American Loop – TexMexAmerican Loop – TexMex https://www.linesonmaps.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/2019.05.12___14.46.32___OMDEM1_004_bgq.jpg 1920 1280 Michael Michael https://www.linesonmaps.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Portrait.jpg
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The first chapter of American Loop takes Michael from Houston Texas via the Big Bend National Park to El Paso. Together with buddy Frank he experiences a nerve-racking time in the Copper Canyon, before they transfer together to Baja California. Due to technical problems, the friends have to split up in San Evaristo and Michael continues via the Mission de San Javier and the Laguna de San Ignacio alone to California.
Welcome to Texas
Too little time, the bike is not perfectly prepared, these are my dominant thoughts when I sit in the plane to Houston. The overwhelming feeling to be able for more than a year to determine every day of my life by myself, I had actually only when the time clock was peeping on my last working day. The four days delay of the bike made it also not easier to deal with it. For the first time fully loaded it is clear the Husky goes down deep into its springs. No matter, Justin from Houston has invited me on a tour through the trails of the Sam Houston National Forrest, and we’ll be ride without any luggage anyway. We whirl over rootstock and stone a bit of mud and sand what a fun. That’s what I came to North America for. By now, Justin’s friends have arrived at the lakeside cabin and the warm welcome makes it easy to just enjoy the moment and the evening.
Suspension part 1
The next stopover is not chosen free but rather a necessity. Justin gives me the contact details of Roger of OrOrCycles, a suspension specialist in Austin. Roger was immediately likeable to me and not just because he studied in Germany. We exchange the rear spring together. The original 69N / mm spring is suitable for a 75-85kg rider, averaging the average weight of female and male riders that makes sense. For me, however, not at all, therefore, my new spring with 90N / mm is much stiffer and more likely suitable to my weight and luggage.
In general, this is the only necessary change to make the chassis of the 701 ready for travelling and the improvement was gigantic. My demands as an engineer are a bit higher here. Understanding the subject of suspension in detail and finding an ideal setup was a fixed task for the journey from that point on.
Big Bend National Park
With the new spring, I can start to go offroad even with luggage and in Big Bend I found the first interesting Trails. A useful source of information is the website of CannonShot its tracks are not essential necessary the National Park map also provides sufficient information. At the visitor center, I meet James on his KLR. That our plans are similar was obvious without words and so we explored the River Road without further ado together. Our little photo session was interrupted by a rattle abruptly. A rattlesnake lies between me and my motorcycle. Grateful for the clear warning, I approach the retreat and wait until it hides in the bushes. From there it generously allows me to take a picture with the long telelens. Shortly after my and James break up, I meet Kerry again. We had met at the campsite at the other end of the park already. Without hesitating, he invites me to share his motel room and I can’t resist. The second time I am stranded by a priest and like Anton in Kazakhstan, Kerry fascinates me. Both confirmed me in my conviction that, regardless of religious background, our highest maxim should be fair and good dealings with our fellow human beings, so that even good things happen to one’s self. Whether it’s be coincidence, God’s will, Charma or simply the fact that people prefer to do good things to a friendly person, does not matter, in any case it makes us happier. This also fits the story of my next day. Incited by Kerry’s wild descriptions, I set off for the Old Ore Road. About in the middle I’m stranded with a flat tire without patch kit. It does not take long and I meet Steve and he brings me back with his pickup. When I want to pay him at least his fuel costs, he declines with the comment “It is not a good deed if I accept your money.”
Mexicos North West
Barrancas del Cobre OnRoad
My next destination is the Copper Canyon in northern Mexico. The area is known for drug cultivation and accordingly, the mafia is very present there. The better that Frank has meanwhile arrived at the border in EL Paso. We know each other from the Primus Rally and the Taffy Dakar and have been planning to travel parts of North America together for some time. Frank has also been invited by Federiko to Chihuahua. Together with Federiko’s friends of MC Hellfish Chihuahua we spend a great evening. However, the warnings about the security situation worry us a bit. Therefore, we slowly grope along the beautiful paved road to Creel. In Creel we talk to security forces, but only with Jan Milburn we get differentiated information and the impression that he has even travelled the road from Batopilas to Choix. The most important rule with the onset of darkness you’re best in the hotel so you get out of the way crooked things best. His advice is also confirmed by the citizens of Batopilas, but they also reassure us, “If you have problems, ask people who live along the street”. The paved road to Batopilas is to be treated with caution due to rockfalls. For road drivers Batopilas is indeed a dead end but definitely a worthwhile. The historic village is simply worth seeing and the traces of silver mining are still very present here. A nice alternative for road drivers to our route is the road from Creel via San Rafael, Témoris Chinipas and Navojoa.
