Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Day 147 - Tijuana - The Magic Kingdom (Los Angeles)

Distance travelled (by bike): 18,330

Leaving Tijuana in the morning i managed to navigate my way through the horrific traffic to the border frontier, only to find the mexican customs for the vehicle was two block behind me. I had to go through the US border and re enter mexico to find the customs in so i could export the bike. Customs checked i reentered the traffic to get into the US. At the border i was detained and the bike searched. After an hour and a half of checking the bike and questioning me about my travels i was allowed to enter the US. Welcome to the US, huge 10 lane highway, heading north on route 5 i swung through San Diego towards Los Angeles. The Magic Kingdom was nicely signed from the highway, kingdom found i found somewhere to stay and got the tickets for a couple of days of Disney magic.

*no photos as the camera battery was dead

the approach to the US border (the only photo)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Day 145 & 146 - La Paz - San Ignacio - Tijuana

Day 145 - La Paz - San Ignacio

Distance travelled (by bike): 17,680

Seeing the mexican bikers hit the booze hard last night i knew i wouldn't be riding with them today. Jorge apologised to me, and hoped they would catch me up. He hadn't been drinking last night and wanted to be heading north with me.
Leaving La Paz behind i followed route 1, cutting across the peninsular to Constitucion (Pacific side), then cut back to across the peninsular to Loreto and continue to drive up the coast of the Golf of California. The scenery inland was desert, lots of sand and lots of cacti. The Golf of California is amazing, beautiful blue water and incredibly clear. The wind was howling though the Baja, i felt like i should have been on a horse as the tumble weeds were blown over the road in front of me.
I decided to stop in San Ignacio, half way up the  peninsular route 1 cuts back across to the pacific, San Ignacio is right in the middle. 

Day 146 -  San Ignacio - Tijuana

Distance travelled (by bike): 18,130

Another big day, i set off with the intention of stopping along the golf of California coast. But when i got to the turn off i found 2 army hummers with machine guns mounted on them blocking the way. I was told that i couldn't take the road (the only one that has access to that part of the peninsular) and if i wanted to go i would have to go around. That detour would take all day. As i was driving i thought about it and decided against it, instead i continued north to Tijuana. The wind was bitter as it hit me from the pacific, occasionally knocking me and the bike across the road. Through the course of the day i went through 5 army control points, at each one i had to open the panniers, i didn't mind, but the drivers behind me who were held up as i repacked, locked, then tied the pairs down didn't seem to like the hold up!
Arriving late at Tijuana i found somewhere to stay ready for tomorrows onslaught of US customs.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Day 144 - La Paz - Cabo San Lucas - La Paz

Distance travelled (by bike): 17,230

Waking up to an announcement in spanish over the ferries PA system around 6am i went in searched for tea of coffee. I found the latter, nescafe, at $3 a cup. For this you got given the hot water and a spoon and made it yourself. Not great, but better than nothing.
I was one of the last to leave the ferry as the bike was parked down in the depths, emerging into the sunlight i was directed to a nice long line of vehicles awaiting another search by the army. 
An hour later with the bike searched i was ready to leave. Looking at the map i saw that Cabo San Lucas was only 100 miles south (on the southern most tip of the Baja peninsular). This, i though would be a good place for brunch. The day was hot and most of the scenery desert until i hit the coast, wow, beautiful beaches, but very very touristy.
Brunch over i toyed with the idea of staying for the day, but decided against it. Driving from Cabo San Lucas to Todos Santos the road skirts along the Pacific Ocean, the change in temperature was amazing, suddenly a cool , almost cold wind was hitting me. 
From Lucas to Todos i completed the circle and returned to La Paz for the night. Arriving i met 5 Mexican bikers who are also heading north. I was invited to join them riding north, i agreed, although i think they are travelling quicker than i am, so maybe only one day riding togather!

sunrise from the ferry

the beach at la paz

sinking ship in la paz harbour 

desert along the way

Day 143 - Creel - La Paz (Baja)

