John Juan's Ruta Mexico 2010

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Johnnydarock, Apr 22, 2010.

  1. Johnnydarock

    Johnnydarock Been here awhile

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    Just so you know what you're getting into...this is a two week moto trek through Mexico by two guys named John...hence the name John Juan.

    A little background: Three yars ago I bought a 2007 BMW F650GS to do a moto trek with my two best friends who got into the sport several years prior. Well...the news of all the Mexican drug violence got them too scared (pussies) to venture into Mexico and so I called a guy I met on a Baja trip last year, John, and we decided to put a trip together through mainland Mexico. We both have real jobs so we knew we couldn't get more than two weeks off and even that request got the "stink-eye" from my boss. My wife was a little more understanded and just wanted me to make sure that my life insurance was up to date. Our motivation comes from looking at all those other riders going to Tierra del Fuego (something I did with my wife via "chicken buses from hell" many years ago) and we wanted to put that kind of third-world adventure into a ride...and Mexico was clearly the answer. I did most of the planning/research and Big John just said "yup" to everything I suggested. I wanted to "do" and "see" it all so it was nice to have him agree with everything. I was an adventure camping/mountain guide in Mexico many years ago so some of this was familiar but much has changed in the past 20 years since I was there.

    Since we were short on time we decided to ship our bikes to McAllen, Texas, to save those three days of hard riding from California. Long story short we ended up shipping the bikes to the Harley dealer...who couldn't have been more accommodating (great guys). I'm new to the whole motorcycle scene so I put out a request for some info about McAllen on ADV and I got hooked up with a great guy named Juan. He insisted that we stay at his place and he arranged a great fajita BBQ with some of the other local riders. They were a wealth of knowledge as several of them cross the border into Reynosa every day for work. We weren't too happy to hear that 10 people were gunned down in the streets of Reynosa the day before we arrived but I told John we're going no matter what. So here's our story...

    Flew from LA to McAllen on a Friday...gettin our bikes back from the Harley dealer.
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    Check out Juan's famous fajitas.
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    Fajita party in Juan's garage. That's me on the left with Lucio and Juan (standing).
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    DAY 1 - Saturday, April 3rd, McAllen TX to Galeana (267 miles)

    Crashed at Juan's place the night before and a buddy of his, Cory, rode with us to the border to get us pointed in the right direction. That's Juan on the left, my Baja buddy, John on the big 1200GSA, and me on the right.
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    I intruduced John to what I called "road-kill chicken just south of Monterey in the town of Santiago.
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    I hooked up with a guy from Texasnamed Richard Gibbens, via the internet that runs a ride to the Monterey area every year called "MexTrek." For $25 bucks he sent me some great maps and a little book called the "MexTrek Ride Guide" that he wrote on the rides in the area. The descriptions are a little short on actual directions but we decided to bite off a ride he called "The Gold Standard." It goes from Santiago--Laguna de Sanchez--Mesa de Oso--Las Trancas--Casillas--Rayones--and finally ending in Galeana. Most of these places are not big enough to put on a map so you'll be lost without the map from MexTrek. It's all dirt from Laguna de Sanchez all the way to Galeana...maybe 50 miles. The riding made for a very challenging first day and the scenery was spectacular.

    The canyon just before the pavement ended at Laguna de Sanchez.
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    Finally getting on the dirt.
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    The road climbing over the mountains near Mesa de Oso.
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    The day went on kind of long and when we arrived in Galeana we found all the hotels fully booked for some wedding or something...so we had to scramble to get the last room in town in some flea-bag where you could hear everyong snoring at night. Anyway we were dead tired and couldn't really care less. Great first day with some fantastic riding. Only fell over once when I was standng there trying to take a picture.
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    #1
  2. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    :thumb

    mas mexico..

    :lurk
    #2
  3. SauS TaR-TaR

    SauS TaR-TaR Go BaBy Go...

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    :1drink
    #3
  4. hazard

    hazard Been here awhile

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    I'm the other JOhn.

    Last year I met John and his Swiss friend Ralph on the side of the road in Baja.

