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The Best and Worst Ride of My Life

2 Jul 2010

Mexico City, Mexico
5,728 km


My way took me next to Metepec, which is a large city high in the hills to the west of the capital. Here I met some people through and ended up drunk and somewhat stranded at a house party until after 4 in the morning. It was a good time and a fine, unexpected experience but the next day I was riding back to Mexico City and back to the motorcycle shop because the old problem had come back riding up into the thin air of the mountain around Metepec.


At the motorcycle shop I was greeted with friendly surprise by the mechanics. I said that I had come back because I missed them and Tocayo, after listening to my explanation that the mechanical problem had come back and borrowing my favorite Spanish expression, said, ‘Hostias, man! Find another excuse for visiting us.’ Memo was very upset because he takes much pride in his work but also he was intrigued because he likes nothing more than to take on a good mechanical challenge. He did some more tinkering and again the problem appeared to be solved.


In the afternoon Memo had to go to a Sam’s Club on the far outskirts at the other end of the city to activate a newly purchased motorbike. He rode the small shop bike and another mechanic rode passenger and I followed on my bike to see the city and test the repairs. No traffic can possibly be so bad as how Mexico City commuters describe the traffic of their city; however, if any traffic can even come close to the horrors of gridlock that they describe, then it is the traffic of Mexico City – and this was the first day back to school! Also, Memo is a devil on a motorbike. He rides as hard as I’ve ever seen someone ride and doesn’t let a cc of potential go un-exerted towards propelling the bike forward. He rode a small bike with a passenger and tore through the traffic, weaving among cars and cutting lanes with a hair’s breadth of clearance.


We did more than 100 kilometers within the city and it was the most challenging motorcycle ride of my life. At lunch, after the work was done at the Sam’s Club and we knew that we would be returning through the city during rush hour, I said to Memo, ‘Si muero, dile a mi mamá que morí como un valiente – if I die, tell my mother that I died valiantly.’ But coming back was not so hard because the bottleneck traffic brought the motorcycles as well as the cars to an almost complete standstill. The cars were packed so tightly that frequently there was no room to cut between lanes and, when we could, there was often a bottleneck of motorcycles backed up along the dividers. Downtown we stopped at a wholesaler and Memo purchased cleaning supplies in bulk for the shop and the mechanic that was his passenger whom everyone called ‘Jim’ rode with boxes under his arms and bags in hands so that the vehicle now looked twice the size as it had. I also strapped what I could to my bike, which was already fully loaded with my gear. Like this we drove through the historic center and stopped as long as we could in the Plaza de la Consitución so that I could take it in and snap a picture before a police officer hurried us along. 


We arrived back at the shop at dusk, alive and well and with no trace of the sickness that had been plaguing my motorcycle. It was a great ride, one of the finest I’ll ever have, and one that I hope never to do again. That evening we went for dinner and finished my first beer in two long pulls.

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