We finally make it to Xilitla OR Scars are tattoos with better stories

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by cwc, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. cwc

    cwc Been here awhile

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    The first weekend in November (this year) a motley crew from the upper Midwest agreed to accompany me on a trip to Xilitla. This would be my third attempt to make it.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    This first time we were having too much fun on the dirt roads around Galeana and Real de Catorce and the second time we took a wrong turn and ended up in Patzcuaro.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    This time the plan was to enter Mexico and go to Galeana then work our way down to Xilitla and then decide what was next. That plan lasted until a few days before we left when we decided to just shoot straight south.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Six of us traveled from Minnesota and Illinois to meet in Pharr, TX where we left the cars, trailers and the new Luxovan.

    Kevin [Powershouse] on a X-Challenge
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    Paul[Streeter] on a Versys
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    Bob on a K75 and Susan on a F800ST
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    Dean on a DR650
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    Me on a DR650, getting some advice on which missions to visit.
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    Four more traveled together in a giant SUV pulling a trailer to Brownsville.
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    Craig [Olekaw] on a KLR and Linda[wanderc2c] on a DR650
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    Betty on a DR650
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    Peter on a R100GS.
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    Here is our SPOT track.
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    My intent is to provide a framework for the report that others can contribute to as they see fit.<o:p></o:p>

    We'll have more detailed tracks and elevations as usual. We also have thousands of pictures to share. Maybe we won't use all of them.

    There will be pre-trip drama as well as on-trip drama, creative roadside repairs and a visit with an ADV legend.

    Unless ocurre un milagro the next post from me will be Monday.
    #1
  2. cwc

    cwc Been here awhile

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    <!--[if !mso]> <style> v\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} o\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} w\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} .shape {behavior:url(#default#VML);} </style> <![endif]-->As usual Dean took notes, so I'll use those and maybe add a little.


    Dean sez:


    Starting the trip on 1 Nov 2012 I rode the DR 650 from my house to Charlie&#8217;s in Pine Island. We loaded the bikes did some final trip preparations, a quick supper, slept till morning and started south the morning of 2 November.

    The Luxo-van
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    It
    holds 2 DR650&#8217;s with millimeters to spare.
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    We spent the evening and overnight at Throttlemeisters shop in Pryor Oklahoma. John and his sweet dog Tippy drove us to a great BBQ Joint south of Pryor, we each had a huge tasty meal for about $10, with plenty left for another meal. We took the rest for breakfast.

    John and Tippy
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    It was fun hearing John's tales of his extended trip through Central America and Cuba and northern South America. John was actually getting ready to fly home to Oklahoma when he hit a bad patch of dirt road in the dark and broke his leg.


    Alice Texas

    We drove a bit over 600 miles each of the last two days to arrive here in Alice. Charlie's 1994 Chevy Luxo-Van with 80,000 miles is doing an adequate job of hauling us and the bikes south; air conditioning would however be nice as the afternoon temps in the 80s are uncomfortable and sweaty, we can't lower the drivers window as it sometimes doesn't want to go back up. Charlie's hip has been aggravating him so I've been doing most of the driving, gas mileage is from 12.8 to 14.8mpg. I think our load is maxing out the limits of the van, if the road is rough at all we are like a cork on the water.

    [This van cost $1000 and that doesn&#8217;t buy what it used to.:deal It&#8217;s a ¾ton van and we were a little short of a 1500 lb. payload, so maybe the shocks are worn a little. :evil cwc]


    Up at 7am after a good nights sleep in the Sunset Motel ($55). We will eat breakfast now in the room and then proceed the 100 miles to our staging area near the border. Charlie is talking with members of the group to plan to meet up at about 10:30 this morning.

    Met Bob, Sue, Paul and Kevin at the secret parking spot late morning, unloaded the motos, parked the tow vehicles, checked into Motel 9, went and ate lunch and then crossed the border to do the necessary paper work on the Mexican side for a tourist visa and moto permit.

