The Flight of Bear Canada

Day 13 - April 25th
El Centro, CA to Tijuana, Mexico.

Holy Mexican overload Batman! Today was nuts. First off the border crossing at Mexicali was amazingly painless. I sailed through the border so fast, I had to check for cops with guns chasing me. I spent more time looking for the Aduana (Customs) and Banjercito to get my paperwork done. Those offices were practically empty so the paper work actually went quick. I got a chuckle out of the clerk in the Banjercito was watching Spongebob Squarepants. He still sounds dorky in Spanish.

Then finally it was back onto the road. The road east was good. Well if you stayed on the highway and not gotten lost. I did run into an army checkpoint and gotten attacked. Yup, a gang of teenage girls, got out of the car in front. One of them said something to me in Spanish. And the best I could reply is "No habla Espanol". So she decided to communicate non-verbally and attacked me. OK she hugged me, but it took me by complete surprise.

I wouldn't be so adverse to the toll roads (cuota) after hitting a lane wide pothole. My rear suspension compressed so much that the rear tire destroyed the crossbrace for my luggage system.

I got to Tijuana and promptly got lost. City driving is plain insane. There are few signs especially for road hazards and one way streets. Potholes are everywhere. So are retardedly high speedbumps. But the best is the drain grooves in the middle of intersections, those could pitch an unwary rider right over the bars. Also traffic is a bit nuts as well. Stop signs (Alto) are merely a suggestion. Mexicans do stop for them, but if they feel that a red light is on just a little too long, they will run the light. Signage is iffy and it is easy to get lost in the cities.

Also get used to the concept of "Mexican Safety". If you fall in a hole, it's your fault since you weren't paying attention. I was coming back from Playa de Tijuana and found and entire section of the off-ramp was not there. No flags, cones or warning signs. Just a rebar fringed hole and a 6 inch drop to the road base.

I think that all this has gotten to me. I dropped the bike in a hotel parking lot. The luggage folded in a bit more. I am seriously thinking of crossing back to San Diego and holing up in hotel room while I do some maintenance on the bike. Heading back to San Diego means that I can get parts and service without (hopefully) a language barrier.

Yup the real Mexico is overwhelming. Wow!

But hey just when you think all is a pile of crap, something good comes of it. As I was fiddling around with my bike, one of the friends of the hotel staff helped. He spoke good English and he said that he had a BMW motorcycle as well. We chatted and Ismael gave me a good run down on the places to visit on Baja. Ismael would have been priceless if I had been a wine drinker. The guy has his own vineyard and knew his stuff.

Day 14 - April 26th
Tijuana, Mex to San Diego, CA

Well now my travels take a bold and daring step...sideways! I retreat...err, strategically advance in a radically different direction to San Diego. General George Patton once said that no plan survives first contact with the enemy. And boy, was ol' Blood n' Guts right!

The border lineup was a breeze, since I'm beginning to ride like a Mexican. (read: lanesplit) I made it to the border to have the Customs Agent tell me I'm in the wrong line. There was only one sign on top of the building that said so. I still made it through, without a fine and being strip searched.
Well it is nice to be back in the US. The streets are better built and there are road signs. (Funny how the small things can mean so much.) I chase down breakfast and a self-storage shop. I unload the Strom of everything that is not needed. I did have a good chat with the clerk, who has a KTM-950. He did give me some good news that things get better south of Ensenada. I was thinking that between returning for my deposit in Mexicali and my gear in San Diego, I was going to have to play one cool game of connect the dots.

The lighter Storm did handle better. My tip of the day is too really and I mean really think about what you are putting on your bike. Tent camping across Canada and the US is good since the roads are better and cheap campsites are plentiful. But you might want to ditch all outside of the first world.

The next stop was C&D Cycle Center for parts. I ordered a replacement ABS sensor for one that got ripped off the bike. Also I ordered a new set of brake pads since I did quite a bit of panic stopping in Mexico. (Any guess why?) And finally some oil and a filter to give the engine some TLC.

After doing some shopping, I checked into a motel room and began to see about replacing my damaged luggage rack. I called Roger Pioszek at Caribou Cases, and the poor guy seemed beside himself. I told him that the problem was my fault, that I overloaded the bike and set the suspension up badly. He still was not happy. Stepping back for a second, I bought the luggage right after the bike in 2007. Roger sent me a replacement cross brace since the original rubbed against the tire. I only knew about that problem when I got the replacement in the mail. So I still had the older over the wheel brace when I hit the pothole on the highway. I apparently was one of the last riders using this older type brace. The newer versions go around the back of the wheel. So Roger is sending me out replacement braces just for the cost of shipping. It looks like I'm going to have to make some room in my luggage for a couple bottles of tequila and return via Colorado.



The mangled rack.

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Contents Copyright (C) Michael Fodor 2012.