12 Reasons to Ride to Chihuahua for the XXIII International Motorrad Convention

Choose to make excuses or choose to take action.   One leads to satisfaction and liberty.  The other leads to disappointment and regret.  -Anonymous

Story by Jim Foreman

Mention motorcycle travel in Mexico and it seems to elicit one of three responses from riders.  The first response is the question, “Is it safe?”  The second is a resounding, “When do we go?”  Third and most disappointing is an ignorant blathering of, “They don’t speak English there, and I’m not leaving the USA.”  Fortunately, most riders fall into one of the first two responses.  Those experienced in Mexico motorcycle travel know that riding in Mexico is a rewarding and exhilarating experience.

Since 2016, it’s been a sheer pleasure leading groups of riders deep into mainland Mexico to attend the annual Mexico Motorrad Federation’s yearly convention. Along with the convention and all of its excitement, the group gets to experience Real Mexico.  Real Mexico is far different than what the cable news cycle portrays.

Let’s be honest with each other. We all know that the news media (CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ABC, NBC, and CBS) seeks to keep its viewers angry, afraid, and misinformed. That’s how they keep you watching.   As motorcyclists, we know to shun the doom and gloom.  Since we experience it ourselves, we should know better .  This understanding enables us to withstand dumb retellings of what nurses call us.  We know the news media distorts and exaggerates reality about motorcycles and motorcycling.  Why then do we succumb to the fear mongers and propagandists about other topics including Mexico?

Those that know from experience are quick to proclaim Mexico’s virtues.  There are hundreds of destinations, throughout the country, that are one-of-a-kind and well worth a visit. Mexico is a vast and diverse country.  One can travel for months in Mexico and still not experience all the incredible wonders and places.

Traveling by motorcycle in Mexico is the single best way to prepare to ride anywhere in the world.

Is Mexico for everyone? The answer is, “No.” If one is intolerant, smug, feels superior, or obsesses over politics or the news, that person should stay right at home, alone.  These are all indicators of a closed mind and an unwillingness to be objective.

Instead, let’s talk about all the reasons why one SHOULD ride their motorcycle to Mexico. In particular, why you should go to the XXIII International Convention happening in Chihuahua, October 2-6, 2019.

Tell me about Chihuahua

Chihuahua is Mexico’s biggest state.  Ciudad Chihuahua (Chihuahua City) is right in the center of the state and is where the convention will be based.

Copper Canyon from tha Parque Aventura in Divisadero.

Chihuahua is where you’ll find Copper Canyon.  Copper Canyon is a magnificent series of 6 spectacular canyons that are a feast for your senses. Copper Canyon is several times bigger than Grand Canyon.

Creel is a one of 111 Pueblos Magicos (Magical Towns) in Mexico.  It serves as the gateway to Copper Canyon.  It’s much like Flagstaff, AZ to Grand Canyon.  Creel is home to several indigenous people and a great town, on its own.

The main bridge leading to Batopilas

Batopilas is a small mining town on the southeast outskirts of Copper Canyon.  This Pueblo Magico shares a rich history, indigenous people, and Mexico’s version of the Stelvio Pass with visitors. The road from Batopilas to Creel is one of the top 6 moto-roads in North America.

Basaseachi is home to Mexico’s tallest and second tallest waterfall.  It is on the northwest corner of Copper Canyon and well worth the visit.

Hidalgo del Parral is situated on the south end of the state.  It is a charming and surprisingly walkable town.  It has the distinction of being the place Pancho Villa was murdered and initially buried.   The town doesn’t cater to tourists but instead offers a completely pleasant town with a vibrant nightlife.

12 reasons you should ride to Chihuahua for the XXIII International Motorrad Convention

1. Riding to Mexico is the fastest way to include “International Traveler” on your description. The City of Chihuahua is only four hours south of the El Paso Border Crossing and quite easy to get to in half a day.

2. All bikes and brands are welcome. It’s the Motorrad Federation, not the BMW or H-D Club. A majority of the big bikes in Mexico happen to be BMW Motorcycles, but Ducati, Honda, Yamaha, and any other brand is welcome.

3. Riding in Mexico is AWESOME. While it’s important to stay alert and vigilant, most other motorists from trucks and buses to cars and cops love riders and think you’re cool! Though in towns, enforcement can be strict, on the backroads and highways, you can ride at your pleasure without worrying about sneaky highway patrol officers trying to increase the state’s revenue. Outside of towns, speed limits and other traffic signs range from mild suggestion to ironic joke.

Gustavo Scherenberg and Norma Diaz dance to the music of a live band.

4. Mexican riders of big bikes (over 300cc) are some of the best people you’ll ever meet.  Friendship and brotherhood are immediately implied when you meet other riders. Most Mexican riders fall perfectly into the highly complimentary French saying, “Il bouffe biert, il boit bien, il baise bien.”

The Convention is a celebration of motorcycle riding.  Nowhere else do you see such a intense love of the sport.

5. Motorrad Chihuahua is hosting the convention. They are the most prominent local big-bike motorcycle club in Mexico. They are known throughout the country as a club with open arms and a warm spirit.

This new BMW R 1200 GS Adventure was given to a participant of the 2016 Convention in Sonora.

