So tools under the seat might not be the best place

Ya, kind of a pain to get to...

12/6/16

Veracruz, Mex to Ciudad Del Carmen, Mex

668.6 kilometers ridden.

Sleep was good but fitful as one of the women in the sleeping room kept on her phone for most of the night, seeming not to sleep or to care about the rest of us in the room.

I should have gotten up and got on the road quickly but instead was slow to get moving. I talked with Montserrat for a little bit and got caught up on my on-line work from my bunk. I dressed slowly and got all of my things packed before walking down for the included breakfast. It was an unglamorous affair of poorly cooked eggs with thin slices of hot dog mixed in, fried beans, and a slice of white toast with butter. I wolfed it down quickly while answering questions about the trip.

The loading of the bike went simply enough, except that I forgot to fix the windshield mounting before I had already fully loaded the bike, thus blocking the tools I needed from access as they were below the seat.

I got google maps programmed and talked to Cat for a moment before leaving the Wi-Fi and heading out. I rode about 50 kilometers to a Pemex to see if I could borrow the metric hex wrench I needed. The attendant excitedly said he did and led me over by the office. He was excited to see my Alaska license plate and talked with me about fishing and about hunting in our broken Spanglish. The hex keys he brought were imperial and none were close enough to make work. It meant pulling all my bags from the bike to access my tools under the seat. The repair was quick and then I got the bike reloaded. The attendant was excited to get an "Alaska money dollar", and though it was way more money than the lack of actual help he gave, I happily handed him a US dollar. He was disappointed and asked me for an "Alaska dollar" instead. I explained to him that we use US dollars and he seemed slightly defeated, but not so much so that when his mate asked to see the dollar he refused to hand it over.

I rode on with a stop at an Oxxo for Yakult, a liquid yogurt, and some caffeine. I rode on without issue until I noticed I had failed to align one of the windshield’s well nuts with its mounting tab and was thus riding with only three of the four mount points actually secured to the bike. I wagered it would be fine till I stopped somewhere to borrow tools so I didn't have to disassemble the bike again.

Lunch was a mediocre hamburger at a Pemex with a Mexican energy drink and some cookies I probably didn't need. While there, one of the trucks of adolescents who had been running beside the road with torches was parked next to the bike. They all swarmed the bike after I went in and I had to go back out to grab my GoPro from the fender and my tank bag when I realized they were looking to me to see if I was watching and screening my view of the front of the bike with a unified wall of boys. After I retrieved the easy to steal bits they continued to swarm the bike and I had to spend my time watching them like a hawk or risk losing some of my gear to sticky fingers. Once they left I was able to relax a bit and eat and start my days writing.


I rode till nearly 4:30 when the phone mount had manage to loosen enough to be moved by the wind, and upon slowing it would fall back forward and was now fouling my steering against the windshield bracket preventing me from turning the bars to the right. Add this to the loose windshield and I knew that I had to stop or risk more trouble.

In front of an Oxxo I drank a Monster and stripped the bags from the bike again to get to my tools. I got the mount off, on in a new position I realized wouldn't work, off again and finally back on in a good place. I attempted to use some red rescue tape to build up the bars to keep the mount from spinning. It worked for all of about 15 seconds.  Apparently not a good use of rescue tape. With the tools exposed I also used some electrical tape to build back up the well nut enough to tighten down the last mount point on the windshield. In all I was stopped for a full hour.

Part of the delay was due to being distracted by Wilbur, one of the urchins who worked the slow down area for the truck inspection point. He carried an arm load of USB cords for phones and other accessories and smelled heavily of beer. He tripped my internal alarm for a second time that day. He was just a little to attentive to when and where I was looking and where all my gear was. I had to slow down my work under his repeated returns to question me and eyeball my GoPro and the pile of gear and bags behind the bike. He finally scampered off after a third visit attempt with friends when a few Mexican soldiers arrives at the Oxxo for sodas and were interested in the bike. The uniformed presence and my vigilance finally paid off as I got the last of my gear put back on the bike and had a snack out of my bag.

