One Day at a time - Riding the Americas

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by RangeRoad, Sep 5, 2017.

  1. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

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    Oh I didn't pay that! That's robbery. Welcome to San Fran I guess. Much better in Mexico.

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    #41
  2. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

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    Day 22 - An unexpected encounter

    The only thing on my schedule for the day was to catch the Ferry at 8 pm. A lazy morning drinking coffee at the Peace Hostel was in store. After killing the first half of the day doing a lot of nothing, I grabbed some groceries and snacks for the Ferry ride and then took a ride through town. My plan was to make my way towards the ferry terminal and relax at one of the beaches on the way. Soon I spotted a fully loaded GS 1200 sitting in front of a restaurant, I slowed down and the owner gave me a wave from his table. I pulled in to say hi.

    Pablo was just squaring up his tab, so we grabbed a couple beers from the OXXO and sat by the ocean, swapping stories. He has done the route to Argentina and was a wealth of knowledge for riding in his home county of Mexico. He has recently been to Canada with his wife so we were able to connect over tales of bear and moose spottings, cold rides over the Highwood pass and massive wind gusts through Crowsnest. Before I knew it, the afternoon that I was trying to kill had vanished and I was saying goodbye to my new Amigo. Thank you Pablo for all your advice, it was great meeting you and I hope we cross paths again someday!
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    Day 23 - The Funky Monkey

    Despite my easy ferry crossing I was still feeling tired so I checked into the Funky Monkey Hostel in Mazatlan. A quaint place with a fun and relaxed vibe. Before I had even put my bag down I had an offer to join a group to go tour the city. Plazas, ice cream, beach, beer and tacos. A classic day in Mexico. Around dinner time the hostel staff host a family dinner, I think only on Sundays but I was lucky enough to join the party. We ate a feast of steak, salads and garlic bread on the rooftop patio. Thanks to all of the staff for their excellent cooking.


    Day 24 - The Pina Colada

    I left my boots outside, tucked in under the bike. I usually do this since nobody wants to share a room with those things. But I'm not in Baja anymore, where it never rains. Starting the day with wet feet. Usually that would really bother me, but it was so hot and humid, I don't think I even noticed the wet boots, everything felt wet even if it hadn't been outside.

    Once out of the city, the jungle started creeping onto the road. Grasses and trees blocking the view around corners and vines hanging low, bouncing off my helmet. A reminder that we are only borrowing this land, a few years of neglect and the jungle would cover these roads, making them impassable. I stick to the secondary roads as much as possible, bouncing off the Topes ever time a town comes into view.

    Upon arriving at the Pina Colada Bar and Restaurant in the small beach town of Guayabitos I find the door closed. I walk inside, and three smiling faces greet me. I am interrupting their dinner, on the one day of the week that the place isn't open. No mater, Esteban quickly offers me a seat at the table and a plate to go with it. Esteban is a friend of a friend, we had never met but he and his family welcomed me for the evening and showed me around their town. They were absolutely unbelievable hosts and I can't thank them enough for their hospitality. More new friends and I can't wait for the day that I can go on vacation and have some drinks at the bar. I hear the Margaritas are legendary. The one thing that I didn't get was a picture, I really wish I had.

    For anyone who want's to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big resorts, La Penita and Guayabitos are fantastic beach towns that don't have quite as much tourist flair.


    Day 25 - Tequila Town

    On my way to the birthplace of the famous drink I stumbled on a small archeological site known as Ixtalan. It is thought to have been the home to people between years 900 and 1300. It was destroyed by the Spanish, but some of the bases of the structures still remain. Excavation of the site was fairly recent, starting in 1949. Sites like this are very rare in northern Mexico and I was surprised to find it. It isn't marked on any of my maps like some of the other larger sites south of Mexico City. I enjoy learning about these types of settlements, although the materials available at this site were not very informative.
    20171003_125428.jpg
    I arrived in Tequila a bit later than expected, partly because I forgot the time changed when I crossed into Jalisco. I missed the museum hours, but I was still able to walk around the Jose Ceurvo distillery and enjoy he ambiance of the town. The history of the town, surrounded by blue agave fields, unsurprisingly is based almost entirely on the famous drink.
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    RR
    #42
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  3. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

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    I am a bit behind on posting the last few days. This morning I am feeling good, nice big cup of Nescafe instant coffee and I am ready to write. It almost tastes like real coffee as long as you don't think about it too much.


