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Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by SeanPNW, Sep 12, 2013.
Epic adventures! I love that you're letting the trip guide you. Thanks for taking us along!
Great trip!!! been on many a mexico trip-my thoughts are right in line with your words and how each town feels. Right with ya on San felipe, cabo, lorreto, todas, coco's, mulege!! keep on travlin!!!
Looks like some amazing riding. I'm enjoying the ride along. Stay safe and enjoy!
I believe we met at the d2d in 2012. I've got a good pic of you and your dad at the dinner.
Glad you guys are enjoying it.
SOLOKLR - D2D is a rad time, when you have a minute you should blast me that pic if you can find it. Would be cool to have it.
After two days of partying I’m tuckered out and ready to gas up and hit the road. It’s Thursday morning (10/10/13) and I’m pretty sure that there is a freighter ferry leaving from La Paz to Mazatlan (on the mainland) Saturday afternoon. First though I want to check out a place called Canyon De La Zorra, which can be found roughly halfway between Cabo San Lucas and La Paz. There is supposed to be granite here, and waterfalls. Which means I can hopefully do some climbing and also jump off some tall shit into water. Yes, this sounds good.
First stop, San Jose del Cabo, the next major town east from Cabo, and where you switch directions to head north towards La Paz. It’s more laidback than Cabo, and seems to have itself a nice little thing going. It attracts the less intense vacationers that want the beach and the rays, but not the mayhem that is Cabo.
They even have a nice and relaxed eco building with plants growing on it. Aww isn’t that relaxing.
After I head north from San Jose Del Cabo the road becomes nice and curvy. The plays I’m heading towards is called CanyonDe La Zorra, so I guess that makes sense.
So much greener here in the South of Baja compared to the North.
After about an hour or so I turned west onto a dirt road towards the canyon.
Here I found a little town that had, no you didn’t guess it, a Zoo. Why there would be a zoo out here in the middle of nowhere is beyond me. Also the military. Maybe they came for the zoo.
I stocked up on some food and headed further west out of town towards the canyon.
Again I found sand.
After a few miles I also found a sign that reassured me I was actually in the right place. Looks like I’m close.
DAAAYUUUUMMMNNN, someone’s got a pretty driveway.
I got to the end of the driveway and found two evil looking dogs.
They were completely black and hairless, so all their coloring came from their funky sandpapery skin. They looked super fit, they demanded fear from you, but were oddly regal. They probably were birthed straight from the underworld and spend their days hunting souls to eat. I want one.
After I was done being intrigued by the dogs, I realized they were standing in front of a closed fence. I’m pretty sure that there were people somewhere on the property. But my bike isn’t quiet, and their isn’t exactly much else out here to make noise. So if they wanted me to come in and enjoy the Canyon they would have come to the gate. I waited for a while and enjoyed the dogs eary company some more. Nope, nobody is coming, alright, well I guess I’ll just go all the way to La Paz today. There’s a free beach that I can stay at there too. That’ll save me some pesos and help make up for all the money I spent getting silly in Cabo.
I headed back out the driveway and according to the GPS at the end of the driveway I was able to go left rather than turn back right and go down the way I had come. I don’t like backtracking so this was good. This road was much sandier though. Again I dumped the bike and again I pinned my leg under the metal pannier.
This time it was my left leg, which has my bum knee from a previous injury attached to it. It’s a very weird experience when your mental state changes gears so rapidly, things go from “everything is the norm” to “well shit”, very quickly. One minute I’m grinding along in soft sand thinking about my body position, thinking about what side of the sand rut will have better traction, wondering about what breed of dog that was back there, who actually lives all the way out here, can I make it to La Paz before sunset? Then boom. I’m forcibly thrown back into the present moment. I catch a particularly soft patch wrong and me and the bike are now down in the sand, pinned together awkwardly. I start assessing the situation.
Am I badly hurt?
No, nothing hurts, it was a slow spill. But I am stuck.
Is anyone else around to help lift the bike?
Mmm (I look around hoping yes). Who am I kidding though, I haven’t seen anyone for 3 hours.
