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Old 03-19-2014, 02:16 PM   #16
wolfandzebra OP
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A bad surprise with one of our FMF exhaust

After the beating our DRs took in the 300km of sand separating Bahia San Rafael from Viscaino, we decided to take advantage of our break in La Ventana to get a bit of maintenance work done.
The Heidenau tires we have been carrying since San Francisco have been mounted to the Zebramobile, bolts have been tightened but we are concerned with one of our FMF exhaust. As shown on the video, all 4 rivets have started to elongate the sleeve's holes making the whole tip vibrate in a rather unhealthy way.

Dagoberto from Motospeed in La Paz helped us with a quick fix Mexican style but the soft alloy of the exhaust flange did not allow for many good options.

FMF Racing exhaust failing on a DR650 from Wolf and Zebra on Vimeo.

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Old 03-29-2014, 06:04 PM   #17
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Cool2 From sand to sea in Baja

A Thai jungle in the middle of the Baja desert

We stayed an extra day in Mulege to enjoy the breathtaking views the oasis town has to offer. The Mission Santa Rosalía de Mulegé was founded in 1702 and is flanked by giant cacti, but a few steps away is a view point with vistas resembling luscious South East Asia rather than the dry arid Baja we had come to expect

The Zebra is introduced to a baby whale
Next it was off to A. Lopez Mateo to do some whale watching. The Grey Whales come to the west coast of Baja every year to calve their little ones and raise them in the protected lagoons until they are strong enough to face the open oceans. While the Wolf and I were at first reluctant to bother mothering whales, the government supervision, eco friendly motors and apparent desire of the calves to interact with our small boat put us at ease, so off we went with a few other couples to see if we could find some ballenas. We were successful and spent an enchanting hour with a mother whale and her playfully curious three month old baby.

A windy ride to the windy town
We faced a long, straight and very gusty ride down to La Ventana, a known kitesurfing mecca on the Sea of Cortez. A dust storm kept our bikes at lean even on the straights of Mex 1. We reached Baja Joe's 5 hours later where kiters were also struggling with the 40kn gusts. It was no wonder we almost blew off the road! A few tequilas later, we had the pleasant surprise to see our Alaskan buddies from Coco's corner pop in. It was a lovely and long night at Playa Central exchanging tales from the trails and promises of future adventures together....maybe in Alaska?

1st World kite foil race

Another good surprise was us catching the final rounds of the first Kite Foil Gold Cup racing. Some familiar faces from San Francisco, John and Jon, were rubbing elbows with some young and wicked fast young French racers. In the end Maxime Nocher won an impressive first place well ahead of John Heineken.
We spent a large part of Monday relaxing on the beach and marvelling at how damn fast those guys are on the foils (although, hilariously, there is no graceful was to dismount the things) The Wolf even managed to squeeze in a kite session of his own before the wind died down for the evening.

Mechanical hickups
Our third and least favorite surprise was to discover that the Zebramobile's FMF exhaust was falling apart. Specifically the rivets holding the exhaust tip to the exhaust body had started to elongate their holes. It should have been an easy fix unfortunately the intermediate flange is made of a rather soft alloy making it hard to fit the parts tightly.
FMF tech support informed us that we were out of luck and suggested we bought their new model, which is allegedly stronger.
Needless to say we won't.

A long ferry ride to Mazatlan

It's on a massive ship from Baja Ferries that we turned the page of this Baja chapter. We left the Zebra and Wolf mobiles huddled between semi-trucks and loaded cars, strapped to the boat railing to do our own huddling with 50 other passengers. Despite the reclining seats, it was a long night punctuated by the screams of toddlers and the special audio effects of American blockbusters dubbed in Español. Cross-eyed and fuzzy, we woke up in Mazatlan not quite ready to tackle mainland Mexico. But we boldly proceeded forward nonetheless.

