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Mexico

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Tuesday 6th September – Day 95

El Centro, America to San Felipe, Mexico. 245 miles / 393 km

“Hey Stubbsie.”

“Yeah mate.”

“What do you wanna do today? “

“Don’t know. Maybe we should ride into Mexico. What do ya reckon? I mean, there’s nothen else to do!”

And so it was our day started. How cool! Not too many people get to say that before 7am. Actually, not many people get to say that regardless of the time of day!

The Border crossing. We’ve breezed across 3 border crossings so far on this trip, but this is our first ‘real’ one. Mexico. We didn’t know exactly what to expect. All we’ve been told is to rock up early (which I found a pretty difficult concept cause it’s open 24 hrs. How do you arrive early to something that never closes!), then bolt for at least 100 miles to get clear of the border and the concentration of drug lords it attracts.

With passports in hand, registration papers at the ready and proof of Mexican Insurance on top of the pile of documents, just in case, we cruise up to the barrier. We are ready for anything. I’m about to say to Wade “This could be interesting….” when we are called up by the customs bloke.

He doesn’t say a thing. Nothen. Nada. Bugger all. A few grunts and he waves his hand, not unlike the Queen out the window of her little horse drawn buggy, and that’s it. We are thru.

I’m looking round, thinking this was a preliminary check, but all the street signs are Spanish, the people look Mexican, and there’s actually a noticeable increase in rubbish.

“Stubbsie. Did we…. Was that the……. Are we in Mexico?”

In a way it was good. You know, easy is always good. Or is it? Now we have no stamp / entry in the passport and we still have the US Visa slip, which means as far as Customs are concerned we are in America. They’ll start looking for us in November. Not good. As for the next border crossing, who knows? We will have to wait and see.

Pete’s Ranch. A must see for the bike and rally enthusiasts as it’s a regular stop on the Baja 500 and 1000. It’s a great little place to call in, and really quite unexpected. After about 40km of dirt roads, desert and dry rocky hills you cross a creek (which was bloody amazing in it self. I mean, where did all the water come from? Where does it go?) and up to the ranch / hotel where you’re greeted by 3 friendly dogs, a swimming pool, BBQ area and best of all, green grass.

Sound too good to be true? Well, it isn’t. It really does exist. However, it is a bit pricy at $70 US each for the night, shared room. Maybe we didn’t cross the border after all. I thought Mexico was meant to be cheap!!

Before riding out I do a ‘ride-by’, Wade filming as I splash my way thru the creek. All good, until I turn round. “Gee, this looks pretty soft sand. It’d be dumb to loose the front wheel and fall over again as I turn.”

Yep, you guessed it. I am dumb, and poor Aialik paid the price. Angry at myself, I summoned super human strength and hoisted the bike up. This may not sound impressive. Believe me, it is! Giving her a gentle pat and promising not to do it again (for at least 3 minutes) I crossed back over the water.

Crashes. 5-3

We ask some workers what the thru road is like. The guy shakes his head, said it’s way too hard for those big heavy bikes and left us to it. With that kind of advice, obviously the decision had already been made for us.

So, I attacked the hill first. Well, the first part of the first hill anyway! Not one to give up too easily, I turned round and had another go. Faster this time. It’s getting a bit like the good old days where as kids momentum was your friend, and if you don’t crash you’re not trying hard enough! Hmmmmm, is this really a good idea?

No, it wasn’t. The road was actually pretty bloody tough, and really too much for these bikes. Then factor in Wades foot and it was stupid. 2 crashes later, and in a river of sweat we man-handle the bikes to turn around, then telling ourselves we won’t get into a situation like that again (a lie) we ride out the easy way and into Las Felipe. Found a bar and campsite on the beach. Argh…….. this is the Mexico I’ve been dreaming about!

Score. 7 - 3

As we sit round the bar enjoying a margarita a local tells us it’s actually a loop road out of Mikes Camp, and of course we tried to go the hard way! But as Wade says, it really would have pissed him off to ride such a difficult road just to loop back into Mikes Place. Given the circumstances of the day I’m sure we would have taken the wrong turn and done just that. Can you imagine!

Wednesday 7th September. Day 96

San Felipe to Isla Gonzaga – 143 miles / 230 km

Sweat! My goodness, I could bottle it and water the Botanical Gardens in Sydney for a week. And all I did was sit on the toilet for a minute or two sorting out my morning business! I can’t believe it. There was actually a stream running across the floor, and I swear blind I saw a few ants in board shorts with paddle pop (ice cream) sticks about to surf the drop off as it went under the door……….. or maybe that was as a result of those American sized super grande margarita’s we had last night still messing with my mind. Who knows!

Today was cool. Really cool. We arrived in Isla Gonzaga around midday and decided that was enough. Time to relax and enjoy ourselves. As I floated about in the Sea of Cortez like an albino fur seal (I know, I know. I should run more. But I really like riding my bike instead! I swear I’ll exercise next week. And it’s tough to get a tan in riding gear!) I rolled lazily onto my side and said “Hey Stubbsie. You know what’s brilliant about today.”

“Yeah, I didn’t fall off!”

“Well, that’s true, but it’s not what I meant. Today we woke up and rode somewhere exciting we’ve never been before. You know what’s even better? Tomorrow we get to do the same, and the next day. And the next for another 6 months. Can you believe it”?

