Howdy folks! Been a while since I've done a ride report so I figured it's about time.
A couple of firsts on this ride - I've not been to Mexico on the GS, and this will be my first non-solo trip.
Hank, of "my 1995 GS has right at 475,000 miles on the clock" fame, runs his shop "MotoHank" in Dilley, Texas and had invited me to head south with him several times, but I was never able to coordinate. So when he invited me to go with him to the national BMW Rally in Uruapan, Mexico, I jumped at the chance. Hank has spent many years traveling in Mexico and Central America and I did what had to be done to make it happen.
Shortly before leaving, my GS began having intermittent issues of stumbling, and I spent my prep days chasing parts and ghosts. The mileage had dropped significantly to the 33 mpg range, and after new filters, pressure testing yada yada the consensus was to dope the fuel with as much injector cleaner as it could handle and hope for the best.
I packed the bike, filled the tank with gas and Gumout and headed south for Laredo. I stopped in briefly at MotoHank and dropped off a GoPro housing, where a disassembled KTM 950 "GO!" was being reassembled by its owner, Cullen. He'd ridden in from Nevada for the trip, was doing some last minute prep to his bike. I stood around and pointed at things while he worked and Hank supervised. From there I headed south to Laredo in a fierce headwind, serious heat and setting sun to swap cash for pesos and get some rest for our early morning rendezvous. MPG to Laredo was an unbelievable 29… not looking good. I didn't sleep well.
Exciting pics from the Motel 6:
Stuttering Stuttgart Sow… but I still love ya babe
Note the copious amounts of Pepto. There's a lot more stashed all over the bike.
Would you believe me if I told you those shorts were originally white?
High tech, eco friendly, usage of air - note that the position of insoles not only dries them, but deflects a tornadic air current into the sweaty boots. Pure genius in action.
Ok, I admit they're boring, but what else do you do in a Motel 6 besides count all the other creepy people?
MONDAY 8 A. M.
Plan was to meet in the parking lot next to the motel at 8 am and head for the border to beat the crowds, but Hank called and had had a fuel pump failure a couple blocks from his shop and was running late, so we had breakfast and met at 9:30. Riders were Hank and his girlfriend Sherry, Cullen from Nevada on his KTM 950, Jimmy from Texarkana on a 1200GS and Rob from Michigan on his 650 GS twin. In addition we had two other riders, Jim from Michigan and his son Matthew from Arizona, who were going to cross with us and then part ways in Monterrey.
Crossing the bridge, we had three pulled aside for inspections, and upon reaching the Aduana and Migracion offices we found few people in line. Benefits of a Monday morning. The process took a couple of hours and we were on our way into Nuevo Laredo, dodging and bobbing in traffic, seeing lots of armed polizia and federales, passing a large machine gun nest in front of the Holiday Inn Express.
We took off for Monterrey at high speed, about 140 miles away, and into a strong headwind. I watched as my fuel gauge went slowly down, my stomach sinking at the same rate. I didnt think I would make it, and looking at the bleak landscape all the way, I was already trying to figure out how long it would take on the side of the tollway before the gang would be able to come back and siphon gas for me.
The air was so hazy - whether smog or natural - that I was barely able to make out the shapes of mountains as we entered the region.
Just as my tank light came on at 115 miles, I began seeing signs of the city and we finally rolled in to a Pemex and filled up and ate a quick lunch.
I was wrestling with continuing since the bike was getting such poor mileage, but after filling with Pemex Premium and heading for Saltillo the gas gauge slowed its descent, and by the time we turned south towards Real De Catorce, the bike was beginning to feel like its old self. Filled up in Linares and afterwards I could tell the bike was getting straight again. I was finally able to relax a bit and check the scenery.
We raced south, passing innumerable "Vulca" or tire changing sheds and shacks, stacks of bagged onions or lemons on the inside lane, horses and sheep grazing the medians along the highway. At the speeds we were traveling 80-90, you need to be alert at all times.
We raced past a freshly rolled vehicle in the center median, the bodies having been drug out and surrounded by a crowd of locals, feeling that terrible sense of guilt in knowing there's nothing you can do.
It seemed we stopped for 25 toll stations, and I was frankly beginning to wonder if I'd changed enough cash into pesos at the rate I was handing it out.
The beautiful desert mountains rolled past as we flew along, with no time for photos in the race against a setting sun.
We finally reached the cut off for Cerda north of Matehuala, where we topped off on gas before turning onto the 12 mile cobblestone road up into the mountains. The road was an amazing site to see, and the vistas into the setting sun were beautiful. I snapped a quick pic while riding but the cobbles made it a challenge.
We did switchbacks up into the mountains until reaching the tunnel which leads into the old town of Real De Catorce. We waited for a truck to come through before paying a 20 peso toll and driving through.
I can't remember the length, but the old tunnel was several kilometers long, dark and musty. It was a great ride.
Bursting out into the light and into the old town was like stepping back in time. Steep cobblestone streets and stone buildings, street vendors and crisp mountain air. The tiny streets are steep and rough, but it's a beautiful place. We found the hotel just about dusk, showered and went out for a meal in the darkness.
It was dark but here are a few shots
Real De Catorce is a spectacular place and anxious for daylight to explore!