Dispatch from Chiapas Day 9/10

Good morning. Yesterday the entire day was noteworthy. The only problem was no cell or wifi for the past two days. We’ve been in the jungle bordering the Guatemala border.

Today was supposed to be our shortest ride day ever; the entire ride team was motivated to just “get there”, wind down and relax but, like we say in the military; all well laid plans are just that (plans) until first contact with the enemy. It’s those Mexican spirit’s, I say. About as illusive as that wifi I just paid 50 pesos to use; or as elusive as a cell tower north of Guatemala.

If I haven’t yet made it know – today is Tracy’s birthday. You remember him; the firefighter ride leader of Team Alpha. Unbeknownst to us we gave him a great birthday present by having Dale ride with us.

Dale is in the picture above, bowing to his rental motorcycle after a front tire blowout beyond repair and we can hear him uttering the words; why me, why me? This is Dale’s second motorcycle on this ride. The first one lost an entire rear spoke wheel beyond repair and was trucked back home.

About 12 hours later…………

The two a.m. rooster sounded off; I recall hearing the COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO” sound while I slept the sleep of the dead. I was that spent and exhausted after today’s tire episode.

The four a.m. rooster sounded off; COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO”. And now, again, the six a.m. rooster sounded off, in unison with Super Dave’s and my alarm clock. We shut off our iPhone alarms in unison and just like if you hit the ON button; suddenly Super Dave magically transforms himself into a motorcycle adventure rider.

Dave’s taking this Superhero shit a bit too far, I thought, doing things at super human speeds. The guy has already shit, showered, shaved and gotten dressed in the amount of time that it took me to henpeck this last paragraph.

And now all I’m hearing from him is something about all the moisture in the air and why the clothes he washed last night won’t dry. And in the meantime an entire troop of howler monkeys has taken over our entire area. The sounds went from COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO” to what sounds like a loud whooping bark or a roar. After one group of howlers makes its way through our little eco resort, another group can be heard in the far off distance answering their calls.

And still I try concentrating on getting this dispatch out! It’s now our day nine of this Chiapas ride and damn it; my audience deserves even a possibly half baked story.

Day 9: Our day started off at an eco resort by a cascading waterfalls. Team Bravo, Roberto, Keith, Joe, Scott and Mike went white water rafting. We wish we could’ve but, there was only one five man raft available. My ride team decided to sleep in and wait for coffee and breakfast at 7 a.m. And since it was going to be an easy day we set off at 8 a.m. Our day went gradually downhill from there.

Happy birthday Tracy. We once again saved your butt by taking Dale and his new rental motorcycle. The BMW ADVENTURE motorcycle with the non spoke wheels. Now there’s a reason, if you don’t yet know why they use spokes on motorcycle wheels instead of the car like rims you see on cars.

For miles and miles of riding on an ever dropping mountain road, where all you could see, off into the distance was nothing but, beautiful greenery, sporadically chopped away by man revealing endless grass. And on that marvelous green grass were small white Indian cows, the kind with the floppy lab like ears. Each cow looked about the size of a matchbox car from our location.

Spokes are stronger and they somewhat flex a little when hitting something solid like oh I don’t know, a freaking Mexican tope that are as common around here as tacos. And add insult to injury the occasional pothole.

Suddenly the only pothole in possibly a two mile in any direction appears; everyone but one person saw it and successfully swerved away.

Dale told us that he smacks right into it, and then instantly applies his brakes. Doing so has the effect of giving the pothole the maximum advantage possible. The end result is the agony of defeat coupled with a perfectly good tubeless rim now destroyed resulting in a flat front tire.

By this time Joey and I are about eight miles down range just carving up the countryside with our superior cornering skills. Joey suddenly pulls over. I thought he needed to pee. And when he didn’t; I peed for both of us.

Joey asked me where’s Dale and Todd? I said Todd was sweeping the rear. I was supposed to be watching headlights to see that Dale kept up. Joey – do as I say, not as I do, offers a solution; that we ride back looking for them. About eight miles back we found them with Dale’s front wheel off.

I won’t bore you with too much details but, in the span of several hours we were almost run over by a truck carrying an overloaded amount of gas cylinders, and other Mexican Mario Andretti types.

