By: Skylar Weaver
20 days and 2,500 miles after departing Washington, D.C. I arrived in Real de Catorce — a forgotten silver-mining pueblo in the middle of Mexico — on my trusty Suzuki TU250. I spent the last several days in Monterrey, Mexico meeting with Alopecia Areata Monterrey. And just two days before that, I’d crossed the cartel-ridden border from Texas into Mexico. I’m on a mission: to raise awareness of Alopecia through a 20,000-mile motorcycle adventure from Washington D.C. to Patagonia through my nonprofit Adventures for Alopecia.
One of the best things about motorcycling is the community — I’m sure you all know that. I’m not the first to do this kind of trip, and I’ve relied heavily on the awesome motorcycling community for inspiration, help, and guidance!
That’s actually how I stumbled upon this hidden gem of a town, Real De Catorce. I had just started riding south from Monterrey to Matehaula — about a 200-mile trek — when I remembered a tip from my buddy Matias of @twowheelssouth (who had done the same trip a couple years ago) about checking out some magical pueblo named Real De Catorce in the north of Mexico.
So there I was, blasting down Mexico’s well-maintained, surprisingly-safe, and superbly-scenic highway system (at whatever speed you can imagine a 250cc motorbike ‘blasting’ at ) when I just barely noticed this tiny sign “Real de Catorce that way →”. Immediately whipping past the sign, I swerved off to the shoulder, and debated whether or not it was worth the journey. I had some daylight left and had no real plan for the night ahead in Matehuala, so I thought why not! It’s less than a 30-mile ride in total, but Google Maps said it would take an hour and a half? “The calculation must be off,” I thought to myself as I was making terrific time for the first 20 miles!
And then I felt it: the road suddenly turned into a roughly-cemented path of jagged, uneven rocks. It would stay that way for the next 10 miles — a bumpy ride for even the fittest of vehicles. Most couldn’t go above 20mph and there I was on my TU250 with street tires and street suspension absorbing the bumps no better than I’d imagine a jackhammer would. Now, you might be thinking: “Skylar, what are you thinking trying to attempt this cross-continent adventure on a 250cc street bike!”. Well there have been a few times along the route when I asked myself the same thing: once when I was maxing out at 75 mph on US freeways with truck after truck passing me on the left; another when slipping and sliding my way through the Mexican mud on my way up Pico de Orizaba (third tallest peak in North America); then again when navigating the volcanic-sand roadways of Guatemala; and indeed this very road on the way to Real de Catorce. However, in all those times the bike and I made it out just fine, and for every time I’ve worried my bike was too weak, I’ve been thankful ten times over for the lightness, nimbleness, and simplicity of this 250cc workhorse.
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So steep M barely made it up in first gear. Not to mention the rocks, holes, and oh that 100-foot sheer dropoff if I veered a bit too far to the right. Would’ve been a quick end to @adventuresforalopecia! Gave me some good practice in using the clutch to maintain torque during low-speed inclines. And maintaining a constant direction while every rock and divot tries to steer you awry. Wasn’t sure if the @suzukicycles TU250 could handle something like this but boy did she! Slow and steady was the key. Though I certainly still checked the bolts afterwards ( all looks secure). Also had some fun playing with the @gopro 360° Fusion camera. Hopefully more videos to come soon. • • Big thanks to our @AdventuresForAlopecia sponsors: @givi_usa @aetherapparel @koupscycleshop @karnsperformance @rokkercompany @twistedthrottlecom @airhawkinternational @nexxnorthamerica @rmatvmc @trezor.io @swmotech and more!! • #xladv #adv4life #horizonsunlimited #overlandtravel #advaddict #advrider #dualsportlife #motoaventura #roadtrip #advrider #travelogue #motoadventure #overlanding #AdventuresForAlopecia #Suzuki #tu250 #alopecia #rtw
The vistas on the road to Real.
Slow and steady, I eventually made it to Real de Catorce, and what a town it was. Once an abandoned silver mine, this sleepy village is tucked into the rolling, 9,000-foot mountains overlooking the vast desert below. Old stone buildings — some in ruins, some still standing—occupied the town’s valley and snuck up the hillside. Horseback was the primary means of transportation through the cobblestoned calles, and stunning vistas of the mountains above and the desert below abounded. To top it off, the townspeople showed nothing but genuine hospitality. All in all, it was worth the detour indeed!
Real de Catorce’s principal church nestled among the rolling mountains and clouds.
The view from the nearest mountain looking down on Real de Catorce and the desert beyond. Photo taken from atop my other trusty steed.
Stopping by Real de Catorce wasn’t part of the plan. In fact, the majority of the most interesting, challenging, and rewarding parts of this 6,000-mile adventure to-date have not been part of the plan. And that’s how it ought to be! Forget the day-to-day agenda, ditch the strict plan. A general direction, an appetite for adventure, and a basic motorcycle are all you need!
I’m Skylar, and I’m stoked to be a part of the amazing TwistedThrottle community. I’m on a mission to raise awareness for Alopecia (an autoimmune hair-loss disease I’ve had since age 16) by riding my motorcycle 20,000 miles from Washington, D.C. to Argentina solo for my newly-formed nonprofit Adventures for Alopecia. I began in August 2019 and made it 6,000 miles to El Salvador before having to park my bike and fly out due to pandemic. As soon as the borders reopen, I’ll be on the first flight back to continue my journey south! Read more about the nonprofit and cause at www.ProjectAFA.org, and follow the adventure on Instagram @AdventuresForAlopecia and @sky_earth_water, or on Facebook: AdventuresForAlopecia.
Adventures for Alopecia’s support group event in Xalapa, Mexico!