Sunday, November 29, 2009

Oh yeah, I almost forgot!

My new fuel gauge that was just replaced on recall now has a mind of its own. I'm back to judging my fuel level by the odometer. I knew I should have kept the old, working one. Hey, it did 14,000 miles trouble free This one only made it what, 1,400 miles?

One of my radiator hoses is leaking. I have fluid all over the side of the bike. Good thing I'm cooling my jets for awhile. Time for some maintenance.

And, at the entrace to the hotel where I'm at now, I overshot the pulloff on the really busy main road, so I backed it in, but I dropped the back wheel into a hole and dropped the bike. I could not lift it back up, but a passerby helped me lift it. I almost dropped again immediately since the wheel was still partway in the hole. What a mess. Now my newly repaired gammy leg is aching.

Random Thoughts

Those that ride solo know how your brain works with wandering thoughts and stuff. Sometimes you just need the solitude for something to come together.

The thought that came together for me today was that Mexicans don't waste anything. In the states we throw food in the trash, we buy things we don't need, or worse, don't use. We leave the lights on and the water running - things like that.

But it goes beyond that, too. I was following a pickup truck full of people in the back, going around a curve. There were probably 15 people or so jammed in there so the truck was top-heavy. As I watch the truck go around the curve, I noticed daylight between the inside front wheel and the road. WTF? Here, a Mexican driver was using all the traction. If the road is paved, he will use all of the road. There's no shoulder to stop and park. The shoulder is for driving on! They use all of the power the engine can give them, they use all the brakes available. And of course they try to use all the space in the pickup bed. They use all of the watts the sound system can produce. I can iterate more, and I did as I was thinking this today, but I won't list them all here, of course. It made me respect the Mexicans more.

Ok, I'm done thinking for the day.

Villahermosa to San Cristobál de las Casas, Awesome!

I thought today was going to be a short, uneventful ride to San Cristobál, but it turned out to be way cool.

I'm a few kilometers outside of Villahermosa, just minding my own business, when I saw a bunch of bike headlights in my rearview mirror. I had my chinbar up, smoking a cigarette going about 60 mph when these guys blew past me like I was tied to a tree. Wow! These are the first big bikes I saw since I've been back to Mexico, number one, number two, these guys were hauling! I spit out my smoke, dropped the chinbar and attempted to catch up. FAT CHANCE! With my speedo showing 110 mph with me laying on the tankbag they were still turning into tiny dots on the horizon. Bummer, I lost them. Oh well, I guess I'll get some gas. Got gas and five minutes later there they were on the side of the road. There were:

990 KTM Adventure

690 KTM SuperDuke

2 or 3 R1's I believe

A Repsol Honda

I pull over grinning and yelling holy guacamole, you guys are fast! Introductions are made and we stand around for just a bit until it's time to take off. They invite me along for the ride. Fortunately, the pilot of the 990 had his wife with him so he took it easy. If it weren't for that I would have never been able to keep up. Apparently they all come here to this area on Sundays to ride the twisties - and twisties there were. These guys have balls of steel, that's all I can say. Whoosh, they were gone, knees on the deck and everything.

We stop off at a restaurant way out in the country and have a delicious meal. One guy speaks almost perfect English and he was a big help. Another guy spoke a little English and he was trying to teach me Spanish. I was trying to work it, but was making me sweat. He was a tough teacher!

As usual, I can't remember names, so if they read this, I hope they email me so I can add names to this report Anyway, it must be a biker hangout as I saw a large cruiser and about 4 more BMW's.

Anyway, lunch was great, and with typical Mexican hospitality, the English-speaking rider bought my lunch. Thanks again dude!

After that it was a race to a place called Siempre Verde and it was here where I reluctantly bid farewell as I knew I needed to be in San Cristobál by dark. They drew me a map showing me a shortcut with many curves. I missed the turnoff by about 5 miles or so, so I backtracked until I found it. It was awesome! Really tight 1st and 2nd gear turns. The traffic was relatively light, but the road conditions varied, so I had to stay on my toes. It was a great ride into town. This road was not on the map

A Short Video

The cow truck and semi was a lot closer than it looks.

You have to see the customs agent and the reactions of those around him.

Interesting passing the Federales at high speed

Untitled from Arno Jones on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Man, I am tired today. I had it in my head to go to the beach, find a nice hotel and lay up for a few days (inspired by Crashmasters pics ). Well, I found an oil refinery, a shipyard, a swamp, and a bunch of topes In the end I admitted defeat and headed back down to Villahermosa. The sun was setting and I had a death wish. The highlight was passing a pickup truck full of Federales at 120 mph (as fast as my poor little 800 will go).

