Ride South: Guanajuato & México City

Before hitting México City, we’d decided to make a stop in Guanajuato. Guanajuato (pronounced a bit like ‘wanna hot dog’ without the ‘g’ part of ‘hot dog’) is, like Zacatecas, a city with rich history and beautiful old architecture.

Guanajuato-00147

Much like small Iberian and Italian towns it is largely free of cars, as its narrow windy streets carve narrowly into hills and don’t allow vehicles to go up and down them.

L1002528

However, rather fascinatingly, the city is built on an extensive network of tunnels, where cars do go.

Guanajuato-00030

L1002498

Thus, walking and riding to and through Guanajuato is going through an underground spiderweb of tunnels and underground intersections.

Guanajuato-00037

Guanajuato-00041

It’s incredibly cool, and the city above it all is gorgeous and labyrinthine.

Guanajuato-00055

Exploring it at night shows all of the warm wonders of a Mexican winter night in a town: zero tourists, outdoor book merchants and small food stands vending tacos or other treats, couples kissing in every corner of the beautiful parks and children playing everywhere.

Guanajuato-00039

There is a warmth and careless kind of energy in these towns that is incredibly inspiring and a joy to be in and around.

L1002540

L1002531

On the ride to Guanajuato (which was rather… uneventful, and full of grim industrial landscapes) Stu found his bike to be making some strange sounds.

L1002554

L1002569

Entirely unrelated to this, some of his left-side handlebar controls came loose…

L1002481

Which was a quick roadside fix, but the noise persisted.

L1002483

L1002486

What’s worse, the sound was coming from inside the engine case.

L1002561

We decided to hurry up and diagnose it in a good spot. We rode the Cuota (toll road) all the way to Toluca, which was close enough to México City, where we’d meet a local and ADVRider forum member that offered to host us during Christmas.

L1002592

We were hoping to diagnose and fix the issue with Stu’s bike and ride up the majestic local stratovolcano, Nevado de Toluca, but once we cracked open the engine case we came to a stop.

L1002611

Uh oh.

This is not good. This particular spring is a coil spring, an essential part of the bike’s timing mechanism. Without the spring, the engine could fail catastrophically. It had already been rattling around inside the engine — though fortunately not doing too much damage — and now we needed some rather specialized parts to fix it.

We were stuck here for a bit.

L1002623

After deliberating (and walking around Toluca eating delicious tacos – for science) we met up with Garry, our host and fellow rider, and Stu decided to just ride it to México City to fix it up there.

Sadly the KLR wasn’t starting.

L1002642

… but, after some help of the local hotel, some failed bump start attempts and one pocket battery jumper later we had it running!

L1002644

We rode the hour and a half-or so into town until we arrived at Garry’s and enjoyed some downtime over the holidays… as well as awaiting our getting hands on the parts and tools needed for a fix.

Many thanks to Garry and his family for being such an infinitely helpful, patient and fantastic host in México City. Not only did he help us by meeting us in Toluca, he let us store the bikes, work on them, and rode us into town and to the airport. What a guy.

L1002646

We returned with parts and tools in tow, and a renewed lust for fixing the KLR and new adventures.

Volcanoes await!

You may also like