El largo camino a Florida

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ScotsFire, Mar 12, 2021.

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  1. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    April 21, 2021: North... er, Westward bound!

    281 miles
    Map 04121.jpg

    Finally back on the road for real. Technically towards home, but still lots to see in that direction. I found myself on the cuota roads again, making time. I was ready to get off the flat farming country of Tabasco and Veracruz States. Nothing really to report from the autopiste. I got rained on a little just past Cardenas at the toll booth. But not bad. The rain was more welcome than not as it was at least overcast and therefore quite a bit cooler. Mid-eighties feels pretty nice when it's been mid-ninties or higher for the last couple weeks.

    Exiting onto MEX175, I stopped for fuel. Thinking of the 200 miles I'd done without any pictures, it seemed that I just needed to take a shot. The pictures always come more often after the first one.
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    You're welcome.

    The road runs along Rio Papaloapan.
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    Sugar cane field on the other side.
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    Lots of such fields around.

    And other signs of cane.
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    It poured on me a little past this. For like 90 seconds. Then stopped. I guess it's good I don't rust.

    Crossing the Rio Tonto approaching Tuxtepec (officially San Juan Bautista Tuxtepec).
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    It's not a toll road, but like many places in the area, there is a toll for the bridge. The river is also the border from Veracruz to Oaxaca State.

    Finally getting into some hills, I saw a pretty good sized roadside shrine.
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    The view here was really nice.
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    Overlooking Presa Miguel de la Madrid, a reservoir.

    I didn't stay long though, as there was a terrible stench.
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    I didn't see any bones, so this looks to be chicken skin with feathers. Phew.

    Much more pleasant at the lake.
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    Fishing looks popular.
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    There was a roadside stand selling freshly caught fish at the end of the bridge.

    I stopped pretty early, mid-afternoon, in Jalapa de Diaz.
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    That's Cerro Rabon in the background. Hopefully it will be clear of clouds in the morning.

    From a little outside of town.
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    It doesn't seem that there are many motorcyclists coming through Jalapa. The bike and I got a LOT of looks. Nothing hostile, just curious. The town feels like it's way up in the mountains, yet is only just above 120 meters elevation. Rabon tops out over 1800. The plan is to ride up the side of that tomorrow, and play on the very squiggly lines on the map from there.
  2. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    Thanks! Also thank you for helping out other riders. I've seen your presence in a couple current reports. It's nice knowing there's some back up down this way.

    When I saw the bike on the ground after I heard his horn, I knew I hadn't made contact with him, but was worried I'd cut him off or something. He assured me that he just couldn't get his left foot down on that slope. If you look close in the video, you can see his right foot plant as I pass him. The first thing he did when we got caught up with the group was rat himself out to them, laughing at himself. It's funny how various people's thought processes work. He stopped, and I instinctively sought an escape route.
  3. Animo

    Animo Been n00b awhile

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    I wish I had known you were just up the street. I would have offered you tent space and parking for your bike while you were in Florida.

    btw, I’m totally stealing your tracks on my next ride going north, great stuff :thumb
    Ohio_Danimal and ScotsFire like this.
  4. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    April 22, 2021: 182


    Actually, not that 182. This one.

    Map 0422.jpg
    148 Miles (full day)

    I've heard of many roads in Mexico described as epic, or must-ride, or any number of glowing praises (and may have been one describing roads as such.) Not that that's a bad thing mind you and I plan on hitting some of those roads in the near future. But I offer you another spectacular offering. Mexico HW 182 between Jalapa de Diaz and Teotitlan. It's got to be in my top three roads I've ever ridden. Allow me to elaborate.

    The day started off much clearer.
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    That's what the top of Cerro Rabon looks like.

    Hotel Casa Azul where I stayed.
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    Small, with currently only four rooms, it's essentially brand new, spotless, and inexpensive.

    Hazy a bit.
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    It always seems so around farmlands. Burning is utilized quite a bit to clear weeds or get rid of debris (and garbage sometimes too).

    The elevation gain and terrain features made this about the longest straight stretch I saw for quite a while.
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    The face of Cerro Rabon
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    I didn't make very good time. It seemed like I stopped every half mile for pictures.
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    Arroyo Blanco
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    Lots of these signs.
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    Cars coughing? Probably watch for fog, or in this case clouds.