If that’s isn’t a pinch yourself moment, nothen is. Sometimes I slap Wade in the face for no apparent reason.

“Hey, whats that for?”

“Buddy, I just don’t want you thinking it’s a dream!”

When I was on Flinders Island before leaving Aussie for the first time I would look up and see jet planes and think to myself “I don’t care what part of the world that plane lands, I wish I was on it (so long as it isn’t Australia!)”. Now? Well now I look up and see jets crossing paths all day long and think to myself “I don’t care where in the world those planes are destined, I am bloody happy I’m not on it”!

We are half way down the east coast of the Baja, Mexico. Its 21:25, dark and about 95 Fahrenheit / 33 Celsius. I’m sitting on the beach writing, trying to wipe away the sweat before it drops onto the keyboard. The moon is out, but like a great lead in a Broadway musical it doesn’t quite shine so bright as to hide the other stars. They are in perfect harmony.

My bed is rolled out underneath the stars, bathed in moonlight. There is no need for a tent tonight. A quick swim to wash away the sweaty reminder of the days heat and I’m sleeping like Beauty. Mind you, if Stubbsie tries any funny business to wake me in the wee small hours of the morning there’ll be trouble!

Good night to you all, and may you sleep like me!

Thursday 8th September – Day 97

Gonzaga to Santa Rosalia, Baja. 320 miles / 515 km

What an amazing feeling. To be able to roll over in bed and watch the sun rise over water is an experience everyone should do at least once in their lives. Just so bloody good to sleep on the beach, under the stars without a tent.

Crossed to the west coast today. As we rode over the last hill the excitement and anticipation of the surf to come was nearly too much. No more of the ripples like in the Golf of California. This is the Pacific baby! And what did we get? Bloody nothen! No decent beach, no waves and certainly no beach bar. So we crossed back to the east side in the hope of seeing some kite boards and wind surfers tomorrow. Fingers crossed!

Friday 9th September – Day 98

Santa Rosalia to a beach on the pacific side of the Baja – 337 miles / 542 km

We stayed in a hotel last night, which cost us 50 dollars. Not Paso’s, US dollars. Unhappy with ourselves for allowing it to get too late in the day to experience the real Mexico, we made the most of our American style lodging. Downloaded photo’s and video’s to hard drives, organized ferries to the main land, charged batteries, cold beer, blogs and even showered and shaved.

I also phoned the bank, cancelling my US credit card. I left it in an ATM 2 days ago. Did I mention earlier I was dumb? Yeah, I think I did! There was 450 pesos’s spent in a town we didn’t stop at, but to be honest, that’s a cheap lesson. The new card is in the mail, and in 2 weeks it’ll be as though it never happened.

Bergalia Boys tips for the day:

  1. Don’t leave your credit card in the ATM, that’s just stupid
  2. Always travel with more than one credit card, in separate locations. Stupid always hurts, but there are ways to reduce the pain. I should know. I have to plan for the amazingly stupid things I do everyday!
  3. Air-conditioning is wonderful. There’s nothen else to say, except we both had the best night sleep EVER!

Feeling better about our extravagant expenditure in Mexico, we set off for the day. Cruising down the Baja we decide to stay on the Pacific side, swim in the surf. If only I could add a sound track you’d hear the ocean as it thunders into the rocks, shouting to the world “I am nature, and nature is power”. Or perhaps it’s the ocean’s laughter, taunting me still. Once again I’ve been punished for stupid. Wade no longer has a bowl, and the cooking set is minus a ladle after a freak wave snatched them off my perfect almost perfect drying rock. Dam you nature! And bugger you too, Stupid. You aren’t helping at all! Leave me alone will ya!

Tonight we camp on a headland over looking the beach. It is amazing. I finally feel like we are on an adventure, not just a ride.

Saturday 10th September – day 99

A beach somewhere (still not sure where we were, but hey, does it really matter?) to Baja Joes El Sangento, Baja – 81 miles

Deer, deer, deer me. And no, for once I haven’t spelt it wrong! Wade reckons he’s bloody unlucky. I’m not so sure. Here’s why.

To tell the entire story we have to travel back to last night. A few minutes before dark I grab my head torch, and happen to notice I have a flat tyre. What the heck! This is meant to happen to Wade, not me. At least, that’s how it’s worked so far. Oh goodie, something to look forward to tomorrow. Either way, its unlucky.

I fix the flat. First stop, the local general store 10 clicks up the road for water. Fairdinkum, our water consumption now exceeds our fuel needs. Amazing! As we check my tyre for leaks, Wade notices a bloody great nail sticking out of his. He thinks “Bugger, that’s unlucky”! It’s still inflated, so we head on, aiming for the nearest tyre repair place. We carry new tyres, and its time to use them.

The sandy track we are on forks regularly, and each time I take a turn I wait till I see Smokey’s headlights, then go on. This time wades arms are waving like a windmill in a hurricane. “This can’t be good”.

“Mate, I just killed a deer”!

“You what? You just saw a deer? That’s bloody amazing. It’s so damn dry here I didn’t think anything could live, let alone a deer. I haven’t seen a bloody thing. It’s good to know there is at least one thing alive and kicking in this damn desert! You must be lucky to have seen it”.

