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Old 12-08-2011, 12:02 PM   #31
WeazyBuddha
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Originally Posted by mwillia View Post
Finally.

After three years of thinking about it, reading ride reports ADVRider and other forums, and doing a little planning, I will depart one-up from Chicago for Panamá and beyond on November 28. The basic plan is to take my R1200GS down to Panama, Girag it to Colombia, then fly home for the holidays. In January I’ll fly down to Colombia to begin the second part of the trip.

I have traveled in Mexico by moto twice before, the first time through central México and the second on the Baja from Dan Diego to Cabo and back. I’m no stranger to long distance riding, and have no problem whatsoever with long days on the bike. In fact, I love it! Over my 20+ years of riding, I have covered the better part of the USA, western Canada, and of course, parts of Mexico on a bike, and many of those trips included 1,000-mile days, albeit on the interstate. And the GS fits me well.

I am packing very light and plan to stay in small hotels along the way, so no need for camping gear. I do have some thoughts about taking my bag and bivy along, just I case, but that would be more for fun than necessity. I’ll bring along a minimum amount of tools, tire repair kit, oil, and first aid supplies. Two one-gallon RotoPax fuel tanks that stack perfectly on my luggage rack can be secured tight with Velcro strapping. I never had a problem with obtaining fuel in Mexico before, even almost 20 years ago, but I will not take the chance. I will pack a set of TKC 80s to mount when I arrive in Panama since the Heidenaus I mounted in late August now have just over 5,000 miles on them. After the 4,500 or so miles from home to Panama, they will likely be shot. And the TKCs will be a better fit for the routes I plan to take in Colombia.

The Garmin Zumo has been updated to the latest maps of the USA and Mexico, and I’ll carry good old-fashioned paper maps for back-up and for use in Central America, where I won’t have detailed GPS mapping. The moto has recently been serviced, and should not need anything but a bit of oil during the trip. My friend Thierry set me up with some 3M reflective taping for the back of my panniers to make me a bit more visible. Insurance has been purchased for Mexico, and for the countries in Central America for which I can buy insurance in advance. Maybe this will save me some time at the border crossings, but I won’t know until I get there. The Blackberry and iPad will handle communications while I’m traveling, and my Spot will track progress.

So—all that remains is to load up the bike and go. The weather is forecasted to be about 43 degrees F with maybe some light rain when I leave—no problem. I’ll wear my Gerbing’s heated jacket liner and gloves until I get to warm weather, and might ship them home before crossing into Mexico.

The basic route will be Chicago to The Border, probably crossing McAllen/Reynosa, all interstate. Then head south and a bit west to pick up one of the cuotas to D.F., and then on towards Puebla, Orizaba, Coatzacoalcos on the gulf coast, then southeast through Chiapas and south into Guatemala. I am trying to make some time going down. I’ll have more time to sightsee on the return trip in the Spring.
ˇUna semana más!
My condolences.

I see you decided to cross elsewhere, still, not far from my attachment point on the surface of the planet.

Have fun.
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Old 12-08-2011, 01:11 PM   #32
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have a nice trips and bring a lot of pics home!
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Old 12-08-2011, 09:44 PM   #33
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Thanks for the kind words, Thierry.

Haven't missed the fuel gauge at all. One less thing to look at.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tcroullier View Post
That's what happens when you have new bike! too many indicators waiting to fail!

Glad to know you are doing well and so sorry for your loss.

Missed you at Toys for Tots last Sunday in Chicago. 80% HD/victory crowds burning tires, 10% crotch rockets owners and the rest BMW riders. Visibly not the same market .

Ride safe Thierry
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Old 12-09-2011, 05:37 AM   #34
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Yesterday was a great day. I left Laredo, Texas at 6:45 AM and within minutes I was across the border and in Mexico. I was the only one going into Mexico at that time. No agents, no stops, nothing. Signs easily guided the way to the building that handles vehicle importation, and I arrived at 7 AM sharp. After 90 minutes of waiting, copying, stamping, stapling, signing, and some more stamping, I received my import sticker and I was on my way.



It's official now!


I took the toll roads most of the way. The cuotas in Mexico are well-maintained and as good or better in some ways than our toll roads. The route was surprisingly scenic and while there where many miles of long straight stretches, there were also plenty of twisty mountain passes. Most importantly, I was able to travel fast, which is what I wanted after getting delayed by snow. The weather was great--sunny and getting warmer by the hour.

I was able to cover about 720 miles yesterday, and loved every one of them. Now I'm in Pachuca, Mexico, about an hour or less northwest of Mexico City. My last gas stop was at about 6 PM last night--twilight down here. I wasn't planning to ride after dark, but the roads were so well marked, and even lit in places, that I decided to press on. When the sun finally set, the almost-full moon was so bright that I could see the surrounding landscape as well as way down the road.

My GPS said that I would reach Tapachula at the southern border at about 7 AM if I kept going, and frankly, I probably could have done it. I wasn't feeling tired and had a lot of miles left in me. But at about 8:30 I decided to do the smart thing and find a hotel.

