Awakened to the sounds of donkeys braying, roosters crowing, muffled voices and rattling pickup trucks on the rough cobblestone streets. Walked out into the early morning light and watched the children walking with mothers to school. Bleary eyed to say the least, having gone to sleep way too late and then being awakened by the TV coming on at 3 am at full volume.
Cullen and I had shared a room. Poor guy.
Our plan was to leave at 10 a.m., giving us time to do some exploring in the town after breakfast. There was mucho dawdling, mucho cafe' olla and cafe' con leche, sweet bread and a wonderful breakfast - on Mexico time. Didn't have enough time to really explore and photograph, as you could easily spend days doing such. But in the short time we had, we wandered the steep streets and I huffed and puffed my way up and down in the 9000' elevation.
A few pics from the wandering:
Let sleeping dogs lie
Remains of the night
We were geared up and ready to go by 10:30, and jumped the curb onto the polished cobblestones and wound up and down the tight streets until we reached the tunnel.
I fired up the GoPro and got some of the ride through the town and tunnel. As soon as I get a chance to upload it I'll add it in here…
REALLY COOL VIDEO COMING SOON RIGHT HERE
The weather has been magnificent, stinging hot sun and crisp cool air with wonderful nights.
We wound back down the mountain and headed west for Zacatecas, which compared to yesterday will be a short day. We hit the road in force, Cullen quite a ways behind for a while. His KTM developed a problem with oil coming out the breather tube and coating the engine. Hasn't been serious but he's having to attend cleaning the oil off and has been creating ways of collecting the oil to minimize the spray.
We traveled at speeds ranging from 80-90 down into the altiplano, my eyes stinging in the crisp air despite having sunglasses and shield down. They were, in fact working like windshield washers and spraying my sunglasses. Sheesh. We motored on passing miles and miles of cactus, shepherds and sheep, road crews who waved and cheered as we rocketed past, me giving a big thumbs up as we passed.
We gassed up somewhere and Rob's 650, which has no trouble staying with the bigger bikes, had developed a disconcerting wobble at times. After a thorough check-over we believed it to be caused by the larger aftermarket windshield, which probably was not designed with those speeds in mind.
Hank's warning before leaving the gas stop was simply, "Stay right against the next bike's rear tire when we hit Zacatecas or you'll get split off by cabs immediately and never find the downtown plaza." Ok, great. My position has been tail of a five bike train, and I wasn't relishing the thought of trying to stay with them in insane traffic.
With that thought in mind, we reached the city and immediately the fun began. In a nutshell, that is the craziest high speed traffic riding I've ever done, trying to stick with Jimmy's rear tire through the mess, eventually just clearing my mind and charging past bumpers and blaring horns. As we came very fast down into a traffic circle, I hit both brakes, but felt my rear brake pedal go limp. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Rear brake non-existent.
To say my "Threat Level Midnight" pucker factor went to "Black Hole" in an instant is an understatement. I was praying the front didn't fail.
Thank God the front brake continued to work, but the rear never came back. We had to continue the insanity into the downtown centro district and I tried to decide whether I'd lay it down or simply try to slow as much as possible and aim for the side cases of Jimmy's 1200 in case the front brake failed as well. I tried several more times but the rear pedal had no pressure.
In the midst of the traffic race, a transit policeman pointed at me and blew his whistle for me to pull over, but I simply nailed the throttle and shot past him, to be frank, I didn't give a damn.
We finally pulled up in front of the main plaza, each of the guys parking the bikes and getting off with increasing degrees of sweat and red faces. Hank and Rob, both in the front of the pack, said "Hey that wasn't bad at all!". Jimmy calmly said, "You guys weren't riding the tail of the dragon…" Truer words were never spoken LOL.
I told Hank about the brakes, and checked again but the pedal pressure was back and pads appeared fine. It's possible I boiled the fluid, since we were really getting a workout, but I didn't use the rear much. Honestly I've drug the rear brake for much longer periods on Colorado mountain passes. Oh well, we'll see tomorrow.
Cullen and his KTM - seeing this wrenching scene on a daily basis
The view from our room really sucked
We checked into a nice hotel, then decided to take two cabs to the Museum of Masks and then up to the top of La Bufa which overlooks the city. We grabbed two cabs, and immediately our's turned the opposite direction of Hank's cab, and after a few minutes Rob, who is a linguistics genius and fluent in many, many languages asked the driver if he knew the way to the museum. He responded "no" then took us on a wild drive to the cab headquarters, running inside for information we guessed, then tore off into the city again. He finally stopped in the middle of the street, blocking traffic to go talk to another cabbie, then headed off yet again. We eventually reached the museum, which had closed since we were late.
So... we grabbed two more taxis and drove to the top of the mountain, enjoying the views and then took the cable car down and walked to the hotel.
View from the top
We eventually walked to an Argentinian restaurant and ate steaks in the evening air of the plaza. From there we grabbed two more cabs and went to get cafe' at the bar of the Quinta Real Hotel. What an amazing place it was. Literally built on the old bull fighting arena, its bar being the chamber where the bulls were kept.
Crazy cab ride!
Quinta Real - an amazing hotel
More tomorrow amigos! If my brakes work…