    Day 26 - BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! - Go Oilers!

    I awoke abruptly to the sound of gunshots outside my room. Boom Boom Boom. What was going on?! It was 6 in the morning, still dark outside and I could see flashes of light coming in through my window every time another shot rang out. Boom Boom Boom. I continued to lay in bed, my body tingling with adrenaline, yet feeling oddly calm given the firefight that was happening outside. What should I do. Different scenarios were playing out in my head. The concrete walls around me and my current inverted position likely being the safest option. I kept telling myself, whatever is going on outside has nothing to do with me, and there is no reason why that should change.

    Then I noticed the shots were oddly timed. Rather than coming in bursts they seemed to be at regular intervals. There was no yelling, no panic, this isn't what I thought a gunfight would sound like. 15 minutes go by, and then finally it stops. I wait, still no sirens of police and nobody else seems to have even noticed. Maybe it wasn't shooting after all?

    I fell back asleep for a bit, the adrenaline having worn off. Once out of the hotel and on the streets, everything seemed the same as the day before. People were carrying on with their daily lives as if they hadn't even noticed. I headed out of town, still not quite sure what had happened, but convinced there was a much better explanation.

    My goal for the day was San Miguel de Allende, another town known as a Peubla Magica (Magic Town). Theses are generally small towns with interesting history and architecture. This one in particular is quite stunning. It has retained most of its colonial charm. Narrow cobblestone streets, colourful buildings packed side by side all centered around large plazas and catholic churches.

    20171004_193307.jpg
    Walking around the main church the gunshots returned. Boom Boom Boom. Nobody is running for cover or even seems to notice. I see the wisps of smoke in the air, then another round of shots go off. They are firecrackers or some kind of firework, and seem to be related to the churches. This same scenario played out multiple times over the evening as I walked around different churches. Mystery solved. I still don't understand who decided that 6am was a good time to set off the entire week's supply of firecrackers, but at least my life was never in danger.

    To cap the day, it was the Oilers' season opener against the Flames! A Connor McHat-trick to start the season and I was giddy as I went to bed.

    Day 27 - The long way

    Another really long day of riding, I was hoping to make it all the way to Mexico city on the backroads, about 400 kms. I am learning quickly that unless you take the toll roads, 400 kms is an all day affair. I ended the day in the mountains east of the city. I wasn't feeling well and the thought of facing Mexico city traffic at the end of a long day just wasn't very appealing.

    My route found it's way through some incredibly poor areas, especially in the mountains. I got a lot of strange looks passing through these small towns on my big fancy bike. It was cold and overcast with the odd sprinkle of rain. A first on my trip, but not enough to need the rain gear. At one point I came across about 500 men in some kind of organized march through one of the towns. They looked to me like farmers, walking in some form of protest but I could be wrong. It was all very orderly with a police escort, I just wish I knew what it was for.

    Day 28 - Mexico City

    A short and misty ride down the mountain had me entering the big city. I had been worried about this all week and now it was time to face the chaos that I had heard so much about. My goal was the Triumph dealer on the north end of the city so I could do an oil change. For all the horror stories I had heard, I didn't have too much trouble. In a car it would be frustrating, but on the bike it was easy enough to slide between the traffic, take the spaces when they were there and move my way to the front of the line at every traffic light. Soon I was at the dealership without incident. Confidence is important in this type of riding. You have to take the spaces when the cars give them to you, but overall I didn't think it was that bad. Nowhere near as crazy as Vietnam traffic.

