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I met Murphy on Cerro Potosi, NL, Mexico!

Joined
Oct 14, 2014
Messages
237
Location
San Antonio, TX
I finally went ahead and did it. I made it to Mexico and back on a motorcycle.

Every single person I shared my plans with prior to leaving told me I was crazy, stupid, or both. So, other than a select few friends, certain family members, and an inconspicuous entry on the Wild Bills Final Ride to Cerro Potosi thread, I just stopped telling people.

My plan was to do final prep and packing at home in San Antonio the week prior to departure. I was planning on leaving work a little early on Thursday, July 21st and spend the night in McAllen. I was going to take care of all the pre-crossing processes like money changing, TVIP, and so on that evening.

Well, Murphy started rearing his ugly head Saturday afternoon July 16th with a call from my job saying I needed to be in Humble Sunday evening and spend Monday through Thursday :argh: :zen: there. No problem, I'll just rush through all my prep that I was planning on taking all week to do, load the bike and gear on the truck, and leave directly from Humble. That added a couple hours travel to McAllen, but I figured I could wrap things up a little earlier than normal and still make it in time to take care of everything Thursday evening.

Nope! Didn't happen. I finally got to McAllen around 12:00AM. As a result, I wasn't able to execute my pre-crossing plans.

Well, I was tired and the bed was comfortable. When the alarm went off at 5:30AM, I sleepily ignored it. I didn't make it to the border until about 10:00AM.

This was the only time I became a little upset during the whole trip. The Mexican government employees at the border came across as the most unhelpful, unmotivated government employees I've ever dealt with in any country. One might think that since probably 99% of the people processing through that office speak English, they would have at least the important signs posted bi-bilingually. Not to mention maybe having at least one person that could, or at least be willing to speak English. Anyway, I was finally ready to be on my way around 12:00PM.

I had to make a decision. Spend another night in McAllen and do my planned route the next day, or skip a part of the route and go directly to Galeana via the Rayones road.

Here was my planned route:

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I chose the Rayones road, knowing that even that route could be cutting it a bit close to arriving as or after the sun was setting. I figured I could hit the part I missed on my way back to the US on Monday.

So, off I went!

The farthest I've ever rode this bike at highway speed on pavement was last summer in Colorado for about 45 miles, part of which was on I75 between Leadville and Breckenridge. Based on that experience, I figured that the long, hot stretch from Reynosa to Montemorelos was going to suck. Sorry for the blurry picture, but it was a bit of a buzzy ride.

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Well, the slab part didn't suck, but it wasn't overly enjoyable either! I think the novelty of riding alone on a little dirtbike by myself in Mexico had a lot to do with that. Since I was behind schedule, between Rayones and the mountains, I only stopped once to take a short break at the Gen. Bravo plaza, and once to get gas in Gen. Teran. I calculated my mileage at about 45mpg. Much better than I was expecting, with speed limits up to 110kmph. I have a 3.5 gallon tank, and had about 1.5 gallons in a collapsible bladder. More on the bladder later!

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So finally, I'm through the dreaded slab portion and have arrived in what turns out to be the very beautiful Sierra Madre Oriental range.

Many parts of the road leading up the mountains to Rayones rival the best roads in the US and they can lull you into complacency. Several blind corners had large piles of rockslide rubble covering all but enough of the road for one car to sneak by. Not to mention, for many drivers down there, the center line is merely a suggestion. It was very enjoyable, but I had to keep reminding myself to keep an intense focus on what might be lying ahead.

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My pace immediately slows, the temperature drops with every foot of elevation, and my mind finally begins to realize that this is good, and I'm on vacation. I look down at my phone/GPS and it is confirmed; "No Signal". YES! I'm on vacation now!

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Riding along, I came across a road side shrine that I stopped at for a bit. I don't speak, read, or write Spanish, but based on the words I do know, this is a prayer for travelers on this road.

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It was about this time when things really sank in as to my situation. Not that I went in without thinking things through, or without the plans, gear, knowledge, and experience to take care of most any possibility I could think of. It was more of an affirmation that any mistake or oversight I made while I was down there carried an exponentially higher penalty than an identical event back in the states. What that ended up translating to, for example, is a dirt road that I would consider to be no challenge at all in the states became a level or two greater of a challenge. Later, climbs or trails that I would have considered moderately challenging back in the states became things I simply would not even attempt down there.