“Nah mate, I didn’t just see it, I killed it”!

Oh, that sucks. I then look down at his very flat tyre. Oh, that sucks even more. He’s running a tube because the last puncture was too big to fix with plugs, which means the tyre has to come off. May as well swap it for the new one.

Strewth, kill a deer and have to fix a flats in one day. That’s bloody unlucky. Or is it?

It’s a sandy track in the middle of no-where. Wade’s cruising along at 80 km/hr and his peripheral vision RADAR indicates a target. Cleverly using the ground cover to avoid early detection, a blur streaks out of the cactus, obviously aiming to destroy the ill-fated fuel bottle for the camp stove. This is the second fuel bottle to be annihilated, and a seemingly weak point to attack.

The bottle is indeed ruined, but Wade hit an adult deer on a sandy track doing 80 km/hr and not only does he live to remember the extra load he’s carrying in his pants for the next 3 hrs, he doesn’t even crash. So, that’s two flats (both of which we manage to fix well enough to get us to the nearest repair shop) and a dead deer, all without falling off. But is it unlucky? Well, I’ll leave that for you to decide!

*12 UP-LOADED 25TH SEPTEMBER 2011

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Sunday 11th September – Day 100

Baja Joes to Cabo San Lucas – 125 miles / 201 km

Joe really has built himself a great set-up over the years. Spectacular fishing, kite boarding, wind surfing and pretty much all the water sports under the sun. Wrapped up in the type of accommodation that immediately says “I’m on holiday, and loven it!” If only it was in season and we could have enjoyed some of what’s on offer.

Joe has been riding bikes across the Baja for 20 years and told us about a few trails we should take. It was perfect! Dirt roads, rutted out, big rocks, hills and an amazing view of the Sea of Cortez as we snaked our way south to Cabo. It really suited the big BMW’s as they gobbled up every rock, bump and corner.

Well, almost all of them. Wade had what can be best described as a ‘step off’. Smokey lost her front wheel into a rut, recovering nicely. But then the back wheel actually followed the front for once. Not so good as unfortunately it pointed the nose straight into a pile of rocks. By the time all this happened Smokey was basically at a stand still and all looked OK, but as Wade stuck out the big size 10’s, he lost his footing, and subsequently the bike. It was agonizingly slow and pathetically soft, but what do I care? 8 – 3!

I think in all this it’s important to remember a ‘normal’ sized dirt bike is a little over 100 kg’s / 250 pounds, making the rider weigh about 70% of the bikes weight. This means you have plenty of say in where the bike goes and what it does. We weigh about 75kg on a 350kg bike, which is closer to 20%.

Facts and figures. “Who cares?” I hear you scream. Well, what it means is we are nothen more than a passenger, and wherever that bike wants to go, it goes! All we can do is hold on for grim death, and give them a little pat and a word of encouragement if they pull us thru a hairy situation!

Had the option of camping in Cabo, but paid the extra $20 US for air-conditioning and power points! Best 20 we’ve spent so far as it really is too hot to sleep properly at night. We need all the energy we can get to ride these big girls all day!

Cabo is nothen but a rubbish tourist town. Fly in there if you must, but then rent a jeep and bugger off! Immediately!

Monday 12th September – Day 101

Cabo to La Paz – 133 miles / 214 km

A work day today. We left early for La Paz so we could organize the Temporary Importation Visa for the bikes (which we need for the ferry to the main land). It just so happened that the Hotel California (yes, supposedly the one straight out of The eagles song) happened to be on the way.

We stopped for some filming, and to bust out a few sensational, actually bloody terrible lines from the song. I hope that gets edited out of the video! Better yet, the Tequila Bar was right across the street. Mix that with a sunrise and you have another great Eagles song. So even though it was only 10:30am we felt obliged. The waiter told us they usually run on New York time, and up there it’s after lunch. So we are good to go!

Arrived at the ferry terminal full of hope and expectation for a quick easy procedure. Idiots!

‘We’d like a temporary importation visa please.”

“Si, you need passport (tick), registration papers (tick), Bill of Sale (Tick. Gee, this is gonna be easy. Sweet!) and a Tourist Visa (What? Arghhhh!!!).

“But on the internet it says Aussies don’t need one.”

“Everyone needs one. And you need photocopies of everything.”

Oh bugger.

So we are off to Immigration for the start of our Paper Trail. Wade manages to find the place, which is a bit of a mission in itself because the GPS is really only a rough guide here.

“Hola Senior. Touristico Visa por favor.”

“Manana.”

“Buts it’s already 2pm, how much later do you want us to come back?” (he speaks OK English)

“Manana, manana.”

“Oh, tomorrow. Bugger!”

Un-phased, we head to the beach for a few Corona’s and a swim in water slightly warmer than you’d like after a game of rugby in the snow.

Tuesday 13th September – Day 102

La Paz. Paper trail!

First in line, and the day is looking up.

“Touristico Visa, por favor.”

“Si, no worries (or something to that effect).”

“It’s $26 US for the visa, and a $100 fine for not already having one.”

“What! But….but…. Ok” Says Wade as he hands over the cash.

“Oh no Senior, you can’t pay for that here. You have to go to the bank.”

Of course you do. I mean, why could you possibly pay for the visa at the very building they issue it. That would just be silly!

