Mexico City/Parque Nacional Cumbres del Ajusco – 26th June 2021
The Uber arrives on time and am soon on my way to collect the Beemer.
The weather is predicted to be quite good today, but thunderstorms are due to start around 4pm. Tomorrow and Monday are also predicted to be very unsettled with thunderstorms also. I have taken a last minute job on Monday and now will be working in the morning, so after some discussion with Annemarie I have decided to return the bike a day early, on Monday, if they will agree to it. It doesn’t take long so I arrive early. There are already a few bikes outside; I presume they are going on the training. They include some Harleys so I am a wee bit envious. A chap comes out to greet me and shows me the bike… Ok, looks tall…. he says we need to go upstairs to complete the paperwork and pay the rental charge. The whole process is extremely smooth and when I ask if I can return early, around 12pm on Monday, that is all fine, absolutely no problem at all. That means I only have to pay for 2 days at $4000mxn total, (£145), which is about the same as a Harley for just one day so actually quite a good price. No hidden fees, additional insurances, nothing and he throws in a small top box for free.. excellent.
While I am completing the paperwork Annemarie arrives on her Kawasaki cruiser. We go downstairs and I get myself onto the bike. The first thing is to get it off of the side stand.. bloomin’ ‘ell it’s heavy, I have to throw myself to the right to get it upright and then it becomes obvious I am not going to be able to ride it, I am way too short. Yes, I can move my bum to get one of my feet down properly, but all the weight of the bike and the centre of gravity are towards the top so she is top heavy and I only need to lose it a little bit to definitely drop it.. and to prove my point it does almost go over as I am sitting on it, I just manage to catch it though. Unlike the Himmie, before I lowered it, I could manage because it is a light bike in comparison to this one. I ask the guy if the seat height can be adjusted, but it’s already fixed and this is the lowest bike they have. OK, so what to do.. I say to Annemarie, maybe you could ride this and I’ll ride yours? She seems a bit uncertain, but the guy says “Why not sit on it”.. she does and declares it is very small, yes indeed it is, for her, she used to have a huge BMW GS1200 so of course this is way too small. However, she agrees that in order for us to get out on the road she will ride it and I will ride her Kwak.
So, in reality, the motorcycle tour starts right here… Yippee!!! The first thing is to stop for some petrol and then we will ride for a while and stop for a coffee as it is such an early start. I follow Annemarie as she guides us out of the city. There is very little traffic as it is so early, but the roads are somewhat lethal in that all the ‘manholes’ or access holes are set very deep below the surface of the road so we really have to avoid them, especially for the Kwak as it is a very low down bike. On top of that is the traffic calming humps that the Mexicans seem so fond of… some of which are ridiculously high. All is going well and I’m really enjoying the bike. We can see our objective in the distance rising high above the city. Mexico City is surrounded by mountains and extinct volcanoes that are covered in trees and greenery, not really something I would ever have expected, so I am really looking forward to riding up there.
We pull up at some traffic lights behind a couple of cars and I indicate to AM to filter to the front as there is plenty of space, she heads off and just as I start to pull away another bike cuts in front of me. I have to brake very sharply and of course pull in the clutch… BANG… the clutch cable has severed, I’m going nowhere, the bike won’t go forward even though the engine is still running, (now I am writing about it, it’s obvious there is something seriously wrong, but I am jumping ahead). I manage to get the bike into neutral and then have to slowly reverse down the hill while moving the bike over to the right hand lane to get it off of the road. Of course AM has gone and she must be wondering where I am. I get the bike up onto the front of a building with a couple of, luckily, empty parking spaces and am able to get off to message AM and tell her what has happened. I send her my location so she can find me and settle down to wait for her.
As soon as she arrives she immediately starts to search for nearby motorcycle workshops and finds one just 600m up the road, how great is that and quite a relief. AM rides up to talk to them about possible recovery/repair and I wait with the bike. I’m beginning to wonder if this bloody tour is jinxed?
15 minutes or so later AM messages me to say they can fix the bike now but, as there is only one guy in the shop at the moment, he cannot come and recover it so it looks like we are going to have to push it. It’s not a light bike, it’s 900cc and all up hill so we will just have to take our time. AM says she will walk back down to the bike so we can push it. I move the bike back onto the road and sit on it waving my neck muff to warn the traffic to overtake me, as I don’t want to get hit by these impatient drivers.