    In less than an hour my oil change was done and I was on my way again. I still had some time to kill before my check in so I stopped by the other triumph dealer in town. This one was much nicer and the owner and i had a great chat. I was looking for a RAM mount so I can mount my cellphone on my handlebars. I use it for GPS when I am in the cities but the audio instructions are not always very clear. They have them in stock but the price is way higher than at home so I think I am going to hold off. When I got to my accommodation, I started taking the luggage off the bike, only to find that a very recent oil leak had developed on my front right fork. SHIT. I was literally just at two dealerships and I didn't notice until I got to my Air BnB. Back to the dealership. Unfortunately they don't have the seals in stock so I am now waiting until Monday or Tuesday to find out when they can get them. I tried the quick and dirty cleaning of the seal with a credit card, it may have worked for now since the oil leak has stopped. Or all the oil has leaked out already, that is another possibility

    Lola was a bit needy today, you would think she would have been happy with fresh oil, but she wanted more attention I guess.

    I did get a chance to explore briefly in the evening. The Roma neighbourhood is a mix of old and new buildings, tons of restaurants and shops and parks. There are a lot of young professionals living in the area and it has a really good vibe. It was hit by the earthquake though, and evidence of this can be seen all along the streets. Most buildings are untouched, and if I didn't know about the quake already I never would have guessed it had happened. But some buildings are completely destroyed, reduced to piles of rubble or cracked and broken to the point of being condemned. It is very sad to see these buildings, windows blown out, living rooms and kitchens still full with the belongings of those whose lives have been uprooted.
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    #43
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  4. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

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    Days 29 & 30 - Ancient History

    I spent the last two days exploring some of the museums and landmarks of Mexico City. The very first landmark I came across... was distinctly Canadian!
    20171007_111336.jpg

    I think it was a gift from Canada to Mexico for its 150th anniversary of independence? My spanish is still bad so that is the best translation.

    The next day and a half was spent learning about the ancient civilizations of Mexico such as the Aztecs. At the National Anthropology Museum I saw the Sun Stone (mistakenly referred to as the Aztec Calendar) and a variety of other artifacts. This is an exceptional museum that would take 4 days or more to truly see everything. I focused mainly on the history of the area directly around Mexico city since I will be spending the most time in this area.
    20171007_130348.jpg

    The Templo Mayor, a current archeological site right in the heart of Mexico city was equally amazing. This is the ruins of the once great pyramids of Tenochtitlan. They were mostly destroyed by the Spanish and then churches and other buildings where built on top. They were forgotten in history until the early 1900's and then in the 70's it was decided to remove the colonial buildings and expose the archeological site. In pictures it looks like a pile of rocks so I didn't bother to take many photos, you have to be there in person to see the details.

    I ended my tour of Mexico city with a Lucho Libre match at the Arena Mexico. It is cheap entertainment and the crowd really gets into it. When their masked heroes (or villains) go flying through the air the crowd burst into cheers or boos. Each fight starts out slow, and turns into an all out melee with 6 Luchadors throwing each other, punching, kicking and flying to victory. It is very similar to WWE wrestling, with the storylines likely predetermined but it was fun to check out and is an important part of Mexican culture.
    20171008_173411.jpg
    #44
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  5. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

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    Day 31 - Lola's day

    The entire day was spent dealing with two issues. The first was general maintenance, just time to change the air filter. One of the biggest design flaws on the Tiger is just how much work it is to change the air filter. Fairings off, gas tank off then 10 small screws to take the air filter cover off. Its a 2 hour job at minimum.

    There was something weird in the airbox.... looked like maybe dog food? No idea how it got there or what it actually was. The old filter was very dirty and had some broken tabs, good thing i took the time to replace it.

    Then it was back to the dealership to get the seal checked. Which actually meant heading to another shop that does a lot of the specialty work for the triumph dealer. After delivering Lola to the suspension shop, for the first time ever i rode on the BACk of a motorbike, a speed triple. At 6ft 1 it was very cramped and racing through mexico city traffic was not a comfortable experience.

    I went for lunch with the Triumph dealer's owner who is a great guy. Gonzalo and I had a good chat about his experiances in business and how he got to where he is today. It was actually a pleasant afternoon despite my nerves of having someone else work on my bike.