My Risk Analysis now properly calibrated, I continued on my way.

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The road to Rayones was beautiful and largely uneventful. The only excitement was a truck load of teenagers driving sort of recklessly, with the girls in the back screaming at the driver to slow down, than laughing about it. We passed each other many times between there and Rayones. I'd stop for pictures along the road and they'd catch up, wave, yell and blow by me. Later, I'd catch up to them on the side of the road where they were stopped doing whatever Mexican teenagers do on the side of country roads in the middle of nowhere, but they'd yell and wave as I went by.
I stopped many more times than I had planned, just to take in the scenery. Pictures just can't convey it. I was truly enjoying myself!

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If I would have had more time, I would have probably rode down to that river and splashed around a bit.

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I was pleasantly surprised and a little embarrassed when the Rayones Board of Tourism sent out a representative to meet me at the village entrance. Sadly, I speak Cow much better than I speak Spanish, so we got along pretty well.

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So with my meeting with the young calf concluded, I headed towards Galeana. The road turned to dirt, and I was surprised at how bad it was, considering that it is an obviously well travelled road. There were no challenging sections, considering what I was riding, but it was a very interesting dirt road. Fun to ride, and nothing like I've ever experienced in the states on a "major" road that is the primary link between two small towns. Even growing up in Montana and North Dakota, with plentiful dirt roads, they were never this rough or treacherous to drive in a pickup. There were enough trucks traveling in both directions to cause me to be extra cautious. About one every 15 minutes or so, but they were all driving cautiously and were all very courteous.

A couple of shots of the Rayones - Galeana road:

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So finally, I see the town of Galeana come in to view. The sun was threatening to set behind the mountains and it was going to be dark soon. Couldn't have timed it much better, I guess. I was very happy that I'd decided to cut the northern part of my planned route.

I found the motel parking area on my second time around the block, The owner must have heard the bike and came out to greet me. MADE IT!

Again, I know maybe a dozen words in Spanish including the ones I can't use around children. To make my reservation a few days earlier with the Motel Magdalena, I used Google Translater and just read back what was on the screen to the owner on the other end of the phone. I really had no idea if he knew what the heck I was trying to tell him. I could tell he was trying to ask me claryfying questions, but I had no idea what he was saying. I just kept repeating the phrases as best I could, and finally, hoping for the best, said goodbye. To his credit, he had my name and dates I was staying in his book when I arrived!

The motel itself is certainly nothing fancy, but it's clean. The water pressure is great with no shortage of hot water. Be careful, you could boil a lobster in it.

So, in a fantastic stroke of luck, the town of Galeana was having a beauty pageant in the plaza that night. In another stroke of lesser fantastic luck, it was for grandmothers at least 65 years or older of age! I bought some water and ice cream at the nearby ice cream shop and enjoyed the show.

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When the show concluded, I realized I was really hungry so I began wandering around a bit and came across an open store front making what appeared to be gigantic burritos on a grill. Through a series of limited Spanish words, limited English words, and a lot of pointing and gesturing, the cook and I created what was arguably the best tasting burrito I've ever ate!

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Now, where's the motel? Oh, there it is!

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Belly full, tired, and with a full day of riding planned for the next day, I headed back to the motel looking forward to a good nights sleep.


Little did I know that I would have company waiting for me in my bed when I returned to my room!






























Minnie!!!!
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And that wrapped up day 1.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Oct 14, 2014
Messages
237
Location
San Antonio, TX
Day 2 in Mexico! Today's plan is to ride up to Cerro Potosi, go down to see the big sinkhole Pozo del Gavilan, and then do a big loop halfway up and around the southern and western faces of Cerro Potosi using trails I had found using Google Earth and plugged in to my Iphone which I run the MotionX GPS app on.

I use a case and mount from Tigrasport, in the event anyone is interested. It's held up quite well over the last two years, including the Colorado Backcountry Discovery Route.
The only time I've had overheating problems is when I wasn't moving and left it in direct sunlight for an extended period of time.
Alright, enough product endorsement stuff. Let's get back to the ride!

Based on my previously mentioned revised risk analysis, I decided that most likely I would only be able to do the mountain and sinkhole. I'd save the big loop around the mountain for the next day.

