The scariest ride of my life, Devil’s Backbone

Ben and I leave Mazatlan in the morning, dodging buses and trucks that pull in front of us and looking forward to getting out of the city and into the Sierra Madre Mountains. The route is nicknamed “Espinazo del Diablo”, or “The Devil’s Backbone” because of the incredibly twisty and dangerous road that winds through the Sierras.


The road is nicely groomed, twisty, and we’ve got a riding itch. Dangerous combination.


El Espinazo Del Diablo from Benny on Vimeo.


The scenery makes it even more difficult to ride this road.

We’ve crossed the Tropic of Cancer a few times already, but this is the first time we’ve seen a sign.

Ben and I are in riding bliss, hitting the turns hard, from one switchback to another. Suddenly, I hit the apex of a turn and see an 18-wheeler completely in my lane. I grab the brakes, sit the bike up as quickly as possible, get to the right side of my lane, and narrowly slide past the truck. WOW. My heart is racing, adrenaline pumping through my body, and I slow way down. I wait for Ben to catch up and tell him what happened – the truck did the same thing to him. We tell each other to slow down, and as we continue, I keep visualizing myself hitting the semi head-on. I start to spook myself and lose concentration, and my confidence drops further when I almost have a low-side fall around a corner that has some gravel and water at the apex. I feel my front tire come off the tarmac and skip 3 times. I hold on tight and give the bike some gas to try and settle the suspension, which luckily works. Whew… spooked again. We slow down further, and I ask Ben go ahead of me as I am starting to freak out and need to have him in front of me to try and settle myself down.

Not long after, the road starts to get a little patchy with construction, and as we go into a turn, there’s gravel all over the apex. Ben stands the bike up to avoid low-siding, and runs off the road onto a small shoulder that happened to be there. Thank god for the shoulder, as most of the road just drops off a thousand feet. I’m able to slow up enough after seeing Ben’s issues to stay on the road, but my tires lose traction again and I’m continuing to freak out. I keep hoping that the twisty road will end soon and we’ll be in Durango, but looking at my mileage, I know we’ve got another 150 miles to go. All I want to do is pull off the road, curl up in the fetal position, and sleep. I start to question if I’m experienced enough for this trip, and getting myself into a serious funk. However, I realize this, slow my breathing, say a prayer, and concentrate on the road in front of me. Being mentally distracted can only make the ride worse.


The scariest ride of my life (so far 🙂

Having enough of the near-death experiences, Ben and I slow WAY down and concentrate on not dying. One way to force ourselves to slow down is to look for good photo opportunities. We stop at a few possible places, and finally settle on one that Ben can climb up into the mountain side and get some great pictures of me riding through the mountains.

But first, Oscar decides to take a nap.

Motorcycle riding at its best. It’s nice having a Team Photographer as well.

My drag my sidecases as I head around this turn.

Can you spot me?

Ben turns on his GoPro camera and attaches it to his topcase, facing rearward, to get some interesting shots.

This heard of cows jumped in front of us and ran across the road. Gotta be prepared for anything here in Mexico!

Double yellow lines are a suggestion in Mexico. Just make sure your bike has enough power to get by!

Ben and I get out of the mountains and make it to Durango. Whew! What a ride. We head into town, where I feel more comfortable in the traffic, and lane split our way into the Centro.

Finally in Durango. Now to find Brian, and a place to sleep.

About Sper

LA born. Michigan raised. Current Chicagoan. Technology nerd. Motorcycleπ enthusiast. I quit my job, sold all of my stuff, and am riding my dream through the US, Canada, Latin and South America.
This entry was posted in adventure, Ben Slavin, klr650, Mexico, RideReport, vagabonding. Bookmark the permalink.

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