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Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by 0theories, Nov 27, 2012.
Dave is a great guy. He also looked after us back in October 2012. Hi Dave.
Dazzer and Leigh
I know Eakins! Bucerias was recommended to me (and it sucked). I should have just turned off at Sayulita. I heard it was sweet. Oh well, next time.
Woke up to the unexpected; cloudy, overcast sky with the promise of rain in the air. The next step of the journey was to take me to Manzanillo, which was less than an hours ride away, so there was time to wait out the weather. It never rains here in the winter I was told. This doesn't happen here, it'll pass they said. By late morning it had begun to rain.
Randy and I decided to cruise over to Jolandas restaurant for some brunch hoping that the rain will stop and the sun would return as promised. By mid-afternoon it was clear that it was not going to stop raining (in fact it was getting worse) despite how unusual it was. We said our good-byes and headed south.
Despite a thorough drenching we arrived at Spencer and Mary's house without incident. After a quick settling in, we got ready for the party hopping evening that New Years Eve held in store for us. After a wonderful dinner at the house, we went to second dinner at a friends house who had relatives visiting, then another friends house to watch a spectacular fireworks show on the beach. Spencer even lit off a few fireworks of his own (which resembled a large amount of gunpowder wrapped in newspaper), that set the car alarms off. It even briefly stopped raining for the occasion.
The sky was still coming down on the first, but Spencer had limited time off, so we decided to go for a ride to Secret Beach. I rarely ride with other people, and I think I've been missing out all these years. It's so much fun to ride in a group. We headed north out of town and took a dirt road west towards the coast. The road was actually broken up cobblestone, slick with the rain, and very fun.
Randy and Spencer near a Banyan tree.
After cruising up and over a small mountain range, through some forest, we arrived at the beach. It was still raining and overcast, so after a quick look around we headed back with only a slight detour to look for crocodiles down a side dirt road.
Secret Beach would have been a bit nicer in the sun.
Randy on his KLR.
This soon turned into deep loose sand so we turned around and headed back. Dirt roads, in contrast to cobblestone, are quite a bit more pleasant to ride on and less precarious. It was a short ride, but really fun.
On the way back from the ride we picked up a couple of chickens for lunch (with some grilled onions and peppers), then later, tacos served as a late dinner. One thing about Mexico (that I especially like): they sure know how to eat, and eat often.
Since Spencer had to go back to work and Mary had plans with friends (that fell through as we were going to meet up with them in Comala), Randy and I decided to ride a loop through the mountains to Comala, then north to a volcano (outside La Yerbabuena) and a coffee plantation, then back south the fast way. The morning was overcast but dry, and after a prompting from Spencer via phone call from work, we finally motivated to get out of the house and on our way.
Hunting for photos.
Found a spot (most scenic overlooks are blocked by trees).
We took Rt. 86 which was one of the curviest, most fun roads I have ridden in Mexico to date. It wound it's way northwest over to Colima (becoming Rt. 8 after Minatitlan).
From Colima it was just a few kilometers north to this quaint little town with cobblestone streets and restaurants that will bring you small plates of food (sort of like tapas) when you order drinks. When we got there we promptly parked in a no parking zone and went to eat. The policeman was nice enough to ask us to move (instead of handing out tickets) and even found us better spots right by the restaurant. Great guy, who later corrected us as we were riding down the wrong way on a one-way street.
We got a couple of beers and were brought a few platters of goodies (although one was boiled pig leather" [read: skin]) which was not appetizing in the least. Apparently they were supposed to keep bringing food while we sat there, but the caveat was that you had to finish what they brought. Not knowing this, we declined to eat the whole plate of pig skin, so no more food came and after a while we left.
From Comala we headed north up another superb twistie road and then east onto a cobblestone/dirt road that wound its way to La Yerbabuena.
Randy on cobblestone/brick.
Gratuitous bike shot.
