The 13th Annual Rocky Point Rally - A Bilingual Biker Blogger's Perspective
When my boss asked if I'd like to attend the 13th annual Rocky Point Rally and represent Mexpro.com, I jumped at the chance to combine my lifelong passion for motorcycle riding with my professional occupation of promoting and selling Mexico tourist insurance. If you ask me, any work trip that involves going to the beach in Mexico, to attend a huge biker rally, is definitely considered a labor of love.
There was of course some prior planning and a little leg work that was required before I was able to make the trip down through Arizona and across the border into Mexico. However, I found that most everything I needed to know about, as I planned my trip, could easily be researched on the Mexpro.com website, and if it wasn't there, I added it.
The Road to Rocky Point
Along the way to Rocky Point, I stopped at a scenic roadside rest stop, to stretch out my legs for a bit. The view of the mountains and Red Rocks in the distance was quite nice, so I decided to take a quick snapshot. As I made my way back towards my motorcycle, a stranger from parts unknown, pointed in my direction and made the following remark to his travel companion: "See honey, there's a real cowboy, only he rides a mechanical horse!" I looked at my leather riding chaps, square toed boots, and saddlebags, and thought to myself, "he might have a valid point there." As I climbed back onto my chromed steed, I couldn't help but think about that Bon Jovi song that goes "I'm a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride..."
Traveling on a motorcycle in the state of Arizona is definitely one of my favorite things to do. The state has some spectacular scenery with wide open views of vast expanses and varying terrain, along with picturesque mountains and vivid canyons. Making my way down from the Ponderosa Pines, along the Red Rocks and past the tall saguaro cacti was very enjoyable to say the least. I have to say that making the journey by motorcycle is far more exhilarating than traveling by car. To quote the back of a tee-shirt that I spotted during my trip, "Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the soul!"
I picked up my poker run entry form and drew my first card at the Flores and Sons Chevron gas station in Why, Arizona, which is named for the "Y" intersection of highways 85 and 86. From there, it was only a short 30 minute ride south to the next poker run stop at the UETA duty free shop at the border, before entering Mexico.
Getting into Mexico was a snap! As I rode up to the entry lane from Lukeville, Arizona into Sonoyta, Sonora, the agent indicated where he wanted me to stop. I pulled up, turned off my bike so the agent and I would not have to try and yell over the sound of my bike's drag pipes, and I was sure to put down my kickstand, so my hands would be free in case they asked me to show any of my paperwork. However, the only thing the agent asked was "where are you headed to today sir," to which I replied "Rocky Point," and then he waived me through and wished me a safe trip. There was no line when I arrived, so crossing the border into Mexico literally took me just a couple of minutes.
Not long after crossing the border, there was another poker run stop at Licores y Curios Vasquez in Sonoyta, Sonora. This was a great place to stop for a quick delicious taco and a bottle of water, before heading on to the next poker run stop in Puerto Peñasco. From the Vasquez liquor store, it was about another hour of riding, through the Gran Desierto de Altar, before I reached the outskirts of Rocky Point, where there were signs welcoming riders, and organizers standing on the side of the road, waiving all the bikers over to make a stop at the event registration booth. I picked up my fourth poker run card at Barclin's Circle K, paid the $10 registration/donation fee for the event, and also purchased a Rocky Point Rally tee shirt, so I could brag to all my buddies back home about where I had been. While at this stop, I noticed some bikers lining up to take advantage of the photo opportunity with the Tecate girls, so I snapped a quick shot too.
Dollars versus Pesos
You can just as easily spend U.S. dollars in Puerto Peñasco, as you can Mexican pesos, and I found that most every store, restaurant, bar, and vendor had a small calculator at the ready, to help figure out the exchange rate. If you would like to know what your bill amount is in dollars, you can simply ask '¿cuanto es en dólares?' pronounced 'Kwan-Toe Es En Dole-Ah-Rez?' (How much is it in dollars?). I had both pesos and dollars in my pocket, so I had occasion to do conversions from dollars to pesos, and vice versa. The exchange rate was 12:1, or 12 pesos was approximately equal to 1 dollar, during my visit. It is best to have some smaller bills readily available, in case you encounter any vendors who are not prepared to make change.
