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I'd rather be railing :)
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)


Introduction

Whenever I tell someone that I'm riding to Mexico on my bike, I usually get asked, "Why?" I'd like to respond with a "Why not." I have a motorcycle capable of riding to and around Mexico and I've never been to Mexico, so why not.

This trip was actually spawned by my ultimate desire to ride around the world on a motorcycle. Again, why... because it's an interesting way to travel and see different places. But before I can venture on a trip like that, I figured a short trip to experience riding in a less-developed country would be necessary experience. I also wanted to get experience with crossing international borders by land on a motorcycle, regarding customs and importation, etc. Another reason Mexico is a great warm-up destination is getting practice with being immersed in a foreign language. I know French from school, but have only been learning Spanish through language CDs. On my ride around the world, I won't be able to learn all the different languages, but learning the basics and being able to use them will be key to having a good time.

A riding friend of mine from Chicago, Tim and I hatched a plan last year to ride to Honduras. I figured this would be great experience, especially riding with somebody else. However, something came up and Tim couldn't go, but I decided to stick with it and go solo. I rode 10 days solo through Canada in my first real year of riding, so I'm not too concerned about riding solo. There're actually some benefits to it, as well. The locals and other tourists are much more likely to approach and help a single person as opposed to a group. But then again, there's also some risks involved; such as, what if I break down in the middle of no-where, get into an accident or worst-case, get mugged or kidnapped. Let's just say I have faith in human-kind and have tried to be prepared for most situations that might arise on the road.

As this would be my first dirt-bike, I prepared for this trip by tagging along with Anna and Mike who went to ride the Trans-America Trail in Mississippi in April. I think I got some good experience riding gravel roads, tight forest trails, open fire roads, dried lake beds, sand and even getting stuck in some clay. And I also got Mike's approval that I should be fine (he's been riding dirt for many years).

One of the concerns of non-riders is "What's happens if you break down or get a puncture in the middle of no-where?" Well, I learn how to fix that myself. Mike showed me how to replace the inner tubes and change the tires on the bike, which can be done by one person out on the trail. I'll be carrying the tools required to fix a flat or other small mechanical problems. I also always carry with me a siphon pump in case I run out of gas and need to siphon from a passing vehicle.


Small Tool Kit to carry some wrenches and sockets along with spares for the carbs.


Tool Bag to carry JB Weld, some rubber silicone, zip-ties, small roll of duct tape and the Leatherman all purpose tool.


Slime Tire Repair Kit: mini air compressor and slime to fill in punctures. I'm also taking a tube patch kit.


Tire Irons stashed under the bike, needed to remove the tire from the rim to repair punctures.


Regarding safety gear; in case I have an accident, I'd like to protect myself the best I can to reduce injury so that I can keep going. I always wear my Arai RX-7 Corsair helmet, Spidi Penta gloves, Sidi Vertebra 2 Tepor boots and my new Motoport Air-mesh Kevlar Riding Suit. The gear is no good if it's not comfortable and besides performing well in a crash, good gear has to be comfortable and functional. My Motoport riding suit is tailor-made as my previous gear was always a little loose here or too tight there and made for discomfort while riding. Having gear that fits perfectly goes a long way in making the ride enjoyable. I'll also be carrying the rain liners for the riding suit, rain covers for my gloves, cold-weather gloves, thermal under-liners and a cooling vest. Another simple touch to adding comfort on the bike is wearing bicycling shorts that have a foam pad in them. That will be resting against my beaded seat cover, which is the best solution for me for long distance riding comfort.


Motoport Air Mesh Kevlar Jacket


Motoport Air Mesh Kevlar Pants


In case I get into an accident where my gear could not protect me and I have to be hospitalized, I bought Medical Air Evacuation insurance from MedJet Assist. Their program will fly me from any international destination to a hospital of my choice (preferably close to home) if I need further hospitalization for my injuries and they'll fly my bike back too. It'd be better to spend a few weeks or months in a hospital close to home rather than in a foreign country.


My First Aid Kit, which comes pretty loaded with lots of bandages, antiseptic ointments, splint, common pills and also instructions on what to do in different scenarios.

So, as one can see, I've tried to best prepare myself for all contingencies. With all the time and money that's gone into preparing for the worst case scenario, I hope I never have to call on any of them. It's like they say, "Carry an umbrella and hope it doesn't rain."

All this preparation is so that I can enjoy the actual experience of riding through Mexico.

Being an Indian citizen, I had to apply for a Mexican tourist visa before entering the country, which cost $36. And for some reason, India is on a special list where we can't even apply for the visa right at the border but have to do so at a Mexican consulate. Oh the pains of tourist visas. I wish I could apply for a World Citizenship...
 

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I'd rather be railing :)
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
The Route Plan


Interactive Google Route Map with select Pictures from the trip. Click the image to experience it.

For all my previous trips in the US and the one in Canada, I've had the benefit of using Microsoft Streets & Trips to plan the trip in great detail. Some people might say planning trips in great detail doesn't allow for that "adventure" factor that comes with trying to find a hotel after arriving in a city, or turning on the wrong road and discovering something interesting, etc. My mind-set has been that if the simple details like route and lodging can be taken care of, then more time and energy can be spent on the actual riding and seeing the local sights. I prefer touring this way also because the number of days for my trips is usually very limited and this allows me to maximize the experience of the ride. However, for Mexico, even though I have the auto-routing GPS map for the country, I'm going to try touring without having all the details nailed down and go with the flow. I still think this kind of adventure-touring is more suited when the trip is a month or longer, as opposed to a few weeks.

With 12 days off from work, I hatched a plan for an 18 day ride from Chicago to Mexico and back. I'm taking 2 days to get to the border, with 14 days in Mexico and 2 days to get back. The run to the border and back will definitely be a bit strenuous with 800 miles a day, but I've done quite a few 700 mile plus days before, so not too worried about stamina. The last leg of the journey from the border back to home will most likely be the hardest part, as I might be sore from the previous 16 days on the bike. I'm giving myself 3 days from Monterrey back to Chicago.

Once in Mexico, I plan to ride around 200 to 250 miles a day and see where that gets me. I figure my tires will last about 6000 miles, which are Kenda K270 on the front and back. With 3000 miles taken up with riding to and back from the border, I have about 3000 to wander around Mexico. With that in mind, I planned a rough route taking me through the Copper Canyon region, down towards Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta, going around Mexico City to the ruins of Teotihuacán and then up to Guanajuato and ending in Monterrey, where I'll be meeting my Mexican friend from work, Cesar at his home.

I did all my research about where to go and what to see by reading ride reports of other motorcyclists that have gone to Mexico on ADVrider.com, an adventure touring motorcycle forum. Most of the ride reports focused on an area called Copper Canyon in the north-west part of Mexico. This is a canyon system similar to but much larger than the Grand Canyon. The views are supposed to be amazing along with some nice dirt riding down into the canyon to a town called Batopilas. That will be my first real destination. From there, I plan to stay in the mountain region and head down to Durango to ride the famous Espinoza Diablo (the Devil's Spine) road to Mazatlan. It's supposed to resemble Deals Gap back in the US; a tight and twisty road with corners upon corners.

From Mazatlan, I'd like to spend a night in Sayulita, which is a small town just north of Puerto Vallarta, without all the crowds of the big tourist town. Then, I'll be heading inland through the town of Tequila (where the drink comes from) and then visit Guadalajara, known for its colonial architecture among other things. Not having sufficient time is going to restrict heading inland more as I really want to ride down the Pacific coastal highway from Manzanillo to Zihuatanejo. Again, I really wanted to ride down and stay at the little beach town of Zipolite before turning back, but I don’t think I'll have enough time. So, from Zihuatanejo, I'll be heading straight for the ruins of Teotihuacan, near Mexico City. I'm hoping to avoid going through the capital as it's known to have very bad traffic. From there, I want to swing by the colonial towns of San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato, before ending the trip in Monterrey. I wanted to visit the mountain town of Real de Catorce, but there's a very big festival taking place during the month of October where the town is engulfed with people making pilgrimages to the holy site, and I was warned that going into the town would be limited.

I think this should be doable in the time I have allowed for this trip. I'm planning to get an early start each morning and spend the late afternoons and evenings at my destination for the day. If the above plan doesn't work out, I'll just go with the flow and turn back when I'm about half way through my trip.

After all, it's the journey that's the destination...
 

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I'd rather be railing :)
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
About the bike


auDRey in Mississippi

Her name is auDRey and she's a 2004 Suzuki DR650SE. She has about 7000 miles on her and I picked her up used in Tucson last November.

