Mexico - Now or never (N. Georgia to Xilitla, MX and back)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by oyster, Jul 8, 2012.

  1. oyster

    oyster Been here awhile

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    Two regular guys, first time south of the border, 4200 miles, 10 days, 2 big bikes, trip of a lifetime...
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    #1
  2. oyster

    oyster Been here awhile

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    This isn't a trip about two worldly wanderers with a death wish, or two kids who are too young to know better, or too reckless to care - just two regular guys bitten by the desire for a little real life adventure. We found ours in Mexico...

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    The above picture pretty much illustrates the general public's perception of travel in Mexico at the moment. If you decide to consider a trip south of the border, you'll hear more about the dangers (both real and imagined) than you ever wanted to know. There's just no way around it. Are there dangers - yes. Are they too great to warrant a visit to one of the most amazing adventure destinations on earth. That, you have to decide for yourself. Every one who has never been said "don't go". Those who have been said "go". In the end we felt that we (1) weren't getting any younger, (2) we had (in a Margarita induced moment of weakness) gained wifely approval and those are never to be wasted, and (3) to quote Mark Twain, you'll
    "be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did".

    So, we went...


    But let's back up for a minute. Let me introduce the would-be intrepid travelers.


    First, there's Wes

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    He pays for his play time by working on these

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    www.apexcycleshop.com



    And then there's me - Bill


    I look kind of serious in this picture, but really it's just that it is hard to take pictures of yourself and not have a weird look on your face.
    :huh
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    When not riding or showering my beautiful wife with attention (did I mention she let me go to Mexico?) I earn my keep by making these...


    (this is the ass-end of a bamboo fly fishing rod if you're wondering)

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    www.oysterbamboo.com
    #2
  3. WeazyBuddha

    WeazyBuddha Carbon-Based Humanoid Supporter

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    Gorgeous fly rod and gorgeous vintage BMW.

    A Mexico RR... :clap

    :lurk
    #3
  4. JonnyCinco

    JonnyCinco Been here awhile

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    MORE!!!!!!! please
    #4
  5. oyster

    oyster Been here awhile

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    Once we decided to get on with it we began to gather up our gear. Wes lives about thirty minutes from me. Since we both have families and low paying, long hour, businesses to run we had to prepare separately. We only got together a couple of times in the month or so leading up to the trip. We made lists, made piles, ordered our TVIPs (temporary vehicle import permits) and insurance, passports, blah blah blah.
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    We did a few short rides to shake the bugs out. Then we focused most of our time burning the midnight oil at our respective shops, trying to make sure we finished up our work that had to be done before we could skip out to play on the bikes. As May 20th approached, we realized we could never make our deadline so pushed our departure a day to avoid leaving totally spent and sleep deprived.

    Speaking of bikes, Wes rides a KTM 950 Adventure he bought new in 2005, We made a pact not to wash our bikes so they would look less appealing to the banditos.
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    while I'll be riding my 2012 Yamaha Super Tenere which I've had for about a year now. I forgot to mention the "pact of undesirability" to my Yamaha dealership, and when they balanced the new Heidenaus they scrubbed it up - thus making it once again very lustable.
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    We'd read all of the reports about small dirt bikes being the ideal choice for Mexico, but we had limited time, a lot of miles to cover, reasonable confidence off-road on these bikes, and well, these are the bikes we have - so we rode 'em!

    Here's a look at the gang ready to go thanks to the usual super dorky, yet always reliable "pose with your bikes" picture. Besides everyone told us, "we want to make it easy for the State Department to identify your bodies"! :lol3:huh
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    Shortly after this pic, we pulled out of the driveway and pointed west, as we watched our comfort zone disappear in the mirror.
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    #5
  6. oyster

    oyster Been here awhile

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    Since our time was limited, the plan was to make the Mexican border as fast as possible - fast bikes, fast roads, fast food on the way to something new. We allowed ourselves two days to cover the distance from Blue Ridge, Ga to Piedras Negras MX where we would shift gears and see the sights. Day one would require us to cover around 600 miles so we settled in to I85 to burn some miles, and to try to figure out this whole taking pictures while riding thing!
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    Hmmm... what hadn't we taken the time to acquire for the trip? Oh yes, highway pegs! We did our best to stay comfortable through the monotony of Interstate miles. It's common practice around here to slam Interstate travel, and I'll agree it's not much for site seeing. However, what it does
    extremely well is to allow those of us without an open ended schedule, to travel to the places we'd really like to see. Then it gets us home fast thereby extended our potential range of exploration. All hail the U.S. Interstate system!:clap
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    We basically rode from tank to tank which for the Super 10 and the big Katoom meant we started looking for convenient gas stops as we approached the 200 mile mark. This also allowed us a chance to re-fill the Camel Backs, chug a Gatorade, and cool down a bit as the temperature was climbing into the 90's.