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    So John from SoCal and I kept in touch. We did a ride in the fall to the Saline Valley (I know this Trona, but honestyl we did Saline the next day).

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    We decided to go to Mexico for a couple weeks. I told John I would go wherever he wanted, and let him make all the plans.

    You can see from the partial map below that 2 weeks is an aggressive seeing that we need to ride the bikes home.

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    SO come along for the ride.
    #4
  5. Andres A

    Andres A FINDING NEMO

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    Looks like a great RR!!!!!:lurk:lurk:lurk more pic's
    #5
  6. hazard

    hazard Been here awhile

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    OK More pics from the first day:

    This is a picture of Juan's most excellent sirloin fajita meat. Juan is the guy we met on ADV who opened his house to us, made us dinner, bought us beer. These were great and I ate 4, which was important cause I found out johnnydarock does not eat breakfast till lunch.

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    Then we have this real narrow canyon that we rode though.Lots of traffic up to this point. I think if it was not the day before easter, or a weekend there would have been less traffic.


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    Now a nice vista. We had to ride to the bottom which meant some steep switchbacks.
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    The cloud rolling in the distance

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    #6
  7. PirateJohn

    PirateJohn Banned

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    :lurk
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  8. johnmcallahan

    johnmcallahan KnumbKnutz!!!

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    :freaky
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  9. DUC54

    DUC54 Giddy Up!!!

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    Good Start....don't leave us here beside the road!!:strum
    #9
  10. Arte

    Arte Pata de Perro

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    is one of may favorites scenary roads, when is totally zero trafic, the sound of the eco and the chirp of some hawk predating, is just awesome.
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    Arte
    #10
  11. Thorne

    Thorne Sherpa-ing around

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    :clap :clap :clap
    #11
  12. WeazyBuddha

    WeazyBuddha Carbon-Based Humanoid

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    John and John! :wave

    It was great meeting you guys -- mi casa es su casa.

    Wish the rest of the gang had been able to join us at the Fajita Fest Friday (FFF). A number of 'em know Mexico well although the positive side of not having them there is that there was more beer for us and it gives me an excuse to get us locals together for another fajita/beer fest. :evil

    :lurk
    #12
  13. Johnnydarock

    Johnnydarock Been here awhile

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    Day 2 - Galeana to Real de Catorce (167 miles)
    It was some tough riding through the Sierra Madre Oriental the day before and John bought some extra strength Advil that went down with a couple of fine Mexican beers and I was ready to go in the morning. Our daily plan was to get up early and get an hour of riding before breakfast and if nothing was available we look for lunch. It became the two meals a day plan and I don't think Big John was too excited about it but he lost 10 pounds over the entire trip.

    I wish I thought of it before we left but Big John had some stickers made up before the trip and everywhere we stopped he put a sticker. Here's our first stop of the day and I ran over to an abandoned building in the middle of nowhere to take a pee and John put a sticker on the door.
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    John's last name is Hazard so look for these stickers throughout this story. They were also a big hit with the kids.
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    We found a great breakfast place in the small town of Doctor Arroyo.
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    In all my research in putting this epic ride together I continually came across one word that describes Real de Catorce...magical! This reawakening ghost town was once a silver/gold mining center with over 40,000 inhabitants until the early part of the last century it was abandoned. No one remember the exact reason for the sudden drop in population but some say it was because of the decline in the price of silver in 1910 and others say it was because the Mexican revolution was raging in the countryside nearby. Either way...it has recently been "re-discovered" by adventourous travelers and now boasts a perminant population of 400 residents. Even though there are many new hotels and restaurants that cater to the western crowd the town has mantained it's "Lost-in-Time" feeling...for the moment.

