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Old 10-07-2010, 11:00 PM   #1
Camel ADV OP
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TerraNovaExpedition pt 2 aka broken bike tour

In July 2009 my friend Tim Dzaman and I left Calgary, Alberta, Canada on a RTW bike trip. What was really cool about this trip (to me anyway) was that it was spur of the moment (about 2 months prep) and at the time we decided to go I didn't have a bike and in fact hadn't even ridden in almost 10yrs. Also, the recession hadn't been very good to my industry (construction) and I was essentially unemployed and had basically no money. However, as the saying goes, "Where's a will, there's a way". I picked up a job as a bouncer evenings and weekends (and almost lost the sight in my right eye in the process), sold basically everything I owned, got a renter in my house and financed a 2009 F800GS. It was the best decision I ever made. The following 4 months were amazing and has totally changed my life. The trip lasted 118 days, wound through 19 countries over a distance of 30,000km.

Tim and I took over 10,000 photos and recorded over 300hrs of HD video for production of an upcoming DVD of the trip.

Here's a short, not yet complete trailer:

Terranova Expedition Trailer



During the trip we started talking about where we wanted to go for the next adventure. The obvious choices were Mexico, Central and South America or Africa. After much debate we decided to head south.

So on Oct 17th, we start all over again. Leaving Calgary we will head west to Vancouver then down the west coast to San Diego, across the border to Tijuana, down Baja then across to Mazatlan via ferry from La Paz. From there we're just going to wing it. We are undecided about flying or floating around the Darien Gap. Once in South America, we'll head down the west coast to TDF before heading up the east side through Brazil. We may ride all the way home or we may ship the bikes from Bogota and fly home. Tim's pretty flexible on his return date but I need to be back for early April.

I'll do my best to keep this RR up to date and interesting. We'll have a SPOT tracker with us and our progress can be followed at www.terranovaexpedition.ca

We also have a facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/pages/TerraN...7666433?ref=ts

The original Terranovaexpediton RR (uncompleted, my fault) is located here: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=471982

My bike build thread: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=598108

Cory
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Old 10-08-2010, 04:50 AM   #2
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Old 10-30-2010, 01:08 PM   #3
Camel ADV OP
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Oct 17th
Terranova Expedition 2010 is now officially underway. We left about 1:30 pm, gassed up and rode to Golden, BC. It was cold (about 4-6C degrees), but sunny and clear skies. A great day.

We want to thank everyone who came out to the Send off party (about 50 ppl), and again today to the Departure at Crescent Heights. It is humbling to have such wonderful friends.





Oct 18th
We rode from Calgary to Golden on the first day. Nice and cool, it was a great day for riding. Slightly slower through some of the construction, but no issues.



Day two dawned cold (-5) and frosty. We waited around Golden until about 10:00 am, I went and bought a buff because my neck was kind of cold on the first day. We then headed out to cross the Rogers Pass.

-1 isn't cold. -1 at 110 km/h is. We had every stitch of clothing on, which was fine, but constricting. I fully filled my jacket. It was hard to move.



Other than some slightly cold hands and feet, it was fine. We did about 650 km today and ended up in Chilliwack B.C. We'll move on to Vancouver tomorrow morning, where we need to make a couple stops to pick up some supplies we've ordered, then will head south to the US border.

Oct 18
Short riding day today. We stopped in Langley BC and toured the Alco aluminum plant, the company that manufactures the products I sell in my "regular" life.

We stopped by Pacific BMW to get some visors for our helmets. They didn't have any in stock. So the accessories manager called the owner at home and asked if they could take apart the two helmets they had in stock. The owner said sure, whatever to help out. We got there, and they not only gave us the visors, they gave us a couple other pieces off the helmets that we needed too. Plus stickers and T-shirts. We NEVER would have expected such gracious help, but it was offered without us even asking.

This is the second time that we have been to Pacific BMW, and both times they have gone so far beyond our expectations.

