60 miles off-road on the Madass

So its been a while since we have shared a motorcycle story, so here goes one from Belize. We are a little behind on the blog, so bare with us 🙂

We were camped for a few days in the very fun San Ignacio, Belize. It’s the jumping off point for a ton of touristy activities into the jungle and even into Guatemala to Tikal. We arent the tour group type, so we identified some nearby water falls and natural swimming pools that we wanted to visit on the map.

On the map is was an squiggly 30 miles to a national reserve and onward to the waterfalls and other natural wonders we sought. We are now veterans with Belize roads, and we knew this was going to be an offroad adventure. We gave the little MadAss motorcycles a mini tuneup and preflight and then we were on our way. We had two looming concerns, one was fuel. We only have about a 1.2 gallon tank on our motorcycles, and this would be tough and hard going for them, and fuel economy would suffer. The other concern was time. We simply do NOT ride the motorcyles at night. We have been caught in the mog at times during the night, and that has been scary enough, there is no way, with all of the road hazards in Belize, that I would ride a motorcycle at night. The owner of the campground looked at our bikes and told us it would only take us about 45 minutes each way. With a bit of trepidation and a lot of excitement, we left!

The first 5 miles out weren’t bad! We were on fast and smooth tarmac and we’re making excellent time, and then, as it often does, the tarmac ended and we hit the dirt. The thing about dirt roads is that they can be deceiving. Sometimes they are glass smooth and you buzz along at 50 mph and the sensation is amazing, and then other times they are a boulder strewn moon scape that punishes you and the bike. This first section of dirt was smooth and nice, but then it began. The boulders varied in size from baseball to knee high. This is when to going gets slow. For the next 15 miles or so, we alternated between smooth fast patches and boulder strewn stretches that slowed us to barely walking speeds.

Our little MaddAsses are NOT dirt bikes. Their suspension just has a couple inches of travel and we have a mere 125cc to move us and our gear. Patrick was riding with his backpack carrying a camera, change of clothes, and other items. I had a milk crate basket on my bike carrying a tripod, some clothes, food, water and some other items.

En route the bumps got so extreme that a tied down water bottle managed to fly up and hit me in the back of the helmet and then land in a field. I immediately stopped and searched but the bottle was no where to be found. This was the first casualty of the day. Unfettered we pressed on.

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After a couple of hours we made it to the gates of the National Park.

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We did a bit of a celebration as we thought we were done. The friendly park ranger told us we just had a ‘little bit further’ to go. We pressed on and about an hour later we made it to the first set of natural swimming pools, It was truly an amazing sight.

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The next set of falls took us into a wetter part of the park. As we progressed the scenery got greener and greener and the road mushier and squishier. This is when we started to have a little fun with the bikes. Since we don’t have a lot of torque, we have to hit the deep muddy sections with wheels spinning and higher than avg speed otherwise we just sink and get stuck (ask us how we know :). This was a blast! We sent water and mudd flying out beyond the bikes and managed to cover ourselves in the mud.

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The waterfall and natural pool at the end of this branch of road was worth it.

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As the day was much later than planned, we decided it was time to head back. It had taken us nearly 3 hrs to get there and while we were confident we could make up some time on the way back, we didn’t want to push it.

While the drive out was nerve wrecking, the drive back was just plain fun! We knew the route well now and we were experienced with the road conditions. We swept along the smooth sections and dodge through the maze of boulders like pros. And then it happened.

On a nice remote stretch of bumpy road, Pat’s pants managed to fly out of the basket and then insert themselves into the rear sprocket of my motorcycle. The thick jeans quickly draped several times around the wheel and the wheel locked up, causing the chain to jump and the bike to skid. Remarkably I managed to stay upright and bring the bike to a halt.

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This was bad, really bad. The plastic chain guard was broken, the chain tensioner on one side broken, the chain derailed, and we had no tools. As luck and fate would have it, this occured directly in front of Rafael’s modest homestead. Rafael and his four boys were walking back from a nearby field when they say the comotion and came out to see if they could help. You see Rafael also rides a motorcycle and better yet had a few tools that we could use to get a field fix in place. Not only was Rafael equipped to help, but he also had the same thing happen to him with a piece of rubber in the road just two weeks back! So we happily relinquished control and let Rafael go to work to fix the bike. While we are very capable diesel mechanics, we actually haven’t had to work on our motorcycles very much at all.

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The pants were impressively shredded like something from the 80s punk rock scene. Rafael had the jeans out, wheel and chain reset and tensioned in about 10 minutes! It was awesome. When we tried to give Rafael a small financial token of our appreciation, he wouldn’t accept it. He insisted that he was just paying it forward as he had been helped in the weeks prior.

With the bike mended we headed home as the sun was quickly dipping on the horizon. The scenery whizzed along as we finally started hitting small towns. We managed to arrive back inside the gates as the sun left the horizon. It had been 9 hours of fun and riding, and we had a new appreciation for just how capable these little motorcycles are.

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3 replies »

  1. Sounds like a great adventure! I just acquired a MadAss and have been modifying it to be a little more dirt friendly. While I probably wont get to go on any Central American rides, I should find some good roads in Southern Oregon.

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