Pedro Norte Day 4: Friday
Yesterday's long ride meant a relatively early bedtime. But I promised myself a night ride. Galeana on a Thursday night is a strange sight. A few kids in the square, but mas cerveza around town. No clubs or bars to speak of, but lots of folks hanging on the front porch yelling things at the gringo riding by. Headed up the road to where it became dirt. Went another 2 miles killed the headlight. Stars, unbelievable. My 20/40 vision seemed like 20/10 they were so clear and bright.
Woke up at the usual post breakfast time. Grabbed a coke and french bread at the panaderia and suited up 8:30 or so. My plan was 3 - 4 hour ride, 75% pavement, no getting lost, maybe head west. Caught Richard and a group of 9 heading out for exactly that. The only unknown was the quality of the class 2/3 we were going to go explore.
Richard giving the 3 golden rules
Nadin on the KLR
Dolores with a much too clean looking KLR. Time to get it muddy.
I was late getting suited up, adjusting my ipod, and had to run hot for 20kms on the concrete to catch up. Perfect! I caught the group just as they peeled off the main road in Iturbide, to the southwest. Ten seconds later and I would have had a perfectly relaxed day of exploration on my own. We asked in town and found gas in a barrell. 9 pesos a liter. I took on 3. Ten bikes, 7 needed gas, it took a while. The tienda across the street had to break bills. I did get my first look at a map, and figured if I wanted to explore later, I might need a copy.
Headed down valley out of Iturbide towards Linares on the eastern plain on the edge of the mountains. Towards the plains, if you think about it, means lower. Lower means below higher ground. Below higher ground means run off is more likely to converge. Convergence of run off equals stream leading to creeks, leading to rivers.
The virgin made of rock. We stopped to make sure al 10 were accounted for and continued on.
Thru the valley like a line of ducklings behind the chosen ones. Richard and Milton and Bob leading the pack. I was on an all stars ride, lol.
Despite being a 11 person group, we hustled. Principle Cooksey may need to see the vice principle of transportation for a couple of pops for his bending the single yellow line rule. But hey, T.I.M.
Here's Isri on the amazingly capable 1989 TransLap.
And Milton leading the pack
We took a right off the highway, headed south, toward Rancho Viejo de Something la Something....where's that map? We dropped one rider early after the road got super steep and Montezuma kicked in. The rest of us soldiered on until we got to the river. Water runs downhill towards Linares. This was the biggest crossing I'd seen yet. Just the sight of it caused a KLR to tip over.
Cokacola'd up at the tienda in Rancho. Suited up we headed towards the unknown. Actually, we knew what was to come. 24 water crossings in less kms. Fun fun fun!
Crossing #2 got us. Wayland got a bad line, tipped over. We jumped in cool knee high water and dragged him out. But the damage was done. Water in the carb. Water in the engine. Water in the oil. Water in the headlight. Water in the gauges. Basically, water water everywhere but not a drop to drink. And after an hour tearing it down, draining, drying, wrenching, reassembling it was back to good. We 5 jumped on to continue, having a group of 5 press ahead.
But Milton's bike was dead. Just a hard to diagnose wet plug and clogged plug drain hole.
TricePilot Bob with a complement of tools made the repair quick and easy.
And I took the chance, being already soaked to the core, to go swimming, in this nice little swimmin hole.
It's hard to describe and the pictures don't do this section of creek justice. but if you've been to Barton Creek Greenbelt in Austin you have some sort of an idea where we were riding. Tall mountains at 45 degree towering overhead. River trees with canopy. Round white rocks worn by the years. Clear blue water. Amazingly clear. And not one hint of civilization.
12 or 14 crossings down the line Richard went ahead one crossing and caught the faster group. They were porting their bikes thru thigh high water. We were all tired, heat exhausted from the strenuous riding. When we got to the next crossing I think we all had thoughts of turning back. But adventure calls. And if there are 5 fully loaded KLR's pressing on ahead of us, why quit? Here's what I'll call the cursed crossing 13.
It's a great swimming hole. I jumped around like a kid at camp, making a fool of myself. Eventually we all took some form of a soak to cool off and enjoy the cool crisp water. Heaven!
So we pressed on. The lead group had a drowned KLR, and had just managed to get it firing when we crossed over. Our group of 5 forged ahead. It was beginning to rain, turning the already difficult non-water sections to slick rock and mud. So downstream we pressed on.
Clouds set in. Fear of dark, cold, lost. Headlights actually lighted something.
Milton took a spill. We were overtaken by a well maintained mexican dual sport, four wheel drive.
