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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by LoneStar, Oct 22, 2012.
Great updates and photos! I love the look on that kid's face.
Looking forward to more!
It was great meeting you, Cullen, and everyone there in Uruapan. I've always enjoyed your writing and photos in your ride reports. I new you were going to be at the rally because I had seen your avatar on the list of attendants. I recognized your bike, but didn't realize you were near my size.
Cullen and I stayed at Michael's beachfront home in Mazatalan (that was rough). We ended up crossing the border at Nogales and went our separate ways there. I made it home Thursday about 3PM. Back to work tomorrow.
Please stop by and see me the next time you are riding in Colorado.
Hey man glad you're back safe! I bet the time in Mazatlan was rough
Had a lot of fun eating your dust on the dirt ride and ditto on the invite. I realize you're far less inclined to ride to Texas than I am to ride to Colorado, but if so you've got a spot to stay that ain't too bad for Texas
I was up earlier than the others, feeling like I was made of lead, intestines rumbling and feeling weak. Made my way down the street and sat in the cold air of the plaza, thankful I hadn't gotten violently ill the night before. I carried the laptop and posted a single photo for my friends to know I was still kicking.
I went back up the hill and eventually got my bike back to the hotel while the others were getting up and about. Packed it early, and then we congregated for breakfast at a little cafe on the square. I forced down an apple pastry and a capuccino, as well as a bottle of water.
Rob and Jimmy were going to part ways with us and spend another couple of days before returning, and I had debated staying with them, but in the end decided to stick with Hank, pairs being easier to deal with when riding and hotels.
We said our adios' and parted, riding up the cobblestone streets out into the sunshine and onto main roads, our plan being lunch in Matehuala and then on to Saltillo. I shot some GoPro footage, but I have to say I've been very frustrated with it this trip. I brought 6 batteries, and when fully charged am only getting 5 to 20 minutes run time, and they always die right before something really interesting comes up. It seems even leaving the camera off all day and then turning it on for interesting sights, the battery pukes. In addition, I've been getting condensation heavily in the lens housing every day, no matter how many times I dry it out and clean it.
So, my video footage consists of, (A.) Interesting footage completely ruined by condensation on the lens, or (B.), Footage of boring crap just before fantastic scenery arrives and the battery dies. Go figger.
Stills from the GoPro footage:
The caballero guy was drunk and trying to be helpful upon our arrival the day before, and was still drunk and trying to be helpful when we left
Anyway, the air was very cool this morning - eye watering - as we merged onto the highway southwest to Queretaro and then eventually north towards Saltillo. Blasting 85 mph for long periods, the vistas changed and yet remained the same. From high plains lower into the desert, the familiar crumbling buildings painted with Corona signs and partially completed concrete buildings with rebar standing above the roof lines. Burros, horses, cattle and sheep grazing on the highway medians, every so often a broken down Ford pickup on the side of the road - of which I've counted 10 to 1 being maroon colored - and the groups of locals waiting at the lonely bus stops with plastic grocery bags for luggage.
It felt great to be riding right behind Hank and not 75 yards back. Being the tail end of a high speed train is not easy. You have to watch all the bikes ahead of you, as Hank sped, split and wove through traffic, keeping an eye on the three bikes in front of you and trying to gauge what they're about to do, an eye on the cars, trucks and buses all around you, the various cars, semi's, dogs, potholes, topes and people along the roadside and running across the road, then try to make the gaps in traffic before they close, which rarely happened. As well, when you pass through the toll booths, everyone ahead has waited and had time to adjust glasses, clean shields, put away money and wallets, etc, but as you exit the booth they all take off like the start of a motocross race. Got a little frustrating at times but that's just part of the game. Let's just say it was a hell of a lot less stress and I actually got a few minutes now and then to look at scenery.
