Tiffani's Yamaha FZ-07 Tour: Sometimes You Need To Improvise

Chapter 3, Part 7.

Tiffani Mexico
Mazatlán reminded me a bit of home with the big crowds, tall, elaborate buildings, wide variety of food, bustling downtown shopping district and, of course, the beautiful beaches. The traffic was perhaps even crazier than Los Angeles ever was, though!Photo: Tiffani Burkett

Waking up in Mazatlán a few steps from the beach in a little apartment that costs next to nothing really isn't the worst way to get a first impression of a place! We spent our first day in town walking along the beach, where we ran into our cyclist friends from the ferry ride, who had also opted to laze away a few extra days in the area upon arriving. Great minds think alike, I guess!

We scoped out the downtown shopping district, explored the beaches where venders were peddling everything from donuts to dresses to fresh fish, lobsters and oysters to the crowds of Mexican families. For 10 pesos, which comes out to about $0.50 USD right now, they would shuck a large oyster on the spot for you. I will say street food in Mexico absolutely does not disappoint.

We found ourselves battling a spider that must have had a leg span of at least 6 inches (that awkward moment where you think you see a mouse and then when you turn on the lights, you're not sure what you're more afraid of!) and we even found a restaurant themed for the Big Lebowski! The best part of all, though, was having consistent enough WiFi to sit down and watch the Daytona 200. Great racing from Danny Eslick! So grateful for things like Fanschoice.tv that mean I don't have to cut racing out of my life even when I'm on the road!

Tiffani Mexico
300 pesos ($15) will get you three live, freshly caught lobsters in Mazatlán. 10 pesos will get you a fresh, shucked oyster. These are the things I like about Mexico, haha.Photo: Tiffani Burkett

As we walked along the shoreline, another rider from Canada who lived in Mexico during the winter months (an extremely common thing down here, turns out) told us about some of the local roads that he felt shouldn’t be missed. While our original plan was going to be heading down the coast, stories of the Espinazo del Diablo and wild-west-style towns had us setting our sights for Durango.

Tiffani Mexico
Some of that Mexican ingenuity. One thing I like about this country is the people’s ability to improvise when facing problems they either can’t afford or aren’t equipped to fix. I was even more grateful for that when my tire needed a patch!Photo: Tiffani Burkett

The morning of our departure from Mazatlán, I hustled to finish up some work as Hollywood took my bike to try to find a shop that could patch the rear tire internally. Turns out, getting tires for a bike that’s bigger than 125cc with more than 100mm width is easier said than done in Mexico. And it’s very, very expensive when you do find it. Also, the humidity in Mazatlán was so dense my phone had shorted its charge port the night before when I had tried to charge it. So with no way to fix it and the dread of potentially taking a huge budget hit to replace the tire looming over me, I was struggling to keep my morale up. First world problems in a third world country, eh.

Tiffani Mexico
If you’re having a bad day and THIS doesn’t make you feel better, then you need to let out some of that hate in your heart.Photo: Tiffani Burkett

Much to my delight, one of those problems did get solved. And it was the far more important one. After searching shop after shop, Hollywood finally found a place willing to patch the tire and for only $3, my bike was good to go again! Which was doubly good because cost aside, switching from my dual-sport Shinko 705s to a sport-biased tire was the last thing I wanted to do, given the abundance of dirt roads even in major cities.

But with only one of a handful of problems, solved my spirits were still pretty low. I had to convince myself to want to get moving. Now, I will say one thing that never changes about riding a motorcycle: No matter how many days you do it, when you throw your leg over that seat, get out of the city and hop on a fun, open, scenic, twisty road, cares melt away. Immediately, every bit of stress you’ve ever had no longer matters. Your problems get put on hold for the magic of the moment, gliding around turn after turn, over bridges, through tunnels, sweeping around blind turns to a reveal of epic scenery. I probably don’t say this enough, especially given some recent challenges, but I love my bike. While it is only passable in the dirt, the FZ-07 is just so perfectly and exquisitely at home in the mountains.

Tiffani Mexico
The highway from Mazatlán to Durango included 115 tunnels and 63 bridges, one of which is the tallest cable-stayed bridge in the world. The views were every bit as spectacular as you would hope.Photo: Tiffani Burkett

Although the road was marred by some fairly high tolls and quite a bit of road construction, the hot coastal desert quickly gave way to mountains lined with brightly colored rocks and cliffs, the scent of pine trees and cool, refreshing air. It felt like riding out of a formerly drought-ridden Southern California into the mountains of Colorado. I was just so, so happy up there. These are the things I love getting to share with a partner. It would almost feel selfish to keep something so incredible all to myself!

Unfortunately, this feeling didn’t last too long. We rolled into Durango in the late afternoon, as the construction on the road had really slowed us down and set us behind schedule. I tried to book a room via Airbnb again, as camping was notoriously unsafe inland. But the host became unresponsive and the address we had received took us down a dark dirt road toward an abandoned field in the barrio. After a frustrating hour of a wild goose chase, having car after car almost take me out while trying to navigate at night in the careless and chaotic streets of the mainland cities, we called it quits and got a cheap hotel, searching through three different rooms before we found one without visible roaches. I’m starting to remember why I hate cities so much.

I went to bed feeling pretty dejected. The next morning, I used Hollywood’s phone to get my money refunded from the Airbnb debacle of the night before and we attempted to hunt down a wireless charger for my phone. While a lot of modern technology exists in Mexico, the accessories for it all oddly don’t come right to hand. Not long into that day’s ride, Hollywood’s microphone stopped working on our Scala Rider communicators, so now we were back to hand signals in a place where the traffic was the most ruthless to date, and the consistently unmarked roads made navigating a nightmare. Just one thing after the other. I’m starting to think technology and the great conveniences I have come to take for granted might be the bane of my existence.

Tiffani Mexico
Tony really saved the day in so many ways, I couldn’t even put it into words how much these little things meant. I was so happy to learn that the love and community between motorcyclists transcends culture, nationality and even language!Photo: Tiffani Burkett

The good news is, the universe can only be so mean for so long. As we pulled into a shopping mall, we were directed to the motorcycle parking area, where a local named Tony was getting on his BMW with his daughter, ready to head out. He stopped as we pulled in to make introductions in the usual way that other bikers so often do, and he spoke more than enough English to help us out. When he heard of our plight, without a second thought, he made a phone call, and told us to follow him. He brought us to a store a few blocks away that had everything we needed, and then asked us where we were staying. It turned out, he owned a restaurant nearby, so he was more than happy to feed us and let us camp out for as long as we needed in the patio area.

Seriously, what just happened?! It felt like nearly every struggle I had had was instantly remedied in one fell swoop and I could barely believe his kindness. Motorcycle people truly are the best people! Looks like we’re going to be staying in Durango a few days after all!

Tiffani Mexico
The road from Mazatlán to Durango seemed especially tough, but it all worked out in the end.Photo: Tiffani Burkett