Mexico Route Planning Advise Needed

Discussion in 'Latin America' started by Jammin, Sep 12, 2007.

  1. Jammin

    Jammin Integrating back into society

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    Hola, I'm planning to leave next weekend for an 18 day solo trip to Mexico and need some general advise on route planning and the trip on a whole.

    Here's some background info: This will be my first real dual-sport trip as such. I currently sport-tour a lot on a Suzuki GSX-R600 (just crossed 43K miles) and have been into Canada, all over the Rockies from Montana to NM, the Appalachians and all over the Midwest. I have taken three 10 days trips and one of them was solo. I rode the DR down in Mississippi in April along a bit of the TAT. :ricky

    To prepare for this Mexico trip, I have:
    - bought a nicely setup 04 DR650 (skid plate, jets, pipes, handguards, rack, IMS 4.9 tank)
    - bought a Garmin 60Cx with Touratech mount with BiciMapas
    - bought new adventure gear (motoport jacket and pants) (upgraded from JoeRocket Alter Ego stuff)
    - fitted the bike with new Kenda K270s (learnt how to change the tubes myself) :wink:
    - been pouring over the Lonely Planet Mexico and other travel books
    - learning Spanish through language CDs (know French from school)
    - reading a lot of ride reports here on ADV

    My intent for the trip was to get a taste for riding in a different country (Canada doesn't count, sorry :zilla ) in preparation for a future Around The World ride. I could only take off about 2 weeks from work, so that's why I'm limited to 18 days. My plan is to ride Copper Canyon, head down the Pacific Coast, swinging inland to see the cities like Gaudalajara and Zacatecas, spending a day at the Zipolite beach, heading to Oaxaca and maybe visiting Palenque before heading north on the Gulf Coast, swinging by Real de Catorce and then stopping by friends in Monterrey before crossing back into the US.

    Do you think that's feasible in 18 days? I am planning on slabbing it straight from Chicago to Big Bend, 700 miles a day and crossing at Ojinaga. Then I'll have a solid 14 days in Mex before slabbing it back home over the last 2 days. I think I have pretty good long distance riding stamina, but this will surely be a test. I'm counting on my beaded seat cover. :rayof

    Most of my sport-touring trips are high-mileage intensive, averaging 450 miles a day (we recently did 4800 miles in 10 days through CO, UT and AZ). I definitely know that on roads through Mexico, averaging 200 miles a day would be more than enough. Is that a good daily estimate?

    Do you think 10 days for Copper Canyon to Palenque is rushing it too much? I plan to get into the towns or cities by late afternoon and enjoy the evening there. Then, 4 days scuttling up the Gulf shouldnt be too rushed, right? I wish I had more time to take a more relaxed trip but I'm hoping to get a glimpse for what riding in Mexico is like. Also looking forward to sampling all the good food all over the country. Heard it varies a lot from region to region.

    Any comments on how I should tweak the trip or does it sound ok the way I'm generally planning it to go?
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  2. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    Take what time you do have and go have fun. Four days to go back up the gulf side is plenty, could even run it hard in two.

    I don't think you'll be on the original rear tire when you get home.
    #2
  3. Virtual Rider

    Virtual Rider Traveler

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    If you really don't mind 500-700 mile days on a DR650 then sure it can be done. It's a bit hard to believe that it'll be much of a DS ride since to make that many miles you'll have to avoid dirt roads for the most part.

    Obviously everyone has their priorities but I personally wouldn't try it. That sounds like nothing short of a grueling, butt-numbing, endurance testing two weeks...not at all what I get on a bike for. But then it's not by butt :lol3

    Lone Rider has good words. Cross the border. Set a goal each day and make the best of each minute getting to that goal. Have fun. Don't drink the water. In my opinion, THAT will be good practice for a RTW trip.
    #3
  4. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    I'm with VR, that it probably can be done (many Mexican roads are in great shape) but it's not my kind of thing, especially if you want to take the cuotas. Mexico is a slow-paced, laid back place, and you ought to think about taking your time, and not planning on so much distance.

    If you can fit it into your schedule, I highly recommend Hwy 40 (libre, of course) between Durango and Mazatlan. My favorite road when I was in Mexico. The west coast is very nice the further south you get.