    Two different border workers on the U.S. side were very cautionary about our travels into Mexico. They each mentioned that yesterday there was a shoot out right near the border bridge here, and the bridge was closed for a time. Hope all goes well for all of the group the next two weeks.

    We returned back to the motel between 3-4 pm. Some are going for supper, but I'm still full from lunch. Nice basic room here, but no ice at all.

    [Deans glass is always at least half full. Basic is the operative word for the Motel Nine. Apparently Texans only need one sheet on their beds, but they were glad to supply another for each bed when they discovered that we were from Minnesota. It WAS very close to the border though so that was handy. &#8211; cwc]

    Our crossing is Pharr / Reynosa, Linda, Craig, Betty, and Peter are crossing at Brownsville / Matamoros. They emailed and said all of their paper work was done and that they will be crossing at 8 am tomorrow as well.

    We will head for Ciudad Mante tomorrow.
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    #2
  3. judjonzz

    judjonzz Beastly

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    I'm subbed.
    #3
  4. Powershouse

    Powershouse Flower Sniffer

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    The first weekend in November (this year) a motley crew from the upper Midwest agreed to accompany me on a trip to Xilitla. This would be my third attempt to make it.


    Gee Charlie, when you suggested a ride to Xilitla you didn't mention that it was an elusive target!

    Paul and I made great time rolling to Pharr from MN. A little too great time on the first tank; with the pedal pressed down to the "Hot damn, we're off to Mexico!" setting the first tank only lasted about two hours. :eek1 Paul took over for the next tank and we began a rotation of 3 1/2 to 4 hour trade-offs which had us in Pharr about 23 hours later. That left us time for a leisurely breakfast over the local paper while we waiting for the rest of the crew. A little disconcerting to read about the shoot out the night before that shut down the border bridge in Reynosa.
    #4
  5. Sleddog

    Sleddog Currently Benched

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    Oh ya, me too:ear

    Sleddog
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  6. wanderc2c

    wanderc2c Adventurer

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    The beasty group departs just after noon on Friday. Betty has prepared her Suburban with new brakes, tires and a fresh detail. We are traveling in style! Add a couple roof top carriers for the riding gear and we will have room for 2 people to sleep in comfort for our non-stop drive. Betty chooses the late night driving spot and warns us she sings to stay awake. What a repertoire by a good voice.

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    Special thanks go out to our friend Fogger for the use of his 10x7 trailer with new bearings and tires. Craig&#8217;s planning on bike layout worked perfectly. We screwed in a few 2x4&#8217;s to keep the wheels from jumping. No adjustments were necessary for the next 1500 miles to Craig&#8217;s brother house in Brownsville Texas.

    Peter and Betty&#8217;s bikes had not been ridden for awhile and needed shaking down before the trip. Linda&#8217;s new to her 2007 DR650 was mostly untested and needing new mods for Mexico. Our warm late fall weather allowed for some late ride testing.

    Charlie hypes this trip as a pavement ride. Craig and Linda persuade Betty to leave her beloved BMW f800st and ride her DR650 that she has little experience on. There are carb issues. It makes a trip to not one, but two mechanics before departure and we think the problems might be solved. But it&#8217;s cold now so there is no certainty. Stay tuned, the story doesn&#8217;t end here.:scratch

    The presidential election would be held while we were in Mexico. Peter cast his early vote by motorcycle and came out to find his front brake completely locked up the day before departure. His already crazy pre-trip mode turns into insanity. Pucks were cleaned, master cylinder holes cleared and a new brake line is ordered to be waiting for us in Brownsville via UPS. Panic ensues when UPS does not follow delivery instructions, but they would be happy to deliver on Monday. There are times when it pays to get bitchy! The delivery happens on Saturday and is there when we arrive.

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    It&#8217;s 27 hours for us. The beast stops once to eat, and once for last minute goodies at a sporting goods store in Texas. We are getting about 10mpg with the cargo carries, the heavy steel gate, and heavy right feet. The new brakes are a welcome addition while trying to stop all the weight we have behind us.

