Into Mexico City – yikes!

More than one knowledgeable person has told me not to ride a motorcycle into Mexico City. I suppose that would be the main reason that we’ve never visited the capital of Mexico and home to almost 9 million people. The metropolitan area has over twice as many people at about 22 million people. Of course, to get to the city you need to ride through the metropolitan area. In short, it’s crowded.

But wait… why would we go against all advice and try to enter the city on motorcycles? Because…. months ago Deby and I signed up for another GPSKevin Adventure Ride that started at a hotel in the city. Well, how hard can it be if Kevin said it was possible to meet at the hotel?

In fairness to Kevin, the ride was intended for people who would fly into Mexico city and then take a cab to the hotel where rental motorcycles would be waiting. Well, that would be the EASY way to do it. Deby and I and maybe a half dozen others decided it would be smarter to ride our own motorcycles into the city.

How hard can it be anyhow?? I had my trusty brand new BMW (Garmin) Navigator VI GPS mounted on by my windscreen and had my iPhone12 with Google Maps directing me mounted on my handle bars… what could go wrong? A lot as it turns out.

Take the above picture. There is a elevated road, a road under the elevated part and a parallel road on the right. Google, or Garmin have no idea if I am up or down and often suspected I was on the elevated track.

I tried to take the ramp to the elevated road… nope. The guard said I had to go to the right… motorcycles allowed. Hummm, did anyone think to tell Google or Garmin that!

That’s ok, trusty Google maps will guide me a different route…ha. I don’t know if you can see but the suggested route went in three different directions at the same time. I never saw that before.

Not knowing what to do I just started blindly following the rerouting instructions from Google. Bad idea number two.

Soon we were on some steep, narrow back roads through the hilly back neighborhoods of the “greater” Mexico City area.

At one point Google wanted me to turn left at this intersection… the picture doesn’t show it but it was STEEP! I told Deby to wait behind and I ran up the hill to see what was there.

Ok, all these pictures are screen shots from the video I was recording on my helmet camera. I needed both hands to hang on and manage the motorcycle on the hills. Google wanted me to go to the left here… you can’t really see it but at the end of the road the street ends and there is a set of stairs! Yes, Google maps wanted me to ride up a flight of stairs. I decided to turn around.

This one picture sort of shows how steep it was. Deby is waiting behind the white car.

Don’t worry, Google had another idea… just follow this new route through the city.

Ahhh, a sign. After about 20 minutes of maneuvering I saw a sign for Santa Fe using the Cuota or the toll road. That is the section of town we were looking for. Google agreed – follow the sign.

Then I came to this guy with a closed gate…

He had a long explanation in Spanish (blah blah blah) and some helpful directions to Santa Fe.


Did I say the whole time the GPS said we were only about 5 miles from the hotel! We were 5 miles away for almost an hour. Soon we were again riding the back alleys trying to find the “fastest” route to the hotel. Among all the confusion this sign caught my eye. Even now I’m not sure what they were selling but it was an attention grabber.

Soon we were in the part of town where all the recycling trucks go to dump their cans for sorting. Not the type of thing you would normally see on one of those high-falutin Mexico City tours.

We must have made to a main road because soon we were in a traffic jam of busses. Good thing motorcycles have permission to ride around them (do we??).

Then Google found another short cut. This road was too narrow for busses so I only had to dodge small cars and people.

We started to get worried when the road became too narrow even for cars.. we were literally riding through a back alley. Good job Google, only 5 miles to the hotel!

Of course, the alley took us to a bigger road and the busses were back. Were we on a one-way street? Did it matter? Did we care?

Plenty of room…

Ten minutes later Google still said we had 5 miles to go as we navigated yet another neighborhood.

We did have one or two seconds to glance at the nice murals in some neighborhoods.

Then yet another steep downhill and a series of urban switchbacks as tight as any mountain roads we’ve been on.

Then the road became cobblestones and got narrow. I was pretty sure the engineers at Google were having a really good laugh at my expense. Could you imagine trying to follow this route in a car?

Plenty of room on the sidewalk, not a problem at all.

Traffic just stops sometimes. The bus on the right was letting someone on, the truck on the left was unloading his cargo. We all just patiently wait. I looked at the GPS… 5 miles to go! (Really – that is the honest truth!)

Just one of a hundred close calls….

Oh look, the Google tourmasters thought I would like to explore the market.

On the left is something that was a common sight. People riding motorcycles with no helmet but wearing a mask for Covid safety.

We were getting closer, even Google said only a few more miles. In this picture on the top you can see the main highway. Is that where we were supposed to be?

Another sign for Santa Fe…. do I trust it? Could we really be close?

Ha, we suddenly break out into a more modern part of town… there was even a Costco!

We turn a corner and what do we see.. more adventure bikes! Follow them!

I have a good feeling about this…

Yes… the AC Hotel, we made it.

Deby was one happy camper to have survived Day 0 of the GPSKevin Adventure ride in Mexico.

Here is a map of part of our route.

Thus begins a week of riding with a motley group of adventure riders who have decided to escape Estados Unidos for a while. We were glad for a day off to explore the city and reconnect with other riders that we have met over the years on other rides. Our buddy Michael (Miguel in Mexico – remember him? Porkchop in every beer), our earlier riding companion Richard flew down from the snow in Canada, our good friends Art and Carol met us from San Miguel de Allende. Plus about another twenty old and new friends.

Stay tuned for the next post when the ride begins. I hope you enjoyed the Google tour of the southern burrows of Mexico City!

Donn and Deby

7 thoughts on “Into Mexico City – yikes!

  1. Great write up. Sounds like a crazy adventure. Going through Mexico City! Good luck in the following days.

  2. A Pure pleasure of a read for me!!……although not a pure pleasure of a ride for you two 🙂

  3. The city gives new meaning to “adventure bike”! Terrific post as usual. Thanks.

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