We tried to insert smaller images here per request. More pictures can be found here
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Old 03-29-2014, 06:25 PM   #18
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Old 03-29-2014, 06:57 PM   #19
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Awesome jungle shot

Alright the Thai jungle has me so lets see where this thing goes.
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Old 04-05-2014, 10:21 PM   #20
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Ferry La Paz / Topolobambo / Mazatlan, schedule and rates

Just in case somebody else plans on crossing the sea of Cortez, here is the latest info from Baja ferries:



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Old 04-06-2014, 02:12 PM   #21
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San Miguel de Allende to Palenque

Hey Folks,

We are finally getting ahead of the ball and have found time to plan a bit better our next few weeks of riding.
Overall there seems to be several long stretch of boring highway that can't really be avoided. We would however like the get your feedback on the following itinerary:
- San Miguel de Allende / Tolantongo
we found a seemingly interesting detour thru Nuevo Rancho lake and Nicolas Flores, a tiny town in the mountains. Any thoughts

- Tolantongo - Mexico City
Just trying to get into town quickly

- Mexico City - Puebla
We might try to shoot past Puebla in order to cover a bit more ground. We are told Puebla is not really worth a stop after Mexico City

- Puebla - Oaxaca
Oaxaca is apparently not to be missed. We are considering a detour via Tuxtepec to the north just to drive thru the mountains.

- Oaxaca - Salina Cruz
Heading to famous San Christobal de Las Casas, taking a break midway for a bit of camping on the beach near Salina Cruz. Playa Brazil seems like a good spot.

- Salina Cruz - Canyon de Sumidero
Nice views from the park before San Chritobal

- San Christobal - Palenque
Visit of the ruins before heading into Guatemala via El Ceibo.

Love to hear your guys thoughts? Any bit of Off-road we should give a shot to on our way?

Cheers


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Old 04-07-2014, 01:09 PM   #22
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I thought Puebla was pretty nice in a Spanish sort of way; big zocalo, lots of nice restaurants and hotels (with prices to match lol). Riding in you pass the massive VW factory, I feel like it goes for miles. I'd have loved to stop for a tour (not sure if it's possible or not) if I had time. Only stayed there for a night.

Oaxaca was definitely a cool town, but pretty similar to Puebla I thought. A bit more unpolished? I'm not sure how to describe. Cool bars though, great big public spaces and Monte Alban is pretty spectacular.

From Oaxaca, the 131 to Puerto Escondido is a damn fun road, and Escondido is great if you like surfing and the beach life. Escondido to Puerto Angel is filled with lots of great little beaches and hippie folk like Mazunte, Zipolite, etc. All very nice and not a bad little ride on the 200 there.

If you stay in Escondido I'd recommend the Vivo Escondido. The owner Ross is also and adventure rider and has a new BMW, plus plenty of storage for bikes in his hostel. He's a cool dude, but it's a hostel, so that might not be your style.

I gassed up in Salina Cruz, it's just a big port town, not too much to see. Had lots of people in Escondido tell me the same thing before I arrived, and to rather spend the night in Puerto Angel or one of the aforementioned beaches before heading to San Cristobal.

It's super flippin' windy on the way out of Salina Cruz, be aware. My DR was being blown all over the highway, in a terrifying manner. At some points (near all the windmills) I didn't dare go faster than 40mph or so.

San Cristobal is a very cool mountain town, I'd have loved to stay there and explore a while. I hear you can also visit a Zapatista town if you know how to ask. Motorcycle riders get a free night at the Rossco Backpacker's hostel, FYI.

I ran into two other riders in Merida who told me they had avoided the 199 to Palenque as there had been a few incidents of highway robbery along that route, but I didn't experience anything like that. Well, except for the ladies holding a rope with flags across the road as you round a corner, forcing you to stop and asking you to buy a banana for 1 peso. That was new.

Hope that helps!

Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfandzebra View Post
Hey Folks,

We are finally getting ahead of the ball and have found time to plan a bit better our next few weeks of riding.
Overall there seems to be several long stretch of boring highway that can't really be avoided. We would however like the get your feedback on the following itinerary:
- San Miguel de Allende / Tolantongo
we found a seemingly interesting detour thru Nuevo Rancho lake and Nicolas Flores, a tiny town in the mountains. Any thoughts

- Tolantongo - Mexico City
Just trying to get into town quickly

- Mexico City - Puebla
We might try to shoot past Puebla in order to cover a bit more ground. We are told Puebla is not really worth a stop after Mexico City

- Puebla - Oaxaca
Oaxaca is apparently not to be missed. We are considering a detour via Tuxtepec to the north just to drive thru the mountains.

