Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by tricepilot, Feb 27, 2009.
Sea Hunt got me hooked on diving. Thanks so much for letting me "ride" along with you!
:jose Kepp the pics coming. I've been awaiting this report !
Subcomandante says ride report is looking great. Keep it coming Trice !
Great RR. Thanks and with all the adventures to Mexico, I'm definitely going to have to bump this up on my list
Great start to the RR. Did you check out Bacalar? Or am I getting ahead
of the report. I too love Mexico but have yet to do it on the motorcycle. Made it to Majahual while working on a dig at Calderitas.
We went to Majahual for some R and R...enjoyed the beach and cold...frosty beverages. I need to go back!
Zumo XM and IPODs a blazin’, we tear across the desert, PEMEX – throttle, throttle – PEMEX style on Mex 85 – The Pan American Highway. I have the news pumping through my skull, which was not, as a former military boss of mine was fond of saying, an “optimized choice”. Budget this and shortfall that, economy in freefall here and doomsday there. I should have switched to XM channel 49, but there too, the XM people seem to have paid a commission on the same 50 tunes. At least I’m doing my part of the economic stimulus package, albeit in another country.
Ciudad Victoria and Ciudad Monte are dispatched with haste, and I’m feeling the pulse of the open throttle on the open road. Subcomandante is hanging in there, but I’m getting the feeling that these first few days are going to be a matter of him getting his “sea legs” , or in this case, “road legs”. Late afternoon and we pull into the PEMEX at Ciudad Valles, and pull out the Lonely Planet to read about accommodations. We select the “Hotel Valles” for its “beautiful tropical gardens and huge pool”, which we walk through to photograph, but pause only long enough to make it to the bar for a beer and some food.
Sterett showing the chill attitude only a Wing can provide
Ciudad Valles is the central jumping off point for what is known as the Huasteca region. Rain falls almost year round in the slopes of the Sierra Gorda to the west, and thus the area is famous for its rivers and waterfalls. Not-to-distant Xico was the site of the waterfall in Romancing the Stone. Sitting on the junction of Mex 85 and 70, which runs to the west to San Luis Potosi, you could do much worse than to make Ciudad Valles your target on a good day run from Texas.
The hotel gives us motorcycle parking right next to our rooms, which is every cyclist’s preferred method of keeping an eye on their bikes. We’ve brought along bike covers, when we need to keep the bikes out of the prying eyes of passers-by, but won’t need them this stop. IMHO, a bike cover does more to ensure the security of your bike, in the U.S. or elsewhere, than almost any other measure. What the eye can’t capture, it can’t covet. Or so I hope.
The run from Ciudad Valles down 85 through Aquismon is where the vistas begin. The verdant valley becomes jungle-like, and the walls of the mountains close in and give rise to the elevations and twisty roads that we all come to Mexico to enjoy. We are making great time, and the only deadline that is proximate is the appointment to be in Coatzacoalcos by 3 PM on Tuesday. We have 4 days to get there, so we need to choose a route – to the coast or to the mountains?
Since we’ll be on the coast to visit Veracruz and Coatzacoalcos, the vote is in. Choose a route through the mountains. But will it be Mex 120, 85, or 105? Mex 120 runs from the turn off from Mex 85 at Xilitla through the Sierra Gorda, via Jalpan and the area of the mission of Friar Junipero Serra and on to Tequisquiapan. Mex 85 continues south to Tamazunchale and bends southwest to Ixmiquilpan and eventually to Pachuca. Mex 105 connects Huejutla de Reyes to Pachuca, but requires an unknown route connecting Tamazunchale to Huejutla. We’re thinking. We stop on 85 at the turn off to Xilitla and 120. I turn to the Subcomandante and ask him if he’s ever been to the weird cement world of Edward James and Las Pozas. Sterett and I have been before, but since the Subcomandante has not, we can’t pass within a few miles of that wonderful place, and not show it to him, especially since its early in the day.
We turn right and head into the mountains for Las Pozas.
Between 1945 and 1984, when he died, James spent over 5 million on this surrealistic cement garden in the middle of the jungle. Two years ago, various organizations including Mexico’s cement giant CEMEX bought the site and are in the process of saving it from turning into decaying ruin. Already the road to the site, just two years ago a rutted climb suited for a dual sport, has be redone and was easily navigated by Sterett’s Wing.
A young family from San Luis Potosi. He actually works for an azbestos removal firm in Birmingham, Alabama, and only gets to spend part of the year home with his beautiful family.
Part of the decay the CEMEX and various tourism organizations are frantically trying to reverse after years of neglect.