    Picking up elevation pretty steadily.
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    Maybe not as dramatic, but some of these drainages must be approaching Barrancas de Cobre depth.
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    Stopped for breakfast at a roof top restaurant in Huatepec, Oaxaca.
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    @NotaYinzer , the owner was sporting the colors!
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    Not a bad view with my huevos a la mexicana.
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    This was around 5500 ft elevation. I'd started the day at 400. I figured I would be about topped out as that far road cut looked like "the pass".

    Looking back from that cut.
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    The city of Huatla.
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    I didn't really stop, but this looks like a place I could spend some time in.
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    Maybe some remote working for someone...

    TRUCKS LANDING JUMPS!!
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    As it turns out, Mexico doesn't have a shortage of up.
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    Near the actual pass at 7900 ft.

    On the other side, dropping into the valley.
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    Having the lush, wet areas on the east slopes, and the arid ones on the west slopes seemed weird. Opposite of the western United States.

    No doubt were in the rain shadow though.
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    Lots of up makes for lots of down.
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    With the road hugging the edges.
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    The elevation changes caused temperature fluctuations between 62f and 86f in the valley floor, though still at 3600 ft there. MEX182 might not be the most technical or curviest of the great roads of Mexico, but it didn't lack in those characteristics. Combined with the sheer beauty of the route it was... pleasant. Satisfying. Those might seem mild descriptors, but it made it a great experience. And the day's only half over!
    KRob1, Drybones, Oldmanx and 11 others like this.
  5. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    April 22, 2021 Parte dos: Up, redux

    See map in above post for route.

    My extensive route planning for the day consisted of looking at Google Maps and seeing a squiggly line. "That should be fun."

    So after a hydration and cookie break, head back into the hills.
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    OK, first a little bit of desert to cross.

    Then up.
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    Looking back.

    Another nominee for Shrine with the best view.
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    Looking down at the road I'd just come up.
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    It was REALLY hazy in this valley. Possibly due to some of the wildland fires going on in MX right now.

    After a lot more great riding, this time cresting around 8500 ft.
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    I stuck to the "main" roads, mostly paved. But there'd be a lot of fun exploring to be done in this region.

    Some kind of thistle?
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    The wild roses were easy to identify.
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    It was surprising to me how densely populated it was.
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    Certainly still quite rural, but they actually have neighbors.

    Another of the many roadway issues to watch for.
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    The dump truck just backed up a bit, as there had been no way for the Pepsi truck to get by. This of course took a few minutes to work out.

    There seemed to be some nice little shacks around too.
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    The road mostly stayed on the ridgelines above 8000 ft for quite a while.
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    It seems that not a lot of people take the way I happened to. Had to take several miles of rough gravel.
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    I didn't know it at the time, but here's where the down part roughly started.
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    More cloud cover on the east side of the crest too.
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    One thing I didn't get pics of (nor video) were the several small towns I went through. Most were not a big deal, but a couple were really busy with markets and traffic. The worst was Zongolica where I stopped for the night. Take market day, rush hour, and add a busy gravel company with fifty Mercedes Benz dump trucks. Making it worse was where most of these towns are spread across a hill top, Zongolica is in the bottom of a steep, narrow ravine. It wasn't too hairy, though those dump truck drivers really enjoy their air horns. Still crazy when I went into a restaurant for supper, but the streets were empty when I came out.

    Long day. My tracker said I had eight hours of moving time. So not a lot of carried speed for sure. Don't think I got past fourth gear except down in the desert. But what views! And really fun riding to boot. Great day!
    KRob1, Drybones, simbaboy and 7 others like this.
  6. Animo

    Animo Been n00b awhile

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    Awesome update, beautiful pictures :thumb

    You lucked out with visibility.

    I was just north of there last month, same ridge, and I could not even see that yellow fog sign.

    0AEDEEDC-798E-4816-BAF7-59CBE30F7C02.jpeg

    I loved that road. Can’t wait to go there again.
  7. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    Good stuff ! A great way to access Zongolica !
    You provide a fine example of what wonderful roads you can find even without “”planning “”them months beforehand .
    Cal, Animo and ScotsFire like this.
  8. Ohio_Danimal

    Ohio_Danimal If I die trying, at least I tried Supporter

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    Great stuff. Thanks for sharing.
    I miss Mexico
  9. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    Wait till you see where I stumbled around today then.