This sleepy little village was mostly shut down as it was a weekday and no tourist buses were en route. After circling the village looking for a coffee plantation (all closed) we took a dirt road up to the volcano. Many curves later we arrived at a locked gate with a sign in Spanish that I interpreted (perhaps incorrectly) as saying Prohibited! Health personnel only... plus a bunch more writing. We looked around then left (but later found out from some friendly kids that we could have just climbed over the gate and beyond was the coffee plantation we were seeking as well as the Guardian Tree with magical properties of protection). I was pretty bummed I missed that as big, old trees are my favorite thing in the world.
Rain is in the air.
We headed back as the sky was gathering clouds. Before reaching Comala again, there is a spot in the road called (unimaginatively) Magic Road. Apparently if you stop and place your vehicle in neutral, it will roll up hill instead of down. Something to do with: a) magic b) a magnetic field or c) optical illusion.
Randy rolling uphill (maybe).
After another stop in Comala (which was much busier now) for coffee, we took the fast, toll road back to Manzanillo and encountered a fierce, unseasonal rainstorm 10 Kms from home. As Mary later put it, the sky opened up on us. The yard was flooded with 6 inches of standing water and the thought that crossed my mind was the end of the world came a few days late.
The epic rain storm had passed and the sky had cleared up. It was time to head south once again. As I was informed, we would be riding through bandito territory. Advice to me: Gas up in Tecoman and don't stop again until Playa Azul (our next destination just north of Guacamayas). Okay, I thought, we'll see what happens.
The stretch south on Rt. 200 along the coast was some of the twistiest, curviest and most fun road I have ridden in my life. The only things not liking that road were my Givi side cases due to the scars they now carry from where I leaned too far (on both sides). Kinda wish I had the VFR for that road, but the KLR performed admirably.
Randy led today.
It was all fun and sun with a short stop for lunch at a restaurant with beautiful views of the coast and beach below. We had some fish (more than we wanted due to a slight language barrier with the little girl that was serving us). It was delicious, but a bit overpriced. I guess you pay for the view (and it was worth it).
Randy having lunch.
Gratuitous motorbike shot of the day.
Aside from the phenomenal riding there is little to report for the day (no trouble with banditos [we were lucky], just nice people going about their business).
We eventually stumbled into Playa Azul (Blue Beach) after a long day of riding and began the tedious task of looking for a hotel. After a few stops we were approached by an older gentleman who offered us lodgings in his house for a reasonable sum. Apparently many houses along the beach rent out spare rooms to tourists who don't want to pay hotel prices or when hotels are full. I promised his son (a lifeguard who spoke good English) that I would post the location for others to find. This is what he wrote on the piece of paper (I'm not entirely sure what all of that means):
Shark (he called it)
Playa Azul Mich.
Sr. Renta Cuartos
Calie Emiliano Zapata
Ronbo Al Betula
The place is right on the beach just north of the main round-about. It was really nice with two spare rooms and space to camp in the sand. A garage across the street housed our bikes for the night. The town was still really busy with Mexican tourists (no gringos) so we wandered the streets and ate delicious street food (and beer) for dinner before turning in for the night.
Great pictures and write up.
You sure are chasing away my winter blues with your RR.
Thanks for taking the trouble to post up your adventure.
Thanks a lot Sunday. My pictures (and writing) need a lot of work though... You can tell the post processed pictures from the raw pretty clearly (and the writing is all raw [I'm a scientist, not a writer dammit!]) Thanks for coming along!
As I regularly mine JDowns' (the super sherpa guy here on adv) ride reports for interesting bits, I learned that one of his favorite roads in Mexico is (or was maybe) Rt. 37 heading north out of Playa Azul (which he took accidentally). I thought it would be a good idea to ride up it a ways and then back down a toll road and make a semi-loop day out of it, ending up somewhere near Zahuatanejo.
The road is indeed really fun, even though we didn't take it as far north as John. It wound and curved its way over the mountains and we were soon in the high desert. It's pretty amazing how much the climate changes over such a short distance. I think it has a lot to do with elevation (adiabatic cooling and all that).
