You're here for a good time, not for a long time.

You're here for a good time, not a long time.

May 14, 2011

Work, Work, Work

Despite a stuffed nose over the last couple days, I am happy to finally announce some progress here in Cuernavaca.  At 95F degrees every afternoon, it’s very difficult to get out of bed and move around, let alone gear up and hop on a burning hot engine.  Even so, Al and I have been on the move the last two days taking care of what we promised during this ten day break.

Yesterday started late as usual.  It is so hot at night here that we simply cannot fall asleep until around 2:00am.  We stay up sweating until midnight and then start our bedtime routine: cold shower, hunt mosquitos, shower again, then lie in bed while the remaining ‘moscos’ get their fill.  Naturally, we like to sleep in until around 10:00am or later.

After a hodgepodge breakfast, Al got to work taking his muffler apart because it had a leak.  He gotit off pretty quickly and then rode my bike to a nearby ‘mofle’ shop to weld the hole shut.  If you have been following along, you may remember that I messilyreplaced my broken clutch cable about 1,400 miles ago with some spare raw materials purchased in La Paz.  It was a great temporary fix, and Wednesday, its lifespan ended while Alex was heading to the muffler shop.

The cable again snapped unpredictably and this time Alex had to deal with it on the streets of Cuernavaca alone.  Luckily, I had left all my tools and spares in my panniers and he had everything he needed.  Since we had never trusted the repair from the start, we bought a second line of cable in La Paz assuming this day would eventually come.  This time around, Alex only had to detach the cable on both ends and pull it out of the stock tubing.  The La Paz replacement and spare were both smaller diameter cables (primary reason we never trusted them) and therefore Al was able to slide the fresh one back through the tubing without disassembling the entire top end.

He came back and explained to me the ordeal.  I was pretty happy that the cable had snapped during the one stint in the last 1,400 miles that Al rode my bike.  Likewise,I was also fretting because the spare that he installed was the exact same as that which had just snapped.  It was not suitable for continuing south.  So, while Alex installed his patched muffler, I researched three possible locations where I might be able to find a DR650 clutch cable. 

I took the first three results that Google delivered for Suzuki motorcycles and pulled them up on the map.  What luck that all three were within a couple of miles of each other.  I memorized the route, sketched a rudimentary map with my three targets, and prayed that one of these places actually existed.

With Al’s bike put back together, we took off for the freeway.  Mexican street signs are pretty worthless so I always go by landmarks.  I lead onto the freeway heading north looking for the movie theater on the right side a few miles up; that was my exit.  Sure enough, the Cinemex came into view and we took the exit.  My first target was called Suzuki Motors and it was directly east on the main road.  We followed the road for about two miles until it literally dead ended in a cul-de-sac.  Great.

We turned around and rode back under the freeway heading west on the same road.  The second shop was supposed to be just a few blocks past the underpass, but again, it did not exist.  Classic.  The last Google hit was Potenza Motors.  They were to be a few miles further northwest.  We continued on, made a few U-turns while finding our bearings, and eventually got on the right street.

Finally at the crest of a long, unpromising hill, I saw the beacon of hope: a big red Suzuki sign hanging off a building surrounded by motorcycles.  Sure enough, we had found a legitimate business in Mexico through legitimate planning; I was starting to wonder if this country really understood the purpose of maps or addresses.

Inside the dealership we hit the jackpot.  Spark plugs, clutch cables, tires; they had it all… and it was all way overpriced.  Seriously, we were floored to find that everything we needed cost about 70% more in Mexico than in the states.  I was done putting this off though.  I got cheap before leaving home and thought I could make to Argentina without bringing some very important spare parts.  It is fitting that I pay nearly twice as much down for them when I had had the opportunity to swing by any motorcycle shop in Western Washington two months prior to departure.  I ended up paying $70 for a new clutch cable (which will hopefully arrive by Monday) and $15 for two spark plugs.  

Excited with our discovery of real a Suzuki dealership, Alex and I took off feeling more momentum than we have in quite a while.  We did another grocery run which should last until we take off from Cuernavaca on Monday.  That evening, we got smart and cooked dinner early with the windows open.  Then we ate and watched about six hours of American TV programming.  Thank God for the NBA finals.

This morning, we kept the momentumgoing and did some necessary maintenance on the bikes.  Most importantly, we checked our valve clearance.  Part of the 12,000 mile tune up, this was a little early on my bike (currently at 10,200mi) but now I don’t have to do it again for another four oil changes.  It wasn’t too difficult of a process, but it was definitely as deep into an engine as I have been. 

In brief, you take off the seat and gas tank so you can access the engine.  Remove the spark plugs to release engine compression and then remove the valve covers.  Check the cover O-rings and then roll the bike forward in gear until the uncovered valve sits at its highest point.  Then, use the correct feeler gauges to make sure there is appropriate clearance between the four valves and their adjustment screws.  Thanks to our friend the internet, the check went off without a hitch; our valves were spot on and we made no adjustments. 

Still in the zone, we also cleaned our air filters (Baja was not easy on them), checked tire pressure, and waxed our chains.  Somewhere in the next 1,000 miles we will replace our brake pads, but not until they are further worn.  Also on the to-do list: tires.  Alex needs a rear tire ASAP and mine is running on the last 20% of its tread.  Otherwise, these bikes are simple enough that there is not much maintenance ahead in the next 10,000 miles except for chains and flats (assuming my forks hold out over these Mexican speed bumps).

These next two days I want to check out downtown a little more and also walk through the black market here in Cuernavaca.  ‘La Fayuca’ (black market) is pretty amazing here and I want to see what these Mexican digital pirates have been up to over the past four years; as I remember, you could buy any media in any format you wanted last time I was here.  The weekend will be here soon and it will be full of more swimming, a visit to some Mexican caves, and hopefully a chance to catch up with Luis and examine the latest crop of Zags.  I’ll need to be well rested.

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