Tricepilot's Oaxaca

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by tricepilot, Dec 1, 2010.

  1. pdedse

    pdedse paraelamigosincero

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    Very nice dia de los muertos write-up, TP. One day, I'll have the time to take in well this city and others in Mexico and beyond...for now, I'll enjoy your RR.
  2. Sourjon

    Sourjon TAT'erd

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    Love the big decorated skulls.
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    They remind me of Louisville. Every year at Derby time they have full size fiberglass horses around town that are decorated and painted by businesses and individuals. Great RR.
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    John
  3. Lobby

    Lobby Viel Spass, Vato!

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    Cool pics, Bob.

    Happy New Year!
  4. mark883

    mark883 and the mysterians

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    Excellent RR, trice.

    cold weather up here has me needing another ride south...

    Say.... if I'd trailer the GS to San Antonio...... you know any good parking places? :wink:
  5. miguelito

    miguelito Been here awhile

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  6. Tripletreat

    Tripletreat Been here awhile

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    What? No photos of the carved radishes? Or, did I miss something in this long and delightful thread?
    The radish fest/competition has to be one of the most bizarre things I've come across.
    Ever.
    Thanks for the memories!
  7. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

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    Here in San Antonio we had painted cows for awhile
    Prospero año nuevo y felicidad, Leo!

    Mexico low level lights light up when we're away from Mexico more than a few months, don't they. PM me for suggestions on where to leave your rig - I've worked that out for other Mexico moto travelers. :freaky

    No worries, glad to be in your archives. Chiapas and Oaxaca (state) have siginificant amounts of street art that some condider graffiti but most of which I consider historical.

    Didn't come across a radish fest but I'm open to the idea and wouldn't be surprised. We have garlic festivals here in the U.S.
  8. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

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    Crossroads

    Ser•en•dip•i•ty

    [ser-uh n-dip-i-tee]
    –noun

    1.
    an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.

    2.
    good fortune; luck: the serendipity of getting the first job applied for.


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    Some of the best discoveries and meetings are serendipitously accidental. And a perfect example of this was in Oaxaca one fine day just walking around the streets in the vicinity of the zócalo. I’m walking south, from the Maela, in the direction of zócalo, when walking north in my direction comes Kurt and Kelly. Two travelers from the U.S. who are in the process of going around the world. On bicycles. This is going to be good, was my first thought.

    Their bikes were the initial attraction. I’m somewhat of a bike aficionado. The first thing I did when I left the military was take a three week bike mechanics course at United Bicycle Institute in Ashland, Oregon. Two weeks of that was dedicated to basic bike mechanics and bike shop operation and the third week was advanced wheel building. The set of wheels I have on my Trek 5200 today are DT Swiss hubs and rims I built up as part of the graduation exercise. I used discounts earned at that school to outfit my own home-based bike shop that includes a welding station.

    Within minutes of meeting Kurt and Kelly and having good conversation, I learned that they had just arrived in Oaxaca and were walking through the center of town to "get the feel of things" before moving on to the outskirts to find a place to camp and prepare dinner. I offered to nix that and treat them to a dinner at the Asador Vasco on the southwest corner of the zócalo, a place I had already tried and loved. I couldn’t do any less for a pair of weary and hungry explorers.

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    I was eager to tap their minds for all sorts of information. How long have you been on the road? How long will you be gone? Where are you going? What kind of bikes do you have? Tell me about the mods you’ve made! Doesn’t your butt hurt from riding all day?! (duh – what a rookie question) Have you felt safe? How much is this costing you? What do your parents think? Are you going to get a real job someday? I knew they have answered these questions and more a hundred times over and they were both gracious in their response. We shared our interest in Mexico, Kelly’s first "foreign" country on the world tour they were starting together. Kurt had been around parts of the planet before – this wasn’t his first rodeo. I returned favor by explaining why I was in Oaxaca, what drew me to the place. Why I find Mexico magical. I urged them to enjoy their meal with gusto, since it is somewhat widely known that Mexico has the best cuisine in the Americas. "By the time you make it to Honduras, you’ll be missing Mexico", I told them.

    After dinner, we walked back in the direction of the Hotel Maela. Both Kurt and Kelly used the shower in my room while I went down to the front desk to ask if there were any rooms available. I had planned to surprise them with their own room but found out that none were available due to the Día de los Muertos festivities in Oaxaca. I broke this news to Kurt and Kelly then we came up with an idea – out back in the area of the estacionamiento was an open, unfinished apartment. Kurt and Kelly were happy to pick a corner and pitch their sleeping bags and gear there, which they did; it was also an place where their bikes would be safe and sound. Bike security to them is a priority, especially having their wallets and passports temporarily stolen while in the Copper Canyon region.