    With the suspension apart i had a look at the seal, it had some very slight damage in one area, not likely what made it leak. I still think it was probably just some dirt. We found a WP seal at the KTM dealer that matched so may as well replace it since it was apart anyway. By now it was almost 5 oclock and everyone was shutting down for the day, looks like Lola is spending the night in a Mexican suspension shop. Im a bit nervous but I trust my new friend Gonzalo. [​IMG][​IMG]

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    #45
  6. MileEater4ever

    MileEater4ever Been here awhile

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    Apr 27, 2014
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    Ithaca, MI
    Mice and Chipmunks love to stash food in air breathers and even in air filters. I've seen it on my Toyota Highlander and on a Mitsubishi Eclipse. Amazing how they can get up in there, thru the air intake openings.

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    #46
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  7. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

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    Thats what i was thinking as well. But I dont have a dog!

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  8. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

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    Day 32 - Back in My arms

    After breakfast I walked back to the dealer, unfortunately Lola was not ready yet and I had to wait another 20 minutes. At least that was what they told me, but it was 20 minutes in Mexico, which meant over an hour. When we got the call that she was almost done, I hoped on the back of Miguel's Speed Triple to go pick her up. I rushed into the shop and gave her a warm embrace. I know it's just metal and plastic, but I feel a lot better when I have the bike at my side. Not having it makes me feel stuck and very uneasy. I know that many people travel all over the world without their own transport, and I am sure they look at my bike like a huge headache, but for me this is the best way to see the world.

    I can't say enough positive things about London Triumph in Mexico city. Miguel and Gonzalo were top notch. They spent countless hours helping me out and never asked for anything in return. I highly recommend stopping in if you are passing through Mexico city, even if it's just to say hi and talk shop. Despite their small dealership not having a lot of space, they will do anything to help out a traveler and support the Triumph brand. I hope one day I can repay them for their hospitality.

    Despite Gonzalo's advice that the area around the Teotihuacan pyramids wasn't very nice and that I should stay one more night in the City, I was desperate to get out of the city so I headed out of town by mid afternoon. Lane-splitting my way through traffic, I was making good time and feeling confident. And then I wasn't.

    I tried to sneak between a semi truck and a car, just as the road was merging. Traffic was pretty well stopped, but the semi on my left side hadn't seen me and started to turn towards me. His front tire turned, closing the gap that I was currently in, and caught my left saddle bag. I felt it hit, then grab, then release, then grab again, throwing the back end of my bike around. After a couple seconds of riding it out, I couldn't hold it anymore and Lola flopped over.... right in the middle of rush hour traffic. I was fine, the car behind me gave me a thumbs up. I returned the gesture, quickly picked up the bike and was on my way. No harm to me or the bike, but a close call and a sobering reminder for me. I was probably in more of a rush than I should have been.

    I did find a very comfortable place to stay and met two travelers from Arizona who sold everything, retired and are living on the road. They work when they can, usually doing things like home-sitting and helping out at bed and breakfasts.

    Day 33 - Road block

    I woke up early, to find it raining. So I had another coffee and waited for the skies to clear. The rain turned to a mist and I decided to venture to the pyramids of Teotihuacan. Good choice. The mist stopped just as I started walking the grounds and the overcast skies meant I could enjoy the pyramids sweat free. I started with the temple of the feathered serpent, then a walk down the road of the dead. I ascended the 65 meter high pyramid of the sun finished the tour with the pyramid of the moon. It is a spectacular complex, with some of the colour and details still preserved. Whenever I am in a place like this I try to think what it would have been like in it's prime. People and animals everywhere, noise, smoke, chanting from the priests. Kids running around the streets. Come to think of it, in a lot of ways not much different modern day Mexico.

