Viva Mexico!

Work and school have been killer lately and I was looking forward to doing a bike trip over Spring Break. I had wanted to go to Mexico, but plans just weren’t coming together. All my choice riding partners fell through and I didn’t really want to go alone, so I resolved to go ride near Phoenix instead.

I’m big on CouchSurfing so I went to see if I could find a host in the area (preferably one with a bike who might want to ride with me) and came across Perry.

Perry aka whiteknucklemc
Bike: 1150GS
Previous riding experience: Canada, Mexico and the US

For whatever reason (satellites I’m guessing), his profile declared he had recently logged in from somewhere in Switzerland and I was disappointed he probably couldn’t host me, but dropped him a message anyway.

He messaged back “I’m not in Switzerland, but I can’t host you this weekend anyway because I’m going to Mexico…however you can come with me if you want.”

I took it as a sign I was meant to go to Mexico after all and told him “Hell yes!”

I got up bright and early Thursday morning and slabbed it out on Ajo to meet Perry in Why. That’s such a weird name for a town and it’s like all the signs and shop names are rhetorical questions.

I need a bigger tank for the Zebra, I hit reserve just before Why and had to gas up at this casino.

I arrived at our meeting point extremely early and took pictures of motorcycles at the gas station. I thought this little Yamaha 400 was adorable.

Perry arrived, we said hello like we weren’t really complete strangers and headed off to the border together.

I had to get gas -again- at the border.

Crossing the border was a breeze. You just ride right through. There was heavy traffic but everyone was putting around so slowly it wasn’t scary at all. We just zipped around everything and hit the slab to Puerto Penasco.

There was a whole parade of these amusement park rides trucking along which made for exciting passing practice. I had one ‘holy crap’ moment where I cut it a little close, but otherwise it went pretty smoothly and before long we were there.

Perry had already arranged to Couch Surf down there and his hosts kindly let me stay there too.

Rita and Tommy (and I think the horse’s name was Nutmeg)

CouchSurfing Mexican style:

Perry made some crack that Sean would be watching the Spot all night to make sure it didn’t move over to the other couch!

After unpacking we set out to explore the town and found some sand dunes and Competition Hill.

That’s it in the background. Definitely the biggest and steepest pile of sand I’ve ever tried to climb up, but I thought why not and took off. I was going to wait for that jeep but they were so slow I just went…then they decided to run me down I guess.

I drop the bike at the end of that video, but I did manage to pick it up and ride back down. I let Perry borrow my bike to show my how it’s done (he wasn’t sure about doing it on the 1150GS)

Would you ride this up there?

I got back on and did the hill without incident…of course there’s no footage of that!

We were the only bikes out there and I asked the guy at the bike shop why it was just quads and he said there’s not much riding for bikes. I pointed out the dunes and Competition Hill and he said “Most folks can’t handle that” I was grinning my ass off after hearing that.

We found a restaurant with a nice view and had some shrimp at sunset.

The next morning our hosts made us burritos for breakfast.

I’m not sure it was the burritos Perry was really taking the picture of…

Rita was really excited about the new horse she bought “for her daughter” and we spent a lot of time chatting about horses. My parents have horses and I absolutely love them. I always think of my bikes as urban horses. She let me ride it!

They also had cute dogs. This is Negra.

And Taco, the little skin and bones puppy they rescued (she needs a home!)

There was a cute little parade as we were taking off.

I told Tommy I had dreams of riding my bike on the beach, so he led us on his DRZ away from the congested area to a more secluded beach where our bikes could frolic without penalty.


Riding on the beach wasn’t so easy. Parts were fairly solid, but other parts were like quicksand. Perry got a workout on the GS.

I started to head back to where we came in, but Tommy said we were going to ride out down on the other side and zoomed off. As soon as he was out of sight, I buried my bike trying to turn around.

It took them a while to come back for me…because they were busy digging the GS out around the corner!

Perry made me ride the GS a little (not on the beach) and it was surprisingly easy to handle. I really thought I was going to drop it just because it was so heavy and I could barely touch the ground, but it wasn’t any worse than my KLR.

I don’t know what it is with guys and wanting me to ride their bikes, you would think the last thing they’d want to do is hand over their keys to some newbie rider chick?

There were some massive pelicans.

and lots of gulls

We hung out quite a while and then headed back home. We wanted to check out a mine, but my range was a limiting factor and we called it a day. Everyone was pretty exhausted though so it was probably for the best.

We gave the bikes a bath and I took a nap before heading out into town.

The guy at the shop was super nice and lubed my chain even though he was technically closed.

