On Tuesday morning, day 4, Milton’s arm was doing a little better. He could bend the elbow, the arm didn’t hurt too bad and actually seemed okay without wearing the splint. So the decision was he would ride with us for a ways and see how the arm held up. Unfortunately, Milton’s bike wasn’t happy and refused to co-operate. The large puddle of gasoline beneath the bike alerted us that there was a problem.
In a remarkable show of DRZ Solidarity, JT’s DRZ join in the protest with it’s own puddle of gasoline.
Hmmm, the two DRZs in the group leaking fuel from their carbs? What are the odds? The guys theorized that it was aged O rings in both their gas tank petcocks and carburetor float bowls and the lack of Ethanol in Mexican gasoline that was at the heart of this mystery. As I understand it, ethanol makes o rings swell more than pure gasoline. Neither JT or Milton had new O rings in their carbs and, perhaps, they weren’t as pliable as new ones. So, with no ethanol in the fuel, the o rings in both the petcocks and the carburetors shrunk and lack of pliability prevented them from then being able to maintain a tight seal. The petcock o ring allowed gas to leak down from the gas tank into the carb. The float seal in the carb was not able to seal and stop the the flow of fuel and, viola, gas was running out of the carb overflow tube and, in Milton’s case, filling up his cylinder with fuel and hydro-locking it (as it did back in Tula).
The short term solution was to pinch the fuel line from the gas tank to the carb whenever the bike wasn’t running. JT had a couple of hemostats in his tool bag for just such a use.
Unfortunately, Milton’s bike was hydro-locked again. It wasn’t a hard problem to solve but it would take time. Milton had the tools and know-how to solve the problem so the decision was made for the group to head out and for Milton to catch up to us later in the day once his bike was working again.
We suited up, waved good-bye to Milton, and rode out of town, unaware that fate had different plans for us and that we wouldn’t see Milton again for three days.
Our plan for the day was to ride west to a small town called Agua Zarca and then search for a dirt road that would take us to the town of Pisaflores. The dirt road we were looking for was one of those roads that we weren’t entirely sure actually existed. It was shown on two of our maps but not shown on the other two. Of course, there was only one way to find out if it actually existed so off we went.
Hwy 85 is a main artery in this part of Mexico. A few miles south of Aquismon, on Hwy 85, is a little roadside community of vendors with some very colorful signs. I had spotted it yesterday on our return trip to Aquismon but hadn’t taken the time to stop – you know how it is when the horse is headed to the barn at the end of the day. I wasn’t going to make that mistake again today.
If Mrs Trail Boss and I ever do a road trip to this part of Mexico I’m sure I will be stopping here so she can do a bit of shopping. :sun:
With our photographic needs met we continued west on Hwy 85, headed to Agua Zarca – a town Milton had mentioned to me as one he was really interested in visiting.
As previously mentioned, Hwy 85 is superb so I wasn’t disappointed at riding it again. Sure, we wanted to ride new roads but if we were going to have to re-ride any roads during this trip, then Hwy 85 would certainly be on the list.
Agua Zarca is up in the mountains, at about 4300 feet in elevation. The map indicated the road to Agua Zarca was a dirt road but once we arrived at the turn-off we discovered that it is now paved. Which wasn’t a bad thing. As good as Hwy 85 is, the road to Agua Zarca is even better. Really. I was stunned at how fun a road it was. The curves were tighter, the elevation changes more extreme, the views better, and there was less traffic. Wow, what a road. The next time you are in this area, ride to Agua Zarca. You won’t be disappointed.
The town of Agua Zarca is perched on the side of a mountain, which means there isn’t much flat space. So you build wherever you can.
After a bit of looking, we located the center of town and decided it was break time.
Maria, the gal running the little store where we bought cold drinks and snacks, turned out to be from Miami. She had been in Agua Zarca for two months visiting family. Since her English was excellent (she had been living in Miami since she was 6 years old) I thought I would ask her about the roads in the area that we wanted to ride. Unfortunately, she wasn’t much help because she didn’t really know the area very well.
Most towns in Mexico have a statue of a military or political leader. Agua Zarca is no different.
Everywhere we went, locals wanted to practice their English on us. Which was fine since we were always practicing our Spanish on them too. These gals spotted us and started saying things like “hello” and “what’s up”. We, of course, replied in English but their English was even worse than my Spanish so the conversation died rapidly. The only thing left to do was take a picture.
Kids are the same all over the world.
It was Political Season in Mexico and there were signs, posters, and other political ads everywhere. Agua Zarca even had a carnival, fully paid for by one of the political candidates.
After our break in Agua Zarca, we headed south toward the town of Pisaflores, in a valley 3000 feet below us. The map showed the road to Pisaflores to be dirt and, sure enough, it was dirt. What the map didn’t show was just how wonderful this road was. Of all the dirt roads we rode in Mexico on this trip, this one turned out to be one of the top 2. You want to ride this road.
About halfway to Pisaflores the road turned into pavement, which made me a little sad. It was such a spectacular dirt road that I wasn’t ready for it to end. However, the pavement into Pisaflores was very fun too, so it wasn’t a total letdown.
At just a 1000 feet in elevation it was hot in Pisaflores. In our original plan we had Pisaflores as an overnight stops but now that we were here we realized it was too dang hot. We needed a town at altitude and the town of Zimapan, at 4000 feet in elevation and not too far away, fit the bill perfectly.
Here is the route from Hwy 120 through Agua Zarca and on to Pisaflores. The black lines are pavement and the gold line is dirt. Unfortunately, the map doesn’t do the road justice – it has lots more curves than shown on the map.
From Hwy 120 turn south at the small town of El Lobo. Follow the oh-so-twisty pavemnt to Agua Zarca. From there ride the dirt road south toward Pisaflores. Halfway there the road becomes pavement but is still exceptional riding.
Once our break in Pisaflores was over, we road south out of the valley to Hwy 85. The same Hwy 85 we had ridden the first thing this morning. Hwy 85 starts in Monterrey, Mexico (about 300 miles north of where we are) and runs south skirting the eastern edge of the mountains. Near Tamazunchale Hwy 85 makes a sharp turn to the west and gets seriously twisty as it transitions from skirting the mountains to crossing directly over the mountains.
As good as Hwy 120 is and as much as I enjoyed riding it, I’m here today to tell you that this section of Hwy 85 is better. I think it may be the best pavement I’ve ever ridden. It’s that good. It would be a shame to come to this part of Mexico and not ride this road.
At a short break at a Pemex station on Hwy 85 I grabbed a photo of this beautiful plant. (Or tree?).
Once in Zimapan we located the Hotel Central on the plaza. It was a very nice place with a courtyard for safely parking the bikes overnight.
Once our gear was safely stowed away in our rooms and the bikes secure in the hotel, it was time to find some food. Luckily we ran into a young business man, Richie Palacious, who not only spoke very good English but also knew the lay of the land very well. He directed us to a small restaurant on the plaza that turned out to be the best meal of the entire trip. The guy that runs the place is a heck of a chef.
Fish, beef, bacon wrapped shrip, chicken…Mmmm…
The food was so good we asked the owner if he would open up early the next day so we could eat breakfast there. He graciously agreed.
It took awhile for the food to be cooked so we just hung out at the table, drinking a few cold beverages and enjoying ourselves.
Chuck decided to practice his cowboy skills.
In the midst of all this two young ladies walking by spotted Richie and came over to give him a kiss. A short conversation ensued and Richie invited them to sit down for a few minutes.
Our after-dinner activities consisted of taking in the sights and snapping a few pics.