The reason I chose this bike for the Mexico trip and future international bike trips is:
- Dual-Sport capability > meaning it can handle dirt and gravel roads as well as cruising on the highway
- Tube Tires > easier to patch/repair a tube tire than to repair a tubeless tire like sport bikes
- Spoked Rims > can absorb the shock of poor roads better than alloy rims
- Expandable Gas Tank > this bike's design is such that the original gas tank (3.4 gallons) can be upgraded with a 4.9 gallon one (which I have) or a massive 7.9 gallon tank for crossing the Sahara desert.
- Air Cooled > the bike's engine is cooled by moving air with no water-cooling (radiator), meaning less parts to worry about failing
- Carburetion > this bike has carburetors instead of fuel injection because it's easier to work on incase something goes wrong while traveling

Modifications to the bike from stock:
- IMS 4.9 gallon gas tank
- FMF Q2 exhaust
- Jet Kit
- Happy Trails Skid Plate (to protect the engine)
- ProTaper SE Handle Bar
- Side Rack for soft luggage
- Rear Rack

Farkles (Functioning Sparkles: electronic add-ons)
GPS: Garmin 60Cx with Touratech Locking Mount
Radar Detector: Escort 9500i
Digital Camera: Canon SD400 5 MP
Video Camera: Canon Elura 100
Cigarette Lighter for running air compressor


auDRey in New Mexico
 

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I'd rather be railing :)
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
My Packing List

Here's everything that I'll be taking with me to Mehico:

>Gear/Clothes
Motoport Riding Suit
Under Armor Shirt (x3)
Under Armor Pants (x2)
Bicycle Shorts (with padding)
Dry-Fit T-shirts (x2)
Regular T-shirts (x3)
Thermal Top
Jeans (x1)
Shorts (x1)
Swim Trunks
Boxers (x3)
Silk Riding Socks (x3)
Neck Gaiter
Rain Liners
Aerostich Rain Glove Covers

>Misc
Toiletries
Toilet Paper (small roll)
Sun block
Eye allergy drops
Mosquito repellent
Nail cutter
First Aid Kit
Eye Glasses
Spare Contacts

>Books/Documents
Lonely Planet Mexico
LP Spanish Phrase Book
Mexico Guia Roji Map Book
GPS Users Manual
Sudoku Book, Pencil
Journal, Pen
Passport, Title, Insurance and copies

>Electronics
Digital Camera - Canon SD400 5 MP
Video Camera - Canon Elura 100
Helmet Camera - Twenty20
GPS - Garmin 60Cx
Radar Detector: Escort 9500i
iPod nano with Etymotic ER-6i earphones
Cell phone - Motorola Z6 and spare with extra batteries
SD Cards (2 GB in camera with spares: 1 GB and 512 MB)
microSD Cards for GPS (2 GB with US maps, 1 GB with Mexico maps)
Chargers for all devices
3-into-1 Wall Socket
iPod Speakers
LED Head Lamp

>Bike Related:
Spare Tubes (Front and Rear)
Tire Irons (in Tool Kit)
Tire Plugger Kit
Slime Air Compressor
Chain Lube
Siphon Pump
Vice Grips (x2)
Socket Set
Epoxy Bond
JB Weld
Leatherman
Clear Helmet Shield
Electrical Tape
Duct Tape
Digital Multimeter


With all that set, let the journey begin!
 

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I'd rather be railing :)
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Day 1 / Saturday, September 22, 2007
Start: Grayslake, IL, 4:20 am
End: Texarkana, AR, 9:30 pm
Mileage: 847 miles


Isn't it always hard to relax right before you know you're going to do something exciting and exhilarating? That's the problem with all these motorcycle trips. I know I need to get as much sleep as possible before making my early start, but I'm always too excited the night before. My 'run to the border' plan was to make the 1600 mile highway drone in two days crossing the border into Mexico on Day 3. With two 800 mile days in a row I knew my body was going to take a beating but I figured it was worth it and I could relax once I crossed the border.

I packed everything on the bike two days before departure and left the last day for small things like adjusting the playlists on my iPod, adding more waypoints to the GPS and trying to learn some phrases from my Spanish phrase book.


auDRey, my 2004 Suzuki DR650SE getting prepped in the garage before leaving.


My dash view. Left to right: Digi Cam, GPS, Camcorder and Radar Detector.


I ended up getting only 4 hours of sleep, but left on-time at 4:30 am. I planned a slightly longer route to the border in order to avoid riding through as many big cities as possible. My goal for today was to get to the Arkansas/Texas border town, aptly named Texarkana. Traffic was very light on the freeways and my body was not waking up in the morning. Red Bull to the rescue and listening to my Spanish language CDs kept my mind entertained.

In preparing for this trip, I tried to get a rear tire that would last the whole journey, around 6000 miles. My dual-sport bike, which can handle dirt roads and highway, can take a variety of tires. I knew I would be riding two days of dirt in Mexico so in compromise I mounted a 50% dirt, 50% street tire, a Kenda K270. I didn't help the situation by cruising at 80 mph for the majority of the first day, which proved to be too much for the tire and it started to lose some of its knobs. I slowed down to 65 mph and the tire held up fine. I figured if it didn't hold up, I could mount a new tire in any big city in Mexico.

Regarding the ride down to Arkansas, it wasn't that bad. What most people don't realize is that Illinois is one really long state, about 440 miles long to the southern tip. Thankfully, it's not all cornfields and the scenery is pretty decent in southern Illinois with rolling hills and some forests. I especially liked I-30 from Little Rock to Texarkana where the highway is surrounded with thick forests and it seems like a parkway drive. My energy levels were doing pretty good towards the end of the day and I was considering just doing an Iron Butt Saddle Sore run (which is 1000 miles in 24 hours on a motorcycle), but I didn't want to overdo it today as I had another 800 mile day tomorrow. And I didn't want to push my luck since a tire from a semi-trailer exploded in front of me and I managed to avoid it. It's never happened before but that's another reason not to sit behind a semi on the highway. At that time, I was thinking that it was irresponsible of the truckers to not monitor the wear on the tires and just replace them when they explode on the highway. But after talking to a trucker motorcycle friend, I learnt that a majority of semi tires are re-treaded (gluing on a new tread to an old tire) and if this process isn't done properly, the new tread can fail and break away.


Lunch in Arkansas. I love the South, cause they usually have fried chicken gizzards in cafes attached to gas stations. Mmmmm… and of course Pomegranate Energy Drink; it has juice, must be healthy.


Disaster on the first day - I was going too fast on the highway for my knobby tires (Kenda K270) and some knobs got sheared off while others were starting to shear. I thought this being a 50 street/50 dirt tire it would handle the highway ok. But I guess 80 mph is too much for it. I slowed down to 65 for the rest of the trip and it survived for another 4000 miles.


This knob was starting to shear, but held up after reducing speed.


One funny incident was when I walked into a Hardees for dinner and the old white guy behind the counter said I looked I was wired with a bomb. WTF? He was referring to my iPod remote and earphones dangling from my riding gear (which looks like riot police gear). I didn't want this guy to pull a gun on me so I quickly showed him the iPod and made a joke. Phew. And people say Mexico is going to be dangerous...

I arrived at a motel at 9:30 am having covered 847 miles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Day 2 / Sunday, September 23, 2007
Start: Texarkana, AR, 5:30 am
End: Presidio, TX, 9:30 pm
Mileage: 771


I got an early start today as well since my top speed was going to be limited to 65 mph today (in hopes of extending the life of my tire) and therefore I would need more time to cover the remaining 750 miles to the border town of Presidio, TX. It was a little chilly and drizzly in the morning and my distaste for Texas' terrible highway ramps returned since my days at Texas A&M. The freeways in Texas have a service road that runs next to them and they have yield signs and short ramps to get on the freeway. It just doesn't feel right.

Also, the towns and the road in general were not that well kept with grass growing through the concrete cracks and just a general feeling of untidiness. But that all changed once I got near Dallas. What was most impressive were the sweeping highway interchanges with lanes flying maybe 100 to 200 feet above the ground. At one point, there were four criss-crossing highway ramps. I was very impressed. And the scenery picked up between Dallas and Abilene with rolling hills and wind mills along bluffs for wind power generation, which also meant stiff cross-winds for the bike. The effect of the cross-winds was quite evident when a semi would overtake me, blocking the wind, and sucking me ahead with a 5 mph gain only to slow me down again when he finished passing.

Throughout the day, I was really engaged with my audio book, A Short History of Nearly Everything, which explains where everything we know comes from: physics, chemistry, life, etc. It was so engaging that I hardly felt tired throughout the day and some gas stops were like race pit-stops: pull in, fuel up, and get going again. If I felt tired at any point, I'd pull over, take a break and continue.

About 50 miles from Big Spring, there was a huge accident that happened a few minutes in front of me. There was a car on its side with the roof dented in on the east bound shoulder. There were two people lying in the median with lots of bystanders coming to help. The emergency crews were just arriving on the scene. Traffic stopped on both sides of the highway and I'm guessing that somebody punted this car across the median into on-coming traffic for a head on collision. My mind was quickly jumping to conclusions and at the time I conjured up a scenario for the accident where someone overcorrected after realizing their car was going off the highway and this overcorrection hit the second car, which launched it across the median. I immediately thought of the three people that I know who have wrecked their cars and broken legs because they were reaching for something in their glove box and went off the highway. I got frustrated with the fact that many people think highway driving is easy and mindless, when actually things can go wrong very fast. This kept my mind occupied for over an hour as you can tell that I dislike poor drivers, especially ones that have no situational awareness.

Something else to keep me my alertness up later on was hoping not to get struck by lightning by riding between two huge storm clouds. Storms in the west seem more majestic because I think you can see them from so far away in their entirety. Two huge blobs of grey clouds with persistent lightning were converging on the highway before me and I was hoping to make it through before the clouds were over me. I kept thinking of how it's not very safe to be on a motorcycle in a lightning storm as there's nothing to protect us from a strike, unlike a car. While I slightly feared for my life, I was also admiring the beauty in the clouds. There was one dark rain cloud with lightning that was highlighted by a huge white cloud behind it, which was harboring the setting sun behind it, which caused orange clouds on the fringes of the storm. Lightning and a beautiful sunset all in one view. There's always something to be appreciative of.