Good question. All the diving/underwater photography was done off the coast of Mahahual. The dive operator was the Maya Palms, using rented boats from town. They were 15 foot sciffs. We had tentatively planned to dive Dos Ojos, but had to make a choice once in Mahahual. Dos Ojos are near Tulum, and that would have driven us north after the middle weekend of diving. Ultimately, that would have been cool, and as a result we would have looped to Merida and Campeche, but we really wanted to get to Chiapas, so that's what we did. The cenotes will be dived, but on another trip. Like a lot of Mexico that you pass by on a motorcycle to get to one great destination or another, "it isn't going anywhere", and I'll get there, eventually, ojala.
claro que si, a sus ordenes, compañero de viaje. estoy de prisa decirle todo.
Hola, Miguel. RE SPOT: I put fresh lithium batteries in the thing and started it in the driveway. It didn't miss a ping any of the 14 days. I'll not post the ping tracks in this RR since I am using map capture anyway to tell a more complete story. The family of course used the SPOT daily as well as the group of friends that met us in Mahahual. They flew down to meet us and used the SPOT to guage our progress. SPOT is too cheap and too easy to use, and for the feedback it gives friends and family, I'll never travel long distances without it.
Amen and the right attitude.
Hola Hank, incredible that you are at El Calafate! You are near your goal, and I can't wait to see your collection of photos and possible your second book on Latin America. Abrazos, amigo.
See above re cenotes. Next time, and there will be a next time, probably soon.
We are walking Las Pozas the morning of the second day in Mexico. We are within an easy one day ride to Mexico City. If you stage at the border and cross in the morning, your range in Mexico is incredible. We would be back tracking on Mex 120 after Pozas, to get back on 85 and make the turn to the mountains at Tamazunchale. The mountains definitely slow you down. But distances in Mexico are tantalizing. At the same time, you can make great time but be slowed by curvas peligrosas and topes. It depends on what you ride, and what condition it is in.
The day after leaving Cuidad Valles, the day we went to Xilitla and walked Ed Jame's craziness, was the day we picked our path through the Sierra Madre. When you decend down from Texas this is the day you really anticipate, if you like to lean and scrape. The first hours into Mexico after leaving the border town is basically "hauling the mail". You peg your wrist and bang with the tunes, flying across the desert. Depending upon your route, as the hours pass by you are scanning the horizon, and you begin to ask yourself about those clouds in the distance. You know what I'm talking about. "Are those clouds, or is that the silhouette of the mountain range?" We all have had that thought/hope.
You can use a decent relief map or even the Guia Roji. Maps without relief or shade mapping reveal the twisty routes via the squiggly path the road takes along the route. Such were the choices we sifted through with routes 120, 85, and 105. We took the middle route, 85 (continuation of the ruta we were on) because it aimed for the middle of our target, not too far north of Mexico City, not immediately too far south. Something that would allow us to yank and bank like a fighter pilot, and get us where we needed to go.
Pachuca and Puebla would be within our grasp on this route. At the Pemex, we drooled over the shading like that above, which told us that this would be the biggest day of sweepers and decreasing radius turns, of left-a-million, right-a-million, pass that truck and go Mexico riding. All three bikes had the power to overtake in the mountains. There was lots of overtaking, lots of judgement calls, lots of luck. But no passing on blind corners. I've seen that once or thrice before, and it chilled my blood. Perhaps a little "mountain machismo" finds it's way into this conversation. "Anything you can do, I can do better". Guys and their bikes, the difference between men and boys being the price of their toys.
You better have your suspension dialed in if you want to play hard in the mountains. I had Ohlins installed by Hank, and the factory did a great job of presets based upon my stated weight and cargo goals. But it wasn't until Lobby went to Lee Park's Total Performance School in Austin the week before this trip, and he came to my house to do his engineering measurements and suspension tweaking, that my Ohlins found their tune. I am not a racer or techno geek, but I can tell the difference between factory shocks and decent after market shocks, and decent after market shocks that have been dialed in. With a better feel for riding and better skills, and more experience, I feel the Ohlins could be dialed in even further. But I felt it was like riding on rails, and I was loving hanging it out there, trying to chase Sterett down, working his magic on the Wing, flying around every bend and curve. The man could make a stagecoach fly in the mountains.
I've invented a helmet mount to capture video for rides without the effect of vibration, but didn't have it ready for this ride. Not a lot of stopping to capture the scenery, you'll have to take it from me it was twist and scrape all day long. Mountain scenery is tough to capture anyway, how many times can you take a photograph of the 7 Steps in the Copper Canyon and then explain online that photographs just don't do it justice?
But I love the mountains. As my twtex.com amigos who love Galeana will attest, there's nothing like that approach to the passes near that lovely mountain town west of Linares on Mex 31 that doesn't stir your soul. Time to unplug the earbuds, listen to the engine. Engine braking all the way, a point of pride to stay off the brakes as much as possible. Scanning the curves ahead for traffic, hopefully identifying stretches without oncoming trucks/cars so you can add distance in a pass. Peripheral vision trying to capture the moment, trading off photo ops with the love of flying, not in a jet but on a motorcycle, in Mexico, in the mountains. I'm in love.