To the bank we go. Then back into line at Immigration.

“Do we have everything you need?”

“Si. Now it will be 20 minutes to process.”

In line again to get the documents after a cold drink. Then to Office Works for copies (some good to come from the Baja being a small extension of America) and we are on the way back to the ferry.

Things are looking promising, until the girl asks if we copied the back of the Tourist Visa. No. Bugger! Can’t you copy this one little page for us? No. Bugger.

Wade is off on a mission to get the copy done while I continue with my paper work. Amazingly, we both succeed at the same time.

Buy the ferry ticket, and we are done. You Little Beauty! Off to the beach for a late lunch, a couple of well deserved beers and a swim. What a great afternoon!

We meet up with Uwe for lunch, a great old bloke we first met in San Ignacio. He now lives in La Paz, and asked us to give him a call when we arrive. Turns out he’s a retired yacht captain. Bloody small world! Reckons he was kicked out of home in Germany at 16 and never looked back, never stopped travelling.

He really wanted to show us the local strip club. Buggered if I know why, but we went long with it. I mean, how often do you get to go to a strip club in Baja?

The first thing you notice is how dark it is. Strewth, I can barely see my hand in front of my face, let along a single girl way over there on stage. As I pass pretty close by on my way to the toilet I can finally see, and very soon realize that yes indeed, darkness is a true friend to these girls! And I get the impression there is no local gym either. Pretty sure I won’t be seeing too many of them on my next Russian charter!

Wednesday 14th September – Day 103

La Paz, Baja to Los Moiches, Mainland Mexico – 45 miles / 72 km

An easy morning drinking coffee, abusing the internet and generally keeping in touch with the world.

Boarded the ferry around midday, and as always I thought to myself how nice it was to be on a boat where I’m not actually working. A few beers to help lunch slide down, a thrashing for Stubbsie in Backgammon, a cat nap on the aft deck, and here we are in main land Mexico.

Due to the ferry schedule we are unable to avoid the most often repeated travel advice for Mexico. DON’T TRAVEL AT NIGHT! EVER! Sorry mum, nothen we can do about it.

Wade met Justin at Dust2Dawson. Justin met a bloke called Tito on the ferry from La Paz to Los Moiches a few years back, and Tito happened to be travelling with a guy named Federico, or Pancho to his mates. A spider’s web of e-mails later, and we are riding to Pancho’s place.

Immediately it’s obvious he’s a cool guy as he screams around the corner on a polished motorized pushie (bicycle for you non-Aussies) to meet us. If that wasn’t enough, after 5 minutes chatting he invites us to stay in his house. This guy is good! But wait, there’s more. He gives Tito a call, and even though it’s nearly 11pm on a Thursday, we are soon sitting in a great local pub, enjoying a couple of beers and telling stories like we’ve all been in the same bike gang for years and haven’t seen each other for a few months. Bloody marvelous!

Cheers for a great night. Shame Tito isn’t coming with us on our ride through Copper Canyon tomorrow. Next time I hope.

Thursday 15th September – Day 104

Los Mochis to Choix – 85 Miles / km

Pancho had to put in some hours at the office, so it was after lunch by the time we left. The plan was to ride into the hills on dirt roads for about 250km, then camp by an old church beside the river. It did not happen. Perhaps as I stumbled out of the pub last night the gods mistakenly thought I was performing a rain dance, because my goodness, did it come down!

We had to curb Pancho’s enthusiasm. Honestly, he was like a little kid wanting to go play in puddles when all his mother wanted him to do was have a warm shower and dress for dinner. I know he’s only a young bloke of 59, but I really didn’t expect him to love battling with nature so much. Managing to convince him it was a fabulous idea to turn back, we headed for the nearest hotel. However, not before all 3 of us were standing in the pouring rain enjoying a toast from a bottle of Tequila. I couldn’t stop smiling. Such a ridiculous thing to do, yet amazingly invigorating. I felt wet, I felt cold, but wow, did I feel alive!

The hotel was $11 dollars each, and dinner $6. You little bloody beauty! Finally my wallet has joined the rest of us in Mexico.

Friday 16th September – Day 105

Choix to Creel – 189 miles / 304 km

What a fantastic days riding! Bright sunshine and bugger all dust due to yesterdays rain. Perfect! See, always a silver lining to every cloud.

Any old adventure rider cruising thru Mexico can easily tick the box for Copper Canyon. I bet not many have seen it as we did. Pancho didn’t just show us some back roads, he showed us the back roads you have to take to get to the ‘way out back’ roads! We rode most of the day on dirt in the bottom of the canyon. How cool is that!

About 8 hrs riding for only 300km gives you some idea of the terrain. It was awesome. Cheers for a great day Pancho!

Saturday 17th September – Day 106

Creel to Parral – 276 miles / 444 km

Back to Copper Canyon for a cable car ride. Unfortunately it was closed by the time we pulled in yesterday, so we had to do what we hate doing and back track. I don’t think it’s as impressive as the Grand Canyon, but still cool.

The main attraction is one of the longest flying fox’s in the world. Make sure you book it early because we missed out.

