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Old 07-25-2012, 10:08 PM   #1
sraff OP
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Laugh A noob rides Mexico

I should start this ride report with a disclamer: i'm not a writer and I'm a pretty pissy photographer. I'm about a month in to a trip that i hope will last another 3-4 weeks, we"ll see when the money runs out.
OK thats outa the way, a few months back, i finally said " you aint getting any younger,if you plan on havin any excitement in your life maybe it should start now". So the plan for a south of the border ride started to develope in my feeble little brain. By plan I mean something like "hey I should do that". With that as a plan I left my home in metro detroit MI on june 23rd and headed north up I-75, hell of a way to start a south of the border trip. But the 25th is my moms birthday and she's in her 80's.
So spent a couple days at my mom's place in gaylord, said happy birthday on the 25th and rolled out early in the afternoon. And jumped on I-75 north, i figured since i'm this far north, i may as well cross Mackinac Bridge and ride the U.P. and then at some point turn south.
As a side note, when I crossed Mackinaw, I rode the steel the entire length, anybody who's crossed Mackinaw knows what I'm talking about. Not really because I chose to, the right lane was closed for the painting crew.
From Mackinaw i took US-2 west and from there on, it gets a little fuzzy. I'll be honest, I didnt really do any route planning, i didnt think it would be too hard to find Mexico, head south and either i get wet or i found it.
SO,about 10 that night i'm heading south in Wisconsin somewhere around Oshkosh and i start thinking, the bike is handling like crap. But, i've never run with it this heavy, its gettin late, i'm tired, gotta be me. About Fon Du Lac i pull in for gas and come very close to dumping the bike,oops front tires flat. Now, i've never had to fix a flat on the road but said "i have everything i need, just do it". Rolled the bike around back of the truck stop, found a couple milk crates, propped it up, front wheel off, tube out, new tube in, all in about 20 minutes. Go over to the 25 cent air pump, which is actually $1.00 and find that its got some goofy head on it thats 16" long with a straight end, no way its gonna work. But i try, even try a couple times, NOT gonna work.
No biggy, I have those co2 cartridges. Now either I'm a dumbass or these things dont work. I'm fully willing to accept the first option but at least let me explain. Get one hooked up, works perfect, but only has it to 8 psi., start to hook up a second one by screwing the hose to it and boom, all the air blows out of it. So i decide to screw it to the valve stem first (remember, i have a feeble little brain) all the air comes out of the tire. Hmmmm after several attempts its begining to dawn on me, this isnt gonna work. OK it really didnt dawn on me until i ran out of co2.
Back over to the $1.00 air pump, about the time i ran out of quarters, I took that as a sign from God, this isnt doin it either. Thats when 2 things happened: 1, it was apparent my lack of any planning had caught up with me too soon into the ride, I have a mini compressor sitting in the garage at home 2, panic attack mode, temper tantrum mode and probably a few other modes started kicking in. After about 10 minutes of WTF am i gonna do, I calmed down, GPS says there's a gas station 4 miles down the road, I ran 70 miles on a flat, hopefully 4 more wont hurt.
Over 30 mph u can hardly tell its flat, get to the station, YEP, its closed. hit the GPS again, closest one is 10 miles the opposite direction, off we go. Roll up to this one and OMG, it's open AND has real air, not an f'ing quarter machine, but a hose attached to the wall and its free. get my tire aired up and i'm so happy i go in and spend $5 on pop & junk food that i didnt need since i did the same thing an hour earlier at the truck stop. Once again I'm a happy camper
For the majority of the trip I'm trying to avoid e-ways, not saying I WILL NOT, just dont wanna see the world go by at 70mph, also my POS v star is really workin it at e-way speeds. I like to fly low & slow, 55mph on state hiways is more my speed. BUT for the last 100 miles or so I'd been rolling down I-? along Lake Michigan's western shore. Tire aired up, sugar fix happenin, I rolled back out onto I-? to bang out some miles, and 10 miles later rolled into a super 8. Day 1 ends near Fon Du Lac Wisconsin
If you've read this far I hope its safe to let you know, at this point in the trip, getting to mexico is my only goal, I might ride down to panama, I might not, we'll see what happens. With that in mind, there are no photos until mexico, so the best I can do is give u some teasers and explain them later.
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Old 07-25-2012, 10:13 PM   #2
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Hey, I'm first!