We crossed the border into the USA. It took about 1 minute. They scanned our passports, asked me where we were going, and waved us through. Russia could learn a thing or 10 from them on border efficiency. :)

We rode till about 6:00 pm, and are camped about 70km north of Seattle. The ladies who run the campground kept the pool and hot tub open late for us. Nice of them. :)





Oct 19
We left our camp north of Seattle, and rode into the city. Our only stop of the day was to visit the US headquarters of Touratech. What blew us away was the absolute awesome way we were treated by Matt from Touratech. He gave us full run of their shop to work on the bikes, and ran back and forth getting parts for us. When it was time to settle up, he gave us an really fair deal, and threw in some free t-shirts and stickers. In other words, he went above and beyond what he needed to and provided incredible customer service.

We have quite a bit of Touratech gear with us on this trip, and dealing with Matt reinforced that not only do they make great products, but they stand behind them as well. Thanks Matt.



After leaving Touratech, we rode about 300km to Washougal, Washington (across the river from Portland), where we met up with our friends Jason and Don, and had a wonderful supper.

We're sleeping in Jason's garage tonight (it's warmer than outside, and dry).

Oct 22

After 118 days on the road last trip you’d think we’d have our packing and gear list all in order but this morning we managed to pare down our packs quite substantially. I’m not sure why when we leave on a bike trip we feel the need to take ½ our home contents along but after a few days you have a moment of clarity (or frustration) and started dumping things left, right and center. Between Tim and I we managed to fill a photocopier paper sized box with things we realized we could do without. A great weight had been lifted, literally.

Anyone that knows Tim knows of his numerous food allergies. This affliction makes it difficult for him to eat on the road (especially when traveling through non-english speaking countries). To alleviate this issue he carries a large amount of MREs (meals ready to eat). MREs are all in one, freeze dried meals that you simply add boiling water to, wait a few minutes then eat. Although this may not sound real tasty they are pretty good actually. Tim had pre-ordered his MREs before we left and we needed to swing by the warehouse in Tangent, Oregon to pick up the goods. We will be gone about 170 days and Tim had ordered 60days worth of food…60days X 3 meals a day… that’s 50 lbs, yikes! After half an hour of shuffling things from bike to bike and packing, and repacking we had it all stuffed in and on the bikes.

About 3 months ago I was in a car accident and my back hasn’t been 100% since but it’s been pretty good for the last few weeks so I didn’t give it much thought before leaving on Sunday. Since the 2nd day of our journey my back has been giving me grief. After a few hours of riding I have a stabbing pain just under my shoulder blades. It’s made riding very un-enjoyable. After 4 days of this annoying issue I was starting to wonder how it would affect the trip and if it may lead to a shortened trip for me. I was losing sleep thinking/worrying about it. While riding this afternoon I began thinking that I shouldn’t assume the pain was caused by the accident. Things have been great for several weeks so no reason to flare up now. I was trying to think of things that I had changed on the bike since the last trip that maybe an issue and I realized my handle bar position was rotated slightly forward. I figured I was grasping a bit thinking that maybe the cause but stopped and I tweaked the bars a couple degrees and viola! Problem solved. I spent the rest of the day wondering how different the trip could have been if I wasn’t grasping at straws! I also spent some time wondering what very small adjustments I could make in my regular life that would net me big improvements. I’ll keep you posted should I come up with anything ; )





We were hoping to make it Grant’s Pass Oregon this evening but it was getting late and traffic was moving slow on Interstate 5 due to an Oregon Ducks football game (Ducks, really??). Since neither one of us is a big fan of riding at night we grabbed a camp spot at a nearly empty state run park in Pass Creek, Oregon, complete with a gazebo and pond full of Canadian Geese.





Oct 23
We started out this morning from Redding in the pouring rain. Which was a little depressing, but after 10 or 15 minutes, we remembered the 23 days of rain we rode straight in Siberia, and then it didn't seem so bad.

We covered a lot of ground, about 660 km, but we did have one problem with the bikes. Tim noticed that the front end was vibrating a lot, and was making his hands numb. He rode like this for a while, but we came around a corner and the bike lurched. He quickly pulled over to the side, jumped off, and saw the front tire was flat. We mixed up some soapy water, checked the tire, but there was no leaks. So.. WTF? We pumped the tire back up, it held air fine, and is still holding air 5 hours later. So no idea so far what happened.