Because of these passing storms, there was lots of water spray that I was being washed with whenever a semi passed me. To reduce the time that I was stuck in these sprays, I would slow down as a semi started to pass to make the pass happen quicker. It worked quite well. The speed difference from the other traffic was more noticeable now as well since the speed limit was up to 80 mph! I've never seen such a high speed limit before. Even Montana, Nevada, Wyoming are all only at 75 mph. I was wishing I was on my Suzuki GSX-R, so that I could be cruising at a comfortable 100 mph, but I was cruising at 65 mph listening to my audio book.

Another byproduct of the storm was the reflection of the sunset caused by the water that was trapped in rumble strips on the shoulder. Those rumble strips are pretty huge, about 3" wide and at speed, it looked like a continuous foot-wide mirror running next to the highway. You see, it's not hard to keep myself amused...


An opening in the storm clouds ahead on I-20 West. I saw lots of lightning to my left and right and was hoping that I wouldn't get struck as I passed under the rain clouds. Don’t they say being on a bike in a thunder storm is not a good idea…


Near the I-20 and I-10 merge: Finally done with the Interstate (about 1500 miles) and heading towards Presidio, TX. I've actually never filled up at a Fina gas station (they're rare cause they've been bought by French oil company Total and being phased out). The importance to me is that Fina sponsored the McLaren F1 road car during its racing days in the 90s.


The moon rising near US-67, heading to Presidio. This is Big Bend National Park area and the scenery was a nice change after all the Interstate riding.


I got done with the Interstate just as dusk was moving in and enjoyed the twilight ride on TX-17 and US-67 into Presidio. The road climbed to 5,000 ft and was a continuous blend of sweepers and straights with some steep cliffs offering majestic views, which stood out in the fading light. There's something to enjoy about riding at night, especially a clear night with bright stars. And being on a motorcycle accentuates that feeling of being part of the surroundings and in this case, part of the cosmos.

There was a US Border Control checkpoint about 10 miles from Presidio and thereafter about three cops using radar to monitor traffic.

I was surprised that I wasn't really that tired after two days of around 800 miles each. I was feeling pretty good about crossing into Mexico the next morning and making it to the town of Creel in the highlands of the Copper Canyon. I stayed at the Riatta Inn for $52 and didn't really get a chance to eat dinner this night since the motel was away from town, but that's where the trail mix and granola bars come in.
 

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I'd rather be railing :)
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Day 3 / Monday, September 24, 2007
Start: Presidio, TX, 7:30 am
End: Creel, Chihuahua, 7:30 pm
Mileage: 325


I got an early start for the border anticipating some delays at the crossing, but didn't plan for being stuck in line behind a disorganized three-family caravan. They had three vehicles and kept running back and forth with paper work for all the vehicles and trying to get all the babies' passports stamped. I figured they were Mexican-Americans making a visit back home with the new kids. When I finally got to the immigration counter, I think I overwhelmed the officer since it seemed like he never had to process a third country national before (someone other than Mexican or American). I had to guide him through the process a bit, showing which form to take, which to give back to me, where to stamp. He appreciated my help and then it was to wait in line again behind the three families waiting to get my temporary vehicle permit. The whole process took two hours.

After getting all the paperwork out of the way, I was quite thrilled to actually be riding by the sign "Beinvenidos a Mehico!" and entering the Mexican border town of Ojinaga. I didn't take any pictures at the border for fear of upsetting the border guards. I stopped by a little road side shack right on the main road and had my first awesome Mexican meal of carnitas in burritos and I knew more savory food lay ahead. Since I didn't have Pesos on me, I knew I overpaid when they asked for $4 for 2 burritos. Oh well. There were no banks in Ojinaga to exchange money; it's a very small town, so off to the main city in the region of Chihuahua.

I read somewhere that the unique thing about the American-Mexican border is that it's the only border in the world between a First-World country and a Third-World country (yes, some can debate whether Mexico is really Third-World or not, but since there's really no Second-World countries besides some Eastern European countries, it's either First-World or not). I didn't think crossing the border would be that dramatic, but just riding through Presidio and then riding through Ojinaga, it was quite evident that something had changed. People were not stopping completely for stop signs, some were stopping right on the road, making u-turns across the median, and things were a little more run-down. Now yes, this is not a prosperous town of Mexico and I knew there were many cosmopolitan cities in the country, but this is just a comparison between two towns across one border.

As I was told before in Mexico there are many toll roads (cuota) connecting big cities, but next to them, there's also free roads (libre), which are usually more fun to ride since they go up and over mountains and are more twisty. I stopped outside town and a Chihuahua shuttle service driver pulled up along side and asked where I was going. He said there was a better road to the city, meaning the cuota. I managed to get across that I wanted to be on the libre. When I said I spoke only a little Spanish, he asked in English, "Why bother coming to Mexico if you can't speak Spanish?" Ha! Isn't that what all Americans say about immigrants, especially Mexicans in their country? I found that rather ironic coming from a Mexican. But I guess all cultures would like visitors to speak their language. I showed him my phrase book and said I was learning on the go.

Hwy 16 was a pretty interesting ride. I was expecting a high dry desert or something similar to nearby Arizona and New Mexico but instead found landscape similar to Montana's plains: green valleys accentuated with rugged mountains. I also got my first taste of Mexican twisties and was happy to see that all the corners were well marked albeit with no suggested speed limits, but that's not a big deal.

The Border Patrol checkpoint, which is 20 miles from the border, was located on the side of a mountain on this road and they were only interested in seeing my vehicle permit, as this is the point from whence a permit is required. 20 miles from the border is considered a sort of free permit area because of all the factories that are located close to the border and the frequent crossings of their trucks.

A further 20 miles down the road was the military check point, the first of many throughout Mexico. These checkpoints are mainly looking for illegal drug trafficking, but I'm sure they're quite bored as well and don't mind searching through interesting vehicles. They asked me to pull over and take off my helmet and wanted to know what was in all my bags. I quickly showed them that I had mainly tools and clothes and they waved me off. They asked for ID and I handed them my passport, which raised some eyebrows, being a non US or Mexican citizen. I figured next time I'll just show them my US drivers license.


First picture in Mexico, just south of the border town, Ojinaga. Was quite thrilled to have made it across the border with no real delays. Being an Indian citizen, I needed a tourist visa to enter Mexico and a bit more paperwork is required at border crossings.


Interesting rock formation near the border. Note the closely separated water erosion marks and the formation of clouds near the top as the hot air cools. Sorry, have been listening to a history of science audio book on the highway (A Short History of Nearly Everything). Throws a different light on everything.


On Hwy 16 from Ojinaga to Chihuahua, the free road (libre), not the toll road (cuota). In Mexico, usually, whenever there's a toll road between two cities, they also provide a free road, which is more fun to ride and more scenic.


Hwy 16


A big tear in the ground running through the valley on Hwy 16. I love learning about Geology and then seeing it for real.


I had directions from a seasoned rider through Mexico, Gustavo on how to get through the city of Chihuahua without getting lost. However, I needed to go into the Centro (downtown) to find a bank to change money. The central plaza area looked very nice and walkable and I soon found an HSBC branch. While standing in line, being stared at by almost everyone in the bank (because of my motorcycle gear), the man behind me started up a conversation. In my broken Spanish we managed to have a decent conversation and I think I unintentionally silenced him after he found out that I was going to be riding around his country for two weeks on a motorcycle. The concept must be hard to understand for the ordinary non-adventurer, but it seems like a normal thing for me to do. I explained my route plan and got some nods of approval. After 30 minutes of this nice conversation and getting to the front of the line, I was told that the teller computers had crashed and no transactions could take place. Oh well, it wasn't a total waste of 30 minutes.

Outside, a motorcycle cop had pulled up to my bike and was probably questioning my dubious parking job (right next to another car, close to the front of the bank), but I just asked him where another bank was. He started giving directions but after seeing the quizzical look on my face, he just motioned for me to follow him. Sweet, I was getting a private police escort in Mexico, albeit only for two blocks and a u-turn. We parked illegally on the side of the road and he even watched my bike while I went in. Awesome. This second bank was Santander, unknown in the US, but a major bank from Spain. I also knew of it through their sponsorship of the McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 team. See, sponsoring a Formula 1 team does indeed increase global brand awareness (argument for the effectiveness of sponsorship, which I'll be seeking in the coming years for my around-the-world ride).


Entering the city of Chihuahua, where I had to go to the center to change US Dollares into Mexican Pesos. There were no banks in Ojinaga.


Classic VW Bugs. They've been made in Mexico for decades and they're all over the place. Pretty cool to see the first few since they're quite rare in the States.


Downtown Chihuahua. Decent sized city, not that crazy to navigate through.


No, I didn't get pulled over, instead I got a personal escort by the friendly biker cop. I asked him where the nearest bank was and he started giving directions, then just told me to follow him. He even watched my bike as I went in to the bank. And note the special motorcycle 'parking'. He was also lane-splitting, demonstrating that it was legal to do in Mexico. Yeah!


Chihuahua wasn't that complicated to navigate through, but I did have to make two loops on the main canal road since the exit to Hwy 16 libre is hidden pretty well. The way to Cuauhtémoc was a nice relaxing big open freeway with many long straight stretches, which are not that mind-numbing since the scenery is pleasant. The exit to Creel was well marked and after some long straights, the road quickly started winding up a mountain as Creel's elevation is around 7,000 ft. The landscape changed to pine forests with rock outcrops and tight twisties. Traffic was pretty constant, but still an enjoyable ride. The road also got twistier close to Creel.