    Upon leaving the complex I made my way to the Paseo de Cortes. The original pass that Cortes used when he first arrived in the valley. This pass snakes up the mountains, between the peaks of two volcanoes. At the col it is over 3400 meters, which is over 1000 meters higher than the highwood pass, which is the highest paved pass in Canada. The thick clouds prevented me from seeing the towering peaks on both sides and the chained gate prevented me from continuing on the road to Peubla. Good thing I had left enough time in my day to backtrack and take the toll road around the mountains.
    #48
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  9. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2015
    Oddometer:
    108
    Location:
    The Prairies
    Pictures aren't working today, I will upload pictures when I get a chance.

    Day 33 - A different kind of road block

    As I left Peubla, I could see the giant peaks that eluded me yesterday in my rearview mirror. Just a hint of snow still sticking to the north face as the summer winds down.
    My first goal for the day was the to find the highest peak in Mexico. Despite my best efforts, I only go to see the bottom third. The clouds rained on my parade, both literally and figuratively. I stopped for a big lunch, Dominoes pizza. I don't know what they do to it but it is way better than at home, and somehow its even cheaper. The next 4 hours was probably the best single motorcycle road I have ever driven. The pavement was mostly good, with a few sections of broken asphalt but nothing to worry about. The road twisted up and down the valley, temperature rising and falling as I crossed rivers, climbed to the clouds and hung off the edge of red cliffs. It was motorcycle bliss, although I found myself worrying about just how few people were on the highway. At home that is a blessing, but my mind started to wander to thoughts of bandits, drug cartels and road blocks. I kept telling myself I was overthinking it, this was a main highway and I was going to be fine.

    Then I saw it, a think rope strung across the road with vehicles on both sides and people standing waiting for me to stop. My heart skipped a beat. This was the road block that I had just been worrying about. As I approached my mind raced trying to figure out the best option. I started to slow down, worrying as my speed dropped and still unsure of the best way to proceed. But I noticed something strange, the people at the road block were all women and children. Seemed a bit odd for a bunch of drug running bandits. I stopped the bike, and attempted to read the sign handing from the rope. I think they were collecting money for a school for the kids. Not bandits but they still managed to get some of my money!


    Day 34 - A most interesting dinner

    I had a very pleasant breakfast talking to a girl from London who was in Oaxaca finding textiles to send home. She is hoping to start a website to sell online and the long term goal is to connect with a few artisans that she can rely on to provide materials on request. Another good business chat. She also pointed me in the direction of Hierve el Agua. Sort of a mini yellowstone but not acidic so you can swim in the pools.

    I took the free road in, it quickly degraded to dirt. It was a good road, some ruts from rain washing across its surface. It felt good to be back on the dirt after so many miles of pavement, and this road was just challenging enough to be fun but not so hard that I was worried about riding it alone. It also helped that it had another stunning view. As far as Hierve el Agua, I will let the pictures do the talking.

    For the first time on this journey I struggled to find a decent hotel. There was a nice one out of my price range and two bad ones. All the mid range hotels were sold out, so I opted for the least bad of the bad ones. Not ideal but i wasn't planning on spending much time there. And it had Air Conditioning, well it had and air conditioning unit anyway. It didn't really work.

    The best part of the evening was dinner. I sat down at a small family run restaurant and ordered. Then the ground started shaking. We all looked at each other, instantly aware of what was happening. We hustled to the court yard to get away from the buildings. It was a small quake, a first for me, but I was in an area that had recently been hit by a very large earthquake only a month before. The looks on the kids faces told it all. Once we were sure it was over, the waitresses started laughing at me. They could tell I wasn't used to quakes, and then they saw that I had brought my beer to the courtyard. That brought a huge round of laughs and smiles from the rest of the restaurant. The way I see it, if the building is coming down I want to at least have a beer while it happens.

    The food came, my capresse salad that broke all the rules and came with lettuce, limes and thousand island dressing instead of balsamic. Then the cable guys showed up and were fixing the cable TV on a ladder right above my table. Just another day in Mexico.

    I slept poorly in my crappy and hot room. Partly due to another small quake in the middle of the night and partly because I just didn't feel comfortable in this town. I was ready to hit the road as soon as the sun came up.

