The extra day in Zacatecas meant we’d blow off a night in San Luis Potosi in lieu for a longer ride to perhaps the richest colonial city in the region, Guanajuato. With a head start on our packing and the sun still low in the sky we made the break out of Zacatecas and headed towards San Luis Potosi.
For only the second time in 4 months, I’m traveling with someone. Logistics change, freedom is restricted and responsibilities increase. Our differences are as plentiful as our similarities and common interests. Passionate about his own decisions related to riding gear, packing strategies and accessories, Jeremiah believes he is right and such decisions are the only and the best. As such, Jeremiah tends to compensate for climactical changes by making more stops on the road. If it’s too cold, too hot or raining he’s got to pull over. So as we cruised toward Guanajuato I made the decision to just ride by if he needed to make a change. I’d slow down, take a photo up the road or simply leisurely cruise knowing that he’d catch up soon enough. With Jeremiah and his North and South American ride self-title “Jeremiah’s Journey“, I coined his new nickname – J. J. – a term of endearment he refuses to accept and adamantly requests ceased. I just can’t do that.
Motorcycle traveler decorum dictates that common courtesy is to wait for fellow travelers at a major route change or turn. So after J.J. had stopped a few times, I pulled over at the turn toward Pinas and waited. And waited. A dilapidated flat bed truck pulled over in front of the Jesus Cristo monument sitting at the crossroads of these roads. They had seen Jeremiah back the road near Salinas. From their point of view he was simply stopping for a snack or riding adjustment. I waited a bit longer. And waited. Still no Jeremiah. Salinas was about 24 kilometers back. I decided to go back.
The incident he had the night we arrived in Zacatecas had come back to haunt him. His motorcycle was overheating. We looked for the usual symptoms. We spotted stains from coolant that had overflowed or leaked. When I arrived at the scene near Salinas, two truck drivers were giving him advice. After topping the overflow cavity and with the bike cooled, we set out again. This time only to go 5 miles before the bike overheated again.
We turned around and headed back to Salinas, a non-descript town between Zacatecas and SaN Luis Potosi and pulled the plastic off his bike to get a closer look at the radiator and cooling system. At first I thought perhaps the thermostat stuck. We saw sub below zero temperatures in Creel. But after a quick call to the good folks at Brattin Motors in San Diego we learned that thermostat problems were virtually non-existant on our bikes. We found no coolant in the engine oil which ruled out the possibility of a blown head gasket. There had to be a leak. Ironically enough, engine oil was available for purchase at the Pemix station where we found shelter from the beating desert sun. But engine coolant? With parts strewn about the gas station, I rode my bike into town for coolant. We flushed and bled the cooling system and set out again, stopping ever so often to inspect. Sure enough. The radiator was leaking.
All this troubleshooting and minor wrenching ate up most of our day. As we rode through the historical part of San Luis Potosi and onto the Autopista our sunlight quickly disappeared. An inexpensive motel along the route just outside of town provided secured parking and a computer with internet access. Once again, we verified a slight leak in Jeremiah’s radiator. The fluid must have been leaking since we left Creel a week or so ago and by the time we hit Zacatecas the low coolant level combined with the stop and go traffic of packed streets was all his Dakar, “El Viento” could take. A quick review of the FAQs on the awesome Chain Gang website confirmed a known issue with many of these bikes had defective radiators that could develop small pin-hole sized leaks. I wondered if the oversized fork gaiters and engine protection bars that Jeremiah installed perhaps obstructed air flow to the radiator and overtime compromised the integrity of the radiator core. Regardless of how or why, the radiator leaked. Thankfully Jeremiah carried some sort of stop leak material which we put in his radiator before leaving for Guanajuato the following morning. Word on the internet indicated this was a viable solution considering the closest BMW dealer was more than 500 miles away.
The ride to Guanajuato was fine. No further leaking. No more overheating, other than the fact he gets a bit hot under the collar when I call him J.J.
Photos: (1) Don’t know what happened to the rest of this guys truck, but at least he’s wearing his helmet; (2) The new hot BMW Dual Sport Scooter? At 650cc what is this thing?