    I ran about 250 miles/day when I was in Mexico. Had a couple of 400-mile days and a few 100 mile days. I aimed for some gravel roads, and stayed off the cuotas.

    Oaxaca is a neat city. The highways leading in and out of the city are great riding through the mountains.

    Jamie
    #4
  5. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    The only tweak I suggest is to be sure to take your digital camera and a note recorder and make sure you give us a ride report soon after you return.

    This sounds like a classic in the making.

    Bob
    #5
  6. Jammin

    Jammin Integrating back into society

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    Yeah, I'm sure it won't really be a DS ride after Copper Canyon, but hey, better than riding in Mexico on my gixxer. I'll get my dirt fix when I'm riding with some more experienced dirt riders this side of the border.

    Yup, I'm going to see how the first 7 or 8 days go and then adjust the return trip accordingly.

    I hear you on the distance, but it's this bothering thing called time. Sux. I guess I'm probably trying to do too much in too little time.
    That's sorta my plan too, some days just ride to get to somewhere, other days enjoy a road that I come across.
    Yeah see, I've been reading all the Mexico ride reports and making notes of which roads to ride (like the Espinoza Diablo) and which cities to visit. So, i'm going to try my best to join the dots and find some new dots. :grinner

    Most definitely there'll be a ride report and I'm taking multiple SD cards for the digi cam.
    #6
  7. cbx1980

    cbx1980 THe Un-Cola

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    I've been to Mexico many times and I think you're trying to do too much in too little time. A 400 mile day in Mexico is a very long one. Skip Palenque, go to Teotihucan instead. It is near Mexico City. You can go from there to Veracruz, then head north.

    Buy insurance for yourself and bike. Don't forget to cancel your vehicle permit on the way out.

    Enjoy:freaky
    #7
  8. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    I had the same plan in May- only not for as long. I just wanted a taste of Mexico. I rode from Laredo to Monterey to Ciudad Victoria to Tampico in one day. I was scared out of my f-ing mind. By the trucks.

    I don't remember the mileage from Laredo to Tampico but it was in the 500-600 mile range. 500 miles in Mexico kicked my ass.

    True story: from Laredo to Monterey I had trucks come up to within 5 feet of my tail. Going 80. 80mph. I couldn't go faster because the road wasn't good enough for my loaded-down R1100RS. On a good road I can do 130, and there are some stretches where 130 is do-able, but-

    Sometimes there's no shoulder, no escape. You get two semis, or more semis, and they box you in and you know they don't care about you at all.

    On the way home, I left Tampico around noon, got to New Orleans at 7 PM the next day. Left New Orleans at noon, got home to Madison, WI, in 24 hours, 1040 miles. After Mexico, riding in the US is EASY.

    When I go back I'm avoiding the toll roads, and I'm taking the GS. I can't wait to go back. I learned an awful lot in two days of Mexico.

    Do you know about the visa and bond requirements? Before you enter Mexico, you can go to just about any border-town (in the US) and buy insurance for Mexico. I got mine from a Farmers Insurance agent. He also represented a Mexico insurance company. You'll have to post a bond for your bike. I gave them my American Express card and they put a $700 hold on it. They took the hold off when I left Mexico.

    Do you have emergency medical evacuation insurance? I have one from Travel Guard. www.travelguard.com; Or you can join the BMWMOA (even if you don't own a BMW) and buy their emergency insurance. Next time I'm buying the BMW policy because it also evacuates your bike.

    Have you been to your doctor? I always take, with me: cipro, amoxicillan, zithromax, and an anti-malarial prophilactic. Take the cipro at the first sign of stomach distress and you'll avoid an awful lot of pain. If you get sick- any kind of sick- start with one antibiotic, and if it doesn't work after 3 days, switch to another one. Take a wilderness medicine handbook with you and it'll give you the same advice. Wear OFF at night. Lock your bike and sleep close to it.

    All together I very much enjoyed Mexico. In some ways it's an awful lot more civilized than the US.
    #8
  9. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    I like your post, bananaman.
    Posted with passion. :D
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  10. damasovi

    damasovi Long timer

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    Amigo your plan is as big as mine but I have not doing yet, how ever I had a plan also like your, from BC mexico to BC canada and then alberta and then Vancouver Island, so after 3 day realize I had to much, but that was me you are different.

    All the stuff said before me is good, I would recomend the center of mexico there is a lot to see and, you mention Zacatecas, after that is Guadalupe, nice monastery. Try Queretaro, San Miguel de Allende (ok gringo paradise but still nice) Guanajuato is so Colonial (from the Spanish) and more on the east there is San Luis Potosi, try the Huasteca Potosina it will be worth it (if you like nature)

    If you go all the way to Oaxaca it would be nice but last weeks we have had so many Hurricanes so I would ask about roads along the Golf of Mexico (veracruz and Oaxaca)

    And DO not forget, you have to give us a ride report!!

    BE safe and enjoy
    Damasovi
    #10
  11. acejones

    acejones Long timer

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    You're trying to do too much milage in too short a time. You won't really enjoy Mexico that way. Its a fabulous country with wonderful people and scenery. I recommend 250-300 mile days max.
    #11
  12. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Eagle1

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    You might want to rent a small Penske enclosed truck for a couple of hundred bucks and put the bike in the back of the truck, dump the truck at the border, then rent it for the trip back home or ride home if you still feel like slabbing after the Mexico run. We're trucking the four bikes from Texas Hill Country to Yuma, dumping the Penske ($230) 10 foot truck then doing a loop down Baja, ride the ferry across to the main land, put new tires on the bikes then do Copper Canyon, Big Bend ,then end up back at the Texas Hill Country starting point. Saves you and the bike for the really good riding. Doesn't cost that much to rent the truck. If you really want to keep the cost down you can even rent a pickup from Enterprise. Either one will cost around $200. I would plan on 200-300 miles a day once in country. You'll probably do more but I'd plan on 200-300 to keep a good schedule. If you ride the entire route, I'd plan on tires for the long ride home. They're probably going to be toast. I know in Baja we smoked our rear tires in 800 miles on our XRs. Had to buy tires at the Rice and Beans. Got lucky and found some. We're having an extra set of knobbies shipped down to the Rice and Beans this trip for each bike. We're also having an additional set shipped to our hotel in La Paz that are more DS oriented to give us the mileage and aren't as aggressive for the Copper Canyon/Big Bend part of the trip. We're going down Nov 10th ish and planning on a 3 week trip. 4 of us have signed up so far.:clap

    Have a great time, don't get hurt, and lock your bike at night.
    #12
  13. kennyanc

    kennyanc Long timer

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    I see you are planning on stopping by Real de Catorce on your way out. Better check the dates but the Festival de San Francisco de Assisi is held during the first couple of weeks of October.


    Tried to get a room there but was told by a hotel I contacted that if I was there by the first of October I could ride in but after that I would have to leave the bike in Matehuala and take the bus in. We decided to hit it on another trip.

    Also the Festival Internacional Cervantino will be held in Guanajuato from October 3-21. So far I have only been able to find reasonably priced rooms about 10 miles out of town. The rooms remaining downtown on Juarez Ave and near the square are running $200 plus. I really want to spend some time there but $200 bucks a night blows my travel budget all to hell.

    At least 2 of us are crossing at Presidio on Sunday, Sept. 30th for 3 weeks in MX. Maybe we will run into you sometime. Riding a DR and a KLR.

    Kenny
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  14. pilot

    pilot ...

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    Keep in mind a two day haul from the border to Chicago is around 36 hours actual riding time. After you've been on a bike for two or three weeks, your daily mileage tends to go down. I would stretch it to three days minimum.

    One good way to do it is ride and have fun till you are half way through your alloted time, then head home. Trying to stretch it if you HAVE to be home at a certain date makes you do stupid things.
    #14
  15. Jammin

    Jammin Integrating back into society

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    That sounds like a good plan. I definitely wanted to see some ruins, but also wanted to stay away from the Mexico city area to avoid the crowds, but I guess Teotihuacan is a better idea to save time and Pyramid of the Sun and Moon should be nice to see.

    Yup, getting insurance from Bajabound and have noted to cancel my permit on exit.

    Hey Bananaman, thanx for that informative post. I come from India, so don't worry, I know about driving with no rules and being shoved off the road by oncoming traffic :jerko

    Yup, I've read about what all it takes to cross the border, getting insurance, posting bond on a credit card, etc.