Finding restaurants is not a challenge in Galeana. They're all over the place. My challenge is not knowing enough Spanish. My food words are were pretty much limited to Huevos, frioles, carne, aqua, and pollo, and everything on the Taco Bell menu board. Anyway, I found a satisfying breakfast of eggs, bacon, potatoes, juice, and coffee. The waitress was great, and I could tell she was very worried that she would bring me the wrong food and that I'd be unhappy. Made me wonder what may have happened in the past with previous customers to make her feel that way.

This was a big deal to me, and I truly appreciated it. Never once (excepting the govt. employees) while I was down there did I sense any impatience or hostility towards me because of my lack of language skills. My wife is foreign born, and over the last 3 plus decades, I've become very aware of that sort of behavior towards her here in the US when she would have language difficulties at restaurants, stores and so on. This interaction, and the many others like it while I was down there really brought me a renewed sense of humility.

Enough of that touchy feely stuff! Lets eat! Thank goodness for menus with pictures!

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I went back to the motel, got suited up, gassed up, and headed north of Galeana to try finding a little trail that led to a couple of features I couldn't identify on Google Earth, but looked interesting to me.

I found the rugged, rutted, rocky, little two track leading up the hill. I noticed a lot of vultures circling overhead in front of me, directly over where the trail was taking me. I top a hill and find that I'm in the town dump!
I suddenly remembered another Spanish word I had forgotten; Basura. It had been scrawled on a piece of wood nailed to a pole a little way back. Oh well. I continued riding on with my head held high while under the watchful eyes of a couple of guys throwing bags of garbage off their pickup truck.

The second feature turned out to be what I sort of thought it might be. A large cemetery. I really wanted to go in a have a look around, but there were a couple vehicles and several people scattered about visiting various crypts. Rather than potentially seeming disrespectful, I turned around and continued on my way before entering the gates.

A little farther down the trail, I happened upon the ruins of what appeared to be at one time a rather substantial ranch complex or something. I stopped and explored that for a little while. I sort of marveled at how relatively cool it was inside, even with the roof mostly gone.

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I'm fascinated by places like this and spent too much time there. To me, it was worth it, and is probably why I do a lot of my traveling alone!

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OK, I've satiated my archeological cravings. Onward and upward to Cerro Potosi!

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A little while later, i arrived at the start of the road up to Cerro Potosi. After about 15 -20 minutes, I decided to take a break in the shade near a little stream.

Easy there Senor Toro, easy now. You can have your shade back when I'm done with it!

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I have to say, it's a worthwhile trip up that road, but it's probably the most bone jarring road I've ever been on. It's not technically challenging, at least on a small bike, but the jarring never really stops. Traction is awkward as the tire grabs on a rock, then lets go until the next rock. Pretty much all the way up the mountain like that. Smaller knobbies are probably a better option than my MT21 tires were for this road, but they did fine.

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I didn't run in to another living soul all the way to the top. It was sort of eerie though. I never once rode through the clouds. They just seemed to stay about 50 - 100 yards in front of me and moved at the same pace as I was.

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At some point along the way, the clouds disappeared and I was treated to some really great views.

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And finally: the obligatory KTM Summit Shot!!!

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And the obligatory narcissistic Selfie Summit Shot.

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The ride down the mountain was even more bone jarring than the ride up, probably because I went quite a bit faster. It was my first visit by Mr. Murphy, but I didn't realize it until later when I made it back to the motel.

Even though I was going a bit faster, I managed to notice how well this plant matched my sunburned face! I wish I'd remembered to reapply more sunscreen sometime during that day.

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On to Pozo del Gavilian, and day 2 continued!
 
Last edited:
Joined
Oct 14, 2014
Messages
237
Location
San Antonio, TX
And continuing with Day 2.

I made it down the mountain and just took the most direct paved route to Pozo del Gavilan, an enourmous sinkhole that is invisible from the ground. You'd not even know it was there until you were right up on it. Or in it.

I suspect that thousands of years ago, the second person to discover Pozo del Gavilon did so by watching his buddy suddenly disappear over the edge. His buddy is most likely still down there.

Here's a quick video i made that effectively demonstrates just how deep this thing really is. I don't think I can embed video here, so it'll have to be a quick trip to YouTube to see it. Sorry 'bout dat.

https://youtu.be/N_pCLX5ZOAQ

Anyways, what I thought was kind of neat about this place, and probably most other places like it in Mexico, was the complete and utter lack of any safety warnings or precautions associated with it.

I guess they figure if you're stupid enough to get close enough to fall in, well........