We checked into a hotel tonight, to dry out a bit, and were hoping to watch the UFC fight at a local bar, but no go, there are no bars in the city showing the fights.

So, we'll go for a walk around the town tonight, and see what we see.
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Old 10-30-2010, 01:37 PM   #4
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Oct 24
We rode another full day today, in fact, with a nice break during mid-day on the beach, we rode into the night. The goal was free room and board.. at my parents house in Indio, California. They have a nice condo here, and it sits empty through the summer and fall, so no one is here right now. It was a good 600 km today to get here, so we pushed on.

We made arrangements with the neighbour (thanks Red!) to come over and open the gate and house, and turn on the power and water.

So, here we sit, in luxury (for us). I took one picture, just for my Mom. We promise to clean up when we leave... promise! :)



Oct 25
Slab City, California
Slab City (Located at 33°15′32″N 115°27′59″W), is an abandoned World War II Marine Barracks (former Camp Dunlap), that has been inhabited by squatters and RV owners since it closed.

It takes it's name from the concrete slabs that remain from the military base.

Most of the people who live there (about 150 full time) do so from poverty. There is no charge to stay. There are no hookups or water, but supplies are available in nearby Niland.

At the entrance to Slab City is "Salvation Mountain" created by Leonard Knight. We met Mr. Knight at the base of the mountain, he toured us through the concrete and adobe painted project he has been working on for 30 years.





















Tim doing yoga:


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Old 10-30-2010, 01:47 PM   #5
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Sounds like a fantastic trip. Good luck, will be following this for sure. Look forward to DVD when it comes out too.


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Old 10-30-2010, 01:57 PM   #6
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Oct 26
San Diego, California
We rode a shorter distance today after leaving Slab City this morning. Arriving in San Diego, we stopped at a Target where we did some shopping. After hopping over to a Starbucks for some free internet, we programmed our GPS's for the local BMW dealership (new tires) and another bike store for some upgraded helmet cams.

At the first bike store we arrived at, we met up with two bikers (Neil and Troy) from the internet that we knew were doing the same route as us. They just happened to be at the same store at the same time.

After we got their hotel info, we left them and headed to the BMW dealership to shop for tires. As we pulled up, Simon from Calgary, another biker we know, was just leaving the store. He had hooked up with the two other bikers we had met earlier in the day. Small world.





Oct 27
Spent the day prepping the bikes some more. I changed the front tire on my bike from an Anakee to a Dunlop D606. I wanted something a bit more aggressive upfront to keep the bike from washing out in the sand and dirt. Tim finally replaced the broken and bend windshield bracket bit (vandals in Russia).

A few days previous while riding the road from Indio to Slab City which has a series of short rolling hills and I noticed my rear suspension seemed to be spongier than I remember on the last trip. It bothered me a bit but I recently upgraded the front forks I thought perhaps I was just now realizing the stock rear shock (in comparison) wasn't great to begin with. The other possibility was the shock was nearing the end of it's life and could completely go at anytime. The more I thought about it the more it concerned me. Murphy's Law says it would blow out completely and leave me a in bad spot. The prospect of shipping a shock to Mexico or Central America didn't really appeal to me so I decided to try to find a good used stocker or a shop that had F800GS aftermarket shocks in stock. I was lucky enough to find Trout, a fellow ADVrider, in SoCal with a new Ohlins unit for sale. The shock set-up specs looked real close to what I needed. We had JUST missed the Fed Ex and UPS cut off for shipping the shock from LA to San Diego next day so Tony offered to ride half way and meet Tim and I with the shock. After a quick ride to San Clemente, we were back at the hotel and had the shock installed in a bout 45mins.






Tomorrow, we ride into Mexico.
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Old 10-30-2010, 02:26 PM   #7
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Oct 28
We got up early and got the bikes loaded and made a final trip to Walmart and REI where we answered numerous questions about where we were headed and why we didn't have guns with us Carrying guns across international borders doesn't sound like a very intelligent choice but maybe that's just me!