Next, Pachuca's Taxista Man, then Market Day in Puebla. Love it.
Did you guys do any air pressure regulating on your tires due to altitude. I find I gain 3-5 lbs of air pressure (cold measurement) when I am in places like Saltillo. Are you bleeding your tires when you get to any certain elevation?
I had to sit back and think about this one. And honestly, I'll throw it open to the gallery for opinions. I am a bad boy, and I should check air pressure in the tires no matter what more often than I do. Technos in the bar might opine what importance even 2-3 lbs of pressure make, a fact to which I could not argue either way. Heck, I'm just now getting real good at making sure the oil level is somewhere in the sight glass every morning. And I bought one of those overpriced-but-oh-so-sexy BMW pressure guages.
I let the air out of bicycle tires when shipping by airplane. In that case, the pressure in a bicycle tire is (for me) usually 120 psi. And you are rising 30K+ into the stratosphere. Motorcycle tire? 38-42 psi, and rising only up to, let's say, 6,500 - 7,500 feet (typical in Mexico). I would not guess that you would find a pressure deviation inside the tire, but you have me thinking. I would really like to hear opinons on this.
I am not as bad at checking as I might have made myself appear, and I do get all about tire pressure reduction off-road. That topic alone is worth bets and beers. I have a Cycle-Pump, with guage, so de-pressuring and re-inflating are no problem on the road (except for the flat tire due to road bits at Palenque, but I am getting ahead of myself). Point is, I have the gear and I have no excuse when it comes to having the tires set correctly. And since I love talking techno stuff like this, but bow to those with more experience or better suggestions, I am all
Good question Mike - and now open to other's opinions now or later
I didn't mean to to stimulate such a response. However, I only asked because it sounded like you were doing some serious twisty carving in the mountains. Could make a difference there, but for normal riding I would not inflate/deflate or get to hyped over +/- 5 psi. Nevertheless, I would think for serious carving I would rather have the air pressure on the low side.
Seriously, Motorcycles, Mexico and diving?! OK, I'm happy for ya, just I could've gone.
Pachuca is a very lightly touristed town, just about 50 miles northeast of Mexico City. It sits in somewhat of a bowel, with houses brightly painted and dotting the hillside somewhat like San Miguel and Guanajuato, and like Guanajuato, Pachuca owes much of its history to mining. Two years ago, I was in such a mine in nearby Real de Monte, experiencing what getting smacked in the noggin is like even though you think youre protected by a mining helmet. Pachuca is the capital of the state of Hildalgo, and we would probably not have stopped there, save for the fact that we had been shooting for Puebla, but since we made the stop at Xilitla, we didnt have the desire or the need to push to Puebla, so we selected Pachuca as the overnight stop. Being Saturday night, it meant that we would pull into Puebla on Sunday, the big market day, and see all of the activity centered on that. Better than getting to Puebla on a Saturday, and missing the festivities. Serendipity at work again. Love it.
The zócolo is dominated by the Reloj Monumental, the Clock Tower, built in the early 1900s to celebrate the centennial of the independence. I shot it in the evening at daybreak, when nobody was around. Im not sure why Pachuca doesnt see more tourists, as it is plotted in the direction away from Mexico City in the direction of the Sierra Madre Oriental, the mountains we had just traversed. Perhaps it is too close to Mexico City, easily by-passed by nationals on their way to the coast or to the Huasteca region.
The hotel we stayed at was another Lonely Planet find. We followed the highway into town, easily, using the Centro signs. Wasnt hard at all to find the Hotel Emily. Right on the zócolo. Parking for the motorcycles was right beneath the hotel, although we parked on the street initially, and walked to the front desk which borders the zócolo on the south side, the only side without a street for cars, just a pedestrian walkway. Access to/from the garage seems to be via a short, private drive reserved only for the hotel. If you visit Pachuca and stay at the Emily, I hope you meet Mayte (Mah -E-Tay) at the front desk. Charmer. She speaks virtually self-taught, almost perfect English, and she was most helpful. Rooms were mid-priced, but the amenities of the hotel were welcome after beating ourselves up in the mountains. It was another long day for Subcomandante, but after this day, there would only be a short day to Puebla and another short day to Veracruz, with lots of chances to stop and see things.
Secuestradores = kidnappers
Our Pachuca Taxista
Great RR Trice!!
Consider that one atmosphere is 14.7 PSI. So to take a tire from 32 PSIG (G equals Gauge the engineers tell me) to 49.7 PSIG you would have to go to space. 0 up to 10,000 feet is 2 miles. Depending on who you decide is right, space is between 50 and 62 miles up. So at most you are 1/25 of the distance to space. 1013 Millibars of pressure is the average pressure at sea level. 697 millibars at 10000 feet. 697 / 1013 = .68 So at 10,000 feet you have only .68 atmospheres of pressure, or 10.1 PSI. If you stick that same 32 PSI tire on a gauge it would read approximately 14.7 - 10.1 = 3.6 + 32 = 35.6 PSIG.