One thing I've found interesting has been the conversations, or rather lack thereof, with the gas station attendants. For me, the concept of having someone pump your gas is a new one. The routine being, pull up to pump, get off bike, take tank bag off, point to Red Premium and say "Rojo", have the attendant say "Roja?", to which I say "Si, gracias" then attendant then asks me in Spanish "how much" (at least I assume that's what he or she is asking) and I then point up to the sky, or raise my hand like water level rising, or some other inane thing, but they understand. Or as a couple of them have done, let me go through an entire hand signal routine complete with tap dancing, and they then say "You mean full?" in English.
At any rate, I try to have some discourse, which entails "Buenos Dias", "Muy Bueno" and then shortly after, "No Habla Espanol". It's been interesting as some attendants have worked in the US and enjoy speaking in English. Today when I pulled in for gas, three attendants came over and began trying to communicate with me about travel, the bike and such, all in Espanol. One finally said "Mexico bueno?" so that I could understand, to which I said loudly "Viva Mexico!!!". They all burst into smiles and laughter and we had a good laugh. I drove out to the sounds of "Adios Amigo" and "Buen Viaje".
When we broke for lunch in Matehuala, Sherry wasn't doing well. She'd had a back muscle go wonky and was miserable. She medicated, and Hank said he'd decided to head for Linares and then Santiago, which would put us later in the day, but a much more interesting road. I had finally begun to feel better physically and that was certainly fine with me.
We headed north until finally reaching the highway east for Galeana and Linares, the first mile or so being talcum powder dirt from road construction. A water truck had just heavily doused the deep powder, and I watched Hank weaving and wobbling in the slick, as did I until I was able to get over into the oncoming lane. When we finally got up into the mountains I was treated to one of the best roads I've yet ridden. Super twisty, high drop-offs, no railings, spectacular mountain views and one heck of a ride! I don't think I've ever scraped so much metal and boot rubber. Had a ball! Tense, but a ball And of course the GoPro died just as I hit the good stuff.
The beginning of a fantastic ride
Don't miss this road if you ride the area.
We finally crested the mountain range and headed downhill, the eastern side of the mountains much, much warmer than the western side. We passed through several checkpoints, through large X-ray machines and steely-eyed machine gun toting policia and military. There will be many more between here and Laredo.
It had gotten very hot, but we eventually arrived in Santiago, just south of Monterrey. As we rolled into the old downtown plaza, there was much activity in preparation for a happening on the square. In each town we've been, other than Bernal, there has been something going on.
The hotel faced the square and the street had been cordoned off, but we were aloowed to pass to the hotel, but had to unload quickly and get the bikes into the garage, as they did not want the bikes there.
As we piled off the bikes, there was a high school band practicing in the plaza, playing hard core military type drum music. Hank went inside and Sherry laid down on the sidewalk, probably from her back pain... or maybe the meds
After dumping gear in the room, it appeared we were the only guests in the beautiful place. Hank had been told that the hot water had to be fired up and it would be a while before we could shower. I tried to get online but the password wasn't working.
The suffering continues
Hank knocked and I told him we'd meet in the square. There was a stage set up, as well as chairs. Tonight was a formal gathering in front of the church, dignitaries and the mayor giving a speech.
We walked the town for a bit, listening to the reverberations of the speeches and then the mariachi music. A fireworks finale was the signal for our dinner.
As we ate, the dignitaries filed in in groups, going downstairs to a private meeting room.
The town was very pretty and quiet. Hank said there had been a drug violence incident in the town a couple of years before, and the tourist shops had moved away. He also said there was only the one hotel, and from the looks of it being empty I guess the tourism had left it lonely as well.
Tomorrow Laredo and then home. This has been a great trip.
Man, I can't believe I had missed this until now. Better late than never!
Great RR and pics, as per the usual.
If you ever figure the battery thing out with the GoPro, please bring me up to speed. Mine crapped out right before we made the James River crossing south of Mason.
Have a safe ride home and keep the pics coming.
