We keep saying it but the Mexican people we’ve encountered thus far have been so fun and great. Dave and I are now staying with friends we met three days ago. Omar and Luciana rode through Puerto Escondido, where we were staying the night, on their KTM adventure bike, which is when we first noticed them as we had seen only one adventure bike like ours in Mexico thus far going very fast in the opposite direction. (We hoped he wasn’t retreating hastily from what was down the pipe for us.)
The next morning, we saw Omar and Luciana on the street. We asked if they were headed north or south. Dave and I are constantly on the lookout for information and recommendations from riders who’ve passed through areas where we are going.
As it turned out, Omar and Luciana were going south in the direction we had planned, but then turning off and heading north around Salina Cruz to where they live in Villahermosa. They invited us to join them on the two-day ride and to stay at their house. It was a slight change in our plans as Dave and I had decided to ride south along the coast into Guatemala but we didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to share some adventures with locals.
And an adventure it was. Our route passed us through La Ventosa, which translates to “windy” and is aptly named for being the windiest place in Mexico. Some even argue the entire world. The winds come roaring across the Gulf of Mexico and hit the Pacific with nothing much in the way, except on this day, three motorcycles.
I should have clued in when we came to a toll booth and the guy taking my money was tsk’ing away saying something like, “Adelante, mucho viento, muy fuerte!” (Very strong winds ahead). I was thinking, “Thanks, we’ve got this,” having already come through several miles of strong gusts to this point. Off we rode away from the head shaking toll-taker muttering “muy loca.” (Very crazy).
Up until the toll-booth, I was feeling more comfortable riding in the wind. The trick was to create a centre of gravity just like in the corners; slide the body to the side, resting a butt cheek to the left or right on the seat. The hands keep the bike more upright by literally pushing it away from the body. So far the highway was also wide, smooth and paved. The winds had been strong enough to give me some adrenaline sparks but I could let them move me around without fear of being swept into oncoming traffic or the ditch. I felt I was getting the hang of it.
Then I saw the wind turbines ahead. There had been no wind turbines so far.
La Ventosa harnesses an impressive amount of wind energy in this area. There’s a reason for this. They have kite-surfing championships here and it’s famous for hurricane-force winds that flip heavy vehicles.
Past the toll-booth, I felt a gust slam so hard into me it almost knocked the wind out of me, pun intended. I rode a ways thinking it was just a rogue gust but it got worse and more consistent. It literally felt as though I had jumped sideways out of an airplane with my motorcycle and had to maintain that position for an unknown amount of time.
I turned on my headset and yelled over the wind to Dave, “I don’t think I can do this!” He started to pull over but slowing down meant losing your momentum and I didn’t want him to crash so I yelled, “Just keep going. Go, go go!”
He was so braced against the wind it looked like he and the bike were at a 40 degree angle to the pavement.
Our three motorcycles were travelling between the speeds of 120-140, mine being the slowest. It might seem like you should ride slowly in such wind in case you go down but in fact you need to ride fast to keep your line. When we later met up with one of Omar’s friends, Luis, who was riding a Ducati Panigale ahead of us, he said he was going 200 km per hour on that stretch. Even if my 650 cc could reach that speed, I would have a hard time deciding between the two evils of too fast or too windy.
After several more terrifying kilometers, we pulled into a gas station, the only shelter we’d seen in that stretch, and I caught my breath behind the wall of the station’s toilets. I knew I just had to keep going but also knew I absolutely couldn’t. The only thing turning around would offer would be the wind coming at us now from the right. What to do? Omar called Luis who was about an hour ahead of us. (That’s what 200 km per hour gets you. Off the effing windy road faster). Louis confirmed that THANK GOD the winds got better if we took the turn off we had just passed and headed north.
Dave makes fun of the lucky charms I have adorned my bike with but I fully believe they kept my bike on its wheels in winds we estimated to be about 60 km per hour. We were also lucky to have met Omar and Luciana. If not for them, Dave and I would have pressed on south in the wind as it was our route to Guatemala. We heard later the winds got worse in that direction.