That's when I finally realized that a lifetime of owning motorcycles and riding them up and down Highway 1 in California did not prepare me for this. I knew a lot of local riders but no one who rode through Arizona lightning. Does Mexico have heavy rain and lightning?
Things quickly got real for me and my shiny red street bike when I crossed the border at Nogales. The potholes were full of rain water. I had no idea the first one would be half-a-wheel deep. It bottomed my forks with a huge bang. That was followed by a second bang when my bash plate didn’t clear the asphalt edge of the pothole on the way out. I didn’t notice that my topcase flew open and, I would later discover, left my ear plugs, toothbrush and some clothes in the mud.
There were busses and trucks following close behind, driving aggressively, while I was discovering that my bike also didn’t clear the speed bumps (topes) without a loud bang. How durable are bash plates on shiny street bikes? I had never considered it. I could slow down, swerve across the speed bumps at an angle and not bash, but trucks would bear down on me when I tried.
Wait, what?! How could I—the guy who read every motorcycle magazine and had a stack of them up to my hip—not know this? If I drop my bike when my front fender fills with mud, causing the front wheel to stop rotating, how much does it cost to replace the plastic? $3,000? I wasn’t seeing any bikes like mine in Mexico. What happens if it breaks down? The sane thing would be to turn around and tour the U.S. instead. I didn’t think of that.