Twenty-two of our twenty-three days on the road were great. The 23rd day wasn’t and turned out to be one of the toughest days we’ve had on a motorcycle. It ended in a minor, but stupid crash late that night. The scary thing is that it didn’t start out bad, hell, it was a beautiful morning and we’d just spent two fabulous days in Oaxaca. That morning our plan was to stop in a small village outside Oaxaca to buy some (more) Mexican carvings and then head over the mountains to the coast and return to my favorite surfing town, Puerto Escondido. It was going to be an easy 150mile-ish day…
Along the way we met another “Band of Brothers” member, David. David is from Colorado and is taking a year off to ride down to the tip of South America. I’m definitely jealous. His motorcycle is similar to NV, but bigger, faster and better looking. We discuss the route over an early lunch; he’s got a different set of GPS maps of Mexico than we. His route is much shorter, yet we’re both unsure what condition the road is. Up to this point, the road hasn’t matched either the paper or GPS maps. We decide to take his 125 mile route over the mountains vs. our 150 mile over the mountain route. Mistake #2.
Both maps and GPS show that the route climbs into the mountains to about 9000 ft., before descending to the ocean and Puerto Escondido. About an hour into the ride Now Voyager’s front tire starts to slowly deflate. It seems that somewhere on the way to Oaxaca I bent a rim on a tank-sized pothole. I knew I had a bent rim out of Oaxaca, but it seemed to be holding air and I decided to go with it. Mistake #3. There aren’t any Pemex stations in the Mountains which means that each little village we enter I look for a tire store to put some air in the front.
Shortly after this Now Voyager stalls dead in his tracks. It’s getting late and it takes a while to get him started again. I guess that we have about 100 miles to go, which means I now have to nurse a front tire and a stalling bike for a couple of more hours. I can do it, but managing those problems, trying to figure out where we are, and not going over a mountain cliff means that All Hands Are On Deck. We come to another junction and Dave’s GPS says its a short shot to the right. My GPS and map don’t even show a road where Dave wants to go. Since his GPS has been right more often than not, so we go right. Mistake #4 This route is barely paved, which means we need to go real slow so that I don’t deflate the front tire any faster than necessary. Before getting started down the road, we take a break. I say something to the affect that “What else can happen!” Mistake #5. KR tightens the gas can and the bike falls over because I didn’t balance it right. Mistake #6. I silently vow never to say that again, although I’m convinced we’re through the worst of it
About 25 miles and more than an hour later we enter a small town covered in fog and mist. We’re now 9000+ feet. The town hangs on the mountain’s edge, but is the biggest town we’ve seen all day (which isn’t saying much). We follow the GPS down a narrow street/alley and it ends into a Church parking lot. What the F?! I look left and there’s a Black Diamond pitch with rocks and cobblestones. After more than 20 minutes questioning various locals (Dave speaks some Spanish) we conclude that our destination is “just” 25 miles down that road, but its all dirt, gravel and rocks. That’s not going to work for us, so we need to retrace the last 25 miles, then follow my GPS. We are a good four hours from our destination and its about 4PM. The GPS says we’re not getting off the mountain before nightfall, much less our destination. We now start to motor “with vigor” hauling the freight off the mountain. Frankly, I’m worried that I’ll make a mistake as the bike is really heavy and I’m dragging metal at each corner, its handling and stopping poorly, and we’re in 30 mph mountain rough paved road. KR takes all this in stride, never saying a word about how fast we’re going. It takes us about three hours to get down off the mountain, the last 45 minutes are in the dark.
Once off the mountain, KR and I abort trying to make the remaining 45 minutes to Puerto Escondido and decide to go to a little beach town nearby. Mistake #7 since if we had went to Escondido, we would have known exactly where we’d stay. In Puerto Angle, we get lost immediately and can’t find a hotel. KR finds a woman who agrees to take us to one of the finest hotels in the town. Conveniently, its a close friend of hers:) You got it, Mistake #8. This place is an Italian-styled dump that hasn’t seen any rehab since Roman times. It’s being run by the Italian woman proprietor who’s nice but way over her head in workload. I feel sorry for her. For a minute:)
The Italian-dump hotel doesn’t have a garage, but a parking lot protected by what looks like a moat. “All” I have to do is ride NV over the bridge and we’re home free. I agree and start NV’s engine. This is Mistake #9 as I’m so tired that obviously I can’t think straight or, as it turns out, ride straight. I crash into the dry moat and wedge NV between the moat and bridge pretty badly. It’s now about 9 at night and I have to unload all of NV’s bags and panniers and recruit three locals to help heave NV out, which we do. We have a drink and retire for the night totally burnt — we barely get out of our m/c clothes.
Next morning I need to “reassemble” Now Voyager. After going around the moat’s bridge, I get him on the street. Ten minutes in and I load all the luggage/bags on one side first, unlike the normal balanced approach. Mistake #10 as NV falls over again. We have a new record of three tip overs in less than 24 hours.
That folks is how things get out of hand:)
Status Update: KR and I made it back to PV in one piece, if a bit tired. I spent two whole days relaxing and then started off for LA on Now Voyager. I’m writing this from a hotel in Los Mochis, about 1/3 of the way between PV and LA. See you soon!