    Mexico misses you too. It mentioned it the other day.
    Turkeycreek, Cal, Animo and 2 others like this.
  10. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Excellent couple of updates @ScotsFire - looks like a fantastic route to get from point A to point B! So cool to ride over a couple passes creating 7k+ feet and then 8k+ feet. I bet showing those pics to most anyone in the States (non riders or travelers) wouldn't believe those are photos of Mexico. And yeah - it would be really weird to drop down the west side of a range and have it be the dry side.

    The last shot you attached in the parte uno update begs for drone footage. It'd be awesome to chase a rider along that road that hugs the hills.

    Knobby side down man, look forward to what comes next!
    ScotsFire likes this.
  11. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    The photography and story telling here is phenomenal :thumb
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  12. simbaboy

    simbaboy Lansing MBS Supporter

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    Super cool RR and pics.
    Imu
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  13. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    Aw, shucks y’all. Thanks.
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  14. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    April 23, 2021: Exploring Orizaba

    84 delicious miles
    Map 0423.jpg

    Got a pretty early start from Zongolica. It seems easier when I get in earlier the day before. I'm sure that's correlation without causation. Traffic was busy, but not like the evening before. The road quickly climbed out of the valley.
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    That's the town of Tequila. Not the one associated with the hooch.

    I dropped down there for some breakfast but no comidas were open to serve desayuno.
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    Taquitos de salsa it is then.

    Some minor issues leaving Tequila.
    (Video 40 seconds)


    As always, lots of other motorcycles on the road.
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    These mountains are consistently pleasing. The riding and the views.
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    That's today's goal.
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    Explore around the base of Pico de Orizaba.

    But first, I hit the city of Orizaba. Mostly needed to replenish my supply of pesos, but there happened to be an espresso shop next door to the bank. I don't get too many unmasculine european coffees in Mexico. Feed the addiction when you can.

    It didn't take long for up to ensue.
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    An example of why I haven't been going very quickly. Pointed back down hill after turning around for a shot.

    And the shots keep presenting themselves.
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    Tough way to make a living.
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    I eventually ran out of pavement which I had actually expected much sooner than it did. Hung a left onto a dirt road (YAY!) towards the hamlet of Pilancón. Not surprising I stopped for pictures.
    (Video 16 seconds)

    My GS's view more often than not.

    Also had some traffic to deal with.
    (Video 1:05)


    Taking the back way into Pilancón.
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    The churches in the area are painted bright colors. They really stand out on the hillsides.
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    Orizaba towers over all of it.
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    Al the more impressive as Pilancón sits just above 10000 ft elevation. I was pretty determined to not drop the bike much.

    Looking at Google Maps, there was supposed to be a route around the face towards the north. Past the Villas Pico de Orizaba.
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    I think this is some sort of eco-tourism retreat center. It looked pretty cool as I passed through, but the road ended.

    After a torta from a roadside tienda, I forced Google to give me directions. It REALLY didn't want me to go that way.
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    Glad I insisted.

    The peak remained shrouded in clouds all day long.
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    I had a plan for the next day that would work out a lot better if that cleared up some.

    To accompany the church in every village, there were quite a few significant shrines... pretty much everywhere.
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    The road did kind of go to shit.
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    Not that I really minded.
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    After riding the San Tadeo Arroyo in Baja California Sur last year, I don't get too worked up about rough roads.

    Especially with these views to sustain me.
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    After a slow fifteen miles or so of remote two track, the route finally emerges above the town of Cuiyachapa.
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    I was happy to get back to pavement. There was a chance of rain in the late afternoon weather forecast. The skies didn't look optimistic either.

    No reason to worry as it turned out. Taking the road down the hill to Coscomatepec saw the skies clear up. Down is relative as it was still over 5000 ft elevation. The town had a pretty nice centro area, though the internet service was poor, both wifi and cellular. I was really hoping the weather would stay decent as I hoped to go even higher the next day.
    Drybones, KRob1, roadcapDen and 9 others like this.
  15. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    April 24, 2021: Run to the top (ish)

    After a less than restful night, I got up and out the door around eight. There was again rain in the forecast in the afternoon and I didn't want to be in a bad spot if\when that happened. That potentially bad spot was a respite on the Pico de Orizaba for those intending to climb to the top. I had been told about this by a guy in the Villahermosa riding group. He said it was over 4000 meters. I'm in!

    Nice start to the day.
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    Clear skies and what is becoming the run of the mill stunning scenery.

    Entering Calcahualco, some landscaping I'd not seen in the mountain highlands before.
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    Ummm. OK.

    WHAT!! Hokey smokes Batman!
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    In the clear!

