Joined: Dec 2009
We left Mante with the understanding it would be a long day of mountain riding to arrive at Xilitla, but the scenic route received unanimous votes.
Craig and I had “discovered” hwy 120 in 2009 on another adventure with Charlie.
Please allow me to digress a moment to that trip and publicly thank Charlie. My ’95 DR650 almost did not make it out alive. Rear shock broke twice (Charlie translates to the welder on visit #2) and rides out of the back country with Craig and I after they wired up my bike with nearby fence wire as a hard tail near Galeana. Charlie and Craig escort my bike and I off “the top of the world” road in a truck filled with cell tower workers after the second rear shock break. He teaches me that my “blown fuses” are really vibration cracks. (What? Are you kidding?) A kid’s bath sponge bought at la tienda cushions the fuse block, and no more blown fuses. Everything rattled off that bike. The muffler, the mirrors..... The bike was wired and taped everywhere. And then “that” hill in Real de Catorce. Stock gearing is too tall in that bike anyway, and compromised by my hard tail ride out of the mountains a couple days earlier, the clutch was no match for the “this must be made for donkeys only” hill when we had to stop half way up. As soon as I hit the top of the hill, I knew what I had done. How will we ever get out of here? How long will it take clutch plates to arrive? I go off and have a good cry. Vacations are supposed to be fun. This one is a character builder. The next day Charlie lifts the clutch linkage off and moves it one notch on the spline and I have enough clutch to get me back. Really? That will fix it? Sorry Annette, but I probably loved Charlie more than you did at that moment. He is amazing. I’ve been riding and wrenching on my bike for 30 years and Charlie has always there to teach me with patience and save me when I need him most. He’s a frugal guy with a heart of gold.
Here is a pic of my "hard tail" from 2009. The rocks we were riding over in the road were as big as the ones in the front of my bike in this photo. We did not get back to Galeana till way after dark that night. Thank you Charlie!
Back to 2012..
We encourage our group of 10 that the side trip to Cascades El Salto will be worth it. Stopping at the lower, most majestic falls is magical. If I remember right, it is all spring fed. Up the road further is a set of pools, and falls, and a hydro electric plant you can’t see. The restaurant (upscale) at the base of the lower falls has the best view of the falls but is not open yet. Appetizers there helped buffer the clutch problems in years past. Highly recommended by this writer.
Departing the falls, we pass through El Naranjo. We know this road is going to be a blast. Paul leads, Kevin follows, and I want to chase my friends through the corners. They are on the “one week in Mexico” plan so let’s go play now boys! 4 miles out of El Naranjo (Yes, mark that on your maps) I see water on the road after a sharp right turn and my tires slip, and then grab. Kevin is still right up front. After a mile or so, Craig is still behind me, but no more lights. Slowing doesn’t help. The hair on the back of my neck is standing straight up. Woman’s intuition. Stopping, I say to Craig “Did you slip?” Yep. U-turn for us.
Dean slowing oncoming traffic on the side of the road is our first clue someone wasn’t as lucky as we were. Susan’s down. Well, Susan’s bike is down, but she’s standing.
I’ve only known her less than 24 hours. Betty points to blood on the side of the road. The elderly female homeowner at the landing point is speaking Spanish very, very fast. Susan is still in full riding gear. The gloves are the first to come off, and her left hand is oozing blood between her knuckles. “I can’t look” she says. I can. A 3/4'” gash that is going to need stitches. She claims she doesn’t want to ruin our trip. Some gauze from my minimal first aid kit and some electrical tape mend her till the medical clinic in El Naranjo. Her gloves had no cuts in them. Just her skin.
When a local graciously whisks her off towards stitches, repairs are started and road inspection begins. Algae! There is so much water coming up through the pavement with no visible cracks and algae has begun to grow. And it is very, very slippery. Craig and I had an experience with algae on a water covered bridge in the Copper Canyon. It’s so fast, and so unexpected. (Thanks for not hitting me when I was down and sliding Craig, and sorry about making you hit your brakes and crash too). Charlie translates the homeowner’s words. Not the first motorcycle crash here because of Algae. 4 miles west of el Naranjo, and the corner has a school crossing sign just before it. Just saying………
Peter and I head back to town where we hope to find cell reception and make contact with Bob and Sue. Peter not only procures the oil, but helps me focus and attempt our first phone calls in Mexico that aren’t going smoothly. Their numbers Charlie gave me before we left home won't work. But Bob calls, and we connect. I wait for them at the Pemex while Peter delivers the F800ST a fresh drink of oil.
Helmets save lives
The road to Maiz is a beautiful uphill climb with motorcycle friendly turns. There has been no sign of Paul and Kevin in a long time. But a couple headlights are coming our way, and frantic waves look suspiciously American. They loop in behind us, and Paul says “we knew where we might find you” They slipped too.
Dear Road Department of Mexico, please install a warning sign west of El Naranjo for motorcyclists.
There can be no road signs for movable obstacles in the road. These donkeys are enjoying the shade
We arrive in Maiz behind schedule and hungry. Betty mentions during lunch her bike is “bucking like a horse” and the ride up to Maiz was most unpleasant for her. Peter is off for a test ride, displaying a jaw dropping bucking motorcycle in front of the lunch crowd. What the heck?????? Under a shade tree it is determined it is serious enough to stay in Maiz tonight. Paul and Kevin don’t have time to spare if they want to see the mountains they have driven so far to see in the one week they have. We wave good bye and have taken our last pictures of them. We stay a day or two behind them. The beauty of internet lets us know they are OK, and we should hurry up! It’s beautiful ahead.
Betty’s bike problems are a blessing in disguise for Susan. She doesn’t know us. She is horrified she crashed. We assure her algae can be ruthless and to an unsuspecting motorcyclist with the wide smoother tires of her street bike, it wasn’t her fault. She’s got time to soak up some shade, let the pain meds work, read a good book, attempting to relax. We don’t know yet that she has two new hips and more concerns than we are aware of.
Betty’s plugs come out. Coal black. Dean’s got spares. Carb comes out. Everything looks just fine. Carbs go back and we search for lodging.
Betty and her stepson Peter (cross out stepson, Betty prefers son, true to her heart) display our lovely rooms. They score a toilet seat! This won’t be our worst motel. No wifi tonight.
Parts start flying. One of the selling features presented by Linda and Craig to take her DR650 was interchangeable parts for trouble shooting. CDI is easiest. Nope. Coils. Nope.
Peter races off after each parts swap down the dusty side street in front of the motel. He truly delights in the speed bumps, catching air with each one. You could see the smile through the back of his head. He’s been riding since he could walk, and his natural ability is evident.
We have run out of parts, and it is still a bucking motorcycle. We resort to the air intake. It is noted that Betty’s fuse case for her electric jacket is right in front of the snorkel intake. A nice little air block maybe? How about the air cleaner? Her bike problems became significant as she climbed in altitude. The maid the next morning could probably describe the amount of oil in the filter by the amount of oil residue in the sink. Peter silently apologizes to her.
The bike can breath again! Peter has his favorite ride down the dirty road as night falls. He returns with his biggest smile. Tomorrow will be a better day.
We collapse under thin bedspreads.
wanderc2c screwed with this post 01-03-2013 at 09:44 AM