SF to Panama... eventually

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by stickfigure, Jan 25, 2008.

  1. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    [​IMG]

    I'm temporarily back in San Francisco, soaking up love from my friends and as much sushi as I can get my hands on.

    Predictions for the future:

    * February 28th, fly back to Mexico City.
    * February 29th through March 2nd, join Alejandro and some of his friends at a motorcycle race. Gawk at the KTM 690 Rally race bike.
    * March 3rd through 11th, Tultepec fireworks festival + assorted tourism near DF.
    * Two more weeks of Spanish lessons in Guanajuato.
    * March 30, fly to Atlanta to run a half-marathon with Gavin and some JBoss friends.
    * Early April, meet Gavin (and his ADV-ized Multistrada) in Zacatecas.
    * Ride with Gavin to Panama and eventually return.
  2. joefromsf

    joefromsf Dark Happens

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    Huh, what's DF?

    BTW, glad you made it to the Zeitgeist last night. Sherry and I enjoyed meeting you. Thanks for the ADV sticker. Look forward to reading more of your adventures.
  3. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    Mexico City is the <i>[SIZE=-1]Distrito[/SIZE] Federal</i>, and sometimes the locals just call it DF.

    It was great meeting you and the other advriders! We'll have to do some local rides this summer :ricky

    Jeff
  4. bluepoof

    bluepoof insert pithy saying here

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    Ha, that was you?? You must know Chris De Salvo. The two of us (plus some others) pushed for *years* to get that app approved by T-Mobile. Frickin' carriers.

    Life with Bill isn't much so far. The only immediate change in my life is a nice buyout bonus (enough to spring for a cross-country trip this summer) and the promise of a matching 401k. So I can't complain. Since I switched to program management from engineering 3 years ago, I already gave up any pretense of coolness or development integrity. :deal :lol3

    Looking at your livejournal...you look familiar. Were you ever in the sfgoth.com crowd?
  5. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    Funny! My friend Jon Stevens (who wrote the app with me) knows Chris really well. I'm glad to hear someone was trying... it was super-exciting to finish and then a big let-down when the product went nowhere. I hope the iPhone is prompting the carriers to remove their heads from their asses.

    Good deal on the x-country trip! Now if they'll only take the handcuffs off and let you leave the desk for long enough... :wink:

    Nope, I don't know the sfgoth.com crowd, but SF is a small place and I wouldn't be surprised if we know the same people.
  6. DaveBro

    DaveBro Long timer

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    Hey Jeff,

    We met briefly at Zeitgeist last night. (I was the guy in the Revit suit, on a Dakar.) I did a poor job of talking to everbody; I'm sorry we didn't get to talk more.

    Ran across this RR today, and I'm really glad I did. You're doing an excellent job! I'll keep tuning in for your fine writing and photos.

    I may hit you up for recommendations for Spanish language classes in Mexico -- I'm interested in doing that and we seem to have similar tastes/priorities.

    Happy trails,
    Dave
  7. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    Good to meet you! I'll be happy to tell you anything I know. A couple friends of mine are flying to Guanajuato today for a week of spanish lessons so I should have some more information soon.

    Jeff
  8. nitrotain

    nitrotain NITROTAIN

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  9. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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  10. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    Admittedly, gear is a personal fit so this review might not be useful for everyone.

    [​IMG]

    The helmet: Airoh S4

    I bought this helmet just before the trip, about $250 including shipping from the UK. My previous lid was a Shoei Multitech. I thought about bringing the Shoei, especially since the flip-up face would make conversation in foreign languages easier. However, its weight makes my neck sore on long trips and I would need to remove the Autocom rig. So I decided to try something new.

    I love the S4. It's almost a pound lighter than the Shoei and you can feel it the moment you pick it up. The ventilation is stellar; this didn't thrill me in the sub-zero Arizona weather but has been a blessing in southern Mexico. The sunshade is a liability at 80mph but helpful on sunny days. I have no trouble wearing the helmet with glasses or earbuds.