    Attached Files:

    #49
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  10. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

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    Apr 6, 2015
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    Location:
    The Prairies
    some pictures from the last few days.[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

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    #50
  11. BaddAndy

    BaddAndy Been here awhile

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    Oct 8, 2006
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    140
    Location:
    Spanaway, WA
    My 2012 XC also uses a quart of oil every 3,000 miles, but only at highway speeds. It barely uses any at all just driving around town. I've read many XCs do it. So far no one has found a reason why. If I was you, I wouldn't be alarmed, but always carry a quart with you.
    #51
  12. mac w b

    mac w b Adventurer

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    Sep 7, 2015
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    Jackson WY
    Nice to meet you, ride safe :ricky
    #52
  13. Parcero

    Parcero Mundial

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
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    976
    Location:
    Chicago physically, Colombia en mi mente.
    It’s amazing how far technology has come in the relatively short amount of time I have been traveling through Latin America. When I first left for Panamá in 2011, I carried a BlackBerry, a compact Canon point-and-shoot camera, a small Nikon DSLR for the “good” shots, a GoPro, Garmin Zumo GPS, and of course paper maps as a back up, plus a small MacBook to update ADVRider and other blogs and keep up with business back at home. And of course, a stuff sack full of chargers and cables and extra batteries for everything.

    Fast forward seven years. On my most recent stage last month, when I traveled through Argentina, Uruguay, Brasil, and Paraguay, I had only my iPhone 7+. It served as my both my still and video camera, my GPS using either Google Maps or maps.me, and could handle everything that my old MacBook did and more. ADVRider is now updated and read mostly on the Tapatalk app.

    Have a great trip! I’ll be following along via your ride report and, who knows, maybe our paths will cross on the road.
    #53
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  14. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

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    You as well Mac. Do you have a thread going or blog?
    #54
  15. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

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    Yup, now that I am spending most of my time below 100 km/h the consumption seems to have almost stopped. I haven't had to top up at all since my oil change 2000 kms ago.
    #55
  16. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

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    Day 35 - Happy 40th Lola

    Today Lola crossed the 40,000 km mark just as we were riding through the first wind farm I have seen in Mexico. It didn't dissapoint, it was massive. I had a laugh at the irony of the turbines generating thousands of MWh's of clean electricity while the road through the farm was shrouded in a haze of oil and diesel smoke from passing trucks. Gotta start somewhere though.

    I was happy when the road turned back inland and started heading up the mountains. The heat is great when sitting on a beach but given the option, the mountains are a lot better riding. Soon mist was forming on my visor as I blasted through the clouds. I stopped to take in the view when I reached the peak. But unlike the normal panoramic, this was a very different view. Sitting in the crater of long dormant volcano was a small lake with a town built around the entire crater. It looked like a coastal fishing village... but at 3000 meters. I was in awe, it was one of those moments that reminds me why traveling on a motorcycle is so great.

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    Back down the mountain I arrived in San Cristobal, another cool colonial city. This one may be my favorite so far. It didn't have as many fancy churches but the main plaza was alive with people and music. There were shops everywhere and being in Chiapas you can get great coffee on every corner. Mark this place as one to come back and stay a while.

    Day 36 - Valkerie (and her riders Paul and Lucy)

    I knew it was going to be a good day when I grabbed a cup of coffee from one of the shops and it was the best I have had since starting my travels. Then while walking around the plaza enjoying my piece of caffeinated bliss I met Mac, Lior and Dana. They were on GS 1200's and are headed to Argentina as well. Hopefully we get a chance to ride together at some point in the coming weeks or months.

    Once on the road I was starting to regret my decision to go to the ruins at Palenque. It was only 200 kms, but there must have been over 500 speed bumps. It took me 4 hours. It would be a very lovely ride but most of my attention was focused on spotting the next set of topes rather than relaxing to enjoy the views. It was annoying on a bike but it must be absolutely miserable in a car or truck. At least I can sort of hop over the bumps and they make a good spot for passing large trucks. Despite the frustration of this road, I was in a good mood when I got to my hostel. It was set in the jungle, cool little cabanas with a pool and the sounds of howler monkeys (they sound like huge jungle cats but are actually small little monkeys) in the distance. Best part though was that for the first time on my travels there was another bike in the parking lot. A honda Valkerie with Czech plates.

