The next morning we awoke to the rich aroma of petrol and DEET, and
decided it was best to hit the road and get some fresh air. So we bid
farewell to our boudoir, and headed 300miles south to Mazatlan, where
the Ferry should have delivered us. Lunch consisted of makeshift ham
sandwiches and copious gatorade of the most lurid blue colour from a
petrol station, while we giggled at the mexican equivelent of “Mr
Kipling”, interestingly named “Bimbo”.
Matt´s bike waited till the sun was at it´s highest, and shade
furthest from the dusty track before dropping a pannier rail nut,
leaving a swinging indicator as evidence of it´s glory. By the time we
were on the road again, we were caked in dusty sweat. It´s these
little roads that seem to take us to the most interesting places
though. Everybody is pretty self sufficent, living off the land, like
a mini eco-system. I stopped by a truck with a flat tyre to see if he
needed a hand, preparing myself for some frantic miming and gesturing
(on my part!), and before I had a chance to butcher his beautiful
language, the Mexican came out with “Hey dude, what´s up? where ya
going? ….” English crops up from the least expected places – and
before we knew it he was inviting us back to his place. If we didn´t
have a place to be that night, we would have gratefully accepted any
reason to get out of the heat…
Found a lovely motel on the sea front in Mazatlan. Ground floor, could
park our bikes outside, air con, pannier carrying distance of 7metres
– perfect. Mazatlan is without doubt, the Southend of Mexico. That
evening, bazzed up beetles and what look like golf caddies cruised up
and down the front… The only difference is that the policing is a
tad more intimidating, with an officer lazily resting his M16 muzzle
on the car window as they watched on…. Most disconcerting. There was
a good atmosphere around the place and after a few Coronas at a pub
with an ageing but feisty live band, we headed back to our room as the
first few drops from an imminent thunderstorm began to fall.
The next morning we made excellent progress on one of the longest
day´s riding we had scheduled – Thus it was over 140 miles into the
day that Will thought his clothes bag looked a little smaller than
usual, and that his casual trousers were probably still drying in
front of the air conditioning unit in Mazatlan. OH. THE. MUTED. RAGE.
280miles is too much to try and do additionally on an already long
day, and we didn´t want to lose a day just for trousers, so Will rode
on, trying to come to terms with the loss as quietly as possible, so
that the bike radio wouldn´t transmit the expletives.
An hour later and we were climbing 4000m into the mountains of Sierra
Negra. We were planning on stopping at Guadalajara, but the place was
like a bigger version of Basildon Industrial Park, with no real feel
to the place, so we rode on.
We haven´t seem a single sombrero yet, all the mexicans wear cowboy
hats. They all sport the classic tache though – Even some of the
The route took us through a surprising small village called Tequilla.
Matt saw a couple of distillaries, and there were a few people selling
the stuff by the side of the road, but you�d hardly know that their
produce has made the so famous. Tequilla makes Will hurl so we rode
through. “Saw Tequilla, didn´t see any mockingbirds…. haha, write
that down, and credit me” Matt Bye 2005.
361 miles after we started the day, we pulled up at a tidy motel just
outside Chepala, a lake-side town that was a lot more welcoming.
Equally welcomed was a daily temperature drop from around 32 degrees
to just 24 degrees.
At 4500ft, the bikes appear to be struggling with altitude sickness –
The thinner air means they are both running rich, and losing a lot of
power – We can still motor along ok, but we´re having to be a little
less ambitious with our lorry overtaking.
Leaving Chapela the next day, we were met by rain. Fantastic! It
cleaned our visors, “freshened” our bike trousers, and most
importantly, dropped our body temperatures by a fair few degrees.
We went through some fascinating little villages. Each village seems
to sell just one product – There´ll be 20 stalls at the side of the
road, all selling Melons, or shrimps, or coconuts, or limes or.. – I
can´t help but feel sorry for stalls 18, 19 and 20, lets face it, if a
passer by hasn´t stopped by then, they´re not likely to suddenly
change their mind. The villages themselves have a certain greek feel
in places, where the twisty through road goes right up to peoples
doorsteps, from which many use to sit and laugh as the tourist bikers
go flying over their well disguised speed humps.
The road we chose out of Chapela was particularly memorable – Just
minutes after passing a massive chain superstore, we were on mud
tracks, riding through one of the most primitive existances we´ve
seen. Most of the people we met were walking, buckets in hand, to
fetch water from the lake. Buildings were made of wood, mud, and the
occassional piece of corrugated iron. The “main road” track was
unpassable with anything less than a proper 4×4. The locals were most
welcoming, with some kids giving us “high-fives” as we rode through,
as others tried to outpace us by foot, which, given the road
condition, was a race we were always going to lose.
The rest of the day was spent leapfrogging traffic as it wound through
the Sierra Volcanan mountains climbing to just shy of 10000ft. By now
the bikes were getting seriously wheezy, whilst we revelled in the
coolness, and the fresh country air.
That evening we looked out the cleanest dirty Motel in Tuxpal, and the
door lady/receptionist/cleaner/waitress/chef attended to our dietary
needs, and politely breezed over all the mispronounced words we
bleated. I have to say, every mealtime is an exciting blind date. We
ask for tacos or something with chicken, and then the Spanish person
says a lot of words, we´ll keep saying “Si” until they stop talking
and seem satisfied, and then we´ll usually end up with whatever the local
dish is, maybe soup, or fajitas, or both, or a meal for a king for
Matt, and a lonesome Taco for Will. We need to find a better
The next day took us into the heart of Mexico City – And out again, as
fast as the “bottom of the food chain” bikes could carry us. The city
laughed in the face of traffic flow, it scoffed at air with less than
400 hydrocarbons per cubic metre, and it threw as many distractions
as it could whilst the lorries stole our lanes. We´re glad to have
seen (part of) it, but have no desire to hang around a big city like
that for longer than necessary.
We headed to the south of the city and pulled up outside a bright
orange motel in a quiet roadside village called Cocoyoc.
After a violent thunderstorm during the night, we woke up to a
slightly cleaner Mexico. Our aim was to head up a volcano called
Popocatapetl which stood at about 15000ft. Considering the size of the
thing, and it´s proximity to us, could we find the sodding thing?!
After 3hrs and about 30km from where we started, we were on the rising
road to the volcanoes. After 11000ft, we were thwarted by the military
who had closed the road due to “lava bombs” and debris. After a little
investigation, we found it was possible to take the bikes up a path to
the neighbouring volcano of Ixtaccihuatl. We paid the 50p
administration fee, signed a disclaimer, and rode as far up to the
summit as we dared. The view was spectacular – both up to the summit,
and down, over the perimeter of Mexico City. It left us breathless,
but that was more to do with 13000ft and our general fitness level.
Mexico is a beautiful place, particularly in places unmolested by
That afternoon we made it as far as Texacoco, about 20 miles
north-east of Mexico city. We chose a convenient, if not rather noisy
roadside Motel as our place for the night. Will, chose to attempt to
pet a big ugly dog chained up outside. The dog suddenly went from tail
wagging sweetness, to rabid, lurching killer. As the chain tensioned,
Will thought he´d got away with it, right up until an even bigger, fat
doberman tore out of nowhere, and bit Will on his leg. Fortunately it
couldn´t get through the kevlar, which was a relief. NOTE TO WILL:
DON�T PET ANY MORE DOGS.