On Hwy 16 from Chihuahua to Cuauhtemoc, heading to Creel. This is a libre 4-lane highway with pleasing scenery.


Looks like the Midwest, doesn't it?


Lots of information signs on all the highways. This one's saying to obey all the signs. I felt the roads were very adequately marked for safe driving.


'Don't Litter'


It's not that clear, but there's some black netting on all these plants, probably fruit trees. Maybe it's intended to limit the sunlight. Saw lots of these fruit farms along this highway.


Ahh, finally on the road to Creel. Hwy 25 from Cuauhtemoc. This was a really fun road, great twisties. Traffic was there, but not too much.


Hwy 25 to Creel
 

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15 Kms to Creel


The road started to climb into the mountains the closer I got to creel. I love this kind of terrain. This was probably the start of the Copper Canyon region, a series of connected canyons, which is larger than the Grand Canyon.


Hwy 25 to Creel[/i]

Creel is a small town, which acts as the hub of all Copper Canyon adventures: for motorcyclists, 4-wheelers, hikers and tourists getting off the scenic train ride. The town was bit more run-down than I expected, but charming nonetheless. I stayed at Hotel Margaritas for $45, which included dinner and breakfast. From previous ride reports, I also knew that they allowed motorcycles to be locked behind a secure gate for safety. The room was very nice and the courtyard had a few other tourists gathering in it. I was told the food served wasn't exactly the best, but it was included, so am not complaining. I made it more palatable by asking for salsa picante (hot sauce). There were a few other diners and I chatted up with my neighbor, Reta who was from Berne, Switzerland. He's a psychologist who was traveling around Mexico for 2 months using the buses and trains. He took a 2 day Spanish immersion course in Guanajuato and said it greatly improved his enjoyment of the trip. He also said he was surprised with Mexico City, not being as dangerous as its reputation.


My room at Hotel Margaritas in Creel. Very nicely appointed room and for $40 it comes with dinner and breakfast. Although the food wasn't very good.


The bathroom area. The room came with complimentary bottled water.


The courtyard of Hotel Margaritas.


One thing I noticed on my first day in the country is that Mexicans really like their soap operas. It was running on TVs at the border checkpoint, in the bank, in restaurants and in the bar, as well. These are those overly dramatic soaps (but aren't they all) with good looking Latinas, so I'm not really complaining. In the few minutes that I was forced to watch throughout the day I noticed that the majority of the actors were much fairer in skin color than the regular population, for what it's worth.

One concern I had before entering Mexico was the availability of gas stations and was pleased to see Pemex (the nationalized petroleum company) in almost every small town. Since it’s nationalized, the price is the same everywhere and it was about $2.50 a gallon. All the stations are full-service and none that I saw had credit card readers at the pump. But with labor being cheap, I think full-service is going to continue for a while. Just like in India, most people were filling up to a pre-set monetary amount instead of just filling up the tank. "How much petrol?" "200 Pesos worth." But me being on the bike, I wanted to fill up the tank and just communicated that with a hand signal. Only problem is that there's a lot of change to deal with. Towards the end of the trip, I started using pre-set monetary amounts to not get any more change back. I can go about 180 miles on a full tank, but choose to fill up around 100 miles just in case there's no gas station at the 180 mile mark, plus I'd probably need a break by then.

My tire wasn't deteriorating anymore as I kept speeds under 65 mph, which seemed plenty fast for Mexico. I was warned these Kenda K270s act a bit squirrly at full lean and they sure did. Since I hang off the bike in corners, I could keep it upright more and avoid this problem. My plan was to change it in the big city of Guadalajara.
 

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Day 4 / Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Start: Creel, Chihuahua, 11:00 am
End: Batopilas, Chihuahua, 5:30 pm
Mileage: 92


I already knew today was going to be a highlight of the trip, because I would be descending about 6,000 ft down a canyon on a hairy gravel road to the small town of Batopilas. I was just hoping that it wasn't above my skill level.

Knowing that it was around a 6 hour ride, I waited for the day to warm-up a bit up in Creel before setting off. The breakfast served at Margaritas was decent. It comprised of porridge with banana (which some of the other tourists called banana soup??), scrambled eggs with ham and freshly squeezed orange juice. Good way to start the day. After using the local internet cafe to update my blog, I was off around 11 am.

Right out of town on Hwy 127 the road twists and turns through pine forests with majestic rock outcrops. There was very little traffic on this road, but lots of wild donkeys running around besides the road. The road was recently paved and a pure joy to ride. Even though the signs for the turns didn't have suggestive speed limits, I soon figured out that the 90 degree arrow meant a 2nd or 3rd gear turn and an arrow with a curve to it could be taken in 4th gear.


An awesome turn on Hwy 127 heading to the Batopilas turn off.


Rock formations from Hwy 127.


Rock formations from Hwy 127. Can you see a face on the rocks in the middle? Enchanted.


Awesome twisties. Note the beautiful road surface. Looks like it was recently paved.


Rock formations from Hwy 127.


The winding, twisting road of Hwy 127.


Hwy 127


After around 40 miles or so, there's a Pemex right in the middle of the forest, but then I saw its importance as the turn off to Batopilas is soon after. I topped up knowing that the ride down to Batopilas would be a fuel consuming 1st or 2nd gear ride. I also lowered the air pressure in my tires to increase grip in the off-road conditions.

Right at the start of the road, there was big construction going on and a detour sign. I read before that the detour signs basically say you can't go this way, but don't really tell you how to get back on the right track. I was happily following the detoured path through the town of Samachique and onwards for a good 30 minutes over some really rough terrain before I asked a local if this was the right way to Batopilas. He drew a map on the ground to show me how to get back on the right road. I had just struggled over some mighty big rocks in the road with some serious incline and had to cross quite a few streams about a foot in depth (first time for me) and realized I was heading in the wrong direction to the town of Guguachique. Thank goodness I asked when I did because I didn't think I could make Batopilas by sun-down if the road was going to be this rough.

Back on the right track I found the small detour sign meant to get traffic back on the right path to Batopilas. It wasn't very visible. Oh well, I had fun crossing those streams having never made a water crossing before. Further down there was a temporary mud bridge crossing a 10 ft gorge, where a truck was getting itself stuck in the loose mud. I walked over the bridge first to make sure the ground was stable enough for the bike. This road was already proving to be a nice adventure.

After getting on some flat ground I had to take a break to calm down a bit after the initial adrenaline rush. As I was having my lunch of a granola bar and Gatorade, a one-legged man on crutches came into view. I must've looked very odd to him or perhaps it was my eating of the granola bar, but he stopped right across and looked at me. I offered a granola bar and he accepted and kept going. I was just thinking about how if he had one slip with his crutches on any of these rocks, he was going to fall pretty badly.


The turn off from Hwy 127 to the town of Batopilas deep down in Copper Canyon. I would be dropping about 6000 ft over 40 miles of crazy dirt road with hair pins and no guard rails. This road to Batopilas is famed in the adventure riding community and here I was about to embark on it. I was super excited.


But first thing I see are construction signs. I hoped this wouldn't block the road or delay the journey.


I missed a detour sign and went a couple miles towards the town of Guguachique over some really challenging terrain for me and was worried I wouldn’t make it to Batopilas before sundown if it was this difficult the whole way. Luckily a local pointed me in the right direction and here I find myself on the right road with some tough road conditions where this truck got stuck. Not too bad for a bike though.


Arrrgh, a water crossing up ahead. Just kidding, this was the extent of the water crossings on this road, just big puddles. The other road to Guguachique has some more significant water crossings, bigger streams.


Enjoying the flat smooth road while it lasted because I knew it would get very challenging up ahead. There was no real spot for lunch, so granola bars it was with Gatorade.


Amazing that he was using crutches on a dirt road, where one misplaced footing and he would fall. He stopped to watch me as I ate my granola bar, so I offered him one and he accepted.


I got the hang of riding the heavily graveled road pretty quickly. It certainly takes a lot of concentration as every foot you travel on the road has to be thought about: if I go through this rut over here, where will that lead me, or if go over this rock here, how is the bike going to handle after that. Will all this concentration required, the ride becomes more taxing with all the awesome scenic vistas in the Copper Canyon. The views really are amazing as the depth of the canyon is very real and close. Stopping for pictures was a bit tricky and I just left her in gear to keep her from rolling away.


Copper Canyon! The view from the little rest stop before plunging down into the canyon. The little dirt roads on the bottom of the picture is where I'm heading.


I've seen this picture before from previous ride reports.


auDRey taking a break and cooling down before the set of hair pins up ahead.


The rest stop ledge at the top of the canyon.


I was super thrilled to have made it this far with no issues and my confidence in dirt riding was growing by the minute. Prior to this, I had only ridden a few dirt roads in Mississippi and some in New Mexico.
 

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That down there is the famed Batopilas bridge where the tough part of this road is done with.


The awesomely scary (to me) hair pins. One slip and I would've found a short cut to the bottom. It wasn't that bad, but my pulse was racing.


What makes this ride more demanding is all this stunning scenery, plus stopping to take photos of it all. I think this rock formation is called the Seven Steps.


My view. What was challenging was having to pay attention to every rock (some were small boulders) on the road and choosing the path to take that would upset the bike the least. I was also recording all this with my helmet camera.


Admiring the work it took to make this road.