We rode through the parched, arid landscape until we reached the little village of Las Cañas where we stopped to get coffee before taking the on-ramp to Mex 14D, heading back to the coast.
Randy and some cactus.
Mex 14D is like a super highway, all down hill with everyone driving at very high speeds. It was there that I reached the limitations of the KLR. I was passing a bus and only took her up to 117 Kph when I experienced extreme front end wobble. It was so bad I thought I was going to go down! I rapidly slowed to a reasonable 105, but the damage was done. I lost confidence in the KLR. The rest of the ride on Mex 14D was nerve wracking as I was constantly watching my speed and not passing vehicles I would normally blow by. I guess it's a pretty common problem and can be caused by a) poorly setup suspension b) too much weight in the rear c) the front fender? I'm not sure where the problem lies as any of these could be true, but the bottom line is I have a speed limit of 110 Kph from here on out (which may be a good thing, but doesn't feel like it).
I get scared so Randy takes the lead.
After getting back to Rt. 200, we cruised along at a comfortable pace before reaching the Hotel Alamar along the side of the road (near Los Achotes) which suited our needs. Even more so as it had a pool and the owner reduced the price from one we were originally not willing to pay. The pool was a blessing as the heat was becoming unbearable and the street food stand down the road was full of entertainment as we tried to have a conversation with some young Mexican women who had way too many kids for their age.
Home sweet home (for the night).
We originally agreed that Acapulco was not going to be a part of our itinerary for several reasons which included (but were not limited to) its gaudiness, potential danger (or so we heard) and general touristy unpleasantness. But our plan changed when Randy's computer ceased functioning. What would normally be a hit against the city was actually a blessing: Acapulco had a Costco (of which Randy was a member and to which Randy could return items if need be). So we rolled into Acapulco looking for the Costco so Randy could purchase a replacement laptop.
Just riding along...
Daily bike shot.
It was actually not as bad as I imagined, but worst than I would have liked it to be. The traffic was terrible, the heat was overwhelming and the whole mission was a general failure. After riding around the city for a bit we finally stopped at McD's to use the internet to find the Costco (it's right on the main road south of town).
We found the place and Randy bought a new laptop and then we went to another McDs to use the internet some more and set up the new computer. One thing we did not notice at Costco is that the laptops all have Spanish keyboards. Try as we might, we could not get the @ symbol to work (I even looked it up online and still nothing [yes, we tried every combination of ALT, CTRL and FN we could think of]). So Randy went back to return the computer while I posted an earlier ride report entry.
After the failed mission we headed back out hoping to put some miles between us and Acapulco before it got dark. The road back to Rt. 200 was only a few hundred meters, but cost us a toll of 28 pesos. After the toll booth it was all narrow road and topes again. What exactly did we pay for? :huh
We got as far as San Marcos and found a nice little motel with internet for a very good price. While unpacking, Randy looked out the front entrance and sitting on the side of the road looking at Randy's bike was Dylan.S (on adv) whose riding around the world on a 1150GS (he has a great ride report going). We had dinner and beers and he decided to press on through the night (unwise as we see in his report) while we stayed behind. Great to meet you Dylan!
Just got caught up after a couple days... Thanks for the updates and the photos, I enjoyed all of the amazing scenery! There's nothing quite like the sheer terror of a high speed death wobble. :eek1 Nice work keeping a cool head and pulling it off! By chance, did you or Randy get any video?
I'm looking forward to the next episode.
Hey Wander thanks for commenting. It's really nice to get feedback!
I'm not sure if Randy was recording at the time (he does have a helmet cam) so I'll ask him about it and maybe we'll even look at some of his videos (harder now that his laptop is broken :eek1) and perhaps post one or two (although I probably won't edit them as I hardly even edit my photos).