    Paul and Lucy were the owners, they have been riding all over North America having recently been to Alaska and are now on their way to Argentina. Not the typical bike choice for this type of journey but a damn fine mount and it works well for them. We became fast friends and had a great night of drinking, eating and swapping stories. I can't wait to catch up to these two again along the way.

    Day 37 - Palenque

    I woke up at the crack of dawn to find a morning thunder shower soaking the world outside my cabana. With no time to spare today I headed to the ruins anyway hoping the rain would soon be over. I was the first person in the gate. The rain had stopped and the morning sun was poking through the forest canopy forming a mist as it began evaporating the morning downpour. It was perfect . This moment alone was worth the annoyance of the road the day before.

    Palenque is a Mayan complex and it is absolutely spectacular. Unlike many of the other ancient cities in Mexico, this one had not been destroyed during colonization. Many of the buildings only take a little bit of imagination to see how they would have looked over a thousand years ago. My favorite parts were not the usual large palaces or temples. I was absolutely amazed at the aquaduct that had been built to divert the water flow under and around the city. The other part I really liked was away from the main complex there are many small sites where common people would have lived. It was cool to see what would have been a normal house and imagine what it would be like to live there.

    20171016_080934.jpg 20171016_091926.jpg

    I enjoyed my last sightseeing day for a while. Now it is time to hit the road hard and make it to Panama in time to catch the boat. Many miles of speedbumps are in my future.
    #56
    danielc, SkizzMan, roadcapDen and 2 others like this.
  17. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2015
    Oddometer:
    108
    Location:
    The Prairies
    Day 38 & 39 - Guatemala

    Boarder crossing was very straightforward and took about an hour. I entered Guatemala without any troubles and was on my way to Lake Atilan to meet my three friends on BMW's from the other day. Roads were good and I made good time. The road down to the lake was a different story, crazy potholed switchbacks and washed out dirt track at the bottom. It was only about 20 kms to the lake from the main highway but it took almost an hour. The lake is beautiful, small villages nested into the sides of the mountains surround the perimeter. I was lucky that Mac had a spare bed in his room since the hostel was full for the night. It was good to meet a few more riders and chat with them about their experiences and I enjoyed their company over the evening. I am sure we will cross paths again in the coming months.
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    I hit the road early wanting to make it close to the Honduran border for a morning crossing the next day. I arrived in Guatemala city in good time, feeling like I would probably be at my destination early afternoon. That was until I hit the city traffic. In Mexico city the traffic was crazy, but it always seemed to move. Here it was just at a complete standstill. When I finally made it out of the city I hit 30 kms of construction, also at a complete stop. At least on the bike I could run up to the front of the line whenever there was space, in a car the line must have been 3 or 4 hours long. I rolled into my hostel shortly before dark, tired from a long day. The hostel is a bit of a run down place, set right out on the waters of Rio Dulce. I didn't mind though since the hostel and restaurant are used to fund the nearby orphanage.
    20171018_173110.jpg

    Guatemala to me was a small amount of natural beauty mixed in with a large amount of diesel smoke. Every chicken bus (yellow school buses used for public transport that are usually decorated in impressive fashion) on the road poured black smoke from the exhaust every time they stepped on the gas. Nowhere else has there been so many vehicles in such a poor state of tune.


    Day 40 & 41 - Honduras

    With the mission of making the boat in time I set off again, ready to tackle the country I was most worried about. The day started with a light shower... and more road construction on the Guatemala side of the border. Then the shower turned to a full blown downpour the likes of which Noah would be proud of. I couldn't see the road anymore as I searched desperately for a place to pull over. I saw what looked like a large area and I hoped it wasn't too muddy. Lucky for me it turned out to be for a restaurant, but the rain was so heavy I couldn't see it from the road originally.

