ADVrider

Go Back   ADVrider > Riding > Ride reports
User Name
Password
Register Inmates Photos Site Rules Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 04-07-2010, 07:12 AM   #31
JDowns OP
Sounds good, let's go!
 
Joined: Mar 2005
Location: Bassett, NE
Oddometer: 2,614
So I press onward. I soon am following a semi truck that is creeping along at 40 mph. His trailer is literally leaning at a 5 degree angle from the wind. I can’t safely pass without running the risk of being blown into him. And there is no relief from the sidewind gusts riding in his wake. So I slow down and follow along, trying to keep a straight line. Which is impossible. But with slight steering corrections, I can keep six inches left or right of a straight line as I continue down the road. And soon the wind abates as the road passes into the lee of the southern mountains. It is a memory, as the wind slowly fades and the road turns into a 4 lane freeway heading south to Guatemala. But I have made it through La Ventosa (the windy place) on a 250, and it was a thrill ride! It is getting dark now, as the road passes through a small town and suddenly, whap, whap, whap. I pull over into a Pemex gas station and look at the rear tire and find the rear tire has picked up a huge nail that was hitting my swingarm. So I pull it out, and pfffffft, the tire starts deflating. But the nice guys at the service station air me up and point me down the road a couple clicks to a motel. What a break. A nice place to stay for 200 pesos (16.00) with wifi, cable TV and a brightly lit parking lot where I can change out the rear tube. There is a platoon of federales staying there for the night. They have armed guards with machine guns posted to watch their trucks overnight, and are really nice as they watch me pop off the rear wheel and air up the new tube with my battery powered air pump with enough air to ride back down to the Pemex station and fully inflate the new tube. It was a lucky break to get a flat in one of the few places with a 24 hour gas station out in this sparsely populated area of Mexico.
The next morning all of the Federales are gone except one truck. It is a 2009 Ford F150 in Federale dark navy.



And only one guy is left to guard the truck. He lets me check out his machine gun. It is called a Panther. Never heard of it. But he says it is muy fuerte (very strong).

JDowns is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2010, 07:55 AM   #32
TaZ9
Ultimate Adventurer
 
Joined: May 2007
Location: Northern Colorado
Oddometer: 259
I HATE the wind!

John,

I can relate to comments about your riding in strong winds. A buddy and I were out riding in the Moab area last week and the winds had to be 20-30 mph steadily for 2 full days and gusting up to 40 or so. It made riding miserable, but we were there and did the best we could. I can handle snow, rain and cold, but I hate riding in the wind!

Just curious what your load looked like on the sherpa. You have posted some partial views of you SS, but would appreciate a shot showing how things were loaded up.

I will be picking up a low milage Sherpa this weekend and can't wait to test it's dual sport abilities. I have a fullly set up DR650 and a XR250L and am curious how the Sherpa will fit in with, and maybe replace one or both of my other bikes.

Great report and photos...keep it coming and ride safe!

Taz
TaZ9 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2010, 08:22 AM   #33
JDowns OP
Sounds good, let's go!
 
Joined: Mar 2005
Location: Bassett, NE
Oddometer: 2,614
Quote:
Originally Posted by TaZ9
John,

I can relate to comments about your riding in strong winds. A buddy and I were out riding in the Moab area last week and the winds had to be 20-30 mph steadily for 2 full days and gusting up to 40 or so. It made riding miserable, but we were there and did the best we could. I can handle snow, rain and cold, but I hate riding in the wind!

Just curious what your load looked like on the sherpa. You have posted some partial views of you SS, but would appreciate a shot showing how things were loaded up.

I will be picking up a low milage Sherpa this weekend and can't wait to test it's dual sport abilities. I have a fullly set up DR650 and a XR250L and am curious how the Sherpa will fit in with, and maybe replace one or both of my other bikes.

Great report and photos...keep it coming and ride safe!

Taz
Hi TaZ9,

Everything is black on my bike, so hard to photograph.



I replaced the Sherpa peanut tank with a 4 gal. XR650L gas tank. And use some Cortex soft bags that frankly don't hold much. So I carry my lightweight clothes, down bag and tarp tent in a small black drybag on the stock rear rack which came with the bike. But with the black sheepskin seat cover I zip tied to the stock Sherpa seat, it is hard to make out what is what in my photos

I have an XR250L as well, and it is sitting in the garage. But I love that bike so haven't sold it yet. In fact I have a garage full of bikes back in Oregon that I really should sell. However, the old BMW R80ST has taken me 120,000 miles from Alaska down to Guatemala and all places in between, so have a hard time parting with it.