- Oaxaca - Salina Cruz
Heading to famous San Christobal de Las Casas, taking a break midway for a bit of camping on the beach near Salina Cruz. Playa Brazil seems like a good spot.

- Salina Cruz - Canyon de Sumidero
Nice views from the park before San Chritobal

- San Christobal - Palenque
Visit of the ruins before heading into Guatemala via El Ceibo.

Love to hear your guys thoughts? Any bit of Off-road we should give a shot to on our way?

Cheers


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Old 04-07-2014, 10:53 PM   #23
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great choice of bikes!
have fun.

La Gruta hot springs on road between San Miguel & Delores Hidalgo!!!

Xilitla & Bernal and the roads in La Huasteca.
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Old 04-08-2014, 01:21 PM   #24
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Thanks for the tips guys, much appreciated.

We spoke to a local guy yesterday who suggested they were interesting dirt roads out of Oaxaca going up to San Juan Cotzocon and back down on Hwy 147. We might give that a shot.

+1 on La Gruta, we went there yesterday, had a great time
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Old 04-08-2014, 01:47 PM   #25
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In. Good luck & ride safe.
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Old 04-25-2014, 08:07 AM   #26
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Cool2 A shot of Tequila and a drop of spring water

11 States and counting
Mainland Mexico has been keeping us very busy so we're behind on the blog but we have now managed to set foot in Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sinaloa, Nayarit, Jalisco, Guanajuato, Queretaro, Hidalgo, Mexico, Puebla and Oaxaca. Yesterday we arrived in the town of Oaxaca just in time for the Viernes Santo (or Good Friday) parade. Easter is a big deal around here, but not in the way we are used to. There are no bunnies or eggs but rather countless representations of Jesus in various states of demise or resurrection. Mary is everywhere too, in her signature colours for these parts: purple and white. It's all very serious and rather fascinating. But let's not get ahead of ourselves, we last left you in Mazatlan, so let's pick up from there.

Kayaks and cobblestones
After landing in Mazatlan we made a bee line across Sinaloa state to get to the seaside town of San Blas. The scenery changed dramatically as we approached the coast becoming a lush jungle which was a very welcome change from the hot dry ride through Sinaloa. We treated ourselves to a nice hotel on the beach after the sleepless ferry night. The next day we exchanged our bikes for a pair of kayaks and went to explore the local mangrove forests. The Wolf found himself already missing the Baja sands, so we took advantage of low season and almost no other tourists, to play in the sand dunes and catch the sunset. Our next stop was Tequila and the Wolf, in his constant quest to get us lost, decided we should take a road that was not on the GPS. It did look paved and sort of legit, so I didn't fight him too hard. The road ended up being under construction and blocked off. Of course, instead of turning around, the Wolf spotted a dirt road down the hill, so off we went to see if that would lead us nearer to the town of the famed Agave alcohol. The dirt path eventually turned into a delightful cobblestone road, that I was unable to fully appreciate as I was still nursing lingering fears of finding myself on a road beyond my skill level... again. We made it safely to Tequila, albeit after dark, and found ourselves a dodgy hotel for the night. Lesson we learned: if they show you pictures of the room instead of taking you to see it, that's a bad sign.

Where the Wolf fell in love with cobblestone streets

Jose Cuervo and more cobblestones
Tequila is a town that seems to be completely dominated by Jose Cuervo. There are other brands represented, but most of the center is taken up by a gigantic compound dedicated to the the Cuervo crow and the tequila they make. We took a tour of the factory, ate some of the agave miel and tasted various kinds of the wicked brew at different stages of production. Some of them almost blew our heads off, and some were gently sippable. On our way out of town, the Wolf spotted another cobblestone road. He had formed a deep affinity for cobblestones the previous day, so we once again followed the road. This time it was lined with the oak trees that produce the barrels the and led us a few kilometers up the Tequila volcano before we decided it was going to be a dead end and turned around to get back on track. We couldn't leave the Wolf- and Zebramobile out of all the tequila fun so we took them into a field of agave plants to pose for some photos.