Cool pics and trip!
Deco, that James River crossing put me on my tushie so fast I didn't know what hit me
It was late in the evening and I was alone and about 1/3 of the way across I suddenly was sitting in the water. You should have seen me trying to lift the GS on that slick stuff. It looked like Charlie Chaplin slapstick
Send me video when you cross it again
Had a nice dinner with Hank and Sherry and a good night's rest. I think we were the only guests in the hotel, as in the parking garage there were no other cars.
The surrounding mountains are beautiful
Having been without access to the net for the last few days, I decided to try and upload some things, however the password for the hotel wireless didn't work. I walked out into the plaza and looked for some coffee, finding a cup in a small store much like a 7-11. It felt weird and disturbing to find prepackaged foods, coffee from machines, and styrofoam cups after the quaint cafe's and "cafe' con leche' " served hot from earthenware cups and such. I said "Wifi?" to the checker, and he pointed outside to the square, so I ambled out, feeling very proud of my Spanish communication abilities.
I was looking forward to a quiet time of coffee, editing and uploading. As soon as my tush touched down, an old gentleman ambled up and began speaking spanish to me. After a couple of minutes of me waving my arms in my best Italian, he spoke to me in broken English and said "Eet ees a beautiful early morning no?" I agreed and complimented him on his english. He began talking to me of many things, his age and life, his town, how he loved to walk the town early in the mornings. Feeling pressed for time, I began to get antsy about uploading and then caught myself. Life is about these moments and about people, and I felt a little disturbed at myself for wanting to rush him. I closed my laptop, leaned back and we just had a long chat. His name was Fortencio, aged 77 and he'd grown up in Santiago, but had worked 55 years in a consulate. I asked what he had done, and he told me he was the bell boy there.
We talked and talked, him telling me about the various people as they would walk by and how long he'd known them, where they had grown up and other things. He said his wife of 70 still looked as young as when they'd married in the early 1960's and how she was visiting family in nearby San Francisco. He would point out the buses and tell me where they went and how much I could ride them for. He also told me about the previous night's event, in which a new mayor had been elected and last night was the official handover. He then told me a previous mayor had been shot 2 years before by drug lords. Hank had told me the town had had a couple of incidents a few years ago, and this had stalled tourism to the town. Shame as it is a beautiful place, but we both had the feeling it was about to make a comeback and now would be a good time to rent a space for a business… what type I have no idea LOL
My time up, I thanked Fortencio for his kindness and went to get geared up, find Hank and get the plan in order.
Old well in the restaurant
We were heading for Laredo, but were unsure as to whether to go to the Colombia bridge where the traffic would be lighter, however it being further out would add time to the trip so we opted instead for Laredo.
Santiago is about 20 miles south of Monterrey, and as we headed out the sky was much clearer than when we'd come through the previous week. The smog had been so heavy on the way south that one could barely see the mountain silhouettes. But this morning they were easy to see and quite pretty.
Quickly we were into the bustle of Monterrey's highways and I stuck to Hank as well as I could, weaving and bobbing in traffic. We eventually cleared the town and grabbed gas on the north side. Hank said to have the passport ready as we would hit more checkpoints on the way north now. The heat grew quickly as we left Monterrey, my mind on the traffic and on the drab vision of returning to the border and subsequently the return home.
I'd been warned to lose the GoPro and not take any pics near the border area unless I wanted to sit in a room and be questioned for a few hours, so I stashed the cameras and put on my dumb tourist face. Which differs only slightly from my dumb regular face.
Oh the suckage...
Idling in a construction zone traffic yam
As we neared the International Bridge in downtown Nuevo Laredo, the heat became more oppressive. Hank had asked earlier if I wanted to keep my import permit (good for 6 months) and I had said yes, so we avoided having to deal with that and paid the toll to cross the bridge. I'd gotten down to the bottom of my peso pile and ended up paying the toll in US dollars.
