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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by LoneStar, Oct 22, 2012.
Excellent report !
I was showing this to my wife and she reminded me of a couple of briefings we sat through in Mexico and France where our language skills were lacking. Always fun to see how these things turn out.
Route for the day was into the "Lagos" region on blacktop only. En masse, several hundred riders left downtown Uruapan at 9 sharp, escorted initially by the police through downtown. I ended up separated from our crew and somehow managed to be in the front 10 riders or so, until I had to pull in for fuel, watching the stream of riders racing past. While in the station, Cullen pulled in on his KTM, both of us low from yesterday's ride. We exited together and stayed in sight for a while.
Observing the controlled chaos
Quickly we headed up high into the mountains, the air quite cold. We were shrouded in low clouds, sunglasses and shield covered thickly with moisture. The rides here are extremely fast, and on the narrow roads with fog and multiple bikes, it was somewhat intense for a bit. The moisture stayed heavy and shielded the sun for much of the early portion of the ride, also obscuring the scenery high in the mountains.
Eventually it burned away, revealing great views and beautiful countryside. We rode fast and passed through small towns, jumping the ever present topes on the GS's, the street bikes having to slow almost to a stop. It was very interesting seeing the native Indian population watch as we passed through town, the smell of wood smoke in the air. Scenes of fields of corn, an old man with a machete, men riding burros along the road.
One thing I need to say about the BMW clubs here is that the riders take their ownership of the bikes very seriously. They are first class riders, riding very fast and aggressive, solo or two-up. The bikes are new, in great condition and the riding gear is very high quality. I have been so impressed with the level of quality, skill, professionalism and friendliness of the riders and club organizers here. Absolutely first rate.
Having said that, it's hard to explain to someone, myself included, how fast and aggressively they ride. Not hooliganism, just skilled and fast.
As Jimmy said, in the U. S. we'd be put under the jail for riding this way. Here it's just normal. I don't know how well I'll be able to adjust to riding back home again LOL. My only frustration is that the riding and time schedule is so aggressive I have no time for photos, instead just roadracing and concentrating intensely.
As we rode higher and higher, the roads became tight and twisty, with one section several miles long that is one of the best roads I've ridden. The sharp turns were banked as if built for bikes and it was like a dream riding through forests with views of volcanos and mountains.
We came into a larger town, don't know the name, which led us up very high on a very narrow road. I looked to my right to see a sheer drop off and a fantastic lake below, with volcanic mountains surrounding. The view took my breath away, but I had to stay focused on riding.
We finally ended up in the town of Santa Clara, bikes parking all around the central plaza. There was a little market, loaded with sugar skulls and candies in preparation for the upcoming holiday, where Rob and I got an excellent cappucino. We made friends with an Italian rider named Tommas, whom in later conversation I found out was a nephrologist in Mexico. Cullen came in a bit later and we all mixed with the other several hundred riders. The town was busy preparing for the upcoming "Day of the Dead", and there were beautiful candies made of sugar and other ritual offerings.
Making the skull
You can imagine seeing this stream of bikes passing through small towns created quite a stir - it probably took 45 minutes to an hour for all to pass through, as we were spread out very far
A government official from the town gave a welcoming speech, standing on the pegs of Rob's 650, after which we moved into the huge plaza for a giant group photo. There was a native music and dance demonstration while we cooled off, and then the announcement was made that we would be leaving in a few minutes.
I began readying my gear and GoPro's at the bike, my long hair loose from having lost the rubber band for my ponytail in the wind, when I felt a tap and turned around to see a cute little girl and her brother dressed in their school clothes. She asked in very good English if I was the rider from Texas. I said "Yes ma'am I am" and smiled. She beamed and said excitedly "I was born in Texas!" I laughed and asked her where, to which she responded "Dallas!". When I told her I had lived there many years she just giggled. I leaned over and shook her hand and told her my name, and her brother excitedly told me his. I asked their mother if it was OK if they sat on my bike, and they got very excited, but she said they needed to run home and get their camera. They were afraid we would be gone by the time they got back, so I took a pic of them. It was very sweet, and sure enough, I had to leave before they got back.