So far I have covered about 2,100 miles, and am more than half way through Mexico. The plan tonight is to make it to San Cristobal de Las Casas in Chiapas state, and then head into Guatemala Saturday morning.

Sorry about the almost complete lack of pictures. I haven't posted many for two reasons. First, I haven't taken that many--yet. The first three days my hands were too gloved-up to operate a camera anyway, and yesterday my goal was distance. Second, I have to rely on public computers to upload them, since I only brought an iPad. I will endeavor to get more pictures up soon. I am writing this update on my Blackberry using Tapatalk, maybe that will work better.
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Parcero screwed with this post 12-16-2011 at 08:10 AM Reason: Correct some grammatical errors, add photos.
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Old 12-09-2011, 05:42 AM   #35
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Carl, you will have a great trip. I have done Baja and it's beautiful--lots of great roads, small towns, and some of the most beautiful secluded beaches in the world.

Thanks for the tip on the BMW meet up in El Salvador. Those dates might conflict with a ski trip, but if not, I'm in since my bike will be down south until I ride it back in late spring.


QUOTE=Carl Stark;17474074]Looks like we ( my bride and I ) will be a few weeks behind you. We plan on being in Southern California January 10th and then down Baja and on to South America.
There is a BMW convention in El Salvador Febuary 23 - 25 with the guest speaker Charlie Boorman of long way down. We have attended two of there conventions and it is a top shelf opperation. I am sure they would welcome you.
We have subscribed and it will be cool to have some one riding ahead of us providing corrent intel.
Carl & Jonnie
Sheridan, WY[/QUOTE]
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Old 12-09-2011, 05:54 AM   #36
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Sounds like your off to a great start.
I love riding south in the winter and creeping down into the warmth.
I'll be following along at my desk here in Chicago.
First morning with snow on the ground here at 20 degrees
will be in mid 40's on Sunday though.
Cheers
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Old 12-10-2011, 06:36 AM   #37
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I made it to San Cristobal last night at about 8:30. It took a bit longer than expected due to several factors, primarily road construction and several areas where the pavement was very rough. But the trip was generally great. The scenery changed from desert and cactuses to tropical greenery once I crossed he mountains outside of Puebla. I passed the Orizaba volcano, and I even took a picture that I will hopefully be able to post later.


Passing Orizaba

As I was getting close to Cordoba, I encountered a major traffic jam. There were signs posted about road work, but the only project that I could see was some drainage work on the side of the road, and the dozen or so workers packing up their tools. Many of them were holding fresh six packs of Sol beer. It was Friday afternoon, so I figured it must be Miller Time, or Sol Time down here. After about 15 minutes of not moving an inch, I asked the driver next to me what's the hold up? He said there was an accident up the road, so I took the shoulder to the scene, hoping I could squeeze by. The road was blocked by three massive tow trucks trying to winch a Sol beer truck out of the median. This was a semi pulling two trailers. Not the short trailers they use in the US when they pull doubles, but two full-size trailers. That thing was LONG.

I pulled up to a worker to ask if I could get by. He said sorry, your're too late. I asked for what? He said the other drivers on the scene and locals had already stolen all the beer! Sure enouch, those trailers were empty. Evidently the driver had fallen asleep, which the road worker said is common He then instructed one of he tow trucks to back up so I could get by, and I sailed along.

I was stopped twice yesterday at military checkpoints, the first of my trip. No big deal at all. The soldiers seemed more intested in the bike than anythng else. At the first one they didn't even ask me to open anythng up. Very different from my first Mexican bike trip when my group was delayed several times by more thorough searches.

The road going into Tuxla Gutierrez through the mountains was slow due to heavy fog, but then things cleared up and I really enjoyed the twisting road up into San Cristobal. I stayed a the Hotel Parrot, a nice old small hotel kind of tucked away in an older part of the city. About $28 a night, and they cooked me dinner, and since I was the only guest, or at least the only one eating, the three employees had a drink with me while I ate. Nice people, we had a great conversation and a lot of fun. The place was great.


The Hotel Parroquia (Parrot) in San Cristobal.


Where the bike stayed at the hotel, all secure for the night.


Tastes even better in Mexico!


Sightseeing in San Cristobal.


The GS looks pretty big parked next to one of the locals' bikes.

Today I'll head south into Guatemala. I hope all the border offices are open since it's the weekend. I will probably have to stay in Guatemala tonight, maybe in Antigua, which is supposed to be a nice old city. Doubt I can cross two borders in one day, but I am about to find out.
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Parcero screwed with this post 12-16-2011 at 02:50 PM Reason: Add photos.
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Old 12-11-2011, 06:31 AM   #38
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Yesterday I got a later start than I planned on since I spent a little bit of time sightseeing in San Cristobal de Las Casas. I got on the road at about 9 AM, and headed south through Chiapas state to the border. Chiapas is a Biker's paradise. Twisty mountain roads, great pavement, and beautiful scenery. Near the border, I encountered a large group of dual-sport riders at a gas station. They were from all parts of Mexico and had come down for a week of riding in Chiapas.