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    Kurt’s bike is an interesting quasi Frankin-Bike creation that he has modified for long-distance touring. He calls it Samu the Savage Mule. And it weighs a ton. I tried to pick it up fully loaded and was shocked how heavy it is. He’s carrying everything on that bike. Clothing for four seasons and tools for most expected repairs. The most immediate eye-catching modification to his mountain bike frame is a frame extension made by Xtracycle. This is basically a tail assembly that bolts onto an existing frame, attaching to the seat stays and the existing drop outs. The increased length provides two major advantages: (1) extra length means extra space for hauling cargo and (2) the increased wheel base offers added stability. Kelly’s bike did not have this mod. Kurt had considered other options such as a completely modified original frame that is offered by specialty manufacturers such as Peter White Cycles, but he ditched this idea because he wouldn’t be able to break the bike down to smaller sections if he ever decided he needed to ship it home. The Xtracycle option would allow him to do this. Kurt’s own skills as a bicycle mechanic (he’s at a level that puts me to shame) and welder/brazer allowed him to significantly modify the Xtracycle extension by chopping certain elements and reinforcing and brazing others such as a custom made additional connection point to the frame, eliminating a critical weak spot. Going around the world on a bicycle going to be killer on the ass, you think? Kurt nixed that possibility by adding a Spiderflex saddle. This is a bike seat without a protruding horn and basically two rubber doughnuts for your tailbone. Certified cojones-friendly. Another interesting component is his Schmidt Dynamo Hub, which provides a source of power for bike lighting and accessory recharging. I asked Kurt what his most important mod was to the bike other than the Xtracycle extension. He said the number one thing heavily loaded touring requires is a strong rear rim. It’s this part of the bike that takes all the pounding. Kurt selected Halo’s downhill, 48 spoke rim for this job. It’s held up everywhere he’s went so far.

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    Kelly’s bike is recognizable as a mountain bike but it didn’t start out life that way. It’s a lightly modified Bridgestone . Here’s a list of features from her blog:

    1993 Bridgestone XO-2
    Shimano XT 8 integrated shift/brake levers
    XT front and rear derailleurs
    Original crank arms with combination of chain rings (RaceFace, Black Spire, Suntour XC Pro)
    Shimano half platform, half clipless pedals
    Alloy MTB riser bar with ergon grips
    We replaced the original fork with a beefier, more rigid steel fork
    Wheels are hand built 40 spoke with White Industries hubs (Daisy front and M15 rear) and Velocity Dyad rims. Tires are Schwalbe Marathon Tour Plus, 26×1.75
    Tubus front and rear rack, plus a little Blackburn front rack
    Shimano UN-52 bottom bracket

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    You can check out their blogs at these links:

    Kurt: http://pocket-thunder.blogspot.com/

    Kelly: http://uparoundthebend.wordpress.com/

    Kurt and Kelly aren't the only round-the-world cyclists I've met in Mexico. "Chico" (as I call him), below is a Japanese cyclists who I met on the Into the Blue tour in the Yucatán.

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    At the time I ran into him, he was on his way to TDF from Alaska, and then around the world.

    And in an even more intense example of Serendipity, sometime before the Oaxaca trip and after the Into the Blue tour, Kurt had run into Chico as well, outside of Istanbul :clap

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    Bike Rentals in Oaxaca

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    I can't stress enough that one of the best things you can do for yourself if you have any extended length of time to spend in Oaxaca is to rent a bicycle from Zona Bici. Just 4 blocks straight up from the Zócalo on the corner of Garcia Vigil and Bravo streets. They'll provide you with the bike, a helmet, a lock, and a detailed map of the area. And they also do tours. You'll keep fit on your trip to Mexico but you'll also see A LOT more of Oaxaca in the amount of time that you have. There are a ton of bikes already in the city to keep you company. Want to pick up some stuff at Mercado de Abastos? Just buy a cheap backpack (and I do mean that they are cheap) at the market as one of the first things that you do, and all your purchases can go inside the backpack.

    The owner is Italian and speaks perfect Spanish, English, and obviously, Italian. The also sell components as well as complete bikes. You can ask for suggested tours by bicycle and he'll give you various itineraries as well. Get out by bicycle and see more of Oaxaca!