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    High temps and afternoon humidity means just one thing in the South this time of year - thunderstorms! And lots of them.


    The afternoon riding schedule turned into... ride as fast as we dared until the rain, lightening, and wind forced us to find shelter... hide under a gas station pump until the rain slowed... then repeat. The wind was like nothing I had experienced while riding (and I've crossed Kansas during tornado season). It was honestly the first time I truly thought I was going to be blown off of the road, and this is on a four lane highway! All of this stop and go was really killing our schedule, but we were determined not to trade a day exploring Mexico for a day of touring gas stations in Mississippi, so we pressed on into the night.

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    Finally, after an exhausting day of starts and stops we arrived in Covington, Louisiana where we temporarily took shelter in a "cave", before seeking out a hotel for the night.

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    Half way to Mexico, and the true start of our adventure...
    #6
    Steve06 likes this.
  7. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer Super Supporter

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    What a great first trip down South¡

    Edward James place is one of my favorite stops in Mexico, with some real nice riding in the area to boot.

    I can see many more trips South in youOoor futures if you can make the time.
    #7
  8. Killer Whale KTM

    Killer Whale KTM Life is the adventure!

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    Good Luck Guys !!
    It will be fun to follow along ! Traveling with an ace mechanic like Wes is a real luxury !
    Have fun, be safe,
    Killer Whale KTM
    Jeff
    #8
  9. oyster

    oyster Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the encouragement Throttlemeister. Your post reminds me of another preparation nugget I failed to mention. If anyone is reading this post because they're considering a first trip south of their own, I highly recommend picking up the DVD Motorcycle Mexico. Getting a helmet cam view of how things work down South as well as hearing first hand accounts of those who have been, goes a long ways towards easing the anxious mind. I especially liked Throttlemeisters advice on food for the Espanol Impaired... "Order the Especial, they're not going to bring you poison!":lol3
    Two big thumbs up!
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    http://www.motorcyclemexico.com/store/
    #9
  10. David13

    David13 Been here awhile

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    I am interested in your trip. You left on May 28? When did you return?
    dc
    #10
  11. oyster

    oyster Been here awhile

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    Actually left on the 21st (a day later than we hoped) and returned ten days later. More of the report coming soon.
    #11
  12. oyster

    oyster Been here awhile

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    Since neither Wes nor myself are what you'd call "morning people", we rolled out of bed at the crack of 8:30, had three or four cups of coffee, and got on the road at the crack of 10:00. The sun was already intense to the point that we put on our riding gear in unison, neither of us wanting to stand around with a helmet or jacket on baking while we waited on the other to dress. Fortunately, I'm about 10 seconds more organized than Wes at all times, which made it appear as though I was really on top of things.:D
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    Back to the grind. This time following Interstate 10W across southern Louisiana.

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    Eventually we noticed we had ridden onto a bridge that seemed to go on - and on - and on. In fact I was really beginning to worry about our gas situation. This double bridge sits about 50 feet over the swamps of Louisiana and must be 30 or so miles long. There are no exits, turnarounds, not even a shoulder.

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    Just as we were approaching fumes, the bridge ended and we came upon a nice gas station and restaurant. The perfect place to refuel the bike and body Cajun style! The restaurant looked really nice, and we thought we'd splurge and have a sit-down, schedule be damned. However, just as we were heading for the door we heard a horn honk. The local good old boy we'd been talking with at the gas station waved us away from our intended Shangrila. He pointed insistently at another joint which was clearly the old gas station convenience store before it was spruced up.

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    Well, I'm not one to ignore local knowledge, so we did a 180 and had lunch here.

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    This fine lady told us how lucky we were that we hadn't come through the previous night when a drunken trucker drove the whole bridge in the wrong direction and seriously injured a lot of people. It all worked out however, because once the police blockaded the bridge, they stumbled upon the mass murderer who had been throwing all of the bodies off of the bridge! Hey, all's well that ends well right
    :lol3. I love Louisiana!
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    And I love gator tail nuggets- properly prepared of course.

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    After a great lunch it was back on the run for the long, flat, hot, run across Texas. I don't know what's so great about Houston but it must be awesome! I say this because there are about a billion people there and none of them seem to be going anywhere - especially around 5:45 on a Monday. That's all I've got to say about that.


    Eventually we pulled into Uvalde which would serve as our jumping off point for the border in the morning. We were pretty whipped but also anxious about our first border crossing. I had chose Eagle Pass / Piedra Negras as our crossing point because it seemed to make the headlines less than some of the more popular routes lately.