Viva Mexico! Ride on Sraff, and let's see those pics!
"It's a dangerous business, going out your front door. You step into the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to."
- B. Baggins -
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Old 07-25-2012, 11:09 PM   #3
sraff OP
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This is a BIG hole in the ground. dont know why it shows this way but this is a short unedited video. It plays if u click on it and if u look closely at about 10 oclock u can see some people down there to give u an idea of how BIG this hole is.

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Old 07-26-2012, 12:04 AM   #4
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About that big hole

as soon as I can figure out how to get more pictures on here I will. Had one work out of a dozen tries??? But I'm going to bed, it's 3am and I'm planning repelling into that big ass hole at 7, big ass hole might not have been the best way to word that But it is a really big hole

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Old 07-26-2012, 04:47 PM   #5
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some old building

I think I'm gettin there, this one only took 8 hours to post

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Old 07-26-2012, 04:53 PM   #6
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Las pozas

1st try
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Old 07-26-2012, 05:28 PM   #7
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Cool man, the big building is the La Paz Theater btw. Can you use another color besides blue, maybe I'm frigged up or something but having a really hard time seeing/ reading in that color. Keep posting those pics and be safe. The tire story was funny as hell.
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Old 07-26-2012, 05:34 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by rebel346 View Post
Cool man, the big building is the La Paz Theater btw. Can you use another color besides blue, maybe I'm frigged up or something but having a really hard time seeing/ reading in that color. Keep posting those pics and be safe. The tire story was funny as hell.
Yeah, yellow or orange please!

Good luck!
Young enough to think I can. Old enough to know I shouldn't. Stupid enough to do it anyway
'13 Duc Multi GT, '10 Vstrom 1k, '10 705cc KLR
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Old 07-26-2012, 06:35 PM   #9
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If you really want to make it easy to read, use white.
I got tired of being here, so now I'm there
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Old 07-26-2012, 06:46 PM   #10
sraff OP
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Day 2 - Day 5

6/26 Rolled out of the super 8 about 8:00. A little dissappointed about last night, didnt make the miles i wanted, didnt handle the flat very well. I've read about guys filling their tires with branches to get out of the amazon, about people getting busted up bad in south america and I have a hissy fit over a flat Wont happen again.
I'm rollin down I-? thinking on how to avoid that issue again.I need a mini compressor, so sometime around 10, I turn right. J&P cant be more than a couple hundred miles west. Punch up anamosa iowa on the gps and mid afternoon stop by J&P cycles in iowa. Needed 3 things; my mini comp ;jets, bikes running a little rich and getting into mountains will only make it worse ;and a throttle lock,my wrist is killing me. Walk past 20 Harleys in the parking lot, stroll on in and ask about a compressor, the guy clicks his 2 way rattles off some #'s and its on the way. Now about jets, 10 minutes and 2 or 3 catalogs later, nope dont have em. Oh well, pay for the compressor and take off, about an hour later, it hits me, I forgot about a throttle lock.
After that, its a pretty uneventful day of riding back roads pointed south. It was HOT, over 100f. Around dark I jumped onto I-? going south toward KCM and 60 miles north of kansas city spotted a super 8, home for the night.