After pulling into the car park about 20 blokes on four wheel bikes rocked up, most of whom are friends of Pancho’s. They were all standing around talking to us as we geared up to leave. One second I was thinking how embarrassing it would be to fall over in front of all these guys. The next second I was thinking “yep, that is actually quite embarrassing!” The only good thing to come of it was I had plenty of help lifting Aialik. None of it from Wade mind you. Bloody useless! Too busy laughing. Crashes 8 – 4, and I didn’t even manage to make one metre!

The afternoon was spent riding out thru the Canyon, this time on super smooth, super twisty highway. Once again I’m left amazed at how flexible the big GS’s are. Dirt one day, tar the next and bloody great fun on either.

Sunday 18th September – Day 107

Parrel to Torrens – 320 miles / 516 km

One of our best days riding yet! The highlight was crossing a desert as we passed thru the Silent Zone. The silent zone is the Mexican equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle, and its strange magnetic qualities have been blamed for an American space shuttle crashing in the area rather than landing safely in the Atlantic off Florida as planned. Apparently it can make compasses spin wildly and seriously effect navigation. At least that’s my story as to how we became just a wee bit lost, and I’m sticking to it!

At about 160 km across, its pretty small. Don’t judge a book by the cover, and don’t judge a desert by its size! There were no real roads, only tracks. And certainly no sign posts. All we had were some lat’s and long’s as way points in the GPS. At one stage we ran out of road, and rather than going back to try and find where we went wrong (again), Wade made his own path. Smokey had bits of cacti and thorn bush everywhere as she did an amazing job clearing the way. We even had to dismantle part of a fence to get thru, which I might add we put back better than before.

Pancho thought we were crazy. Or perhaps he was wondering if he were totally crazy to let himself fall into such a silly situation as to be blindly following a couple of idiotic Aussies across a desert where the only road lay on an electronic screen. Yep, I agree. I reckon he is the crazy one! Either way, it was the ride of his life and bloody great fun for us.

Even in the brightest sunshine there can be a patches of darkness. For 3 minutes there was no light at the end of my tunnel. There are two things the big GS’s don’t like. Sand and mud. I was on a sandy track that somehow managed to incorporate mud holes as a result of yesterdays rain. Oh goodie! What a treat! Riding in quite a deep wheel rut, I lost the front end and couldn’t keep Aialik sunny side up. Unfortunately my leg became stuck between the bank of the wheel rut and the pannier. As I said, it was a pretty deep wheel rut! That was it, I was utterly useless! My leg was twisted in such a way I couldn’t get off the bike. I couldn’t even budge Aialik enough to get my foot out. It didn’t hurt at all, but still, it was quite an eye opener, and the reason we always ride together. 8 – 5.

Excited to be back on the bike, I wanted to prove it was a one off, and that I can easily get thru the rest of the bog. Idiot! Sometimes over confidence can ankle tap you right when you think you’re going to score the World Cup winning try in overtime. Yep, you guess it. I didn’t even make 5m before doing exactly the same damn thing, except this time I didn’t trap my leg. Little consolation as I rapidly closed the gap on Wades impressive crash tally.

To rub salt into the wound, Stubbsie didn’t even ride thru the horrible crap. He bashed down a bush and rode beside it, all dry, relaxed and a smile from ear to ear. Crap!

“Way to catch up mate”!

“Bugger off! Go ride in some mud ya big girls blouse!!”

Oh yeah, I forgot. He crashed earlier in a mighty bog hole of a creek crossing. You can bet 360 days a year this is drier than a pair of Alpinestar Tech 10 motorbike boots, our next purchase in Guatemala by the way. But not today. It was so damn slippery I nearly fell over just walking over to help him retrieve Smokey from the gooey clutches of the creek bed.

Official Crash Tally: 9-6-1

Pancho, feeling horrendously left out, wanted to join in all the fun. I did a ‘Stubbsie’, and after 2 crashes was too much of a blouse myself to ride in the hard stuff. I was riding beside the road had the perfect view as Pancho struggles with the mud, then of his head sliding down the road, body following close behind after a classic front wheel washout. Thanks Pancho! We both feel a lot better about our crashes now!

Wow, this is a big day! So much to write about. Perhaps you’d better top up the wine glass, relax and get comfortable. There’s plenty more of today to come!

Feeling bloody great about having conquering the desert, we rolled into town. Life is good. No, wait. Life is bloody fantastic!!

Disasters. I find it’s not normally one horrendous event culminating in disaster, but rather a timeline of small incidences leading into the next, each one not more than a mere inconvenience. However, when added together the sum is far greater than the individual totals, resulting in a bad situation.

Thru no particular fault of ours, the timeline of minor incidences was building. We are late to cross the desert as a result of the bloody hard riding and having to make our own road. Then the town we wanted to stay for the night doesn’t have a hotel. The two main warnings for Mexico. Don’t camp, and don’t ride at night. The next town with a hotel is 60km in the opposite direction to where we want to go. Our first mistake. We decide to push on to Torrens, 180km in the right direction. If all goes well, we should arrive just on dark.

It doesn’t go well. We still have 50km to go, and its pitch black, raining and the road is like a battlefield after a squadron of Bombers have droped their payload. Potholes everywhere, stray dogs, donkeys, horses and cattle. Then Pancho gets a flat tyre. The one piece of luck is that it happens outside a trye repair shop. Pancho chases the guy out of his house, and he does a fantastic job of repairing the puncture. Its now 9:30pm. No after hours fees here! 30 pesos (about $2.10 Aussie) and we are back on the road.

