Well there had to be a day that would suck. Today was it.
Left my awesome hotel in Mexico City and headed south for Cuernovaca and Oaxaca. In my morning check of the bike I notice that the rear tire pressure is only 30 PSI. It should be 50. I stop at the next Pemex for gas and get them to pump the tire up. I’ll have to keep an eye on it today.
The traffic leaving the city was horrid, but that was to be expected. I took the free road rather than the toll highway on the recommendation of the BMW guys. It’s far more interesting, but once I got on it I kept getting caught behind cars and trucks. The road is VERY winding, so there were very few places to pass, and I spent most of it under 40 kmph. Then I got into Cuernovaca. What a traffic jam. Over an hour of crawling along, most of the time in neutral. My GPS took me to the wrong garden, and then after several confused directions from locals, I final arrive at the Ethnobotanical Garden.
It’s nice, and I got a few ideas and pictures of plants, but somehow I wasn’t in the mood for gardens today. There was something nagging me in the back of my mind all day. Just a sense of dread. Like knowing a storm is coming.
So, I head out to see the next garden, hoping I can get through the rest of Cuernovaca’s traffic as quick as possible and be back on the open roads.
Finally on a highway, I check my tire pressures again. The rear is back down to 30. I pull off at the next Pemex, get a splash of fuel (I don’t really need any), and get them to pump the tire back up. Tonight I’ll have to look for the leak. Just as I’m about to leave I hear the rear tire dramatically deflate. The valve stem has blown out. To make matters worse, that’s the only part of the tire I don’t have a spare for … they’re sitting forgotten on my work bench at home, along with a mental note forgotten a few days ago that I should grab some spares at the next auto shop I see.
Now what to do?
After 30 minutes of back and forth in jibberish Spanish from me, and confused and dismayed looks from the attendants, they finally summon Jorge, who speaks some English. He gets permission to borrow his boss’s car so he can take me to a tire shop in town. Meanwhile, I struggle to get the rear tire off. The ‘other’ thing I forgot to get before the trip was a large Torx wrench to remove the rear brake caliper. That’s the only tool missing in my kit, and it’s the one I need today.
Using an allen key that sort of fits I manage to get one of the 2 bolts out of the caliper, but I almost strip the 2nd one trying. I wonder if the tire will come off with the caliper loosened? The ‘strong man’ of the gas station, Ricardo, lifts the back of the bike up while I shake the wheel loose. It works! We stuff my tail bags under the swing arm to keep the bike in the air, and off I go with Jorge.
A few miles down a side road we find a lady at a roadside tire shop. She has valve stems, and quickly dismounts the tire, replaces the stem, and checks the tire over for other damage. I buy a 2nd valve stem from her just in case. 75 pesos later I’m back to the Pemex with Ricardo lifting the bike while I reinstall the wheel. With some cheers, handshakes, pats on the backs, and some Canadian flag gifts I’m back on the road. 4 hours has passed, and I probably won’t have time to visit Jardines de Mexico. Another hour farting around on the highway back and forth without finding it and I know it’s time to look for accommodations.
I was going to camp tonight, but I just don’t have it in me. I’ve only seen one mediocre garden today, put less than 200 km behind me, and never stopped for breakfast or lunch. It’s 8pm, I grabbed some tacitos at a stand in Taxco, and am bunkered down in a horrid, cheap motel for the night with no AC, internet, or water pressure, and a squeaky ceiling fan. I feel like I’m in the opening hotel scene of Apocalypse Now, minus the alcohol. Maybe that’s what I’m missing?!
At the least the bike is safely locked behind a gate.
I’m going to bed. Tomorrow will be better.