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    That said, I probably shouldn't have been channel surfing as I waited to fall asleep. It seemed that the cartel violence had even spilled over into the Texas side as a couple of dismembered bodies had turned up that very day, directly in the route of our morning travel. Yep, probably should have left that TV off.
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    Tomorrow - MEXICO!!!
    #12
  13. acejones

    acejones Long timer

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    Didn't you just love I-10 ?:puke1
    #13
  14. one2ride

    one2ride Adventurer

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    Dam the news, press on. Sounds like you’re going to have an awesome trip
    #14
  15. fltplan

    fltplan Just toolin around

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    Just did a 3 day trip to mexico (baja) and have heard all the usual warnings about the drug cartels and such. Your statement about the warnings vs how bad you want to adventure is very true. I weighed the pros and cons and decided to do it. Had a great time and I'll be posting up a ride report as well. Glad you had a great time and made it home safe. Looking forward to the rest of the report. :clap
    #15
  16. sraff

    sraff Been here awhile

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    I crossed into reynosa sunday morning, took maybe 30 minutes. I don't speak spanish and had nothing in advance except insurance. Reynosa is a pit so blew thru town without stopping. All cool till I realized I had no pesos and needed gas. But pemex gladly excepts dollars,.....at 10 pesos/ dollar [​IMG] live & learn. Also, I ride slow 55-60 mph, everything on the road was passing me, sometimes at 100+, they expect you to move over to the shoulder. If you don't, they may be 1' off your elbow. Oh, and don't let the 4 wide on a 2 lane worry you, just share the road. Really, it's not bad. Have fun, enjoy the journey
    #16
  17. sraff

    sraff Been here awhile

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    Sitting here watching the all star game, in spanish, mixed with reading your rr. Missed the part about you being back, so my 3 days of wisdom may not help.:evil I'm still following and learning.
    #17
  18. oyster

    oyster Been here awhile

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    Sraff, Check the OXXO convenience store by all Pemex stations for a convenient ATM.

    Have fun!
    #18
  19. oyster

    oyster Been here awhile

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    The next morning was an anxious one for us. I know it's not very studly to say that in a ride report where adventure is the goal, but it's the truth. It's a strange feeling to intentionally put yourself in a sketchy situation for no good reason other than curiosity. The border violence of the previous day was making headlines, the police were on high alert, and so were we.
    We spent very little time under 80mph on the way to Uvalde, but for some reason we were much more casual with our speed as we approached the border.

    We topped off our fuel in Eagle Pass so that we could put the border as far behind us as possible, once we had cleared into Mexico.
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    The Heidenau K-60 Scouts were like new after more than a 1,000 miles of high speed interstate.
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    Here's a "Googled" shot of the border crossing into Mexico. We had other things on our mind than taking photos. You simply pay a couple of bucks at the toll to cross the bridge, show your passport, then you're funneled into a tunnel like area for customs check. [​IMG]

    Here's another Google Image of the scene at Mexican customs at Piedras Negras. There's NO WAY I was pulling out my own camera, but this shot will help you imagine what we saw. The police went through all of our bags while asking us lots of questions in Spanish. It was amazing to me that less than 100 feet from the U.S. border, nobody could be found to translate for us. The police checking us in seemed relatively relaxed and would smile and chuckle at our inability to answer their simple questions. The guys in green however, were older, more worn by the sun, and there was no doubt the machine gun in their hand wasn't just a prop. They meant business! After they were satisfied we weren't there to cause any more problems than they already had, they waved us on. The concrete barricades funneled us out into our first Mexican city. There was no way to tell where to go from here, no signs, not even a hint as to which way traffic should travel on the one-way street. We sat motionless for as long as we dared without looking suspicious, and finally a car drove by revealing the correct direction of travel.
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    We rode hard all day following my little Garmin Nuvi which guided us flawlessly out of the city and across the desert. After about fifty minutes we came to another official looking area where we again had our bags, passports, and TVIPs checked.

    We didn't take many pics this day as we were more destination oriented than site-seein, and were riding southeast fast.
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    The desert was brutally hot - well over a 100 degrees and we had a long ride ahead to get to the mountains. We had read lots of reports of the Copper Canyon and Baja, but this was the Mexican heartland and we were discovering it as we went. Many of the towns were in bad shape, falling down cinder block buildings, caved in tin roofs, etc.
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    We were determined to make the mountains by nitefall...
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    and we did!

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    This little gem is Galeana which is tucked away high up in the mountains a couple hours south of Monterrey. I saw a sign for nice looking hotel called the Hotel Magdalena. We rode through the whole town several times in the dimming light and couldn't find it, so stopped here at the Jardin Colonial.
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    We were shown to a room on the third floor which overlooked the town square. There was no air-conditioning but the fans were fine in the cooler mountain air. There was no "secure" parking other than in front of the steps where they could be seen from the front desk. Being dehydrated and generally ass-whooped from our first push into a new country, we shed our riding gear and walked across the plaza in search of some food and a cold cerveza (yeah, I know that Spanish word):lol3
    #19
  20. shallowskiff

    shallowskiff Been here awhile

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    Subscribed!
    #20