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    Charlie is the designated spot carrier to ease the fears of those we leave behind at home. We track their progress down to Pharr on my I-phone. Technology has come a long way, and we take full use of it on this trip. Speaking of Charlie, he is famous. There are even bumper stickers that say so. First seen bouncing around the copper canyon, they have long been out of print. WWCP? Or &#8220;What would Charlie Pay?&#8221;. He is truly famous for his frugality. It only makes sense he negotiates our room rates!


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    On Sunday, we expect long lines at the border to import our bikes and ourselves. We ride unimpeded to the bridge, tomorrow will be a different story. There are no lines. None. Yipee! It is discovered that Peter&#8217;s Spanish is quite good, and Betty&#8217;s recent Spanish classes will certainly get us by. We clear without a hitch and return to the states to await tomorrow. Betty and Peter celebrate on the bridge back. Note the new brake line on Peter&#8217;s bike!

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    Charlie helped Craig set up his GPS for intended motel waypoints that we were going to meet at in Mante on Monday before we leave Minnesota. We&#8217;ve received emails from Charlie and Dean confirming everyone is cleared and ready to cross the boarder at 8am from two locations. Mante is the declared meeting point for the groups. We will total 10.
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    #6
  7. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    #7
  8. cwc

    cwc Been here awhile

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    Dean Sez:

    This morning we left the Motel 9 in Pharr Texas around 7am and had a breakfast at Jack in the Box, fueled the motos up, and made our way south across the border to Mexico.
    Customs went smoothly and by 8:15am or so we were flowing with the morning traffic.


    [Here Dean very kindly didn’t mention that I missed the turn in Reynosa and we did a little tour of some neighborhoods. The traffic was intense, but we made it. NOW we know we should have just gone straight across the bridge over Hwy. 2. - cwc]

    After clearing the border town of Reynosa and it's large manufacturing sites we entered about a hundred miles of rich agricultural land. The fields for the most part had been harvested for the year, and it was clear to see that GPS assisted steering was being used on the perfectly straight rows. The fields are very large in some cases several miles square. The next hundred miles of travel south beyond hwy 97 on hwy 101 were a continuation of agriculture and related businesses.

    [The other group was tracking my SPOT and waited for us at a Pemex near Las Norias and we had lunch in Nuevo Padilla. Someone will have lunch pictures I’m sure.- cwc]

    At about 220 miles we entered some wonderful flowing terrain with some elevation changes and large sweeping turns following the hills and valleys of the area. The trees are a mixture of hardwoods and palms with a few desert trees like Joshua trees here and there. The afternoon terrain was more pleasing to the eye and the ride.

    We arrived in Cd. Mante late afternoon and decided to stay at a pleasant hotel, the JJ Inn. The rooms go for about $45 for two beds for two people, with an included breakfast.

    [Actually I was planning to stay in a place Sjoerd Bakker recommended that was much cheaper. We could see it from our Hotel, but once we all stopped there was little interest in moving.- cwc]

    As the near by Resturant was not serving food tonight we purchased what amounted to soft tacos from a popular street vendor and ate our supper outside under the shade of a huge old tree. The connected drive through beer store provided us with refreshment. It has been fun getting to know all the members of the group. On the road we have been traveling in two groups one of six bikes the other four bikes. Tomorrow we can take either a direct route of 120 miles to Xilitla or a scenic route of 220 miles, it looks like most everyone will be taking the scenic route.

    Right about 300 miles for the day.

    Day 1 Track




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    Day One Elevation


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    #8
  9. BigDogAdventures

    BigDogAdventures Fart Letter

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    I'm in for your story----never forget running into you and Dean near Creel a few years ago---remember this picture Charlie ?? I was on my old Husqvarna TE610 back then.
    Me and my buddy Tim got a bang out of Deans story about submerging his bike in a river near Marguarichi------which we crossed on that same trip.


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    #9
  10. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer

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    Nice to have you and Dean staying over for the night, always a pleasure to host some finer ADVers like yourselves:freaky

    Looking forward to rest of the story and Xilitila, one of my favorite places in Mexico:lurk
    #10
  11. wanderc2c

    wanderc2c Adventurer

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    The Beasty group departs on time, crossing the border impeded with all we deemed essential for two weeks in Mexico. The US border guards warn us of the dangers of traveling in Mexico.

