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Old 02-14-2014, 05:21 PM   #46
Valve Man
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Joined: Jan 2007
Location: Southeast Texas
Oddometer: 15
I'm all in!!!

Been following your adventure for a couple of weeks now!
Looks like a Great Ride! Have fun and be safe!!!
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Old 02-14-2014, 11:07 PM   #47
Beastly n00b
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Joined: Dec 2009
Location: Playa del Carmen
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Definitely in
Life is good, even in adversity!

Yucatan | Chiapas | Belize 1 | Belize 2 | QRoo | Guanajuato
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Old 02-20-2014, 04:58 PM   #48
gaahrdner OP
Joined: May 2013
Location: Austin, TX
Oddometer: 50
San borja

Woo! Ok! Wow I haven't written in a while, but amidst some beers and free tequila shots I've managed to write and schedule a few to be posted. I'm not sure when or how I'll get em cross-posted over here at ADV but I'll do my damnedest. Anyhoozle, I'm in La Paz, have met a bunch of fellow riders as well. Going to try and ferry over to Topolobamplo tomorrow, and get to Mazatlan by January 27th, because...


I found out today that it's the 3rd largest in the world, so I may as well check it out, right? I mean, 350,000 scantily clad women are going to descend on the city, you'd be crazy not to!

Anyhow, on to the update.

Eager to move on from Bahia de Concepcion, I woke up fairly early-ish, ate a quick bite of something I can’t remember and went to gas up. I was wanting to do a bit more off road riding and noticed a nice long dirt road that would take me through the mountains along the coast, eventually swinging west towards Guerrero Negro, my ultimate endpoint for the day.

You can see the route I wanted to take south of Bahia de Los Angeles on the right hand side there, and the actual route to MEX1 through San Borja near the top.

I should mention that this lovely AAA map was donated by a grand couple who stayed in the camp site next to me at Daggett’s. They had an extra one, and though it was 10 years old were very happy to give it to me. Sadly I don’t remember their names, but I do remember being quite stunned by how happy this elderly couple seemed to be after all these years. Then off they went to go kayak across the bay. Those crazy Boomers.

Pulling into the Pemex station, I saw this technological marvel.

I bet it’s fun as all heck to drive.

Anyway, after fueling up I talked to this guy, Donnie Williamson, and asked him about the route.

As you can see, Donnie is also from Austin, TX and a huge Longhorns fan. He even provided my bike with some much needed Austin bling.

Hook ‘em! And it’s mad reflective!

Donnie mentioned that the road was pretty torn up after the previous days Baja 200 race, and it would take me most of the day to get through heavy deep sand, the kind of stuff that makes professional Baja riders cry. I should mention that Donnie was hoppin’ around madly, as I found out he was late to return back to Austin by a few days. So we parted ways and I started back whence I came towards MEX1. About 20 minutes in I noticed a sign to some mission called San Borja, flipped around on the road and stopped at the sign.

San Borja.

Well damn it, I have this amazing map, let me actually look at it and see if I can cut across the desert, and what do you know I surely could. It would be a few miles but it would be fun as all hell, I knew that much. So off I charged down a road made of rocks and Baja dirt. I don’t have many pictures of this time, but I did meet some Gaucho’s headed towards the highway. At this time I stopped and turned on the GoPro, to record an epic ride.

Here’s me acting immaturely, and, now that I see the picture, on the wrong side of the cactus.

One of a few signs pointing the way.

Here’s video of the ride, including me crashing after I hit some rocks. Which was actually pretty fun, and I imagine it always is whenever you don’t get hurt (thanks Alpinestars!).

Eventually I got to the mission.

Of course it was closed for renovations.

I’ll spare you all the rest of the details but needless to say I enjoyed a very boring and straight ride before ending up in Guerrero Negro.

gaahrdner screwed with this post 02-20-2014 at 05:06 PM
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Old 03-09-2014, 09:46 PM   #49
gaahrdner OP
Joined: May 2013
Location: Austin, TX
Oddometer: 50
Copper Canyon: Baby Steps

Hey y'all, I missed posting a few updates here, so check them out on my blog because it's a royally pain in the ass copying and reformatting everything, but, I mean, I gotta share my Copper Canyon adventures!