As an aside, I guess seeing a big Texan with a ponytail in this neck of the woods is rare. People stare at me like I'm an alien and I've been asked several times to take a picture with them. Really funny.
Taking the group picture
One of the best things aside from the riding is the groups of kids and children screaming and yelling and waving as we passed through. Seeing a stream of 600 motorcycles passing through the little villages is a once in a lifetime event.
A vivid memory from today was seeing a very old Indian woman dressed in traditional garb literally jumping up and down with joy like a little kid and laughing out loud, throwing her arms in the air as we passed.
From Santa Clara we rode to Zirahuen, on the lake, where another event was set up and waiting. The area is famous for copper mining and copper crafts. They had a furnace set up and were smelting copper, heating the disc in a furnace, pullling it out and 4 guys hammering with sledges in perfect rythm. We were served several varied courses of local food and were serenaded by musicians and dance. This lasted through the afternoon until the raffles for prizes and a 1200 GSA was given away. From there Rob and I headed for Uruapan and arrived late in the day.
Copper queens greeting us
Deep fried minnows - delicioso
Rob holding one for the camera lol
Possibly the best tasting chicken I've ever had
The lake and a wonderful breeze which kept us cool all afternoon while we ate and watched the dancing and listened to music.
With this region being the copper rich area, we saw demonstrations of copper forming and such. Mark, being a chef, snagged an entire set of copper pots at what he described as ridiculously low prices and I chuckled at the thought of him carrying them all on his 1200 GS back to Colorado.
Hammering the copper
Liar, liar pants on fire
The pattern of the event here is to ride very hard for a long time, then have a leisurely time relaxing and enjoying friendship, food and music. Today I was able to get some GoPro footage squeezed out, but not of some of the best riding or tight streets.
The roads today were absolutely superb, as was the food and friendship
A little GoPro - unfortunately I didn't get footage of the fast and beautiful roads, but here's a bit from the start and the entrance into the event just to show something. The riders are bunched up in these, but in fact we were spread far apart in the long and fast 3 hour ride to Zirahuen
VIDEO COMING SOON
Rob and I in easy traffic after getting back to Uruapan
VIDEO COMING SOON
You have a good eye. Many thanks.
Currently in Bernal west of Queretaro - haven't had internet for last couple days but lots of pictures to post soon
Had a stomach bug hit yesterday afternoon so went to bed about 7 pm and still weak today but shall press on
Posting from here
Thanks for checking in! I'm sorry about your stomach trouble. Uh, maybe it was the fried minnows
Might have been better sauteed in a little olive oil with a few capers, some bruschetta, and a nice glass of wine.
Oops, wrong country ! Sorry.
Excelente! Looks like you're having a blast. You'll enjoy Taxco.
You guys are having a good time in my favorate place to tour.
Just don't let Peek out front.
No rides were planned for Saturday, just a short bus excursion to the National Park within the city, followed by another excursion to a "factory".
We were due to leave at 9 am, however word came that there had been an hour delay and I found myself free for 30 minutes to wander around and take some pics.
I needed coffee and found a little coffee shop just around the corner.
Liberty Bell got nuttin' on you
Throughout the town they were decorating for the Day of the Dead
I wandered around a bit, cup of hot Jose' in one hand and a camera requiring two hands in the other. Somehow I managed to not pour hot coffee down my shirt, but I sure I looked like El Dweebo del Norte.
A few shots:
I finally ended up at the buses in front of the Plaza Hotel and found the gang. We were driven a short distance to the National Park, within the city itself, and it turned out to be a beautiful rain forest setting with lots of running water and fountains. Very beautiful place and I was surprised it had been able to remain intact for so long.
Note the figure mid picture - he had just dove (dived? diven? doven? take your pick) from a tree limb about 50 feet over the little stream into a small deep hole. In the water. Not just a small deep hole.
More tree leapers were found
The crystal clear streams were full of drowned grubs - not sure if it was mass suicide or accidental drownings
Day of the Grateful Dead outfit
The corn lady
From there we were taken by bus to an old fabric mill that has been turned into a museum on the top floor, a working fabric mill in the basement and a huge conference center.