Was thinking that if I had a big dune buggy, it'd be easier to just go straight down the mountain…


Making my way towards the bridge after surviving the hair-pins.[/i]

I knew the hair pins were going to be the trickiest because they call for large turning input from the bike over a very loose surface, so one slip could mean getting washed over the edge. I could see that the rains has caused deep ruts in the hair-pins and getting stuck in one of those would make it quite difficult to turn when needed to. I resorted to riding the inside edge of the road as long as possible and then late-apexing the hair-pin to cut across the ruts. This worked well and I never really had any pucker moments - feelings of impending doom of going over the edge. I was conscious the whole time that the edge was very near and one fall could mean a slide down the mountain. But you can't let fear grip you. I was also reminding myself not to get too over-confident and to keep the pace in check.

The scenery was very impressive as you can see in the photos and it reminded of scenes from the movie Congo, which is shot in Africa, the highlands of Rwanda. The canyons aren't dry like those in the US, but instead covered with lite vegetation.

Being a single track dirt road I was weary of encountering on-coming traffic around a blind corner. I only saw about 5 vehicles during the 4 hour descent and all of them were on straight sections of the road. In a remarkably high number of blind corners, there are small shrines dedicated to people lost in accidents. It must be a common occurrence. I was hoping my loud exhaust was sounding my presence and now do believe that Loud Pipes do Save Lives.

Getting down to the first big bridge is a milestone on this road as it signifies the end of the really tough part. There's still another 15 miles to go, but it's mostly level. As I stopped to take a break, a Batopilas police truck pulled up behind me to also take a break and all the occupants got out and relieved themselves right on the road behind their truck. I mean couldn't they at least do that on the shoulder of the road. I guess the rains wash everything away.

Towards the end of the road it becomes less ragged and 3rd and 4th gear cruising are possible. I was impressed with my first extended day of dirt riding and was pleased not to have dropped the bike even once.


The Bridge. I was now more than half-way to Batopilas on this road. Still around a further 14 miles to go. The question is whether to ride the parallel beams or the middle part. I thought the middle part would be less sturdy for some reason, so rode the parallel beams, which ended up moving my front tire along the cracks.


auDRey at the Bridge.


auDRey at the Bridge.


Took a little break and climbed down to the river to check it out.


Nice little river falls and it was a little cooler down here.


A random shack at La Buffa scenic overlook.


Don't know what was so special about La Buffa scenic overlook. I found more dramatic views elsewhere…


La Buffa


Note the road winding off into the distance along the canyon walls. What a spectacular ride. I was very impressed with the views and the thrill from the road.


auDRrey heading to Batopilas.


There were a few pull-outs to stop and enjoy the scenery, but not many. Or maybe they're actually used for letting opposing traffic pass.
 

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auDRrey heading to Batopilas.


What a road…


It looks like the Mama rock is looking down on baby rock… (I was not hallucinating; don't they look similar?)


Heading towards Batopilas in the late afternoon isn't ideal as the difference between being in the light and being in the shade was quite dramatic, especially with a tinted shield. But the road now was generally more flat and less challenging.


A foot bridge across the river.


Looks like he had massive understeer or brake failure. I'm surprised they've just left the truck there, maybe as a lesson to slow down.


A little shrine to honor lost ones due to road accidents. These were all over the road, especially in dangerous corners. Seems like lots of people have lost their life on this road. And there were quite a few paintings on rocks with "Vivo Christo" (Christ Lives). I guess traveling on this road makes believers out of people.


The road near to Batopilas, which is more flat and easier to ride. Was even up to 3rd gear after hobbling in 1st and 2nd the whole afternoon.


One last awesome rock outcrop before heading into Batopilas.[/i]

Batopilas; I was finally here. After reading about it is so many ride reports on ADVrider.com, it's almost surreal to be riding into town. Almost everyone was staring at me as I rode into town, even the few tourists that were milling about. As I took a wrong turn heading to the town square, a little boy immediately pointed me in the right direction. I guess he must've seen other motorcyclists before and knew we all wanted to get to the town square. Nice.

As I parked in the town square, Martin, the friendly hotel owner of Real de Minas walked up and asked if I wanted a room. How did he know? Yup, I was looking for Real de Minas on recommendation from a fellow rider, Virtual Rider. For $35 I got a nice room set in a homely courtyard. It came with A/C but no TV. I never had time to watch TV anyways. After a quick shower, I walked around town to get a feel for the place.

There's only one real road into and out of Batopilas, so everything here is trucked down over that rough road. It was originally a silver mining town, but now life is a bit slower and relaxed. The town square had benches all around it and people were duly occupying them and just enjoying the simple life with kids playing in the street and older couples going for walks. But I had to wonder: what does everyone do for a living here? I mean I see the few hotels and shops, but besides that, I didn't really see any fields or farms and mining isn't active here anymore.

There is an indigenous population in the Copper Canyon region knows as the Tarahamura people, who mainly live out in the canyons and come to town to sell some crafts. They are a shy people and their permission is required before taking photos. It seems that anywhere in the world where there are indigenous and more developed societies living together, assimilation issues will arise. I could see from a mural painted by the school playground that there are attempts to bridge the gap between the Tarahamura and the regular Mexicans.

There weren't that many restaurants around and the only one open was Dona Micas which is basically a few tables on the front porch of their house. The lady of the house tells you what's for dinner tonight and it's almost like eating at home. I enjoyed it. I had Arroz Frijoles Carne en Chile Rodo (I had her write that in my journal). Very tasty.


Heading towards the main square in Batopilas.


The town square, Zocolo in Spanish.


The main street near the town square.


My hotel, Casa Real de Minas, run by a real nice guy, Martin who has welcomed many previous adventure motorcyclists.


He even provided some secure parking for my bike.


The courtyard of Casa Real de Minas. Very classic setting.


My nicely decorated room for $35, which came with A/C but no TV (which wasn't missed).


Clean bathrooms.


After a quick shower, I took a walk around the town. The local chapel.
 

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Indigenous people of this region, the Tarahamura. They are generally very shy and it's recommended that you ask before taking a photo, which I did.


Walking towards the edge of town…


I noticed this girl who was cautiously crossing the river. The bridge was about a 10 min walk away. I think this river is mainly fed by rain fall and its height probably changes throughout the year, allowing for river crossings as the level drops.


A mural on the school's playground showing a Tarahamura child playing, studying and being cultured with regular Mexican kids. That's the local dress of the Tarahamura men. I think they face some of the assimilation issues the Native Americans endured in the US or any other indigenous people face in other countries.


Kids playing soccer. Gooooooooal!


My dinner at Dona Micas, which is basically the front porch of their house with a few tables.


I'm sitting in their porch and that's the kitchen right there. Talk about a home cooked meal.


I asked what was for dinner and she said Carne something (steak), which sounded good and tasted awesome. My Spanish is very limited, but I managed with my phrase book. Dinner was about $5. And note all the business cards under the table cover of all previous patrons. Lots of various rider organizations had been there, various BMW dealers and tour operators from around Mexico and Central America. I duly left my card there too.


Just a picture of a little supermarket where you give your list of items to the store keeper and they get the items for you, just like back in the day or in any less developed part of the world. Higher efficiency brought about the modern super markets where the customers get their own items.


The town square at night. People were sitting along the benches and just taking it easy.


The ornate benches lined around the town square.


Not sure what this place is but looks like it was decorated for the recent Independence Day celebrations of Mexico (Sept 16).


La Valencia, which was the only place to get a cold beer (cerveza fria) and relish that I had made it down to Batopilas successfully. Now for the ride back up tomorrow morning…[/i]
 

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Day 5 / Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Start: Batopilas, Chihuahuaa, 9:00 am
End: Hidalgo del Parral, Chihuahua, 6:00 pm
Mileage: 174


I knew I had to get an early start today as I had the whole canyon to climb out of and wanted to make it to Hidalgo del Parral, about 140 miles away on tarmac. But when I went out at 7 am, I realized the town was still asleep and no one was out and about. Dona Micas opened for breakfast about 7:15 and then suddenly the whole village sprang to life with trucks going through town, children playing in the street, etc. I had breakfast with two local cowboys, but didn't get to find out exactly what they did, as in, were they really herding cows or was that just their normal gear.


Waiting for the sleepy town of Batopilas to wake up so that I could get some breakfast. Looks like a few others were waiting for Dona Micas to open, as well.


Breakfast: some Heuvos con Chorizo (scrambled eggs with spicy Mexican sausage), Chile Relleno (big green chilly filled with cheese and deep fried), Frijoles (refried beans) and some Quesadillas (cheese in tortillas). Excellent way to start the day!


Nice map of the whole Copper Canyon region under the table mat. Sorry for the poor quality.


As I was packing up the bike, a British couple came over and we chatted. The lady was wondering how I navigated around Mexico and I pointed to my GPS, "Oh, you have Sat-Nav!" Satellite Navigation, the term Europeans use for GPS. She also asked the same question of, "What does everyone do around here? Do they just sit around? Don't they get bored?" I think she was hoping for a Puerto Vallarta kind of Mexican vacation instead of her husband's ride down to Batopilas kind of vacation. She said she wasn't looking forward to journey back up.

I, on the other hand, was down here specifically to ride that road and was eager to get going. I thought the downhill part was going to be the toughest, since gravity is pulling the bike down faster, but the uphill ride proved to be trickier. In street riding, I prefer going uphill to downhill as you can control your speed with only the throttle, but going downhill, more brake needs to be used to control your speed, which can lead to low-sides on gravel and what not. But on gravel roads, especially this one filled with a couple inch-sized rocks, giving too much throttle would make the wheels slip resulting in a fall. I haven't had any real training in off-road riding and I know if you stand on your pegs you can get better stability, but I wasn't there yet. The first hair pin from the bridge was the trickiest with me almost dropping the bike and stalling her twice trying to feather the throttle. But I made it out alive and took about 3 1/2 hours for the trip up.