Am I pinned against anything hot, is anything burning me?
Cool, so I’m not in any immediate danger.
Alright, next, I can tell from looking at my leg that this is not good. How long can I stay in this position before it gets too painful and my strength to move the bike goes away?
I focus my attention on my left knee now. I can feel the pressure of the bike, and the unnatural angle of my leg, torquing on the surgical bolts that keep everything in place. My muscles and ligaments are working hard to keep shit together. Mmmmmm, not long. Maybe 3 minutes?
Alright then, it’s now or never. I’m pinned awkwardly enough that I can’t use my arms or core for any leverage to heave the bike up. Instead I need to use my pinned leg to leverage the bike up and wriggle free. I think for one last time, do I have any other options that don’t involve putting more strain on my knee and possibly wrecking it? Nope, if I wait too much longer, my window of opportunity to physically get out on my own is going to shut. I grit my teeth together and start to point and flex my boot as much as possible to loosen up the sand. I torque up on my knee and my leg starts to budge. I can feel all the ligaments working to their limit to stay attached, but after a few more seconds I am able wriggle free of the bike. With my knee back in line and the pressure and torque removed, I crawl away from the bike and roll over onto the ground. My knee is sore but nothing popped or went out so I’m golden. Relieved that I’m out now and the situation is solved, I chuckle to myself. It’s funny how again, your mental shift can go back from the “well shit” seriousness of a situation, to the “hah, well that could have sucked” attitude.
With everything in the just peachy again, I stand up carefully and go over to pick up my bike. With the bike upright, again I chuckle to myself at the juxtaposition of how close a fun time and shitty time can reside. Glad I came out on the ‘fun time’ side on this one.
Irony aside though, having low-speed tumbles in the dirt is normal, getting my leg stuck under the bike (now twice) however, is not normal, and can be a serious issue if I’m all alone in a place like this. It’s something that really shouldn’t be happening. I thought for a while about what it was that I did when going down that caused it, and how I could possibly have done with my body position to prevent it. I have an idea of what to do differently for the next time, and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice. Hopefully I won’t be writing anymore about getting stuck under my bike.
After several hours I made it to La Paz and made it to the beach just after dusk.
By the time I got in I was exhausted and my body was sore. It felt good to be on a nice comfy beach with a cool ocean breeze and soft sounds of waves lapping on beach. I layed down on the beach and put in my headphones to listen to a full Alt-J album and take in the killer night sky. The milky way galaxy is pretty clear tonight. The music flowed and my body relaxed. Hard to find a concert venue this good anywhere else. Not too shabby, mother nature. Not too shabby at all.
The next day I lounged at the beach.
At some damn good ceviche.
And accidently put a whole in my sleeping mat.
There are two ferries that go from La Paz to Mazatlan, one is predominantly a commuter ferry (more luxurious) and the other is a freight/cargo ferry. I decided to take the freight ferry as this seemed more interesting than a posh commuter ferry. It’s a 15 hour trip so maybe I can interact with the locals a bit more too.
The next day I went to the terminal and booked my spot on the ferry. There were some paperwork issues but I was actually able to work through it with my broken spanish. Holy shit am I learning spanish?? There was a guy that I met and spoke to for a while at the docks. He offered to just load my bike into the back of his semi trailer, pay the passenger fee, and then ride across with him on the ferry. In hindsight this would have been a good deal, but my spanish wasn’t good enough at the time to really understand what he was offering and work out the specifics. I aired on the side of caution and just paid the individual motorcycle toll instead. This is the exact reason why knowing more spanish can be so helpful. Next time, Jhonathan.
Here’s the water steed we’ll be taking.
Hey, look who else is catching the same boat. The Dutchies and their dog Dunya.
We loaded up.
The dutchies (Michel and Erica) black rig on the left looks so small compared to the other rigs.
Dunya seemed pleased with her spot.
I got my bike strapped in.
Got some goats for neighbors.
Looks like things are lax in terms of where you can and can’t go around here. There’s the other commuter boat.
We took a look around the deck and then the boat set off.
Dinner was basic ferry food, but it’s pretty hard to mess up tacos. Nom nom nom nom.
