"The stream almost drowns me and the bike, reminding us how dangerous and surprising nature can be" Juan Carlos

We are interviewing Juan Carlos, one of our Adventurers, who took part in the campaign "Adventurers Wanted

1.Before we begin, who is Juan Carlos?

My profession is Visual Artist; I graduated from The Autonomous University in Querétaro, specializing in Graphic Design. I come from Mexico City, and I have lived 16 years in the state of Querétaro.

Ever since I was a child, I have been passionate about drawing and graphic art. I did my first tattoo at the age of 12 with a pin and Indian ink. Years later, my father taught me the craft of carpentry (or at least he tried), and that is when I found my passion for tools and the bicycle since we went to work on bikes and also to school. Then I found analog photography, and in high school, I learned the basics of architecture and technical drawing. Motocross was one of my first big passions and I devoured anything related to it. I was still very young, and my parents wouldn't let me have one. But despite this, I got the money together and could buy my first Yamaha Yz 125 from 1980. This bike brought with it all the affection and nostalgia for old bike models, helmets, visors, and anything related to it. Sometime later, I got a three-engine Honda 250, and today I have a Yamaha XT-500 Enduro from 1978.

Now I am a graphic designer, photographer, and videographer. For several years I worked in Querétaro city with museum development, together with a person I admire a lot and who shares my passion for motorcycles. I left that job some time ago and decided to dedicate my life to my dream: Perdido Custom Life. In this job, it is easier to combine all of the knowledge I've acquired until now: mechanics, painting, drawing, design, design, and carpentry.

2. What is Perdido Custom Life? Who forms part of this group? How did you get to know each other?  

Perdido Custom Life came out of the dream of creating a style of my own, both in what I wear and the vehicles I use on an everyday basis, and believing that things have to have a second chance and we shouldn't get rid of everything, although it is a part of a cycle.

I was thinking of consolidating this into a good brand: clothes, vehicle personalization (bicycles, skateboards, motorbikes, trucks, speedboats, and so on) into a way of life, and being able to live off of it would be fantastic. Right now, I am in charge of everything, designing graphics, doing photography and video, mechanics, painting, and planning trips. On this occasion, Francisco (Coco) with his BMW/GS/650 and Ruben (El Pollo) joined us without hesitating for a second. I have known Foco for 15 years, we live in a village (San Juan del Río), and we went together to high school, where we became friends. El Pollo is my blood brother: before we moved to Querétaro, we lived in the east of Mexico City, in Iztapalapa (one of the most dangerous places currently, but also the richest in terms of culture) where I come from, and where our parents had a rotisserie in our house (a place where they sold roasted chicken). Our friends called us 4 brothers Los Pollos, and Ruben got the name El Pollo from then onwards. He drove the Ford Ranger 4x4 from 1986 that I rescued (it was my grandfather's car) before it would be demolished. I took it from his ranch in Michoacán and brought it with me. I repaired it until it became functional, but it lacks the aesthetics, so I took down the engine and restored it, together with the gearbox and a part of the car's suspension.

3. There are many types of riders; how would you define each one of you?

Foco is a rider that likes taking his bike to work, going for a Sunday ride with his wife, and enjoying a good barbecue, although he also likes adventure, getting covered with dust and sleeping under the stars in a deserted place. 

Ruben prefers riding on highways, on a Chopper, with his boots, a vest, and dark glasses. Although I think he lacks long hair, his look matches well with his aggressive style of driving. On this occasion, he drove the Ford truck since he had experience driving large and 4x4 vehicles.

I, Chuck, like the off-road with no people around me. I enjoy being in the middle of a semi-desert, highway, or forest; I am passionate about old motorcycles, rallies, and having my teeth full of dust, mosquitoes, and everything else that speed leaves in your face. I have a Bell 500 helmet that makes you feel like it's going to pull your head off at high speeds. I wouldn't say I like to wash my clothes, but I'm obsessed with having everything clean and in order.

4. Your adventure takes place around Sierra Gorda in Querétano. Why did you choose this destination?

It is safe; you won't be thinking about getting attacked or having your bike stolen. I also know it well: for three years, I collaborated on a social development project in the area, and I fell in love with the landscape, nature, and how honest the people there are.