While re-fueling Wade chats to a taxi guy. He is surprised to see us. “What are you guys doing here at night? There’s a lot of people with pistols on this road, and they regularly use them. GET OFF THE ROAD, NOW!”

It’s a nervous 20 minutes for Wade (he didn’t tell us about the conversation until we were safely off the road). It’s a flash hotel, and the most expensive since Prudhoe Bay. We don’t care. We are off the road.

Monday 19th September – Day 108

Torrens to Concordia – 340 miles /

Disappointment. That’s what I felt today, and here’s why.

As we dropped out of the clouds and into the warmth of the coastal region there was a swarm of waspish bee’s, or beeish wasps (I’m not too sure which). As Wade closed his visor to stop unwanted guests in his helmet, one of the little buggers did the big Indiana Jones – Temple of Doom roll under the closing door and smacked him in the face. Not content with a brutal facial bashing, the bee looking thing buzzed round inside the now closed helmet, then stung him on the face.

Well, that’s not really disappointing, I hear you say. That’s just damn unlucky. And I couldn’t agree more. However, a few hours later you couldn’t even see where it had stung him. Now that is disappointing!! I thought there would be some great footage and a photo or two. But no, nothen. I was even going to find a bike shop and get him a kiddies helmet for the massive swollen lump where his eye use to be. Maybe make him a temporary Tasmanian with his two heads and all. So yeah, I have to admit I was disappointed!

Time to say farewell to Pancho. We had a marvelous time and some of the best riding of the trip so far.

Tuesday 20th September – Day 109

Concordia to Puerto Vallarta – 300 miles

Stayed with Roberto, a friend of Erics (whom we stayed with in Hood River all those weeks ago). Again, it’s the people we meet, and not necessarily the places we’ve seen that make this trip so bloody amazing.

Having never met the Bergaliaboys before, Roberto opened his house to us. “Whatever is mine is yours. Help yourselves. How long are you guys staying anyway? A few days, a week?”

Bloody amazing. Cheers Roberto, and look forward to staying with you again!

Wednesday 21st September – Day 110

Puerto Vallarta to Zamora – 337 miles

I wasn’t in the best mood this morning. Let me tell you about it.

At about 04:30 I was rudely awoken by my own backside. “Hey Phip, WAKE UP. WAKE UP NOW!”

‘Huh, what’s going on? It’s too early! Leave me alone”.

“Fine, see if I care. Do what ever you like. Yeah, it’s a great idea. Stay asleep. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

“Argh crap (literally)! I spose I better get up then”.

As I’m sitting on the toilet I try to feel better about the entire situation, and think to myself “At least I woke up before I had to go.”

Twice more to the dunny before I’ve even had coffee and I’m starting to get grumpy.

After breakfast, all dressed and ready to rock and roll. Finally feeling secure about leaving the toilet behind, I go to grab the helmet. Stubbsie is already there.

“Hey mate. I’d watch that if I were you. As I wiped the visor clean about a hundred million baby ants crawled out from everywhere”.

“Ya #$@$#@$#% what!!! Ants in my helmet. Are you kidding me!”

No. He wasn’t. I left my helmet under cover last night beside Roberto’s car to dry out. Bad idea. I didn’t want to spray it with insect spray. It seems to me like a bad idea to wear a chemical infested helmet all day. So I kept bashing it, and blowing the angry ants off as they crawl out of every nook and cranny, looking to bite the mongrel disturbing the peace in their new home. 20 mins later and I was satisfied I had an ant free zone in my helmet. Only one way to find out….. put the bloody thing on and hope for the best.

Strewth, what a day, and it’s only 8 o’clock! What else can possible go wrong?

Why! Why did I ask that! We stop for fuel and water about 5km out of town, and as I get back on the bike I notice a bloody great ants nest in the middle of Aialik. An ants nest? Really? This sux! So I made friends with the gardener / maintenance man and hosed the little buggers off. Take that ya brutes! Right, what’s next?

The i-pod. There is a faulty join in the wiring, and my music keeps cutting in and out. Aaaaarrrggghhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!

Aialik had to calm me down. “Don’t worry mate, you’re about to go for a great ride on a great bike, ie, me! You’ll be loving life in no time, just you wait and see”

As always, she was right. 5 minutes later the music came good, the road wound it’s way into some delightful hills, birds started to sing, the sun broke free of the clouds mighty grip and I could smell the fresh blossom of roses. Yes sir, all was right in my world after all!

Thursday 22nd September – Day 110

Zamora to Cuernavaca (just south of Mexico city) – 311 miles / 500 km

After 5 days of some of the best riding on the trip in and around Copper Canyon we are behind schedule and looking to make up time.

Against our religion, toll roads. They are bloody good if you need to get somewhere in a hurry. And we did. However, everything comes at a cost, and strewth, are these things costly! 680 pesos between us, and we only did 250km. Over a peso / km. Thieving bastards!!!

We were aiming for Puebla, but fell short. In America, 450km would take 4 ½ hrs, including a stop for lunch. In Mexico, about 8. Then it rained. A lot! Having learnt from our previous experience we don’t take the risk. Get a hotel, get a beer and a feed. Get a good nights sleep. Risk free and easy. Now that’s the way to do it!

