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Old 04-05-2010, 11:29 PM   #16
rawdog
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Awesome, John! Give us more!!!
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Old 04-06-2010, 07:02 AM   #17
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On the third day of riding in Mexico I finally started to slow down and relax. What's the rush? Beautiful weather, nice roads. I was hard to relate to sub-zero weather and the howling winter winds of the northern plains as I cruised south from Mazatlan. The roads finally started changing from straightline desert riding like this:



To roads with more of these:



I still don't know what all the road signs mean. Some are easy like slow down:



And these nice new signs with a car going over a speed bump to announce the traffic calming topes. These signs are new since the last time I came down here.



Mexico is celebrating it's 100 year centennial since the war of independence and there were a lot of 2010 informational signs. They had pictographs of museums, cathedrals, historic sites of the cities you were coming into. They look like this:



If anyone knows what the one in the lower right of that sign means please let me know. It looks like a policeman getting ready to chuck in a toilet to me. But I know that's got to be wrong.

I had a wonderful day riding in the warm sunshine. I took a cutoff over to the coast road at San Blas north of Puerto Vallarta. I pulled over to take a leak and a nice guy in a Toyota Tundra with Alaska plates pulled over to see if I was okay. What a nice guy. He had a sea kayak on top of the camper shell and the air conditioning coming out of his rolled down window felt good. He was a motorcyclist and invited me to spend the night on his 40 foot sailboat anchored in Puerto Vallarta. It was late afternoon and I should have taken him up on it, but I had gotten an email that my sister was vacationing in Puerto Vallarta from Feb. 28th to March 6th, and today was Feb. 28th. I thought it would be cool to drop in and surprise her and my brother-in-law Skip. I hadn't seen them in a couple years. So I had to pass on the nice offer.

The coast road dropped down onto the freeway into Puerto Vallarta. Really nice new freeway with fresh paving. There was an exit sign for Costco. Boy, things have changed around here. I headed down to the center of town. This place has gotten HUGE. I remembered that my sister was staying at the Hotel Regina. The capitol of Saskatchewan. That's how I remembered the name. So I stop at an tourist info kiosk and the guy speaks English! So it was easy to get directions. And soon I wheel up to the open air lobby/reception desk and park my bug encrusted bike. And walk across the four star immaculate marble floored lobby in my bug encrusted first gear jacket and riding pants and ask the nice lady if my sister is staying at this beautiful hotel. So the dear receptionist rings my sister's room and puts me on the line. BOY, was my sister surprised to see me turn up out of nowhere. What a hoot! She and Skip had just gotten in 15 minutes ago, so I went down to her fabulous suite with a million dollar view out to the bay. WOW! My sister travels in style. Quite a big difference from the places I've been staying. But then, I just need a flat place to sleep, a place to go to the bathroom and a pipe sticking out of the wall with water coming out. Tepid water is good, hot water is a luxury. Of course, my trips last a lot longer than my sister's.

So we all take a walk down to a nice place for drinks and shoot the breeze and catch up on things. Really nice to see them. They invite me to spend the night, but it's still late afternoon, and I'm in the zone and not ready to stop riding. So, saddle up, bid them farewell and head down the road for some great riding winding up into the mountains and down to breathtaking views like this:



Miles and miles of untouched beaches. This part of the coast road reminds me of Hwy 1 in California. With cliff riding winding through hairpins with views down to the water:



I just about lost this, so better post it now.

JDowns screwed with this post 04-08-2010 at 07:45 PM
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Old 04-06-2010, 07:34 AM   #18
crashmaster
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Great pics and commentary John. The cop getting ready to chuck in a toilet is a strange one. I thought the exact thing when I first saw that sign.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I think your 250 is the perfect bike for down here.
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Old 04-06-2010, 07:52 AM   #19
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Way to go man! Way to go!!!
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Old 04-06-2010, 08:38 AM   #20
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My lady and I have a Sherpa and a KLR 250, so looking forward to the rest of your RR.
The cop sign says to me they're doing luggage checks.
Probably looking for drugs in vehicles and bags.
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Old 04-06-2010, 09:31 AM   #21
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So riding down the coast Rte 200 south from Puerto Vallarta to Playa Azul is my favorite road so far. Nothing but cranking and banking up around the cliffs and down into the river valleys. Really a nice day of riding. It is warm and sunny and I am in the riding zone. Sort of a zenlike keen awareness that you find yourself absorbed into while riding in a foreign country. Where you don’t know what is around the next hairpin. Like this broken down dumptruck:



that was hiding around a blind curve with no announcement. I wasn't blazing, so had time to stand up the bike and slam on the brakes to avoid him. But it pays to expect the unexpected around every corner. Riding the center line leaned over into a blind left is a dangerous place to be. Too many wide swinging buses and trucks. Don't say I didn't warn you. I remember swearing at the top of my lungs at least once a day until I got used to trucks passing buses coming straight at me when there was a shoulder to ride on. They flash their lights to warn you off the road onto the shoulder as they whoosh by missing you by a foot or so. And it doesn't happen often. But it sure gets your attention.

