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Old 11-08-2012, 04:11 PM   #391
JDowns OP
Sounds good, let's go!
 
Joined: Mar 2005
Location: Bassett, NE
Oddometer: 2,652
If you are bored at home try successfully setting up a new tent you are unfamiliar with in the living room with the lights out by feel with a box fan turned on full blast preferably blowing across air cooled with a chest full of ice as a soundtrack with dogs barking and donkeys braying plays from your sound system and you can re-live my first night arriving in Real de Catorce in the dark. That my friends is ADV FTW!

I've been traveling in Mexico for around a week and thought I'd share some things I've learned so far.

The word for wifi password is clave (claw-vay) which is the word for key en español.

Town squares sometimes have free public wifi as a community service or hotels with open wifi nearby.

This wind-up battery powered flashlight that my sister gave me is proving quite useful. Just fold out the handle give it some cranks like a wind up toy and voila, LED lightting that never needs batteries:



Another handy thing to have has been this screw in socket with 2 outlets for charging the AA batteries and plugging in the computer from the ceiling fan over the bed instead of in the bathroom where the only outlet was:



this 4-way AA battery charger is handy for charging 4 AAs at a time. Also eight spare rechargeable AA has been a nice amount to keep the camera, GPS and water purifier going between plug-in recharge availability while out camping.



Since I am carrying more camping and computer gear this time it is much easier to find things if you always put things away in the same place. Same goes for wallet, keys, pen, pad, camera, glasses, coins always going in the same clothes pockets while you are riding. I try to put things in the first place that comes to mind since that is where you will look for it the next time. You will save yourself a lot of time looking for things if you always put them back in the same place. Especially when stealth camping in the dark it is nice to know where things are. If you can't find something and do without you should throw that thing away when you finally find it if you are traveling minimalist. The only things I am carrying that I haven't used so far are tubes and tire repair kit, battery trickle charger, battery powered tire pump, spare zip locs, rain pants and spare bike parts like front sprocket air and oil filters. And they go in the bottom of the waterproof duffle bag with the tent since duffle bags are such a pain in the ass. I have gotten rid of everything else I don't use . Most of that came from the bottom of the duffle bag or the bottom of the panniers. You don't need as much stuff as you might think. Less weight on the bike saves your suspension when you're pounding down the roads less traveled. You have to be a bit ruthless at times but if you haven't used it this week, it's easy to find down the road and it's not essential for bike maintenance and emergency repair I get rid of it

Always put things away after you use them. Don't set things down. The only things I have lost so far are things I set down and didn't put away. Baseball hat flew off somewhere in Kansas when I set it on the bike and took off one morning and top of the line pair of REI expedition socks that I took off and left outside Tricepilots back door when I was staying in San Antonio. It is very easy to lose stuff while you are traveling if you set things down absent mindedly and don't put them away. Maps, bottles of water, camera, wallet, battery recharger that sort of thing. Easy to lose.


That's all I can think of for now.

More later……

Kindest regards,
John Downs
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JDowns screwed with this post 11-12-2012 at 09:18 AM
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Old 11-08-2012, 04:27 PM   #392
craftsmanjoc
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just in time!

This is the first ride report I've had the opportunity to catch at the very beginning. Usually I run across one
Months or even years after the are wrapped up. So following along dailynis a blast. And Evan more cool
is reading practically as you're writing.
just this moment I am taking a break in one of the single seat smelly blue boxes on my construction site
flipped on my phone only to read what you've written just moments before.
very cool!
keep up the good work.
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Old 11-08-2012, 04:42 PM   #393
hogwsh
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Thanks

for sharing your adventure. I tune in daily. In an earlier post you had the Guia Roja page listed. That with the grid square would make following along very easy. I did a Mexico trip a few years ago on a DR 650 and now have started prepping an XT225 for another. Thanks for your insight.

Perry
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Old 11-08-2012, 04:43 PM   #394
JDowns OP
Sounds good, let's go!
 
Joined: Mar 2005
Location: Bassett, NE
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Quote:
Originally Posted by craftsmanjoc View Post
This is the first ride report I've had the opportunity to catch at the very beginning. Usually I run across one
Months or even years after the are wrapped up. So following along dailynis a blast. And Evan more cool
is reading practically as you're writing.
just this moment I am taking a break in one of the single seat smelly blue boxes on my construction site
flipped on my phone only to read what you've written just moments before.
very cool!
keep up the good work.
Hi CJ,

It's my job to keep you entertained this winter. I like to think I am providing quality crapper moto jounalism.

Still looking for a nice Señorita to buy a drink for and take a picture in your honor as Chief Executive in charge of food and beverage. It would help if I went into bars.

Glad you are enjoying the ride.

Kindest regards,
John Downs
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Old 11-08-2012, 06:57 PM   #395
JDowns OP
Sounds good, let's go!
 