AM arrives and takes the front while I push from the back. It is very slow going and with the altitude I am constantly out of breath, which means we have to stop about every 30-50 metres.. it is certainly going to take a while like this. Then a young guy on a motorcycle stops and offers to help, I thought that meant he was going to get off and push, but no he brings his bike up alongside the Kwak and puts his foot on the rear footboard, he is going to push while using his bikes to power it forward. I get back on the rear of the bike ready to push when suddenly another guy arrives on his motorbike and pulls up on the other side preparing to do the same. Biker1 tells AM to sit on the bike and start the engine, I don’t really see the point of starting the engine but who cares at this point…. and we are off, I have to let go of the rear as it is too fast for me now so take the opportunity to film this amazing sight.
and after another bit of pushing on my part… bike rescue Mexican style part dos
Amazing… of course you woudn’t be able to get away with this in the UK, the coppers would soon be stopping you. Well I watch them go off into the distance and take my time gasping the rest of the way up the hill.
When I arrive at the workshop, the guys are already working on the bike. Biker1 has already disappeared and Biker2 is about to go on his way, what a great pair of chaps.
All we can do now is wait, but it does seem that the day is not totally spoiled and once they have fitted a new clutch cable we can get back on the road. It does take a little while because, a) the clutch actuator housing is behind the exhaust pipe, on my Harleys you have to take the exhaust off to get to it, but they are trying without having to do that, and b) the cable they are fitting is universal so not specific to this bike, therefore they are having to modify it slightly to make it fit. AM had a new clutch cable fitted just a few months ago and now they are telling her that the guy hadn’t fitted it correctly and that is probably why it snapped… breakdown just waiting to happen basically.
About an hour goes by and they are done, they wheel the bike outside and we get ready to depart. I start the engine and put the bike into first gear, the bike cuts out. I try again, it cuts out again. The guys appear from the shop and start adjusting the cable, we try again a couple of times and now the bike isn’t cutting out, but it won’t go into neutral, the neutral warning light is on, but the bike is still moving forward. At this point I get off the bike and they carry on trying to make the necessary adjustments. Well, the upshot is that it cannot be repaired today, it seems the problem is not just the cable, something has gone wrong or broken within the clutch, probably the push rod has snapped. They are going to have to see if they can get a replacement part in Mexico or it will have to come from Kawasaki in Japan, so no idea how long that will be.
What to do now?? AM and I discuss the options, give up and go home or I can go on the back of AM and we can at least go up the mountain and have lunch. We agree with option 2 and soon we are on our way. We stop for a couple of snaps.
Very pretty… back on the bike and ever upwards, the higher we climb the colder it is getting. After a while we stop again and I put on my puffer jacket and am feeling much warmer. Soon we arrive at our destination, Restaurant Erika. Once inside I see this..
Just the cutest little Frenchie… awwww.
While we wait for our food a Mariachi Band comes in and starts serenading a couple in the corner of the room.
Apparently, this is how Mexicans celebrate significant birthdays… they are so good that I film some more
We have a delicious lunch, served by a young boy, well a child really. AM says they are always the ones who serve her, she thinks is it owned and run by a family.. mmm so what about international child labour laws?
Back on the bike and down the twisty roads back to the city. I get my camera out and try to take some film and photos on the way down.
Some photos are more successful than others, remember I am on the back of a moving motorcycle… anyway I was trying to capture the greenery and the mountains in the distance with the city sprawl beneath.
We ride past AM’s bike, waiting outside the shop
and continue on to my accommodation where AM drops me off before taking the bike back to her home, no point in leaving it with me.
Despite the drama it could have been a lot worse… in the end it was bound to happen so better for it to happen 600m from a bike workshop than at the top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere with no phone signal… it’s that silver lining again.
Now I really need to sort out my Covid 19 test before I fly to the States on Wednesday. I must have a negative PCR result up to 72 hours before I arrive so that means I need to get it done on Monday. All done so will go along to the test centre on Monday evening.
After a rest I decide to go out exploring and find there is another Starbucks nearby so make my way there. I actually pass the clinic where I will have the test on Monday so that’s useful. Starbucks is a part of a huge shopping mall… oooo I think I need to investigate that!
I have a really quite pleasant time just chilling and browsing.. I do manage to pick up a couple of items including a small disk lock, I forgot to bring one. There is a restaurant in the mall, they have pizza… oh I do hope it isn’t going to be another piece of hardboard. It’s perfect, very tasty, I really enjoy it.
Back to the room and one of the items is too small so I will have to take it back for an exchange, but that will have to wait for Monday.