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It was almost surreal there. Except for the wind, it was completely silent and desolate. If it were in the US, there would have been souvenier stands, signs, gates, fences, and people. Just randomly plunked down in the middle of a huge, open, flat expanse of valley floor. As a former Corvette owner, I kept thinking about the sinkhole that suddenly developed under the National Corvette Museum a while back.

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For a sense of scale, you can make my bike out directly across the hole.

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Very interesting, glad I went to see it. I wonder if I can rig a trailer to the bike and pull my kayak loaded with rappel equipment down there? Hmmmm.

So with that thought in mind, and devising a plan on what I was going to do for dinner, I made my way down the dirt road to the paved two lane leading back to Galeana.

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After a pleasant and uneventful ride down the road, I arrived at the motel.

I did notice that my right shroud began flapping in the wind when I got going a little fast, but I didn't think much of it since the mounting holes had pulled through many, many, many get-offs ago and are held on by zip ties anyway. Sometimes they wear through and break. I just kept my knee pressured against it and merrily went on my way.

When I got off the bike at the motel, I pulled a zip tie out of my pack to secure the shroud. What the heck? when I pulled the shroud back, the radiator came with it!
The shroud and the hose where the only things supporting the radiator and fan!

Hello Mr. Murphy. You snuck up on me along the rocky road on Cerro Potosi, didn't you? I'm sure he chuckled and said "yep, but you ain't seen nothing yet, son".

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Well, if you've actually been reading this, you'll know that my prep time for this trip got cut really short due to work commitments. Except for a few days, I hadn't been home for about 5 weeks prior to this trip.

I had ordered a fan a good month or so prior and had planned to install and test it prior to leaving for Mexico. Work travel got in the way and as it turned out, I ended up installing it with the bike strapped in the bed of my truck under the the parking lot lamps of a motel in Humble, TX the day before I left.

Evidently, I forgot to locktite the bolts holding the radiator on. It looked like the top one had vibrated out and allowed the radiator to wobble and vibrate enough to snap the bottom mount after widening and elongating the hole, making the stock washer useless. Murphy has a sense of humor, but so do I.

Beer is often the answer to many things, and this happened to be no exception! Perfect size!

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I found a little piece of hard rubber laying on the ground, along with the Tecate beer bottle caps. Hmmmm. Lemme see here. I carved the rubber to fit, punched a hole through it all, filed it smooth, and voila! I'm gonna leave it like this forever! Heck, I just might do the other three up this way. I like it!

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Hah!!! Take that, Murphy! I'm gonna go take a hot shower and find something to eat. Maybe even have a Tecati with it! "check your attitude, boy, you're getting just a bit cocky"

I was really looking forward to tomorrow and the goat trail I was fairly sure existed and was rideable around Cerro Potosi.

And that was pretty much day two as I went to shower and find something to eat, Murphy following closely behind and probably doing some sort of theatrical, diabolical laugh.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Oct 14, 2014
Messages
237
Location
San Antonio, TX
So, day three began uneventfully. I went to a restaraunt that had a sign that I assumed meant "omelettes", and I was correct. Nice thick, multi-egg cheesy, hammy omelettes, some bottled juice and a cup of instant coffee. I was ready to hit the goat trail around Cerro Potosi.

I left Galeana heading to the small village of La Cuesta. Once I passed through La Cuesta, I began looking for a little path/stream bed that I had marked on my map. I found it, and it was a bit rougher and rockier in a few sections than I had thought it would be. Mostly though, it was relatively decent, and I decided to keep going. I continued to make slow and careful but steady progress down the stream bed.

Keeping in mind my previous thoughts on risk, I was stopping frequently to drink water, rest, and just enjoy the solitude.

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I was looking for a faint trail that would take me out of the stream bed and begin winding up the mountain. I found it without a problem and started heading down it.

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About 2 miles down this path, I came across an old goat herder with his flock. I turned of the motor, offered him a bit of candy while we attempted to exchange pleasantries in different languages. I waited until his flock was a bit of a ways off and started up again. I wanted to take some pictures of him, but wasn't sure if that's something he would have appreciated.

After a while going down the trail, it started to climb more steeply, and the surface was becoming thinner and rockier. Still, no problems. I was really glad that I had installed that fan though, as I'm sure a couple of them would have caused me to start having heat problems at some point because of how slow my overall pace was.