Driving in Mexico
As I traveled south along Mexican Federal Highway 8 and through the streets of Puerto Peñasco, it quickly became apparent that operating a vehicle in Mexico is a little different, than what one might be used to back in the U.S. or Canada. Be sure to watch for hidden stop signs, sometimes they may be on the left hand side of the road, instead of on the right hand side. Some signs may also be a little sun faded, which can make them more difficult to see. Most traffic signal signs will have similar shapes and imagery that you'll probably already be used to, but there may be some signage that you may not easily recognize, unless you also understand some basic Spanish. Read our "Before You Go" page on Mexpro to learn more about driving in Mexico.
Accommodations in Puerto Peñasco
There are lots of great places to stay in Rocky Point, with many of the bigger resorts located right along the beach. I stayed at the Princesa De Peñasco Condominium Resort, and the view from the condo's balcony was nothing short of spectacularly breathtaking! The hot pink colored bougainvilleas cascading below the balcony railing, helped to frame the scenic vista of the palm trees and swimming pools dotting the short path leading out to the sandy beach, and then continuing into the distance where the ocean finally met with the sky. It didn't matter if it was sunrise or sunset, afternoon or the middle of the night, the view was simply awesome at any time of day.
The Agave Bar and Grill, located on the grounds of the Princesa de Peñasco Condominiums resort, was my favorite little place to unwind, have a drink, get a bite to eat, and enjoy some great conversation, after a long day of motorcycling and fun in the sun.
All day long and into the wee hours of the morning, you could hear the rumble of motorcycles, as bikers came and went. If you are at all like me, you might actually enjoy the loud braaaap sound of motorcycle engines. However, in the middle of the night it can be somewhat bothersome, so I would recommend bringing along a set of foam earplugs to help you sleep more peacefully as the late night riders continue to pull in.
Rocky Point Rally Kick Start Party at Playa Bonita
The Rocky Point Rally kick start party was held at the Puesta Del Sol Restaurant, located at the Playa Bonita resort. I got there a little early, so I could get dinner before the festivities got underway. There was a friendly attendant, out in the sandy parking, handing out small square pieces of wood to put underneath the motorcycle kickstands, so they wouldn't sink into the sand. I chose to dine out on the patio, where I could enjoy the ocean breeze and watch the sun set into the ocean. The drinks were cool, the food was delicious and the surroundings were perfect. As the sun slipped lazily into the sea, the party got started with the local band, Agua de Coco, performing many classic rock favorites, including a Spanish rendition of Elvis Presley's, Jail House Rock, where the chorus "Everybody let's rock!" became "¡Todo el mundo bailar!"
The following evening, the poker run turn in event was also held at the Puesta Del Sol Restaurant. This time the the musical entertainment was provided by the Mesa, Arizona, band, Sour Diesel Trainwreck. This group is quite eclectic as far as musical genres are concerned, easily switching between country, classic rock, and they even had occasion to bust out with a metal medley that included a little bit of Metallica mixed in with some Iron Maiden. They kept the party and the dancing going for hours.
People I Met Along the Way
All of the locals and all of the bikers that I encountered were friendly, and literally everyone seemed to be happy about being in such a beautiful place. I talked with bikers from all over and even some from as far away as Canada. I also got to chat with some ex-pats who had either retired to Mexico or who had setup local businesses. I couldn't help but be a little jealous that they would get to stay in Rocky Point, while my trip was only for a few short days. Puerto Peñasco just seemed to make everyone happy, and I even noticed that the groundskeepers were smiling as they were performing their duties and watering the plants.
Helping a Charitable Cause
Driving through Sonoyta and through the outskirts of Puerto Peñasco, I could not help but notice the rather stark contrast that exists between these two colorful yet impoverished sister cities, and the long row of towering resorts that stand gleaming along the beach. It reminded me that ultimately this huge biker rally event is being held each year to help provide critical funding for some important community services in these small communities. The locals, that I chatted with along the way, did not seem to mind having thousands of rumbling motorcycles converge upon their typically sleepy little towns. Perhaps partly because of the benefit that is gained by the registration fee/donations that are given to the local charities and partly because of the overall economic benefit that tourism has for the area.