It was now pushing 5:30 and the sun was getting low behind me as I set off. A few hours later I was riding after dark for a second time in as many days. I knew all the advice I had been given said this was a terrible plan. I checked one hotel but was not real impressed with the parking security and the 320 peso cost. Plus I saw that I was still more than 900 kilometers from Cancun. I used the GPS to see that there were hotels just 50 kilometers up the road and since it was 7:30 I figured it wouldn't be an issue. Riding on I began passing hotels and auto motels and decided I was still fresh enough to push on the 100 kilometers it said was the next batch of hotels.

The gamble was certainly that, as the crazy drivers seemed to be growing in numbers by the minute. In just about 140 kilometers I had two really near misses. I had one semi make a pass in a blind corner coming straight at me in my lane. I was lucky to have enough shoulder on the road and sufficient grip in the tires to adjust course is and avoid an abrupt end to my journey. Just a little later I had a truck cross through a gap in the median to make a U turn without much safety room. It wouldn't have been a big deal except that he and I both saw the teenager wearing all black clothes and riding against the flow of traffic on the right shoulder at right about the same time. We both mashed the breaks and he narrowly avoided the kid while I was just able to swerve to the left to avoid his truck in the roadway. I was glad to have been looking ahead and anticipating or I would not have been able to slow and swerve in time. If I had been in a car there would have been an accident.


Part of the days fun also included reaffirming my choice to wear full motocross boots for the ride. While moving passed a line of stopped trucks by use of the dirt shoulder, I had a three or four inch diameter stone get thrown free by the front wheel and hit just above my ankle on my left leg. I let loose a torrent of foul language in my helmet and fought to keep the bike up in the loose dirt and rock shoulder with my left leg throbbing and ripped backward off the foot peg. It hurt like hell, but could have broken my lower leg if they had been in hiking boots rather than the heavily armored Sidi motocross boots I have been riding in for almost ten years.

Close calls aside, it was a smooth and beautiful trip, even at night. I made it to Ciudad Del Carmen and then spent the next 45 minutes going to all the large hotels with Secure parking to check prices. At my last of five stops the price was still higher than my first stop had offered me and I told the clerk that and began to gear up. She smiled, held up one finger and began to write down a number on a slip of paper. It was 590 pesos and beat their closest competitor by 160 pesos. I smiled, nodded back, and handed over my credit card.


My room was on the fifth floor so I unloaded all my bags from the bike and left it in the drop off area to run my bags up. I saw my dirt and sweat streaked face in the elevator mirror and thought it deserved a photo so I snapped a few with my phone. The room was small but well laid out and I dropped my bags and took off my riding jacket and armor before heading back down to park and secure the bike.

Once I was settled into the room I realized I needed to eat. I had seen a few restaurants nearby and chose to not even change out of my riding pants or boots before walking down. The nearest one was another of the same Portuguese buffets that Montserrat and I had eaten at in Leon. I went in and asked the cost for one. At 320 pesos I had to say no, plus without company what fun would such a place be. I walked down to the next spot, which was, of all things, an Irish-pub chain restaurant blaring Metallica over the speakers for all to hear.

I spanglished my way into knowing I could sit anywhere and ordered a water as I looked over the menu. When the waiter came back I asked about the burger special of the day and he told me that it was the printed price, but that the regular burgers were "double". I figured I was hungry enough for a double cheeseburger from a chain joint so I said sure and also ordered 8 wings since they were on sale. The food arrived bagged to go and off I went.

And there were two of them!

Back at the hotel I unpacked the food and realized the error of my communication. I hadn't gotten a double cheeseburger, I had gotten two of the largest burgers I had ever seen! On the bright side the wings were almost inedible, so I didn't. Plus the whole meal was only $160 pesos including tip, or about $7.75 US at the current rate.


I ate and talked on-line while I worked on getting a video edited and uploaded to YouTube. Sleep was slow in coming as I was fairly over caffeinated but when it did I crashed hard.

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