The trip through the border was interesting but uneventful. As we approached the Mexican border, both of us had a slightly nervous feeling that we haven't had at any other border. It was likely because everyone we had met in the last week had been warning us that if we crossed the border into Mexico, we would be murdered, decapitated, raped and robbed in that order. Of course, like most things, the reality is a little different.

The Tijuana border crossing is the busiest land border anywhere in the world, with over 17 million vehicles and 50 million people per year passing through the gates. Of course this area can be very dangerous, so we had no intention of sticking around after we made it in. It took us about 2 hours to cross, get inspected, arrange our tourist cards, and register our motorcycles for travel into Mexico.

After we were cleared, we pulled out and began riding towards Ensenada along the Pacific coast. The Baja peninsula is separated into two states, Baja California, and Baja California Sur.

We've been running into quite a few teams from the Baja 1000 off-road race, which begins in a couple weeks. They started arriving to pre-run the course as it changes every year.

While the Baja is desolate, there are quite a few towns and settlements along the way. No problem with gas, although they don't take Visa at the ones we have stopped at. In terms of the quality of life, the level of prosperity is much lower in Siberia and Mongolia that it is here. There are shops and stores and restaurants, that while not up to American or Canadian standards, are certainly much higher than what we experienced on the last trip.

Shortly after we rode though Ensenada, Simon had announced he was going to go it alone. Tension had been rising in the group for a day or two and none of us were surprised at his sudden departure. Ride safe.

We stopped at a small motel in San Vicente. The hotel owner was great, gave us some tips on good places to eat, shop and even provided us with a thick chain to secure our bikes over night.

Bike Update: Cory's bike is running great (loving the new rear shock!). Tim's bike has developed a leak in the final drive, which was actually pulled apart and serviced before we left. We will be monitoring it as we make our way south to Cabo San Lucas, where there is a BMW dealership. Hopefully it is just a seal, and not something more serious.





Cory (Me):


Tim (Troy in the background)


We were being lazy in the morning and didn't hit the road until after 1pm. Along the way we ran into Mike who is walking from Tijuana to Cabo with his donkey to show people that Mexico is in fact safe.



We didn't feel too ambitious so we rode about 200km to "Old Mill" just South of San Quintin. This place is run by 2 ex-pat Americans and seems to cater to ADVriders, motocross riders, Baja racers etc. There were 3 Baja 1000 teams here. They had just dropped off the Pro-Trucks and were head back north. We spend some time chatting with everyone and getting settled in.

A group of 12 MX riders along with 2 UTVs and a F350 support truck rolled in. It's a company that rents bikes and runs tours in Baja. Everyone seemed to be having a great time. We met up with everyone at the lounge next door for drinks.



Troy (from Australia on a KLR) and I enjoying the Margaritas and Pina Coladas:



Tim and Troy:



Neil (from Denver on a KLR), me, Tim and Troy:



Neil after a few too many Margaritas:



We're just relaxing today. The MX tour and Baja teams all split early this morning so we were woken by the roar of bikes and trucks.















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Old 11-09-2010, 10:37 AM   #8
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We left Santa Rosalia and rode a couple hundred km before coming a cross a great camp spot in the beach just south of Laredo. The spot was in a small cove located in a small bay. After spending a few nights in hotels the beach camp was an awesome change.















We got up the next morning broke camp and we decided to go for a quick swim before we hit the road. We had been in the water several times since we got there but this time was a bit different. It seems like this spot was popular with others as well, namely a large school of jelly fish. They were only about 3" in diameter but there were thousands of them. All in all we did ok only suffering 6-7 stings on my forearm and a couple on Neal's ankle. We decided to deal with the pain rather than have our friends pee on us

The following day we rolled in to La Paz and grabbed a spot in a local camp ground. I don't know the name off hand but it's excellent. There's a swimming pool, laundry, showers, cafe next door with internet, hot tub etc. As soon as we rolled in I instantly recognized the flat black and flat grey Honda Trans-Alps belonging to Frank and Simone. This couple left Germany early this year after selling everything they had to fulfill their RTW motorcycle dream. I had run into them August at a adventure biker rally in western Canada.