Joined: Mar 2005
Location: Bassett, NE
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hogwsh View Post
for sharing your adventure. I tune in daily. In an earlier post you had the Guia Roja page listed. That with the grid square would make following along very easy. I did a Mexico trip a few years ago on a DR 650 and now have started prepping an XT225 for another. Thanks for your insight.

Perry
Hi Perry,

I am currently in Jalpan in the Sierra Gorda Mountains on Page 25 of the Guia Roji in square F-2.

That little Yamaha of yours would have been fun on the backroads down here today cranking down RT. 120. No need for a big bike when you're in the hairpins all day.

Best,
John Downs
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Old 11-08-2012, 07:25 PM   #396
JDowns OP
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I wandered around in the Sierra Gorda mountains around Jalpan today. Came down to get something to eat this afternoon and sat in front ot the Casa de la Cultura and used their free wifi to upload stories and check email and heard back from MikeMike in Veracruz. So it looks like I'll be meeting him down in Coatepec on Sunday for a ride around backcountry estado de Veracruz. He suggested the Jimmex ride. Sounds good to me. Jimmex is coincidentally my latest sponsor. Chief Executive in charge of the Entertainment Division. So I will be dedicating Sunday's pictures and stories to my man Jimmex. Should be fun.

Didn't take any pictures today. Sorry. Having too much fun riding in the morning and goofing off all afternoon. My computer was down to 8% battery and I saw a nice place across the street from the culture center where I was sitting this afternoon called Posada Karina with secure parking, wifi, cable TV and hot showers for 250 pesos. My batteries needed charging and I needed a shower so I decided to splurge and got a room and promptly fell asleep and woke up as dark clouds were moving in.

So here I am at:

N 21º 13.142'
W 99º 28.585'

Here's a pic of the room:



Nice clean place with the bike outside the door in the locked courtyard.
I spent 320 pesos on gas food and lodging today or $25.60

Best,
John Downs
__________________
South America and back on a 250 Super Sherpa Minimalist Adventure
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=831076

JDowns screwed with this post 11-09-2012 at 02:58 AM
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Old 11-09-2012, 04:10 AM   #397
OldPete
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"promptly fell asleep and woke with dark clouds moving in." Been there.

You even got an outlet by the bed this time. High class for sure.

Since you're a stone mason I do appreciate what you offer on that craft. Keep it up.
As a skilled OTR truck diesel mechanic few want to hear what I can offer.

This ride will be of considerable distance and a not uncommon issue is rear wheel bearings.
Have you thought of carrying a set?
What about jetting for the time spent at high altitudes in the area of The Andes?

Just finished a short RR of a couple doing the TAT and in The Rockies her KLX250 was only good for 1/2 throttle
but his WR being injected had no issue. (The new XT250 is injected btw)
I think of this because of a trip in The Rockies two-up on a Guzzi in the late '80s. It ran like crap.

Stayin' with you on this ride, my best,
OldPete
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Old 11-09-2012, 05:07 AM   #398
JDowns OP
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Joined: Mar 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldPete View Post
"promptly fell asleep and woke with dark clouds moving in." Been there.

You even got an outlet by the bed this time. High class for sure.

Since you're a stone mason I do appreciate what you offer on that craft. Keep it up.
As a skilled OTR truck diesel mechanic few want to hear what I can offer.

This ride will be of considerable distance and a not uncommon issue is rear wheel bearings.
Have you thought of carrying a set?
What about jetting for the time spent at high altitudes in the area of The Andes?

Just finished a short RR of a couple doing the TAT and in The Rockies her KLX250 was only good for 1/2 throttle
but his WR being injected had no issue. (The new XT250 is injected btw)
I think of this because of a trip in The Rockies two-up on a Guzzi in the late '80s. It ran like crap.

Stayin' with you on this ride, my best,
OldPete
Hi OldPete,

What looks like an outlet in the pic is the switch for the ceiling fan, but a hot shower and a nice bed for 20 bucks a night is definitely high class for me. Like staying at the Ritz Carlton for a normal person.

As far as jetting, the bike ran fine over 12,000 feet further north. The diaphram on the main jet needle slide seems to do a fair job of compensating for altitude. Just had to turn up the idle. Not sure what carb the KLX250S is but my guess is regular slide like my XR250 that runs like crap over 6,000 feet with the stock main jet.

But if it's a problem and if I make it to the altiplano of Bolivia and the Andes then it is easy enough to pick up a slightly smaller main jet. Easy to get to on the Sherpa without removing the carb.

Wheel bearings for small bikes aren't hard to find. So far mine are holding up. I think it would be good to carry a spare set if you were on a bigger bike with a heavy load. Those seem to be the ride reports you read where the rear shock blows and the wheel bearings wear out.

Glad to have you along as always.