The night before I was browsing the web and noticed that Puebla looked like a great city to visit. So after discussing it for about 30 seconds we agreed to go there the next day. It's really great not having a set schedule or route. Conveniently there is a narrow, curvy road that heads directly north out of San Marcos and eventually hooks up with a major road towards Puebla.The road was under construction in San Marcos so we had to take some back alleys down to the river, cross it (my first river crossing in Mexico [and nothing to speak of]) and find some back alleys back to the road on the other side.
Into the mountains.
The narrow curvy road took us up into the mountains, through tiny, remote villages (over topes and around potholes) and past farming land. I doubt many people travel through here as we were stared at by everyone we passed. An aside: It seems like this is the season of baby animals (although I didn't get any pictures). We saw baby cows, horses, burros, dogs and many, very cute baby pigs.
Trying a behind the back shot.
Burros. They're stubborn. We had to go around.
Once we hit the main road the going got faster, but not less interesting. As we crossed the mountains, the climate once again changed from coastal forest to high desert. I randomly spotted a Zona Archeologica sign and we decided to investigate. We found what turned out to be the Tehuacalco Ruins, of the Yope people (my first ruins on this trip).
The daily shot. You know it!
It's good that I started exploration of ruins here as these are small (in comparison to many) and that leaves room to be further impressed. If I visited the very biggest and best ruins first, all others would be a disappointment. Now, when I see the next Zona Archeologica I may still be thrilled and amazed.
Did they really play with human heads?
Me, next to a stelae.
After spending a couple of hours exploring the ruins, we continued north to Puebla. The riding was a mix of slower back roads and fast, major highways, some of them with tolls. In fact, unlike in some of the more northern states that charge half price tolls for motorcycles, Puebla (the state) charges the same amount as for cars. Just one of the tolls (and there were several) close to Puebla cost me 117 pesos!! That's more than I pay for a room some nights!
Into the desert.
It turned dark before we arrived in the city, and at one of the entrance ramps to a toll road I was stopped by the police for the first time in Mexico. The officer who came to check me out spoke no English (Randy got the English speaker) so it was a bit difficult to converse. He was looking for drugs and was surprisingly thorough in his search. Not only did I have to open all my cases (expected), but he made me explain (or at least try to explain) what each item was. For some reason he did not recognize an electric razor OR a disposable razor for what they were. I had to mime the use of the razor on another cops face for him to understand (the same held for many other items). Strange. He also thoroughly searched my wallet which seemed a little odd (but he didn't take any cash). After not finding any contraband he let me continue on my way.
As I peaked the hilltop overlooking Puebla I was surprised by the shear size of the city. It was a bit intimidating looking down and the expanse of lights in the valley below. Navigating this place may be a bit of a challenge I thought to myself. It was, in fact, not bad at all. The previous night I GPSed some hostels and set way-points so they wouldn't be too hard to find. After a few wrong turns and one way streets we found the place we were looking for. It turned out to be more of a room for rent than a hostel, but it was late, dark and I was tired so we stayed the night at Hostel Popocatepetl. For the record, the proprietor was a really nice man and he was very organized.
I am really enjoying your ride report.
I've had the military do some thorough searching at check points but never the police and never my wallet.
Great to hear from you Pete. Yeah, the cop went a little overboard I think. And I guess having all my clothes in sealed plastic bags didn't help his suspicions any But at least he didn't dig through those too. I would have been there all night.
There was nothing wrong with the hostel we were staying in (well, the vicious dog barking at [and slobbering on] us from the roof maybe), however, hostels are for social interaction and that wasn't happening at Popocatepetl, as we were the only ones there. I had two other hostels GPSed so I decided to leave my baggage (Randy kept his) and explore Puebla while looking for another hostel. We rode to the town center, passing monuments, cathedrals, museums and all manner of cultural wonders. Puebla is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The streets of Puebla.