    We are greeted in Matomoros with an immense road construction project. Warnings to stay close and together was the mantra to get us through the bustling, dirty city. What a contrast to the modern town of Brownsville we just left. Getting through Matomoros, it appears, will be easier in the future with the large new road as you cross over into Mexico. There are bicycles everywhere around the construction site, the transportation of choice for the workers. Everyone is dressed in florescent yellow. It&#8217;s a huge project. Craig and his GPS lead us flawlessly out of town and towards Mante.

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    Betty says she feels like a drug runner. We are all strangers to carrying so many bills for the Mexcian cash society. Past experience tells us even $100 pescos can present challenges to make change for some days, so that is the largest we carry. One of them is worth about $12 on this trip. It&#8217;s an odd sensation to have them. We aren&#8217;t even carrying that much. We&#8217;ve scheduled bank stops later in the trip. If we could only take them home and have them magically become American $100&#8217;s&#8230;.

    <o:p></o:p>
    We travel what I call &#8220;the road of death&#8221; or hwy 180 and hwy 101. If there are signs that tell you how to ride these roads, I can&#8217;t read them. But it doesn&#8217;t take long to figure it out. There is a lane and an half. The right side of the road has a dashed line, and then no fog line on the right edge of the road, so it looks like a shoulder. But if you watch long enough, you pick up the pattern from the locals. If you are a car, you are supposed to straddle that dashed line, and passing is allowed on the left side of the lane, and only ½ of the passing car needs to enter the oncoming lane. So, if a motorcycle stays to the left of the dashed line, the idea still works. Better yet, hang inside the dashed line and you&#8217;re safe. If you constantly stay in the left side of the lane, the oncoming traffic isn&#8217;t very happy with you. Later, we find out that in Mexico, to make a left turn, you are supposed to pull all the way over on these roads an let others pass, then turn left. Crazy!

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    I bring along my old I-phone 3G. It&#8217;s worn out and slow. I have paid At&T $4.99 so I can make calls for $.59 minute, $10 so I can send 50 texts, and $30 so I can send up to 120mb from Mexico. At&T had great coverage in this area. Betty&#8217;s Verizon I-phone worked with wifi, and made a great camera, but that was it. We are able to use wifi at most of our motels. I&#8217;ve been designated the reporter for our local dual sport group, and send back pics daily to make them jealous at home. My text plan helps us connect with Arturo from Chihuahua. Plans changed for him and he was not able to join us L Susan and Bob&#8217;s new I-phones with texting were not cooperating as they were supposed to in Mexico. It would have been useful in the days ahead. Phone calls home to our parents aged 87-94 bring stress relief.

    Our first gas stop is at the Pemex. So is every other gas stop we make. Curious as to where Charlie and his 5 followers are, we check his spot on my I-phone. The tiny screen makes it a challenge to see. Craig deciphers where we are in relation to the Spotwalla. It appears they are less than 5 minutes behind us! We rush to the road to flag them down. And we make 10. A crazy, large group considering Charlie couldn&#8217;t get anyone to go with him last year. Mexico is dangerous you know.

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    Lunch in Nuevo Padilla at El Parador intertwines the group, Bob and Sue are strangers to all but Charlie. Betty and Peter are strangers to all but Linda, Charlie and Craig. Charlie, well sometimes he is just strange. In a good way. What does that menu say? What is the server trying to ask us? My college Spanish attempts to return to my memory, but it isn&#8217;t easy. Pollo, Pescar, cervasa¸bano&#8230;.Paul and Charlie carry us through lunch with translations of Spanish. Then a trip to the bano (really, I tried to get my keyboard to do that funny little line above the n, bear with me) We return to this restaurant on our way out of Mexico the food was so good!



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    Delicious fish soup

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    Ah, Mexico. Don&#8217;t flush the toilet paper. Toilet seats are a luxury. Powdered laundry soap for hand soap. Never hot water. The ladies room even has a handle to flush with. The guys, a rope with a piece of wood.