6. The International Convention is not a rally like in the US or elsewhere in Mexico. The Convention is not about camping in a park or on fairgrounds.  It’s about riding to amazing places during the day and having a great time at night.

The Federation is about riding and being good stewards of the road. It’s about community, friendship, and portraying a positive image of motorcycling.  It’s also about having a lot of fun.  First-time attendees marvel that there is no attitude by other attendees.

Many Mexican riders bring their wives or partners as active and welcome participants. There are nearly as many women as men in attendance.

Each convention also gives away a new premium motorcycle.  In previous years, it was a BMW R 1200 GS Adventure, or BMW K 1600 B Bagger.  The drawing entry is included in the admission cost.  There’s no hustling to buy sweepstakes entries.

No organization in Mexico does more to welcome motorcycle travelers to Mexico then the Motorrad Federation Mexico.

Lunch at Lago Arareca near Creel, Chihuahua

7. The riding destinations during the convention are incredible since they are chosen by the local club. They include food and drinks along with activities, entertainment, and warm friendship.

8. Chihuahua is a fantastic city! In the center, over 400 years of history are wonderfully displayed. Chihuahua is also very modern with excellent restaurants, well surfaced highways and a vast amount of awesome places nearby.

9. You’ll meet people who have traveled throughout the world by motorcycle. A conversation will reveal that the person sitting next to you made some incredible achievements by motorcycle.

10. Hablamos Ingles. If one only knows English, it’s no problem. Do your best with what you know in Spanish (Por Favor, Gracias, Una cerveza mas, Donde es el baño?)

Most of the other Mexican riders speak decent to excellent English and will love to exchange information about rides to Alaska, Canada, the USA, and more.

 

11. The weather is perfect. Chihuahua City sits at 4600’ elevation. The high elevation means temperatures are much milder in the late summer months. Late September – Early October is a wonderful time to ride through Mexico.

12. You can travel with a group if you’re inexperienced riding in Mexico or if you’re more comfortable riding with others. It’s not difficult to travel solo.  It’s advisable that you have previous experience riding with friends or in a group, because of all the requirements and nuances. If you plan on going alone, here is an excellent source of information for first-time travelers to Mexico.

Several groups of riders will leave the United States to travel to the convention.  Authentic Moto Travels is the Official Travel Company of the XXIII Internacional Convencion – Chihuahua.  Depending on how much time you have and how much fun you can handle, decide what’s best for you.

The Low-Down

There are isolated pockets of problems in Chihuahua, much like California has Oakland, Stockton, and San Bernardino.  The places to avoid in Chihuahua, especially at night, include Casas Grandes, The border region south of New Mexico, and Ciudad Juarez. Traveling through Juarez by day, especially on the outside of town at the Socorro crossing, is not a problem.   In general, stick to major roads and daylight only travel, and you’ll be fine.

Authentic Moto Travels is leading a group of riders to the Chihuahua Convention starting in Late September on a 17 Day PIY Mexico Adventure. The trip will include four specially designated Pueblos Magicos and three of the Top Six Motorcycle Roads in North America. You’ll get to know and deepen your understanding of Mexico. You’ll also experience the incredibly warm and rich culture throughout the country. Riders will sense differences between the various regions including cuisine, indigenous people, terrain, and scenery.

If you have any questions or want further information on the convention in Chihuahua, please contact Jim Foreman.

Everyone in Mexico loves motorcycles. Especially children.
Sharing a moment on the motorcycle with the locals
Women make up a significant number of attendees at the Convention.
Riders from Motorrad Jalisco will be joining the convention in Chihuahua
Coming in from a series of amazing zip-lines in Copper Canyon
Indigenous woman selling locally crafted items.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)about the Eurotrips

Frequently Asked Questions about the Eurotrips happening in June 2019

Straight answers to your important questions.

  1. What’s the best way to get to Munich?
  2. Do I have to rent a bike?
  3. What if I want to stay longer?
  4. How much should I budget for the trip?
  5. Is there a chase van to carry our luggage?
  6. How do we pay for things in Europe?
  7. Do I need a Passport?
  8. I’ve never traveled to Europe. Is it safe?
  9. Will I be able to go inside the castles?
  10. What do I need to rent a motorcycle in Europe?
  11. Can I bring my helmet and gear to Europe?
  12. What’s the weather going to be?
  13. OK, I’m going.  I signed up, What do I do next?
Answers to your questions…
1. What’s the best way to get to Munich?

While there are many direct flights to Munich from US cities, they tend to be quite costly. Flying around in Europe is like flying around in the USA. Flights within the EU are considered ‘domestic’ and are quite inexpensive.

I advise travelers to fly from their closest major airport to Paris, France. It’s probably the least expensive city to fly in and out of, easily.

Spend a couple of days in Paris while you readjust your body clock from Jetlag and enjoy this magnificent city. Then book a flight on Air France or Lufthansa from CDG (Paris Charles de Gaulle) to MUC (Munich). Make your flight round trip from Paris and simply book your domestic flights to and from Munich.

It’s super easy and can all be done from your home. Please email Jim Foreman for more details and specific arrangements.