    The 20 mile approach is no less dramatic than the town itself with it's cobbled stoned road cut into the side of the mountain. The town is at over 9,000 feet and the scenery is similar to the high altiplano of the Bolivian highlands. Here's the beginning of the road. Where else can you get this experience north of the Panama canal?
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    You enter town via a kilometer and a half tunnel called the Ogarrio tunnel. [​IMG]

    Unfortunately the tunnel was closed to car and motorcylce traffic because it was Easter Sunday so we had to park the bikes outside and walk into town. That's me in there somewhere.
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    Once we got into town we saw this sign that reads " welcome to Real de Catorce, please don't drink alcoholic beverages in public." So...we drank in the many bars and restaurants.
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    We set out to find a good hotel and settled on the Hotel de la Abundancia. We got a two room suite with our own patio over looking the town for about $100 bucks. It was worth it after the crap-shack we had in Galeana.
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    Check out the size of the door ways. This place was old. It had iron doors throughout and I was told it used to be a bank.
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    After we settled in...we had to have a few beers and relax.
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    Then we had to go and check out the town. Here's a typical street.
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    Walking around we found a good vantage point of the whole town.
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    Exploring all the streets.
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    Some local Huichol Indians selling stuff. They were one of the only indian groups never subjugated by the Aztecs and remain fiercly independant. They travel to the area around Real de Catorce every year to find the peyote cactus. They use this powerful hallucinogenic drug for their spiritual visions.
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    Had to have another beer on our patio before we went to get the bikes at 7:00pm.
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    We were feeling a little lazy so we took the horse cart back to the bikes.
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    When we got outside the tunnel we found "2uprtw" Marie and Brian from Montreal. I knew who they were instantly as I read most of their blog.
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    Had to take these hardened travelers out for dinner as they've been on the road for 2 and a half years...and now they're headed to Alaska before heading home. They were good fun and Marie tolerated my crass stories.
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    Marie and Brian were the only tourist we ran into let alone riders before we got to Puerto Vallarta. We had the whole country to ourselves. We wish them well and hope to see them again somewhere. Saying good night in front of our hotel.
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    #13
  14. hazard

    hazard Been here awhile

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    Lets be clear. I was a pig pussie as walking in through the 2k tunnel in motorcycle boots gave me a nice blister. It was me who wanted to take the very cramped cart.

    #14
  15. Trash Man

    Trash Man n00b

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    Great photos Johnny. I can’t believe you called me a pussy!:moon
    #15
  16. T.Low

    T.Low Been here awhile

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    WOw. I'm not one to carelessly throw around the adjective Epic, but that truely is an Epic trip, especially when condensed into a two week plan.

    John, great plan. Fantastic pics. May I request a better pic of the map to better show the route?

    Big John Hazard, it was great meeting you in the middle of your Mexican Off Road Euphoria. I got a contact buzz just talking to you and seeing your bike, you were so stoked from the day's ride and from being in the middle of the two weeks, it was awesome. I knew right then and there that I need a Big Trailie bike too.

    Arte, luv the accent. It adds a sort of authenticity to the RR for us Gringos.:thumb

    :lurk
    #16
  17. hazard

    hazard Been here awhile

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    Was a wonderful town, but I would avoid on Holidays.

    So I ask Johnny Da Rock, Hey Mr. Rock how are we leaving. He sez, "The Back Way." The hotel owner says that's for high clearance 4WD, and Donkeys. So I guess you know what we are. The hotel manage says "you like adreninline?". Then we talk to Marie and Brian at Dinner and he has concerns about Mr Rocks low clearance F650GS making it, as he walked it a bit 2 years ago when he was there. The owner of the hotel pipes in later about it being as steep any road in town. Also its one lane so we need to be careful of the old WIllys Wagons hauling people up the "back" way.

    SO I have a very restless night thinking I'm going to eat the big one on the way down. SO I guess that's the next day report.


    Here is a another picture of the streets in town:

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    #17
  18. Johnnydarock

    Johnnydarock Been here awhile

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    Day 3 - Real de Catorce to Tantoyuca (372 miles)
    We thought...go down the back side of the mountain which drops in elevation to the valley floor in one third the milage than the other road in...no problem! We started asking around the day before about the road conditions and the Swiss owner of our hotel points to the little street next door and says its twice as steep. I for once had an uneasy feeling that night after we said goodbye to Marie and Brian. They were thinking of doing it 2UP...and you thought I was crazy.