I'm on a 2005 KTM 450EXC. I love that bike, but the cooling system sucks. I guess the newer versions have pretty much got that problem solved, and I'm pretty sure that there's one in my future!

Between frequent rest stops, I ran into a lot of fallen pine and other trees that were crossing the path. I had a 0 speed tipover trying to get over one, and from there I just stopped and moved them out of the way.

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I knew I was burning a lot of energy, but the trail was calling to me like a siren! The elevation was increasing, and the temperature was getting cooler.
The trail to this point would be a fairly easy and fun ride here in the states, and most would take it on without a second thought.

Anyway, I continued riding down the trail, and having a good time in spite of having to move a bunch of trees. I was starting to gain enough elevation to where I was beginning to get some pretty nice views of the valley below.

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I stopped and had a snack. All was good! My radiator repair was holding up perfectly and the bike, the trail, and I seemed to have found our groove.

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So had Murphy, as I was about to discover.
 
Joined
Jun 11, 2008
Messages
363
Location
Austin
Murphy's law is what makes what is expected to be a planned ride an adventure! ADV awaits!!

I've been to Galeana once, thx to the amazing R. Gibbens. I sure hope I get the chance to go again one day.

I've LOVED your pics, and your story!! Thank you!

beware: Murphy's law follows you!
 
Joined
Oct 14, 2014
Messages
237
Location
San Antonio, TX
I continued to make good progress, and was approaching a point on my route that I had mentally noted as a point that might be too steep or otherwise challenging to attempt way out here by myself. The trail would take a sharp turn north and start heading directly up a steep 30% ridgline for about 3/4 mile before it looked like it would start traversing across the slope agaiin.

Well, that turn occurs in a small clearing, and the trail is invisible in that clearing. I ended up riding about 20 yards past where it should have turned before noticing my mistake.

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Remember my thoughts on how mistakes are exponentially amplified out here and alone?

I stopped and got my bearings by walking around a bit until I was sure that I had found the trail. As I had figured, it looked like it was going to be pretty steep and loose, but not that bad. At least as far as I could see anyway.

I got back on and turned around to get back on the route. As I was about to hit the first loose, sort of steep section, the bike started acting funny. I aborted, looked down, and..... Crap! Flat front tire.

So, I'll be honest here. What happened next almost kept me from writing this report. I will, because 1. All's well that ends well, and 2. there are either lessons to be learned, remembered, or used. (I'm adding this little disclaimer after receiving a few IM's. The reason I almost didn't write this report was due to embarrassment at not having the proper tool, not because I was afraid I might die on the mountain. I never had any doubts as to my ability to make it back, even if it would have been on foot)

Boredom alert! I didn't take a lot of pictures from here on out.

So, where was I? Oh yeah, by myself in the middle of nowhere Mexico on a dirt bike with a flat front tire.

I got to the business of fixing it. I found the culprit right away. It was a 3 or 3.5 inch thorn from something or another that I had probably ran over while turning around.

I pulled it out with my pliers. Mistake. I should have marked it first.

I pulled out my handy-dandy tire kit and spare tube and got down to business.

You all know the rule about using the same tools you're going to use on the trail when you're in the garage? Of course you do. So do I, and I follow it.

Problem is, I have one of those spiffy tire spoon/wrench combos from cycle gear. Sometime after I last used it to change tires, I lost the little insert that fits the axle nut. You can't buy it separately, so I ordered another complete set. Pretty orange anodized aluminum, not a scratch on them. I chucked the old set and put the new set in my fender bag.

When I went to loosen the clamping nuts on the axle, I found out that the design had been slightly changed. The new one was a bit thicker and wouldn't go down far enough to grip the nut. No way, no how. I thought about filing either it or the knuckle down enough for it to fit, but decided that it probably wasn't the best idea. After a bit of beating myself up over it, I pumped the tire up to see if it would hold air at all. It did, but not very well.

I thought that maybe I could break the bead and get the tube out enough to patch it with some gorilla tape. It wouldn't be perfect, but I figured it might slow the leak down enough to limp back down the mountain. IF I had marked the puncture point, that may have worked. I couldn't see any trace of the hole after I had pulled the thorn out. Scratch that.

I decided to just stop when needed, pump some air, and make my way back the way I came. That's what I started to do. I was able to ride about 5-10 minutes at a time before stopping, propping the bike up against something (too steep and uneven in most places for the kickstand), pull the pump out, give it about 30 to 50 good strokes, stow the pump, and continue to make my way down.