6/27 Day 3
Game plan is, up at 5:30 on the road before 6, to beat rush hour. At 9, I decide rush hour is over, its safe to get on the road. Cross into Kansas at KC, jumped onto back roads again and kept it pointed south. At one little town, I rolled past a bank with the temp showing 107f. Crossed into OK at some point, didnt even know til i spotted the hiway signs had changed. it was in OK that i decided its time to lock in a route, entered McAllen TX, no e-ways, no tolls and now i'll mindlessly follow the gps to the border. Most of the afternoon i'd been about a mile west of a major e-way and just before dark, spotted the motel 6 sign, that will end day 3 for me.
6/28 Day 4
The gps was keeping me on bigger hiways so I made good time, although I'd programmed no e-ways, my gps dumped me onto I-? just north of dallas at about 5:00 pm, GREAT. Made my way thru dallas' rush hour and rode til well after dark, i'm thinking i'm in texas just ride to mcallen tonight. Midnight'ish i caught myself noddin off, not good. Spot a motel in the next town, pull in, $95, I'm not that tired. Next town, another motel, $65. I have to take it, I can't stay awake. The room is in a portable building ( i think thats called a trailer) and is the size of a walk in closet. I still take it.
6/29 Day 5
I was up by 7, packed and ready to go by 7:30, less than 200 miles to mcallen, happy camper dance
Do a quick once over on the bike and find a broken spoke on the rear. I'll ride to mcallen and pick some up at a moto shop. Make mcallen by 10:30, my gps #'s are sanborn's so I follow it right to the end and get my insurance. That done, I grab some lunch and then bring up moto shops on the iphone, call 2 or 3, nope dont stock spokes. Finally one place tells me my only hope is mcallen motorsports. GPS says its a mile away, nope gotta order em. How long will that take, you'll have em wednesday or thursday. I point out the 4th is coming up on....oh thats right, it'll be thursday or friday. I explain my situation, "sorry nothing we can do, OH unless u want to overnight them", how much for that, "hmmmm, $32 extra for shipping and they only come in full sets". Do it, it'll be cheaper to pay the shipping than sit here a week. A little discussion amongst the counter guys and "we cant get them delivered on saturday and yamaha stops taking orders at noon, so tuesday", I look at the clock its 12:10. So i'm killing a few days in mcallen.

This is actually tampico

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Old 07-26-2012, 08:08 PM   #11
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teatro de la paz san luis potosi slp mex

Originally Posted by rebel346 View Post
Cool man, the big building is the La Paz Theater btw. Can you use another color besides blue, maybe I'm frigged up or something but having a really hard time seeing/ reading in that color. Keep posting those pics and be safe. The tire story was funny as hell.
I knew what it was, I had some smart ass shit I was gonna put with but I was so f'ing happy it finally worked, i just posted it it wasn't funny at the time
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Old 07-26-2012, 10:52 PM   #12
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Laugh I