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    The message stays constant between countries.

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    We head towards Mante as a group. Curves. This is what we have come for. Betty warms this one up for me.


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    Arriving at the JJ in Mante, the driveway under the portico is marble. Now this might be a luxury statement except for the fact that it is covered in a fine dust and is so slippery we slide down the hill with our brakes on. Outriggers anyone?

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    WWCP Charlie heads inside to barter for the nights lodging. Less expensive rooms equals more steps we learn quickly. I knew I should have packed lighter.

    Can you pick out the stranger among us the next morning in secured parking? Enjoy this shot. It will be a rare picture of Paul on this trip. He isn&#8217;t the stranger in this photo. Stay tuned to learn why photos of Paul will be scarce.


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    Tonight its delicious street vendor food, and exhaust from the drive through beverage store. Tomorrow mountain roads and unexpected change in plans.


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    <o:p></o:p>

    Linda

    :icy
    #11
  12. cjracer

    cjracer AWD please!!

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    Very nice to see the crew still doing what they LOVE! :freaky

    We sure miss the gang.

    Xilitla.... Crazy place that is. Did you walk up the stairs to space???

    Safe travels to all.
    Craig and Katie
    #12
  13. cwc

    cwc Been here awhile

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    The Dog of the Day (don't get used to it)
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    A bit of fog and mist early this morning. All 10 of us decided to do the scenic route on nice twisty mountain roads. A scenic stop at Paraje el Meco El Salto waterfalls was a real treat, at over 160 feet of terraced aqua marine blue mountain water coursing through scattered mounds of bright green water plants.

    [​IMG]

    We then continued our course through the mountains until a slow seeping spring coming right through the asphalt on a sharp uphill corner caused Sue to slide out. Charlie was the first to get to her as she slid along the road separate from her sliding F800 ST BMW. Sue was conscious and for the most part ok. A passing pickup took her to the nearby clinic for stitches between the first two fingers on her left hand and cleaning and bandages on scuffing on her right arm.

    [It was quite a shock to say the least when I came around the corner and saw Susan sliding down the road behind her bike. I parked as quickly as I could and when I got to her she was standing up, so I knew there was no hip failure. – cwc]

    Susans Waterloo
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    The bike had a dime sized hole in the engine cover. We fixed it.

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    Charlie and Craig with the aid of J B Weld epoxy sealed up her engine case where it had worn through while sliding down the asphalt. Peter went and got 3 quarts of oil, it took two to top it off and the bike now seems to be running fine. Sue is a real trooper and said like when a horse bucks you off, you get back on.

    We regrouped and headed for Cuidad Maiz where most of us ate an all you could eat chicken lunch served family style for about $4.50 each.

    Betty's DR 650 did not want to run smoothly, so Craig and Peter pulled the carburetor and plugs to try to remedy the rough running engine.

    [​IMG]

    No success yet, sounds like we will stay here for the night, this will give the mechanics in the group time to try and fix Betty's bike.

    We check into the better of two poor motels in town, $18 for two beds, you get towels and a roll of Toilet paper when you pay for the room. Craig, Peter , Linda, and Charlie began swapping components from Linda's DR 650 to Betty's DR 650, after each component swap Peter would test ride the bike.

    After numerous tests, someone wondered about the air cleaner. With the air cleaner partially removed Betty's bike ran with out faltering. So Peter will wash it out completely let it dry and put it back together in the morning.

    [This is the second recently serviced air cleaner that has fooled me in Mexico. The person who worked on Betty's bike wasn't familiar with foam air cleaners and had apparently left WAAAY to much oil in it. - cwc]

    While waiting for results Betty helps Susan tune up her bandages.
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    The group is going for supper now, I'm not hungry and will try to catch up on last nights lost sleep. No Wi-Fi at this motel, pretty much no anything. Funny thing is both Charlie and I said we never wanted to stay in Corn Town again. Elevation of 4,000 feet here, we both asked for a blanket for each bed as there is no heat in the room.