    The boarder crossing was organized and the buildings were large and official looking. Everything went smooth until it was time to pay for the Honduran import. The paperwork was done and the receipt was printed, just over 600 lempira's (about 25 dollars). But he was asking for 40 USD, which I didn't have. I said I would pay the amount on the receipt in Lempira's. He wasn't having any of it. His original pleasant demeanor flipped, he started threatening me and saying he was the official here and he was in control. Then he told some story about how he had to pay 40 USD to the government for the permit, I don't know what he was trying to get at, the receipt was pretty obvious. It was crap but after 40 minutes of arguing and his threatening I gave up, paid 900 lempira and moved on. This soured my opinion of Honduras and I wasn't able to shake the frustration all day despite trying to convince myself it was just one person in a large country.

    The country is very pretty, lush and green with the main highways being cleaner and in better condition than in Guatemala. The roads were toll roads, but no toll for motorbikes. The big cities surprised me with the amount of American brands on display. Wendy's, Burger King, Pizza Hut to name a few. I even found a Denny's the next morning for breakfast!

    My arrival in Tegucigalpa was late, it was already dark by the time I was looking for my hostel. I was looking for a place that was run by a couple Canadian Ex Pats, but learned that it no longer existed. There was another place nearby, which was full because of a Canadian nursing group there for some kind of teaching and aid work. They let me set up my tent on the rooftop patio which made for a very pleasant place to spend the night. The city doesn't give a warm and fuzzy vibe though. Everything is walled off, covered in razor wire and electric fences and most stores have armed guards standing at the door. Nothing like grabbing some dinner and the guy opening the door for you is holding a shotgun and wearing a bullet proof vest. Really adds to the ambiance.

    After my previously mentioned Denny's breakfast I was back stuck in construction on my way to the boarder. It was 35 degrees with the heat of the engine boiling my legs. The boarder was hot and sweaty, no air conditioning on the Honduran side and two buses of people had arrived just before me. It was a long line. Nicaragua was smooth and professional. The staff were helpful and efficient. I think the air conditioning improved productivity compared to the other side. Pay the 12 dollar tourist visa and 12 more dollars for insurance. Import is free.

    It was late afternoon and I could see two huge thunderstorms on the horizon. I hoped the road I was on missed them but I wasn't that lucky. Finally my run of luck with dry weather had come to an end and in two days I had ridden through two massive downpours. I arrived at my hostel tired and wet but satisfied with the progress made over the last few days.
    #57
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  18. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2015
    Oddometer:
    108
    Location:
    The Prairies
    Day 42 - Volcano Boarding

    I received an email from the Stahlratte captain letting me know that the boat would be delayed a few days because of work being done to the drive. Suddenly I gained four days in Central America so I decided to stay another day in Leon and go Volcano boarding. Apparently it is the only place in the world where it is done.

    Volcano boarding is essentially tobogganing on volcanic ash. The mountain is covered in a layer of this ash which is mostly small rock, slightly bigger than sand. You climb to the top and then rip down the 500 meter vertical. You have some speed control and steering by using your feet and tapping or sliding them on the ground next to the toboggan. It was a very strange feeling but a lot of fun and a unique experience. I hopefully can find a picture or two when the tour company uploads them.

    20171021_102510.jpg

    The shuttle then took us to the beach for the rest of the day. It was a great day of R&R after so many days in a row of riding. The delayed boat looks like it will work in my favour so that I get to see more of Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

    Attached Files:

    #58
    danielc, chudzikb and powderzone like this.
  19. mac w b

    mac w b Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2015
    Oddometer:
    81
    Location:
    Jackson WY
    Any recommendations for a place to stay in Leon ?
    #59
  20. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2015
    Oddometer:
    108
    Location:
    The Prairies
    I stayed at the blue hat hostel but they wont be able to fit two bikes inside. If i was going back i would probably stay at one of the beach hostels. i visited the bigfoot beach hostel in las penita which would be a decent option. It is a bit of a party place but awesome beachfront place.

    Sent from my SM-G930W8 using Tapatalk
    #60
    mac w b likes this.