The ferry is a night ferry which makes the 15hr commute really reasonable. This is the cargo ferry and there are few actual passengers, the majority of the cargo is just semi containers without their drivers. This means there are no real passenger accommodations, and those that are on board just sleep in their rigs. I found a nice spot on an empty gangplank above my bike to sleep.
Pretty top-notch sleeping spot if you ask me. Even have an open air window straight out the side of the hull. It’s maybe 30ft off the water and the breeze is perfect.
Being an island boy it’s nice being on the ocean again. The slow pitch and yaw of the boat as it rocks across the sea is comfortable and calming. Relaxation sets in. With the boat now well under way, headed away from Baja and towards the mainland, it feels like I’m moving to a different place, a new chapter. Although I know I could easily spend MUCH more time in Baja, I’m ready to go to the mainland. The Baja peninsula has served as a great set of training wheels for me. Baja is sort of like a watered down Mexico. It’s super safe, it’s very easy to travel, and there are still lots of people that speak a bit of english. As a person who doesn’t speak much spanish and has never been to Mexico, These are all good things for me. By traveling Baja first, I’ve been able to slowly dip my toes into the culture and get a feel for how things are done. Baja has given me a preview of Mexico, and I like what I’ve seen. I want the real thing now though. Catch you tomorrow Mazatlan.
I found it on my tablet. Pm me your email address and I'll send it out
Saweet, thanks. PM sent.
I think the dogs are Peruvian Hairless dogs. there are Mexican hairless, Xoloitzcuintle, but I think you saw the Peruvian dogs.
Ok, I will ask. Do you want to tell us about the cancer?
Innnnteresting, they are rad dogs. Can't get over that they don't have any hair though. Feel like it would be similar to petting a pig, just not as...porky.
Oh and I don't have cancer, just want to make sure that's clear (just in case that was what you were wondering). At least I hope I don't (?), I guess we never really know until we do. In either case though, the quote at the beginning of this ride report is from a very important guy that I met while on my last trip (Tanning A Ginger Tip to Tip). Here's a link to the post where I met him: 10. Little Chicken, Big Character
And here's the part that actually talks about him:
He'll probably never know, but he was pivetol in helping me answer some of the questions I had about my life at that time, what I wanted to do next, and how I wanted to do it. I tried for quite a while to find a way to get in contact with him again but was not successful. I would love to have had a chance to spend some more time with him, but unfortunately I fear this is not in the cards.
One of those people that you meet randomly, and only for a very brief moment, but that you never forget.
Oh I missed one of these things " . Thats good news .
sean, you out there, needing an update. please
I had misread that as well, thank goodness. Enjoying the ride report, very inspiring--keep the posts coming!
Sorry for the lack of posts, I lost my charger and had to find a new one. Updates coming soon
In the morning I awoke and found birds. Birds? Birds dont live far from land, we must be getting close.
My camera battery was low so I went to swap it with my spare and plug the dead one in to charge. Usually I have it somewhere in my pannier or tankbag. Nope, definitely not in either of those. Yep, definitely left both plugged in to the wall in the Cabo hostel. The cabo wabo haze strikes again.
Because I had no charger or spare battery, this meant the end of my picture taking. When the ferry arrived several hours later I said by to the Dutchies and we unloaded the ferry. I wanted to get to Guadalajara and the Erica and Michel (The Dutchies) where headed some place near Mazatlan for the beach. Guadalajara is about 5 hours east of Mazatlan via the toll roads (cost money but are faster). By dusk I was in town, booked into a hostel, and eating tacos on the street with my new friend Farah. Guadalajara is the second biggest city in Mexico and is very multifaceted in what it brings to the cultural table. For one, its a historic city. It is full of big public squares, grand old spanish era buildings converted to museums, and lots of effigies to individuals involved in progressing Mexico forward. Its also a lively place with lots of young and newly employed people which contributes greatly to its overall feel as well as its economic potential. In fact, a few years ago it was ranked as having the second strongest economic potential in all of North America and has been called the city of the future. This has helped bring a large number of recent foreign investment deals (according to Wiki) making it a very attractive destination for people on the up-and-coming and on the grind. The city feels like its bustling, hustling, and alight with activity. But this isnt New York and people are still really chill and approachable, we are afterall in Mexico remember.