Best,
John Downs
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Old 11-09-2012, 08:07 AM   #399
BlazerRalph
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Great report, very educational to some of us posers.
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Old 11-09-2012, 02:27 PM   #400
jameswwright
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Just sent you a little donation. I know you don't drink, but hopefully you can find something equally irresponsible to spend it on.
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Old 11-09-2012, 04:01 PM   #401
perrogordo
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I'm in..interesting trip..this is my dream trip..I did a couple trips into Mexico about 10 years back.Did it on a Honda Transalp.Always thought doing it on a smaller bike,less is more would be a good way to do it.Looks like you will test that theory. All the best to you.I will be following your trip.
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Old 11-09-2012, 04:01 PM   #402
JDowns OP
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Joined: Mar 2005
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Another excellent day of riding in Mexico!

Have you ever heard of Baranca Tolantango? Neither had I.

Twenty two tight hairpins down a steep dirt road to the bottom of a massively deep canyon with a hot water river blasting out of a cave/grotto along with towering cliffs covered in ferns weeping hot water surrounded by steep cliffs a couple thousand feet high at sunset.

Stay tuned for your evening entertainment while I upload another metric ton of photos to smugmug.

Back in a moment with more stories from the roads less traveled.....

Suerte,
Juanito
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JDowns screwed with this post 11-10-2012 at 05:12 AM
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Old 11-09-2012, 04:53 PM   #403
JDowns OP
Sounds good, let's go!
 
Joined: Mar 2005
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But first lets start at the beginning of the day. Anyone who loves the zen of curves riding for hours on tight twisting two lane backroads needs to put Hwy. 120 from Xilitla to San Juan del Rio on their bucket list. I had heard it was a fun road and it didn't disappoint.

There are some roads like Hwy 36 in Northern California from Red Bluff to the coast that bring a smile to your face just remembering. This is one of those roads.

I love riding the twisty roads of backcountry Mexico. You forget when you're back home what it's like. And then you get down here and think to yourself, "oh yeah, now I remember!"

120 is right up there with 16 from Hermosillo to Baseseachic, 37 libre from Playa Azul to Uruapan, 24 south from Creel to Hidalgo del Parral, 200 south from Puerto Vallarta to Lazaro Cardenas. The list goes on but you get the idea. If you like twisting two lane blacktop there is plenty of great riding down here to keep you occupied.

And back country dirt roads could keep you busy exploring for a lifetime down here.
Alas, I am on my way to South America so only have time to scratch the surface and report back on a few.

Anyway, this morning started off overcast in Jalpan when I took off on rta. 120 towards San Juan del Rio:



one thing I have noticed is when there is a deadly curve with decreasing radius it is marked with a curve sign that is a right angle instead of an arc. Like this:



You will be downshifting once maybe twice depending on how many shrines and crosses you see in the apex of the curve on these right angle signed curves.

After 50 miles of hairpins the road climbed up probably to 8000 feet or so judging by the people wearing jackets and sweatshirts up in the villages in the pine forests. Also by the way the bike wouldn't idle when I stopped to take this picture:



As an aside, one thing I learned by accident today is that when a dog runs out to bite your leg all you have to do is put your leg out and cock your boot back and they back off. They are familiar with this move and know that pain ensues. Of course some of them are fast little devils that come straight out of nowhere from the side, but they have the wrong angle and a quick twist of the throttle leaves them yapping. There were a lot of moto chasers at the top of this pass for some reason.

The sun broke out and it was clear sailing with beautiful blue skies over the pass. With wildflowers growing on the side of the road up in the high elevation pine forests:



It was nippy up this high. But soon the vegetation changed as the road steeply descended curving lower into the warmth of the high desert:



As the road dropped down into the high desert it finally started to straighten out and it was possible to shift into high gear. Past marble quarries and dump trucks loaded with marble chunks and slabs. Small villages with sculptors chiseling marble religious statuary and making items for the Mexican tourist trade. Maybe 50 miles before San Juan del Rio I cut south on a small road through the hills. At this point I wasn't sure where I was going and thought about getting gas. But no Pemex out in the sticks on this road. So I saw a lady cooking up gorditas by the side of the road and stopped to have a few and found gas down the way here:



This turned out to be a wonderful backroad. Nobody out here. Just a road twisting along the spine of some low mountains going who knows where:



It dropped down steeply on its twisting way down to that reservoir in the distance:



through three incredibly long tunnels. This one was 1600 meters long. Nearly a mile according to the sign:



Mind you this is in the middle of freaking nowhere along the side of a reservoir. And those tunnels were solid marble inside. You could stop and park inside because there was nobody else around. Like i'd entered the twilight zone:



And then the road twisted straight up out of the canyon up over the next mountain range and ran along a ridge with views down into another canyon that had to be several hundred feet deep with this empty resort at the top. No people, no cars, nothing around. But with a beautiful view of this canyon. Maybe another one of those field of dreams projects:




The road finally ended in Ixmiquilpan. I know. The X towns are hard for me to pronounce too. Iss-mih-KEEL-pon. I asked.

