‘There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive.’ JACK LONDON
Let me begin by attempting to describe to you, a January 2023 motorcycle adventure ride in my future, to Chiapas Mexico, for those of you, yet again, left back home. As we get closer to departure time additional riders may join but right now the riders are Joey, Todd, Dale, Brian, Tracy and yours truly. What’s more important to you, keeping up with the group or the thought of getting lost?
Paying for the group meals or getting to the toll booth first and then paying for everyone after you, should be a “first time riders” goal. ’Tis the season right?
Chiapas in case you’re not yet familiar with is the southernmost Mexican state that borders Guatemala, but, wait! The most important undertaking before any journey especially the one now before me, at the start of a new year (2023) is mental preparation for said journey.
Before a ride of any magnitude or other extreme adventure a person should try, if at all possible, to wrap ones mind around the enormity of the task. And knowledge and foresight is a great start. A journey of over 2,000 road miles. Now here’s the dicey part of a ride story that Patti really, really dislikes. The parts where I start to share a little history and background information like; that Chiapas is almost entirely forested and that the country rises up precipitously, from the Pacific coastal jungles all the way to the central highlands, before finally reaching 13,850 feet at the peak of Sierra Madre de Chiapas.
Now that wasn’t so bad was it?
A real life Motorcycle ride adventure is about the feeling of freedom, the feeling of riding with friends, of knowing that everything you need to survive is now contained on either you or your bike. I don’t seem to go on rides with guys that overpack. These guys sorted that out a long long time ago on many earlier rides. And besides this isn’t that type of ride. We don’t Motocamp. I think I last motocamped a long time ago and it’s now winter; besides the further from the border one gets in Mexico, especially lodging, the cheaper everything gets.
Chiapas is still the poorest state in all of Mexico, something akin to what I just said earlier, and that’s probably because 25 percent of the roughly 4 million people are Indigenous and their monetary wealth resides in their land and culture. The remaining 12 ethnic groups trace their roots back to the original Mayan peoples.
Now before you go thinking that it was all the Conquistador Hernan Cortes’ doing for destruction of their cultures let me just point out that disease, an ongoing social revolution, drought (climate change?) over population, over exploitation of natural resources and wars also had allot to do with it – possibly long before the Conquistador arrived at the scene with his superior weapons and tactics.
Riding a motorcycle opens up the world to me in a way that a journey by walking, car or plane, can never do. That’s why we ride to our destinations whenever we can. Our monkey brains rapidly process anything and everything visual that rapidly flys by at cruising speeds renewing and filling up our internal space thus pushing back all of that consumerism that we are daily exposed to.
How long we ride all depends on the nature of the group. In our case it doesn’t take long after hitting a Mexican road that the group ignites, the camaraderie and curiosity in our spirit is felt all around unlike anything else we could do.
“In any case, good or bad, it reminds us that life is like a gladiators’ arena for the soul and so we can feel strengthened by those who endure, and feel awe and pity for those who do not.”
Are we afraid of getting lost? How could we, we’re in the 20th century and by now most everyone I know has already discovered the smartphone and Garmin and besides we have the almighty Obi-Wan Kenobi better known as gpskevin that long before laid down the tracks for us that we are now following.
And do you have a plan she now attentively asks me ………..Do we have a plan, I repeat back. Why most certainly we do, only I’m not the one with the plans this time. What she doesn’t yet know is that the first thing that usually goes wrong with my motorcycle adventures is the plan! The plans always seem to change. And then you have the occasional mishap of say a “toad” in the road that somehow starts a chain reaction that starts to unravel that said plan.
And remember—it’s now in the blog, without having to say it out loud. . . . the first thing that always goes is the plan.’
“I was now straggling to keep up with Joey, Tom and Chris. The Mexican traffic was so bad that by the time they maneuvered their way through the small Mexican cars and my turn came up the people in those vehicles were now possibly so pissed off at all the traffic, that being passed by yet one more motorcycle became a game to them. Let’s see how we could maneuver our little vehicles to keep the larger gringo motorcycle from getting through. (Taken from last year’s ride to Oaxaca)
By the time I caught up I had taken the wrong turn at some kind of freeway on ramp and ended up shadowing the main road out of town or a parallel track away from where my Garmin GPSkevin track now wanted me to go. The track I was now riding on took me around and through the backstreets and behind-the-scenes side of a Mexican town I don’t now recall. At first, this meant I was completely now lost. With google maps and my garmin at my disposal and speaking the local language it still took me about 30 minutes to find the on ramp to get back on track. My understanding of time was once again questioned and challenged.
Would I want to do this ride on my own? Would I dare to ride my own ride from now on and continue exploring the very history and geography of this country on my own?
Each sight, sound, the scent and feeling all around are the vital ingredients that we explore, if only for a brief moment in time. No time for pictures of those amazing and picturesque Mexcal fields.
Reminds me of yet another story about a guy by the name of John Henry. He was so enraged at the thought that machines might one day take his job away that a contest to challenge the digging machine was arranged.
“Focus on your ultimate goal and plot to reach it.”
He goes head to head with the new drill. The result is impressive — the drill breaks after less than ten feet; John Henry makes it nearly twelve feet in the same amount of time. As the other workers begin to celebrate his victory, John Henry collapses and dies of exhaustion. So why share this story now? Because this is everyone riding to a long destination. We must continually remind ourselves that what we are in is a footrace and not a marathon. Tomorrow is another day. In short, we can say that we plan on winning the war.
Merry Christmas everyone!