In November 2019 I joined the Banámichi Motorcycle Meetup in Sonora, Mexico for my first time riding in Mexico, on the recommendation of a fellow SEAT rider. It was a terrific experience, not least for the varied and exotic cast of characters who assembled in Banámichi – ain’t that always the way? I rode to Bisbee, Arizona with another SEAT member and we got our papers on a Thursday afternoon in Naco on the Mexico side of the border – visa and temporary import documents – then crossed back into the USA to stay the night. We left Bisbee the following morning with one of several small, friendly, and very helpful local groups. But that wasn’t what I was going to write about.
Backcountry Discovery Routes are celebrating their ten year anniversary this month, October 2020. I’ve long wanted to ride the Western states’ BDRs, but NOT on my big, heavy R1200GS. I even purchased two (TWO) small adventure bikes – Yamaha WR250Rs – and kitted them out over the course of 2015 for long distance camping rides, in order to ride BDRs with a buddy. I purchased and watched countless BDR movies on DVD and noted two things. One, most everyone rode a big heavy adventure bike although I spotted a WR250R one time, and two, the videographer’s name was almost always Sterling Noren. An old schoolfriend from England came over in 2016 to ride the New Mexico BDR with me but I fell and broke my leg 24 hours into the route. But that wasn’t what I was going to write about either.
A few years ago, at one of the last Overland Expo West’s to be held at Mormon Lake, (a year or two after 2015’s Snowmageddon I think) I recognized the name Sterling Noren and stopped to chat with him (as well as with Ted Simon of “Jupiter’s Travels” and round-the-world riders Simon and Lisa Thomas. It’s definitely worth a visit to Overland Expo West if you haven’t done so already!) But that’s not what I’m writing about.
It was probably the same year when I went to the Mountain Madness Dual Sport event at Fort Tuthill County park near Flagstaff, with the WR250Rs of course, and a buddy. (It was awesome, there was a rock concert at the Pepsi Amphitheater the night we arrived!) During the event we met and occasionally rode with a lovely lady called Eva. A lot of guys – women riders being the minority – were gobsmacked when the statuesque blond lady said she had been a contestant in the reality TV show “Naked and Afraid” – twice! At some point she mentioned that her boyfriend was called Sterling.
Opposite the Bisbee Bug, where Tim Hall will repair anything with a motor, is the Jonquil Motel. Several riders stayed there before the ride down to Banámichi. One evening in Banámichi there was a movie shown, not the prizewinning “Run Free – The True Story of Caballo Blanco”, that came later, but the awesome prequel “Beyond The Border (Riding Solo in Mexico)” also by – you guessed it – Sterling Noren.
The puzzle pieces came together recently. An email from Overland Expo featured this September 9 article by Eva: Tacos, Tires & Essential Travel: Take Me Back to Baja and a different email from Touratech, the same month, featured a new (25 episodes) video series “Riding Solo” about the pleasures of an unhurried solo motorcycle trip from the Mexican border (Naco!) to the Canadian border and back. As of the time of writing, the first three episodes (all in Arizona) are up on YouTube.
I finally figured out that the Jonquil Motel, in Bisbee, Arizona, is the home and base of both Sterling Noren and Eva Rupert, and that it’s really worth reading and watching anything they publish.