One of the thousands of las curvas peligrosas in Chiapas.

I arrived at the border at 11:30 AM on the Mexican side. Because I got there just after a tour bus had arrived, it took me 90 minutes to be processed out. Without the lines, my guess is that I would have been done in 30 minutes or less. I crossed over to La Masilla, Guatemala at 1 PM. The town was absolutely jam packed with people, cars, taxis, and trucks. The first step in the process was getting the bike fumigated. This costs 12 quetzales, so I had to exchange my pesos. This was easily done, and I was off to migration and then aduanas for the bike. This process was straight forward although slow. At 3:30, I got my import sticker and was on my way.


Fumigating the bike in La Masilla.


The main drag through La Masilla, Guatemala.

The first 200 kilometers were slow going. The PanAm highway, CA-1, is a winding mountain road in that part of Guatemala. The scenery is absolutely spectacular, with high mountains covered in greenery, sheer vertical rock faces, and light fog shrouding the peaks. The road passes through many small villages along the way. The road conditions deteriorated from OK to terrible. Several passes had been rerouted on temporary dirt roads due to mudslides. In many of the villages and cities, it was pothole city. And of course topas everywhere to slow me down.


Re-routed road due to landslide. There are many of these.

About an hour outside Guatemala City, the road conditions deteriorated to basically nothing but foot-deep potholes in a city called Huehuetanango. Bumper-to-bumper traffic riding standing up motocross style for a few miles. But almost immediately after leaving that city, the road changed to a brand new devided highway with lots of sweeping turns through the mountains.

I arrived in Antigua Guatemala after dark, and the city was alive with activity on Saturday night. I was lucky to a room at a nice hotel near the center of town. The manager said I could park the bike inside the walkway to the lobby, which is fully enclosed and locked at night. To my surprise, there was another bike in there, and with British Columbia license plates! Never met the owner. I was up and gone before he woke up.


The hotel San Sebastián.


What a great room!


Where the bike stayed for the night, and the other bike from BC, Canada.

I had a great dinner at a Cuban restaurant with live music close to the hotel. I was up early for coffee and route planning, and will be on the road soon. The plan will be to go through El Salvador to shave hopefully lots of time off the trip. It's a more direct route but I don't know how long the border crossings will take. On my way out of town, I plan to stop by the Moto Cafe, a place operated by a moto touring company, to ask for some route guidance.


The view from the café in the morning in San Cristobal.


The town square.


The cathedral.


Typical street in San Cristobal.


Sunday morning market.


What a view!


Obviously a moto friendly town.
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Parcero screwed with this post 12-16-2011 at 02:59 PM Reason: Insert name of city, add photos.
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Old 12-11-2011, 07:43 AM   #39
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Damn dude you're flying! :) I was amazed at how nice, empty, and expensive the Mexican toll roads were. Need some pics!

I lived in Cordoba for a summer in the shadow of Pico de Orizaba, friendly area. Enjoy the rest, only gets better!
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Old 12-11-2011, 01:32 PM   #40
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Yeah, I was flying until I hit the El Salvador aduana office. Been here for about two and a half hours with no end in sight. Paperwork is all done, just waiting for the inspector to come out to the bike. Should be out soon, and the good news is it's only four hours until I have to wait in line at the Honduran border.

Smooth sailing otherwise.
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Damn dude you're flying! :) I was amazed at how nice, empty, and expensive the Mexican toll roads were. Need some pics!



I lived in Cordoba for a summer in the shadow of Pico de Orizaba, friendly area. Enjoy the rest, only gets better!
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Old 12-12-2011, 08:59 AM   #41
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Thanks to djones

Finally found the site to watch the ride. So far it sounds like its been pretty smooth except for "pothole city", that probably gave your butt a break anyway....
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Old 12-12-2011, 10:39 AM   #42
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Earthquake?

No mention of the Earthquake...did you not feel it or were you far enough away by then?

...and BEST OF LUCK!!!
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Old 12-13-2011, 04:51 AM   #43
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I was into Guatemala well before the earthquake hit in Mexico.

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No mention of the Earthquake...did you not feel it or were you far enough away by then?

...and BEST OF LUCK!!!
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Old 12-13-2011, 04:52 AM   #44
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It has been very smooth. I have been making great time, and I am in Liberia Costa Rica about to hit the road. Going to try to reach Panama City today.

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Finally found the site to watch the ride. So far it sounds like its been pretty smooth except for "pothole city", that probably gave your butt a break anyway....
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Old 12-14-2011, 06:42 AM   #45
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I made it! Rolled into Panana City late last night. Nine days on the road, probably would have been less had I not procrastinated that first day which put me in the path of the snowstorm. I have been covering too much ground to have been able to update the ride report, but I will do so soon, along with details and pictures.

Today I will take the bike over to Girag. Maybe even wash it first, don't know.

WOW WHAT A RIDE!!!
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