The trail somehow became much steeper, rockier, and treacherous going down than it had coming up! The flat front kept threatening to separate from the rim on all the big rocks and steep off-camber sections and turns. I was getting really, really tired. Even so, I knew that as long as I kept this up, I'd get down OK although the sun might start to go down before I made it to the bottom.

Through all the stop, pump, go, stop, pump go cycles, I could tell that I was really starting to display some signs of exhaustion.

A little about me... back in the day, I would hump mountains more rugged than these day in and day out with little sleep and food carrying a 23 pound machine gun, a few hundred rounds of ammo for it, and another 60-80 pounds of crap. The big problem was; that was back in the day! I ain't that friggen stud anymore!

I got this. I know that your mind stops working properly long before your body has to quit.

No problems, I'm not really doing anything that requires a lot of mental acuity right? Just keep pushing on.

At some point, I thought it was a good idea to check the oil level. I noticed it was a bit low and decided that I would top it off and count that as a little rest break. I took the oil fill plug out and set it on a nice white rock where it would stay clean and easy to find.

I put the oil in the crankcase, and tried to put the little spigot back in the oil bottle so the cap would screw on. The darn thing would not go on right. I futzed around with it for a little bit and finally, it went on. Little victory that Murphy let me have. I bungied the oil bottle back on, pumped the tire up again, jumped on, fired it up, and took off the mountain.

After two or three tire pumping cycles, I came into a fairly level spot and was able to get some speed going. All of a sudden I started smelling oil really bad. I looked down and my leg and boot were saturated with oil, and it was pumping out of the fill hole like crazy.

F*** me. What a bone head thing I just did. I shut it down and took my jacket off. I put my glove in a line behind the bike, and weighted them down with rocks with the index fingers pointing back up the trail. Off I went to find the oil plug that I now remembered placing on that little white rock.

For some reason, I thought then was a great time to take a selfie! I do remember thinking that it would be nuts if this was the last picture that someone ever saw in that camera!

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Well, I walked between three or four miles back up that mountain looking for that stupid white rock. Guess what? There's literally millions of stupid white rocks on that mountain. ****, I was feeling like a stupid little white rock myself.

When I finally made it to the point where I had the flat tire and still had not found it, I started considering other options. I slowly walked back down, looking for, but never finding the oil plug.

While I was walking up the hill, I started seeing black clouds approaching from the east. The wind was starting to pick up, and the temperature had dropped noticeably. When the dark clouds finally made it to the mountain, it started to rain. Not heavy, but enough to get my shirt and hair wet. I was hoping that I had placed my waterproof jacket face up on the bike.

The combination of wind, rain, and cooler temperatures was a good thing, because I was really heated up. Then, one of the worst things that can happen when you're on a mountain like that started happening. A flash of light and an almost instantaneous crash of thunder. Great! All of this, and now I have to deal with a lightning storm?

Many years ago, I was near the top of a mountain near Dahlonega, GA doing some training. It was raining like crazy, and lightning was lighting us up. I took my entrenching tool and was scraping a little ditch to divert some of the runoff around where I was lying under a poncho. As soon as my shovel bit into the ground, a lightning bolt struck the tree I was neea. I was thrown a few feet and felt like Tyson had just sucker punched me. I was OK, but I don't like being in lightning storms!

I found a little fold of ground, got down in it, and stayed there until it all passed over.

Continuing down, I figured that I was going to end up spending the night on the mountain. I had some cliff bars, and about 1.5 liters of water. No actual camping gear, but I wasn't worried about anything except that there was no way I was going to be able to push my bike off the mountain. If I didn't figure out a way to limp it home, I might be out a motorcycle and the TVIP fee.
I was more pissed at the thought of losing the TVIP fee than the bike, out of principle!

I got back to the bike, sat down, ate a cliff bar, drank some water and started to make the decision to either stay here with the bike and think about what to do until morning, or leave the bike and start heading back to civilization. That would mean that I'd be knocking on someones door well after dark without being able to communicate with them. I didn't like that plan.

I grabbed a stick and started wittling it down, thinking maybe I could fashion something that would hold enough oil to at least get me down the mountain, if not all the way to Galeana.

Boom! How ya like that, Murphy!

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I filled the crankcase back up and started screwing it in by hand until I couldn't anymore then I used the pliers until it felt like it was about to twist apart.