    And it stayed that way, becoming more visible through the haze the closer I got.
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    The views "downstream" didn't exactly suck.
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    "That looks like a fun road. Be cool if I could go up that."
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    From the "Be careful for what you wish for" files.

    Closer.
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    Stay on target.
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    The hamlet of Nuevo Jacal, last community headed up the mountain. Not quite 10000 ft elevation. To be perfectly honest, if I'd have turned around here, it would have been an excellent day. I highly recommend this as a route. Beautiful, great curves that don't beat you up. If there weren't topes in front of every cluster of three homes it would be nigh perfect. Even cruisers would enjoy this.

    But of course I didn't stop there.
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    Most of the dirt was challenging, but not too bad.

    (video 20 seconds)


    Though the views remained a distraction.
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    (video 37 seconds)


    Over and over.
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    Some rugged ground.
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    (video 1:06)


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    The structures at the "base" of the mountain is the goal.
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    Still a ways to go.
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    The rest wasn't as tough technically. Some sand and ruts was all.

    At this bend, there was of course...
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    A couple shrines.

    Looking back.
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    Close!
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    And there!!
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    There were a couple of caretakers there, and a visiting couple too.

    Some more small shrines, these to specific people.
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    Even this high, life abounds. Lizards up here.
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    Down the canyon.
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    And up the hill.
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    You can see the trail continuing up.

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    How high? My GPS said 13960 ft. This would put this ride as either the second or third highest ride for me, behind Mt Carlson in Colorado. The summit of the mountain is 18491 ft. Highest in Mexico and third highest in North America.

    The weather was perfect and I managed to not drop the bike at all. I was really feeling the elevation and got real dizzy once standing up after taking a picture. But it was exactly the experience I was hoping for. And all before eleven in the morning. But now what? Down of course, but I literally had no idea where to end up at the end of the day.
    Drybones, akaDigger, KRob1 and 9 others like this.
  16. Turkeycreek

    Turkeycreek Gringo Viejo

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    outstanding
  17. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    Notes:
    • My laptop didn’t seem to enjoy the ride up Orizaba as much as I did. Several keys on the keyboard aren’t working, and it has a lag at times. My security software is up to date, so expect even the lag is a physical issue. While not ruggedized, it is all solid state drives and as sturdy as I could afford three or four years ago. Given the places I haul it, it’s held up amazingly well. I have figured a way to use the tablet mode to type, but it’s a hassle since it’s not as quick and I have to switch modes back and forth a couple times to get everything up. The gist is that it’s likely I’ll fall slowly more behind with this report.
    • For being a tire I threw on simply because it was all I could find, I’ve been real impressed with the Metzler Karoo 3. It really hooks up on loose surfaces: gravel, sand, and baby’s head rock as seen above. As always, I didn’t capture the worst of the rocks. Who stops in the middle of that crap for pictures? Anyway, we’ll see how good the longevity is. I’m a big fan of the Motoz Tractionator GPS for that reason, as well as the great traction I get out of it.
    • The front suspension that delayed my departure. After a month of riding, I have been really skeptical if it was worth it. I really couldn’t tell a difference, even on the roads in the Copper Canyon area. But it made a big difference on the roughest spots of the Orizaba climb. Front end didn’t hop around at all. It made the climb much easier. Since I put myself into those types of situations relatively often, I’ll have to say it was money well spent. Probably not as much of an benefit as upgrading the rear shock was, but still a big improvement during the most challenging sections.
    chilejack, Animo and simbaboy like this.
  18. simbaboy

    simbaboy Lansing MBS Supporter

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    Agreed. :clap

    @ScotsFire --you are really testing the upgraded suspension on your GS.
    I am sure it was worth it.
    Imu
    EDIT: I typed this post just before you posted above. Its 6AM in St.George. What time is it where you are at?
    ScotsFire likes this.
  19. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    It’s an hour ahead of you where I’m at, but expect I’ll be getting into the Mountain Time Zone shortly.
    simbaboy likes this.
  20. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Great update @ScotsFire! Had to both laugh and cringe at the vid of leaving Tequila, especially seeing a full size bus heading the opposite direction waiting for the cows move out of the way. And the vid of the traffic you encountered...lol. Not sure why it strikes me, but seeing the female walk with the guy on horseback - so much for chivalry...LOL.

    The routes you're hitting are fantastic, especially the off-road bits. Wouldn't want to be stuck up there in weather either, glad that didn't happen as you descended into the next town.

    Gonna catch up on the next update now :D