Somewhere in the sands of Baja, between Mulege in the South and San Luis Gonzaga in the North, there is a very special nut waiting to be found.
We have been in La Paz for over a week now, waiting for a replacement to arrive. La Paz is not a bad spot to hang out. It is the largest city we’ve been to so far in Mexico, which really isn’t saying much. Nonetheless, there are good restaurants, a couple good coffee shops, and beautiful beaches all around. We feel relaxed and safe here and are in no rush to be moving on.
I noticed the steering head cap nut was missing when we were setting up camp on Santispak beach along a beautiful stretch of coastline near the town of Mulege. While the nut’s absence had not affected the ride up to that point, we couldn’t safely continue without a replacement. Unfortunately, there is no cell reception at Santispak beach, it seemed unlikely that there would be any wifi nearby, and we were at least ten miles of winding coastal highway from the closest town. As the sun began to set, we resigned ourselves to our fate, walked up the beach a couple hundred yards to Armando’s Bar, and ordered a couple margaritas.
We found out that in addition to the bar there was also a restaurant at the North end of the beach and, beyond all belief, they had wifi. As I sat there in a red folding chair, waiting interminably for a message to send, I must have had a particularly despondent look on my face, for the proprietor, a loquacious and somewhat vain ex-convict named Carlos, took pity on me. He offered to help, however he could.
“Nathan,” he said, “don’t worry. What can you do? I was in prison for nine years. What could I do?”
Though the internet was slow and intermitent almost to the point of uselessness, I was able to contact Jim, who helped me modify my center stand in Los Angeles, and Greg, who rebuilt my engine and modified my front suspension in San Francisco. I felt great relief simply to be able to relate my troubles with people who would understand and offer advice. Jim came up with an idea for an incredibly MacGyveresque solution that was at once terrifying and brilliant. Greg offered to mail me a spare nut he had found in his shop, which was a godsend given that all stock in the United States is currently on backorder from Germany. However, mailing to Mexico is not quick, and we needed to get to La Paz somehow because we already had a place booked for a week.
Don’t worry. What can you do?
Ultimately, it was local motorcycle mechanic Daniel Bucovycs who saved the day. He scoured the town and found a nut off of an old Toyota motor that perfectly matched the threads. Then he welded another nut to it and was able to tighten it down on top of the stem. He even picked up and returned my bike in his truck.
The next day we were off, zigging and zagging down the coast towards La Paz, and feeling grateful for all the people that had offered support and advice when we felt stuck.
When I look out over the long road that lies ahead of us, it is easy to imagine myself alone, cut off from my community, vulnerable to an unforgiving landscape, and isolated from the local culture and language. These challenges are real, but to the degree that they are true their inverses are also true. Distance fosters a new community, vulnerability strengthens resolve, and isolation attracts helpful souls. I feel like this episode in Santispak has been a little test, a preview of what is to come, and a reminder that when things look hopeless and you can’t see a way out, don’t worry, look around, everything will be alright.
And put thread lock on everything.