As we sat idling in the heat, the lanes jammed with traffic, Hank asked if I wanted to eat at Wendy's or Whataburger with an evil grin. We then split into different lanes and inched along. By the time my slot was open, I was feeling loopy from the heat. I can't imagine sitting there for hours during July or August.
The border guard asked for my Passport and for me to remove my helmet. He then asked a few questions about where I'd been. I told him San Miguel as we'd been advised to do. He then asked if I had any fruits, meats, etc and I told him I had some chocolate and some energy bars. He asked to see inside the cases, so I dismounted and opened a couple of them, and he said all was fine and sent me on my way. I exited the official area and back into the US, pulling over in the Valero gas station lot just outside the gate to wait for Hank and Sherry.
They came in about a minute later and we tried to gas up, but the credit cards weren't working so we drove further out for gas. We were hungry and needed a break from the heat. Pulled into a Fuddruckers nearby. It felt very, very strange to return. Entering the place, the employees were dressed in bizarre costumes which added to the feelings. I then remembered it was Halloween, as I'd lost track of time in Mexico.
After a burger, fries and a root beer, I started to relax from the tension of crossing, and the exhaustion began to set in.
We cranked up and raced along to Dilley, following them home to deliver a hat Sherry had bought, literally off the head of a local in Mexico. I had had room in my topcase for the mini sombrero.
Obligatory train delay in the heat
The ride back through Devine, Hondo and Bandera was bittersweet, as I longed for home to get out of the gear, the heat and to relax, but I also hated the thought of stopping. There are so many reasons - you're in tune with the bike and riding is like breathing, each day has brought a new horizon, new adventures and new people, you're in a rhythm, a flow and in freedom.
You guys who ride know what I'm talking about…
Top Ten List of How You Know Your Riding Gear Stanks:
# 10. Your riding partner walks in and says your room smells like a gym locker room
# 9. You find your hotel bed unmade because you left your dirty socks on the bed
# 8. Your riding partners roll forward when you pull up next to them at a stop light
# 7. You can't remember the original color of your shorts
# 6. You develop a nervous tic at the thought of putting your head into your helmet
# 5. You see roaches run from under your bed and through the crack under the door when you take your boots off
# 4. You wake up in the middle of the night and wonder what that strange smell is
# 3. People tell you to burn a match in your room
# 2. You come to the slow realization that you have not, in fact, just passed a 74 mile long cattle station
#1, the drug sniffing dog at the border has to be dragged by his leash to your bike.
Clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap
I thoroughly enjoyed Mexico, as I suspected I would. Our gang was a good group, great riders and good natured folks. Hank made the trip great with his knowledge and experience. Jimmy and I agreed Sherry gets the Golden Cajones award for her ability to sit calmly on the back of Hank's bike through everything. Wow.
Next year's convention is in Vera Cruz, and I'll be there for sure. These guys know how to put a great event together and if you come wear your race face cause the boys can ride!
Close approximation of the route and roughly 2700-2800 miles
Gear Gripes & Grins…
First off I wore the wrong jacket and helmet for the trip. When I saw we'd be around 9000' mostly, I defaulted to Colorado thinking and expected colder temps. Wrong. My Teknic Freeway is a great jacket but hot as heck - shoulda wore the Olympia AST silver. My XD3 helmet didn't do so well either. It's my first choice for DS riding, but I've never felt it was a great helmet - optical distortion in the shield and some other issues including shield in line of vision when up. In addition the detents will not keep the shield open at high speed. Shoulda wore the Shoei Multitec. Or better yet a Schuberth. Speaking of helmets Nolan had the X-551 Dual Sport helmet there and I liked it. They only had XXL in matte black so didn't buy it but will pursue one from overseas. Now where's them pesos I had left over...