When I moved to Nebraska a couple years ago I only took one bike. It's the one I ride all the time. SUPER SHERPA, FTW!

BUT I'm biased. And poor. And a little nuts. So probably not the best person to ask. It does everything I ask of it and after 20,000 miles has required nothing from me other than routine maintenance. Later on in the story you'll learn just what an amazing little bike the Sherpa is.

Kindest regards,
John Downs

JDowns screwed with this post 04-07-2010 at 08:31 AM
JDowns is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2010, 09:07 AM   #34
PartyOfOne
Adventurer
 
PartyOfOne's Avatar
 
Joined: May 2009
Location: H-town, TX
Oddometer: 41
Love your RR...I really appreciate to little details in them...keep them coming...
PartyOfOne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2010, 09:48 AM   #35
JDowns OP
Sounds good, let's go!
 
Joined: Mar 2005
Location: Bassett, NE
Oddometer: 2,614
The coast road straightens out in southern Mexico. I haven’t been down here since 2006 right after a hurricane ravaged the area and washed out many of the bridges. I can’t believe the changes. It is now a 4 lane freeway that runs inland and bypasses the towns. Kind of boring, and I should have headed into the mountains to the colonial town of San Cristobal de las Casas, but I figured I’d head that way on the way home.
Nothing much opens before 9 in the morning or so. I would usually ride for a while and stop for breakfast on the side of the road in the later morning. It was another beautiful day as I turned off the freeway and stopped at a small comedor (cafe) for a big plate of Huevos Mexicanos (scrambled eggs, onions, cilantro and tomatoes), frijoles (beans) and tortillas harina (whole wheat tortillas). The shy waitress hid behind a brick column when I got my camera out, but I snapped a pic when she peeked to see what I was doing.



The two local guys chowing down were riding these China bikes.



They looked like they were heading out into the fields to work as they kick-started their little bikes and rode off.

I almost missed the turn up into the mountains at Huixtla since the PanAm is a freeway now and bypasses the town. The last time I came through the border crossing at Tapachula down in the hot coastal plain, I decided never again. That busy crossing on the Panam Hwy is a zoo. It is much cooler and more relaxed crossing at La Mesilla up in the mountains. The road used to be 211, but has been renamed 220. It is a great road. Winding up and up into the milder mountain air. I stopped to check my map and the owner of a roadside food stall came out and started talking Kawasaki. He had just bought a used Ninja and had to show me his new bike. So he opened up his garage next door and showed off his new bike. Of course he had to show me his phone video of his friends canyon carving on this great road I was on. His phone had a cracked screen, but the two thirds of the screen that was working looked like they were having fun. He insisted on fixing me a steak, and cranked up the stereo with some sixties rock.

Here is my new Ninja buddy sweating over a hot grill cooking me up a steak in his dingy kitchen. The picture doesn't show him dancing a little salsa to the cranking beat of the Stones song Start Me Up. You'll have to fill that in with your imagination.



So I find myself relaxing on the terrace, listening to the Stones and CCR while eating a steak. Who would have thought?

I don't exit Mexico since my permits are good for six months. This is not exactly kosher, so I don't recommend it. It's just what I do. The crossing into Guatemala is easy. I am the only one there and am in and out in short order. It is the weekend, so I change a 100 dollars to tide me over until the banks open. It costs 8 dollars to enter Guatemala with the bike and the exchange rate is 7.5 Quetzals to the dollar. It is 7.85 Quetzals to the dollar at the bank so I pay a 35 Quetzal penalty for changing money at the border. The convenience is worth it to me.

The road goes through a crack in the mountains formed by a river. You ride up a canyon with waterfalls and steep cliffs on either side.



It is hazy as the road winds up into the mountains and drops down into valleys.



You definitely aren't in Mexico anymore. The terrain is somehow more rugged and soon you encounter the colorful Guatemalan buses.



They are diesel belching converted schoolbuses with awesome paint jobs and detailing. Here is a close-up of a grill.



And these guys fly when they're going downhill, and are always in a hurry. I followed a cool Esmerelda Line bus for a while. It had color shifting green paint and chrome with a yellow tweety bird painted on the back end. The ticket taker stands in the doorway and when a passenger needed to get off he would boost a little kid out the door and up onto the roof WHILE THE BUS WAS CRANKING AROUND THE HAIRPINS! My jaw dropped as the little kid hustled up and untied some bags on the roof rack that he tossed down to the ticket taker as they pulled over and let the passenger off as I rode by.