Our bus featured anti-lanesplitting devices
No latte's in sight, but plenty of Corona Light
Each place we went, all the tortillas were hand made by the ladies. I was told these particular tortillas used black corn which is evidently rare. The other tortillas used blue corn, which I was told is actually a blue fungus which gives the color. All I can say is a lot of fungus died for the cause.
Hank, Sherry and I explored the building and I got stuck in the basement, mesmerized at the step back in time and the incredible photo ops there.
Wandering a bit I bumped into Mark from Colorado, and we hung out for a bit. Cullen arrived as well and the two began planning their return to the States.
BMW had rider's clinics going, but since they were in Spanish we just sat in the shade and acted cool. Well, as cool as "heavyset" middle aged guys can act...
In a bit Hank swung by and said "Comida" so we wandered up to the main hall and were ushered in past a red R1200GSA - the one to be given away - and were handed more swag from babes. I got a black corduroy Negro Modelo hat, a free bag, and some other stuff. As usual the hat is too small for my fat head and simply falls off if I lean. Oh well what's new.
Hank and Cullen had gotten not one but two caps from the Corona girls, a green one resembling a Che Guevarra hat minus the red star and a super cool black one.
Eventually, we found a table and the slow but sure process of continuous feeding began. The weird thing is that at each event, with a hundred tables or more, we always ended sitting next to the same guys every time. Even weirder is the fact that I had the same waiter at each function. Poor guy.
We were regaled with music, Indian dances and much more.
My thrill of the evening came when standing in the free ice cream line. Suddenly, two young beautiful girls butted in line in front of me, and it turns out they were the two girls from Zirahuen who were wearing the crowns and red, white and green dresses. I called them the Copper Queens since they had represented Zirahuen and wore some amazing copper jewelry and crowns. One acted quite regal and the other a little apologetic. I didn't care. BTW they both went for ice cream and cheesecake.
With sweaty palms and our acceptance speeches planned, the drawings arrived, eventually ending with the 1200 GSA. Sadly, none of us won, but my speech was so well written I'm saving it for next year.
Once we realized we hadn't won, there was a mad rush for the door, but once in the lobby realized that the riding photos were for sale
they were sorted by day and motorcycle type. Day 1, R1100 GS and R1150 GS. Mine were easy to find since there were literally only 3 bikes in the stack.
Back to the room, where Cullen and I packed. I decided to leave all my local sweets and nuts and thingamabobs for the cleaning lady and got ready to leave Sunday morning. Cullen and Mark had a vague plan which seemed to head north, but Cullen had met a guy at the dinner who had a 10 room house in Gudalajara or someplace and had insisted he and Mark stay at his place.
Thanks for the well wishes on the intestinal inconsistencies.
I know all the ADV'ers here are highly refined and cultured, so in an effort to not offend, I've chosen to use euphemisms for the more sensitive.
Thankfully, I've not had to do the "Technicolor Yodel", and let's just say "the train tends to leave the tunnel off schedule and with much fanfare."
Thanks for the comments guys! Will be adding more stuff today
Woke up early and went outside early to load bike, the town still asleep in the cool morning air. The day before, Mexico had their time change, but I was still on previous time. A few other riders were up and loading for the trip home.
Cullen got his bike loaded and took off a little before us, to meet Mark and head home, while we readied for Taxco.
We'd all been impressed with the number of women riders in the group. This lady rode a 1200GS or GSA - can't remember which. Later it was pointed out to me she had been featured in a BMW documentary
Hank had to get back to Dilley by midweek, but Jimmy and Rob had more time and wanted to stay longer in Mexico. Hank agreed to get them to Taxco before heading north. I was torn as to stay with Hank or continue on with R & J.
At any rate, our route out of Uruapan entailed going through Morelia, and the thought made me shudder after the hot fiasco we'd been involved in on the last trip through. Jimmy was quick to say he had no desire to go through that again. No choice, however, but this time we went through the city center and it was no problemo. Traffic was light and the old city was beautiful.
We rode past a huge aqueduct and stopped for pics. Very pretty town indeed. From Morelia we headed on a high speed run towards Toluca, at some point getting onto Hwy 15.