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I got my gear back on, gave the tire a good pumping, crossed my fingers, held my breath and hit the start button. Looked down and notice just a bit of seepage. Good enough. off I go.

After about one more pumping session, I looked at my GPS. ***? I hadn't really been paying attention to it since all I really had to do was stay on the trail I had just came up. It turns out there was another trail that I hadn't noticed either on Google Earth, or while I rode past it earlier.

In any case, I was nearly a mile past the trail I was supposed to be on, and I realized that this trail seemed to be getting better by the yard.

I switched my GPS over to the satellite imagary overlay I had downloaded before I left and was able to determine that this trail would most likely turn onto a fairly decent two track. I decided to risk the possibly better, but unknown trail over the rugged, but known trail I had come up.

The oil was holding fairly well, and as long as I didn't really twist it too much, it seemed like it was going to work. I continued along, stopping to air up periodically. Fortunately, the trail continued to improve and that allowed the tire to remain aired up longer. It also allowed me to run it completely flat for some stretches.

I came to a barbwire gate and decided that if it was locked, I was going to cut it and do my best to fix it. It was just a standard loop holding the gate closed and I went through it. The two track turned into a pretty nice, well traveled two track at that point, and about a mile or so down, and after another gate, I hit the pavement.

I looked down and notice the oil was really coming out bad again.
The heat and oil had cooked the stick and turned it to mush. I threw it away, cut another stick, taped it, screwed it in, and finally made it back to Galeana. I changed the tire in the parking area before showering, grabbing some grub from the adjacent grocery store, and calling it a night. The next day would be spent trying to find a way to plug the fill hole with something good enough to make the trip back to McAllen.

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And that, my fine friends, was the end of day three. It was good to see Minnie again!
 
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Day 4 began with optimism and another good breakfast. I needed to be back home in San Antonio that night so I could be to work the next day.

In addition to the flat tire and oil loss the previous day, I had somehow lost my clutch. It had been working perfectly but somewhere during the ride back down the mountain, I lost the ability to disengage the clutch. For some reason, it decided to give up the ghost on the mountain. The reservoir, which I had checked prior to leaving Humble, had went dry. It meant that everytime I stopped to air up the tire or tighten my makeshift oil plug, I'd have to either let it roll down hill and just kick it into second gear, or start it in 1st gear, or start in Neutral, rev it up a bit, and just drop it into first. Murphy was really having a field day with me.

I had seen numerous motorcycles running around while I'd been down there, so I was thinking "how hard could it possibly be to find an oil plug or something that will screw in there nice and snug? I also figured that finding appropriate oil and clutch fluid should be a snap. Well, nothing's easy when you can't ask the right questions.

I wandered around town, looking into every store I found that looked like it might sell oil. I finally did find one and bought four quarts of oil and a bottle of the wrong, but only, type of clutch fluid they had. I figured that if I wasn't able to find a better alternative than my stick, I'd make a bunch of sticks, carry a bunch of oil, and it would eventually get me there.

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By that time, I knew there was no way I was going to make it to the border by night fall or to work the next morning. Expecting to hear the very painful "I told you so", I called my boss.

I finally found a mechanics home/workplace. I wandered around and found a little scooter that had a plug that looked like it might fit. I got the owner to understand that my bike was at the Magdalena, I wanted to see if the plug would fit, and would be back to either buy it or return it.

The plug was too small, but I figured with enough tape, it would work at least as good as my sticks. I returned to the shop and Pancho the mechanic motioned for me to go with him to the Magdalena. We did, and pushed the bike back to his shop.

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He spent the next hour or so fashioning a plug out of a piece of plastic, but it leaked worse than my stick. We ended up using the scooter plug and a bunch of tape. It was 3:00PM. It was going to have to do.

We purged and filled my clutch, and I rode back to the Magdalena.



I washed up, put on my remaining clean shirt and pants, got some ice cream, and sat down on a bench outside of the motel. I was pretty apprehensive about riding the bike all the way to McAllen but was confident that I'd be able to nurse it back to McAllen.

I guess at that point, Murphy had finally given up on me.

A well dressed, and I have to say, rather attractive lady sat down at the other end of the bench. After several minutes, she attempted to strike up a conversation with me but spoke no English. After about ten minutes of us attempting to talk, she turned away and got on her phone. Next thing you know, her college age daughter who spoke English appeared.