JDowns screwed with this post 05-18-2010 at 07:47 PM
JDowns is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2010, 10:11 AM   #36
Klay
dreaming adventurer
 
Klay's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2005
Location: right here on my thermarest
Oddometer: 98,619
Klay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2010, 11:04 AM   #37
JDowns OP
Sounds good, let's go!
 
Joined: Mar 2005
Location: Bassett, NE
Oddometer: 2,614
There is a beautiful mountain sunset as I pass by Huehuetenango. But as usual, the color is gone by the time I find a place to pull over and get out my camera. This would be a recurring scene. The further south you travel towards the equator, the quicker the sunsets are. You have about one minute to catch a good tropical sunset. There is barely a half hour from the time the sun sets until it is dark. And dark it gets as I continue down the road. And then an amazing thing happens. There is a brand new road. It is four lanes wide and freshly paved. HOLY COW! This is all new. The road is nothing but horseshoe bends winding through the mountains. There are reflectors on all the lanes and brand new striped lines. It lights up like an airport runway in the cool dusk air. I finally reach the turnoff to Lake Atitlan and drop down the super steep road to Panajachel. This place has grown from a sleepy lakeside hip hangout into a real touristy place. With discos and lots of Euro and American kids. So I find a room at the El Centro Hotel for ten bucks and call it a day.

I have traveled 3000 miles, so in the morning I go next door to the Texaco station and buy some Havoline Supreme 20W50. Two quarts costs 65 Quetzals, so about 4.50/quart. Not my first choice, but any kind of oil that you’ve heard of is hard to find down here. And good motorcycle oil is unheard of outside the big cities. So I drain the Sherpa into a couple empty water bottles and change the filter with one I brought. It only uses a quart and a half with filter change. And the Super Sherpa uses the same oil filter as the Honda XR250, so easy to find more down here. The town is quiet in the early morning hours after a hard night of partying. And Lago Atitlan is beautiful in the crisp morning air. But this place is too touristy for my taste.

Now I wasn’t planning on going any farther than Guatemala to go to the dentist. But the weather is gorgeous, and my money is going farther than it does with a bigger less fuel efficient bike. So I think to myself, why not head south a ways and come back to Guatemala to get your teeth looked at later? Anything to put off going to El Dentista. And at my age, who knows what the future holds. So I think, why not explore some countries you’ve never been to.

This starts sounding like an excellent idea. The bike is running like a dream. The Sherpa is easy on tires. I might need a new rear before I get home. But so what? There are plenty of small bike tires down here. Hmmmmm.
Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. So I fire up the bike and head out of town towards Guatemala City.

JDowns screwed with this post 05-22-2010 at 10:09 PM
JDowns is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2010, 11:35 AM   #38
badguy
Susan
 
badguy's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2009
Location: almost southern MD
Oddometer: 1,671
Great writeup...can't wait to read more
badguy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2010, 12:31 PM   #39
JDowns OP
Sounds good, let's go!
 
Joined: Mar 2005
Location: Bassett, NE
Oddometer: 2,614
It is another beautiful day of riding in Guatemala. Winding down the mountain. Blue sky with puffy white clouds drifting by the Volcanoes in the distance. I LOVE riding the mountain roads in Guatemala. It has changed so much in the last four years since I was down here.

I reach the outskirts of Guatemala City. It is HUGE. I have no idea where I am going and get off the main drag and am having a total blast. I pull over to take some pictures of bikes. Sitting on the curb I catch a shot of this delivery bike.



And a guy on a China bike



My camera has a one second delay, so catching these guys in frame is next to impossible. This is a picture of a typical pizza delivery bike.



You can't believe how fast these guys ride a 100cc bike in rush hour traffic. They are a delight to follow. Slicing through traffic. Splitting lanes. Riding where the cars aren't. Squeezing between the stopped cars and buses and scooting up to the front of traffic at the lights. And pinning the throttle the minute the light turns green. It is SO MUCH FUN riding through Central American capitols on a skinny little thumper.

Of course I have no idea where I'm going. And it is rush hour. I see this cool Honda in a window and stop to take a pic.



It is a sweepstakes prize in the Claro cell phone store. Boy, would that 125 be a blast to ride across town today.

