· I'd rather be railing :)
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...