I like this statue.

The sun is going down again! Vacations are always too short…

We had some more shrimp and a couple cervesas on the water.

As we left the restaurant a massive pack of dogs chased Perry down the hill and I just laughed because they ignored my bike completely.

The next morning our hosts made pancakes (did I mention they were really awesome hosts?) and Perry and I packed up the bikes to slab it back home.

One of the most fun parts of the trip for me was when we got up to the border and saw the mile of cars waiting to get back in. Perry says he just blazes up to the front, so I followed him, but it was like running the gauntlet. We were riding across rutted dirt drainage areas, paved streets, sidewalks…at one point some people pushed a truck off the road down the hill right where I was riding! I felt like I was playing Frogger. Eventually we made it to the front and the guy running our lane went to lunch or something so we still had to wait a while.

We got through without issue and gave each other a big hug in Why as we split off to go home. Some way to make a new friend eh?

Dual Sport Desert Daze 2010 (Part 3)


We had stayed up pretty late roasting hot dogs and chatting the night before, but when we ducked into the tent the sky was a clear blanket of stars. We had heard a winter storm was coming in our way, but thought maybe we had lucked out and it blew over.

I awoke in the middle of the night after dreaming our tent had flooded. In reality, the air mattress had just partially deflated to feel like a waterbed and I could hear the rain coming down hard.

I went back to sleep and when I reawakened it had calmed to a relaxed sprinkle. Sean and I packed all our stuff up in the tent and went for another awesome breakfast.

The rain ceased as we finished up and we ran out to take down the tent and throw our stuff in Raven’s truck before the rain started up again. (Big thanks to Raven for carrying that stuff for us, planning and promoting the whole event, getting stuff to raffle, doing everything and just generally being awesome!)

Wet bikes all packed up.

Just as we were finishing gearing up, it began to snow!

We wanted to say goodbye, but opted to get out while the getting was good and booked it to the freeway.

I don’t know why I didn’t pack my waterproofs, but I will not make that mistake again.

Riding down the freeway in the freezing rain, in dirt gear was among the most uncomfortable experiences of my life. It was more or less waterproof for about 20 minutes and then I was soaked to the bone. I had pulled my Buff bandanna thing over my nose and mouth and I was thinking it was nice I had that or the rain hitting my face would probably hurt.

Then it fell down off my mouth and the rain felt like needles.

It took us about an hour and half to get to Vail. By that time I was shivering violently, my fingers were frozen to the bars and I was alternating cursing and whimpering pathetically in my helmet. I was truly misearable and on the verge or tears, but as they say “There’s no crying in dirt bikes.”

I ran into the gas station in Vail and worshiped the hand dryer in the bathroom for an eternity. Eventually I dried out enough to crawl back on the bike for another 20 minutes of cold, wet riding home.

A long, hot bath later I was feeling about normal.

But geez, what a day.

Dual Sport Desert Daze 2010 (Part 1)


I had hoped to get an early start Friday, but one of my classes had a mandatory quiz, once I finished that up I met with James to head out to the Desert Daze Rally

Riding Buddies

He had google mapped a route to take us all the way there almost completely by dirt. Genius! If you are going to ride a distance like that, may as well make it fun!

It started out on some familiar trails Southeast of Houghton and Sahuarita Rd. We popped up over my favorite hill jump (didn’t stop for pics this time) and onto the ‘lake’.

This pic and some others by James

From there we rode in the wash under a bridge/culvert thing. Here’s the mouth of the wash where it spits you back out onto a road again.

Takin’ a break under a tree.

You can see how reflective my stripes are in this pic!

We rode some twisty dirt that turned into a ribbon of twisty pavement.

Really nice views and cool rock formations.

The road was nice and varied, not just in texture, but color.

The road signs are no help when all we have are waypoints…

James consults his GPS.

We missed a waypoint.

Oh well, let’s ride…uh, that way!

We started following a gasline road and it crossed these deep, steep and rocky gorges. Ever since the Sibley Mansion incident, these things have made me a bit squeamish, but the first one wasn’t too bad and they got just a bit worse one by one.  James asked if I was comfortable continuing and I said “yeah, it’s not completely absurd yet.” I had just gotten my SPOT back from recall and I was feeling pretty good about attempting somewhat risky terrain.

…but then I came across this one:

Pictures always flatten things out, but I think that tree in the middle gives you a good sense of how steep that drops off.
“Okay, now it’s absurd.”
We just passed a fork and I declare we should try that way instead.
Then I drop the bike turning around.