so, i've got a couple days to kill. I do a little work on the bike, very little and hang out. On Tuesday I'm hoping they come thru for me, get the call about 2, sorry they've been delayed because of the 4th. Hmmmm, but today is the 3rd, how can they be delayed by tomorrow? So that night I'm in a restaurant sitting at the bar and an obvious harley rider( leather vest, chained wallet) sits down next to me. We talk a bit, i tell him my story, he laughs and says "they get you for $35 bucks", no $32. Then he tells me "you wont get your money back either", and sure as hell, on thursday I go pick up my spokes and tell him I want my money back on the overnighting, which turns into a short f u fest and i see i'm waisting my breath.
Friday, I replace the broken spoke, find another and replace it. Get everything set to go. I've sat in mcallen for a week. Every person I'd talked to said I'm crazy, no way in hell would they go into mexico. Now I'm talking gringos and hispanics, one guy told me he has family in reynosa he hasn't seen in 5 years because he wont cross the border. In the laundry mat, I was practicing my spanish with 2 little girls, I said "vieje a mexico" and their mother spun around and said " no no senor es muy peligroso, no senor". hmmm she doesnt even speak english and shes saying its not safe.
7/7 saturday
Got up around 7, took my time getting packed because i knew what was going to happen. All packed and ready to go and........sorry, i must have packed my balls away too. I'm canning the trip, I tell myself " i'll do the southern states for a month, thats still gonna be fun". Point it east and just ride along slow for 3 hours, and pull in for lunch. I sat in that restaurant for 2 hours, at one point thought i was gonna start crying And then my balls found their way home, I said screw it, whats the worst that can happen. Lifes not worth living if you dont LIVE it. An hour and a half later, I'm back in mcallen and get a room. we'll try this again tomorrow.
7/8 sunday
I'm up early and cant lie, i'm terrified. But i head south towards phar international bridge, in a few minutes I'm paying the toll. Ride into mexico and as i get up to mexican aduana i have a choice, right lane looks like it goes to a parking lot, gotta be me. I pass the building i'm sure i'm looking for and park. While I'm getting my gear off one of the guards walks up and says something, the only thing i get is "declare"( I think spanish and english are very close on that one) and I respond with shrugging my shoulders. He repeats himself but a little louder, hmmm guess the shrugs not gonna cut it. I point at my bike and say "mi moto?". He points at the building and walks away. So now i'm sure you could see me shaking but I say to myself " jerk off, I knew what I was doing" and walk into the building.
OK, now wtf do i do, stand there for a few seconds and guy#1 waves me over to him. I have my passport, drivers lic, birth cert, and God knows what else ready. He picks out my passport and dl, and starts filling out a card. Without looking up, he says blah blah blah... blank stare time, he looks up at me and says " where you go", OH, tampico for now but i'm on vacation so i dont know all the blah blah blah. I think i had to sign the card then he hands it to me, points and says "copias". Yeehaaa, I know that one. Head over to guy#2, hand him the card and passport, he says something.. blank stare, he did the steering wheel motion, i hand him my dl. he makes the copies, hands them back to me and points at the aduana counter 5' away but there's nobody there, i turn around and he points again, but this time with a very firm point I step over to aduana and guy#2 comes running over, guess he wears 2 hats. He takes the papers he just copied and looks them over ( I hope i'm not the only one that see's the humor in this ) He may have stamped them? but hands them back and points to the cashier. Over to the cashier, hand her my paperwork she says something, she's kinda hot, so instead of blank stare she gets " no hablo espanol" and give her everything i have. NOW, the next 15 minutes was made slightly easier because she's kinda hot. She has had to have done this a thousand times, but it looked like day one for her. She looked over every piece of paper,not reading them they're in english, i guess trying to recognize something. But i could see that blank stare on her face. I knew I was going to be arrested in mexico because my paperwork wasn't right. after 15 minutes though she had my money and was saying adios ( nothing new to me, well i can usually keep em longer than 15 minutes ). but i was thinking somebody is going to check my bike, look around guy#2 is gone, so i head for guy#1 and ask him. blank stare then "no hablo ingles" Now i feel like an idiot, i spent 5 minutes telling him all about my vacation plans, in english. He points at the door. walk out the door and, yea baby i'm in mexico.
head for my bike,which i'm sure is gone by now, this IS mexico. And , thank you God, it's still there. OK beathe a sigh of relief, saddle up and i'm ridin mexico, well ah hmmm, as soon as i figure out how to get out of this tiny little parking lot. This thing only holds 20 cars max but there's only 1 way in or out, and that puts me going the wrong way in traffic. I do 2-3 laps, the only other thing is a pedestrian exit maybe 4' wide, that cant be it. then I spot the guard i'd originally "talked" to, just staring at me. I give him another shrug and he points at the pedestrian gate,good enough for me. They ask a few questions I cant answer, look thru my stuff and turn me loose.
All in all, crossing the border was a breeze. In total, maybe 25 minutes, I speak almost no spanish,and they were friendly and made it mostly painless.
OK now I'm ridin mexico, ride out of the border control and within 60 seconds start thinking WTF have you done. reynosa is a pit like i've never seen, and remember I'm from detroit, so I know pits when I see one. The gps had been preprogrammed for tampico, so I locked onto that and prayed i wouldn't miss a turn. The minute you get into traffic in mexico, you know you aint in kansas no more

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Old 07-26-2012, 11:00 PM   #13
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one of many churches in san luis potosi

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Old 07-27-2012, 07:10 AM   #14
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Old 07-27-2012, 10:52 AM   #15
sraff OP
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Laugh 7/8 Day 14, My first day in Mexico