The Wolf & Zebramobile keeping their distance from Blue Aguave

The first traffic jam since California
As we approached Guadalajara on a Thursday afternoon, the dense traffic and busy city grid made it clear that we were dealing with our first real city since Los Angeles. Following our temperamental GPS, we reached the hotel we had found online to discover an interesting trick, historical facades and Spanish courtyards hiding a maze of stairs, hallways and tiny windowless rooms. Trying to follow the Wolf on the hunt for a new place to stay, I found myself blocked on the Cathedral's plaza by a threatening flight of stairs. A perfect excuse to stop, wait and admire the Cathedral while the Wolf jumped curbs and split lanes towards our next hotel. We landed a block from the YMCA and were greeted by a 1972 Ironhead Harley and a BMW GS belonging to two American brothers retired here. With the help of their suggestions we discovered the very posh Providencia district and the hype pubs of Terranova Ave. We enjoyed chill brunches under the Jacarandas of old Colonial homes around Libertad and bounced at Chacal, a cool new club that put many San Francisco acts to shame.

Chacal, our first good tunes in a long, long while

A Spanish cubist dream
Our next stop was Guanajuato, a city whose world renown had not reached our ears. Unable to find a decent dusty path through the plain, The Wolf reluctantly agreed to wear our knobbies down on the "Cuota", the express tollway. We swallowed 300 kms in a few hours to discover a city of imbricated cubes of color precariously hanging from the steep slopes of convergent canyons. To add to our amazement, Guanajuato is served by two layers of streets, one underground originally conceived as a way to channel waters from the surrounding mountains. The other overground neatly weaving stairs and inclines to adapt to the demanding relief. The silver rich earth kept Spain's attention until the 18th century, they left an indelible mark on the city, the brighter aspect of which can be admired in the University, theater and palaces. We spent hours marvelling at the man facets of Guanajuato, from its many plazas shaded by topiary trees to the ever changing colors of its buildings around sunset.

A week of rest
Only 60 kms away lay another gorgeous colonial town, San Miguel de Allende, home to the largest colonies of retired Americans that we have seen so far. We took advantage of the hospitality of a local friend, Linda, and thoroughly enjoyed her company for a full week. My inner artist led us to join an art walk of "La Fabrica la Aurora", a rather impressive Art & Design center, kindly referred to an adult summer camp by our host. Our stay allowed us to finally change our bikes' oil that overheated in Baja and rid the Wolfmobile's fuel filter of unknown debris that had choked his performance since San Francisco. We then turned our attention to route planning, devised new ways to coerce OSM, Garmin and Google maps to collaborate and mapped our way to the Guatemalan border. Itching for more dirt, The Wolf took some time to scout out the local dirt tracks, collecting a variety of cactus thorns in the process. Once he'd gotten all the crazy riding out of his system, he took me to one of the river beds he'd found for some long overdue Zebra training. We practiced balance, clutch control and manoeuvring the bike through rocks. All these drills should make it easier to follow the Wolf when the wilderness calls.

Majestic San Miguel de Allende

The first split
Wilderness was already knocking on the door, as the Wolf found some trails and back roads to the Tolantongo hotsprings, our last stop before Mexico City. To the wolf's despair, the first day's back roads were all paved. He was close to calling a cliff a trail when we saw a 2 km detour on the dirt. Things started out easy enough but the small gravel soon turned into large, loose rocks, that once again had me down on the ground. My frustration gave way to awe once we discovered that our campsite for the night would be the front porch of a unoccupied villa at the mouth of a canyon. The view made our cactus-thorns-on-rubber breakfast the next morning slightly less indigestible and wielding tire irons is a good warm-up for a day of adventure.

This was the occasion to finally put on the new Heidenau tire we'd carried since San Francisco. Then we started riding. My crash from the previous day left me without enough confidence to tackle 60 kms of unknown roads. For the first time I left the Wolf to enjoy the mountain trails while I found my way to Tolantongo on pavement.

