel. Thanks for following!!

Donn and Deby

3 thoughts on “Espinazo del Diablo

  1. I loved the videos to get a feel for it, now that was a day of hard work riding but the rewards were worth it! Deby, that speed demon LOL!

    Incredible roads, views, and bridges!

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