Riding with Kevin

After finding our way into Mexico City we met up with about 20 other riders to start another GPSKevin adventure. For those who aren’t familiar with Kevin and his adventurers here is a short summary in my own words. You can read the official version here: https://www.gpskevinadventurerides.com/

Kevin organizes what may be called tours, but in reality he provides suggested routes that go from city to city and everybody in the “group” is on their own to use one of the suggested routes to get to the next city. There are usually options for easy, moderate or difficult routes to choose from. The larger group usually breaks into much small groups of two to four according to riding style, difficulty of chosen route or just groups of friends. Each night we all stay at the same hotel. Kevin always has a couple of designated “Yodas” who are sort of like guides but usually are responsible for answering questions and helping with logistics. There were three Yodas scheduled for this trip but two of them including the chief Yoda Kevin had to back out because of Covid concerns. We were lucky to have Roberto with us as Yoda because he grew up in Mexico City and was very familiar with the area. Plus, he is a superb motorcycle rider and outstanding person to hang around with. Deby and I have ridden with him a number of times over the years and consider him one of our riding buddies.

Deby and I arrived in Mexico City a day early so we could have a day off and explore a bit. Our friend Michael flew in from Idaho joined us along with eight or ten other riders who wanted an extra day to get their rental bikes sorted out. Roberto offered to take almost a dozen of us on an short tour of the city. We jammed eight of us into his Suburban and the rest followed in Ubers.

We visited a museum and one of the main squares with the official government buildings. As expected, everything was very impressive. Roberto did a great job showing off his hometown and answering all our dumb questions. Here is Roberto with the white mask.

Another word about Covid precautions. Many times we had to get sprayed down with some type of disinfectant. I managed a picture of Deby assuming the pose while getting sprayed down.

You can see the floor mat we were supposed to walk in to sanitize our shoes. Next we would put antiseptic gel on our hands and finally get our temperature checked before being allowed entry. This happened so often we just finally got used to it and didn’t think much of it.

Roberto took this nice picture of us outside the museum.

We stopped for afternoon drinks at a rooftop cafe on top of this spectacular hotel.

Our very short time in the city only made me want to come back and spend more time to explore it. After our harrowing motorcycle ride into the city I think next time we’ll take a bus or fly.

Back at the hotel we gathered to get a ride briefing from our leader Roberto. These would be our companions for the next week.

Hmmm, seems to be a certain demographic going on here….

The next day with the start of the ride the week became a blur. They ended up being somewhat long days which was ok with us but it limited the time we would have in each city to explore. The riders broke up into smaller groups that came to develop their own identities. We had the “go fast” group with Joey, Chris and Alaska Todd. We rarely saw them on the road except a few times as they passed us like lightning. There was another “go fast” group called the “B” team that were fast riders but had more common sense and moderated their speed. There were a couple other smaller groups of friends and then us. I like to think Deby and I are the “go far” riders, not the fastest but willing to go the furthest. We mostly rode with Richard who retrieved his BMW1200 from San Miguel, Michael who rented a BMW F750GS and one of the other couples in the group, Tom and Janelle from Maryland who rode two-up on a rented BMW 1250GS and John on a rental BMW who was a fellow Canadian friend of Richard’s. Our good friends Art and Carol joined us in their sports car. Sometimes we were all together other times we broke into small teams. It was all good.

Art and Carol are long time Mexico residents and good friends of ours from over the years. We’ve ridden together in Mexico and Portugal. We met through our mutual affiliation with the International Norton Owners Association and love of vintage motorcycles. It was great to have them with us. Mostly we didn’t stick together on the road because we could pass and fly over the multitude of topes (speed bumps) much faster than they could in their car. One day we did get behind them on a long stretch of curvy road and I needed to transition into my own personal go-fast mode just to keep up. I thought Art was on a mission to keep ahead of me on the road as he tore around corners, passed trucks and flew over topes faster than I thought possible in the small car. Deby and I were laughing and having fun trying to keep up. Later that night I asked Carol if Art was trying to show off in front of his friends and she grinned and explained he always drives like that! Ha, way to go Art.

Kevin’s route took us on some great motorcycle roads. The first night we ended up in Oaxaca, a city Deby and I had just been to. On the way we came across a huge backup of cars. As is customary, all the motorcycles passed the stopped cars to get to the front of the line and see what was going on.

This wasn’t good. What you can’t see is the propane truck that lost a wheel in the curve and was being loaded onto a flatbed with the tow truck. We were told they were there since 5:00 AM. We noticed a small place on the right where we could maybe ride through but the state police would have nothing to do with that and insisted we wait for the road to clear.

