Sunday, November 8, 2015


 After the bummer of a stop that was Tuxtla Gutierrez, I headed off towards San Cristobal. Only I knew that I wouldn't really be able to check in to any hotels until the afternoon, and it was only an hour drive on the tollway (or half an hour more to avoid the tolls), and decided I would take a detour instead.

And what a beautiful detour it was.

One of the things I'd considered doing in Tuxtla was heading up the west side of the canyon to see the views from that side, but after the poor visibility I decided to skip it. So when I looked at the map in the morning before heading out, I saw that it wasn't too much farther around the north side of the canyon and then back towards San Cristóbal. I had time, so off I went.

I'm a sucker for places where the map looks like this.
The views of the back part of the canyon were okay - the actual trail down to the official viewpoint was closed, but I got a good view of the reservoir (but decided to follow the "no pictures" signs I saw, goody-goody that I am). I crossed over the river and through a small town, and then headed onto the curvy road I'd seen on the map.

And what a road. It wasn't maintained very well, but in a good way... instead of the usual poor maintenance involving gravel that'll make you skid out or pot holes that'll bend a rim if you hit them wrong, this road was full of bumps and hard packed dirt that just begged to be ridden over, with a good share of fun curves thrown in. Add in a limited amount of traffic getting in the way and some good weather, and I was one happy camper.

It was really hard to capture the way the scenery felt along this road. One of those epic scenes that the camera never seems to capture the feeling of.
Parts of the road washed out, but it made for interesting riding.
The wide view of the washout.
The road was full of parts like this. So much fun.
Finally christened the bike with a bit of mud.
And the boots too.
Found this just on the side of the road at one point.
I will say that this is probably the first time that I've really, truly enjoyed having the KLR. I started riding on Roxanne, my '07 Honda Shadow, and put 55,000 miles on her, so I was pretty used to her and her alone by the time I sold her. Switching from that to a KLR was a bit of a shock for me - the height, the feel, the way it rode. Toss in that I hardly got any practice on it before I loaded it (pretty top-heavy, unfortunately) with all my stuff, and the first few weeks were a little rough riding for me. The sprained ankle only made me dislike the bike a little bit more.

But little by little I've gotten more comfortable on this one, and little by little I've started enjoying roads that I would have hated on the Shadow. Gravel, dirt, bumps, potholes - I avoided that stuff like the plague on the Shadow, and if I did have to do it, I was miserable the whole time.

Unlike a lot of people who have a bike like mine or are doing a trip like this, I've never done any offroading before. Many of the riders I meet talk about the dirt bike they had as a kid that they learned on, or I see them unstrap their gear when they get to the hotel to go off and find a good trali to ride. Not me - I've stuck to roads for most of my motorcycling life.

This ride though... man did it feel good. Every bump, every hole, every obstacle to navigate, every little bit of it was a thrill that I could hardly contain. I found myself fantasizing about getting a dirt bike when I get back to San Diego to take out into the desert - something I've never even really considered before, despite how much time I've spent on a bike.

Once I linked back up with the main (non-toll) road into San Cristobal, it was pretty uneventful - though still a very scenic, curvy ride, slowly climbing up into the mountains. I did get stopped by my first chain across the road - came around the corner to find a flag hanging from a chain being raised up by a group of four people (two with guitars), and a boy of about twelve running out into the road with a huge grin yelling "veinte pesos, veinte pesos!!" When I laughed and said I didn't have twenty, he decided to go for broke. "Cinquenta! Ciento!" As if I'd give him whatever bill I happened to have in my wallet.

I eventually dropped the coins I had in my motorcycle jacket into his basket, joking with him that if I'm going to pay I should at least get a song from his friends on the side of the road with guitars. As they lowered the chain and I got my glove back on, the van that I had passed not long before raced past me and over the lowered chain, forcing me to pass him again not long after. Jerk! And I paid for both of us too!

Onward, to San Cristobal, where I was meeting up with a friend I'd met in the hostel in Oaxaca.

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