    One of the best features of the S4 is the Euro-style clasp on the chin strap. I don't understand why every helmet in the US is not sold with this clasp - fast and super easy to work with gloved hands.

    The jacket: BMW Rallye 2 Pro

    I really didn't want to like this jacket. I already owned four motorcycle jackets but somehow none of them were suitable for a long trip in multiple seasons. I tried on pretty much every possible jacket in Cycle Gear, Scuderia, and the Dianese store... but nothing came close to the BMW. Unfortunately nothing came close to its $700 price tag either.

    What I love about the jacket:

    * Vents, vents, vents! It has chest vents, arm vents (down the whole arm), side vents, and back vents. With the liner out I've been perfectly comfortable riding on the hot Oaxacan coast; with the liner in (and a heated vest) I survived subzero temperatures in Arizona. The closest competitor is the clone Revvit Cheyenne, which still has two less vents.

    * The armor is very complete yet very comfortable. I like the way the arm pieces reach all the way to my wrist and the elbow piece cups pretty far around the sides of my elbow. The back protector reaches down nearly to my tailbone. I feel very secure.

    * Lots of pockets. One of the chest pockets is goretex-lined and has a water-resistant zipper, perfect for a cellphone.

    * The fit is slim. Most synthetic jackets are very poofy on me, which (aside from aesthetic issues) makes me concerned the armor won't stay put in a crash. I like my armor to feel like a part of me rather than something I'm inside.

    * The armor (and thus most of the weight) zips out in one convenient piece. The idea is to make the jacket suitable for normal daily wear if I'm not riding. So far the only places I've holed-up long enough to consider this have been places I didn't need a jacket, so this hasn't yet been an issue.

    What I don't like about the jacket:

    * It has a pocket for a cameback bottle, but the necessary routing path is longer than the standard cameback hose. I don't particularly need to drink water heated to body temperature so it's a minor nit; I don't use the feature.

    I wear the jacket with a long-sleeved baselayer at all times, even when it's blistering hot. The synthetic pulls the sweat off my skin so the jacket doesn't feel like a sweatlodge, even if I'm not moving.

    The pants: BMW Rallye 2 Pro

    I really, really wanted to resist. I especially didn't want to look like the BMW factory race team with a matching suit but... like the jacket, the pants are significantly better than anything else I tried on. They're vented. The armor nicely wraps around the sides of my knees rather than just the front. They're comfortable both with and without the liner - I can walk around town in them. Unfortunately they're twice as expensive as the alternatives, about $500. I'm going to be living in these for six months so I splurged.

    Like the jacket, I wear a baselayer under the pants at all times.

    The boots: Aplinestars Web Gore-Tex Boot

    They're comfortable and they're waterproof. I have only these and a pair of sandals to wear on my feet for six months, so fancy MX boots were out of the question. I bought the Apinestars on sale at Cycle Gear at the beginning of this last summer for around $150. They're holding up pretty well to my continual abuse.

    The gloves: BMW ProSummer, Racer Mesh Glove

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    I bought a $140 pair of fancy Dianese race gloves at the beginning of summer. They didn't survive a single riding season before they developed holes in the palms. I can't say that I'm overwhelmed with the quality my expensive Dianese leather race jacket either - a single low-speed slide wore a hole in the forearm. I've sworn off Dianese leather.

    The BMW is a midweight goretex-lined waterproof glove; I have heated grips so I don't need gauntlets. The fit and build quality are excellent for a surprisingly inexpensive glove ($100). However, they haven't seen a lot of use since I switched to the mesh gloves when I crossed into southern Baja. The Racer gloves were a bargain at $60 and have been great in hot temperatures since my hands tend to sweat in heat. Plus they're orange!


    I got pretty lucky. Almost all of my gear was new when I started and there wasn't time to do trial rides, so I could have had a variety of fit problems. However, everything is working out pretty much as-advertised. The one disappointment has been, oddly enough, my underpants.