    Below is a scan (poor, lo siento) of the backside of the brochure. You can see the zócalo (green patch) on the bottom of the photo and the red arrow/yellow square depicts the corner of Garcia Vigil and Bravo streets. The store is actually in the middle of the block. The telephone number, actual street address and hours are indicated:

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    And here is the link:

    http://bikeoaxaca.com/

  9. Kiko

    Kiko Long timer

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    Muy Cool post..

    What a great life experience to have,

    I am inspired and dreamin up a new adventure now after reading this post..
  10. Lobby

    Lobby Viel Spass, Vato!

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  11. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

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    I absolutely agree with you. Long distance bike touring has a special place in my heart. I've done RAGBRAI in Iowa in '01, '02, '03, '04, '05, '06, '07 and '08. And I've always wanted to do America by Bicycle.

    Not everybody is born to throw the 9-5 Rat Race into the trash and just take off, especially for years like those two are doing. But their tales sure do make one look to the horizon and dream.

    Let's do this Leo! Around the World - by bicycle! We can do it! :lift
  12. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

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    Next Up:

    Food & Drink and Places to Eat in Oaxaca

    Featuring:

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  13. Tripletreat

    Tripletreat Been here awhile

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    When I lived in Oaxaca a Radish Fest was held in December. The farmers grew huge radishes - I'm talking BIG, as improbably big as the pumpkins that the farmers grow up in Gringolandia in the Fall - and then they are carved into - wait for it - Navtivity Scenes! It was a big deal back when. The entire Zócalo was taken up by it. There were crowd control barracades installed to keep the throngs' procession orderly and such. The carving themselves were downright creepy. Kinda made me think of Vincent Price, or the mummies in Guanajuato. Just plane weird....
    I lost all pix of the spectacle in a computer crash :-(
  14. SkizzMan

    SkizzMan There, that's it

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    Well, Tricepilot should like it if it's "plane weird". :D

    Here you go:

    http://www.christmas-in-oaxaca.com/night-of-radish.htm

    http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&rlz=&q=oaxaca+radish+festival&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&ei=MlclTZOdKoP58Aa1-cSRAQ&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=2&ved=0CCUQsAQwAQ

    http://gomexico.about.com/b/2006/12/23/radish-festival-in-oaxaca.htm
  15. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

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    :freaky

    You know the rules! :deal

    But I did find these interesting pieces:

    <EMBED height=385 type=application/x-shockwave-flash width=480 src=http://www.youtube.com/v/8wiENaiXw7Y?fs=1&hl=en_US allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always"></EMBED>

    <EMBED height=385 type=application/x-shockwave-flash width=480 src=http://www.youtube.com/v/uAV99i9P6is?fs=1&hl=en_US allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always"></EMBED>

    <EMBED height=385 type=application/x-shockwave-flash width=480 src=http://www.youtube.com/v/id_FKUfUG6o?fs=1&hl=en_US allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always"></EMBED>

    Great intro to the food segment, thanks!
    </EMBED>
  16. ApexJeff

    ApexJeff Been here awhile

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    Trace,,,, picture from last years ride to Panama.. Leaving tomorrow on next moto adventure. Tucson to Veracruz, Cancun and Belize.

    Attached Files:

  17. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

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    Feliz viaje......¿vas por el caballo? (.....'stoy bromeando :freaky)
  18. Tlaloc

    Tlaloc Adventurer

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    Trice:
    If you've covered this elsewhere in your report, my apologies.

    What have been your observations of the security situation in the Mexican borderlands? You mention the soldier with the grenade launcher. But clearly you've made it without getting crossed up with any narcotraficantes. What were the Mexican border areas like?

    For what it's worth, I grew up in McAllen, crossed the border countless times to visit family in Monterrey. But the last time I did this there was 1998. To state the obvious, things are different now.

    I dream of riding my RS down Chiapas with a stop in Monterrey to visit la familia (mi familia, no La Familia). But it seems like it would be too nerve-wracking these days.

    Very well done report!
  19. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

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    I've copied this to the Is Mexico Safe? thread. There are 2,700+ posts and 180 pages+ over there that talks to this. I and other inmates there can (and have, extensively) expound on my/their thoughts and experiences.

    I'll give you a little teaser right now though: Now is the time to visit Mexico, especially since the news media reports of violence are at an all-time high. Sounds like backwards logic, but I have provided the rationale behind it. See the thread link.
  20. Kiko

    Kiko Long timer

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    Hey Trice will you share some camera info with us? Your photos are stunning and without a doubt some of the best I've ever seen on this site.

    Did you use some state of the art hi tech camera that does it all with an automatic setting? Or have you taken a lot of photo classes to get these results?