2. Do I have to rent a bike?

No. If you have a bike in Europe or have a friend in Europe willing to loan you theirs with insurance coverage, you’re totally fine. Transporting your bike from the USA to Europe only begins to make sense if you plan to spend over three weeks riding in Europe.

BIKE & TRAVEL SERVICE is a top-rated motorcycle rental agency that is based at the Factory Owned BMW Motorrad Zentrum München. They only rent new or nearly new motorcycles in top shape. They also provide excellent customer support should you experience any problems. Fortunately, they are not that expensive.

3. What if I want to stay longer?

Great! By all means! You’re in some beautiful areas of the world. You can continue your motorcycle rental or rent a car and continue your exciting trip.

We’re happy to provide advice on other enchanting places to roam and visit.

4. How much should I budget for the trip?

This really depends on you.

One week trip with Authentic Moto Travels is $1000 USD. Both weeks is $1700USD.  This covers staff, planning, and making sure you have one of the best trips you’ve ever taken.

Round-trip airfare will range from $700-$1400 depending on how you book it. Please contact Jim Foreman for money saving suggestions.

Motorcycle rental varies from €800/wk to €1200/wk depending on the model you choose. Smaller bikes tend to do much better in Europe, but if you need to have a BMW R 1200 GS Adventure, it’s available for you. If you want, you can bring your moto luggage and GPS from your personal bike and use them on a matching rental. Please contact Jim Foreman for details and advice.

Factor a high of $200USD per day for hotels, food, drinks, etc. This is a super high estimate, and your reality will probably be closer to $110USD-$140USD per day. At $200USD/day, you’ll come in well under budget and have plenty of extra money left over.

5. Is there a chase van to carry our luggage?

Nope. This is not a geriatric adventure. You will travel on your bike as you would back home. You will be expected to carry your luggage on your bike. Bike & Travel Service can arrange to keep extra baggage at their facility while you are traveling.

6. How do we pay for things in Europe?

In Europe and Switzerland*, you can pay with cash (Euros) or your credit card. If you have a credit card that doesn’t charge you ‘Foreign Transaction Fees” or additional ‘Conversion Fees,’ feel free to use them. Several banks including Charles Schwab, Capital One, and Barclay’s Bank issue cards that don’t tack on these fees. You can always use your ATM/Debit card at a bank ATM to withdraw €Euros up to your daily limit. Just make sure to put in a travel notice with your bank(s) ahead of time.

(*Switzerland doesn’t officially accept Euros.  Their currency is the Swiss Franc.  Any restaurant, hotel, or bar will accept Euros at a fair exchange rate.)

Don’t bother getting Euros in the USA. You’ll get ripped off from your bank.

7. Do I need a Passport?

Yes! You have plenty of time to download the form from the US State Department and go to the post office to get one. Fortunately, there is no visa requirement for Europe. Just show up, and you automatically get a 90-day tourist visa.

8. I’ve never traveled to Europe. Is it safe?

If you’re asking this, you probably watch way WAY too much news. Europe is perfectly safe. While some cities like London have dangerous areas, we’re not going to any of them. Consider though your behavior and personal perspectives. Travelers get the same response they project. If they think everyone is out to rip them off, they’ll get ripped off. If they believe that most people are good and take the same precautions you do in your hometown, you’ll be just fine.

9. Will I be able to go inside the castles?

Most of them, Yes!

You’ll also be able to hand a pair of half coconuts to a friend you temporarily call, ‘Patsy.’ Then while clapping them together to make hoofbeat sounds, you can go around stating you are “Arthur, King of the Britain!” Furthermore, you can ask valiant knights to join you on your quest for the Holy Grail.

10. What do I need to rent a motorcycle in Europe?

You will need your US State Drivers License with a Motorcycle Endorsement. You will also need your passport (which you should have if you got this far).

An International Drivers License is highly recommended and is available for a small fee from your local AAA office, even if you’re not a member.

You’ll need to leave an insurance deductible deposit of €500 or €1000 on your credit card to guarantee the bike is returned in the condition you receive it. All bikes rented from Bike Travel Service include insurance coverage.

11.  Can I bring my helmet and gear to Europe?

Yes, absolutely.  Consider wearing your moto jacket and boots as you board the plane.  Make sure to bring your helmet as carry-on.  You can take off the moto jacket and boots on the plane until you land keeping your luggage under the maximum weight and compact.

12. What’s the weather going to be?

 

This is the very best time of the year for weather in Europe.  Keep in mind that we’ll be, at times, in high elevation regions.  A good 3 season jacket, gloves, and pants should suit you fine.  Bring one long-sleeve cold weather undershirt and underpants to use, just in case.

14. OK, I’m going.  I signed up, What do I do next?

Great!  You’ve signed up here for the trip.  You need to take care of the bike rental and airfare.  The Bike Rental is most important.  Airfare can wait a few months.

Motorcycle Rental

Go to Bike-Travel-Service website using a special link provided to you.  It will include a discount.  Then you are all set for the rental.

Booking Airfare

For airfare, It’s best to do it in two steps.  Step one is the international flight.  Use a site like Expedia, Vayama, or Booking Buddy to book a flight from your closest major city to Paris (or Munich if you like to typically pay much higher prices.)  Plan to arrive a couple of days early so you can acclimate yourself to the time change.