We found the hostel we were looking for a mere 4 blocks from the Zocalo (main central square). Hostel Santo Domingo has a large courtyard, a small cafe and both private rooms and dorms. They found us parking in a small courtyard at the back which required us to ride through the courtyard/cafe. I really liked the look of the place and suspected that there would be other travelers here (eventually) so we decided to move in.
Not the hostel (didn't take photos) .
A couple of blocks from the original hostel I was forced to do some lane splitting (no luggage) to get on the right street and lost Randy (luggage, no splitting). Now normally this wouldnt be a big deal, but with no communication in a strange (to us) city and with Randy's troubles navigating (in cities only [for the most part]), this was trouble. I doubled back, but he was already gone. After waiting for him at the last known location for a while, I returned to the hostel and there he was waiting. Luckily we wandered the area the night before and enough was familiar that he found his way. I think I'm supposed to learn a lesson from this...
Mexican Pro-wrestling Arena
We moved into the new hostel, but were currently the only guests. Hopefully social interaction will ensue at some point. Apparently you pay a premium for it. We checked a few hotels nearby and it was cheaper for us to get our own private rooms (each) then it was to sleep in the bunk bed in a dorm at the hostel. Strange. Anyway, it was time to explore the city on foot for a while.
We wandered the streets looking at sites, smelling smells, hearing sounds and tasting the gastromonica. Puebla is beautiful. At one point we wandered into the tourist info office to get a map and met a guy named Roberto. He gave us an interesting tip: If we went to the main cathedral at 4pm, asked for Mr. Felix, maybe he would take us up to the top of the towers (tallest towers in Mexico [they say], where tourists are not permitted [they say] with amazing views of the volcanoes [they say]). Unfortunately, when we showed up at 4-ish and asked for Senior Felix, either something was lost in translation or he didn't exist, or he wasn't working that day. The conversation was very hushed (inside the cathedral) and there was no satisfactory explanation. Perhaps we'll try again tomorrow.
Tallest towers in Mexico?
Deep fried potato pie thingy...
Back at the hostel a few backpackers moved in. I met some interesting people and had some interesting conversations. Got some interesting tips on where to go and what to do.
As most museums are closed on Mondays, I had a few more spots to check out in town before heading to Cholula, where the Spanish built a church (in 1594) on top of the biggest pyramid in the Americas (which was buried and looked like a hill at the time). The plan was to see some cathedrals, visit a neighborhood of murals, check out the fort to the north with supposedly good views of the volcanoes, see the smallest volcano in the world (located in a neighborhood of Puebla to the north), then ride to Cholula, 15 Kms to the west to see the ruins and finally ride up to the saddle between the 2nd and 3rd largest mountains (volcanoes, one active) in Mexico via a dirt road. Needless to say, I bit off more than I could chew, but with no adverse affects, as there is lots of time to get to everything.
The following was accomplished:
Saw the Cathedral and library. Tried to interpret some art. Beautiful and interesting.
Visited the neighborhood of murals. Nice example of modern urban art revitalizing a poverty stricken area.
Checked out the fort to the north. The views were not so great as it was hazy.
Saw the smallest volcano in the world. It was closed for renovation so we could only see it from behind the fence. We did go into the market next door and ate some incredible mushroom quesadillas. We must have been a novelty there as people stared at us, tried to help us and would not leave until they saw us eat. People are so nice here!
Rode the Cholula to see the largest pyramid in the Americas and the church sitting on top. There are 8 Kms of tunnels running through the pyramid. Some parts of it are exposed, but most of the structure is underground. Search as I might, I could not discover the reason for why it was under so much dirt (maybe as much as 4 meters in places)! Volcanic eruption? Build up of soil over time? Intentional burial? All I can do is speculate.
Entering via the tunnels.
Views from the top.
Some other site we didn't visit.
The pyramid ruins.
Randy chillin after the climb up.
