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Michelle and I had been in Baja for better than a month, but that was over now.

Photos and story by Scooter Tramp Scotty.

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Editor's Note from the Week Magazine, November 10, 2014: Mexico has finally released a former Marine who was jailed for eight months after crossing the Mexican border with loaded guns in his car. Andrew Tahmooressi, 25, had recently moved to Southern California from Florida and said he took a wrong turn out of a San Ysidro parking lot and did not intend to enter Mexico. After a congressional hearing on the case last month and intense pressure from the U.S., a Mexican judge ordered Tahmooressi's release on humanitarian grounds, because he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. His family said he would seek treatment for "the residual effects of months of incarceration—which has taken a toll on him far worse than his two tours in Afghanistan."

The third story in a series of three.
Part One:  See more 
Part Two:  See more 

Morning brought warm weather and a cup of lukewarm coffee from a thermos. Our camp was hidden some distance into the desert and it was time to pull the day’s plan together, so I spread the map out. Like the U.S., Mexico is sectioned into states and we were now in Sinaloa—drug lord capital, as everybody knows. In the big city some 200 miles south lay our destination of the Mazatlan Motorcycle Rally, which was scheduled to begin in a few days.


Michelle and I had been in Baja for better than a month, but that was over now. Last night we’d made the six hour journey across the Sea of Cortez aboard a huge car ferry and in the company of a Mexican Motorcycle Club—the Baja Bikers. Mexico is crisscrossed with ridiculously expensive toll roads called autopistas and it was one of these well paved highways that would lead the Baja Bikers to Mazatlan. But those guys had saved well for this vacation and money was not an issue. Michelle and I would be taking the free road. This would lead us through the town of Culiacan; a place owned by the cartels.
Mazatlan Fishing Harbor
Mazatlan Fishing Harbor


We set out.

The little road ran inland from the toll highway and its pavement was surprisingly good. The air grew steadily hotter as our bikes passed through the rolling hills of sparsely populated countryside, green trees, and dry meadows. It was downright hot by the time we entered Culiacan. I often take great pains to avoid traveling in excessive heat because riding for any length of time on sizzling blacktop when the air peaks 100 degrees is a truly miserable experience. To this end, I pulled into a downtown gas station to seek refuge in the shade. It was not long before I found the door leading to the station’s shower. Over Michelle’s protestations that we should ask permission, I grabbed our soap then bulldozed brazenly into the cool shower water. Free of sticky sweat now, we emerged refreshed to sit in the shade and drink soda for a couple of hours.


Because of Culiacan’s drug lord status, it seemed strange to see an American pull his Road King to the pumps of this predominantly Mexican town. I struck a conversation. The story was that he’d broken down here the year before and some locals had taken him into their home then helped to get the motorcycle running. This guy was simply returning to visit friends.

By late afternoon Michelle and I resumed the journey. Our evening camp was hidden in trees just off the road. It was early afternoon of the following day when we finally pulled into Mazatlan.

As usual, my first order of business was to locate land upon which we could call home for the duration of our stay. At the city’s north end I found a private spot hidden under low tropical trees that offered shade from the beating sun as well as barricade from the ocean breeze. This would be home. Tomorrow, daily showers would be acquired by joining a local gym. Today however, we’d simply cruse the city before moseying over to the rally.

I’d been here before.

As we rode slowly southward along the malekon (Spanish word meaning coastal road through town) I saw that the huge city had not changed much. Among so many trinket shops, taco stands, ice cream parlors, internet cafés, bars, etc., stood a blockade of  monolith hotels; all geared toward acquiring the money of so many tourists visiting from abroad. In openings where the ocean could be seen from the road, I watched beautiful beaches with bikini clad women lounging among the masses of fat tourists as occasional salesmen hocked their jewelry and other goods to any who were interested. Across the wave-less water little boats pulled visitors strapped into para-sails that suspended them 100 feet above the ocean. Jet skies could be rented. And there was volleyball too.

Many years ago, in accordance with counsel from the Department of Tourism, the motorcycle rally dates were changed to coincide with those of the largest celebration in Mexico - Easter; and we were riding directly into the thick of it.

The malekon became a slow gridlock of American Graffiti traffic, and bikers too. As cars cruised while the city went crazy, we saw drinking everywhere. People were sitting in their rides swilling cans of Tecate while cops stood outside directing traffic. One truck pulled a flatbed trailer furnished with two apposing love seats, their occupants, coffee table, and a keg of beer sitting in the open. Cops said nothing. Partying is a large part of the Mexican culture and, unlike in the U.S., is not illegal or considered dangerous.