I would also slow down when I saw one of these shrines at the apex of a hairpin:



The more shrines, the nastier the decreasing radius hairpin.

It was getting late and I stopped at Playa Azul for the night. Kind of a cheesy beach town, but I was tired.

The next morning the owner of the guest house let me use his kitchen. I usually eat out of grocery stores and roadside stands to save money. So I went down to the store for some abarotes (groceries). I pointed to some eggs and a hamlike thing and some bananas and yogurt and headed back to the guesthouse. Mind you, I'm no culinary genius, but I can do scrambled eggs and ham. I eat to ride. And usually don't work up much of an appetite when all I'm doing all day is cranking my right wrist and squeezing my left. There are plenty of roadside fruit stands that will fix you up with fresh pineapples, mangos, bananas, coconut juice fresh out of the coconut. And the roadside taco stands where you can see the food being cooked and the locals are hanging out are always good for some tacos or frijoles. And the 24 hour OXXO (pronounced osso) convenience stores that are popping up next to all the new Pemex gas stations have do it yourself hot dogs with jalapenos, onions and relish in fresh containers along with a hot drawer with steaming buns. So I would pop in for a coke and a dog if I was hungry. I think they were 10 pesos, so like 90 cents. So you won't starve riding in Mexico. Plenty of good stuff to eat.

Anyway, I left Playa Azul and somehow took the wrong turn and headed up into the mountains on a GREAT road. After 30 miles or so a road sign said Rte 37. WHAT? I thought I was on 200. But this road was KILLER. Nothing but hairpins and freshly paved as it wound up into the pine forests. No way I was turning back. The hell with the coast road. This was now my favorite road in Mexico.



Check out that pavement. I can almost smell the pine trees and the fresh cool mountain air. That road went on for 100 miles or so up to Nuevo Italia (New Italy). Very little traffic, like a racetrack. It was heaven. The houses even had red tile roofs. I could have been in Europe. So I stop in Nuevo Italia in the shade next to some guys relaxing and watching the world go by and ask them where the camino con curvas peligrosos was. (Road with dangerous curves). And they point to the right. So I head that way. And boy, it was another great road.

So I'm tootling along cruising in the mountains and all of the sudden a high school kid in his school uniform wearing a backpack full of books blazes past
me on a Honda Cargo 125. Man that kid could ride! It was all I could do to catch up and pass him and the dump truck he was stuck behind. So I thought that was the end of it as I was cruising through the hairpins. I was feeling like a real ADVstud having blown by a high school kid on a 125. BUT NO! A few miles later the little booger catches up and passes me again. And this time he is racing and pulling away in the corners. I caught up in the straights, since his top speed was a little over 60, and followed along until he tooted his horn and waved as he turned off at the rancho where he lived. What a fun little ride! I didn't realize what a capable bike the 125 Honda was. I think I want one.

I later stopped to take a picture of one:



These kids can ride. And the flames are no joke. I got burned by one.

more later....

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Old 04-06-2010, 09:32 AM   #22
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Picture

First off, great report, keep it coming.

The picture is a cop/soldier looking in a suitcase.
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Old 04-06-2010, 02:11 PM   #23
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Riding a 250 on the back mountain roads of Mexico is SO MUCH FUN! There is just nothing like riding a slow bike fast. I would be concentrating on the task at hand and all of the sudden notice that I had a stupid grin on my face. Mexico has some GREAT riding. Especially riding a naked Sherpa, you feel like you're going 80 until you look down at the speedometer and realize you're going the speed limit. I passed through the big town of Morelia as the sun was getting low and hit another wonderful winding road. I think it was Mex 15 libre heading to Zitacuaro. It was continuous curves riding a mountain ridge with views out to Cathedrals across the valley:



I never stopped at the tourist sites. I'm leaving the museums, cathedrals, historical ruins and sitting in the plaza watching the beautiful latina women walk by for when I get too old to ride. Right now I was looking for the killer backroads. I was having too much fun riding. I really had no idea where I was alot of the time. And I didn't really care. I just kept riding until it got dark and pulled over for some rack time.

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Old 04-06-2010, 02:35 PM   #24
enceladus
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sign

That is a sign meaning that there is a immigration checkpoint ahead. I live in Mazatlan so if you pass thru going north drop me a message and we can get together for a drink. That road you were on with all the curves is the Durango highway. It makes the Tail of the Dragon in east Tennessee look like a Kansas interstate, and changes altitude from 10,000 Ft down to sea level.
I am origionally from Tennessee but I live here in Mexico now so I should know.

Good Luck
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Old 04-06-2010, 03:01 PM   #25
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This looks like a real nice ride
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Old 04-06-2010, 03:47 PM   #26
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That picture of the desert in bloom is very pretty. I've always wanted to see that, and snow in the desert.


Ride on

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Old 04-06-2010, 03:55 PM   #27
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Great report, I especially like the images of a changing country, one we'll all be missing in 20 years. Did you ever let off the throttle long enough to take in some of the culture or slow pace of old Mexico?
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Old 04-06-2010, 04:36 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadman
Great report, I especially like the images of a changing country, one we'll all be missing in 20 years. Did you ever let off the throttle long enough to take in some of the culture or slow pace of old Mexico?
Hi Shadman,

I confess, at this point after being cooped up all winter in the northern plains with howling sub-zero winds I was just so glad to be somewhere warm. So I found myself riding my brains out for the first few days. I understood the concept of slowing down and enjoying the more casual Latin pace of life and drinking in the rich culture of the area. I just wasn't there yet.