What this meant for me was that I could scope some old architecture, shop for the electronics I need, and feel like Im a young professional again while reading the paper in a public square and sipping on a chai-latte-macchiato-soy-nesquik-cafe (or whatever it is that the cool kids are drinking now). After a couple days of walking through the city I found the charger that I needed, or a compatible knock-off that would work. At this time the weather showed me what my friends were probably seeing back home and reminded me what rain looks like for the first time since I left Seattle.
I didnt get many pictures while my camera was out of commission, in fact, I got none (funny how that works). I also hate backtracking, so I refuse to go and take pictures of stuff that Ive already gone to. Thus I only have a few photos to share.
Heres my bike parked on the sidewalk outside the hostel.
Heres a picture with some of the common architecture, also horses for bonus.
I spent a fair amount of time shooting the shit while grabbing food and drinks with other people at the hostel. This is a great way to practice my spanish and to get the lowdown on other places to check out in Mexico. I prefer to get my info through osmosis and some light internet research, I have yet to look at a lonely planet or other travel book. I like chatting with locals and other travelers about places they have been and what they liked. After I get a feel for what type of person they are I can then decide how I want to weigh the info they provided. Its like reading 12 travel advice books rather than one, it may be slower but is more entertaining and engaging.
With all the youth the city is pretty hip and artsy, heres some cool street art from the trendy Chapultepec area.
I had my camera battery for just a little bit before I left so this is all I have of Guadalajara. Farah, a girl I met my first night told me that I should definitely go check out a place called Guanajuato city. Shes the first person to mention the place but I trust her taste. Ill head there next. On the road again.
After a couple hours of riding I made it to Guanajuato. I dont really have any expectations as I literally know nothing about it. All I know is that a friend recommended it and that theres NO availability in the entire town this weekend. Something about a 3 week long festival? I could only find one place that had one night available. Make do with what you have.
Alright Guanajuato, thats a little bit of a grandiose entrance dont you think?
After entering the city I set out to find my hostel. I had my GPS but there is no normal city grid, so it took quite a while.
Lots of the streets are one way streets, and are small enough that you cant just bomb down them and squeeze by if a car comes. This one is on the larger side for example.
The city is made of hills and terraces so there is a pretty neat tunnel system. The tunnels are also really old. Busses, cars, walkers, etc all use it and there are lots of little entrances to them throughout the city for walkers. Pretty rad. The problem for someone who doesnt know them though (like me) is that they are elaborate enough to have stop signs in them and lots of options for turns etc. My GPS goes dead when I go into the tunnels, so I end up guessing which ways to go. I guess Ill make a left here. I guess Ill head up this tunnel, and down this one.
Most times I pop out in a totally different place than I thought I was going to. One wrong turn and the reroute adds 20 minutes to get you back to where you were fucked up just so you can give it another whirl. Sometimes I make the same mistake, sometimes I make a different one. Getting lost is a great way to see a place though, and this one just happens to be beautiful. These streets are very old and very interesting.
Eventually I found the hostel.
And found a spot down the street for my bike.
After I got settled I started to learn about the location I had found myself in for the day. Guanajuato is a colonial-era city. Back in the day it had mines that did very well and made the city have a very affluent upper class. These people wanted to be entertained and have things to throw their money at so the city developed a rich cultural art scene. Plays were performed in the plazas and artists flocked here to perform their crafts. Eventually a festival came about called Festival Internacional Cervantino (FIC), mix in a lot of federal support to bring in international artists and you have what it is today, a three week long extravaganza of international culture and arts. FIC is seen as the most important international festival (key word is international, there are many other great festivals that are not international in nature) in all of Latin America. In addition, there are only 3 other major events of this type in the world. Fun fact, among other big Latin American sponsors, good ol Microsoft in the US of A is also a sponsor.