    With the delays of the day we drove approximately 97 miles.

    Day 2 Track
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    Day 2 Elevation
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    #13
  14. cwc

    cwc Been here awhile

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    I think we walked up every stairs there. Lots of pics were taken.

    Good to hear from y'all.

    We might go again. You could come along
    .
    #14
  15. Streeter

    Streeter Has Coping Skills

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    Linda wrote: "It will be a rare picture of Paul on this trip. Stay tuned to learn why photos of Paul will be scarce."

    I'm sure there was a sigh of relief from all over ADV land at that announcement!

    Kevin and I left the rest of the group behind in Maiz and continued on without them. We hoped that they would catch up, but we didn't see them again on this trip.

    Paul
    #15
  16. Powershouse

    Powershouse Flower Sniffer

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    Actually, there is one more picture of Paul for later in this ride report, stay tuned!

    Paul and I were out in front of Susan on the leg from El Meco to CD Maiz. On one short straight I noticed there wasn't anyone in my mirrors, then it was back into the twisties. On the next straight I waited for a while and still no bikes...not good. With my limited fuel range, I had enough to make CD Maiz, but not enough to double back and still get to CD Maiz. So I pushed on to Maiz, sat through the military checkpoint (this one complete with a little four wheel robot thing), rendezvoused with Paul and topped the fuel tank. Then we headed back to find the rest of the crew. They came rolling up shortly after we passed the checkpoint, so we got to do that again.

    Lunch was good, once we figured out that they were asking how many chickens we wanted, not how many pieces of chicken. After lunch, Paul and I split off from the larger group. We only had a single week of vacation and our time in-country was limited. With the larger group's encouragement we set out for Xilitla.
    #16
  17. Powershouse

    Powershouse Flower Sniffer

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    [​IMG]

    After passing untold naranja trucks, Paul and I rolled into Xilitla. The first hotel we stopped at was a bit dear, and there was an extra charge to park our bikes in a garage down the street, so we pushed on and got a room on the square where we were able to park our bikes in the lobby. We found an economical place for dinner and hung out in the square people watching till bedtime. Two more bikes joined ours in the lobby - a Honda CX500 and a Harley down from Maine.
    #17
  18. olekaw

    olekaw n00b

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    When I was packing for this trip I nearly left the epoxy ( Quick Steel, not JB weld ) behind. I had been carrying the same
    stick of Quick Steel around for ten years and it was looking very sad. The plastic tube that it came in had dried up and cracked, it had bounced around in various cases and tool boxes for thousands of back road miles in Mexico and the western states. I never got a chance to use it. But, I thought, what the hell, it doesn't take much room and who knows,,

    When Sue biffed the bike and put a dime sized hole in the case it was my chance. Charlie cleaned the case with alcohol, I think it was his hand sanitizer, about 4 times. He was very careful. I cut about an inch off that old epoxy and started kneading it, I was surprised that it was't hard as a rock. It got molded onto the case and 30 minutes later we put oil into the bike and it never leaked for the remainder of the trip.. It even survived a few parking lot drops later in the trip,, there were scuff marks on the repair. Tough stuff, it still held.

    Craig
    #18
  19. wanderc2c

    wanderc2c Adventurer

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    In an effort to help them catch up, we back track momentarily a couple days for a note from Susan.


    "The Evening Before Day #1 of Scars are Tattoos with Better Stories
    Charlie, our techno-electrico-mechanico-planner-organizer-road boss and friend is posting the actual details of our journey. I, Susan, can only offer the thoughts I had while riding through the heart of Mexico.
    Husband-Bob and I trailered the K75 and the F800ST to the Pharr border in a 26 hour re-creation of youthful you-drive-I'll sleep car treks. True to that travel tradition we used our last bits of energy to grab dinner from the vending machines at the Motel 4, find the toothbrushes and drop ourselves onto the vintage mattresses. Before drifting off to sleep I had thoughts.
    Travel in a group? Why does everyone have a dirt bike? And if they don't like me? What if I embarrass myself? Did I pack enough warm clothes and did I remember the sunscreen? Should an old woman with two artificial hips really be doing this?"
    #19
  20. wanderc2c