Also I'm about 2 weeks behind from my actual position, because, damn it it's easier to have a hell of a lot of fun than write all the time.

Anyway, onwards!

I should take some time to introduce the other members of our group that I met on the ferry, before telling you of the adventures we had in Copper Canyon.

First up is Stefan Knopf and his wife Ira, both from Heidelberg. Stefan used to lead motorcycle tours in Mexico for many years, and is pretty much known worldwide as the guy to contact when shipping a motorcycle from/to anywhere to/from Europe, through his company Knopf tours. He was leading the group and had the route planned, hotels booked, etc. Ira rode passenger, and is extremely pleasant. She suffers from some type of asthma, so one of Stefanís panniers is full of a specialized machine to cure attacks, making our long ride (and their many other long rides) all the more impressive.

Andi, the guy I met the night before on the ferry, is a plumber in Heidelberg and a motorcycle aficionado as well. Actually, heís Stefanís plumber, and Stefan invited him out on this trip, as payment for some work back in Germany (Iím assuming.) Thatís pretty awesome of Stefan if you ask me. Andi would ride the whole way with a young kid named Noah. Noah was a straight badass, because, well heís so young but he hung with all of us through some really hard days. I initially thought he was Andiís son, however I later learned they just have some kind of good father-son relationship from a previous relationship? Not that itís important to this story.

Next up is Peter, a plumber from Heidelberg. Yep, same deal as Andi. Peter and I would get to know each other very well as the day proceeded, as youíll soon find out.

Rounding out the group were Chris and his partner Agnes. Chris is from San Diego and has been long time friends with Stefan, and he rode a pretty new and very nicely kitted out 1200GS, the biggest of all the bikes in the group. I believe he does some kind of online training of teachers.

And of course, me.

So the next morning, we wake up to find our hotel has provided breakfast for everyone. Stefan picks up my tab, payment for use of the hotel room the previous night, and while delicious, it does delay us a bit. The Mexican way is one of bringing out multiple dishes at different times, something none of us is really used to yet, so we donít leave Choix until a bit later. All packed up with my 2L of water and weíre on the road, jiving to conquer the Copper Canyon by 9:30AM.

We head out, and immediately get lost. Stefan is leading however weíve missed the turn onto the dirt road, and itís another 20 km until he pulls over and asks someone, and I consult my GPS. Yep, we passed it. So, we turn around, find the entrance, and hit pay dirt: no more asphalt!

Weaving through small pueblaís (and dodging donkeys) the motorcycles climb higher through the mountains, with road conditions remaining generally the same: dirty.

It quickly becomes clear that Iím riding the superior machine for these conditions; the BMWs are fairly heavy and apt to get caught in smaller ruts, while the much lighter weight of my DR650 lets me rip open the throttle to charge up the hills and stay nimble in the sand. The big 1200GS particularly has some problems, laden down with two humans and all the gear, and Chris and Agnes have to continually stop so Agnes can walk a bit as Chris maneuvers the motorcycle through deep sand. After about an hour we stop for a break and some photos.

ďWow we just rode that stretch, how cool was that! I wonder whatís next?Ē

Itís a little after 11AM, and my phone says we still have about 7 hours of riding left. But weíre making good time, so we hop back on our bikes and continue on, and I encounter my first stream! Excitedly I gun it across the water after watching Stefanís line and then turn around and do it again so he can get a photo of me, as we wait for Chris and Agnes to catch up and cross the stream.


We stop again about an hour later. Iím itching to go a bit faster though, so I pull Stefan aside and ask if he minds if I ride ahead, still a bit unsure of the groups dynamics since I did only just meet these people the day before. Heís totally fine with it so I mention that Iíll stop again in about an hour or so and wait for everyone to catch up.

Damn fine roads son.

I snap another picture, rip open the throttle and barrel down the two track road, a massive grin on my face. The DR is incredible responsive, and I quickly grow more confident with the tail end sliding around curves as we tear down mountains, through valleys, and back up other mountains. No guard rails, at times sheer cliff faces, and just pure enjoyment.

Beats working!