If you booked the flight to Paris or another Major European hub, go to Expedia or directly to Air France, or Lufthansa and book a flight from Paris (or that city) to Munich arriving at least a full day before the trip.

Hotels Before and After the Trip

As far as pre or post-trip hotels, don’t worry about it now.  We have plenty of time. In Paris, I recommend a hotel near the airport such as the Millenium Hotel using Booking.com.   There is a Free Shuttle to CDG Airport where there is a Metro station. With the Metro, you can easily get to the center and all the cool places like the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, and Champs Elysees.

In Munich, I do recommend a hotel near the BMW Motorrad Zentrum like the Hotel Königstein across the street.

Once you book the trip with Authentic Moto Travels, we’ll work individually with you to get you all set up and booked with ease.

If you have any more questions, please contact Jim Foreman.

The Significance of the Flask

“Always carry a flask of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake.” – W.C. Fields

Dr. Guillermo Cisneros. Mí Doctór.

Story by Jim Foreman

Of the hundred or so stories written to date and the dozens of presentations about traveling our amazing world, the one point that consistently gets the most attention is my advice to always travel with a flask of premium spirits and some stainless steel shot glasses.

History

Flasks used for carrying alcoholic beverages have been around since the stone age. It’s speculated that about fifteen minutes after making the first alcoholic beverage, someone got the bright idea to put it in a transportable carrier to enjoy it, on the go.

Modern flasks have been around since the 1700’s and were a common item among the gentry.

Present Day

Today, in many many US States, the carrying of flasks in a car is considered an open container of alcohol and could subject a person to criminal proceedings. Additionally, since the tragic events of September 11th, 2001 and the even more tragic restrictions on freedoms, especially in air travel, many people have associated the flask with something wrong or harmful.

It’s time to shake some sense into the conversation.

Why a Flask?

Up until somewhat recently, before cell phones and seemingly instant help available 24 hours a day, the hip flask was the proverbial AAA for a traveler. If stranded with a broken down car, motorcycle, or another vehicle it was customary for others to stop and see if they needed help. In turn, it was customary to offer one’s flask as an expression of gratitude for stopping to help.

For a traveler, a hip flask truly should be as standard to carry as one’s passport or local currency. This is not to get plastered in a foreign country. Quite the opposite is true.

This GS has a wet bar.

The reason for carrying a flask with premium spirits is simple. No other gesture more effectively offers an extension of respect and friendship than handing your flask to a stranger. This is especially true when a common language is a barrier to communication. The stretching of one’s hand with a flask or a freshly poured shot of your spirit of choice immediately sends a powerful message that transcends politics, bigotry, and mistrust. This gesture immediately tells the person offered the gift that you respect them and value their assistance or friendship.

It’s important to state, that under no circumstances do I promote, encourage, or suggest one should drink and operate a motor vehicle.  This should be obvious, but in this day and age, one must state the obvious.

In places like Mexico, where this writer travels extensively, it would be unthinkable to go without a flask. Should I ever need assistance or help someone on the side of the road, after dealing with any immediate crisis, a flask offered, whether accepted or not, tells the other party that you are friends since you offered to share something valuable.

A significant influence was Dr. Guillermo Cisneros (Mi Doctór). Known as the best pediatric surgeon in Mexico, he was also an avid motorcyclist. We shared many miles together, and through careful observation, a life lesson befell upon me.

He would always carry a hip flask with four stainless steel shot glasses that would stack together. When we’d stop for the evening, he’d sit outside and pour shots for each person sitting with him. While seeming insignificant and straightforward, a feeling of camaraderie and loyalty was sewn deep into my soul, and I knew a valuable life lesson was just bestowed on me.

It’s been over a year since Dr. Cisnero’s tragic passing, but not a trip begins without a toast to him and his simple wisdom of friendship and camaraderie all summed up with a simple hip flask.

A sensible travel kit
Make it Your Tradition

These days, flasks come in all shapes, sizes and variations. Some folks desire the authenticity of yesteryear with an antique flask. Others, prefer the practicality of plastic which doesn’t set off metal detectors at sporting events. Use this opportunity to choose a flask that defines you as a person and your tastes.

An antique flask with steel shot glasses

Whether it’s whiskey, brandy, Tequila, or other spirits, make sure it’s among your best and make sure it’s readily available, for that friendship you’re about to make.

About the Author

Jim Foreman is the owner and director of operations for Authentic Moto Travels. This originated by taking groups of friends to far-off and exotic destinations south of the border. When you are looking to make a motorcycle journey through Mexico, Latin America, Europe, and soon Asia and Australia, please consider Authentic Moto Travels for your adventure.

Rhianna with her flask at the 2017 Grammy Awards.
Benedict Cummberbatch at the Oscars with his flask
Oakley makes this carbon fiber flask
Flasks are not just for men
Flasks come in all sizes and are made of a large number of materials.
Eduardo Bringas knows how to make good use of a smartphone mount on his motorcycle

 

 

Riding in High Heat – A Survival Guide

Riding doesn’t have to stop when the temperature spikes.  Learn how to keep your body cool, hydrated, and relatively comfortable in high-heat conditions.