    wanderc2c Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    24
    We left Mante with the understanding it would be a long day of mountain riding to arrive at Xilitla, but the scenic route received unanimous votes.
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    Craig and I had &#8220;discovered&#8221; hwy 120 in 2009 on another adventure with Charlie.
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    Please allow me to digress a moment to that trip and publicly thank Charlie. My &#8217;95 DR650 almost did not make it out alive. Rear shock broke twice (Charlie translates to the welder on visit #2) and rides out of the back country with Craig and I after they wired up my bike with nearby fence wire as a hard tail near Galeana. Charlie and Craig escort my bike and I off &#8220;the top of the world&#8221; road in a truck filled with cell tower workers after the second rear shock break. He teaches me that my &#8220;blown fuses&#8221; are really vibration cracks. (What? Are you kidding?) A kid&#8217;s bath sponge bought at la tienda cushions the fuse block, and no more blown fuses. Everything rattled off that bike. The muffler, the mirrors..... The bike was wired and taped everywhere. And then &#8220;that&#8221; hill in Real de Catorce. Stock gearing is too tall in that bike anyway, and compromised by my hard tail ride out of the mountains a couple days earlier, the clutch was no match for the &#8220;this must be made for donkeys only&#8221; hill when we had to stop half way up. As soon as I hit the top of the hill, I knew what I had done. How will we ever get out of here? How long will it take clutch plates to arrive? I go off and have a good cry. Vacations are supposed to be fun. This one is a character builder. The next day Charlie lifts the clutch linkage off and moves it one notch on the spline and I have enough clutch to get me back. Really? That will fix it? Sorry Annette, but I probably loved Charlie more than you did at that moment. He is amazing. I&#8217;ve been riding and wrenching on my bike for 30 years and Charlie has always there to teach me with patience and save me when I need him most. He&#8217;s a frugal guy with a heart of gold.

    Here is a pic of my "hard tail" from 2009. The rocks we were riding over in the road were as big as the ones in the front of my bike in this photo. We did not get back to Galeana till way after dark that night. Thank you Charlie!


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    Back to 2012..
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    We encourage our group of 10 that the side trip to Cascades El Salto will be worth it. Stopping at the lower, most majestic falls is magical. If I remember right, it is all spring fed. Up the road further is a set of pools, and falls, and a hydro electric plant you can&#8217;t see. The restaurant (upscale) at the base of the lower falls has the best view of the falls but is not open yet. Appetizers there helped buffer the clutch problems in years past. Highly recommended by this writer.
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    Departing the falls, we pass through El Naranjo. We know this road is going to be a blast. Paul leads, Kevin follows, and I want to chase my friends through the corners. They are on the &#8220;one week in Mexico&#8221; plan so let&#8217;s go play now boys! 4 miles out of El Naranjo (Yes, mark that on your maps) I see water on the road after a sharp right turn and my tires slip, and then grab. Kevin is still right up front. After a mile or so, Craig is still behind me, but no more lights. Slowing doesn&#8217;t help. The hair on the back of my neck is standing straight up. Woman&#8217;s intuition. Stopping, I say to Craig &#8220;Did you slip?&#8221; Yep. U-turn for us.
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    Dean slowing oncoming traffic on the side of the road is our first clue someone wasn&#8217;t as lucky as we were. Susan&#8217;s down. Well, Susan&#8217;s bike is down, but she&#8217;s standing.