Schuk Toak Visitors Center at El Pinacate Biosphere Reserve
On the second day of the rally, I elected to join a group ride, offered as part of the Rally events, to El Pinacate Biosphere Reserve and the Schuk Toak Visitors Center. At about 10:00 o'clock in the morning, approximately a dozen bikes lined up at Rally Registration point, at Barclin's Circle K, on the northern edge of town. From there we made a short half-hour ride north towards the entrance of the Pinacate Biosphere Reserve, located in the Gran Desierto de Altar, which was recently added by the International Union for Conservation of Nature to its List of World Heritage Sites in danger.
There were several interesting animal crossing signs along the road leading up to the Schuk Toak Visitors Center, including one that warned to watch for horny toads. The visitor's center sits atop an extensive ancient lava flow, with cacti tenaciously growing in the many cracks and crevices. Off in the distance we could see the great golden sand dunes, standing nearly 400 feet high, and that are said to be the leftover sediment from the formation of the Grand Canyon, carried all the way down into Mexico by the Colorado River, thousands of years ago.
The staff at the visitor's center was gracious enough to give us bikers a free tour of their fascinating little museum. We learned about the diverse history of the region, including the ancient Tohono O'odham Indian tribe (previously known as the Papago), along with the Spanish Conquistadors and Missionaries who have occupied the area. We were told about how the Tohono O'odham had given the name Schuk Toak, or 'sacred mountain', to the dark colored peak, seen in the distance from the visitor's center, where the tribe believed all life on the planet had originally begun. We also viewed a short video presentation that highlighted the flora and fauna of the region, which is far more diverse with wildlife than one might imagine, looking out at the vast expanse. The staff also pointed out that there were self guided walking tours available around the visitor's center, where one could further explore and enjoy the beauty of the great desert. The short tour was definitely a nice little break from all of the hustle and bustle of the rally's many festivities.
Enjoying the Beach at Rocky Point
Of course, I did spend some very time walking along the beach. It was super relaxing to feel the sand squish between my toes, as I strolled along picking up sea shells and watching seabirds. During one of my strolls, I happened upon what looked to be a huge volleyball tournament, with dozens of sand courts all in play at the same time. There were also a lot of other activities available for those who are a little more adventurous, including:
- Jet Skiing
- Boogie Boarding
- Horseback Riding
- Scuba Diving
- Ultra-light Aircraft Rides
- ATV Off-Roading
- Banana Boat Rides
I did not get to do any fishing, which seemed a little unfortunate, since Puerto Peñasco was originally a fishing village. However, I did learn that the best time of the year for hooking a big one is during the spring and summer months.
The Gran Fiesta and Bike Parade at the Malecón
The party and bike parade through the Malecón was definitely "off the hook," with thousands of bikes, bikers, and biker babes taking part in La Gran Fiesta. The sounds of music, cheering and suped-up engines, along with the smells of burning rubber, sun-block and fresh seafood filled the air, as party revelers spilled out of the many cantinas, and beaded necklaces were tossed in every direction. Overall, the atmosphere at the Malecón was something akin to Sturgis meets Mardi Gras, at the beach.
The ocean of motorcycle chrome next to the sea was certainly a site to behold. While most of the motorcycles at the event were notably Harley Davidsons, there was also a fair representation of just about every kind of motor bike that you could ever imagine. Alongside many beautiful custom bikes, were all sorts of touring bikes, sport bikes, dual sport enduros, trikes, dirt bikes, scooters, choppers, mini bikes, rat bikes, and plenty of metric cruisers. Needless to say, my big old 99 Valkyrie fit right in with the virtual smorgasbord of motorcycles.
The Journey Back Home
In an effort to avoid the anticipated long lines that would come with thousands of bikers all headed back to the U.S. at the same time, I started out towards the border before dawn. I was of course treated to a gorgeous Mexico sunrise on the way home, and I pretty much had much of the road to the border all to myself. Being an early riser paid off this time around, as there was no waiting when I reached the border crossing checkpoint. The customs official simply asked to see my passport and then I was quickly on my way. By 7:00 am I had already made it back to Ajo, Arizona.
As I made my way back across most of the state of Arizona and up through the mountains towards Flagstaff, I couldn't help but think about all that I had seen and enjoyed while I was in Puerto Peñasco. There was definitely a sense of contentment from having taken part in the 13th Annual Rocky Point Rally. The main thing that kept going through my mind, as I carved out the last miles leading home, was how I might be able to convince my boss that he should send me to next year's Rocky Point Rally...