Niko’s Kantina Ride: Mexico, baby!

A learning experience is one of those things that say, “You know that thing you just did? Don’t do that.”

We rolled out late in the morning. Afternoon actually, on our way to see Jay and Barbara. All the way to Phoenix. The most boring way possible. Freeway, I-10. To make up for that special kind of chinese torture, I decided we’re at least riding through Joshua tree park once again. It was well worth it, like taking all the turns you have available for the day and compressing them into 70 kilometers. Then all was straight. We rode straight in heat, we rode straight through the sunset, we rode straight at night and in the cold. We were at our destination for dinner. Late dinner.

After that, Jay helped me to change the tires (he changed them). My rear was completely bald, I wanted to take it all the way till the wires show, but I guess it was a good decision. We did a much needed oil change on the bikes and fixed some electric problems. Along the way we had some more fun meeting people, movies etc.

Dane took the opportunity to fly back home for a conjugal visit and after that we were ready for the earliest start in the history of the Kantina ride. 7 a.m. direction Mexico!

Jay and Barb decided to join us for a good stretch, almost to Tucson, from there on we were on our own. And sure enough, my bike suffered some electrical problems right there, first intersection in Tucson …

I tried a couple of things that at first seemed to work, but didn’t and I was too tired and depressed to care about Mexico at that point. Luckily BC1 decided to give up right in front of a hotel, which provided us an expensive stay and gave me some time to have a nap and then think about the problem. It ended up being a faulty spark cap. Never happened to me before, but I guess there’s a first time for everything. Dane noticed his brake pads are gone and found a replacement, but decided it’s gonna be a quick morning fix.

The quick morning fix was not morning, neither quick. Pure Kantina ride style … After unsuccessfully taking the brake caliper off, destroying the bolt, the next step was to take off the rear tire. I was helping holding the bike still, when I notice the new brake pads look like nothing I’ve seen before. They were the wrong pads.

After realizing that this is not going to be an early morning and the way I planned the day wouldn’t work, we decided to split. Dane was to go to the shop that sold the wrong pads and replace them, this gives me exactly enough time to realize my plan. Ride through the Saguaro N.P.

After I returned, the bike was ready, I picked up some extra spares for my bike and off we go. The good old freeway once again. This time was to save us some time, so we can visit the town of Tombstone. Pretty little touristy town and last burger in the States.

Mexico, baby! We were finally in Douglas and you could see the border already. They let me through without questions, they stop Dane on the Mexican side, paperwork check. After I get across the border I realize that there is no Immigration, I didn’t get stamped out, in or anywhere in between. So I turn back and ask, the fine Mexican lady officer says she doesn’t know what to do, but that the immigration is behind there. Go ask them …

Once we find the office everything is as I rehearsed so many times before. Get a stamp here, give a copy there, pay this, pay that. A lot of money for the visa, but I got a 180 day visa (I officially can get only 90 days) and all the paperwork I need. It was time to celebrate, and celebrating we did. A lot. That set us back for 3 days. 2 for party, one for curing the after party impressions. We met the strangest people, lots of self alleged criminals, sicarios and some surprisingly nice persons, like Maria, our hotel host. She was almost like a mother to us, worrying about our safety and well being.
The first impression of Mexico completely met my expectations. Chaos, but fun chaos. A bit sad about the striking difference in the life standard you see right when you cross the border, but the food is a big step up in quality and taste. No mas Jack in the box!!!

Night out with live music, where everyone on stage was either playing a trumpet or a singer. In total, 50 people on the stage.
Mexican breakfasts are the best!

After we put ourselves back together we got to ride this country. Lots of dust and road work on the N2. Way too many trucks for my taste, but the scenery was alright.

We set the goal pretty low for the day. 230 kms to Nuevos Casas Grandes. After lunch we only had to ride 50 more kilometers (yes, Mexico is fully metric!) And some more roadworks detours through gravel and dirt. At one point there is a water truck taking care of the dust. My first reaction was, “why didn’t you come before?!”. After that I start riding on the wet, compact dirt and I feel like riding on ice. Experience? Probably luck, I make it back on pavement. I look back, Dane is down. When I turn back and see him laying holding his foot I get worried something is broken. A couple of people stop, a doctor is among them, quickly checks the ankle, nothing broken. Lucky. After we get to town we go to the hospital, hoping to score some good painkillers (I hurt my back lifting his bike). Instead, he gets a shot in his butt. I pass …

From Casas Grandes we carry on to Chuauhtemoc, heading into Copper canyon or  as the locals call it, Barrancas del Cobre.

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