I’m dancing, screaming, itching, squealing, fever feeling hot, hot, hot! – The Cure

Riding in the Anzo Borrego Desert in 116ºF temperatures

Story by Jim Foreman

“Mi Doctor” Dr. Guillermo Cisneros

In Memory of Dr. Guillermo Cisneros “Mi Doctor” QEPD

Summertime is the time when most Americans, Canadians, and visitors from Europe and Asia come to ride in North America.

As riders are traveling to well-known destinations across the continent, the risks and danger change from inattentive drivers to dehydration and heat-stroke. This is the most insidious of issues because when you begin to feel it, it’s already in full effect.

Dehydration is a motorcyclists greatest enemy when riding in hot weather.

There are several ways to effectively avoid dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke on hot summer days. They go against conventional wisdom. Those who have experience know that ‘conventional wisdom’ should be rebranded as ‘fool’s wisdom.’

The symptoms of dehydration include light-headedness, loss of focus, slow and sloppy responses to the road, infrequent urination, dry mouth, and feeling sleepy.

If one is feeling the effects of dehydration, stop as soon as possible and head to a shady area. Begin drinking water. Pedialyte or Electrolit (in Mexico) can help a lot, but make sure to chase it with plenty of water.  If Pedialyte or Electrolit is unavailable, coconut water does the same thing naturally.

Plan on spending a couple of hours letting your body rehydrate. Typically it takes two urine cycles to get back to proper hydration. You’ll know you’re right when your urine is light colored instead of a dark yellow.

The symptoms of heat exhaustion are faintness or dizziness, nausea, heavy sweating often accompanied by clammy skin, pale face, muscle cramps, headache, and fatigue.

Heat exhaustion usually accompanies dehydration. Stop riding and get into a shady or air-conditioned place and rest. Ideally, check into a motel with Air Condition, drink a lot of water and take a nap. Alternatively, a library can serve as a great place to cool down and even catch a few winks if you’re discreet.

Heat stroke is a severe medical condition, and one must call for medical assistance immediately. Signs include that of the initial heat exhaustion and fever, throbbing headache, staggering or disorientation, seizures and ultimately unconsciousness.

Do not mess around with this. Heat Stroke can be fatal. While waiting for help, get the victim into a shady area or place with AC. If appropriate, strip off many of the victim’s outer clothes and use water and a fanning action to cool them down until help arrives.

The key to avoiding heat exhaustion and heat stroke on a motorcycle is to keep moving.  Even at a slow pace you are moving enough air for your body to keep cool.  If you are in stopped traffic, some states allow riders to slowly ride in the emergency lane to keep moving.  It’s critical for a rider to be more conscious of their health and safety than committing a traffic infraction.  It may be necessary to find an alternate route.  Sometimes, one must lane-share to keep moving.  It’s better to potentially get a citation or warning than it is to end up in the emergency room.  Most states have exemptions to minor traffic offenses for medical emergencies.  If behaving discreetly and prudently, without making a scene, most law enforcement will give leeway to a motorcyclist who keeps moving during these conditions.

Enjoying riding during a SoCal summertime heatwave.

Riding in high heat doesn’t have to lead to dehydration or worse. The most important factor to realize is that riding in hot temperatures is drastically different than walking or standing still in the heat.

The easiest way to handle high heat is to stop every hour and drink a half liter of water. At the same time, you should also have to visit the restroom and urinate. The urine should be a light color.

It doesn’t matter how long you can go between fill-ups or whether you are doing an Iron Butt Association SaddleSore 1000. Stop to drink and urinate every hour. When it cools down, you can then lengthen the duration between stops.

Let’s make something clear. When it’s said to drink water, it’s WATER you need to drink. Sparkling or flat is fine, but do not drink sugary or alcoholic water. Don’t drink Gatorade, Powerade, lemonade, Red Bull, Monster, etc., and think you are staying hydrated. You’re not. Coke, and other soft or energy drinks don’t hydrate you. Instead, they have a counter effect and make you more thirsty. If you drink a Pedialyte, chase it down with water. It can help offset oncoming dehydration in your favor, but it’s going to take water to keep you sharp, healthy, and hydrated.

Riding in an outfit like this looks cool but can bring dehydration in 40 minutes or less.

What you wear will have a significant impact on how well you handle high heat riding conditions.

Fool’s Wisdom says ride with a T-Shirt, shorts, sneakers, and a party-lid, half-helmet, or no helmet at all, to keep cool. While this may not be a bad move when walking or staying still, when riding, it will accelerate dehydration. A rider won’t even feel sweat because it’s evaporating so quickly.

This model for RevIt is wearing an excellent outfit to combat dehydration.

There are two types of hot, humid heat such as on the east coast and dry heat one encounters in the desert.  For humid heat, wearing a vented long-sleeve jacket, pants, and a full-face helmet will give a rider the best success to keep cool.  The vents will keep air circulating, and the natural cooling effects of the body will work correctly. A jacket and pants help the body regulate its temperature.

For dry desert heat, wetting a polyester shirt, or a gaiter around your neck will do wonders to help keep you fresh. If you use a skull cap, bandana, or do-rag between your head and helmet, wet that too.