Unfortunately it means missing two volcanoes Wade really wanted to see. There will be more.

Friday 23rd September – Day 111

Cuernavaca to Oaxaca – 280 miles – 450 km

An e-mail from Mark and Maggie (the cool couple we meet in Jasper, Canada who are riding round the world making their kids violently ill with envy) set events rolling for a meeting in Oaxaca.

It is the best Mexican city / town we have been in. Was great ‘people watching’ while enjoying Wade’s birthday beers in the main square. Met up with M&M, then Glen and Andrew. These guys are riding by themselves to Argentina and met M&M on the ferry from La Paz.

The hostel we are staying in had secure parking, and was cheap. That’s all the goodness you can say about it. 100 pesos, or about $7.50 Aussie each for a double room.

Instead of having a key lock, or a combination lock to the main gate so guests have access 24hrs, they have a bell. And to be honest, if that’s the limit of technology and the budget, well, what do I care if the owner has to get up at all hours of the night to let people in? As it turns out, I do care. Very much. The bloody bell was right outside our room! Every time someone came back to the hotel I thought it was 6am and the alarm was going off making me get up far an early start to the days riding. Horrible!! Put a keypad lock in ya cheap mongrels!!

Saturday 24th September – Day 112

Oaxaca

Initially the plan was to meet Rieke, my girlfriend in Cancun. After being sidetracked by Copper Canyon it just wasn’t going to happen. A few apologetic kisses down the phone line and promises to ‘make it up’, Rieke booked flights from Cancun to Oaxaca. Amazingly enough everything worked out, the plane was on time, and we were enjoying a bottle of wine back at the hotel room before I could say “Welcome to Mexico! Welcome to Circle to Circle!”

Sunday 25th September – Day 113

Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido – 195 miles / 350 km

First ride with Rieke. About a million bends, mountains in the cloud, rain and its hard to believe I know, but more ‘sleeping policemen’ (speed bumps) than there are corners. Yep, she was a beaut road! Once moving I barely noticed the extra weight, and we didn’t crash either. All in all, not a bad way to start!

Stayed across the road from the beach, and even better than that, across the road from the beach bar. Awesome! Rieke was pretty happy as her home town in Germany is not too far away from the first snow of the year.

Slurping the last of our fish bowl sized margaritas after dinner Wade’s phone buzzed. A text from Kevin to say he saw the bikes, he’s in town and would we like a beer? Stupid question! A few ‘cold ones’ later, and we have a new riding partner for a few days. Kevin’s an Irish guy, been living in Sydney for 15 years and now on a 15 month round the world ride, starting with a warm up run from Alaska to Argentina (hmmmm, that sounds familiar!). BMW 1200 GSA of course!

Bergalia Boys tip of the day: Brought to you by Wade Stubbs

“Never trust a fart in Mexico. Ever. And always have at least 1 spare pair of riding under garments available at all times. That’s all I have to say about that”

Monday 26th September – Day 114

Puerto Escondido to a beach about 20km west of Salina Cruz, Pacific side – 135 miles / 217 km

We were talking to a bloke on the beach last night. He was selling rubbish trinkets, we wanted information. Asked him if Salina Cruz was nice. “Nope, its crap!”

OK, we wont go there! He recommended some nice beaches just west of Salina instead, so once we reached a certain point on the map we all agreed to take the next turn towards the beach.

It started off OK, big sign with a tent and a knife and fork. Sweet. I don’t need Spanish to work that one out! The road quickly went to dirt, then deteriorated further. We stopped on a beach deserted except for some local fishing boats pulled up on the sand, thinking this just isn’t going to work. Kevin busted out the maps and Lonely Planet to look for the next likely place to check out while Wade went for a look round the corner…… just in case.

He rode back looking cool (shows you how damn fine looking these bikes are if even Stubbsie can look cool!) and a big grin. At the end of the road was a BMW 1200. I mean, why wouldn’t there be? Nick and Ivanka have been here for a few days enjoying their own piece of paradise. I’d met them briefly as we rode onto the ferry in La Paz, and Kevin had been talking to them on the internet, although they were yet to meet. Again, small world.

They’ve been staying in a hammock under the shelter of the local restaurant while ‘doing it tough’ waiting for a package to arrive from the UK. Actually, restaurant is a pretty strong word for this place. It’s very quiet here, so instead of menu’s, table service and all that jazz we arrange a time for breakfast, lunch and dinner. She cooks whatever she has, which is always some traditional Mexican food. Bloody tasty! And charges us 15 pesos for a beer. Fantastic!

In the middle of nowhere (this place isn’t on the GPS or my extremely detailed map) we thought we were safe. But no. I hear some bikes, and bugger me if it’s not M&M and Andrew. Unbelievable! Turns out Nick had sent them an e-mail saying they were here for a few days. They didn’t really know where ‘here’ was, or how to give directions for them to follow in order to get ‘here’. Just check out our website and follow the spot tracker. It worked, and here we all are. Like a baby BMW convention. Except for Andrew and Berta, his 21 yr old Honda Africa Twin. Not that he feels the odd one out or anything.

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# 14 loaded 5th Oct

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Tuesday 27th September – Day 115

Beach. Rest. Relaxation. Oh, and a few beers.