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    I&#8217;ve only known her less than 24 hours. Betty points to blood on the side of the road. The elderly female homeowner at the landing point is speaking Spanish very, very fast. Susan is still in full riding gear. The gloves are the first to come off, and her left hand is oozing blood between her knuckles. &#8220;I can&#8217;t look&#8221; she says. I can. A 3/4'&#8221; gash that is going to need stitches. She claims she doesn&#8217;t want to ruin our trip. Some gauze from my minimal first aid kit and some electrical tape mend her till the medical clinic in El Naranjo. Her gloves had no cuts in them. Just her skin.
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    When a local graciously whisks her off towards stitches, repairs are started and road inspection begins. Algae! There is so much water coming up through the pavement with no visible cracks and algae has begun to grow. And it is very, very slippery. Craig and I had an experience with algae on a water covered bridge in the Copper Canyon. It&#8217;s so fast, and so unexpected. (Thanks for not hitting me when I was down and sliding Craig, and sorry about making you hit your brakes and crash too). Charlie translates the homeowner&#8217;s words. Not the first motorcycle crash here because of Algae. 4 miles west of el Naranjo, and the corner has a school crossing sign just before it. Just saying&#8230;&#8230;&#8230;

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    Peter and I head back to town where we hope to find cell reception and make contact with Bob and Sue. Peter not only procures the oil, but helps me focus and attempt our first phone calls in Mexico that aren&#8217;t going smoothly. Their numbers Charlie gave me before we left home won't work. But Bob calls, and we connect. I wait for them at the Pemex while Peter delivers the F800ST a fresh drink of oil.

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    Helmets save lives
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    The road to Maiz is a beautiful uphill climb with motorcycle friendly turns. There has been no sign of Paul and Kevin in a long time. But a couple headlights are coming our way, and frantic waves look suspiciously American. They loop in behind us, and Paul says &#8220;we knew where we might find you&#8221; They slipped too.
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    Dear Road Department of Mexico, please install a warning sign west of El Naranjo for motorcyclists.
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    There can be no road signs for movable obstacles in the road. These donkeys are enjoying the shade

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    We arrive in Maiz behind schedule and hungry. Betty mentions during lunch her bike is &#8220;bucking like a horse&#8221; and the ride up to Maiz was most unpleasant for her. Peter is off for a test ride, displaying a jaw dropping bucking motorcycle in front of the lunch crowd. What the heck?????? Under a shade tree it is determined it is serious enough to stay in Maiz tonight. Paul and Kevin don&#8217;t have time to spare if they want to see the mountains they have driven so far to see in the one week they have. We wave good bye and have taken our last pictures of them. We stay a day or two behind them. The beauty of internet lets us know they are OK, and we should hurry up! It&#8217;s beautiful ahead.

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    Betty&#8217;s bike problems are a blessing in disguise for Susan. She doesn&#8217;t know us. She is horrified she crashed. We assure her algae can be ruthless and to an unsuspecting motorcyclist with the wide smoother tires of her street bike, it wasn&#8217;t her fault. She&#8217;s got time to soak up some shade, let the pain meds work, read a good book, attempting to relax. We don&#8217;t know yet that she has two new hips and more concerns than we are aware of.
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    Betty&#8217;s plugs come out. Coal black. Dean&#8217;s got spares. Carb comes out. Everything looks just fine. Carbs go back and we search for lodging.

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    Betty and her stepson Peter (cross out stepson, Betty prefers son, true to her heart) display our lovely rooms. They score a toilet seat! This won&#8217;t be our worst motel. No wifi tonight.

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    Parts start flying. One of the selling features presented by Linda and Craig to take her DR650 was interchangeable parts for trouble shooting. CDI is easiest. Nope. Coils. Nope.

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    Peter races off after each parts swap down the dusty side street in front of the motel. He truly delights in the speed bumps, catching air with each one. You could see the smile through the back of his head. He&#8217;s been riding since he could walk, and his natural ability is evident.
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    We have run out of parts, and it is still a bucking motorcycle. We resort to the air intake. It is noted that Betty&#8217;s fuse case for her electric jacket is right in front of the snorkel intake. A nice little air block maybe? How about the air cleaner? Her bike problems became significant as she climbed in altitude. The maid the next morning could probably describe the amount of oil in the filter by the amount of oil residue in the sink. Peter silently apologizes to her.

    The bike can breath again! Peter has his favorite ride down the dirty road as night falls. He returns with his biggest smile. Tomorrow will be a better day.

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    We collapse under thin bedspreads.
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    Linda
    #20