Wear gear that can control airflow through zipper vents.  Just open up the vents a little to keep a little airflow going.  As long as you’re moving your body will do the rest to maintain a proper temperature.

Kevin Foster is modeling an evaporative cooling vest.

An evaporative cooling vest in 105ºF+ (40ºC +) temperatures will keep your body cool and its temperature regulated. The effect lasts about one hour, but that one hour gives an excellent opportunity to drink water, use the restroom and recharge the vest (soaking it in water).

One can travel around Phoenix, Arizona, during the summer, in relative comfort, wearing an evaporative cooling vest.

Perhaps surprisingly, the color of the gear matters little in keeping you comfortable. Sure when standing still, the color black absorbs more heat. When moving the airflow will negate nearly all of the effects of the color.  Either way, a full-face helmet with good venting adds to the positive benefits of this effect.

Timing is Everything

Most riders in high heat areas such as Hermosillo, Sonora generally don’t ride during those extreme months, opting for air-conditioned four-wheelers. If they do choose to ride, they start at daybreak and ride until noon, then call it a day.

Whether you’re a new rider, old-timer, or your country’s leading pediatric surgeon, pushing your limits is a losing gamble.

Nena, on the right, knows how to ride and look good in the Chihuahua heat.

High heat days don’t have to kill your riding time. One can ride safely and relatively comfortably by paying careful attention to your body and keeping it equipped with the necessary tools to do its job.

This article is brought to you by Authentic Moto Travels.  Authentic Moto Travels is your source for high quality, exciting moto trips at a budget price.  While other tour companies treat participants like children, Authentic Moto Travels respects a rider’s ability, experience and desire for adventure.

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©2018 Authentic Moto Travels

Riding El Espinazo Del Diablo

The Greatest Road in North America.

El Espinazo del Diablo

Story and Photos by Jim Foreman

There we were. Riding in the lead, and opening up the throttle to go even faster.  Tom White, a former road racer, keeps steady on my tail and continues the chase. Criss-crossing mountain peaks and ridgelines on the new toll road, we traverse Alpine style tunnels that arch, turn, and dip with a perfect surface beneath our wheels. Finally coming around a tunneled corner, the egress brings us to a marvel of engineering. The spires and support cables rise above the road surface revealing a spectacular gorge. We are now on the world’s tallest cable-stayed bridge.

La Puente Baluarte. The World’s tallest cable-stayed bridge.

For many riders on this 19-day journey through Mexico in 2017, this day, in particular, stands as the pinnacle of a spectacular trip.

Late in 2016 we planned a group of US-based riders down to Mexico to participate in the 21st annual Motorrad Convención Internacional in Zacatecas. Immediately, five of the ten slots were spoken for by the participants of the last Mexico trip through Chihuahua and Sonora. This year, Riders from SoCal, Colorado and North Carolina all met in El Paso, TX to be a part of this special event.

The group consisted of members from the South Coast BMW Riding Club, the BMW Motorcycle Club of Colorado, and the Brotherhood of Shanghai. Several riders are also members of the GS Giants.

The trip took us to amazing destinations including Chihuahua, Durango, Zacatecas, Queretaro, San Miguel de Allande, Guanajuato, Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Baja California.

Over 125 miles of relentless corners on Mex 40 Libre.

It’s during our stay in Mazatlan that we were able to traverse ‘El Espinazo del Diablo’ or ‘The Devil’s Backbone.’

The day began fairly typically.  We began eastward to Mex 40 (Libre).

Mex 40 (Carretera Mazatlán-Durango) once was a very dangerous road. It served as the only link between the port city of Mazatlán to the state of Durango. In the worst of times, it was said that there would be occasional bodies that would show up on the side of the road in the morning. Since the opening of the new parallel toll road, the Libre road is mostly forgotten, except by motorcyclists.  The previous nine-hour journey now only takes two and a half hours

The road that stretches from Villa Union, Sinaloa to Durango is commonly known as El Espinazo del Diablo. The Espinazo is actually only a small mountain feature on one part of the road.  The whole road, because of its notoriety, got the name.

Taking a break at a beautiful mirador.

El Espinazo del Diablo is 125 miles of relentless twists, turns, curves and elevation changes. The scenery is among the lushest and most beautiful one can imagine.   The danger for motorcyclists is keeping one’s eyes on the road. The newly surfaced road is immaculate, and because of the parallel toll road, it’s wide open with almost no vehicle traffic.

The greatest hazards to riding this road are cows, wild horses, and burros. Look for fresh piles on the road as your warning. Secondarily a danger is riding above one’s ability. This road does not suffer fools lightly.

Now with all the scary part out of the way, this road will also change your life for the positive and give you a sense of accomplishment no tamer of the ‘Tail of the Dragon’ could ever understand.

About 20 miles in, the road rises in elevation, and the temperature becomes perfect for comfortable riding. Only near El Salto does the elevation rise to 8700ft and becomes a bit cold.

The bridge damaged by the tanker that overturned and caught fire late in 2017.

Now, once one finishes the road in a couple of hours, the best surprise is yet to come. Imagine Germany’s famous Nurburgring with tunnels and across the world’s tallest cable-stayed bridge. That’s the new toll road that awaits your journey back. Currently, at $165MN ($9 USD), it’s one of the most expensive toll roads in Mexico.  It’s oh so worth it. The toll road is lightly traveled, as well.  Trucks and motorists are quick to give way to motorcyclists and passionate drivers who want to pass.