    6:00am and the alarm goes off and both me and Big John are a little slow getting are s**t together as it's still pitch black outside and we're still thinking of a plan B. I think we both were silently asking ourselves "will we be able to get back to town if we don't like what we see?"

    Here's a picture of the road snaking down through the valley taken the day before in full sunlight. It was the original way until the "new" road through the Ogarrio tunnel was built in the 18th century. So this means this "back way" is 18th century at best.
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    So first we get pointed in the wrong direction and as I'm going down these steep "roads" I'm thinking there's no way I'm coming back this way. Then...when we realize we need to go back we stop for a second, tighten our sphincter, and hit the gas...going strait up the hill, back to the begining. Now off in a different direction...I remember the hotel owner saying "just go down to the corner with a cross on it and look down...if you don't like what you see...come back." Here's a picture of the road. The cross is on that far corner. Just getting there was hairy enough.
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    Here's a picture of the road conditions and we haven't even made it the cross yet. This was much worse than just a steep dirt road because it was "trying" to be a real road and was cobble stoned centuries ago and half the stones are missing. We couldn't stop the bikes on the real steep sections so this picture doesn't really do it justice.
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    OK...we make it to the cross and look down. I can tell Big John is not happy but we can't go back. And then a 1950's Willy's Jeep comes around the corner and I guess we stop thinking about the road for half a second.
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    Then we say...WTF...and I go first. I had to go standing up the whole next 2 kilometers. I had to force myself to concentrate by saying over and over "John stay focused...stay focused." That riding in the Monterey region was tough and I've been through the Copper Canyon twice (the hard way) but I've never been on anything so steep with such a sheer drop off that could only mean instant death if one of those cobble stones flips your front tire the wrong way and off you go. Here's a picture of the steepest section looking up.
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    Here's a picture of Big John coming off the last portion. God only knows how old that bridge is.
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    This is one of my favorite pictures of the whole trip. We made it down one of the nastiest roads I've ever been on and were surrounded by some fantastic scenery. That smokestack off to the right is the 18th century smelter for the silver ore.
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    The last 5 or 6 miles of the mountain were a piece of cake compared to the first couple of miles. We had breakfast in a little restaurant in Estacion de Catorce. Notice John's sticke on the telephone pole.
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    Our excitement is done for the day and its off to the races...need to make some serious milage to the coast. We have more money than time so we took toll roads on this trip whenever possible. We still got in lots of good twisties but as soon as we got down in elevation where the temperature rose several digits my bike started to get hot every time we had to go through a town. We pulled over and had a great steak for lunch but it wasn't enough time to let the bike fully cool so we hit the road and I figured I could address the problem later. Once we got out in the flats it seemed OK but we oftem got stuck behind these WAY overloaded cane trucks and the bike would get hot again. There were some towns we passed though that the sun was blotted out by all the smoke from the fires in the cane fields. Then we came to an area where the cane processing factory was spewing out so much smoke you could hardly breath. And there are people living in this...every day!. Anyway we were passing through a small town called Tantoyuca...about 60 miles short of our destination, Tuxpan...and I spot this little moto repair shop along the road. I tell the guy my problem and he hops on his skooter and 5 minutes later comes back with some coolant. Check out the chief mechanic...its a chick!
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    I remember seeing a good hotel as we entered town...so this is where we stayed. I went across the street while the bike cooled down and got us a couple jumbo beers and proceeded to add coolant. What really pisses me off is I took the bike into the Long Beach California BMW dealer right before I shipped the bike for it's 12,000 mile check up and specifically asked the guy to check the radiator fluid. They also lost the strap that holds the battery down. Can't say I was too happy. Here's a picture of me doing a fix-job in the dark. Bike ran great after that.
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    #18
  19. DUC54

    DUC54 Giddy Up!!!

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    I'm with T.Low
    Could we get a better post of your route map? Awesome so far!!!!! Keep it coming please.

    Giddy UP!!!!
    #19
  20. hazard

    hazard Been here awhile

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    I'll see what I can do.
    #20