Anyway I was heading through town and saw a sign to Baranca Tolantongo. Ever heard of it? Neither had I. But I know baranca means canyon. And I like canyon carving just as much as the next fellow. So I hung an izquierda and headed out into the countryside on a straightish road that headed out of town towards the mountains in the distance and soon came over a rise and saw the canyon:



The pavement stopped and turned to packed dirt with a little washboard and ruts. This is looking straight down into the canyon. There were twenty two hairpins dropping straight down. I counted on the way out. It's very similar to the drop into Copper Canyon. You can see a few of them in this pic looking straight down. but you just cant capture a drop down a couple thousand vertical feet with a point and shoot camera. It was awesome! The road over on the far side winding back out and up over the next mountain range looked tempting. But I'm heading to South America and need to meet MikeMike for some killer Veracruz riding in a couple days:



This is down towards the river where the road flattens out right before an entrance gate with an admission fee of 120 pesos:



Ten bucks is a lot, but I remembered Tricepilot in the back of my mind and what he said about just paying up when you get to these magical places with steep admission. Especially when you've just dropped in to the bottom of a canyon down a couple thousand vertical feet. So I paid up like a good ride reporter. Anyway, I owe it to you, dear readers, who have been sending in gas money to show you the hidden Mexico and possible interesting areas you might like to ride next time you're down.

I parked my bike at:

N 20º 39.023'
W 99º 00.198'

And walked down this pathway with an interesting tropical tree growing over it:



and up a few flights of stone stairs around a bend and looked down at a hot water springs flowing out of the mountain down below. That man across the way gives some scale:



around the corner were some Mexicans who had just gotten out of the cave pool. That water streaming 50 feet down the cliff is hot! The cliffs stretched up hundreds of feet to the sky above this frame:



Hot water was blasting out of this grotto with hot water streaming down from the cavern roof. If you squint you can see a lady's head bobbing at the end of the safety line. They said it is like a sauna way back inside. Pretty magical little place. My pictures don't do it justice. The cave goes back quite a ways:



Here is the hot water stream as it flows down around the bend:



and into this surrealistic pale aqua blue river in the bottom of the canyon:



There is camping available for 100 pesos a night so definitely this is a must see if you are in the area. It is kind of off the beaten track, but well worth a look. Right now I felt like riding more than sitting around in hot water but I will be back for sure to relax and enjoy this place in my later years. I wandered around taking pictures and enjoying the peaceful natural beauty before heading out. It was late afternoon and it is my duty to find some wifi and keep you folks at home entertained. I found a cheap place in the X town for 110 pesos with a shower, so probably better than the tent for 100 down in the canyon for tonight.

Tomorrow I head to Veracruz for riding with MikeMike on Sunday morning.

It was dark by the time I uploaded photos and I didn't feel like riding at night. The hotel that quoted 110 raised it to 250 by the time I rode back from uploading this so I ended up staying in a nice Hotel Plaza Isabel downtown for 270 pesos. Total for today was 690 pesos or $55.20 for gas out in the boonies, food, internet, park fees and lodging. An all time high. Well worth it for a long fun day of riding. That's it for today.

Suerte,
Juan
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http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=831076

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Old 11-09-2012, 06:21 PM   #404
JDowns OP
Sounds good, let's go!
 
Joined: Mar 2005
Location: Bassett, NE
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jameswwright View Post
Just sent you a little donation. I know you don't drink, but hopefully you can find something equally irresponsible to spend it on.
Hi Señor Wright,

Muchas gracias. Especially coming from a fellow Sherpa rider. I'll be putting your name on the tank right under my buddy Dario from Naranjo.

I am appointing you Chief Executive in charge of Canadian Operations. Feel free to put it on your resume. I will give you a glowing reference.

Much appreciated,
John Downs
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South America and back on a 250 Super Sherpa Minimalist Adventure
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=831076

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Old 11-09-2012, 06:40 PM   #405
JDowns OP
Sounds good, let's go!
 
Joined: Mar 2005
Location: Bassett, NE
Oddometer: 2,652
Quote:
Originally Posted by perrogordo View Post
I'm in..interesting trip..this is my dream trip..I did a couple trips into Mexico about 10 years back.Did it on a Honda Transalp.Always thought doing it on a smaller bike,less is more would be a good way to do it.Looks like you will test that theory. All the best to you.I will be following your trip.
Hi Perrogordo,

Glad to have you along for the ride. Transalp is a pretty nice bike. I am the guinea pig and will continue to test the hell out of that theory. Should be interesting to see how it ends up.

Kindest regards,
John Downs
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