The beauty and majesty of nature’s designs along with the impeccable engineering the road designers used make for an experience you probably can’t get anywhere else in the world.

US roads like CA-1 (Pacific Coast Highway), US 191 (Arizona’s Devil’s Highway), US 550 (Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway), Utah’s Scenic Byway 12, Cherahola Skyway in North Carolina all pale in comparison to the diversity, intensity, and rewards granted to riders of these great roads.

In late September 2018, another group of intrepid US-based riders will head south for the annual Convencion in Morelia, Michoacan.

One thing is for certain, above all else. We’ll be riding El Espinazo del Diablo again!

Jim Foreman leads groups into Mexico on short and longer trips through Authentic Moto Travels. If you’re interested in discovering or re-connecting with our great neighbor, to the south, please contact Jim at jimf@me.com or at 310 923-6635.

For a helmet-cam video of the scene described at the beginning, click Play below,

Kevin and Tony are having fun. The entire Eiffel Tower could fit under the bridge with many meters to spare.
Tom and Phil at the state line in the center of the bridge.
The Cascada in Mexiquillo, near El Salto
The Mazatlán Malecon at night.
Jim Foreman at El Espinazo del Diablo

2018 Ensenada BeerFest

2018 Ensenada BeerFest Moto Trip

Story by Jim Foreman

It was Saturday morning. Ten minutes before my alarm was set to ring I was already up and stepping into the shower. The excitement of riding with great friends, old and new, sent me going in record time.

The bags, packed the night before, were loaded onto the bike and 20 minutes later, I was riding out to meet one of the other riders, Tom White for breakfast.

St. Patrick’s Day is always a fun day in the United States. Restaurants serve up faithful Irish meals amongst the decorations and green dressed servers.

By 7:20 am we were breakfasted, caffeinated, and making our way to Irv Seaver BMW to meet another rider, Jessie Vaca and his incredible BMW K 1600 B. Tom rides a rugged R 1200 GS Adventure and I ride the BMW S 1000 XR.

It seems Tom and Jessie were equally excited as we left Irv Seaver BMW in Orange County, a little before 8 am, to meet the rest of the group at a South Orange County spot.

In Lake Forest, Bikram Mann on his R 1200 RT, Nico Okoneski on the Triumph Tiger 800, with Enrique Giner, and Trino Caicedo on R 1200 GS Adventures were eagerly awaiting our arrival. Dale Sprosty on his R 1200 ST arrived in Ensenada, on his own, a day early.   He began a fact-hunting mission along with enjoying the Beer Fest, Friday evening.

Heading south, to the border, the group encountered light rain and drizzle. Ordinarily, a little rain is no big deal, but on California Freeways, on a holiday, the risks inched up. In leading the group, we were going to take it easy. We would forego any lane-sharing as the painted lines and reflector pucks would be slippery. More perilous is that California drivers are less capable in wet conditions. Fortunately, traffic was light.

We arrived at the border and crossed without incident. We all commented on the steel half-cantaloupes at the crossings and our techniques for navigating them as the bikes slipped on their wet surfaces.

Wonderfully, once we crossed the border, the precipitation abated, and we were in chilly but dry weather and roadways.

The run south of the border on the “Scenic Highway” is always spectacular. Riding the stretch between La Fonda and Ensenada, one feels transported to CA-1 and Big Sur found on the Northern California coast. The roadway is smooth and fast with a series of three toll-booths along the way. Riding a motorcycle in Mexico is fantastic. One of the simple affirmations of that is paying half the price of cars on the toll roads throughout the country.

The ride was exhilarating and those who were taking it for the first time were visibly beaming from ear to ear.

The group of intrepid adventurers at Hotel Quinta Papagayo

The group safely arrived at the Quintas Papagayo Hotel around 12:30 pm where we met Dale.

Most of the rooms were not quite ready, but one was, so we used that to unload our bikes, clean up, change, and get ready for one of the best afternoons we’d ever experience. Once changed and ready for a great afternoon, we arranged a van taxi to take us to the Beerfest event grounds at the celebrated Museo de Historia in Ensenada.

Crammed in a Taxi

Beerfest started at 2 pm and we were among the first ones inside. We were warmly greeted and received our glass and a couple of tokens for samples.

As the event gained momentum, the grounds began to fill with a vibrant and classy crowd roughly equal between men and women. There were many dozens of craft cervecerias (breweries) on display as excellent bands played on three stages at the event.

Dale is enjoying the sights and flavors of Beerfest

Everywhere we went, we were surrounded by beautiful people who shared a passion for good times, great music, and the elixir that Benjamin Franklin remarked was proof of God’s love and desire for us to be happy.

Tom enjoying a photo

Throughout the afternoon and early evening, it was a delight to see the warm smiles on Bikram, Dale, Enrique, Nico, Tom, Trino, and Jessie’s faces.

The best thing about an event like this in Mexico is that there aren’t any problems, drunk brawlers, or fights that is so typical in the US.   There was no ego or arrogance. All you see is people having a great time, everywhere.