The other fork took us on some very loose rock with twists and climbs.

James coming down a hill where he was scouting better options.

We did a seemingly endless string of loose rock climbs and descents before hitting this gorge.

I wasn’t going back, so I just plowed on through.

That little dot is me!

When the going got rough, we decided I should lead. That way I could set the pace and James would be right there if I ran into trouble. Well I was zipping along happily and came to a good hill to wait for him. I briefly felt proud that I got up there so far ahead, getting out my camera to catch and action shot of him riding through.

…then I realized I didn’t even -hear- his bike and got worried.
I rode back down and found him trying to fix his homemade rack.

(This picture obviously taken at another time…there were no trucks out where we were…or any signs of life for that matter!
It’s just a prototype. 😉

Eventually he got it secured enough and we carried on.

I got my photo!

Stopping to rest on a hill.

At this point we decided we had truly turned ourselves around backwards and high-tailing it to the interstate to slab it down to Dragoon was the only hope in making it to the rally before dark.

After more twisty, rocky, secluded riding we finally spotted civilization!

The interstate!

We popped out on the side of the freeway, with semi-trucks flying past and no on ramp. We looked at our little 400’s and then at each other, agreeing this would be far scarier than anything we attempted all day!

We somehow made it to Benson without getting squished, ran into another ADV rider at the gas station and the three of us made our way down to the ranch and set up camp.

I actually had to move the tent because I couldn’t put stakes in here, but dang it looked cool nested in the rocks. The rocks in the Dragoons are truly fantastic!

Sean rolls in after work about the time I’m done setting up…how convenient.

We hung out at the Saloon, cooked hot dogs over the fire and talked about bikes!

There were a ton of people there, I was pleasantly surprised by the turnout!


Ever since I bought the KLR I had been having big dreams of adventure. The daily grind started wearing on me and the desire to get away grew. I decided to ask my boss for a long weekend over New Year’s to do a mini adventure weekend to Bisbee.

(Side rant: I was really excited about the SPOT I got for x-mas and wanted to try it out but it was recalled before I could activate it! )

I wanted to do my first solo ride, but without the SPOT I didn’t feel confident enough to go out in the dirt alone. Instead I opted to ride dirt with friends to Sonoita and then continue solo on pavement.

I don’t have any pics of the initial dirt section, it was just Box Canyon and Fish Canyon again (man I love those jumps!) Too bad though really, Sean actually came with me this time.

I felt extremely nervous and did the ride even slower than usual, but with no mishaps. When we reached Sonoita, most everyone turned back, but Raven offered to accompany me to Sierra Vista and thought she could even find a dirt route to do it. We spent a while looking for the dirt route and exploring some roads in the area.

I was very proud of my minimalist packjob on this trip, even if my pajamas reeked of exhaust (Note: place clothes in plastic bag within cortech bag)

Eventually we gave up and decided I should try to cross through Ft. Huachuca, but they turned me away for not having a reflective belt and an MSF card. Who knew?

So we had to go the longer way around. Raven rode with me to Elgin and then set off back home. I tried to plug in my GPS but it inexplicably broke. So I set off without it. I’ve been to Bisbee before, just not recently. By this point I have been riding all day and I’m wondering if I’ll make it to my couchsurfing host’s place before dark.

I have to say, riding in those last moments before the sun dips below the horizon are the most magical. The mountains turn purple with orange highlights reflecting the setting sun. As I rode down through the riparian area, the trees were illuminated the most brilliant sea foam green. I wanted to stop and take a picture, but I was racing the sun and it wouldn’t do it justice anyway.

The sun went down just as I reached my destination and my fingertips started to numb from the cold. My host greeted my warmly and informed me he used to have a KLR too! We talked about bikes for a while and then went into town to watch the parade and the Flam Chen performance.

There was a lot of celebrating.

I explored the town a little the next morning and took a few pictures.

For those who don’t know, Bisbee used to be a mining town famous for its copper. Now it’s famous for its hippies and many, many stairs.

The houses are built up onto the mountains.

They have a special aesthetic here. I was joking that in the interest of packing light, I ended up wearing a strange outfit to the party. My green motorcycle garb over a fringed alpaca sweater (it’s colder there). I looked like a Peruvian astronaut. But in Bisbee you don’t have to worry about being criticized for attire like that, you get compliments!

This house is for sale.

This person really loves Hillary.

“B” Mountain

The tunnel back

I took a long wandering route home. I was glad the GPS broke and I could just do my own thing without the electronic voice barking at me to do something more efficient. Riding solo for hours was a very different but highly positive experience.