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June 10th, 2012 | Mexico

Mazatlan…

My exit from Guadalajara turned into a bit of a parade…!!

Not only was I joined by Gonzalo and George of the Manosos, but also, a large group of “speedsters” from another local club, who had planned a breakfast run to Tepic, and were keen to ride with me as far as that town, which was about halfway to Mazatlan…!!

There would be no quiet exit from Guadalajara…!!

We roared out of Guadalajara, some of the guys saving the rubber on their front tyres by using their rear wheels only…!! I knew then that I was in for a very fast ride with these riders…!! The fact that most of them wore racing leathers confirmed this…!!

George of the Manosos rode with me for the first half hour….

A few kilometres outside the city, I looked back to see where George and Gonzalo were and discovered that they had dropped out of sight…!! George is a rather sedate rider and rarely rides above the 120 km/h mark, and at the speeds we were riding he was never going to keep up…!! I signaled to the guys around me that I would drop back to ride with my buddies and catch up with them in Tequila…

After saying goodbye to my Manosos friends, and thanking them for their hospitality, I tore after the much larger group who by now had disappeared into the distance…

I caught up with them in the small town of Tequila… The countryside for miles leading to this town was covered in Agave Cactus, the plant used to manufacture Mexico’s most popular liquor…

Stores selling Tequila and its many derivitives lined the main street of the town itself, and at one of these stores, the large group of bikers were waiting for me…

Agave Cactus… Tequila in the making…!!

I averted my eyes to stop my stomach doing flic-flacs…!!

The ride to Tepic was like being ona race track…!! There was no time to take photos as the riders zoomed around me, overtaking each other on the long straights before tucking up “front wheel to tail-pipe” around the bends…

As soon as they saw me, they leapt onto their bikes and we were soon tearing down the narrow country roads again…

Keeping up with them was not easy, and the only time I was able to hold my own, was when we went into a long series of sharp bends as the road wound it’s way through the mountains leading to Tepic…

For the most part we stayed off the toll-road except for a short stretch leading into Tepic, where I stopped to refuel as say goodbye to the guys who I had ridden with…

The further west and north I rode, the hotter it became… It was also far drier and I figured that it had not rained here for some time… Large tracts of bush had been devastated by fire, and reminded me of the bushveld of Southern Africa…

Scant shade at midday…!! The temperature had climbed to over 40 degrees Celsius and we were both cooking in the heat…!!

Rather than stop every two hours for a break as was the norm for me, I trimmed my stints down to a 100 km or a little over an hour… I was very conscious of the fluid I was losing and did not want heat exhaustion to become a factor…

The ride to Mazatlan would take another three and a half hours…!! I was stopping more often to take on liquids and cool down…

At a service station in Rosamorada, I watched as drivers opened the bonnets of their cars to cool their engines down… For some of them it was too late…!!

Great gushers of super heated steam shot from their radiators, signaling an unplanned end to their journeys…Wives and children headed for the sanctuary of air-conditioned shops while their husbands tried to figure out what to do next…

The solution is simple guys… Get a motorcycle…!!

Watching the havoc that was being caused by the intense heat, I gave the Big Fella an extra five minutes to cool down…!!

Another milestone in the Big Fella’s diary…!! There should be two more before we get home….!!

A short distance from Mazatlan, my trusty friend had yet another “birthday”…!! As the digital readout read 160 000 km, I took the obligatory photo and gave the Big Fella a string of compliments that I knew would take his mind off the very long distances and difficult rides I had put him through over the past two and half years…!!

I reached Mazatlan seven hours after leaving Guadalajara and called my contact Paulo of the Mazatlan Motorcycle Club, and explained where I was…

Once again, I was at the wrong Cathedral…!! I will have to start using other landmarks to hook up with people…!! There are just too many towns that have more than one cathedral…!!

Paulo, the President of the club, and the clubs secretary, Ishmael, arrived in a huge black ick-up truck a few minutes later, and led me all along the beachfront to the rather upmarket Playa Bonita Hotel, where I thought we were going to have a quick “welcome beer or three”…

Discovering that the club had booked me into this hotel, was more than a pleasant surprise…!!

Paulo went off to the reception desk and returned moments later with a room key, which he thrust into my hands with a “enjoy your stay in Mazatlan, Amigo…!!”

The previous evening the club had celebrated the birthdays of a few of their members and had partied until the sun rose… Now that I had a chance to see them up close, I quickly realised that they were in no condition to begin another round of festivities…!!

We made an arrangement to hook up later that evening, and I spent the afternoon walking along the Esplanade that ran along the wide bay that Mazatlan is situated on…

Despite this being the low season for tourists, the beach was crowded with both locals and American students, who seemed to be on an extended spring break of some sorts…

At the appointed time, I was back in the lobby of the hotel, waiting for my friends to arrive… Ishmael duly arrived more than an hour later than we had planned, which did not bother me, as I had spent the time chatting to a gentlemen who is the subject of my next post…

The Cathedral I was supposed to meet the guys in front of…!! Reminded me of the one in Morelia, but this one is built with grey stone rather than the pink stone of Morelia’s cathedral….

Ishmael and I went for a short ride around town, and being the tour guide that he is during the day, he was able to tell me all about his city and point out the various highlights to me…

We parked up on a hill near the end of the wide bay and saw the lighthouse which is one of the highest natural lighthouses in the world… Atop a very steep hill, settlers had built a lighthouse that did not have to have the traditional tower to be seen from far out at sea…

The city owes much of its early development to a large group of German immigrants that arrived here in the mid 18th century… They established a commercial centre and turned the old port and town into a thriving city and harbour, and served the many gold and silver mines in the interior…

We stopped at the bronze sculpture of Pedro Infante, a very popular actor and singer who lived in Mazatlan… Although the sculpture depicts Infante in one of his film roles as a postman on a motorcycle, the face on the sculpture is that of the Mexican president at the time…!!

The actors John Wayne and Gary Cooper often visited this city on sportfishing trips, and for many years, Mazatlan was seen as Mexico’s answer to the Riviera of the Mediterranean…

Today, the city is probably best known as the jumping off point for visits to Baja California, and the hundreds of resort hotels that have sprung up there over the past decade or so… Car ferries ply their trade to and from La Paz on the Baja Peninsula, from where you can drive all the way up into California…

Ishmael on his Harley… I lost count of the number of car alarms that were set off as he roared past them…!!

Posing with Pedro…!!

Ishmael then suggested we “have a beer” before calling it a night, and I followed him to one of Mazatlan’s most famous beach bars, Joe’s Bar and Grill, which was situated right across the way from my hotel…

The “beer” turned out to be a “bucket of beers”, eight in all, placed in a large aluminum bucket filled with ice…

“So much for an early and alcohol-free night…!!” I muttered to myself when the waiter banged the bucket down in front of us…

We sipped our beers and watched the many American and Canadian students whooping it up to the frenetic dance music that was blasting through dozens of speakers situated throughout the large grounds of Joe’s Bar…

I was thankful that my hotel was literally only metres away, and only minutes after bidding Ishmael goodnight, I was safely back in my room, and wondering how many more of these late night I was going to be able to handle…!!

I had a tight schedule to keep to, as I had planned to be in Phoenix to have the Big Fella serviced, before the 14th of June, and would have to ride every day in order to get there on time…

©GBWT 2012

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