On the other hand, I enjoy the highways filled with curves and gorges, and I feel like a kid there, although I have plenty of respect for speed and how dangerous it can be if you're not careful. Together with the different ecosystems, trails, rivers, and waterfalls, all of this makes it a unique place.

5. A journey of five legs in such isolated surroundings welcomes many challenges; what was the most epic moment of your adventure?

Navigating on the Extoraz river on the Yamaha Xt, the stream almost drowns me and the bike, reminding us how dangerous and surprising nature can be, and then crossing it with the Ranger in full speed. We depended on it to cross with all of our equipment to the area where we were going to sleep. Adding the help of a local, the tasty food he shared with us, and the perfect rest area we chose in the middle of the river made it into an epic moment.

6. Which moment do you think will stay with you forever?

The nights when we arrived at a place, we got off our motorcycles, opened up a beer, and laid down to watch the stars, a campfire that would always give us warmth, a compliment from a friend for having made a great maneuver, and talking there in the sand were moments where my friends and I were happy.

7. Were there any mechanical problems? Were they all solved?

There were many issues; at the beginning of our adventure, getting the Xt out of the river and starting it was impossible. The next day we had to take the lid off the contact points, which meant it was all still soaking wet; take the carburetor, clean it, and dry the spark plug, and then it finally started.

When we got the Ranger out of the river, we noticed that the breaks were not working. The discs were broken: they were red hot from downhill driving and many steep curves where they had to be used constantly. When they got in touch with the water, this was the result.

All of this happened the second day, coming from the first camping spot, making us change our itinerary. We had more and more problems, and we decided to go back to the closest village to repair the Ranger; and on the way there, the back tire of the Xt got loose, which meant the back tire would touch the exhaust pipe, slow down the engine, burn the tire and make the bike unmanageable. We temporarily fixed it with a wire and got to the village. There Ruben set out to find a workshop to repair the breaks and then find a blacksmith to weld some bolts in the engine and level the tire. But that was not the end of it; the welder dropped the bike and I turned around, asked him with a scream to hold it, and I would take the cable from the welding machine, and then I heard the fall. 

The back mirror broke, and the gasoline tank was perforated, and we lifted it up, he finished welding, and I got out from there before I killed any of them. After this tragedy and when everything was repaired, we didn't have any more significant problems, more than the usual ones with a motorbike from 1978, such as when it didn't show the level of fuel, or when it occasionally stopped in a difficult spot, and we had to do everything we could to maneuver it.

8. With these uncertain conditions, how did the Fuel gear work for you? What would you highlight the most?

They were excellent! One example was the Sargent pants; the thickness of the denim helps when you are on your knees doing mechanics. Also, the Rally pants have protection, and since they are made with soft plastic, they were kind on the knees. Also in the backside you have a kind of padding that helps soften the hard and uncomfortable seat, and the waxed surface repels all the liquids from the essential things you have with you, such as money, documents, and the phone. The air vents on the jackets are great and refreshing when the temperatures like the ones we experienced were burning hot! The many pockets make it cool, comfortable, and secure. The high-quality zippers help you not to struggle with opening and closing them when you are in movement, and they look great. 

9. After this experience, what essential advice would you give to someone who would go on an adventure like yours?

1. Prepare and get to know your motorcycle well in every aspect. 2. Bring many different tools; wire, cable, additional spotlights, straps, and anything that can temporarily repair anything on your bike. 3. Keep in mind that these roads are rugged and change constantly, be it for the rain, collapses of the roads, or closures, so make sure to have a plan B for every route. 4. If you want to document your trip, make sure to have a current converter, extension cables, and an extra battery in the vehicle that you keep charging in the usual battery. 5. Communication radios. 6. Spare tires for motorbikes and cars. First aid kits, both for the basic things such as taking care of a wound and different medications. These will help you are feeling nauseous, or you are in pain and will keep your trip enjoyable. 8. Laugh with your friends about everything; no matter how many trips you make, this moment will never return.

10. Do you have a new adventure planned? