RTW the Jamie Z Way: Central Mexico

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Jamie Z, Nov 29, 2020.

  1. Natgeo14

    Natgeo14 Long timer

    Mar 30, 2019
    Des Moines, IA
    That shop owner^ has good sales skills
  2. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

    May 29, 2002
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    Expensive but I've found Mobil 1 10w-40 moto oil at Mexican Autozone or Walmart.

    Moto specific shops do have Motul 7100 available if you plan and search. 7100 is the finest moto oil in the world for street riding, bar none.

  3. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

    May 29, 2002
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    I think Monte Alban might be still closed because of Covid?
  4. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

    May 29, 2002
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    I vote for Zipolite and heading out naked for the day. :-)

    Jamie was too slow to attend the fest.

    spokester and Charmin like this.
  5. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

    May 29, 2002
    Fort Collins, Colorado
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  6. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Oct 17, 2006
    Around Denver
    Camping on the beach tonight. Very limited cell signal. Hopefully I can upload some pics in the next day or two.
  7. Disco Stu

    Disco Stu Long timer

    Oct 6, 2006
    The Center of my Own Universe
    What’s the temp on the beach? How’s the gear handling the cold snap? Able to set up your tent in the dark whilst drinking a beer?
  8. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

    Jan 26, 2012
    GTA, ON, CDA
    Bgunn likes this.
  9. jwc

    jwc Ready to go Supporter

    Jul 20, 2009
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    We have a 2015 CB500X with SW Motech engine guards and skid plate ( actually more of a gravel guard as it’s not intended to be in the same service as a dirt bike bash plate which is what the Rally Raid is more geared to ). On our travels I buy an aluminum baking pan, buy the oil at an auto parts store. I leave the “skid plate” on and use an extension and swivel attachment to remove the oil drain bolt which on the 2015 is on the front of the case not the bottom. It takes a bit of
    finagling with the swivel but I found it quicker and easier than fooling with the skid plate. Mess is minimal and the auto parts store disposes / recycles the oil and the aluminum pan and old oil filter goes in the trash.

    Davidprej likes this.
  10. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

    Feb 9, 2008
    For noobs ; In Mexico just about any moto repair shop,independent general service auto garage and " cambio de aceite "shop you see will be willing to help you . First ask them if they have the oil grade and viscosity one would like . If they do have something one can work with just purchasing the oil there will always get one the loan of a drain pan and a shady or dry spot where one may do the job oneself . There will be no additional charge for the use of their workspace, no complaints about insurance regulations not allowing this . If there is no suitable small oil pan available to slide under the bike it is easy enough to find an empty WITH CAP 5L or US-gallon jug formerly holding oil,milk ,antifreeze, or water in their trash , cut open on the wide side and VOILA ,instant drain pan . The oil will be poured into their big recycle drum .

    Personally I have in various instances been disappointed by such a shop not having suitable oil but then they suggested I go to '' Otto Zon ", or some other business to buy the oil and return to use THEIR place to do the work . And then they ask for no money , but I insist on giving them a propina for refrescos all around . Just because of the hassle around liability and prevalent unwillingness ( Auto Zone excepted ) to allow self-work on premises in the USA I will do the self-service oil and filter change IN Mexico just after or before crossing the border of
    the States .

    DSCN4606.JPG DSCN4609.JPG A good place and time ,La Paz BCS and along the Camino Real, S of Monterey ,NL.

    Attached Files:

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  11. Cal

    Cal Long timer

    Mar 11, 2008
    I generally try to get all my work done in Mexico when travelling, I save money big time.
  12. Champe

    Champe Long timer

    Feb 8, 2015
    Belmont, NH
    Traveling in Colombia I have found the dealerships to be very cheap and good about changing oil. I ride a KTM but I needed a change in Barranquilla where there is no KTM dealer so I went to a Honda shop. They did a great job, using the correct Swiss Motorex oil and a proper filter. And washed the bike too.

    I do not like strangers changing oil on my property. It is often a messy job with drips left behind. I spent some time working in a Porsche garage in my younger years and I have some mechanical skills. Accidents happen, and a traveler does not carry all the tools that might be needed, so I will continue to let a pro do the work.
  13. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

    May 29, 2002
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    True story, I've seen his pics on FB.
    roadcapDen likes this.
  14. Davidprej

    Davidprej Davidprej Supporter

    Dec 27, 2012
    Lafayette, LA
    Is there a ballpark range a shop south of the border would charge to do the complete change? I'd be glad to let them do it. Assuming they are competent, although there's about a 99.9% chance they are going to be more competent than I am.
  15. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Oct 17, 2006
    Around Denver
    I think Kris was a bit star struck. He comes in late and his voice cracks. I like that real-human-being reaction to people who seem so infallible.
    I've ridden 175 before; last time I was in Mexico. But that was a long time ago and I don't remember much of it other than a couple of pictures I took along the side of the road. It's on my must-do list.
    Wish I could be more help. I only camped in Baja a couple of times, owing to the cold and wind while I was there. You should have a little better weather. I really can't offer any suggestions because every time I was near the coast, the wind was ridiculous. I think my best campsite in Baja was in Bahia de los Angeles.
    Hmm... actually, I've never thought about it until now.

    As a brief comparison, the DL650 I rode through Mexico in 2007 would scrape on the taller topes. So far my skid plate hasn't touched any topes at all, even when I think it might.

    The bike already feels pretty tall. I don't think I'd want it two inches higher. When the going gets tough, I slow down, so I'm not bottoming the suspension. I do wish I got the heavier rear spring. Though I weighed myself and all my gear and ordered the spring recommended by Rally Raid, it's feeling very.... springy. To set the proper sag, I had to crank the preload all the way to its highest setting. I might email Rally Raid and ask about ordering the heavier spring and having it installed while I'm back in the US this summer.
    Perhaps I'm being pedantic, but I don't think quality is the issue. To me it's the design.

    This isn't a gear review. I might do a gear review sometime in the future, but I have to say whenever I mounted my SW Motech stuff, I really thought the build quality was top--notch, but had to shake my head at the design. As with a lot of German things, I've started to come to the conclusion that their stuff is over-engineered. Simpler designs might work better.

    But for now... it's really the skid plate which is my concern. And... it might be on the chopping block with a few other things.
    I completely forgot to talk about the two hours I spent on the phone in the morning trying to straighten out some issues in the US. My utility company had debited $146 from my bank account last week. They'd billed me for January when I didn't live there. I could only find a toll-free 1-800 number but when I tried to call the number from Mexico, I got a message that the call wouldn't go through. I spent quite a while searching for a local number to call. Eventually I got someone on the phone who I could barely hear and had to ask her numerous times to repeat herself. She agreed that there was a mistake; I moved out December 14. After sitting on hold for a while she came back and explained that she had escalated my case and that it would be taken care of in a few weeks and that they'd mail me a refund check. No way to put the money back in my checking account. It's fine. I have a mailing address in the US and I'll be there in a few months, but still a pain in the butt.

    Next issue was my unemployment from November-December. I was called back to work in September and worked for about two months before I was laid off again. When I re-applied for unemployment, Colorado was going through a transition of its unemployment website. Quite a few of my coworkers had issues like I did. A hold was put on my account until the system was finally upgraded a few weeks ago.

    I was unable to log in, presumably because I'm not in the US... so when I finally logged in using a VPN and applied for my unemployment from three months ago, it was rejected because I needed to show proof of identity, which included uploading photos of myself and two forms of identification. That was rejected, too. I don't know why.

    So finally the other day I had a video conference with an unemployment representative where I had to identify myself, answer a few identifiable questions, and hold two different forms of ID up to the camera for the representative to see.

    The payout finally came through yesterday. I'm not complaining. Obviously I'm fine. If I'd been able to work while I was in Colorado I would have, and unemployment allowed me the flexibility to continue with my plans, despite having to wait three months for my final payout. But I know a lot of my coworkers and other people around the country really struggled without work or any way to collect the unemployment benefits they were entitled to.
    I know when I installed the skid plate this was something I considered. The problem is that the drain bolt is not vertical, but drains horizontally, which would mean quite a bit of the rear of the skid plate would have to be removed. And the oil filter is located on the front side of the skid plate. Again, to avoid a mess, you'd have to remove a large chunk of the front of the skid plate.
    What's your next bike?
    Man, one thing I really expected to be doing on this trip is hitting up the Tent Space for places to stay and the opportunity to meet local people. With covid, I have not done that at all. I've had a couple people reach out to offer a place to stay, and I've taken them up, but I've been very hesitant to actively contact folks and ask for a place to stay. That was su:Dpposed to be a big part of this trip.

    But... in a few months, I think we'll be rounding the corner. Vaccines will be available. Infection rates will be down. And I'll feel comfortable contacting people on the Tent Space and will have a much better opportunity to meet up with local people and get a better sense of culture and where I am.
    I spent more time in Oaxaca than I have anywhere else on this trip, and you post this the day after I leave? Gotta work on your timing.


    I'm working on trying all the tacos. Haven't gotten to the moles yet. Should I change tacks?
    I'm not quite sure what you're referring to.
    According to Daniela, Monte Alban is still open. I went there in 2007. This trip I'm going to focus on the less-visited sites.

    Daniela did tell me that Hierva del Agua is closed because of Covid, a place I have not visited.
    I'll see how I feel...


    Took that screen shot last night when I saw your post.

    Gear has been good the few times I've used it. No cold snap here. If I were sleeping in my tent every night like I planned, I might have a different opinion.
    You or someone like you posted this idea on the CB500X forums a while back. Seemed finicky to me at the time. Now, not so much. I might try this method for my next oil change.

    Again, thanks everyone for the comments, suggestions, encouragement, and ideas.

  16. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Oct 17, 2006
    Around Denver
    17 febrero 2021

    Not quite what I was expecting...



    It’s been chilly in the mornings here, so I wasn’t in a rush to wake up this morning. I wasn’t planning to go far, so I slept in and started packing up everything to load onto my bike for the first time in five days.

    I paid my bill at the front desk--this is the first hotel I’ve stayed in Mexico where they collect payment at the end of your stay--and double-checked everything to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything.

    The only task I wanted to take care of this morning was to stop at a post office to mail a couple of postcards. I had Google Maps route me there, but when I rode past, there was a line stretching a block away. No way was I going to wait in line. So I headed south on 175.

    I never did try the mezcal around here… I don’t think I’m missing anything.


    Today was windy with a lot of dust and haze in the air, blocking much of the great views of the surrounding mountains.


    Highway 175 is highly regarded, and numerous people have recommended it. I’ve ridden it once before, back in 2007, but I really don’t remember much about it from that time. I was ready for some good riding, but what I found was that suburban Oaxaca stretched for miles and miles, and even once I was out in the country, the road was mostly flat and straight.

    It wasn’t for a couple more hours before I started hitting some good roads.


    In addition, there was a lot of truck traffic. Once I got into the twisties, I followed truck after truck. Quite a few times I stopped to make a U-turn, maybe take a picture and let the truck get a couple miles ahead.


    My goal was to reach San Jose del Pacifico, and the views became spectacular as I got closer to the town.


    San Jose del Pacifico was already marked on my list, and had been recommended by several people including Danimal who sent me to his recommended place to stay, Hostal Evelyn. He described it as “insanely cheap” and even iOverlander had a couple of good reviews mentioning rooms for 150 and 200 pesos. Sounds good to me! I thought I might stay a couple of days to explore the area.

    Hostal Evelyn is in a fantastic, if a little hard to reach location. I rode down the steep driveway and went inside to inquire about a room. The lady there told me they had two options, with a private bathroom for 350 pesos, and without a private bathroom for 300 pesos. I took the room with the private bath… which is kind of silly. I think I was the only guest. The prices were more than I was expecting.


    The room is simple and basic, has everything I need. There’s a good view from here.


    The lady from the hostal asked me if I could move my bike, and pointed to a spot beside the building. The ground is sloped, and I couldn’t figure out a good way to park there. What I came up with was to lean my bike against the wall, opposite the side stand.


    The WiFi doesn’t work in my room, and even when I go outside, it’s slow and drops out frequently. No update tonight.

    I walked into town to see if anything was going on. Almost every building I walk past is a restaurant or accomodations for tourists, but I only saw a handful of people. Some looked like locals; I saw a few young people wearing drug rugs and heard a bit of American English. The downtown area along the highway was mostly empty. I stopped in one of the local restaurants for dinner and ordered a tlayuda with jamaica juice.


    Wait, did I miss the go-carts?


    I still say the tlayuda I had in Tehuantepec was the best one so far.

    The sun was starting to go down and the temperature rapidly dropping, so took a couple more pictures then I headed back to my room.


    I drank a couple of beers and tried to go to sleep early. The bed was worn out and lumpy, with springs poking into me. The good news is that they provided a couple of thick blankets. I rolled around trying to get comfortable. In the end, I did not sleep well. With the near freezing temperatures in the room, and uncomfortable mattress, I thought about going outside to get my sleeping pad and sleeping bag. Of course… they’re stored in the side case that’s leaning against the wall. It would be an ordeal.
  17. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Oct 17, 2006
    Around Denver
    18 febrero 2021

    Now this is what I was looking for.


    I did not sleep well last night. Tossed and turned trying to get comfortable and stay warm. Eventually I fell asleep, but it was about 9am before I woke up for good.

    I packed up my things and went up the stairs to the hostal restaurant for a cup of coffee. Though I had thought about staying a couple of nights here in San Jose del Pacifico, there was no way I could try to sleep on that bed again.


    The day looked beautiful and had warmed up by the time I was ready to go.

    When I left the hostal, I turned uphill to see where the road went. It’s well-maintained grooved concrete and quite a few more hostals, posadas, and hotels lined the road until I got to the very top. The view was incredible, but every clear piece of land with a view was fenced-in private property, so pretty pictures will have to wait until later. They say you can see the Pacific Ocean from here.


    I kept taking the left fork at all the intersections to eventually put me back on the highway, where I took another left completing the circle as I went through San Jose del Pacifico again. Over the next few kilometers I found a handful of places to stop for scenery.




    In the small town of La Venta I stopped for this picture.


    Gringo Burger was a bit of a running joke in one of my planning threads. I remember being at home six or eight months ago and looking at this place on Google Street View. And now here I am.

    I didn’t stop for a burger, even though the reviews suggest they make ‘em right.

    ...and the road continued to be smooth and curvy.


    Truck traffic continued to be a bit of a problem, and I had to reacquaint myself with Mexican driving norms on these sinuous roads. In many ways I prefer the Mexican way, but it’s clear other drivers are not used to large bikes.

    I turned off 175 toward the town of San Mateo Rio Hondo.


    It’s an alpine town with many buildings perched on the tops of narrow ridges.


    In a way, I think San Mateo is probably the quieter, less well-known version of San Jose del Pacifico. They too, promoted mushrooms, and I saw quite a few hostals and posadas. But nobody talks about this place. Everyone goes to San Jose.


    Back on the highway, I stopped for some more scenery.


    Once I got going again, I made a few smooth truck passes and kept going for the next hour or so without stopping for photos. I didn’t want to pull to the side and then have to pass the trucks again. The road is filled with beautiful chicanes, sometimes with good sight lines, and in places perfectly smooth pavement. It’s a wonderful thing.


    Eventually my throttle wrist, clutch hand, and ankles were getting tired of the never-ending curves. I pulled over to one of the many dozens of roadside stands selling fruit. I asked the guy which were the best bananas for eating right now. He handed me a bunch of red bananas.


    He asked for five pesos. How does anyone make a living selling the same bananas as everyone else along the road for five pesos? Fuck.

    To be fair… he also tried to sell me a kilo of coffee. This is coffee country, and I’m sure his profits are in coffee, and bananas are just a loss leader. He surely collects the bananas for free among the many banana trees lining the roadway.

    I pulled off on a little gravel road down to a stream to take a break and eat my lunch.


    I’d seen a place on iOverlander which I thought would make a good campsite for the night, but I wanted to check it out first. It’s right on the beach, fairly secluded, and right away I knew it would be perfect.

    Having a place for the night, I backtracked to the main highway and stopped at the first comedor I saw and ordered the bistek Mexicana, a dish I had back a couple weeks ago.


    The road to the beach is narrow and absurdly steep in a few places, but nothing too difficult.


    I was hoping to make it back here before sunset, and just missed it.


    There were a few local people here; I set up my tent off in the corner behind a tall hill to block the direct wind from the ocean. The waves were crashing hard.


    I stayed up for a couple hours typing out my report and drinking the leftover beer I had from last night. A couple people walked past. Later, I saw a flashlight shining across the lagoon near where I was camped. The light swept back and forth. Not long after, a man and his son walked up and I asked what they were looking for.

    Crocodiles! Be careful, he told me. He shined his light around the water and showed me several sets of eyeballs at water level.

    Elizar and his son Nomar live up the road a little ways. Elizar told me he had gone to the US twelve years ago to work in construction, walking across the desert to cross the border. He told me he’d worked in Las Vegas, Boston, Baltimore, New Jersey, Atlanta before coming back to Mexico. He said when he was his son’s age, highway 175 didn’t exist, and there were far fewer people, as he pointed across the bay to the lights of Puerto Angel.

    He told me the local people come down to the beach to use their phones because you can get a signal here.

    When he left, he described to me where he lived, six houses up the road, with the concrete stairs.
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  18. akaDigger

    akaDigger Amateur Adventurer

    Feb 10, 2013
    Evansville, Indiana
    Dialing an 800 number from Mexico:
    Instead of 1-800-XXX-XXXX,
    dial 001-880-XXX-XXXX


    If your only option is to call one of these toll free numbers, you can always Google "call 800 number from Mexico" to be reminded of the prefix differences.
  19. pitbull

    pitbull Long timer

    Aug 24, 2004
    Fantastic update Jamie!

    It's a cold and snowy February Saturday morning up here in this part of Canada and it's a real joy to escape it vicariously through your RR for a little bit.
    Jamie Z and huguesfrederic like this.
  20. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

    Jan 19, 2016
    Sherwood, Oregon
    Wonderful updates @Jamie Z, sincerely appreciate you taking the time to keep this RR going. Between following your report, starting Dan's Cycle South report, and the two gringos in Ecuador report; I'm ready to quit the rat race, sell my house, and just leave. Honestly, the only thing holding me back is I need to get my boys to college, so I'm at least 10 years out.

    I had a hard laugh at the shot of Gringo Burgers; wonder if non-English speakers see that sign and wonder if they're making burgers out of gringos :lol2 :lol2

    The scenery shots from your travels on the 17th and 18th are amazing - what beautiful country man. What a treat to ride down from elevation to the coast again, though it's completely crazy to think you were camped next to water with crocs in it. Not that they'd likely have any interest in you, but still - something that primordial being so close with some fabric separating you...lol.

    I look forward to seeing your updates whenever you post 'em; thank you for it.
    Sunday Rider, ChicoProf and Jamie Z like this.