He was able to try all the crazy things his Wolfy heart desired, which included a crazy stair climb at the end (I have video to post later) He's totally badass. This gave me time to set up camp next to the azure waters of the Tolantongo river, in a nice isolated spot. This was without counting on "Semana Santa" that drove an uninterrupted flow of tourists to our camp throughout the night. We woke up surrounded by screaming kids and tents secured to the Wolfmobile tires. While it felt very disruptive, this chaos turned out to be excellent preparation for our next stop: Mexico City.


We woke up surrounded. The Wolfmobile was lucky not to get a tent peg in his front tire

More pictures here
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Old 04-25-2014, 09:21 AM   #27
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Old 04-30-2014, 08:23 PM   #28
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Guatemala

We are terribly late with our updates, being on the move almost everyday does not help, but we wanted to let you guys know that we crossed the border into Guatemala this morning at El Ceibo. The process was quite straight forward and the officials on both the Mexican and the Guatemalan side were super friendly.
More soon.

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Old 05-09-2014, 12:44 PM   #29
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Cool2 Mexico D.F.ctuoso

Back to updating the journey...

A city of 8.8 million people
After meeting a few hundred mexican tourists in the small campground at Tolantongo we decided things might be more peaceful in Mexico City. We broke down the camp and left the hotsprings as early as we could. The Wolf's reconnaissance of the area's trails paid off and he assessed that I ought to manage the dirts trails out of the canyon. It was a fun ride, perfectly suited to test my newly acquired skills, and I was rewarded with breathtaking views of mountains, switchbacks and the bright turquoise waters far below. Once we were out of the mountains we once again hit the tollway toward our next stop, Mexico D.F. I was feeling intimidated by tackling the world renowned traffic of the country's capital and bribed the Wolf to ride a little slower than usual to make sure I did not get lost in the melee. The time spent wrestling the GPS into submission at Linda's house paid off and it obediently led us to a charming love hotel aptly named: "MaxIntimo"

A city full of wonders

Just a sample of the dramatic architecture around Mexico City
Mexico D.F. or just "D.F." as it's known locally, is spectacular in the grandeur of it's dramatic and opulent historical buildings and also in the dilapidation and deterioration of others. A city so steeped in history has more to see than can be managed in a week, so we had to be very selective. We spent a full day meandering around the Bosque de Chapultepec with it's museums, castles and monuments and even managed to find the hidden auditorium garden. It's a shady cove with a some benches where you can come sit peacefully while listening to classical music pouring from the speakers hidden amongst the trees.

A city under police supervision
The police in D.F. have an atrocious reputation, which we quickly learned is well deserved. On a quest to find the one ferreteria in town selling German crafted Knipex pliers, we got intercepted by Municipal cops in a flashy Dodge Charger. A series of interactional missteps stood in the way of a liberating bribe. Instead, the poor Zebramobile was ridden to the impound by a smirky cop, Zebra hanging to the back seat for fear our steed would disappear on its way. There, a bogus charge taught us how creative cops can be. With the help of US$130 and the assistance of an unforgettably kind taxi driver, the Zebramobile was back on the streets determined to stay clear of any red/blue lights. A visit to the Frida Kahlo museum, a lovely brunch at Maque Pasticeria in Condesa, a few 25 Pesos tostadas at Coyoacan market and 500 pesos sushi on the desperately chic deck of the Condesa DF hotel, sufficed to rekindle us with D.F.

Semana Santa in Oaxaca

Viernes Santa (Good Friday) parade in Oaxaca.
With a blessing of the Angel of the Independence and our lungs full of smog, we escaped the city's traffic on our way to Oaxaca. We stopped for a night in Tehuacan to catch up with the Amazing Spiderman, in English, and felt the tremor of a distant Nicaraguan earthquake.
For our arrival on Viernes Santo, at the end of la Semana Santa, bleeding christs and Klansmen hoods animated the streets of the otherwise peaceful Oaxaca. A Wolf on a horse was the other unusual event that happened that week! At Rancho Pitaya we traded our DRs for champion endurance horses and trotted the hills around Mitla marvelling at the Nueve Puntas mountain in the horizon. An excellent warmup for the next leg of our trip.

More pictures here.
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Old 05-09-2014, 01:42 PM   #30
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