Highway 15 quickly climbed high into the mountains, with fog, mist, huge pines and spectacular views. However, the twisting and turning road turned out to be an outstanding motorcycle road. Rob and I stayed together for what must have been 60 miles of intense twisties that would make a passenger hurl. This went on for so long, in 2nd and 3rd gear only, that both hands went numb and forearms began to cramp. That was the longest sustained twisties I've ever done and eventually I almost, almost, almost wished for it to straighten out LOL. Add to it the occasional cars and trucks to pass, cows and sheep standing on the edge and big, fresh cow patties in the middle of blind curves and it was quite fun.
A section of 15 to give you an idea - per Hank
I was sweating, scraping pegs and boots, watching sparks coming off Rob's Happy Trails panniers, and feeling like a badass when suddenly I was passed by a guy on a BMW 650 scooter. He went past me and Rob like we were sitting still, and didn't even spill his Latte'. Now I hate to admit this, but both of the days we did road rides, I was passed by a BMW 650 scooter. It was not only me, but Rob, Jimmy, Cullen and Hank were all humbled by the scooter guy. Both days. All I can say is that if it had been the BMW "City" scooter with the goofy bubble roof, I'd just have to kill myself. Thankfully it wasn't.
After what seemed hours - and it was - I saw a group of riders ahead at a lookout point and pulled in to find Hank and Jimmy, having just pulled in. There were a large number of the BMW riders from Mexcio City there - the president of the club and other elites. We'd been running with the big boys and rubbing elbows with swank. As usual.
They were just ahead of us all the way up. And there sat that damn scooter.
Hank said the scooter had blown past him as well and he had to set a blistering pace to keep it in sight at times. I found the rider and it turned out he was the guy who was sponsored by BMW to teach the riding clinics. We all felt better realizing he was a world class rider and that's our story and we're sticking to it.
El Diablo Del Scootero
Super nice guy - the BMW riding instructor who spanked us mightily
Jimmy had just finished cleaning about an 1/8 inch deep layer of brake dust off his rear rim. Apparently he'd used a new brand of brake pads that wore quickly
Bad pic but shows a little of the elevation
From the top down, the ride was a little easier, though still fast and furious. Eventually we ended up in Valle de Bravo, a beautiful town on a lake. It's called the "Little Switzerland" of Mexico. We came in on rough cobblestone streets through droves of locals, eventually winding down a very, very steep cobblestone street that led into the main area by the lake. All I can say is if that cobblestone street had been wet we'd all have come out of it with brakes locked going 70 mph. Of course the pic doesn't capture the angle...
We were all liking the looks of this place and Hank checked with the cops and others about a hotel. There was a huge arts festival going on and much of the place was booked. Hank eventually returned with a teenage kid and told him to hop on back of my bike and lead us to the hotel. We rode out of the town and around to the other side of the lake before finding the place. A quaint, screaming yellow place that overlooked a boat yard that overlooked the lake. But it was home.
We washed and caught a cab back to town, having dinner and then wandering. There was an arts festival in town, a large stage had been set up and a woman violinist was playing to the crowd. Her music was beautiful, though she seemed a bit over-dramatic, and the stage show was excellent. We watched for a while, then wandered off in the dark to find an old church we'd seen in the daylight. Up and down the cobblestone streets in the darkness, the sounds of beautiful violin music echoing about.
Oh the suffering
Looking at routes to Taxco on the Garmin software
We found the church, then wandered further up into the little town, passing sights and sounds, disappearing in time. It was surreal in many ways.
We ended up in yet another plaza, in front of the largest church there, the place filled with people listening to a flamenco singer and guitarists on a smaller stage of the festival. The plaza was packed and we wandered around, eventually the flamenco dance beginning on stage. The crowd was enraptured.
The air was cold and crisp, the streets ancient and filled with interesting light, patterns, voices and people. In the darkness we walked, to the echoes of The Who's "Teenage Wasteland" being played on violin.
Great job with the photos. Keep up the good work!
Keep it coming.