GoPro's - have been a crap shoot and I lost a lot of great footage due to their unbelievable variance in battery life. I'd chalk it up to myself, however Hank had the same issues and is frustrated with his as well. I brought 6 new batteries and wall charger to make sure I had plenty of power. It made no difference. You could pop in a new battery, leave the camera off all day, then hit the on button when you got a good area and then later find out the battery had died or only lasted a few seconds. Then the next day you'd get 30 minutes of run time. Frustrated.
Still cameras - Had hoped to snag the LX7 before leaving but couldn't, so brought my trusty LX3. Beautiful images but limited zoom range so, I brought a Sony Nex 5N with the 55-210 lens for long shots. Nex is proving to be a fantastic camera for fast shooting and low light shots - some I'd have thought impossible. The Nex body is very small, and if/when they make smaller lenses for it, it would make a great travel system. Gold star for both.
The Heidenau K-60's have been superb tires and very happy I made the switch.
Issues with the bike clouded my enjoyment for a good portion of the trip, but the mileage did improve. In the past I could get 38-39 at 85 but now can't get more than 35-36 at those speeds. Plugs maybe. The brakes have worked alright after the intial rear scare, but have not been as crisp as previously. Time to rebuild methinks, and use the high performance racing fluid.
Best french fries in the world are in Mexico. Hands down. Never dreamed it but had many variations and some were amazing
Impressed with Rob's G650 twin. It ran 90 all day and never blinked. Rob loves it compared to the 1150GS he rode around the world. The high speed wobble issue was narrowed to the new top case installed for just this trip. He pulled it for the day rides and had no more issues. Great bike.
Amazingly, there were no serious accidents or major injuries at the event. 600 riders on GS's and many of them 2 up, riiding fast in dangerous roads. Wow. Rider skills were very good. There had been one fatality before the event began, when a rider was killed on the way to the event. There were several low speed tumbles on the dirt day, the worst injury being a young guy on his father's 1200GSA who fell and twisted an ankle in the dirt. He was at all the events however, limping his way around and we'd always ask how he was doing.
Mexico was beautiful, the food excellent and the people friendly (if not a little cautious of the giant Yeti from Texas LOL ).
I'll be at next year's rally in Vera Cruz for sure.
P.S. I hope to get some video edited and online here in the next day or two
Hardest part of riding Mexico is coming home.
Thanks so much for the report. They are always a joy to read and the images are always fantastic.
I want my pictures to look like yours when I grow up
Set it on "Program" and go outside early
no doubt. 2nd you hit the US it becomes homogenous.
Interesting phenomena upon return was the sudden feeling of how much "control" there is here in the U. S. It was a tangible feeling and the final 4 hrs home I expected a cop car around every bend, waiting to extract a "fine" for misuse of the highways. Getting away for a few days sure puts it in perspective...
I really enjoyed this RR Lonestar. Mexico looks like a even better place to ride then I imagined.
The Mexicans seem like they really love motorcycles too.
I agree with you about what you said about the xd3 helmet.......sold mine for those reasons and
looking at the Nolan n 104 and shoei neotec right now for my next lid.
Pickupman - I ordered the Nolan X-551 Dual sport helmet from Germany - will see how it works. In the gang, 3 had the Schuberth C3 helmets and swear by them - less drag, much quieter, etc. I may end up with one as well - gonna have to rob a bank to buy all the new stuff
LoneStar, to my shame, Jimmy just reminded me of your RR and pics on ADV, and I spent a few hours reading your reports and admiring your pictures. EXCELLENT!! I know it takes lots of time (away from sleep and parties) to share the info en-route, but doing so after the fact usually ends up in not doing it.
I agree that we had a great group and that Hank's knowledge of Mexico is "impagable" (priceless). I also look forward to riding with you again next to Veracruz, etc. And thanks for watching my "rear," you must have my stickers memorized - I'll try to add or change a few before next year.
As a matter of fact I do have them memorized. Looking forward to next year! If you get near San Antone let me know and you've got a spot to stay