Kindest regards,
John Downs
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Old 04-06-2010, 06:00 PM   #29
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I LOVE Mexico. The people are friendly and helpful. The young people are respectful of elders. Which is good for me. So many people tell you horror stories they've read in the newspapers. It just wasn't my experience.

The mountains are cold in the winter until things warm up. I wait until late morning to head out into the countryside. It is another beautiful day.



It dropped down into the 40s last night and there was no heat where I stayed and one thin blanket, so was glad to have brought a summer down bag. I don't use it often, but it came in handy. I have it in a compression bag and it is the size of a large grapefruit when compressed. I keep it in the bottom of my duffel bag with my warm clothes in case I need to crash on the side of the road, or the bike breaks down somewhere cold. I'm glad I brought it along.

Mexico is HUGE. It doesn't look that big on the map. But riding to Guatemala down the pacific side is like riding from LA to New York. I can't believe there are snow covered volcanoes off in the distance.



It got more arid as I rode south into the state of Puebla. And the roads straightened out as I headed toward Oaxaca.

I remember whipping around a corner and narrowly missing making roadkill of a two foot long giant bluegeen iguana as he was waddling across the road wagging back and forth. Boy, that got my attention! Also, was getting ready to pass a truck, when he ran over the tippy tail of a six foot long green snake, and the lugs of his tire flipped the coiling flailing mass backwards narrowly missing me to the left. Now that's not something you see every day.

I met a nice young man while I was stopped taking a picture. He was on his bicycle and had come from Prudhoe Bay Alaska, and was heading to Tierra del Fuego.



He was living on a couple hundred pesos a day. Talk about minimalist! And I thought I was traveling on the cheap. By the way, I put 600 pesos in my riding pants each day and had over 100 pesos left over. A peso is currently worth eight cents. But with border crossings and such I ended up spending more like 50 bucks a day. But I am poor and traveling low frills and staying off the toll highways. Anybody who says they can travel on a moto for less than that in Mexico is probably remembering a trip from ten years ago when prices were half what they are today or they are rough camping.
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Old 04-06-2010, 06:56 PM   #30
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When you pass from the state of Puebla into the southern state of Oaxaca in Mexico, the pavement changes from smooth to rough. It is more like Mexico used to be. And the topes (speedbumps) become HUGE. I tried to take a pic, but there isn't enough contrast. Topes come in all sizes, but I remember they seemed to be getting bigger. And you will go over literally thousands of them by the time you ride the length of the country. On a dirt bike this is no problem, since you can stand on the pegs and compress the forks and release as you hit them. Everybody else comes to a stop, so I found myself often swinging out to the left and passing the big trucks if there was no oncoming traffic and taking them at speed. Down, up, down. I got into the rhythm of the topes. I do remember hitting an unmarked one that I missed seeing at speed and going airborn. That got my attention.

Rte 190 libre winds down through the canyons after leaving the city of Oaxaca. It is a great road. Some potholes and cracked pavement so you have to pay attention. It drops down, down, down. To the flat plain that is called the Ithsmus of Tehuantepec. If you look on a map it is a fifty mile wide flat plain that is at the narrowest point in southern Mexico. It is a gap that is formed between the southern and northern mountains. And the wind howls through here from the Gulf of Mexico straight through to the Pacific Ocean.

And I mean HOWLS. I have been down here before on a big bike and it was a handful. But this evening as the sun is setting it is gale force gusting winds like I have never ridden in. AND I'M ON A 250! It is blowing so hard this evening that the telephone lines are whipping up and down like jump ropes. The metal road signs are wagging back and forth. I literally can't keep a straight line. I just slow down and favor the right side of the road. It was pretty exciting. I saw some long distance cyclists with their bikes laying next to the road. They were huddled down in the ditch taking a break. I bet they were thinking this pedaling to Tierra del Fuego thing wasn't such a great idea.
So I pull off onto the shoulder to decide if I should backtrack and hole up in a motel in Juchitan. I can't get off the bike. In fact the gusts are so strong I can barely hold up the bike. And I have stopped over a culvert that is about three feet in diameter. And the wind is making a low pitched howling sound as it whistles through the culvert. It is like something out of Dante's Inferno. It's WILD!

So I decide to press on. No guts, no glory. I see an overpass in the distance so I wobble down and find a place out of the wind where I can think. The large cement girders holding the overpass up are catching the wind and making an eerie low pitched howling hum. It reminds me of the sound from the monolith in 2001: A Space Oddysey. Only louder. I would have to yell if there were anyone around to talk to. But I am alone. I find myself in an otherworldly place. I know it's only another hour of this before the road heads behind the protection of the southern mountains and it will be a distant memory...

JDowns screwed with this post 04-26-2010 at 06:14 PM
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