Joey took charge and attempted to reinflate Dales front tire with everything including gasoline. The gasoline fix is when you pour gasoline into the tire, you light it up and hopefully the fumes take over and seal the whole thing. Now wouldn’t it be funny if while the front tire was in the middle of the road getting lit up a truck came by and smashed it to smithereens. That’s when we would know that the Mexican spirits are really trying to tell Dale something.

The light the tire with gasoline and a match YouTube trick didn’t work so off comes the entire tire. Voila! A crack was found on the inside cast iron wheel.

Epoxy was generously applied by Joey with Todd’s superior management skills. Repeat! Still no success. All this time the humidity and the sun is taking its toll on everyone. We now moved slower and slower; like if we were all in the Sahara desert and ran out of water two days earlier.

From our vantage point we all gazed out over the countryside and admired those lovely matchbox sized cows thousands of feet below us. They munched away with not a care in the world. At this point anyone of us, especially Dale would’ve jumped the six strand barb wired fence and joined them.

A command decision was made to send Ralph (me) back to the last known town of Maravilla with Dales front tire and return with copious amounts of water. By this time we were all starving, thirsty and getting crazy. I dutifully took one for the team and wearing nothing but a T shirt and a helmet took off once again to the land of the topes.

If it wasn’t so hard to take my kevlar double layered pants and boots off I probably would’ve ridden in my underwear. That sudden airflow now changed the very core of my outlook in life. I now wanted to live again and saw this as a mission to save my wayward boys from an early demise.

After some considerable efforts I finally found a tire guy with a compressor. When he asked his son to plug it in I couldn’t believe it. Two bare bent exposed wires on a hook. The electrical wires came from some unknown source.

And once we tried blowing the tire up it didn’t work. There’s too many gaps in that rim he said. Go get the masa he told his boy. Soon the kid comes back with what resembled pizza dough. He proceeded to stuff the entire outside surface of the rim with it. He tried again. This time the tire filled and popped. Success! We high fived it Mexican style. Our success was short lived. The epoxied cracks continued to leak.

That’s when I knew we had to get that bike off the road or darkness, the mosquitoes or dehydration would certainly kill us.

Next came the efforts of finding a Mexican with a pickup. This town doesn’t have cell coverage but, they do have walky talkies. The call went out and nobody was willing to go down the hill for pesos. A neighbor offered up his truck but said it wouldn’t run because he had no gas. I said here’s 500 pesos. The town doesn’t even have a gas station but, a kid, about twelve lying on a hammock has jugs of fuel in 3, 5 and 17 liters ready to go. The kid uses a large plastic coke bottle and a hose to fill up the truck. Soon we are off but first I buy my friends lots of ice cold water bottles and chicharones. Pork rinds. That’s all outside of rice, beans and corn tortillas available.

Soon we were on the way to retrieve Dales motorcycle. Everyone else now arrived. Motorcycles everywhere and now they all have opinions.

Joe now joins the team as he has a tube that could be inserted in the wheel after a hole is cut into the wheel. Thank goodness he had a spare tube with him. Back at the tire shop.

Some more time goes by before a drill bit is found and a hole drilled into the wheel for the tube. At this time Joey and I were famished and severely dehydrated.

Joe, Dale and the mechanic soldiered on. A tut tut took Joey and I to a restaurant (guys home) to get some drinks and soup for nourishment.

Nine hours later we were done with the tire; it finally held air but, now Joe can’t find his motorcycle rental key. We looked and looked and looked. Joey found another key while scouring the entire roadway. We were caught in a Mexican vortex, the twilight zone or a Mexican novela, I know not which!

It turned out that the key fell through a hole in his adventure pants and was securely held between several layers of gortex type fabric.

Just as we departed it turned dark and now we faced several hours of riding and about 13 kilometers of a dirt road leading into

One thought on “Dispatch from Chiapas Day 9/10

  1. As Henry Shackelton once said, “If a trip goes according to plan, it wasn’t an adventure”. Great advice on flat repair…..I gotta add pizza dough, lighter fluid and drill bits to my tire repair kit. Please give my regards to both the A and B teams and hope to see you all for Joey’s JAZ ride on April 2….. I was thinking of finishing with “Ride Safe” on the trip back, but I know it would be disregarded.
    Ed Thompson

    Liked by 1 person

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