I made it to Villahermosa just about dark time. I figured I would splurge on a nice room with some nice internet. Heh, wrongo again! $950 for the room but there's no wireless. They have internet alright, but it's 10baseT. Who carries a network cable with them anymore? Well, the desk had one for sale for the low low price of only $150p. Screw it, it is easier to steal internet from the neighboring establishment.

Hey, it's a nice place though! (60 second exposure)

This is what a $29 toll gets you:

Hey, I actually found a place to pull over for a pic today; two places, actually!

The bad thing about combat-mode is that I only eat once a day (note the bigass cup of coffee).

My SUPER room, where I am not at, typing this.

Tampico to Veracruz

Well, Actually, I'm in Alvarado as I write this.

I have to say, the Gulf side of Mexico is not that exciting. These are just thoughts that have been running through my head as I rode down.

The road to Tampico and beyond is straight and flat and really just an extension of Texas, but with a lot of dirt and dust. I never once felt compelled to stop and do any exploring. This continued to Tuxpan. All of a sudden things got really green and jungley. But it was hard to enjoy the change of scenery because this road is packed. Apparently it's a main artery and it is like the road from town to the coast on 4th of July weekend. About the time traffic starts to pick up speed, it's time for another pueblo with their stupid topes. You can always tell when a town comes because there's about 1/4 of a mile of traffic that is essentially at a stop while everyone goes 1/1000th of a mile per hour over the topes. This is usually where I pass some cars and trucks, but it's hard because there's the same amount of traffic going the other way. You cannot make time in Mexico like you can in the United States. I'm guessing 300 - 350 a day is about it. At least now with the sun setting at 6:00 pm. 350 miles is all I can knock out in 10 hours.

Anyways, things did look up where the road hits the coast just south of Gutierrez Zamora. Apparently this is an area that caters to tourists. The roads are nicely paved and the buildings are clean. A big contrast to the previous 500 miles.

I'd like to know how some folks can find hotels in El Centro! I tried that in Veracruz today. The traffic was so dense, and there is no place to park. You just get swept along. Next thing you know, you have left the area and are on your way to the next town. That's how I ended up in Alvarado today. I'm giving up on cities for now and will go back to the hotels in the small towns. BTW, I'm in an Auto Hotel/Hotel de Paso tonight. Pretty interesting :-)

I wish I had some pics to show, but another characteristic of Mexican roads are that there are no places to pull off, and if there's a shoulder, it's meant to be driven on.

Another thing, you'd better have it in you to be an aggresive rider or these people will absolutely run you over. They will get in your lane, they'll edge you out, they'll pass in your lane and move in front of you with only inches to spare. Twice today I was in a long line of traffic, practically tailgating the car in front of me when the person behind me though it was necessary that *he* be the one tailgating that car and squeezed me out. Phuckers. Driving in Mexico is absolute chaos and anarchy - much worse than Baja or central Mexico. It's no wonder you are fatigued at the end of the day. You have to watch the road condition, you have to watch the traffic behind as closely as the traffic in front, you have to watch for animals, you have to watch for busses and taxis pulling out right in front of you. Even the pedestrians run around like ant on a sugar trail.

The Road to Tampico

Another day of not much to report. It was a long, cold, windy ride to Tampico. When I got here I was pretty tired to so I pulled into a hole in the wall and just kicked back.

To say this hotel is interesting is an understatement. At first I thought I picked a room next to the tracks because it sounded like a freight train rolling by. I went to check it out and it's a concert grade sound system cranking at least 1,000,000 watts on the sidewalk, hawking a taco stand. There's even a strobe light. I should be forgiven for thinking it was a disco. To make matters worse, it's setting off the car alarm in the car next to my bike about every 5 minutes. To put it in perspective, I'm watching The Simpsons (en español) with the TV turned all the way up and I cannot hear it. Wow, I wonder how long this is going to last.

Taco stand on a side street. Got a pic between the strobe flashes.

Some random pics:

Yes, Charley Manson is a wrestler now

A couple shots of downtown Tampico:

Brand new Walmart.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

On the Road Again!

I am at the Gran Hotel in Valle Hermosa, just south of Brownsville, Texas. Yay!

Not much to report today, it was just a long, straight slog to the border crossing at Los Indios, Tx.

It was the first time that the guards checked every bag I had. They didn't do a very good job really, but I had to open them all, including the bag that's booby-trapped, meaning, when you open it, all the crap inside explodes outwards The GI felt a little bad about that and thanked me for my cooperation afterwards.

All that Spanish I learned still isn't enough. I'm Lord of the Apes when it comes time to speaking, but we all laugh about it. Well, everybody except the folks at the customs

I took video of the crossing and the town and everything. When I downloaded from the camera to the computer, all the clips were corrupt. The vid camera is my most unreliable piece of equipment.