On a little YSR race bike I can maybe tell the difference between 19 and 22 PSIG on a hot sticky summer race track if playing with pressures. But on a street bike or dirt bike I would be clueless how 32 vesus 35.6 PSIG would feel!! I usually just pump em up till it looks and feels good.
My head hurts, but I just KNOW you know what you're talking about!
I’m about to tell you about one of the most powerful tools for touring Mexico that there is. I didn’t invent it, I didn’t perfect it, but I use it all the time. It involves the use of following taxis to find your way into and out of congested cities and/or cities with complicated highway patterns.
Save yourself the headache or worry about getting lost. Hire a taxi, your private tour guide. Never paid more than 70 pesos this whole trip, and that was a lot. Usually paid an average of 30 pesos. Be a part of the economic stimulus, and start to depend on taxis to get where you are going and save time.
It is easier to find your way into the city than out of it, especially if all you are trying to do is find the zócolo. All centers of town have hotels, and they are usually in the Lonely Planet. If they are not on the zócolo, they’re usually one or two blocks off of it. Here in Pachuca, we left the highway and followed signs to the Centro, where the Hotel Emily was located. 9 times out of 10 in any typical Mexico town, you’ll find accommodations on or near the Centro. If your hotel is from the Lonely Planet and isn’t on the zócolo, then use a taxi to find it. It is easier than asking for directions. The taxistas almost expect you.
When you are coming into town, its easy to find the Centro.
Not so fast finding your way leaving town. You can leave by almost any compass direction. Fumble with maps? No thanks. Most maps don’t map the grid you face and only mark the major autopistas and rutas to your next destination. Let the taxi guy do the navigating.
Taxis are always, always, all over the place. Just come to the outskirts of town and get some gas, and you’ll find a half dozen at the pump within 15 minutes. Leaving town, ask the hotel desk to call a cab, or just walk to the street and flag one down. Explain to the driver what you want. When that’s understood, settle on a price. I always pay the driver in advance, so he doesn’t have to stop to collect.
I explain that we will follow behind, so please be careful when crossing traffic lights, please don’t lose us in traffic. I ask them to watch their mirrors, and let them know that we’ll be in a pack right behind. It has always worked, always worked like a charm, and never once have we failed to find our hotel on the way in, or find our autopista/quota on the way out. What’s more, these guys KNOW their cities. You get the top secret, super fast, short cuts in and out. They like bikes too, and it gives them something different to do.
Sometimes the experience is funny. Like entering Coatzacoalcos. We were looking for the hotel Terra Nova, and flagged down a taxi at the Pemex. “Excuse me, do you know where the Hotel Terra Nova is located”…..”Yes, of course”….”Can you take us there?”….”Sure, 30 pesos”….”30 pesos?, let’s go!” With that, we did a quick u-turn with the taxi, went about a ¼ mile, and pulled into the drive for the hotel. Other times, like leaving Puebla or entering San Cristobal, we did so many left and right turns I couldn’t recreate it if my life depended on it. We got in, we got out, super fast. Cheap. Love it.
Forget Bicimapas. Sometimes the autorouting feature worked, but most times not. I like the personal touch, the local knowledge the taxista can provide. Plus, I like helping the local economy. I also like the stress-free feeling and the knowledge that we’re probably saving a ton of daylight by not running rabbit trails. I didn’t need a taxi in San Miguel, I can almost find the Posada de las Monjas by feel alone. But the new, big cities, forget it. Taxi! Over here!
Don’t speak Spanish? You can still use the taxi trick. Find someone to write out the basic request in Spanish for you, just leave a blank for the destination. Make up a couple of these cards, and carry them with you. Even if you don’t plan up front to use a taxi as I’ve described, make up the card anyway. When you get lost and are at your wits’ end, pull out the card to get you home.
Taxis are even useful when you’re buttoned in your hotel, and wondering what to do. Do you like to take a lot of photographs and you have a day to kill somewhere? Hire a taxi by the hour! Explain to the taxi driver that you’d like to see the major sites. He can drive you around and wait while you jump in and out to take your photos. That’s what I did in Puerto Vallarta. Saves lots of time and walking around from one end of town to the other. You don’t want to continually flag down taxis from one destination to the next. Just make sure you agree on the fee ahead of time. And be sure the taxi has air conditioning.
To use a taxi in this way, since you’ll be inside it and not behind it, just use common sense and consider asking the desk to call the cab for you, as a measure of insurance that you are getting a reputable company.
Another fantastic Trice Pilot adventure!! I'm subscribed!
Las Pozas is high on my list of places to visit.