I am beat today. I am following the route mapped out by my friend Tyson and I one fateful night at Bar Volo in Toronto. I had no fore knowledge that I would spend most of today and probably most of tomorrow riding crazy ass mountain roads. I would say that well over half of my twelve hour day was spent negotiating hairpin and decreasing radius turns and many, many blind corners.
It really put my riding skills to the test. I am rather thankful that I took three motorcycle courses at Humber College (congrats JP who PASSED her M1 exit tonight!!). I was pretty exhausted and hungry to boot and it takes a certain nerve to manage decreasing radius turns, sometimes with the road at an unhelpful camber, pot holes, sand and gravel, stray dogs, donkeys, horses, cows and roadrunners. An hour or two of this would have been OK but it was honestly most of the days. Keep in mind that it is above 35 degrees celsius in many areas. A couple of the above challenges are manageable but when they add up, things can come to a head. What did they say teach in the motorcycle courses? Watch out for blind corners. While this has certain become mantra today if it wasn’t before, but I did have several Tecate and Coca Cola trucks fly around the corner unexpectedly.
Just to provide an impression of the area, I would say that I am in a curve about 50% of the time. This means for every 10 seconds of straight away, I am well tilted over in a (usually blind) curve — the on/off ramps of the Ontario highway system would be considered mild compared to these. I thought I would at least be able to cover five or six hundred kilometers today, but speed is something like 80, 60, 40, 20, 40, 60, 80, 60, 40….through the twisties.
The landscape was something else today. It changed a lot. Soil patterns. Rock colours. Types of vegetation including types of cacti and so forth. It still amazes me where ranches exist. There was one area that was composed of dark grey rocks that almost looked volcanic, and thin, dark green cactus plus thing twig bushes. There was little in the ways of vegetation, yet there was still cattle. There were some picturesque streams today. I haven’t seen many in this mostly arid lands. There are a lot of dry river beds and areas of the road which becomes a watershed during wet periods. I came close (as in 15 feet or so) with bumping heads with a turkey vulture at least twice today.
Town landscape is interesting. Every now and then a town shows up with a sign indicating that gasoline is available. I try to avoid taking chances and fill up before my tank is half full. It turns out that it is really quite difficult to find the gas stations in the towns. I find my self going up and down various streets. Even when I ask for directions, they are often vague. The streets are generally hairy. There are a lot of buildings built close to the intersections so it is hard to see around corners and you never know when someone is coming so utmost care is required. The roads within towns seem to turn randomly into dirt and then back again. And sometimes with big stones. I am quite glad that I am riding a dualsport/dual purpose motorcycle as the in town roads can be pretty clumsy and speed bumps are generally massive. There will be a speed limit of say 40km/hr. I have to be doing half that and standing up to not bottom the bike out on the speed bumps. Imagine driving something like a Civic around these parts? Another form of traffic control is what looks like a couple of offset lines of medium sized cannon balls buried at half depth – I don’t think that they are really buried, or that they are really cannon balls. These are fun as I can usually get my front tire through fine but the rear tire inevitable slides side ways making a bit of a squeaking noise.
Much of the road I tackled today is not in the greatest condition. It is not generally *terrible*, but again, I am praising semi-knobby tires and big suspension. If nothing else, it makes the potholes and occasion dirt patch more comfortable and manageable — I don’t have to baby things as much.
What else? You can forget about fast food that you are used to — or fast food period. Pop, (junkfood) snacks and beer are fairly widely available at kiosks and gas stations complexes, but restaurants are generally limited to homegrown, in-house type establishments, and kiosks and trailers that sell things like tacos. The hotel I am in tonight is close to a place referred to as “Coca Cola”. Yup. It is identified by a Coke sign, so the hotel man just says to go eat at Coca Cola. So I ate at Coca Cola. It was the closest thing around and you can bet that I was happy to walk three minutes. I was greeted by a mother and daughter team. I was the only customer at the time. The inside was dressed as if it was a casual family dinner table. They don’t bring condiments to the table — they are already all on the table. All of them. And a mostly consumed bowl of tortilla chips. I basically told the lady that I wanted food, and she suggested something, and that something came out. It wasn’t bad. Fried fish, rice, frijole, bread, salad of tomato and avocado. It certainly wasn’t on the wall menu — but I enjoyed it none the less. I am definitely at the stage of my trip that I have to be a bit more daring and forgiving and at the mercy at others. Honestly, I was quite hungry. There isn’t much up in these mountains in the ways of food. Military and Federale checkpoints. But no grub. So being that hungry, I’m pretty much going to eat whatever is served — probably within reason, but that reason would have to be pretty strong.
OK. I’m off to bed now. Super tired again. My goal for tomorrow is to make it to Creel. I was told by KLR Dude in Bisby that it is a nice place to camp and that the people there are low key and super cool. I think it is considered the gateway to the Copper Canyon Valley.