We stood around in the heat for about 20 minutes when suddenly without warning the tow truck moved and the trooper was waving us to go. Yikes, being at the front of the line we hurriedly put on our jackets and helmets and were jumping on our bikes to keep our place at the front of the line. I looked around for my gloves…. nothing. In a rush I checked all the normal places I would leave my gloves and they were just gone! Dang, did one of the little kids swipe them? Deby was ready and other bikes were starting to pass me so I jumped on bare fisted and rode off in a hurry to catch everyone.

I found out later that Richard saw my gloves fly off my bike somewhere down the road and thought he saw someone stop to pick them up. The good samaritan never found me and I was down one pair of nice mesh riding gloves.

The rest of the day was beautiful riding as we settled into our new riding groove with other people around us.

Oaxaca is a cool city to visit, it’s very organized with a nice downtown full of excellent restaurants. The city is famous for the tasty mole sauce.

We took time to walk through the market. This picture is just a small corner of the sprawling complex.

The next morning it was back on the road to the beach resort town of Puerto Escondido. Weren’t Deby and I just there? Yes, but we didn’t mind returning via a different route.

The route to the coast was a crazy road ruta 175 through the mountains.

For my motorcycle friends who are familiar with a place called The Tale of the Dragon this road was dubbed The Mother of the Dragon. There were soooo many twists and turns that we were laughing out loud in our helmets. After an hour of the road Deby asked how much longer. I checked the map and noticed it was three more hours of mountain malady. Wow, one of the best motorcycle roads in Mexico I would say. We arrived at the beach hotel exhausted but with a superb sense of accomplishment.

Next it was back up the mountains via a different mountain road that was almost as fantastic but with long sections just full of motorcycle swallowing pot holes. That kept the truck and bus traffic on the other route but made us slow down and be ever vigilant for the road conditions around every corner. We had a fantastic lunch stop at a small overlook up in the mountains. La Abuela was there to make us huge tortillas with our choice of meat so long as it was steak or pork.

She grinned the whole time we were there, glad to have us as customers.

Soon we were grinning too.

You don’t know what to expect when you pull up and this is the kitchen but in our experience it’s usually pretty good!

The view from the table was incredible.

We arrived back in Oaxaca early enough for a short walk and a meal but were asleep early to get ready for another long day, this time north to the Gulf of Mexico side of the country in the state of Veracruz.

Our destination for the day was Tlacotalpan, the route almost ended in disaster…..

From Oaxaca we climbed from the 5,000 foot elevation of the city to almost 9,000 feet in the mountains towards the gulf. We suspected it would get cool so we started the day with our full Klim waterproof riding gear and I for the first time in weeks dug out my heated liner and plugged it in. I was glad I did. It got colder and colder and then we climbed into the fog and mist.

We were reduced to slow speeds as the rain picked up and the visibility went down. My helmet visor fogged up and when I lifted it my glasses became soaked with rain. I tried ducking down behind my windscreen but nothing worked very well so it was slow going. After an hour of that we dropped out of the clouds and we were starting to feel better about the day before we started climbing back up again. This time to over 9,000 feet back into the clouds, fog, rain and cold. This time we had another 50 miles to get through in the fog. It was slow going.

Finally after what seemed like hours we descended and cleared the fog. Around a corner we saw a bunch of the motorcycles stopped at a small bakery along the road so we decided to stop for a break. Michael and John were hanging out and letting one of the locals try our the motorcycle.

It was all downhill from there so we changed into cooler riding attire and after a snack and a double cappuccino we saddled up for the last 100 miles to Tlacotalpan. We soon learned this area was a major producer of sugarcane. How did we know? We passed dozens, (hundreds?) of these huge trailers of raw cane. There were tractors pulling as many as eight (according to my count) of these full trailers.

Being pulled by a farm tractor they were not going very fast and we made countless passes on the narrow roads with limited visibility to get around them.

We were getting closer to our destination trying to get past the endless parade of sugar cane. The road was a mess with dirt from the tractors and trailers and cane falling out of the open carts. I was tired from a long day that started with freezing cold, rain and stressful riding. We were in a hurry to get to the hotel, we were passing somewhat recklessly and then it started raining again.

That is when I should have realized from years of experience that accidents happen when a number of seemly small things add up to cause a disaster. In the rain I went to pass yet another cane cart, as usual I accelerated to start my pass but this time the rear wheel spun to the left out from under me. The following happened in an instant…… really.