    Med Evac: I was thinking about it, not sure. Can you send me a link to the BMWMOA insurance page, couldn't find it on their home page. I've read about MedJet as well. Let me do more research on it...

    Health wise: I travel to China for work so I've gotten all my shots and I hail from India (where my mom and sis are doctors), so I'm definitely good with immunizations and a whole bunch of other shots I probably dont need :lol2

    Regarding civility: I heard and read that more than a few times that it's actually safer to ride in Mexico than here and that the people are generally a lot more nice. I'll find out for myself.

    Hola Amigo, yeah, I've been watching the hurricanes and trying to gauge how severe their destruction was. I'll get local updates once I get in the area.

    That's what I'm planning on. We'll see how far that gets me.

    I thought a lot about trucking it to the border and back, but decided that getting tires that could last the whole trip would be less of a hassle. I read up on the Kenda K270s and most people say they got about 6000 out of the rear, even on Mexico trips. It's going to be 3000 miles round trip to the border and I'm guestimating around 250 miles for 13 days in Mexico for around 3200 miles. I think I should be ok. If not, I'll note down a few shops in San Antonio, just in case for the ride back.
    #15
  16. pilot

    pilot ...

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    Not really. Its different. There is far less enforcement of traffic laws, so drivers are just trying to get past you and everything else on the road. If you're from India, you'll do fine.
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  17. Jammin

    Jammin Integrating back into society

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    Hey Kenny, that's good info to have. I'll see how that relates to my travel dates. Do you guys generally book hotels in advance in the big cities or just get there, open up the Lonely Planet and see what's available? That's one of my concerns for this trip, not knowing if there's going to space available in my budget when I roll into a town. I'm hoping there is. If not, I'll move on.

    Would be great to meet up on the road. I'll be on a yellow DR (no decals) with blue helmet.

    Yup, I think if I needed to I could extend the trip by a day. My manager isn't too strict (phew).

    I think my plan is going to be to ride down as far south in 10 days in Mexico, hopefully hit Oaxaca and then turn around. If Day 10 arrives sooner, then I'll turn around then.
    #17
  18. 97Octane

    97Octane Defining Mediocrity

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    Heres my take.

    I survived over a week riding down there (Just got back last Sunday) 9 days in Mexico, cattle, sheep, donkeys, pot holes, cobblestones, Semi's, trucks, cars, people, 4 wheelers, scooters and God knows what else on the roads... it wasnt until I returned to Houston riding back that I began to get scared of the vehicles around me.

    I give credit where credit is due... they drive differently than us yes, but I would prefer to ride in Mexico with those people than any day in Estados Unidos with the clowns on the road here... thats a fact.
    #18
  19. Jammin

    Jammin Integrating back into society

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    Some questions regarding the route:

    Besides riding to Batopilas and the Espinoza Diablo, what other roads are a must ride? I know this trip will be more about seeing the sights along the way, but I'd also like to get some good riding in.

    Also, which way is the Espinoza the most fun - heading east or west? I prefer uphills, so I'm thinking east from Mazatlan... (I wish I had like 2 months to just roam around and find all this out for myself.)

    Which are the good roads leading into and out of Oaxaca?

    Is riding Hwy 200 along the Michoacan coast a good ride? I would think so; seems similar to Hwy 1 along the California coast, right. I love me some water bodies.

    Anything worthwhile on the Gulf Coast heading north? I'm trying to avoid the Cuotas if I can.

    From Monterrey, what's the best border crossing back into the states. I think I should avoid Laredo for the traffic. But it would get me on Interstate right away. Matamoros would be an option, but it looks to be a ways away between Monterrey and San Antonio. What do you guys think?
    #19
  20. 97Octane

    97Octane Defining Mediocrity

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    Depending on the time of year, the Gulf Coast heading north is very HOT and not worth it, not much to see. We enjoyed the High plains travelling north at some altitude. Laredo isnt bad at all... use the Columbia Crossing. Finest crossing in Tejas and launches you right out on I-35. Cudos on avoiding the Cuotas. They are very very nice roads, and took them going down, and largely avoided them coming back, and got to see a whole lot more of the towns.

    We went down through Laredo at Columbia, and returned up through Reynosa. Jeebus it was hot there...
    #20