Heading out of Batopilas back up the canyon to Hwy 127 and onwards to Hidalgo del Parral. Note the succession of canyons and their fainter shade of green.


The easy part of the road.


Very steep rock faces


Nice place for a picture, but hoping there was no on-coming traffic, which is quite rare.


Are those some canyons or what.


Looks like a few too many cervezas were consumed when cutting this path, looks a bit slanted. Note the face in the rock, the nose is sticking out.


And there were mountain goats hobbling about, who got scared as I roared by. Sorry.


auDRey heading out of Batopilas.


That's some rough terrain.


I thought going uphill would be easier (as it is on pavement for me), but one slip on a loose rock and you could lose momentum, possibly leading to a tip over and like here, there's no guard rails anywhere. That's why we come to ride this road…


The uphill hair pins were quite challenging and I stalled the bike a few times trying to get over some big rocks.


All done with the tough riding and was impressed with myself that I didn't fall even once. Yeah.


The rear tire was holding up just fine and no new knobbies had fallen off, meaning I was good to go down to Guadalajara and try and get a new tire.


Towards the end of the trail, there was lots of construction going on and looks like they plan to make this a smoother road as there's only one road into and out of Batopilas for all supplies and people.


I was so thrilled to see the toys that I played with as a kid in the mud being used in real life. I've never seen Caterpillar trucks this big being used in their intended environment. Look at the person on the right to get a size comparison. Wow. It was fun having the dump truck pass real close by... not.
 

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The detour around the last part of the road. Note how they just turned the sign to the village upside down to have it point in the right direction. Excellent.


The detour sign that I missed on my way to Batopilas. I wonder why the town names are written backwards... So you can see it properly in your mirror…?


Ahhh, putting much needed petrol and air back in my tires. I reduced the air pressure for the dirt road to get better grip. From now on, it would only be pavement riding. I carried my own little air compressor running off the bike's battery to also help when fixing tire punctures.[/i]

After gassing up at the same Pemex (11.5 liters for 89 miles = 29 mpg, not bad for 1st and 2nd gear riding) and putting air back in my tires for street riding, I was off to enjoying more twisties heading towards Hidalgo del Parral. The road quality was amazing and I was really pleased with how flowing the whole road was. It made for an enjoyable ride.

After a quick lunch in Guachochi at Los Pinos restaurant, I continued onwards to Parral (as it's known by the locals). The road condition was so-so but the scenery was interesting as it changed from pine forests to open green valleys, almost resembling a scene from Scotland or Ireland. A few semi trucks were coming into my lane in tight corners, but otherwise I hadn’t seen any other bad drivers. Overall, I really enjoyed Hwy 127 from Creel to Parral: twisties set in the mountains. Once Hwy 127 joined up with Hwy 24, the fun got turned down a few notches as the road was very bumpy and traffic was pretty heavy.


The beautifully twisting Hwy 127 heading toward Hidalgo del Parral. The road conditions were excellent and the corners were marked very well. There's no suggested speed signs, but it's easy to get into the rhythm of the road and know how much to slow down.


Nice sweepers and the temps were a bit cooler as I was back up to near 7000 ft.


Lunch near Guachochi. Very nice and clean highway restaurant.


Spicy beef in a gravy with rice and corn and beans. Good food.


More excellent riding on Hwy 127.


More excellent riding on Hwy 127.


The scenery changed as the road approached the bigger Hwy 24. We left the pine forests for more simple flora.


What a view.


Looks like somewhere in Scotland…


Looks like somewhere in Scotland…


Excellent riding on Hwy 127.


Excellent riding on Hwy 127.


The road goes off to the left and sweeps back around. The views are quite distracting.


Since they really couldn't put any speed bumps on the highways to slow down traffic before dangerous turns, they've resorted to using painted white lines to get the driver's attention before dangerous turns.


I made it into Parral around 6 pm and after asking directions to the Plaza Principal (main square), I found my hotel for the night; Hotel Acosta for $23. I was the only guest in the hotel, and got a nice room with a view of the city. It started raining as I was unpacking and the owner told me to bring the bike into the lobby. I was pleased to see that safe overnight storage for the bike wasn't proving to be too difficult in each town. There was no hot water in the shower and I managed to convey that to the receptionist in Spanish and they said they'd have it fixed in an hour or so, which it was.

The city just spreads out across the valley and has a nice feel about it. It's known for being the death place for one of Mexico's famous revolutionary leaders, Pancho Villa. The city was also renamed to honor Miguel Hidalgo, who was the founder of the Mexican independence movement in the early 19th century.

As I was walking around town trying to find a place for dinner, I came across a big store called Coppel, which is a large Mexican department store chain. It looked like a mini Wal-Mart as it had many various products all crammed in a small store footprint. One aisle was tires, while the next was shoes, then the next TVs, then the next furniture. Must be the wave of the future since all developing countries are probably going towards big department stores with lower prices as opposed to small individual stores. This is probably what happened to retailing in developed countries about 10-20 years ago.

I had dinner at Morelos, a 24 hour diner and when the waitress figured I was English-speaking, a dish-washer came out from the back who spoke English. Humberto and I had a good chat, through which I learnt he had been all over the US and when I asked what he had done in the States, he calmly said, dealing drugs. Oh. He was jailed for 4 years after a bust, which saw him lose thousands of pounds of mary-jane. We had a good laugh over it. He was surprised that I could understand his English and was pleased with himself. He looked like a good-natured guy who easily got suckered into the underworld once making it across the border. He was set on living a clean life from now on.
 

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Made it to Hotel Acosta in Hidalgo del Parral, which is right next to the main square, Plaza Principal.


It started raining just as I got there and the owner told me to bring my bike in to the lobby. How nice of them. I was also the only guest at the hotel.


My decent room for $22.


Clean bathrooms, although there was no hot water initially, which they fixed by the time I came back from dinner.


The view of the streets from my room.


Talk about a room with a view. The sunset was quite dramatic as it has just rained and the clouds were retreating. The city just seemed to crawl up onto the mountain side.


Sunset pictures are always nice.


The Plaza Principal.


A chapel near the plaza.


A Suzuki GS500, just like my first bike. Nice to see a real sized bike as most everything else on two wheels is primarily for transportation sporting around 100 cc engines.


A little courtyard that was open to the public that had some nice gardens. I think it was part of a museum.


Cowboy Boots. And what a crazy variety of them. There were quite a few boot stores and I'm sure a custom shoe could be made.


The prices were not even that bad for custom made cowboy boots (divide by 10 for US prices).


Had dinner at a 24 hr café, which was the only place that I had tortilla chips with dinner throughout my whole trip. There were nice thick chips with fresh butter and green salsa.


Chicken Flautas (small fried stuffed tortillas) layered with ham on top (?). Didn't know if I was supposed to eat the ham with the flautas or separately… It all went down anyways.


The view from the terrace of the hotel looking down at the plaza.
 

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Day 6 / Thursday, September 27, 2007
Start: Hidalgo del Parral, Chihuahua, 8:30 am
End: Mazatlan, Culiacan, 7:30 pm
Mileage: 457


After a quick breakfast at the same diner, I was off to the city of Durango to ride the famous Hwy 40, the Espinoza Diablo to Mazatlan. The Espinoza Diablo (the Devil's Spine) is a twisting piece of tarmac, high up in the Sierra Occidental Mountains. The twisties are said to be similar to that of Deals Gap in Tennessee. After the road down to Batopilas, this was the other planned riding highlight of the trip.


Breakfast at the same 24 hr café. Didn’t really want eggs today, so some Barbacoa (pulled BBQ pork) tacos it was. Simple, but always good.

I didn't think I could make it down to Mazatlan before dusk from Parral, but figured I'd decide on that once I got to Durango. On the map I could see a very long straight section of highway south of Parral and it was indeed very long and straight, about 50 miles of straight road. But surprisingly, it wasn't that bad. I turned on my audio books and the miles flew by. The scenery was decent with some rolling hills and colorful flowers but I was definitely getting the feeling that in Mexico, if they could build a straight road between two places, they would. But then again, so would anyone else, as it's the cheapest way to build a road, but also the most boring. I read that when they built the Autobahn in Germany, they deliberately put in curves and twisties and had the road go around lakes and over mountains to make the journey more interesting. But economics wins in the end.


On the highway between Hidalgo del Parral and Durango. These yellow flowers went well with the bright blue sky.


On the highway between Hidalgo del Parral and Durango.


Looks like there's a fine even green carpet laid over these mountains.


Some bridge construction.


Crossing the 10,000 mile mark on auDRey. I picked her up used last November with around 4,000 miles on her.


A nice lake on the highway between Hidalgo del Parral and Durango.


The highway hugged the lake for a while, making for a nice ride.


Stopping for lunch at a road-side food stall for Gorditas (not related to what Taco Bell serves in anyway). These were more like stuffed pita bread pouches. I had the Picadillo, some shredded pork with small potato chunks, very tasty. And of course, Coke. Did you know that Mexicans consume the most Coke per person in the world! I saw people drinking it even at breakfast. And bottled Coke tastes so much better.