Distance travelled (by bike): 17,000

Today was one of the hardest days i've ridden in a long long time, mentially and physically.
 I decided to take the mining road from Creel to Los Mochis, i was told it was possible on the motorbike and should take about 8 hours. 
At dawn i left Creel, Twisting through the mountains and around the canyon as the sun rose. When i got to San Rafael the fun began, the beginning of the mining road. The road was dirt, narrow and a majority of the time seemed like it was just stuck on the side on the mountain, with no railings or warning signs for the corners. 
For the first 4-5 hours i was really enjoying the drive, at about the 5th hour the road turned into sand, in places really heavy. Trying to turn through the hairpin bends began to get tough, with the weight on the bike the front wheel was slipping and if i applied the throttle the back tended to slide, not good when the drop is about 700 metres. I found this really tough going, with no direct route the road would twist down the mountain into the valley and back up the other side. Along the straight i decided on the more speed approach (easier to drive in sand going quickly), whilst around the corners it was no speed and lots of concentration. 
Throughout the journey today the scenery was stunning and everyone i passed waved to me. Whenever i stopped if someone was passing they would stop and ask if i was ok and did i need any help.
After 7 hours i was tempted to push the bike down the side of the mountain and slide after it, thinking this had to be quicker that taking all the corners. Thoroughly fed up, getting incredibly hot and my concentration slipping i pulled over, after a drink and something to eat i was feeling better. As i was packing up a truck stopped and asked if i was ok and where was i going, yes i was ok, i'm heading to Loa Mochis. He replied that the asphalt road started in 5 miles, i should be in Los Mochis in an hour. I was so relieved to hear that the road turn to asphalt i could have hugged him, spirits lifted i headed on.
I arrived at the ferry terminal in Topolobamba, (south of Los Mochis) in good time, i managed to buy a ticket (though it took some time and was quite a confusing procedure), then relaxed. The ferry arrived and we were told to line up the vehicles ready to load. Once the line had formed the army and their drugs dogs checked all the cars, passengers and belongings. I had to empty both panniers, rucksack and take the seat off.
Once loaded i found my seat (which cost more than the average hotel), it had been a long day. i can't remember falling asleep. 

sunrise over copper canyon

driving on the mining roads

the road keeps twisting, dropping away on both sides

getting serious 

people washing in the river

looking down one of the valleys


bike parked in the ferry

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day 142 - Creel / Copper Canyon

Distance travelled (by bike): 16,750

Today was spent exploring the area that is Copper Canyon, one day is nowhere near enough to see a fraction of what on offer. Copper Canyon is made up of six canyons. The overall system is larger and deeper than the Grand Canyon.
Amazing day of riding random trails though the canyons, getting lost, finding an exit and doing it all again. Stunning, stunning scenery, this is a must if anyone comes to mexico. The evening was spent trying to find out if the route to Los Mochis is possible, the outcome is 50/50, so i think it is worth a try!

view into the canyon 

one of the roads twisting up the mountain 

monks valley

mushroom valley

straddling the train tracks, with the train approaching (not intentional) 

looking down onto the train track

looking into the canyon

parked on the edge of the canyon

one of the trails

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day 141 - Zacatecas - Creel

Distance travelled (by bike): 16,550

Massive day! the biggest distance i've ridden this trip, over 650 miles, longest day in the saddle, 12 hours. Setting of from Zacatecas i took more of the toll roads north, Mexico really is a huge country. The plan was to stop 200 miles south of Creel, but like most things this trip they change when i took a wrong turn and missed the place i had wanted to stay. A beautiful day on top of been stubborn and not wanting to turn around, i carried on.
On the way i met a Canadian, Arden, who lives in Mexico, he was riding his bike back form Canada. After a brief chat on the side if the highway we both parted our separate ways.
Exiting the toll i cut across country, but like i said above i missed the turn in needed, so i carried on. The landscape was amazing, the flat land i had ridden straight though on the toll roads was tossed to one side replaced buy stunning rolling meadow followed by dramatic canyons and cliffs, with the roads cutting and twisting through. Some of the best roads i've ridden. I rolled into creel exhausted, but with a huge grin plastered across my face.
In the evening i met a German couple, Ingrid and Joerg who are driving around the world in a huge ex army truck  ( Mercedes Benz Unimog) converted to a camper, worth a look: http://www.arminius-on-tour.com/1.html

looking from the toll road towards the mountains

Arden and his bike

leaving the toll roads, the scenery starts to change

smoke raising from the burning trees below

over looking the valley