Dinner at Mr. Pampas Brazilian Churrascaria

At 7 pm that evening we had dinner reservations for Mr. Pampas Brazilian Churrascaria. The group feasted on perfectly cooked meats and Brazilian caipirinhas. After dinner, we hired the same Taxi Van back to the hotel. Though some, including myself, clocked out early, several true adventurers continued the party by returning to the Beerfest and later, the bar adjacent to the hotel.

This group knows how to party!

The following day, we enjoyed breakfast together and decided on our riding plan for the day. Jessie and Nico went to La Bufadora while the rest of us headed east on Mex 5 toward San Felipe on a wonderfully twisty road that reminds one of Angeles Crest Highway (CA-2) from La Cañada to the tunnels.

The road surface was perfect, traffic was light, and lean angles were sweet as we traversed the roadway both directions.

The Fermenting Vats at L.A. Cetto Winery

At 4 pm I arranged a van and our driver from last year, Alejandro to take us to L.A. Cetto winery for a tour and tasting and then dinner at La Esperanza Baja Med.

L.A. Cetto is Baja California’s oldest and largest winery. Our guide Daniel took us through the entire winemaking process from the grapes on vines to bottles for sale. The tour was educational, informative and filled with good humor.

No Pisar el Pasto

A section of lawn had signs posted that read “No Pisar El Pasto.” I decided to have a little fun with the group by saying this read, “Don’t piss on the lawn.” While Jessie and our guide Daniel were giggling, Dale and Bikram began a lively discussion on why signs like that would be necessary.

As if on cue, Daniel began to tell the story of the after harvest party that goes on from noon to midnight every year. I added that sometimes people couldn’t make it all the way to the baño so they would relieve themselves on the lawn behind the statue of the Virgen de Guadalupe. More smiles and laughs came from our guide along with Jessie, Trino, and Enrique.

The L.A. Cetto festival grounds

I had to let the guys off the hook and told them it actually means, “Don’t Step on the Lawn.”

We went to sample some wines produced there. We obviously liked some better than others. We said our thanks and goodbyes to Daniel and hurried off to La Esperanza BajaMed. The Executive chef is Miguel Angel Guerrero. He sources all of the foods locally, within 100 miles of the restaurant. In the mornings, Chef Miguel Angel is often out with his shotgun gathering ducks to serve up later in tacos. Chef Miguel Angel is also an avid motorcyclist who rides a BMW R 1200 GS Adventure all over the world.

Bikram at La Esperanza BajaMed

We were treated like VIPs with wine and appetizers coming quickly. We also were welcomed to walk the grounds and take photos.

Dinner was served up Mexican Style. Seven entrees were ordered, so everyone had a little bit of everything making our tastebuds dance.

The meal and especially the company was exquisite.

After dinner, Alejandro took us back to Cerveceria Transpeninsular to enjoy some more good times and excellent beer.

Several of the boys enjoyed a unique brew with 18% alcohol.

We were later joined by Nadja Castillo who helped arrange the evening and can outdrink most of us. Alejandro’s wife Marianna also arrived to make for an even better experience.

El Meson de Mustafa

The following morning, we packed up and rode out to El Meson de Mustáfa for an excellent breakfast with Sharim Ali. Mustafa owns a small vineyard and bottles up some excellent wines. He also has the very popular restaurant that’s been a regional hotspot for decades.

Sharim and the gang of riders.

His daughter Sharim now runs the restaurant, but Mustafa often comes in to socialize with guests and friends.

Concluding Breakfast, this group of incredible friends headed north to Tecate. The road up is a high-speed thrill ride that was the perfect way to cap a brilliant weekend in Baja.

Crossing the border demonstrated another reason why Motorcycles are perfect for Mexico. We passed 4 hours of cars waiting to cross back by riding right up to the front of the line. Filtering to the front can be done at any of the border crossings.

Farewell Photo at Starbucks in Jamul, CA

Once across the border, we rode Campo Road (Hwy 94) from Tecate to Jamul, where they have a Starbucks Coffee. We said our heartfelt goodbyes and went our own way.

I am so grateful to have led these wonderful riders and friends across one of my favorite regions of the world.

Can’t wait to do it again.

From September 29th to October 18th, 2018, I’ll be leading a group of intrepid riders into some of the best and most amazing parts of Mexico. It will coincide with the 22nd International Motorrad Federation Mexico’s Convention taking place this year in Morelia, Michoacan. It will include a full run on “El Espinazo del Diablo”, one of North America’s Greatest Roads, and visits in San Carlos, Cuernevaca, Cosala, Queretaro, Durango, Batopilas, Copper Canyon, Mazatlan, Tequila, Xilitla and the Garden of surrealist Edward James, Hermosillo, and Guanajuato.   There will be approximately 649, 864 awesome corners we’ll take on this trip through some of the most beautiful parts of Mexico. Bring fresh tires!

This will be the trip of a lifetime! Contact me for details. Jim@authenticmoto.com

Music is playing and the grounds are getting crowded
Border Psycho Brewery has some interesting pull tabs.
The group of intrepid adventurers at Hotel Quinta Papagayo
It wouldn’t be Beerfest without girls in Dirndls
Beerfest attendees taking a selfie.