I got to Durango around 2 pm, and had lunch at a road side Gordita shack of Picadillo and Chicahhron on recommendation of the two guys sitting there and having lunch. It looked like the lady cooked the food at home and brought it to the shop to sell over lunch. I really liked the Picadillo. It was like pork with small bits of potatoes. Total cost with a Coke was around $3.

I wasn't feeling that tired after the morning 300 mile stint from Parral and figured I could make the twisty 150 miles to Mazatlan before dusk, so off I went. I later found out that it's more enjoyable to ride Hwy 40 in the morning as the afternoon is usually blanketed in fog. Durango was at an elevation of 6,000 ft, so I knew I had to be dropping soon as Mazatlan is on the coast. But I ended up climbing to 9,200 ft before starting my descent.

The curvy roads started right away and since there's no Cuota road between these two cities, there were all kinds of truck, bus and regular car traffic on this road. Sitting behind trucks and buses, waiting for a good place to pass was proving to be a health hazard as a lot of the vehicles didn't look like they could pass an emissions test. It was interesting to see buses overtaking trucks in the middle of the turns. I can totally see how there's so many accidents on these roads all the time.

The scenery changed from small shrubs to pine forests as the elevation climbed and the air got chillier. There was periods of light rain and of course dense fog as you get closer to the section that's actually called the Devil's Spine, as the road rides on a ridge with drop-offs on both sides. I was most impressed with the scenery; thick jungles with rocks jutting out from the midst and sun rays trying to peak through. There weren't too many safe places to pull over for pictures, but the views were awesome enough to try and distract from the riding. Since the road is designed with the trucks in mind: camber in all the right places, the road swaying from left to right to reduce their speed and gently banked turns, it ends up being highly entertaining for motorcyclists.

There was definitely a lot of semi-truck passing, some quite hairy as passing room is very limited. And in return there were many semi-trucks that came half way into my lane in the middle of tight turns. They tried their best to stay on their side and being on a bike, I could easily move over to the right edge of the road and avoid them. Being in a car might be a bit trickier. In one section, where the turns are really tight, one semi-truck was using a walking escort to block on-coming traffic so that this truck could cut across the corners.

I passed through a lot of small towns and by small, I mean the town was only about 200 meters long and all different aspects of village life were being lived out right by the road. Old men were drinking at the open-air bar, young boys were playing volleyball, girls were walking back from school, and women were shopping in the open market. And everyone usually stopped what they were doing to see who was making this loud racket with their motorcycle as I passed through.

From Durango onwards I saw new construction taking place along this highway for a new cuota road, which should help ease the truck traffic. But then again, there are some really steep and narrow places and I don't think a toll road could be made all the way through. Once the trucks and regular traffic are removed, this will become even more of a motorcyclist's dream road.

I was in really good spirits and was riding the DR for all she was worth. She handles well on the twisties, even if the Kenda K270s are a bit squirrly at max lean. My knees were killing me about half way through with all the peg dancing, but I knew I had to push on and make it to the bottom before dusk set it. The road isn't on a constant down-hill path. It climbs and drops and stays level for a long stretch. At 6:30 pm I was still at 7,000 ft and I knew I had to get to sea level before dark.


The Espinoza Diablo! The famed Hwy 40 from Durango to Mazatlan where the road twists and winds from 9,000 ft down to sea level over 150 miles. It's usually fogged in during the afternoons and the section that's actually called the Devil's Spine is where the road runs on a ridge with drop offs on both sides. What a thrill to ride.


Twisties in the mist.


Distracting scenery also adds a danger to this ride. Amazing views. Couldn't find too many safe places to stop and take pictures.


There was rain, sun and fog, constantly changing back and forth.


The scariest part is hoping a massive semi-truck isn't coming the other way. There is lots of truck traffic on this road, which limits how fast you can ride it.


The thick forest and the heavy fog gave the road a little mystical aura.


Down there, past all these mountain ranges is Mazatlan on the coast. Was rushing a bit to get done with the twisties before dark.


A few last turns on the way down. The road surface was excellent for the most part.
 

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I'd rather be railing :)
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Crossing over into the state of Nayarit brought some newly paved tarmac but also more frequent towns and villages. Once the road started dropping, I found a 'rabbit'. Rabbit in this sense refers to a guide vehicle that’s setting the pace and also providing some protection. The reference comes from horse racing where a rabbit or something similar is used to give pace to the horses. My rabbit was a White Dodge Ram pickup truck that looked like a local construction worker who was making his way down the mountain. And he seemed like a true driver; driving very spiritedly. Once he realized I wasn't going to overtake him but instead wanted to follow, he got into the swing of things and we were hauling. Prior to having an escort like this, I couldn't go that fast around corners as I had to be weary of on-coming traffic and any debris on the road or road damage. But with a pick-up truck clearing the way and indicating all is good up ahead, you can turn it up a few notches. There was one time when an on-coming semi was almost in our lane, prompting some heavy braking from both of us, but all was good and we continued railing. It reminded me of the time when I was in some Arkansas twisties into dusk and found a Ford Explorer to give chase to through the darkness. It was quite exhilarating to be riding faster than I could just by myself as I was using the headlights of the Explorer to increase my safety margin. Similar to this situation where I was using the Ram truck to clear the path for me.

One fun thing about the GPS, especially in Mexico is keeping track of the altitude change. As I dropped below 1,500 ft, the humidity kicked in and was already becoming uncomfortable and if it wasn't for my love of beaches and water, I'd prefer to stay in the mountains.

Again, I saw lots of crosses and shrines for people who had died on this road. These are some very technical roads and I could see how a regular driver could easily lose control or not know how to avoid an accident.

With my usual excellent timing, I hit the bottom of the mountain just at dusk. I know that there are lots of warnings of not to ride in Mexico after dark due to the many road hazards that exist and I was trying to avoid it, if possible.

Regarding gas, I filled up about 50 miles west of Durango and then only at the bottom near the intersection of Hwy 40 and Hwy 15. I didn't see any other Pemex stations in between, but I did see a few local vendors selling gasolina.

I can't seem to get over how many parts of Mexico seem very similar to that of India. Up in the mountains, the small towns I went through resembled the hill stations where I went to school in southern India. And now, riding into Mazatlan on Hwy 15 reminded me of my home city of Madras on the eastern coast. The humidity, the road side cafes, the trucks, the way traffic behaved. All very similar.

The GPS with auto-routing was very beneficial for navigating through big cities for the first time. It wasn't perfect as some roads were blocked or one-ways, which the system didn't know, but with auto-routing it quickly found the next best path.

From the Lonely Planet guide book, I decided to stay in Old Mazatlan as it would be cheaper than the newer touristy side of town and found Hotel Mexico for $10 a night. That itself might have been too much for the room. The mattress looked very old and the curtains were quite dusty, plus the bathroom was probably the least clean one over the whole trip. And not having A/C with such high humidity was probably not the best idea. But the receptionist allowed me to park my bike in a little underground garage, so that was probably worth staying there. Plus, the hotel was only a block from the beach.

Again using the guide book, I found a recommended seafood restaurant nearby, which was on the beach front. I had the Filette Zarandeado, which is fish grilled with peppers, tomatoes and onions in a very savory marinade. It was super tasty. Sitting there with the breeze from the ocean blowing through, enjoying a cold Negra Modelo (dark beer), I knew all the aching muscles from the intense day of riding was worth it. It was definitely a push from Parral to Mazatlan, being about 450 miles, but I wanted to keep heading south, so a little muscle ache wasn't a big price to pay.


Stayed at Hotel Mexico in Old Mazatlan for $10. Was again the only guest at the hotel. This is low season for Mexico.


And I got to park the bike in a little garage below the hotel for free. How nice of them.


The room definitely matched its price. It was ragged but clean enough. The curtains were dusty, yes, and there was no A/C, but I survived with the ceiling fan.


Not the cleanest of bathrooms, but what do you expect for 100 pesos, eh?


Dinner at Mariscos El Camichin, right on the beach, recommended by the Lonely Planet guide book. The breeze from the ocean was blowing through the open-air setup. Fantastic.


I had the Fillete Zarandeado, a grilled fish with peppers, tomatoes and onions. It was super tasty and cost only about $12.


Taking a little walk after dinner on the beach. It was a long day and a tiring one, but the ride on the Espinoza Diablo is one of the best roads I've ridden. Well worth it.
 

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I'd rather be railing :)
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Day 7 / Friday, September 28, 2007
Start: Mazatlan, Sinaloa, 10:15 am
End: Sayulita, Nayarit, 6:30 pm
Mileage: 273


Today would be an easy day of riding the coastal highway towards the small beach town of Sayulita, just north of Puerto Vallarta. After breakfast, I took a stroll along the beach and noted many runners and dog walkers, along with older folks going for a morning dip in the ocean. I also came across some fishermen, who were gutting their fresh catch. As I took a photo of them, one of the guys who spoke English invited me to stay and have some Ceviche that they were going to make. Ceviche is a fish dish, which is just marinated with lime and lemon juice, which cooks the fish without heat. They also asked me for some money to buy tacos for the Ceviche. The smallest note I had was 50 Pesos ($5) and I had to give it over (I was hoping for a 20 Peso note), which caused the other guys to express joy at making a killing with me. I decided to keep moving after being a duped tourist. Oh well, it was a fun encounter.


The 3 little uninhabited islands just off the coast of Mazatlan. I think you can take day trips there for snorkeling and what not.


Mermaid statue on the main boulevard by the beach


These fisherman had just caught some fish and were gutting them right there on the beach. They invited me to share the Ceviche that they were going to make. They also asked for money for tortillas. The smallest note I had was 50 pesos, and they rejoiced with duping me out of my money. Oh well...