I hung a left, moving away from the ocean. We came upon the inner city campground at which the rally had been held when last I’d visited. It had been a smallish affair then. There’d been a lot of old Jap bikes and one road farther into town that had been closed to run the drag races. These had been strictly a run-what-you-brung competition. But the campground was no longer there and in its place stood a Mega supermarket instead. I stopped at a taco stand to ask riders gathered there where the rally had been moved to. It was not far.
Gringo with Mexican wife
Gringo with Mexican wife


To my surprise, the rally was taking place on the pavement of a HUGE fenced lot. In a chair beside the entrance gate the club president, an old friend of mine, sat checking tickets. Alberto speaks perfect English and is somewhat of a Mexican yuppie/overachiever. I’d known this loud yet humble man for some years before learning that he owns The Shrimp Factory restaurant (in my early visits he pretended to be only an employee) here in Mazatlan, one like it in Cabo San Lucas, and another in Cancun. Alberto lives in a beautiful house on the ocean (I’ve been there); drives an Explorer, rides a late model Dyna; owns a local biker bar; and is a very active club member and one of the founders of this rally. 

After our re-acquaintance he took us to the registration table and we were given wrist bands—free of charge. We went inside. The grounds were huge, most of the bikes beautiful, and vendors were everywhere. The stage was like something from any large American concert. Even the band that night was from Colorado. Were it not for the fact that most were Mexican, I’d have thought us still back in the states. We were soon reacquainted with the Baja Bikers; but also made many new friends, and ran into a few old ones too. 
Michelle changes her tire
Michelle changes her tire


When the week had ended, the road called again. The byways that led high and across the Sierra Madre Mountain range, through Coahuala, and eventually into Texas would also pass through the other drug lord state of Durango and we were warned not to go. But there was no way around these obstacles and it was beyond them that New Orleans and Daytona waited. So, with bikes again packed, we set off into the mountains.
Riding Mexico
Riding Mexico


But then that’s another story.

Because I find this example of the biker’s spirit, will to ride, thrive, and support charity so moving I have included a short history of this rally and the tiny club that came out of nowhere to organize it.
Cops at rally
Cops at rally


In 1985 five motorcyclists from Mazatlán decided to go on planned Sunday morning motorcycle rides. Back then only certain motorcycles were allowed to be imported into Mexico and riders could not acquire the bikes they really wanted. In 1987 free imports on motorcycles was declared. "Moto Club Mazatlan." was soon formed. All motorcycles were accepted. Very rapidly this small group grew and enjoyed frequent trips and official weekly meetings. It was during one of these meetings that the late Ermes Escobar, who’d been to the Daytona rally, mentioned the desire to organize an annual event in Mazatlan. In 1996 the first rally was held with great success. It was simply called "Bike Week". 
Colorado Band playing at rally
Colorado Band playing at rally


In November of 1997 the club and event was legally constituted as a civil partnership. The organization of this event is held annually by the Directors of Moto Club Mazatlan and supported by advertisers, commercial sponsors, the Department of Tourism, and other Local Authorities. In 2001, due to the influx of participants from different neighboring countries, Motoclub Mazatlan changed the rally’s name to “International Motorcycle Week”. For its fifteenth Anniversary in the year 2010, the "Discovery Channel" brought its program "Two Wheel Thunder" and filmed the event. YouTube links can be found at the bottom of this article.

From a small first year event held in a vacant lot with an attendance of about 75 bikes, the rally has grown as it’s migrated from place to place and, ultimately, onto the huge site at which it is now held and into the monster it has become.

The rally’s activities include, but are not limited to: Beach parties, round-the-clock live concerts, a 4 x 4 route, regional rides and tours, many different contests, motorcycle races and competitions, and the Grand Parade, which is claimed as the Largest Motorcycle Parade in the World. It is a wild, fun, clean, crazy, and totally chaotic, event.
Sid and Bev
Sid and Bev


Aside from Bike Week, Motoclub Mazatlan also participates in many charitable events including Christmas toy runs for orphans, benefit car washes, beach clean-ups, and more.

Watch the Discovery Channel video: 

Contrary to popular belief, Mexico is not really what the media—the great American propaganda machine—would like to scare us into believing it is. I hope this article has helped to clear the air a bit. --Scooter Tramp Scotty

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Reader Comments

I've been spending some winters in Mexico for many years. The man in your video, Alberto, owner of the Shrimp Factory, is the same old buddy who got Michelle and I into the rally for free, as mentioned in the accompanying article. I've been to his beautiful house on the cliffs above the sea numerous times. He is a very kind and extremely active man; especially in the biking community.

I think the information contained here is a striking example of just how completely the American propaganda machine controls its people through lies, fear, and deceit. All countries have their problems. Focus on those here in the U.S. and it's the same. Yet, the trouble makers are only a small percentage of the population and most of us simply live pretty well.

Scotty Kerekes (Scooter Tramp Scotty)
New Orleans , LA
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Editor Response Well said!

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