Finding Brake Lines

So.

The Germans and Chris were headed north to Creel, and I was going to go with them.  After a night in that mountain city, Chris and Agnes would peel off head west to their homeland of San Diego, while the Germans would continue Northeast to Austin (I know, right!?) and eventually Daytona for bike week. I’d ride along and eventually break off just west of Chihuahua, and head south to Parral.

If you remember, at this point, I have no front brakes, and no one in Batopilas could repair them, and they definitely didn’t have any replacements.

The road from Batopilas to Creel is paved, or it will be by the end of this year, guaranteed.  There’s a beginning stretch of 40 km of graded dirt, with a mass of activity from construction machines, but believe you me, it’ll be paved.  I feel conflicted about this as we head north; on the one hand I’m glad I’m one of the few who got to ride the Copper Canyon in it’s ‘primitive’ state, but on the other, I’m sad that these areas will soon see many more snowbirds and RV owners in the near future.

After a breakfast from a neighbor of Juanita’s, consisting of mostly fruits that gave all of us diarrhea, and a brief conversation with the owner that, yes, marijuana was indeed how everyone made their living around here, we headed north.

Being well-rested, everyone was able to tackle the terrain this time round.

40 clicks of this, and dodging construction machines. Awesome!
40 clicks of this, and dodging construction machines. Awesome!

Parts of the road that seemed to be paved would quickly become a bit more treacherous as there were rock slides everywhere.  I’m not sure what the Mexican government plans to do about them, but they’ll probably get tired of repairing brand new roads every few days.

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The biggest one we saw, the picture does not capture the enormity of this rock as you ride by it. The orange dot in the bottom left is a standard safety triangle, undoubtedly placed there to warn travelers that there is a boulder the size of the moon in the middle of the road.

The road hugged the base of the mountain ridges for a few kilometers, and we drove by scores of these rock slides.  We even  crossed a few sketchy bridges made out of wood, but they held up just fine.

Andi made it! But will the others!?
Andi made it across! But will the others!?

An hour in and we started to climb the mountains again, though this time on pavement. Fresh new asphalt was everywhere, accompanied by construction crews marking the dividing lines with string and spray paint.

Look, pavement!
Look, pavement!

The sun climbed higher in the sky, but with the elevation change the temperature began to drop.  Still, it was completely bearable and I had time to take in some gorgeous last views of the Canyon.

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Cresting the mountain (whose name I never learned), a rollicking ride lay ahead, as switchback after switchback accompanied us up and down the mountain ranges, through many a small farming village. At one point it started to drizzle, the road getting slick, which made my motorcycling quite exciting, what with it only having a rear brake. If you’ve never ridden before, it’s exceedingly easy to lock the rear wheel, which is usually not a problem (and often warranted), but it can be quite dangerous on wet roads,  occasionaly resulting in a lowside or (god forbid) highside crash.

I had the skills to pay the bills though, so I trucked along and took it easy, and we eventually stopped at a tiny town called Samachique until everyone caught up.

Standing there on the side of the road, looking at the map, Stefan came over and pointed out that it would be much shorter to just go directly to Hidalgo del Parral now instead of looping north.  It’d be safer too I mused, and after a few minutes of internal debated I decided that I shouldn’t press my luck, and it was time to part ways.

We took some photos, and I bid my new friends adieu.  I’ll never forget our journey together through the Copper Canyon, and even now it remains a highlight of my journey. I’ll see you all in Heidelberg one day soon.

Adios muchachos!
Adios muchachos!

As they roared off on their BMWs, I turned around and went through the small village of Samachic, promptly getting lost.  A local told me that I indeed was supposed to go the way of the Germans, at least a few more miles before turning, so off I went.

No real pictures of the next few hours, but it got cold.  Really, really cold.  I could see the treeline at times while riding in this almost alpine climate but just kept going.

I immediately regretted shipping back my riding liners in La Paz.

