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October 13th, 2010 - Surviving Mexico

Unfortunately all the idling and putting along for hours in the rain the night before didn’t sit well with the bike, and it protested in the form of electrical problems with the brake lights, marker lights and signals being completely out. Originally we were supposed to be on the road early to cover the 305 kilometers to La Ventosa, a wind farm near Juchitan, Oaxaca, but the electric car didn’t get sufficient charge overnight at the hotel. As the car had to be charged longer, this delayed our departure to La Ventosa, which was fortuitous for me as I had a date with the bike.

From about 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. I worked on getting the electrical short sorted out. And it turned out to be a wild goose chase. Voltmeter in hand, I tested every possible connection from rear to front, but the damn short was always one step ahead of me. I finally traced the short to one piece of wire in the after-market marker lights and nailed it down. The wire was fine, no cuts, no kink or any dis-figuration but it was shorted internally. I sent Cynthia out to find fuses (I blew over 10 fuses testing different setups) and some small light bulbs for the dash indicators. Luckily, she had a friendly taxi driver with 30 years experience driving in Oaxaca, and he knew just the right shops to take her to.

As we are traveling with RGE for the time being, we are on a set schedule so depending on how things go, we don’t usually have much time in each area. With the delay, Cynthia was able to walk around the city admiring the beautiful architecture and taking pictures. Oaxaca is a colorful city, rich in indigenous culture and traditions and is declared Humanity’s Cultural Patrimony by UNESCO. Everywhere you look; there is something interesting to see from the architecture to the brightly colored clothing of the local Oaxacians. We have never seen so many bugs (VW bugs) as in México. They are like brightly colored skittles sprinkled on the streets, but one especially made a statement as you can see in the photo. So far, we have enjoyed México immensely. The varied terrain, the culture, the color, the people, the flavors have all made for a very enjoyable experience. Our only wish would be to have more time to soak in the richness of it all.

We finally departed Oaxaca around 8 p.m. for Juchitan de Zaragoza which is a town about 10 km from La Ventosa wind farm. Nearly 10 miles into our journey, I heard a knock when I grabbed the front brake and again when I tried to brake again. I crouched forward to see what was happening and to my horror, the right front brake caliper was hanging by one bolt and flapping in the wind. I stopped the bike under a street light and it happened to be right in front of a mechanic shop. I needed a 10mm bolt and they had one! I couldn’t believe how these bolts came loose as I’m a pretty heavy-handed guy. My buddy Joe always curses at me for over-tightening bolts and nuts, but this time I was puzzled. I put Lock-Tight on all the caliper bolts and got back on the road again. Thank God I needed a metric bolt as finding SAE bolts anywhere outside of US is nearly impossible (Harley Davidson people listen here).

Traveling in the dark prevented us from seeing the scenery, but the road was as twisty as it gets. The van and the SRzero were absolutely hopeless when it came to passing on curves so once again the GS850 proved to be invaluable. Radio in hand, I passed slow trucks on blind double lines and signaled back to the rest of the caravan to pass when it was safe. This went on well into the night as when we came out of the canyon, it was already three in the morning.

Everyone was tired so we split into two groups. One group went to the hotel to get some rest and the other group was supposed to carry on another 40km to the wind farm to put the car on charge. I ended up with the second group as Claudio wanted to film a little bit more. Just barely 10km out of town, the clutch cable broke again! I couldn’t believe my luck. Three breakdowns in less than 24 hours! I had a spare cable with me, but I was so exhausted that I didn’t even bother with changing it there. I put the bike in first gear, pulled in the clutch lever and started the bike. It jerked and rolled for a few seconds and fired right up. For the next hour and half, I rode the bike without clutch and no stopping (mostly going in circles) as we searched for the wind farm. After four dead-end roads, we finally found the place, and I parked the bike next to the car and crashed in the van. We didn’t get to the hotel until 6 a.m., and I started feeling very sick. High fever, runny nose and aching muscles capped off the festivity. Cynthia will take over from here as I got so sick I could barely move. Stay tuned.

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There are 3 Comments

  1. Julian
    October 16, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Hi Chris
    The VW Beetles are made in Mexico, probable why you saw so many. Bad luck with the breakdowns after all you preparations, and I hope you feel better soon.
    Take it easy
    Julian.

  2. Motomike
    October 17, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Hi, just stumbled across this post, so starting at the beginning…as you do. This is of interest to me, somewhere else to bear in mind for my future travels.
    Cheers MotoMike

  3. Chris Sorbi
    October 30, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Julian,
    You are right-Mexico and Brazil are the only places left that still produce bug parts, in particular, Mexico had the beetles in production until not long ago.
    The breakdowns are all part of the adventure. Thank God they’re just little ones thus far. I’m feeling much better and we are back on the road again.

    motomike,
    Thanks for tuning in. You have a lot of posts to read. Better you than me ; )
    Here’s another one guys:

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