7/8 Day14

When I talk about traffic in Mexico, generally I'm talking about in the cities. The sense of space here isn't what i'm used to in the states. Back in Detroit, 99% of the drivers feel I'm entitled to a full lane, even if I am on a moto. In Mexico you are only entitled to the space you need. You hear toot toot and a taxi slides by you close enough to touch. Busses here must not come equipped with mirrors because they drive where ever they choose. Often, the lanes are not marked, so what was a 3 lane, turns into a 4 or 5 lane. I can't even say speed limits are "suggestions only", In Mexico, they're a waste of steel, NOBODY pays attention to them. 75% of Mexico's roads have solid double yellows, so passing on a solid yellow is normal.
OK, so I'm riding thru reynosa, extremely terrified, if the traffic doesn't kill me, banditos will. I'm doing the speed limit, 60 kph, on a big hiway type road, divided with a barrier, maybe 4 lanes each way and at 60 kph, i'm feeling like a future speed bump, everything is flying by me, busses, cars, semi's, guys on little 125 cc motos. I'm doing 60 kph, they're doing 60 mph +. In a few minutes I'm off that one, and into slower but heavier traffic. I'm sure getting run over at 40 mph hurts less than at 70.
Actually made it thru town quickly with no issues. My gps is still set " no e-ways, no tolls", no cuotas for me. IIRC, within 15 minutes I'm out of the heavy traffic heading south on a 4 lane, which after a bit drops to 2 lanes. Pretty decent pavement, and has an 8' wide shoulder. I mention the shoulder because I learned very quickly, if you're not running fast, the shoulder is where you belong. Being a noob to mexico, i'm still learning the rules.
So i'm rolling along doing 60 mph, no cars in sight ahead, mistakenly in the middle of the lane, and a car passes me from behind at 80+, about 16" to my left. Not a car in sight other than him. It's then I notice that most vehicles going north drive mostly on the shoulder. Got it, keep your slow ass on the shoulder, I move 18" to the right of the white line.
I think I've mentioned, I'm not a big planner. I usually gas up every 100- 125 miles or so, partly to take a break, but also I only get about 150 before I go to reserve. I look down and see I've passed 100 miles on this tank, hmmm, guess I should have picked up some pesos. Pull into a pemex and in my best spanish" tengo un problema, dolars solo, no pesos, esta bien ?" , he responds " si". I' m ready for this, been thinking about it for the last 10 miles " cuantos pesos por dolars", he responds "diez", 13-1 is the going bank rate. Dont know why I asked, I couldn't really say no. 90 pesos for gas, give him $20us and get a bunch of pesos back. Did this a few more times this day.
1'ish I started getting hungry and spotted a restaurant so i stopped for lunch. Walk in, a couple with their daughter was having lunch and an old guy just sitting there. Nobody jumps up , so I seat myself, the old guy yells out back. Abuela comes out from the kitchen, a blur of spanish, I hear comida and cerveza go by, " si comida pero no cerveza, tiene coca", God I'm gettin good at this She starts telling me the menu, I'm lost again, I hear carne, sopa, and frijoles, so I stop her with a si. The man sitting with his family stands up, comes over and says in perfect english " sir, do you know what you are ordering". No but whatever they have is fine. He explains what I've ordered, does a little more translating between abuela and me and I thank him. Shortly after they leave and it's just me, abuelo y abuela
Eat lunch with a couple coca colas, and figure nows a good time to work on my spanish. I did get they have a son in Wisconsin, told them I was in Wisconsin a week ago. I heard "a donde vas" and told them, "tampico esta noche". After talking with them for a couple hours it's time to hit the road. I say good by to Carlos and his wife, never did get her name, after the 3rd time i asked her to repeat it, I just let it go.
Went thru 2 check points today. First one, maybe an hour south of the border. They wave everybody thru but me, I stop, still nervous from the border. I hear permits, so pull out my baggie with all my paperwork in it and hand it to the cop, army guy taps my pannier, so I open everything for him. Cop says " a donde vas", I give him a short but sweet "Tampico" and he hands my baggie back, look at army guy as he's stepping back from the bike and say "esta bien" and he waves me on.
Second one was right after lunch,army only, no cops here. Same thing, 10 cars ahead of me get waved thru, then he sees me and up goes the hand. He asks something 3 times but I don't have a clue. I'm not catching any words to work with here, so i point at my self and say "a donde vas?"(this actually means where are u going, but I don't know how to say " where am I going?". This doesn't get a favorable response. He repeats himself, only louder. I still have no clue, so I try " permitas?". I dont even know if thats close to correct but I'm feeling desperate, and hand him my baggie. He's wearing gloves and the baggie is giving him a tough time, in the meantime at least 50 cars are backed up behind me, finally he hands my baggie back and waves me thru.
As I get down farther south, I can see mountains to the west, and I'm riding in 100f temps with my gear on. SO when I see a sign for san luis potosi, I pull off and check the gps, I'm only an hour or so north of Tampico, gps says like 4 hours to slp and it's less than 2 hours til dark. Tampico it is
As I start getting into a more urban area, I stop, bring up hotels on the gps, pick one out and head for it. get there and i think it's one of the no tell motels I've read about. NEXT, pull up to this one as it's getting dark, and no f'ing way I can afford this. There's a sign on the roof, Tampico Grand Royal $590/ night. NEXT, I pull out and then realize, that's pesos, you idiot, and it's getting dark. So a lap around the block and I have a room. My 1st day in mexico is over and I'm still alive.

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