We hung out around the fire and swapped stories.

We decided to stay only one night as Tim's bike had developed an oil leak at the final drive and the clutch had started to slip. We wanted to get to Cabo before the weekend so we could get his bike sorted out at the only BMW dealer in Baja.

We arrived in Cabo and discovered that BajaMotorSports recently went out of business. There was still bikes sitting on the showroom floor but there was also a note on the door saying they were no longer in business. Since we were already in Cabo we opted to stay for a few days and make fools of ourselves.







After 2 days of way too many drinks we headed back toward La Paz to grab the ferry to the mainland. We took the scenic backroad route from Cabo along the east coast. This rocky sand road follows the coast a almost the entire way to La Paz. Troy and Neal (who have very minimal off highway experience) learned quick and were riding the soft road like champs.

After only 80km of riding we came across another amazing beach camp and decided to pack it in early. I attempted to ride to the large umbrellas we were going to camp under and absolutely buried my bike in the sand. It took the 4 of us almost a half hour to get it out. I forgot how much I hate deep sand.







The next morning we headed out and continued up the coast road past dozens of amazing beaches and North Americas largest Coral Reef @ Cabo Pulmo.

Tim is the only one in the group with a DS front tire and loose gravel and sand proved to be a bit more than the Tourance was up for. The tire kept washing out and Tim came off 3 times, once at about 25mph. Some minor scraps and torn clothing but no injuries.

We arrived back in La Paz today and unfortunately Tim's clutch has gone from bad to worse. anything over 1/3 throttle and it slips constantly. Rather than board the ferry and head to the main land before fixing it, we've decided to stay in Baja. There are 200,000 ppl in La Paz and a few bike shops. Other than an actual BMW dealer, we have everything here to fix the issue (once we get parts from the US).
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Old 11-11-2010, 07:44 AM   #9
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Here's a short vid of Tim's dump:

YouTube Clip

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Old 11-14-2010, 11:16 PM   #10
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Still in La Paz. What a pain in the butt getting parts down here! DHL, Fed Ex and UPS all wanted over $800 for 3 tires and the clutch....7 business days transit time. Fellow inmate Jeremy (Beechum1) offered to pick our parts up in San Diego and run them across the border to avoid customs delays and "taxing". All the parts arrived in SD and Jeremy was able to get them across the line to TJ and shipped on Saturday. It seems companies in Mexico don't like to answer their phones even during business hours From TJ to La Paz should take a day and a half but our timing sucks so they are actually here now but today is Sunday and the freight company doesn't do deliveries Sunday and lucky us, Monday is a nation holiday.

On November 20th, 1910 the war to overthrow the dictator Porfirio Díaz, began and now is an annual celebration. I know what you're saying, "but Cory, tomorrow is the 15th of November not the 20th". Yeah well it seems they celebrate on the 3rd Monday of November every year and since November 1 was a Monday the 3rd Monday is tomorrow. So for this week anyway, one and a half days from Saturday is Tuesday afternoon.

We're hoping all the parts come in as ordered and undamaged. We rounded up all the basic tools we needed and didn't already have (1/2 drive torque wrench, mallet, brake clean, extensions etc). Since the R1200GSA uses a dry clutch and is shaft driven (crank running parallel with the length of the bike), we have to literally split the bike in half. This of course is a pain in the ass at home in the garage with pneumatics, engine cranes, parts washer and Nascar pit crew sized Snap-On chest full of tools BUT becomes a gigantic hassle while on the road, in a campground, using a cheap ratchet with a pipe over the handle as a breaker bar and fire wood as jack stands. I suspect there will be much swearing and throwing of tools...well maybe not but there definitely will be a lot of Oso Negro, Pacifico and fish tacos being consumed and this event will generate a few good campfires stories too.