Eventually I pull over and ask directions at a tienda (shop). A nice man is buying his daughter a coke and takes the time to give me excellent directions out of town. People speak so quickly, and my brain is slow, but by now I can catch the gist of what they are saying. Quadras means blocks. Izquierda means left. Derecho means right. And when they twirl their hand in the air it means roundabout. And directo means straight.

So I take an Izquierda after 4 quadras and a derecho to the roundabout and soon I'm heading off directo into the quiet countryside of southern Guatemala.

JDowns screwed with this post 05-22-2010 at 10:13 PM
JDowns is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2010, 12:37 PM   #40
RamblinKevin
Adventurer
 
RamblinKevin's Avatar
 
Joined: Mar 2010
Location: Indianapolis, IN
Oddometer: 268
Subscribed!

Man, this ride report started off great, and just gets better every day!

I've been to Mexico, and I've owned a 200, but I've never come close to doing what you have done! You go man!
Thanks for sharing!
RamblinKevin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2010, 02:11 PM   #41
JDowns OP
Sounds good, let's go!
 
Joined: Mar 2005
Location: Bassett, NE
Oddometer: 2,614
I had heard that Honduras is a little corrupt and difficult when it comes to border crossings, so I went out of my way to pick a mellow remote one. I headed up to Copan Ruinas which was shown on my map as being a gravel road. But they have now paved it so it was an easy place to find. I was the only one there at sunset. The Guatemalan side said I needed to walk up to the Honduran side to see if they would let me through. Honduras said fine, all I needed was two copies of six things. So I walked back down to Guatemala and the copy shop was closed for the night, but the really nice Guatemalan immigration lady made copies of all my documents and stamped me out. They charged me 3 dollars to leave Guatemala. The big fat Honduran immigration dude reminded me of Jabba the Hut. He charged me 625 lempiras and stamped me in. I changed 100 dollars for 1800 lempiras, so it cost me about 34 dollars to get into Honduras. The most expensive border crossing yet. But no bribes or anything. So I would recommend this place if you want an easy place to get into Honduras. It was dark by the time I arrived in Copan Ruinas, the little town next to the Copan Mayan ruins. It is kind of touristy, but pretty laid back town.

The next morning I stopped in at the barberia (barber) in Copan Ruinas and got a Honduran shave and a haircut for $1.60. My helmet smelled like scented Honduran talcum powder for quite a while after that. And I got the clear hair gel Honduran slick down. I looked a little Mayan, but it's growing out.

Honduras is FABULOUS. It has winding mountain roads in the north after Copan Ruins that keep you on your toes with plenty of potholes to carve around, sudden sunken portions, and unexpected gravel sections that suddenly appear out of nowhere. It's like Mexico used to be. I was wandering around the mountains . At one point the main paved road turned into a narrow gravel road.



And then that road turned into a jeep trail for twenty or thirty miles with dust filled ruts. PERFECT for a little Sherpa. There were no road signs on the back roads so I asked a lot of horseback riders and folks walking down the road if this was the way. And when the road split at a Y intersection, I took the side that looked most traveled. I memember riding by some men loading a 300 pound hog by hand. They locked arms under the hog belly and lifted that honkin' porker up and in to the back of a Toyota 4wd pickup. MAN! My back hurts just remembering that.

There isn’t anything about Honduras that jumps out and grabs you, so I didn’t stop to take many pictures. It is a poor country, so not many cars out on the roads out in the countryside. Which was fine by me. A lot of donkey carts and horseback riders though. Here is a small burro resting in the shade of a tree. I thought he was kinda cute:



Anyway, I finally hit a major paved road And booked on down the winding mountain to Tegucigalpa, the capital. It was getting dark and There was a five mile traffic jam dropping down a super steep hill into town. I was slicing through traffic splitting lanes and at one point was following a kid who was splitting lanes ON A WHEELCHAIR! I kid you not. And he was Listening to his iPod and wheelying on the rear wheels. People were pulling over to let him down the hill, but I was in second gear and he was haulin' as I passed him. This kid had skills. It is one of the most amazing feats I saw on this trip.
There were kids running across the freeway through traffic to get to the other side, drunks staggering down the freeway. WILD!

So I finally made it through Tegucigalpa and stopped for the night at a small town near the Nicaraguan border. I stopped and asked some kids sitting on the curb if there was a hotel in town and they jumped on their bicycles and pedaled through town while I putted along behind them in first gear to a nice little hospedaje with secure parking and cable TV for 10 bucks. The Hondurans I met were super friendly and helpful.