While I was sliding sideways my brain processed that dirt on the road plus rain equals mud! Slippery mud as evidenced by my sideways motion. Instinctively I corrected and kept the bike upright and by this time I was ahead of the tractor. When I went to change back into my lane I couldn’t see in the rain that my lane was in a deep rut in the blacktop and while I could get my front tire out of the mud, and into the right lane my back tire slipped some more and stayed in the rut. Again, I was sliding sideways when the bumps in the asphalt started bucking me around. Deby was right behind be watching the whole thing. I managed to get out a warning not to try to change back into the right lane because of the huge level difference. Deby was facing oncoming traffic in the left lane and took my advice and held her ground while I continued to bounce around while literally riding my motorcycle sideways on the muddy street.

Suddenly, which is never good on a motorcycle, my back wheel gained traction and bounced into the proper lane and I managed to recover. The tractor and oncoming traffic saw what was going on and slowed so Deby could wait for a level spot to change into the proper lane.

Whew! Time to slooow dooowwwwnnn! My years of riding instinct saved me from being dumb and not anticipating the slippery conditions. Without thinking I was on my pegs riding the big BMW like a dirt bike in the mountains back home. Balance, steering, position and looking ahead while squared up on the bars saved the day. Well, that and some luck. It’s unclear if the modern electronics on the motorcycle including tilt sensors and integrated traction control played a part but it all worked out.

Soon we were in Tlacotalpan with smiles on our faces and stories of survival to tell. It turns out I wasn’t the only one to get caught off guard in the slick conditions but fortunately nobody crashed, a testament to the skills of the riders on this trip.

We had a great dinner at a local fish place right on the water. Right next to our table was this guy cleaning fish.

The next day would be our last day of the GPSKevin ride from Tlacotalpan to Tehuacan. We had two choices of routes, back the easy way on the toll road or up into the mountains for a twisty challenge. You got it… we took the hard road.

Here is a picture of Deby and Janelle, it was really fun getting to make new friends on the trip. Even though Janelle was a passenger on this trip she rides a Harley at home and is signed up for more of Kevin’s trips on her own bike. We hope we get to ride with them again.

Here they are on the big GS. Following them in the fog the only thing I could see sometimes was there bright yellow helmets.

Ha, it didn’t take long before we were back into this….

Whew, that went on for about 80 miles before dropping down out of the clouds on the back side of the mountains where suddenly we found ourselves with blue skies and sunshine. Oh yea. We were riding with Tom and Janelle in the front and Richard behind us when we stopped at a corner with a viewpoint to shed some layers.

Beautiful views of the mountains and lush valleys

This guy came by with a load of corn from his local farm. We chatted for a bit.

A little further down the road we really started descending into a valley, I pulled over to take a picture of the road we were heading for.

That was the last picture I took on Kevin’s ride. We arrived in Tehuacan in the state of Puebla under sunny warm skies and found our way to a modern hotel with a pool and restaurant. One by one most of us gathered by the pool for one last time hanging out before we all went to the hotel restaurant for dinner as a group.

Everyone who was on a rental motorcycle was required to ride back into Mexico City to return them. Most of the rest of us decided to skip the hassle of the city streets and go our own way so that dinner was really our last chance to say goodbye to everyone and wrap up another GPSKevin ride. As far as I know nobody crashed, was robbed, kidnapped or even got sick. The people flying home all had to get Covid tests and they all tested negative so we didn’t get covid either.

Once again, we loved the new friends we made and seeing old friends on the trip. We got to know Ralph better after meeting him briefly at our house over the summer. He has his own blog that I would highly encourage you to read his account of the ride. He is a very good writer and has a whole different perspective on the ride and the group dynamics. You can read his blog here: https://trawlercat.com/

I especially liked his first post about their ride out of Mexico City. Deby and I and our group left earlier so we weren’t part of the racing madness. Ralph’s description is highly entertaining. https://trawlercat.com/2022/01/23/mexico-city-to-oaxaca-ride-day-2/

Next it’s back to our regular wanderings around Mexico, while everyone else was finding their way north Deby and I saddled up for the east to explore Yucatan.

Thanks for following and thanks for the comments!

Donn and Deby

3 thoughts on “Riding with Kevin

  1. A-D-V-E-N-T-U-R-E
    Thanks for sharing with us Donn. My palms were sweating as I read about the mud slide and my ass is sore from just reading of your ride. However, my eyes are seeing some great pics of different places in Mexico.

    You are right, Trawlercat is a good writer and a funny one too.

  2. Donn and Deby, super awesome, thanks for the great story. It’s so fun for Roberto and I, as we put a lot of work into these rides, to see great stories like yours and that folks appreciate it. I miss you all, wish I was there. The good news is I’m at home creating our next adventures. See you soon.

  3. Great job keeping it upright, so glad you did! That was quite the story about riding into Mexico City as well…yikes is right! I think I saw on GPS Kevin website that he’s got a ride this summer starting right here in Oakhurst 🙂


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