Ideally, we'd like to get the bike apart tomorrow, have the parts early Tuesday afternoon, get things installed/reassembled and hit the ferry to the mainland Tuesday evening at 6pm. It seems like a tall order but if we miss the ferry Tuesday then we have to wait till Thursday as it only runs Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. La Paz is a great city but we've here for a week killing time and seen all we can see! If we can't leave until Thursday I'll be real tempted to stick around until the weekend as Baja 1000 ends here on the 20th and that'd be cool to see.

Stay tuned, this could be funny
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Old 11-15-2010, 03:14 AM   #11
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loving this thread
sorry for your delay
thanks for sharing with us
ride safe and be careful, please
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Old 11-15-2010, 07:23 AM   #12
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All the small parts, were in a plastic bag from the dealer. The clutch is in a box and the plate is in a box, and they are all inside another box. That box is inside the tires, as pictured in the email i sent you guys. I wouldn't expect any problems. Sorry to take another day, I wish I could have gotten it out on thursday, I didn't know about today, I would have taken off early on thursday.
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Old 11-15-2010, 09:18 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beechum1
All the small parts, were in a plastic bag from the dealer. The clutch is in a box and the plate is in a box, and they are all inside another box. That box is inside the tires, as pictured in the email i sent you guys. I wouldn't expect any problems. Sorry to take another day, I wish I could have gotten it out on thursday, I didn't know about today, I would have taken off early on thursday.

No worries Jeremy! The only faster option was for me to ride to SD and back with the parts which would have been 4 full days of riding, plus fuel, plus hotels, food etc. We appreciate your help more than you know! The extra days here are giving me time to plug away on my Rosetta Stone Spanish

I'm always shocked by the generosity of the biking community. We've had a half dozen ppl offer to bring parts down when they come, lend tools, offer shop space, offer to haul the bike to the nearest Motorrad dealer etc. While sourcing parts for the clutch I received an email from Matt @ Touratech USA saying he read on our web site that we were having issues with Tim's clutch. He wanted to let us know he had a ceramic 1200gs disc in stock and could ship it by the end of the day. Awesome service once again from TouraTech USA, specifically Matt!

Jeremy and Matt, we'll have some TerraNova T-shirts heading your way when we get back home! Thanks again!
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Old 11-25-2010, 05:36 PM   #14
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Thursday, November 25th

The UPS tracking site shows that Neal's KLR parts are in Guadalajara awaiting customs clearance. With a little luck we'll be up and running by the end of the day tomorrow.

Our days in Sayulita have been great largely due to our excellent hosts Luisa and Sunny. Having a local to show you the best spots, pub and beaches is always better than relying in Lonely Planet.

Yesterday, Luisa offered to take us to the local swimming hole which seemed a little odd as the beaches here are great. They are surrounded by great restaurants, pubs, shops and bikini clad honeys everywhere you look. When she said "swimming hole" I envisioned a slough in the middle of some farmers field but I was pretty thrilled to get back on the bike after 3 or 4 days of sitting around even if it is on a beach with sexy girls everywhere.

Tim, Troy and I left Sayulita following Luisa and Neal (who seemed a bit depressed to be in the truck rather than on his bike). We headed down the highway for 50 km or so before turning down a dusty rock embedded road. Tim, Troy and I didn't want to get dusted out behind the truck so we got some basic directions and went ahead. The road forks and splits a few times before becoming very rocky and rutted to the point that even a small, light weight 4x4 like Luisa's would likely get high centered. The ruts got deeper, the rocks got bigger and so did the grin on my face. The rough section of road lasts about a kilometre before turning in to a cobblestone road, which really seemed out of place given the previous section of road.

The cobblestone road ends at a parking lot which again, is really out of place. I'm guessing the current road condition is abnormal if there's a parking lot at the end. Along with the car park is a lot attendant. This guy has been working there for years. He takes the bus from a local town and hikes through a few farmer's fields and then sits at the gate to the swimming hole. Something wasn't right here...why was there a hand laid cobblestone road, a parking lot and an attendant here if it was just a swimming spot. The answer is that this is an ancient swimming hole, in solid rock, in the middle of the jungle, surrounded by 2000 petroglyphs. Ummm ok, I guess it's not just a slough after all!

