Dec 22

Day 15 – Tula, Mexico to Mexico City, Mexico

by in Field Reports

We got out of our room and around the corner to Atlantes de Tula shortly after it opened, which turned out to be perfect because the three shanty towns of vendors along the one kilometer path from the entrance to the actual pyramids were not yet staffed.

atlantes_de_tula_dudes

We learned a few things during this visit:
1) it doesn’t matter if it’s only 55 deg F out. Don’t bring your riding jacket. They may throw in a 1k hike in a rising sun just for the hell of it.
2) My hat was made by idiots. It’s waterproof and *freaking hot*. If my head was cold i’d put on a cold weather hat. I plan on taking my leatherman to the lining.
3) Mexicans have an odd way of preserving archeological finds that seems to frequently involve adding concrete.
4) Atlantes de Tula is absolutely not worth the drive. If you’re nearby it’s not bad. The museum had hardly anything in it and hardly any of that was actually *from* the site.

jacket_pack

We put our headsets back on our helmets when we went to leave, only to have the tab on Dachary’s break off on the baseplate. The Sena SMH-10 has a tab at the bottom, and a clip type thing at the top. Put in the tap, pivot, and snap at the top. The tab at the bottom keeps the pins on the headset module against the connection plates on the baseplate. Without the tab there’s nothing to keep the connection. We got it kinda-sorta working with duct tape, but by the end of the day that had completely failed and Dachary could only hear me, or talk, if she held it just so, which was, of course, not possible when dealing with the stop-and-go traffic that we encountered on our way to Motohaus BMW in Mexico City. She could only get it to work when she literally held it against her helmet, which she couldn’t do when she was using the clutch – an almost constant thing during our 5-hour drive.

taped_sena

Having intended to totally avoid Mexico City, we had no detailed maps of it either in the GPS or on paper. The SmellyBiker GPS maps we’re running under didn’t have the details. (There may be a more detailed version that has the details, but we didn’t have it loaded.) So, we took the only road the map had which took us through the center of Mexico City which, unsurprisingly, took forever. It’s like driving through Manhattan during rush hour, only slower.

I’m still pretty impressed with Mexican drivers, although Dachary was a bit unnerved by the cars squeezing into nonexistent lanes. Dachary’s thermometer on her dash read 115 F and mine on my handlebars read 35.6 C. Both were probably getting some heat from the engine but you could definitely see heat waves rising above the cars ahead of us and the exhaust fumes from all those stationary cars were pretty intense without any breeze.

But, eventually we made our way, after Dachary nearly wet herself trying to hold all the water from the CamelBak she’d drunk during traffic while we tried to find somewhere with a bathroom. And, of course, there were multiple stops to ask policemen, and pizza delivery men where the address was…

We had kept going without stop for anything but gas and bathroom since we left Tula, and it was a huge relief to finally spot the BMW rondel on the side of the road. We pulled up to the large metal gates at about 4:30pm and thought, “oh shit. They’re closed.” , but they looked out and saw a couple of BMW bikes pulled up out front and, like magic, the gates parted and we were ushered into the land of Awesome.

“Habla Inglais?”
“Sure”
*Jaws drop*

We were in a bay with probably 30 BMW bikes, ten of which seemed to be black F650GSs like Dachary’s and Robert and Eduardo proceeded to absolutely take care of us. They didn’t have the fork seals in stock, but they’d get them tomorrow (Wednesday), and while they had a bay full of bikes needing service, they’d still fix my fork seals, and get us out of there at some point mid-day Thursday. Oh, you need a hotel? We’ll find you one. How much are you looking to pay? Here, let us take you and all your stuff there. No no, you don’t need to take a taxi. Oh, and those headsets you were asking about? Here’s a hand-drawn map to the guy downtown who distributes Cardo headsets for Mexico.

Note regarding BMWs: yes, they cost more than some cheaper bikes. And yes, BMW service by an actual BMW service shop is almost always more expensive than you could get by going to a perfectly competent, non-affiliated mechanic. But with BMW rondel comes a level of service that you don’t get elsewhere. The guys at Motohaus BMW were more than just willing to take care of us, they were practically compelled to do so. They offered us water while we waited. They looked up hotels for us and drove us to one that some of their regular visitors use when they come. The hand-drawn map to the Cardo dealer was phenomenal, as BMW offers a bike-to-bike communication system but he said “it’s expensive” and was willing to recommend this other guy. They’re making room for us in their workload and I have no doubt that they wouldn’t have hesitated to help us with anything else. (In fact, Robert told us to let him know if there’s anything else we need while we’re in Mexico City and he’ll help us figure it out, etc.) So yes, our bikes weren’t dirt cheap (although we both got good deals on buying them used, although Kay’s “good deal” is turning out to be less and less good) but what comes along with the BMW brand has value that people often don’t consider with the cost.

The Hotel was $400 pesos a night and is totally swank. We’re so outclassed by it. Sadly, the neighborhood has very little to offer, but we found a cart with stools and wonderful Hamburgesas with cheese, ham, mayo, and pineapple. We we given a little plate of Piquante (sliced Jalapeno with seeds) to add as we desired. We also ordered a Tortas which came on toasted bread with eggs, tomato, mayo and chorizo. It was also delicious, but we could barely finish one, and got the second to go for later. We got four meals for $130 pesos (about $10 US). We were grinning ear-to-ear the entire meal.

As an aside we have no clue where we are and there’s no way we’ll be able to find our way back to the Motohaus without a Taxi (not that we could carry all our crap anyway). Also, we’re pretty sure that the Cardo seller is too far to walk in this heat without having a clue where we are. We may attempt to walk back to our hotel afterwards, or we may take a taxi. Honestly we’re not sure what it’ll cost.

Which brings me to the headsets. In the US they’re about $300 for a pair, we think, and while we really don’t want to spend the money, like Dachary’s boots. We consider the headsets a necessity. Being able to talk to each other as we ride radically alters the journey. Without them you’re riding in solitude with your thoughts all day, and then comparing notes at the end.

With them, It’s saying “Are those cows on that incredibly steep hill above us?! How do they lay down without rolling off?” or “Oh my God. Look to the right!” It’s riding in silence for twenty minutes and then saying “I love you” because you’re thinking of how grateful you are to be on the road with them. It’s saying “I’ve got to pee….NO. I’ve got to pee NOW.” or “I’m getting hungry, how about we stop at the next place that looks decent?” or “There it is! The thing we’ve been driving all day trying to find! You just passed it! Turn around!”

I realize that friends and lovers have been doing journeys like this since before Dachary or I were born without headsets, but it doesn’t change the fact that having them adds another dimension to the trip. It makes it much more of a shared experience, and while we’d probably continue without them it wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable.

Gear Notes:
* BMW Rallye Pro 2 Jacket held up spectacularly in the heat. Yes, it was hot. Yes I was sweating. I would have been even in a 100% mesh suit. But, I didn’t feel like i was going to keel over from heat stroke. Drinking regularly helped.
* Sena SMH-10 is officially getting a “Won’t recommend” from us. We love the usability and the sound quality, but we have gone through 3 bases and now broken a main module. For days we’ve been putting them on and then running though a sound check… Yes i can hear you. No you can’t hear me. Pull down on the module because the pins barely line up with their connector plates.
* BMW F650GSs held up great in fucking hot stop and go traffic for over five hours. Our temperature warnings never came on.

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