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They were in town from Monterrey for a friends wedding the next day, and we spent the next hour talking. They had to go meet their friend but demanded that I meet them back at the bench at 8:00 to to to dinner. How could I say no?

Murphy decided to mess with me one last time!

As I was heading back to the bench at about 7:50, the skies opened up and it began raining cats and dogs. I ducked out of the rain and at 8:10, it stopped raining. I hung around for a few minutes and was about to go find dinner on my own when I heard someone yelling my name from a car parked across the plaza. It was a great and totally unexpected way to end day four.

The next morning I got up early and started packing the bike. Sadly, I had forgot to run my security cable through my beloved collapsible fuel bladder and it was gone.

With my banging around the room, I woke up Victoria (the woman from Monterrey) who had been staying with her daughter in the next room. She came out and helped me pack up the bike, had me take some pictures of her on it, and then decided we needed to eat breakfast before I started on the way.

After breakfast, I took off. The return trip was uneventful but frustrating as I had to stop every 20 or 30 miles to re-tape the plug. It was a little scary, since I was going much slower than the other traffic and I was never sure when the plug was going to completely give up the ghost. I still managed to get a few pictures worth looking at.

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And finally, at about 2:30 AM, I made it home. The bike is about to recieve a lot of well deserved TLC. And yes, I have TWO oil plugs on order already!

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Pheww, what an adventure! Already planning the next one!
 
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Wow! Is all I can say! You have a huge set of cojones my friend, and an experience you'll never forget and stories forever. :sun:

"The adventure begins once things stop going according to plan"

That perfectly fits here, but you were able to out-MacGyver Mr. Murphy :clap:

Great writing/storytelling :chug:
 

bwdmax

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Great report and certainly an adventure. I look forward to your return trip to find the oil cap and finish the trail.
 

bwdmax

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About the only thing that wasn't leaking on this trip were the forks you rebuilt for me!
:lol2:
I was going to let you know that for your clutch you could have used Automatic Transmission Fluid or mineral oil from the pharmacy. If you used brake fluid drain it asap and flush with ATF or mineral oil. The slave is probably leaking into the crankcase so you need to change the engine oil also to get rid of any brake fluid that may have leaked in.

I will also say as others have said, your attitude and never give up mentality made this a great adventure and kept you one step ahead of Murphy.
 
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:lol2:
I was going to let you know that for your clutch you could have used Automatic Transmission Fluid or mineral oil from the pharmacy. If you used brake fluid drain it asap and flush with ATF or mineral oil. The slave is probably leaking into the crankcase so you need to change the engine oil also to get rid of any brake fluid that may have leaked in.

I will also say as others have said, your attitude and never give up mentality made this a great adventure and kept you one step ahead of Murphy.
Thanks.
I searched all over for mineral oil but just couldn't find it. I had considered ATF, but went with the DOT 3 instead of the DOT 4 fluid it calls for.
 

Crew Chief

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The principle difference between DOT 3 and DOT 4 is the boiling point. Otherwise they are compatible. Most of us probably don't ride hard enough to get it that hot, although I would certainly re-flush the system and service it it with 4 when I had the opportunity.

Nice report. I'm looking forward to being there in the fall.
 

bwdmax

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Thanks.
I searched all over for mineral oil but just couldn't find it. I had considered ATF, but went with the DOT 3 instead of the DOT 4 fluid it calls for.
Most KTM of that era have Magura clutches and don't use brake fluid. I have heard of some that do. The manual sometimes conflicts with the cover on the reservoir. The general consensus is go with the info on the reservoir.
 
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Most KTM of that era have Magura clutches and don't use brake fluid. I have heard of some that do. The manual sometimes conflicts with the cover on the reservoir. The general consensus is go with the info on the reservoir.
Yep, mine is that case in point. Cover calls for mineral oil and the manual calls for something else. The stuff I put in worked, although it made the clutch action a little stiffer than normal. It'll all get flushed out with Mineral oil and then I'll replace all the seals and wear parts.

Same with the crankcase. I'm going to dump the oil, fill it up, run it a few minutes, dump, and refill. Change the filters of course. I'm sure there's bits of cooked wood and little bits of electrical tape floating around in there, but none of that should really hurt anything unless there would have been enough to clog the filters. I don't think very much actually got into the system though.
 
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Been down this road many times. You,ve shared your story and earned your stripes. I do think you have had previous experiences with Murphy. Perseverance is a virtue. Well done!
 
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