Lots of older people were going for a nice morning dip. Some were even wearing full wet suits. Must be refreshing in the morning.


A nice Renegade motorcycle parking on the beach.


The fishing must be that good if you don't even need a boat.


A shot of the beach at Old Mazatlan. My hotel was a block inside.


Pelicans and other birds waiting for the scrapped fish from the morning catches.


Breakfast in a little café by the beach. I read in the guide book that instant coffee is easier to find than brewed coffee in Mexico, same as in other developing countries.


Random Motorola logo being using for a car audio company… Motorola actually started off with car radios.


Hwy 15 was a pretty decent road - traffic and scenery wise. And at one of the big Pemex stations, I was surprised to find sort of a bikini bike wash going on, minus the bikinis and the bikes. There were a few girls who were promoting some of the motor oil products and in return were performing the full service on the vehicle: cleaning the windows, filling up the gas, checking the air pressure, etc. I was also pleased with the attached convenience store, which was similar to ones in the States, with lots of cold drink choices and snacks. I used the A/C to cool off for a bit.

Even though Hwy 15 runs by the coast, it's not all flat. The western coast of Mexico is dotted with mountain ranges spilling into the ocean and the road repeatedly climbed a couple hundred feet before dropping back to sea level. The only bad thing was waiting over 40 minutes to cross a one-way bridge under construction. I don't understand why they let traffic back up for miles before sending traffic through. How about just making traffic wait for 10 minutes on each side?


On Hwy 15 heading south towards the small town of Sayulita, north of Puerto Vallarta. The coastline in this part is defined by wetlands.


Getting a construction escort around some paving machines. Nice to see new tarmac on many of the roads that I rode.


Shrimp drying by the road side.


These girls were promoting certain oil products and performed the full service jobs of filling gas and cleaning the windows. Reminded me of a bikini bike wash minus the bikinis and the bikes.


Bus stopping on a crowded highway to load passengers. But what to do, there's no shoulders by the road.


Traffic backing up for a mile or more waiting for one way bridge traffic up ahead. I found his neon green Civic with rims to be out of place. And stereotypically it was driven by an Asian… in Mexico.


There were no real police cars away from the big cities and I mainly came across these public security trucks. Not sure if they were enforcing the speed or not. But I guess with all the crazy over taking that they were doing, it was all good.
 

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I'd rather be railing :)
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
As Hwy 15 goes inland, I took Hwy 200 back towards the coast. The road got quite twisty and the sense of speed was heightened as the thick forest comes right up to the edge of the road, with no shoulders. There was a lite rain with fog in the area and green mountains in the distance. That image seems to be very typical of Central America to me for some reason. Politically, Mexico is part of North America, but I think culturally, it's probably more related to Central America.

I had a late lunch in the small ocean-front town of San Blas. I made my way to the beach, to Playa El Barrago, where they have a nice outdoor restaurant. It was definitely low season, but food was still being served. Spicy shrimp was a good meal.

From then on, Hwy 200 was getting quite crowded with traffic, as it's the main road for people from Guadalajara going to Puerto Vallarta for the weekend. And many of them were driving quite erratically and making some hairy passes. The problem was with the trucks whenever we came to an incline. They would slow down to about 5 mph, backing up all other traffic, causing everyone to overtake in blind turns and other dangerous places. Maybe if they improved the trucks and kept them at speed, traffic might flow better and lead to less accidents.


Finally on Hwy 200, the coastal highway heading towards Sayulita. I liked the mix between thick jungles and palm trees. The coast was only a mile or so away, but the jungle and the mountains continue to the coast.


This somehow embodies what Central America would seem like to me: thick jungles with mountains and low cloud cover. It was lightly raining too.


At least they had a red flag on the end of the sticks, but how were they secured? I didn't hang around to find out.


San Blas, a little sleepy town on the coast.


Having lunch at a restaurant by the seaside. This was clearly low-season with a few random patrons.


But they made a cracking spicy shrimp dish with fries. Tasty.


The beach not looking that inviting with storm clouds about, but still nice to be near water.


The coconut trees told me I was close to shore but I didn't see much of it as the road was a little inland.


This was how the road basically looked heading towards Sayulita. Closely cropped thick jungles coming right up to the road, which had no shoulders. But the pavement quality was good. There was also heavy traffic heading to Puerto Vallarta, probably people from Guadalajara.


Hwy 200 to Sayulita


Hwy 200 to Sayulita


The little town of San Francisco, just north of Sayulita. I was told that if Sayulita was too crowded, this was a bit more sleepy town. I didn't really find much in terms of hotels or a main strip.


Sayulita is a small beach town, that only recently got discovered by tourists and some say, it has lost its charm as it's becoming more commercialized. I was told beforehand that if Sayulita felt too crowded, I should check out the even smaller town of San Francisco, just a bit north of there. I swung through San Francisco, but wasn't too impressed as I didn't find too many lodging options or restaurants even. I think it's still very much a residential town. Being low season for tourism, I figured Sayulita wouldn't be that bad.

Just to note that throughout Mexico, I saw many signs for small villages and towns named Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Antonio. Maybe it's a reverse logic compared to the Europeans who named cities in the New World (America) that resembled the cities that they came from. The Mexicans are probably naming their current towns for cities they'd like to be in. Who knows.

It had just finished raining, so all the pot holes off the main roads in Sayulita became little ponds. Since you can never tell how deep each puddle is, it's always better to go around them or right at the edge. I asked around for directions and made it to El Camaron Campground as I read in the LP guide book that I could get a hut right on the beach. There were a few people relaxing at a bar that was right on beach made of thatched coconut leaves. The bar also doubled as the main office and I got myself a Palapa (beach hut) for $20 a night for two nights. I would be taking a day off and just relaxing as I've always wanted to stay in a hut on a beach. The Palapa was awesome, just what I always envisioned as a beach hut: thatched roof, ceiling fan, bed with mosquito net and a hammock.

The beach bar was excellent for relaxing and watching the sunset. I had a Mango Margarita while letting the feeling soak in that I rode from Chicago for this very moment. I love beaches and sunsets. The campground is very surfer-centric and I was told that in winter-time when the waves are much higher, the campground is covered with tents with surfers coming down from the States. I had a good chat with the bartender, who was the daughter of the campground owner and also chatted with Jorge, another helper around the campground. He just returned from visiting his girlfriend in Spain, for three months. We shared some common views ranging from our outlook on life, travel, politics, the US, India, etc. I asked how he managed to travel so much and work at a campground, because he sounded very educated and I figured his parents might have wanted him to hold a nice job in a big city. But it made sense when he said his whole family worked at the campground and this was their life. I'm sometimes jealous of the free spirits that haven't been thrust into education and are free to explore the world with no consequences. But then again, education does lead to a nice paying job that also provides for exploring this world. It's a matter of perspective.

I went into town looking for this Argentinean restaurant that I was told about, but couldn't find it and instead came across another gem, Burrito Revolution, which is a little burrito shack on the corner of a building with a very chill atmosphere. I had a Marlin burrito for $6, which was amazing. The owner of the place, Antonio was very friendly and spoke good English. I got chatting with his finance, Patty, a Mexican-American who just recently moved down to Sayulita to open up this burrito shack with Antonio. She was an account in San Francisco (California) and one visit to Sayulita was all she needed to pack her bags and move down here. She managed to keep her job in the states by tele-commuting. All you need is the Internet these days.

They couldn't serve beer as they didn't have their liquor license yet, but the grocery store was just nearby. I also got chatting with the guy next to me, Casey who was surfing his way down to Costa Rica. He works in Construction Management in San Diego (who's also a Purdue grad like me) and since his work is all contract based, he decided to take 6 months off between jobs and get some surf time. He'll also be attending Spanish language schools along the way using money that his company allocates for this purpose, almost $5,000 (since all the construction workers are Spanish speaking). How cool. After mentioning that I was on a bike here, he said he rides a Ducati Monster and rode from San Diego back to Purdue and said it was terribly painful and couldn't imagine how I was riding for so many days. I explained how my bike is more comfortable and taking the day off tomorrow was part of the plan in making this a comfortable ride.

To my surprise, I noticed that my number plate had broken off from the bike. I did notice the rear tire hitting the plate while going down to Batopilas, so I bent it up a bit. Looking back at my pictures, I think it broke off somewhere on the road from Batopilas. Oh well, all I could do was hope that the police wouldn't notice. I thought of making one out of cardboard, but figured that might draw more attention as opposed to having no plate at all. I still had about 10 days to go before getting home. They don't call it Adventure Riding for nothing.
 

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I'd rather be railing :)
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·

Ah, I had finally made it to Sayulita and more precisely to the El Camaron Campground.


This is the main office and the bar right on the beach. The campground is run by a really nice family and they told me this place was a surfers paradise in the winter time with tents pitched all over the site.


Enjoying a refreshing Mango Margarita…


The beach


The campsite. How awesome.


I saw lots of these birds who were fishing. They would fly high and then swoop down to the water and try and catch fish.


I've always wanted to see a sunset on a nice beach…


Nature's canvas of colors are just beautiful.


One of the palapas (beach hut) right on the beach.


I stayed in this lovely little palapa for $20 a night. It was so nice that I decided to stay two nights and take a day off from riding.


It was simply a hut with a ceiling fan, bed with mosquito net and a hammock. Awesome.


The bed with the mosquito net.


The hammock in the palapa.
 
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