Barrancas del Cobre OffRoad
Optimistic we leave the asphalt behind and drive deeper into the canyon towards Choix. First scary second my GoPro is filming a man with an assault rifle who is obviously not a police officer and a short time later, Frank’s already patched tube is flat again. With great difficulty he manages to get to a farm and it is obvious that the tube breaks into two parts. Already before our arrival in Creel, Frank fell due to the sudden pressure drop, now it was clear that the cause was the quality of the tube alone. I had no choice and had to go back to Batopilas and get a new tube. Annoyed by the situation I was too hard on the throttle, I could still catch the drifting rear wheel, but the subsequent drifting front wheel ends in a fall in the mid of a steep slope. The first time I try to lift the bike I slip and my right knee is suddenly blocked. I’m lying under the bike, the breather hose is torn off, gasoline is spraying in my direction and as an encore I can’t even move. First immediate action Finger on the breather and first breathe. With a little shake and careful movements and a clear crack my knee can move again. The luggage has to get off and then I manage to lift up the bike again. The breather hose is shortened and reassembled, the luggage is loaded and on it goes. After a long walk in Batopilas together with Humberto I find a tube for Frank. It would have been clever to buy 2 or 3 but no, I only took one. It happens what has to happen, because of sheer nervousness Frank ruined the tube while mounting. If that had not happened to me already, I would have been annoyed, but it was more the frustration of having to leave him overnight to get another tube. Back on a hill, a Mexican in his pickup does not care much about the difficulties I have in this slope and pushes me into the soft gravel on the edge. The fall robs me so much power, that it doesn’t take long until the next. In the end I find myself on this road not only at dusk, but in absolute darkness and I am incredibly relieved to end up back in a hotel bed. The next day I pass with incredible nervousness for the fifth time the spot where I filmed the strange guy with the assault rifle and swear to me, if these two new tubes can’t bring us out Frank can ride my bike to Batopilas himself. With combined forces we managed it this time right away. After so much excitement, the ride out of the canyon, despite its breathtaking landscape, is almost unspectacular. At the bridge construction site on the Rio Urique, the workers are happy about the variety. Finally, they miss the show because we cross the river a little further south on a much easier ford. We visit the mission in Tubares and are fascinated how these two broken bells make a great photo motive. In Choix we arrive again at dusk and are glad to find a hotel directly at the entrance to the village.
I would like to recommend this route only to experienced Enduro riders, especially on Big Bikes you should travel in any case in a team to be able to salvage the bike quickly. The surface is very loose due to the permanent dryness and often there are also sand holes. Partially this also applies to the mountain roads, which can be found especially in the first section. The very steep up and down passages are not easier in loose underground. False pride is also out of place here, although we almost never felt insecure tourists have disappeared without a trace in this area. Ideally, the route is accomplished in a day’s drive, if you can’t make it you should not go wild camping. Ask the few people that life there for a safe accommodation or a campsite.
The ferry crossing from Topolobampo is difficult to plan. The website of Baja Ferries does not provide a timetable and a cabin is only available with early reservation. We had no reservation according to others this is however possible by telephone (Spanish) or by E-Mail (Google Translate).
My impressions of La Paz come essentially from a single evening walk along the promenade. The background is that of our 4 days there I spent most of the time on my bed with my leg up. After the fall, the blockage of my knee occurred more often and the knee was noticeably swollen. The situation was quite worrying. Injuries are always annoying, but it makes a big difference whether they ruin a long-planned 4-week vacation or a journey of 13 months. In that respect, the sheer scale of the journey limits personal freedom in many ways. In addition to restricting personal expenses to finance the trip, you also avoid more and more risks. But taking risks also means fun, especially for me. The result is a 4 week vacation can be much more intense than a long journey, because you have more freedom in this short time.
The first attempt in the saddle is a small trip to Todos Santos with Anali, Chris and Rodrigo motorcyclists we met in La Paz. For the first time, I am standing on the Pacific coast, an overwhelming feeling. My confidence in the knee returns and the next day we drive to San Evaristo along the Gulf of California. Partly they are mine roads, partly we drive directly along the coast, there are cactus forests and suddenly we realize we are on a rally route. Now it is also clear why the tracks are so washed out and the underground is loosely rutted. The attempt to take the road in front of San Evaristo in the mountains fails. The slope is not gigantic but the ground is completely rutted by the rally cars and consists only of boulders and sand. The end of Frank’s clutch also ends our efforts to climb that slope finally. The PickUp that I organize in San Evaristo is not cheap, but brings Frank back to La Paz where Chris helps Frank to fix the bike again.
Solo nach San Javiers
After Frank plans more time on the Baja anyway than I do, I continue my way towards the west coast. The mission of San Javier is my first destination. After about 100km of desert, sand, cacti and pure aridity, this oasis is simply breathtaking. If you take the beautiful paved road that leads north from San Javier to Loreto the enthusiasm simply can’t be the same. For me this paved road still remains a highlight, because I meet Dale there a motorcyclist from Canada. Together we drive to Loreto and enjoy the tranquillity that you probably only have in Loreto if no cruise ship docks there. Dales Versys is definitely not a good choice for my plan to drive via San Isidor and San Juanico into the Lagoon of San Ignacio. The stage is also not for small tanks. It is only about 300km but a large part of it leads through sandy stages in which you should not expect average consumption. Of course you can also hope that someone in San Isidore, San Juanico or even in the small fishing village that didn’t had a name on of my maps sells you fuel from canisters.
Laguna de San Ignacio
While San Juanico would probably be the highlight for a surfer, for me it was the lagoon itself. The landscape was up to this surfer village still very familiar but shortly afte it changed significant. Partly I had stages reminiscent of flat-topped salt deserts and allowed mad speeds, some were pre dunes whose fine sand challenged my skills. In the last section to San Ignacio I found marshland before it turned into the classic sand and stone desert of the Baja again. The rest of the Baja unfortunately was sacrificed to the schedule and so I drove exclusively along the Mex1 back to the US. Mexico obviously had the opinion that I should stay. Waiting at the border in Tecate I got a nail in my rear tire. So I had to push my bike across the border and the first act in the US was patching the tube.