I stopped in Guachochi for some gas, and kept riding east.  The vast majority of the houses in this area are log cabins, which was unexpected, and it was smokey most of the time as people burned timber to keep warm. I half expected to see red lumberjack shirts everywhere, but most everyone was smart enough to stay in because it was too cold, so, on I rode.  Finally I started descending through the mountains and the land opened up.

The scenery changed dramatically, as wide open plains and highlands were splattered around, the road cutting through them.  There was not much traffic here, but the views, the views! All that suffering through the cold was more than worth it.

No filters on this guy, this is what it looked like.
No filters on this picture, this is what it looked like.
I don't know why but it reminds me of National Geographic pictures of Africa.
I don’t know why but it reminds me of National Geographic pictures of Africa.
Oh you beauty.
Oh you beauty.

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As I neared Hidalgo del Parral, I passed through a town that looked to a bit forlorn.  Entering there was some kind of deserted military embankment, which raised my wariness level a bit, but I passed right on by and never saw nor heard anything. But of course, they don’t just build these things without reason.

Lookout!
Lookout!

Entering Hidalgo del Parral you’re stopped at a police checkpoint, and as has been the case my entire journey, they just wove me on.  Still, there were many more police here than I had seen before, but I can’t say whether that was due to a higher criminal presence or it simply being the biggest city around.

After gassing up and checking my phone, I broke out into a massive smile; Parral had a Suzuki motorcycle dealership! Yes! This was going to be easier than I thought it was.

And, it wasn’t.

Because the dealership only sold motorcycles with drum brakes, and not disc brakes.  The poor girl working the place, having to deal with my broken Spanish and wild flailings of the arms as I gestured towards the brakes, just shook her head sadly, they didn’t have anything for me.

But, yes, perhaps they might have something at a local independent shop called “Gabriel Moto,” so she took out some paper and drew me a map to the place, and off I went.

Parral is a pretty big town, most famous for it’s silver mine as well as hosting the site where Pancho Villa was assassinated.  As it was 5PM, it took me a while to snake through traffic and into the city, but eventually I found the small shop.

Ah hah!
Ah hah!

And things started to look good.

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Real good.

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For the life of me, I can’t remember this guys name, but he spoke some English and he understood that I needed a new brake line. Initially I thought it was Gabriel, but, as I have so often been on this trip, I was wrong. Anyway, there was an older Suzuki in the back of the shop, but sadly the brake line was too short, and would have certainly broken (or broken part of the caliper) off. He called up his boss, came back, and told me that his boss also had a Suzuki, and he would bring his line for me and we’d see if it would work.

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So, I waited a while, talked with the guys, and watched the employees go about their day.

Hanging out and waiting.
Hanging out and waiting.
The quality of some of these bikes coming in is astounding, I can't believe people ride them.  This one guy came in with a chain that was completely rusted, but they just beat on it a bit, put in a few new links and off he went on tires so bald you could see the cords.  Pretty ballsy!
The quality of some of these bikes coming in is astounding, I can’t believe people ride them. This one guy came in with a chain that was completely rusted, but they just beat on it a bit, put in a few new links and off he went on tires so bald you could see the cords. Pretty ballsy!

I made this video too, though I don’t know why, since, while writing this dispatch, I just realized I explained everything in 30 seconds.

Eventually Gabriel showed up and had a brake line.

Gabriel and I. What an ace for helping me out, I highly recommend his shop!
Gabriel and I. What an ace for helping me out, I highly recommend his shop!

And the line, while a bit short, and a bit old, fit just right! Huzzah, I have front brakes again!

That'll do pig, that'll do.
That’ll do pig, that’ll do.

Ecstatic, I handed over my 200 pesos (!!!) and shook hands with everyone, before running out and coming back with some Coca-Cola’s for everyone (they didn’t want beer).  It was the least I could do.

I headed in to town, splurged on a decent hotel, and stayed there an extra day, checking out the Pancho Villa museum, doing finances, and writing some blog posts. You know, the unexciting things that must be done that drive this adventure.

Carnival in Mazatlán was coming, and soon there would be only time for festivities!