    I bought four pair of synthetic underpants of the type you can wash in a sink and they're dry by morning. I've since found that laundry service is ubiquitous and the polypropylene material irritates the skin of my, ummm... inner thighs. Needless to say, I have since acquired cotton underwear!
  11. Davemacduf

    Davemacduf Adventurer

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    :clapI just came across your thread and am ejoying and looking forward to MORE. Man you are doing this life and it is not doing you! I like your style. I spent 8 years in Oaxaca , Mexico and travelled extensively. I think the mainland Mexico is truly like another country. Much to see and experience and the saying learned there reflects my sentiments.
    "Como Mexico no hay dos "( There is not another like Mexico).
    Here is another saying from Oaxaca where they make a lot of mescal.
    Para toto mal mescal---para toto bien tambien (when everythings bad mescal and when everythings good as well,mescal)
    Also enjoy the many beers of Mexico. Mostly 4.5 to 5 % not like the piss served in the states.

    Buen Viaje y uno moto abrazo,
    Davemacduf
  12. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    After a number of times failing to explain "lhoriman" to people, I changed my name to "stickfigure". I'm still me :jump
  13. sp4ce

    sp4ce Orange Invader

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    People of all nationalities would be well advised to watch their cornholes around Uncle Sam. The last time I returned from Mexico, US immigration stuck us up at the border to the tune of $550 because my wife forgot her green card. She did have her valid British passport and the immigration official had computer records of her green card and the dozens of entries she has made on that green card over the last 4 years. The $550 was just for "processing" and "special exemption".

    I never worry about "corruption" or "extortion" when I travel abroad - hell, it's 10 times worse at home in the fucking US. We just codify it and make it all real legal-like...so you can't haggle.

    Unsurprisingly, some countries have started making special exceptions for American tourists and are returning the kind treatment their citizens recieve when they visit us.

    -sp4ce
  14. salcar

    salcar Riding 4 Health

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    so are you going to explain what stickfigure means ???
    :D
    :rofl

    PS and can you send me a link to where you explain lhoriman?
  15. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    My two-week vacation-from-my-vacation is over and I'm back in the saddle!

    I arrived at the Motoaltavista shop to find my bike washed, shod with a new MT90 rear, adjusted properly for rear preload, and all the missing bolts replaced. In other words, ready for the adventure that my new friend Alejandro (of the bullet proof cars) planned for me.

    First, I would like to say wonderful things about Motoaltavista. This is a great shop. They work on several marks (including Ducati) but KTM seems to be by far the largest part of their business. Several employees speak great English and they were happy to store the bike while I was away. Almost all of the customers struck up conversations with me and some became friends!

    Oddly, Motoaltavista has an impressive number of 640 Adventures sitting on the shop floor - more than I have ever seen in one place. They even have a well-used 660 Rally. Apparently the 640A is a popular bike in Mexico.

    If you need service in the DF, note that there are two locations. The one on Palmas is not where you want to go - it's just a small storefront. The real shop is located at N 19°22.929, W 99°11.487. The San Antonio Metro stop is a short walk away at the corner of Revolucion and San Antonio (walk north, go east under the highway at the first opportunity, walk two blocks, and it will be at a small park on your right). For the geeks, that's N 19°23.093, W 99°11.218.
  16. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    There isn't anything to explain! That's the problem. It's just a combination of random phonemes I made up years ago when trying to find an AIM screen name that wasn't already taken. I'm pretty sure at this point the only names available are random numbers :puke1
  17. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    Soooo disappointing :(:
  18. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    When I left Mexico, Alejandro invited me to join him and a couple of his friends on a ride to the World Rally Championship race in León.

    [​IMG]

    The World Rally Championship is an automobile race using heavily modified subcompact cars putting out 300hp, racing on winding dirt mountain roads at extremely high speeds. If you've ever browsed Youtube for crash videos, you have no doubt seen this:

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    This is the World Rally Championship. Most Americans have never heard of it, but it's BIG in Mexico and Europe.

