El Gran Payaso
Joined: Apr 2006
Location: San Antonio
The day after leaving Cuidad Valles, the day we went to Xilitla and walked Ed Jame's craziness, was the day we picked our path through the Sierra Madre. When you decend down from Texas this is the day you really anticipate, if you like to lean and scrape. The first hours into Mexico after leaving the border town is basically "hauling the mail". You peg your wrist and bang with the tunes, flying across the desert. Depending upon your route, as the hours pass by you are scanning the horizon, and you begin to ask yourself about those clouds in the distance. You know what I'm talking about. "Are those clouds, or is that the silhouette of the mountain range?" We all have had that thought/hope.
You can use a decent relief map or even the Guia Roji. Maps without relief or shade mapping reveal the twisty routes via the squiggly path the road takes along the route. Such were the choices we sifted through with routes 120, 85, and 105. We took the middle route, 85 (continuation of the ruta we were on) because it aimed for the middle of our target, not too far north of Mexico City, not immediately too far south. Something that would allow us to yank and bank like a fighter pilot, and get us where we needed to go.
Pachuca and Puebla would be within our grasp on this route. At the Pemex, we drooled over the shading like that above, which told us that this would be the biggest day of sweepers and decreasing radius turns, of left-a-million, right-a-million, pass that truck and go Mexico riding. All three bikes had the power to overtake in the mountains. There was lots of overtaking, lots of judgement calls, lots of luck. But no passing on blind corners. I've seen that once or thrice before, and it chilled my blood. Perhaps a little "mountain machismo" finds it's way into this conversation. "Anything you can do, I can do better". Guys and their bikes, the difference between men and boys being the price of their toys.
You better have your suspension dialed in if you want to play hard in the mountains. I had Ohlins installed by Hank, and the factory did a great job of presets based upon my stated weight and cargo goals. But it wasn't until Lobby went to Lee Park's Total Performance School in Austin the week before this trip, and he came to my house to do his engineering measurements and suspension tweaking, that my Ohlins found their tune. I am not a racer or techno geek, but I can tell the difference between factory shocks and decent after market shocks, and decent after market shocks that have been dialed in. With a better feel for riding and better skills, and more experience, I feel the Ohlins could be dialed in even further. But I felt it was like riding on rails, and I was loving hanging it out there, trying to chase Sterett down, working his magic on the Wing, flying around every bend and curve. The man could make a stagecoach fly in the mountains.
I've invented a helmet mount to capture video for rides without the effect of vibration, but didn't have it ready for this ride. Not a lot of stopping to capture the scenery, you'll have to take it from me it was twist and scrape all day long. Mountain scenery is tough to capture anyway, how many times can you take a photograph of the 7 Steps in the Copper Canyon and then explain online that photographs just don't do it justice?
But I love the mountains. As my twtex.com amigos who love Galeana will attest, there's nothing like that approach to the passes near that lovely mountain town west of Linares on Mex 31 that doesn't stir your soul. Time to unplug the earbuds, listen to the engine. Engine braking all the way, a point of pride to stay off the brakes as much as possible. Scanning the curves ahead for traffic, hopefully identifying stretches without oncoming trucks/cars so you can add distance in a pass. Peripheral vision trying to capture the moment, trading off photo ops with the love of flying, not in a jet but on a motorcycle, in Mexico, in the mountains. I'm in love.
Next, Pachuca's Taxista Man, then Market Day in Puebla. Love it.