Did I mention how dusty it is out there? It hadnít rained for weeks, so I had to constantly wipe dust from my shield and camera lens. Iím still carrying that dust around on my bike.

I stop a few times throughout the ride to take photos and find Peter, the oldest rider of the group never too far behind me. At one point, I lose my phone in the dust and sand, and Peter comes up behind me. I motion for him to stop, fearing heíll run it over, and sentencing the rest of my journey to be music-less. A few minutes search and I find it lying in the middle of the road, well hidden. Close call, thatís for sure. We head out again, and pretty soon we find a decent pace riding together, only stopping later when Peter feels a bit guilty for our quickness as we spot some river, whose name escapes me. We pull over and wait for the others, who soon arrive, with the big 1200GS many minutes later.

As we feel the day go by, weíre all a bit keen to pick up the pace, wanting to arrive before dark, so Stefan, as German as he can, tells us all not to stop again until we hit the bridge, after a town called La Mision. Peter has been wanting to stop at the next Coca-Cola sign (and mentions he lost his water bottle somewhere), and with the group getting thirsty, we press on. I glance down as I ride and am glad I filled a two liter bottle of water before I left. Just in case of course.

Iím guessing itís called La Mision because of this mission. Just a hunch though.

Shrines like these are on the sides of the roads EVERYWHERE in Mexico.

Off we go then, hereís the video.


What might not be clear is that, as I arrived at the bridge, with Peter well in front of me, three gun shots rang out somewhere down the valley. The deal was to stop at the bridge, so I get off and wait, and Andi and Noah appear soon after. They too heard the shots.

Andi just needs a smoke after that ride. Smoke Andi, smoke.

We wait a while and eventually Stefan and Ira show up, and they tell us they were stopped by the military.

ďYeah they just came running out of the woods yelling at us, asking us where we were going and how many of us there were.Ē

Peter shows back up, having seen zero Coca-Cola signs across the bridge, and with everyone thirsty we decide to regroup in the town and search for drinks. Soon after I arrive I spot ďthe Army.Ē It looks to me like one guy in uniform with a gun and two locals in plain clothes, though perhaps the others have gone back to their posts? The uniformed man starts to get a bit agitated and begins yelling at and waving us off, so we make a quick decision to GTFO and look for some drinks after the bridge in the next Puebla.

View from the bridge. Yep, itís water.

We cross over, and stop on the other side, and wait for Chris and Agnes, who still havenít shown up yet at this point.

And wait.

Stefan spots a refrigerator and goes to speak to a local about the route to Batopilas, and hopefully grab some beverages. He comes back dejectedly with cans of Coke, and no water; apparently the entire fridge is full of Coke products. Impressive.

Worse, the remaining bridge between us and Batopilas had been washed away, and there is no way to get there; the water is too deep and swift to ford. We certainly wonít reach the town by nightfall.

I take a sip of Coke, look back, past the bridge to where we spotted the military (or bandits). Itís the only way back.

I give a little bit of my water to Ira, as she needs to stay hydrated.

Weíre stuck.
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Old 03-13-2014, 02:38 PM   #50
gaahrdner OP
Joined: May 2013
Location: Austin, TX
Oddometer: 50
Note: I donít have many pictures of this time period, and all the video is contained below. Scroll down to watch it if you canít or donít read.

Up to this point weíve been relying heavily on my Nexus 5 phone and the Skobbler app. I highly recommend it for your offline mapping needs.

Stefan has some handwritten notes with distances as well, which have worked out as well, to my surprise. Despite my reliance on technology, there must be something to these tried and true old ways, and I stash that knowledge away to be used at some future date.

Either way, he asks me to accompany him back to the old man who sold us all the Cokeís and see if we can find a way around. Walking across the road, onto a porch shading the house from the beating sun, the smell of fresh blood wafts through the air as weíre greeted by a freshly quartered and carved cow, pieces hanging from the rafter and dripping into the dirt beneath. The old man stands by the bright Coke machine and mentions that there is a mining road we can potentially take, but you need a permit. He and Stefan speak in Spanish (Stefan speaks pretty good Spanish, among other languages), and I attempt to find it on my maps, but it doesnít look like anyone has gone that way yet. Or they never reported it back to the OSM project, which Skobbler relies on. We thank the man and head back to rejoin the others.

