Three Strange Days

Guadalajara to Puerto Vallarta

M, you OK?" That's the first thing I remember hearing after I had decided to perform a dirt angel before all my fellow riders on the Tequilas Ride tour. As Ken Faught lifted the bike off me, all I could think was this is the longest day of my life! Little did I know I still had another seven hours of riding left before day two would come to a close.

It goes like this: A few months ago Ken (aka "The Boss") offered me a chance to go on an adventure ride in Mexico. He said it would be great, Bill Berroth from FMF and Sidi was coming along, Paul Eddy from Acerbis and Chris Jonnum from Cycle News would be along for the ride. The plan was simple: the guys from Tequilas Ride would take us on a three-day trip from Guadalajara in the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains of central Mexico to Puerto Vallarta on the western coast's Mexican Riviera. All I kept thinking was how this would be a paid vacation which included some riding and ended in a resort town--who was I to say no? So in August I hopped aboard a plane bound for Mexico and the riding experience of my life was soon to begin.

I thought the riding conditions would be similar to that of Baja--you know, motoring down a dusty dirt road in fifth gear collecting bugs in your teeth. But as we set off on our ride I was quickly blown away by what I saw. Narrow technical trails ushered us through a forest on our way over the mountains. As we traveled high above the valley we were presented with views below that seemed surreal, as if we were looking at a rack of postcards. No matter where you turned the land was blanketed in fields of green. Cattle grazing on the side of the hills and small villages built a hundred years ago were the only things that broke up all that verdure.

Throughout the 300-plus-mile trip we found ourselves in water--Mexico has a rainy season from June to October. So as you can imagine, the conditions on a few occasions were muddy and a bit slippery. By the first day I had lost count of the number of water crossings we went through. We traveled through a three-foot-high, 100-yard stream in a small town outside of Tapalpa that turned out to be the town's Main Street. Twenty to 30 people cheered and smiled as we rode through their town. The thing about the Mexican people was they always extended a warm welcome to us, with a smile and a wave as we passed through their towns. At no point did I ever feel unwelcome.

The towns we passed through were works of architecture and full of history. Built mostly in the 1800s, they were usually quite similar to one another. Their layouts almost always centered around a beautifully constructed church. Here you would find kids playing and people gathered together and socializing. Surrounding the church often were several small homes that looked more like warehouses. These hamlets were a huge contrast to the Americanized cities of Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara where you can get a Big Mac to go.

At $2300, this five-day tour (due to schedule conflicts, we only participated in the riding days) is a bargain for what you get and what you see. The accommodations were second to none in both Guadalajara--the second largest city in Mexico and the birthplace of tequila, mariachi and jarabe tapatio (the Mexican hat dance)--and Puerto Vallarta. In Puerto Vallarta we stayed at the Premiere Hotel and Spa which was located on the beach, providing a striking view of the Pacific Ocean right off your balcony. Although the hotels in the small towns of Tapalpa and Talpa de Allende lacked some of the amenities of the larger hotels we stayed at in Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta, they were cozy and comfortable.

The itinerary we rode covered an average of 100-plus miles a day. One piece of advice I would like to share is be honest about your riding ability. I know we all like to think we are faster than we really are, but honesty in this case, is key. The guys at Tequilas Ride have different options for your riding ability and your terrain preferences. Let the boys tailor a trip suited to your abilities and you can have a perfect time.

Tequilas Ride

Avenida Naciones Unidas #4953-A
Col. Jardines Patria C.P. 45110
Zapopan, Jal., Mexico
P.O. Box 1605-B Pacific Rim Ct.
PMBO 27-67/439015
San Diego, CA 92143-9015

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