It's driver a nice fellow who was porting hardwood for fence poles from 5 Km up river. He used machetes to fell the trees. And women's sandels to protect him from the stones.
His travelling companion had more traditional footwear. Bare feet. And a home made embroidered custom pillow to protect his shoulder. He commented that Milton's last spill 1/4 mile upriver had caused an, "Problematica Electrico".
After the exrutiating 24 crossings seemed complete we came to a small house by the river. Cinder block construction! Success, we had to be near. I circled back to the KLR crew and showed them how to get thru the last 2 crossings. Another 2 crossings awaited, both relatively uneventful. And by uneventful I mean to say no one got hurt and no bikes required a tear down. Tip overs, wildly spinning tires, hurled rocks, and laughter were the norm this day. We followed Richard's crew's tires track back to civilization. Hoorah, bridges!
We hightailed it to the nearest tienda where the fast group was regrouping. Plastic wrap and cheap ponchos on, we remounted and headed back for 45 miles of the coldest, wettest, dreariest riding imaginable. I decided to high tail it and shorten the agony. Isri was waving something at me as I passed him. As we headed uphill on the canyon road I came round a tight sharp corner, running 20 over. There was half a dead tree in the road, brought down by the rain, with the usual Mexican road antics of you go, we go, I'm bigger so I go, we go, you go, 18 wheeler go, near accident, near accident. All this on a tight corner with zero line of sight. So I waited for the rest of the crew. All safely past I got in back. A slow ride through the rain meant our group of 3 was far behind the other 7 by the time we hit Iturbide. I decided to have a little fun on the slick, but drying road...plus I was freezing. So I decided to charge ahead. Little did I realize I was going it alone, and my low beam was out. Then middle of a corner, 5 minutes after sunset my high beam goes out. I hightailed it to the front group, using a blink to let cars know I was there. Got an escort into town and all 11 of the original 11 cruised in to the Plaza. It's hard to put into words the kind of day we had. I've never been in the armed forces, but I'd say it felt like I was a footsoldier in a World War I campaign in the trenches. Wet, shivering uncontrollably, tired, sore. Basically, ready for dinner, 2 beers, 1 margarita no sal, 2 tequila shots, 3 more beers. But first a hot shower.
We did dinner family style, trying and sharing a bunch of dishes, recounting the war stories. All in, 8 people at our table, 28 beers, 8 dishes, 4 apps...total bill $1074 pesos. That's about $85 I'd guess. After the shots and beers and ridiculous sombrero pics I tried to talk the owner out of a logo shirt. Not for sale he says, staff only. Not for sale, but I traded him a super sweet trendy t-shirt for his "La Casona de General, Restaurant and Bar" work shirt. Both happy, we shook hands, swapped shirts, and said our see ya next years. The best souvenir! I tried to give him an extra 200 pesos to say thanks to him, the jefe, on behalf of our group and all the great service. He flat declined it, saying our thanks is to return to his place next year. What a guy!
Someone insert a sombrero pic here!
Back to the plaza for more beer in plastic cup. Beers come courtesy of a late night delivery boy. Maybe 19 years old, on a 16 inch kids bike with monkey bars, green wheels, and a green seat. If I ever trailer to Galeana, I'm bringing old bikes for these kids. His only had a 4 six pack capacity (2 + 2 hanging from the ape hangers), 60 pesos a sixxer.
Later, Ed and I took a late night walk to survey riding the 6 story "Stairway to Heaven", a 100+ stair staircase, 20 feet wide, 40 degree slope with a smooth cobblestone landing and 3 block long braking zone. Good thing it was still slightly raining, otherwise I might be in a Mexican jail for throwing a perfectly good DRZ through the roof of someone's house. And then I'd get a second case for landing on the annoying 24/7 barking dog that was so purposefully pooping on said roof when I, definitely winded and a bit tipsy, walked back down. Those little mutts can give you heck when operating in defend / alert mode and you come up weaving, laughing, and breathing high altitude air at a rate like you just won the Boston Marathon. FYI, if you are ever in need of a stealthy security gaurd bypass, that note that little Mexican yippy-dogs can't poop on a roof and bark at the same time, even if they really want to. It's bedtime. Better get some sleep before the roosters start their thing, before the Galena Hills Chihuahua starts the infernal yippin, and Tom's celly alarm starts calling me back to the real world.
Saturday will be another Wednesday with the DJ spinning it backwards, Galeana to McAllen.
: I remember it getting better and better, so in reverse it will get worse and worse as we get more and more tired.