    I picked up my bike late in the afternoon; Alejandro and friends left that morning so I planned to meet up with them in León. Escaping the DF was a predictable nightmare. While splitting the stop-and-go traffic on the way out of town I was passed by a *bicycle* splitting traffic on the freeway!

    Some random sights on the way to León:

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    It took some trickery with cellphones, but I finally caught up with The Orange Mafia in an Argentinean steakhouse:

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    Alejandro2 (950S), Angel (990S), Alenjandro (640A)... and enough KTM apparel to dress the entire factory rally team. This turned out to have highly amusing consequences later.

    After stuffing ourselves with as much carne as possible, we rode about 45 minutes in the dark on dirt roads to find a campsite in the mountains near the race course. We found a grassy place full of very drunk but fun Mexican partiers. Here's the campsite in the morning:

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    The next day we jumped on the bikes and headed for the course. First, breakfast on the mountain from one of the many people who set up a grill near the spectators:

    [​IMG]

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    At least I'm flying the colors of my home team under my BMW gear.

    We started off the fun part of the day with a hill climb. Alejandro hit it first on his 640A; it was crazy steep and I was a little nervous about it. After Alejandro2 ran up the hill on his 950S I couldn't resist. This was the beginning of much hooliganism. The hill from below:

    [​IMG]

    Unfortunately the camera doesn't capture the angle well. Here's looking back from the top. Each of the dust clouds is a racecar:

    [​IMG]

    After wandering around a bit on roads that looked like this...

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    ...we found a good place to park. There wasn't much room so these quads found an interesting solution:

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    We spent a couple of hours drinking (a little) beer and watching the race.

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    Here's a few pictures from the race. The cars are moving *fast*:

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    Here's a video of a car moving by:

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    Afterwards we headed back to the "rally campus" at the Poliforum León (an exhibit hall) to watch the cars come in and catch up with Alejandro's friends on the Subaru team.

    [​IMG]

    The pit crew only has 45 minutes to work on the car or the driver gets penalized for time. The mechanics swarm over the vehicles:

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    Finally the cars are lined up and "locked" in a lot where they cannot be touched by the mechanics:

    [​IMG]

    We talked to the Subaru copilot (each car has driver and copilot). They get to drive the course at normal speed (in a normal car) once, with the copilot taking notes. These notes are turned into a road book, describing every turn and the safe speed. The copilot will tell the driver what speed to take each turn - even if they can't see around it.

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    </lj-embed>

    Since we walked in wearing our dusty body armor, we must have looked like race drivers because people were *constantly* coming up to us and asking to take pictures. Even the booth babes asked for my autograph!! I am kicking myself for not somehow getting pictures of the hotties trying to get pictures with us.

    Here's our bikes out front. The bikes got even more attention than we did. One girl jumped on the back of my bike for a picture.

    [​IMG]

    Getting back to camp was an adventure; it was late and despite the GPS track we got lost in León. My compadres are excellent riders and have no aversion to hooliganism... at one point we hopped a curb and rode on the sidewalk in the wrong direction on a major highway. Good times!
  19. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    The next day we skipped most of the races to head home. Breaking camp:

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    We found the path back to civilization blocked by cars waiting for the race. We checked a map and found a much longer alternate route. Adventure!

    [​IMG]

    For a couple hours we rode some of the most beautiful desert country I've seen yet in Mexico. Four great bikes and a road in the middle of nowhere... perfect!

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    At one point Angel got his 990S stuck in a rut and needed a push:

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    More fun:

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    Sadly, we returned to pavement for the long ride back to the DF. Most of it was spent on high-speed cuota roads, but we found a few twisty roads and even got some rain.

    [​IMG]
  20. SS in Vzla.

    SS in Vzla. Totally Normal? I'm not!

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    It was about time ! :deal

    Very cool you got to watch one of the WRC courses :clap

    Keep on riding....awsome report.