After Cholula is was getting late so we headed back to Puebla and the hostel. It was getting dark by the time we got back so the decision was a wise one. The hostel was filling up with travelers and we met a cool guy from Florida who quit his job to travel the Americas indefinitely. It was the first time I went to a bar in Mexico. Fun. Tomorrow we ride across the saddle and towards Teotihuacan (established around 100 BC!), a large pyramidal complex just northeast of Mexico City. The navigating aspect of that adventure should be a fascinating experience.
Wow, what great pictures.
The Cathedral ceiling is impressive craftsmanship.
Thanks for posting, as I am sure this takes so much time and effort after a long days adventure.
Thanks for the feedback Sunday! The RR gives me something to do when it gets dark It does take quite a bit of time (as can be witnessed by how far behind I am) but it's great to have a daily "journal" for memories in the future. I'm usually bad at keeping a good record so seeing the RR slip to the second or third page motivates me to update
It was time to bid Puebla farewell and head north again (Panama will have to wait) to cross the saddle and see Teotihuacan. Also, there are a couple of towns (Zacatlan and Cuetzalan [Spoiler: the area between them is perhaps the most beautiful place on earth?]) slightly northeast of there that have some impressive waterfalls (I heard) that I might as well see while I'm in the area. (Sorry that was a very convoluted sentence made over several edits)
We retraced our steps to Cholula and headed west via some small, local roads. Eventually we reached San Nicolas de Los Ranchos and shortly after that the road turned to dirt. The entire time after leaving Cholula we had one of the two volcanoes in our view and I was quite excited to climb to higher elevations and have a better look.
Aiming in between.
San Nicolas de Los Ranchos.
Daily bike shot (1).
Daily bike shot (2 on dirt). Had to do it...
The dirt road was in good repair and very fun to ride. I actually got to air down the tires (it's was rather rocky with areas of soft sand) which made it seem all the more like a real adventure. As the road climbed higher, the climate changed from high desert, to my favorite: conifer forest! It was a beautiful ride through pine, fir and even spruce (I think) and the smells were amazing. Perhaps my favorite area of Mexico so far. The saddle between the mountains is at 12,000 ft. and the bikes were definitely feeling it.
I look to my left:
I look to my right:
The dirt road ended at a visitor center, and was replaced by a paved road going down the other side, by which most guests arrive. I met a Swedish guy there who was trying to summit the smaller of the two peaks (17,160 ft., the taller [17,802 ft] is off limits due to volcanic activity). He was staying at a cabin there as the weather did not permit him to make the ascent that day.
Okay, one more
A nice spot to re-inflate tires and do some chain maintenance.
After re-inflating the tires once on pavement, we rode down the fun, curvy, paved road to a highway heading towards Mexico City. Once again I though that this is perhaps the most fun road I've ridden to date. There are so many of those here, it's really quite amazing. This area is breathtakingly beautiful!
I love mountains and forest!!
Towards Mexico City.
The rest of the ride was via larger roads that were not as much fun except in their complexity of navigation. Construction, lack of signs and roads that looked like they headed towards our destination, only to curve towards a completely different direction made for some wrong turns and turn-arounds. Luckily I laid out a series of waypoints on the GPS to keep me on the right track. I think it's more fun that way then to let the GPS route me to where (it thinks) I'm going, especially since whenever I try, it takes me via some illogical (and rather inconvenient, not to mention indirect) way.
Upon arrival at San Martin de las Perámides and going through the usual tour of hotels looking for a cheap one (a tradition I am particularly not fond of) we found a hotel (Hotel San Martin) for the night. As it wasn't too late yet, we sauntered down to the town center for some street food. While trying to order tacos I met a Mexican man who spoke a little English that tried to help us out. He later left and came back with his sons so that they could practice speaking English with us. I could tell the sons were embarrassed (and fully empathized with them) as it brought back memories of having to translate for my dad when we first moved to the USA. Why is it that parents expect you to speak good English (and immediately forget that they speak some too) if you just happen to know a few more words?
Hotel San Martin.
Very enjoyable read Otheories.
Many of your posts bring me into the moment, just like being there.