JDowns screwed with this post 05-28-2010 at 06:53 PM
JDowns is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2010, 02:27 PM   #42
Cycleman4
Gnarly Adventurer
 
Joined: Jun 2009
Oddometer: 257
what a ride

So envious of this trip! great writing and details. Thanks!!!
Cycleman4 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2010, 03:30 PM   #43
JDowns OP
Sounds good, let's go!
 
Joined: Mar 2005
Location: Bassett, NE
Oddometer: 2,614
The next morning I hit the Nicaraguan border at the smaller Las Manos border crossing. Got there at 8:00 and was on the road by 8:30, so really easy place to cross. It cost 2.00 to leave Honduras. And it cost 7.50 to get into Nicaragua plus 12.00 for mandatory insurance. I got 2000 Cordobas for a C-note. So 20 cordobas to the dollar. Gas was 21 cordobas per liter, so about 4.00 a gallon. Spent the day cruising around Nicaragua. No potholes or topes (speedbumps) in Nica and it is only 200miles or so to Costa Rica. Like riding half way across Nebraska. I took a detour over to the capital and had a blast bombing through Managua for a twenty mile thrill ride. These big cities are really fun to ride through. Then traveled down the narrow isthmus between Lake Nicaragua and the Pacific ocean. There were plenty of windmills and a volcano spewing ash down its slopes in the vague distance.



I Reached Costa Rica at 4:00 PM and was through at 6:30. There aren't any other places to cross than on the main panam hwy. So it's a zoo. But it just meant waiting behind people in long lines.

It got really windy in northern Costa Rica in the Guanacaste area, so stopped in at Liberia for the night.

The next day I wandered around Costa Rica. Took the road up to the Monte Verde cloud forest. It was a spectacular day. Blue skies and clear views looking out towards the Nicoya penninsula.

I stopped to buy a coke and this kid rode by on a brand spanking new Yamaha XT225.



The road was large river rock embedded in clay and coarse gravel for a while. It looked like a road of skulls sticking out of the ground. A little rough riding, but nothing a little dirt bike can’t handle.



The road wound around the hills



It changed back to pavement before dropping back down to the main highway.

JDowns screwed with this post 04-18-2010 at 07:19 AM
JDowns is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2010, 03:57 PM   #44
Witness
Me
 
Witness's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2009
Location: Southern Ontario Canada
Oddometer: 465
I like your writing style, it would even be good without the pics.
The pics are wonderful.
I'm interested in the dental angle, how much can one save?
Witness is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2010, 04:24 PM   #45
JDowns OP
Sounds good, let's go!
 
Joined: Mar 2005
Location: Bassett, NE
Oddometer: 2,614
Quote:
Originally Posted by Witness
I like your writing style, it would even be good without the pics.
The pics are wonderful.
I'm interested in the dental angle, how much can one save?
Hi Witness,
It costs a fraction of what it costs in the U.S. I don't go to the dentist much. Like every 20 years. So I'm no expert. But when El Dentista looked in my mouth and shook his head woefully, I thought I was done for. But for 3250 Quetzals, he buffed out my whole mouth. That's roughly 400 bucks. It was a week before he took the Semana Santa easter holiday week off. So he agreed to clean my teeth and do two or three teeth in the morning and two or three in the afternoon for the entire week before the holiday, so I could go ride my motorsikle. This included drilling out all of my old cracked fillings in a dozen molars, fixing a broken incisor and buffing out minor flaws in three others and fillings in two canines and then buffing out everything when he was done so my teeth were shining. This seemed like a good deal to me. And mind you, I just walked in off the street. It was somewhat comforting to talk to the kid from California sitting next to me in the waiting room. His friend had recommended this place. But he only needed nine fillings for 150.00. I must say, Arno Jones (drrrags) on this forum is the one who posted the GPS waypoints to this place in his ride report, so it is to him whom I am truly grateful for this recommendation.

I consider dentistry like auto body work. Cut out the bad stuff and fill it with bondo. And I think Guatemalan dentists charge about the same as American auto-body shops.

Best,
John Downs

JDowns screwed with this post 04-07-2010 at 04:32 PM
JDowns is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Share

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

.
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


Times are GMT -7.   It's 08:53 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ADVrider 2011-2014