Morning over Valle de Bravo
We were up and on the bikes around 9, headed for downtown Valle de Bravo and breakfast for the road
The night before, Rob and Hank had looked at routes to Taxco, the original plan being for Jimmy and Rob to go on to Taxco while we turned north. After some discussion with locals, the route Rob and Jimmy had planned on taking was up in the air. Apparently there had been robberies or rumors of such on the road, but information was dated and sketchy. The only real information being that it would be full of truck traffic. After looking at the maps at where to go after Taxco, it appeared R & J would be too far out of the way for their schedule, so they decided to hang with us yet another day before splitting.
We had a great, relaxed breakfast on a balcony overlooking the lake. Each meal in Mexico has been leisurely. It's been nice not having to swallow an Egg McMuffin whole, while simultaneously snorting a cup of coffee through a nostril and climbing on the bike. Actually its been nice not even seeing an Egg McMuffin.
The two cops spent a lot of time looking at my bike
My breakfast… yum!
Then they took it away and gave it to Sherry and gave me this instead
Still yummy but the hot bowl it came in was more interesting
The view and the breeze called my name, and I told the gang to go ahead without me. Said I'd meet them in Vera Cruz at the Rally next year cuz I wasn't leaving the balcony. Rob reminded me that gringos come south, meet a lovely chiquita, move there and then try to survive by starting a bar or copy center, only for it to fail...
True, so I decided to go with them.
We saddled up in our stanky gear, once again trailing through a beautiful town and up to the faster roads leading ever to the horizon. We were on high beautiful roads until reaching the tollway heading north for Queretaro. From there it was hot, long and tiring. After days of 85 mph buffeting, it begins to tire you. You notice pressure points in your jacket, that now have become irritating. You notice things about your helmet that bug you, and you decide you're going to get all new gear - like that Rukka jacket you tried on at the vendors booth in Uruapan. Hey, $1800 for a jacket? Who cares!! Woohoo! And that nice Schuberth C3 helmet with comm system - $1300? Who cares!! Woohoo! Oh yeah, and while I'm at it, that new red 1200 GSA would be much better than my antique Anniversary Edition - $25,000? Who cares!!! WooHoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Then I began to wonder if I have enough pesos for the gas and tolls between here and wherever the **** Hank is taking us. Crap, I should've gotten some pesos from the ATM.
About the time we were all getting burned out, we rolled into the small town of Bernal, a colorful and peacefully quiet town sitting beneath a massive rock promontory.
Hank found a hotel on a side street, where we unloaded gear and then parked the bikes in a gated lot on the next street. Rob opted for a single room and Jimmy and I shared one. Poor Jimmy.
Entrance to the parking garage
The town was right out of a storybook - colorful buildings, cobble streets and a very quiet atmosphere. We wandered and climbed, eventually reaching the old cemetery under the rock cliff.
This guy was very friendly and spoke English well. He told me of the preparations for the Day of the Dead they were doing. And yes, it's one of those pigs from Angry Birds
You're probably tiring of seeing pics of beautiful colored walls, so here's a bench
Here's a colored wall AND a white wall
As we climbed the road, I kept hearing a horse clip clopping and a rumbling engine coming closer. Turns out it was this guy exercising his caballo and not the gasoline powered horse I was expecting.
The cemetery had not yet been decorated, but we explored. Turns out R.I.P. is very common on the grave markers
This young man decorated the grave while we were there and spent much time talking to his loved one(s).
I had not been able to get wifi in the last 2 days, and Rob found out the main plaza had a gazebo with free wireless, so we planned to have dinner and then get caught up on email and posts. About the time we decided to head for dinner, I began to feel a bit weak and queasy. Hank and I walked a bit shooting pics, but I was going downhill and began looking for a farmacia. I feared it may get much worse and decided to try to get some antibiotics ahead of time in case it did. Hank got directions to one, and Rob went with me, however we eventually found out it was much further away so I blew it off.
I barely stayed awake through dinner and felt pretty bad overall so I left some money on the table for the guys to cover my bill and went back to the hotel and laid down. I could feel intestinal happenings and prayed it wouldn't get worse. The gang arrived and I felt a little guilty at having dampened the last night's party (cause God knows I'm the life of the party). Hank and I looked at his GoPro video and some other stuff before I finally passed out.
Fantastic! Thanks for the great update. You have now successfully convinced me that I need to go to the rally next year. Let's rumble!