Wow! Awesome! Bloody amazing! These words, and a few others I can’t mention here (I was pretty damn excited!) greet me as I wake at 8:45 this morning. And no, I’m hungover! The absolute luxury of staring bleary eyed at the alarm clock for 5 minutes waiting for it to come into focus, then not actually caring one little bit as to what the time is before rolling over and going back to sleep is difficult to put into words. Let me give it a go……..

To be honest, I’m kinda struggling! Guess I’m just not use to such luxury! I’ll have to move on and come back to it later. Maybe I can buy a good dose of inspiration as we pass thru the next town and hopefully come up with something decent.

The rest of the day passes in a blur of hammocks, swimming in the surf, walking on the beach, card games and fishing. Andrew even managed to catch a fish, which our private chef cooked over the coals for dinner. Mmmmmm, that’s tasty!

Looking back I realize today was actually a holiday. A real, genuine holiday, and strewth did Stubbsie and I enjoy it! We’ve been looking forward to today for four months!

I know, I know. I can hear it now. “Oh, the poor guys. Oh the pain, the heartache. It must be sooooo tough and soooo terrible having to ride from Alaska to Antarctica. I don’t know how they do it”.

Well, it is tough! So much so I think I might have a wee snooze and finish this later.

Wednesday 28th September – Day 116

The Beach to San Cristobal De Las Casas – 267 miles / 430 km

No option this morning but to stand Rieke on a desolate hill to film our mass departure. Four BMW’s and Berta rolling out in such precision it could have been a military exercise has to be recorded. Be rude not to. Once on the road I felt like a rock star (without the drugs!). Locals stopped what they were doing to watch us go by.

It was a beautiful ride up into the mountains, and definitely not to be missed. Villages materialize out of the mist as we climb higher and higher. As if to give the sun a helping hand as it struggles to penetrate thick fog, locals wear traditional clothing with such vibrant colours you can feel the warmth as you ride past.

A small lakeside town was so impressive we all instinctively pull over. Originally everyone thought it a mecca for the wealthy tourist with prime water front housing. No. Not at all. Turns out the lake has been in flood for over a year and many of the houses are literally in the lake. A boat is a must if you want to go to church. I watched people wading thru their back yards. I can’t imagine what it is like. Simple things we take for granted would be a daily battle, like sewage, fresh water, and mowing the lawn. Too much of one, not enough of the other and frankly, just impossible to do the third!

I didn’t want to put in the mowing the lawn bit cause the situation really is pretty sad, but then if you can’t laugh, no matter what your riches, you will be forever poor.

It makes you think, that’s for sure.

San Cristobal is a great town, and obviously quite wealthy. Streets are clean, buildings well maintained and a ‘vibrant atmosphere’ covers everything in a warm, secure blanket. Wow, that sounds way too much like a bloody Lonely Planet description. I promise never to do it again!

Thursday 29th September – Day 117

San Cristobal to Palenque – 146 miles / 235 km

Quite a bit happened today, but all was over shadowed by one little thing. Those damned speed bumps. As Kev said “Don’t reckon I’ll come back to Mexico just cause of the bloody speed bumps.” And he is right. They are fairdinkum that annoying.

The first thing to fade in the memory was actually pretty spectacular, and I think will demonstrate quite nicely what a pain in the arse the sleeping policemen really are. In fact, in my 30 odd years of driving (I don’t remember the first 3 or 4 years too well, and probably couldn’t see out of the baby seat anyway) I haven’t witnessed such an event.

I was following pretty close to Wade. Kev hot on my wheels, and as we approached a bend the entire road seems to fill with a red streak. This little sports car slid towards us, then into the bank, causing the car to flip onto the roof. I’m sure it had state of the art breaks, but when your wheels are pointing towards heaven, it doesn’t matter how good they are, you ain’t going to stop any time soon!

Smokey and Aialik pulled up so fast it was like we were on an aircraft carrier and hooked a wire. Fearing the worst, Wade and Kevin were already running towards the pile of twisted metal as the wreck came to rest on a crumpled roof across both lanes of traffic. They only had to run 20m. Wade managed to open the door and two bodies oozed onto the road, then staggered to their feet. Kev breaks into the other side and frees the remaining occupant.

We all had visions of trying to stop blood gushing from severed arteries, treating broken limbs and ways of enforcing immobilization for fear of neck injuries while trying to free bodies from a wreck that was about to burn. None of this happened. Instead all three walked away, a small cut above the knee the only visible damage. The crowd, which had now gathered, heaved the car off the road and that was that. Both lanes are now open and traffic moving freely. All in the space of 5 minutes. Not a policeman notified, nor an ambulance called. We really are in Mexico after all.

We check out Agua Azur, the largest waterfall in Mexico. Pretty crap really. Usually a brilliant blue, the water is now a rubbish brown. It is the peak of wet season after all. Worth a look, but don’t get too carried away, especially if it’s been raining.

Find a hotel and then check out the Mayan ruins at Palenque. These are pretty cool, and worth a look. Amazing the cities they built, and built to last. I bet the hotel I’m sitting in now doesn’t look as flash in 2000 years as these temples do now.

Back to the hotel, and bugger me if Glen isn’t already staying here. Adventure motorcycling, shrinking the world the world over!

Last Updated on Monday, 10 October 2011 23:29