Sunday, February 14, 2010

Snow, Ice, Screeching Tires and Squeeling Brakes

Snow, Ice, Squealing Brakes and Screeching Tires: this CAN'T be good!

Well, we're well on our way into the Mexican heartland and so far the trip has been fantastic! I can't believe it's been just two days!

We arrived safe and sound in Phoenix and I took a day to prep the bike and take care of a few things and we had a great time going out for dinner with Dad and Carol (who were fantastic as always, and REALLY patient with my last minute goings on to get ready), Ward and Bonnie and Mick and Sharon. On Friday morning I still had some last minute prep because I had to complete the wiring for Rosi's heated vest but we finally hit the road at 9:00. A little later than I'd originally hoped but that was due to my over optimistic plans, not anything else.

The ride to the border was longer than last year because this time we crossed at Douglas rather than Nogales. Along the way we had a great lunch at a historic old hotel in Bisbee and a quick tour through downtown Tombstone. The snow on the side of the road at the top of the pass overlooking Bisbee was unexpected but by then it was just after noon so it had warmed up a bit and wasn't too bad.

We pulled into Douglas around 2:00 and decided to play it safe. The next town of size was a good 200 klm away and we still had to clear customs so rather than chance arriving in the dark we crossed into Mexico, checked into a nice hotel and walked back to Customs to take care of our tourist visa's etc. I'd like to say we then had an exciting first night in Mexico by partying until dawn but that would be just a wee bit of a fib. Instead, we had a great dinner at the hotel restaurant and, thanks to fresh air, too much excitement and 425 kilometers on the first day, we were both sound asleep before 9:30!

The next day(today) was a bit of a shock. We knew Northern Mexico is cold due to the elevation but we weren't prepared for quite how cold. Last year, south of Nogales was cold, this morning however was freak'n freezing!

It was right at zero when we took off at 7:30. We're riding in our mesh gear because we expect it to get hot at some point and we're using rain gear and long johns to layer up and cut the wind. This is an OK compromise when it's cool but today it was woefully inadequate. It warmed up a bit as the sun rose but just as we thought, OK, that's not so bad, we started to climb over the continental divide between Agua Prieta and Janos. I have no idea how high we were but I'm guessing 5,000 feet(?) and the temperature gauge on my bike dropped to minus five. There was hard crusty snow all around us and the mud puddles in the ditch were frozen solid. Who would guess that we'd travel to Mexico and our biggest worry wouldn't be the drug war but instead was black ice?!

The rest of the trip this morning was fairly uneventful. We picked up the Autopista half way to Chihuahua and were able to make some great time. And yes, my bike will still do 140 kph fully loaded and two-up! The autopista, gotta love it!

The only mishap - more like a VERY close call - was arriving into Chihuahua around 3:00, just in time for rush hour. The Mexican traffic light system is confusing at the best of times but it's even worse when you start to pull an illegal u-turn and then decide to abort and pull back into traffic at the last minute. But hey, the other guys brakes apparently worked really well, at least from what I could hear, and we finally arrived safe and sound, if not a little shaken after another 525 klm.

Total so far = 950 klm

The only other thing of note is our plans have changed quite a bit. The five day forecast for Veracruz is highs of 12 -13 and a 30% chance of rain and thunderstorms. There have been some wicked storms down here and it's been unseasonably cold in some areas so we're going g to stay further west. Our plan now is to head to Lake Chapala for a few days and then dogleg down to Cuyutlan just south of Manzanillo where it'll hopefully be hot and sunny.

That's it for now

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