We leave Merida bound for La Grita, which is only about 100 miles away, but Google Maps has said we should go up the mountainside out of Merida and then back down and join the main highway. So is it a spectacular view? or why else is it sending us to ride 25 miles just to get 10 miles further up the valley? Off we go, and ride up the switchbacked road climbing higher and higher. And indeed, we get a great view of the red-tiled roofs of Merida below.
And there are some nice places to pull over to enjoy other views of the valley and its small towns along the way.
We get to a fork in the road where the right side leads higher to a mountain town but the road ends there, and the left side winds back down the valley to the main highway along the river in the bottom. We turn left and not far in the road narrows to a single lane, gravel in some places with a slimy shallow water crossing and lots of trees and shade. It’s a beautiful ride as long as it gets us where we want to be, lol. And it does. The highway is busy today with lots of trucks and fast-moving cars overtaking us all the time.
We stop near Lagunillas for lunch and then carry on along Highway 7 toward La Grita. Not far up ahead the traffic has cleared and the highway starts to turn and twist, doing its switchback thing again, as we climb up to go over the top of the next ridgeline of mountains. There are small farms all over and for the first time I see long-stemmed roses still growing and just about ready for harvest.
The view is unbelievable.
And so is the road.
The clouds are rolling in and we are riding in some sprinkles for a few miles…and around a few corners we find rainbows.
The clouds are below us, which is strange, but they are blowing up the draws to the road level and we ride in mist the last 15 miles or so…such a beautiful place to ride.
We stay in a room at a posada on top of the hill rather than trying to ride down into La Grita on wet roads in the fog. And the next morning we get a quick peek at this lovely village and its world-famous church before riding down the steepest road I’ve ever ridden on. I boil my rear brakes and they are gone, and I’m only halfway down to the town. So I stop and we pour water on them to get them cooled off, front and rear, and the water boils on impact and steam rises off the rotors. It’s only 3km down into town but I’m pretty sure we descended 2km so that only leaves 1km of actual forward-moving road. It was STEEP. I stopped and waited and cooled off my brakes two different lengthy periods of time in just under two miles…but eventually we got there.
Happy birthday to my beautiful sister, Amanda! I love and miss you!