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 an 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