As we walk the winding half washed out trail there are signs explaining the history of the area. 15 signs in total. The gist of it is that the area was used by the Tecoxquine people until the 1600s when they were wiped out by the Spaniards and disease. There are petroglyphs everywhere you look. After about a kilometre of walking down the trail with jungle and rocks climbing hundreds of feet on either side, the swimming hole becomes visible. It was incredible! There is a stream that had eroded the rock and made a near perfect...what am I taking about, it was perfect...pool. The rocks look like they were carved and placed by hand.

We all stood in awe. The location could have, should have been used in the filming of an Indiana Jones movie. If Dr. Jones himself had swung past on the end of his whip, it wouldn't have surprised any of us in the least.




















After an hour of pics, video and humming the Raiders of the Lost Arc theme we headed out. The following hour of riding was entertaining to say the least. A few drops, a crash or 2 resulting in a broken mirror, snapped off tail light and a bruised ego. Having the least amount of offroad experience, Troy was struggling through the rough sections but doing it with a smile on his face and a great attitude
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Old 11-29-2010, 05:31 PM   #15
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We left our hotel about noon after a rough night on the bar strip in Puerto Vallarta. The night before, Senor Frog's 64oz "Big Ass" whatever it was named drink had me calling it quits by 1am. Tim showed up at the hotel about 2hrs later. Neal and Troy rolled in about 6am. The 12pm check had snuck up on us and we slowly gathered our junk and got back on the bikes and headed to the courier depot that was supposed to have Neal's KLR parts. Success, the package was there, a day late but there.

Neal's bike had been running ok other than the odd hiccup here and there. As we were getting ready to hit the road Troy said he was going to hang out in PV another day or 2 and catch up with us later. It's always tough hanging out with a group of ppl 24/7. There are so many different personality that there's going to be some friction from time to time and sometimes you just need some space and time to yourself. We all understood.

Neal, Tim and headed out and decided to avoid the toll express way to Guadalajara and take the back route on the free roads. The road twist and winds it way through the "real Mexico" avoiding the touristy spots we have been in more other that not. The road has a ton of tight corners and winds through valleys and over a mountain pass. In about 10km we had climbed from 1200metres to 1875 then back down to 1250. We got caught behind a bus carrying soldiers there escort trucks earlier in the day. Their 40km speed in the twists had us pulling our hair out. We attempted a pass a few times only to be denied by the bus's police escort. When we stopped for lunch they had kept going and thankfully we didn't catch up to until the down hill section of the mountain pass. We just caught a glimpse of them on the down hill section, then they were gone. I don't really know how fast the bus was going, despite our rapid decent, we couldn't keep up.

Being that we hadn't left PV until 2pm, we didn't get too far before the sun started disappearing. We have no desire to ride in the dark on this trip so we were keeping an eye out for a hotel. There was no way we'd make Guadalajara in the light. After riding through a few small towns with some really crusty looking hotels that looked like horror movie sets, we decided it was safer to push through the darkness than to say there and wake up with missing organs (I've been hearing lots of stories about organ harvesting lately and it was creeping into our imaginations). We opted to ride the 60km in the dark to Ameca.

We arrived about 30mins after dark and toured the downtown district looking for a reasonable place to stay. We stopped in the town's centre square and Neal went walking looking for a hotel. He returned with 2 local cops in tow. My first thought was, "This can't be good". Neal says, "These 2 fine gentlemen are going to lead us to a good hotel." The cops then jumped on their rickety $12 SuperCycle mountain bikes and we were again riding with a police escort. After about 5 mins we stopped outside the hotel. It looked good and there was a large fenced lot on the other side of the road for the bikes. I would have preferred to have the bikes in sight rather than 100yds away, around a corner in a dark empty lot. I was eyeing up the centre court yard in the hotel but the shiny tile floor, tight hallway corners and stairs would have made it tough. Even so, I was game to try but the hotel owner was much less interested. This is something that has eluded us so far. 21 countries, 40,000km and a hundred or so hotels and we have never been able to park the bikes in a hallway, lobby or hotel room. I feel like we missing a key part of they adventure travel experience!
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