Alright then, looks like I stumbled upon a good place to be. I just have a night so I left to go explore. Although it feels like a city because of all the activity and interesting things to do/see, I should really call it a town. It has all the culture of a big city, but is very condensed into a relatively small area and population. Walking is the perfect way to get around.
Today is just a Thursday and only the second week of the 3 week event. Even so, performers are everywhere and it feels like a Friday night in any other big city.
Everywhere you turn there are alleys that lead to other areas, and little hole-in-the-wall bars and restaurants. The entrances to these places can be very small and obscure, but once you step through the door they open up and can be huge inside, sometimes with several floors and many rooms. Here in these places you can find a whole other world of people and activity. I follow the noise and keep my head on a swivel for alleys to go down and check out.
The night goes on and I meet up with some locals and new friends from the hostel. We grab more drinks at a locals apartment, getting a feel for what it would be like to live here. Later we grab more food and then head to a club type place. Buildings are packed close together and everything is built up rather than out. Its hard not feeling like you are still in the colonial era, besides the bass heavy electronica music of course. Really cool to party in architecture like this. Whether in the colonial era or the modern day, we are still doing the same thing, getting drunk, meeting other people, and dancing the night away.
Bars dont stop serving alcohol until around 3 or 4 in the morning here it seems. If the party is good and the drinks are flowing, theyll keep selling them past that. I dont exactly remember what time we headed back, but the sun wasnt too far from rising. If this is on a Thursday, I wonder what Fridays and Saturdays are like? Although I just have the one night it was still a good one. Topped it off with some bomb food.
In the morning I woke up early to walk around more and see the town in the daylight. The girl that ran the hostel said she could show me the good spots to see the city from so we took my bike and went for a ride. Man is it helpful having a local guide for these roads. derecho aqui, izquierda aqui, etc, etc.
From a high vantage point I cant capture the place in one photo. Is it a town, or is it a city? I guess Im not sure. Here it is in two photos from right to left though.
She had to get back to work so I dropped her off and set out to see more of the area.
Everything is colorful.
Being a cultural arts hub, its a big city for art students, obviously, and there are several universities. Lots of young people.
Little corridors lead to places, all unknown. Its impossible to see them all.
I met an older lady while walking around the steep streets. We chatted (still in broken spanish for me) and I walked with her as she went to the market. Really nice lady. She told me about the history of the town and what the different areas have. As we chatted she would constantly pause to greet other locals as they passed. An embrace with a kiss on the cheek was the most common. Everyone seems to know everyone here.
Eventually it was time for me to check out of the hostel and find a different place to go see. Maybe Ill head SE to Queretaro, I heard it is also a pretty old town.
I brought the bike down the alley where my hostel is and parked it out front. My panniers are heavy and its easier to load the bike when its close. After finishing packing I came outside to leave and found a Honda 230 dirtbike parked near mine in the alley. A guy was standing next to my bike and we said hey and shot the shit for a few minutes. Said he had a KLR himself and just came to say hey. He asked how long I had been in town for, I said that everything is booked so unfortunately just the one night. He said thats ridiculous and not enough time for Guanajuato. He said he grew up here and his parents have a place near town where he was staying for the weekend, I should just come stay there. Tomorrow he can show me around the area and show me the other side of Guanajuato that travelers dont normally see. The offroad riding side
Deal. Meet Jose, his amigo Dano, and his pops who just so happens to be an ex-competitive enduro racer.
Tomorrow, time to hit the dirt.
awesome, loving it!
loooking good Sean!!! good for you!!
I spent the night at Jose’s parents beautiful home just outside of Guanajuato last night. Today I woke up to a delicious and traditional mexican breakfast prepared by Jose’s mom Laura. Our plan was to do some riding up in the hills around Guanajuato and get a feel for what the area has to offer in terms of dirt riding.
Taylor, Jose’s neighbor and childhood friend, showed up on his Honda 350 for the ride (he’s got about 15 bikes, mostly sweet classic road bikes. Also, if you are interested in some great quality riding boots, check out his families boot company Gasolina Boots, hand crafted here in Guanojuato). Jose’s dad hadn’t seen this one so he gave it a sit, he seemed pleased.