So, we have three choices:

We can go see the missing bridge ourselves, and potentially investigate a side road that seems to go a bit farther I have found on the maps, and hope to find a way across.
We rely on Coke mans intel and ride the mining road. Heís told us itís about 12 km north, and then weíll see an iron arrow pointing towards the mine.
We turn around and hopefully find another way through the Copper Canyon.

Well, I can tell you that right away we knew the third option was right out, and how dare you even mention it as weíll lose a few days figuring out and, more importantly, weíre god damn adventurers.

No, we decide to take the mining road. Worst case scenario, we can come back and see how the bridge looks, as well all have plenty of gas and there is sufficient daylight still.

Chris and Agnes finally show up, and, after a bit of an argument with Stefan about the groups riding speed, clarification of our current situation, and some Coke (so much Coke during this time, we would desperately wish for some later on), are on board as well.

A grader rounds the corner, Stefan asks him about the bridge (yes, itís out) and the mining road (heís not sure), and we mount up and ride on through the dusty road.

The terrain is much more difficult here, and the road climbs far higher than any other weíve traversed to this point. Onwards and upwards we go, occasionally glancing at each other wondering how much longer this road continues on, until, finally, we reach a gate.

With armed guards.

The mining road certainly exists, and it leads straight to an active gold and silver mine. We unpack as Stefan and Chris (who also speaks a ton of Spanish, having done a similar trip like mine many years ago) ask about passing through the mine, explain that bridge is out, and, no seŮor, weíre very sorry but we donít have enough gas to turn around and go back, we promise .

I notice another guard in a watch tower, high above the cliff face above us and the gate peering down at us. Itís a great tactical position.

The guards radio down to El Jefe, and we wait. I can only imagine what was going on through their minds, when four motorcycles and eight brightly dressed spacemen appeared at their gates, gibbering in foreign tongues.

We wait a while. I mention to Stefan (in German, apparently Mexicans love Alemania) that weíll probably have to bribe these guys.

And then, they let us in the gate! Weíre only allowed in the guard area, but, having paid nothing yet and no holes in our bodies, things are looking up. We sit in the shade and wait a while, and even use the bathroom facilities. Sadly there is no water to drink, but I give a little of what I have left to the group, confident we can ask the mine owners for some when they let us proceed.

If they let us proceed, the paranoid part of my brain reminds my conscience.

Anyway, after what is probably about an hour, a truck with emergency lights comes up through the other gate, the guards come over and tell us we can proceed. I turn on the GoPro, and we drive through the mine, escorted by a truck in frond of and behind our group.

Weíre ecstatic! We made it! Through a damn gold and silver mine! How many other people have driven this road before? Has anyone? Boastful Me doesnít think so, and Iím grinning ear to ear as I wait at the exit for Chris and Agnes, to make sure they get through before the guards close the gate, until they wave me off.

I ride about a kilometer later and see the rest of the group.

And the river.

gaahrdner screwed with this post 03-13-2014 at 02:51 PM
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Old 07-16-2014, 03:41 AM   #51
Vinny V strom
Joined: Feb 2008
Location: Austin, Tx
Oddometer: 50
Long time - no updates. What gives?
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Old 07-16-2014, 09:22 AM   #52
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Joined: Dec 2011
Location: Austin, TX
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In Playa

Originally Posted by Vinny V strom View Post
Long time - no updates. What gives?
Blog ( says he's been in Playa del Carmen for last 2-3 months.
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Old 07-18-2014, 08:17 AM   #53
gaahrdner OP
Joined: May 2013
Location: Austin, TX
Oddometer: 50

Yeah, wow, didn't realize anyone still read this thread. I abandoned it since there didn't seem to be any interest and just write on my blog now. It's a pain having to convert everything to BBCode just to have no one read it.

Aegir is right, I've been in Playa del Carmen for the last two to three months, mostly scuba diving. One, because it's awesome, and two because I didn't want to get too far south when it was still winter/spring. I'll probably keep heading south in August or September.

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