We took off and headed out of town, climbing higher and higher into the hills that encircle Guanajuato.
Once we climbed to the ridgeline we followed it into a small town and stopped for a bite.
The menu had Tostadas but they were only 20 pesos (about $1.50) so I figured I should order two. Definitely too much food. I love eating in Mexico.
Just a mile or two down the road again we turned off and hit the dirt.
The riding was fun and the pace was good. The terrain varied quickly and widely. Some areas were full of green trees.
Some areas where much more open and scenic.
The bikes were happy and so was I.
Shit yeah, here comes the rain!
The shittier and more difficult the terrain the better, as far as I’m concerned.
It dumped rain for maybe an hour, and even hailed for a brief minute. We soaked it in and kept bombing. Eventually we came to what is normally a pretty dry creekbed.
All the rain had changed that though. Saweet, my first decent water crossing!
We walked it with a stick to see what the ground was like underneath. No big rocks just heavy silt, perfect. The water was about up to our knees so we cracked the throttles open and let em rip.
Bikes across. The locals waiting for the water to die down seemed impressed.
Taylors bike had lost some power so we stopped for a bit and let stuff dry out.
The sun came back out and you could see it baking the water right out of the hills again. Weather seems to change here pretty fast.
Taylor pulled the plugs, drained his carb, and had her running again lickety split.
We cracked the throttles again and burned back up in elevation towards the ridgelines.
Beautiful riding up here.
I see a telephone pole. We must be getting near town again.
Jose said this is the last highest point, from here it’s all elevation drop back down into Guanajuato. Having a blast.
A few more miles and we were winding our way back into town.
When we made it back to Jose’s house we were all both soaked and satisfied. I feel like this was the most fun day of dirt riding that I have had. I’m not sure exactly why though. If I look at it on paper it was a pretty straightforward afternoon ride through the hills. It doesn’t feel like a normal day though, I feel like I had an absolute blast. Maybe it was because we had a little bit of everything? Good twisty tarmac, good dirt, fun shitty weather at times, and problems to solve (getting lost, sucking water into a motor, etc). Maybe it’s the whole package of Guanajuato, the riding, and the people that is making it so good here. Or maybe, just maybe, Mexico is just starting to soak it’s way into my bones, and color everything slightly differently.
When we got back home Jose’s mom had cooked us up an amazing authentic mexican dinner. Thanks Laura! After dinner we shot the shit for a bit then rolled into Guanajuato to partake in the saturday night festivities. FIC was still going on so the place was packed. We found a little bar and knocked a few drinks back and laughed about the day. After a few rounds of mescal we decided it was best just to get a bottle (PS apparently I really like Mescal). Here the bottles are pretty cheap. It’s likely made and distributed locally as the bottle appears homemade and has no labeling of any kind. Once again, hard not to feel like you are in a colonial era pub. No way to know what it is until you drink it, but damn is it good stuff. Tastes like mildly spiced tequila.
The night went on and the drinks flowed. Eventually our bottle was done and it was time to head to a different place. Walking around the alleys and twisty streets there is a cacophony of smells from all the food stands that line the streets. With a head full of mescal, each stand is all but irresistible. We choose wisely and go with a Guanajuato staple. Apparently this lady can be found here every Friday - Sunday, without fail. All the food is cooked by her during the day and then brought down to the street in buckets. The types of meat and toppings are many and the combinations of the options are endless. We ate here twice before the night was done.
Well Guanajuato, tomorrow I am heading out. Not sure where yet, but the time has come. Thank you for the good riding, good food, good people, and good times.
Guanajuato, congratulations, you are doing it right.
Loving this report! I'm headed to San Miguel de Allende for a 10 day stint over Christmas, can't wait to hit some of that action!
Safe travels and keep it coming!!
Guanajuato is great. Love the report. My family rented a house there last december for 6 weeks. I would live there in a heart beat.
As far a navigating, getting lost is a fun way to explore. If you need to find your way, try hiring a cab to lead you to your destination. Only problem would be keeping up. Those cabbies in Guanajuato haul ASS!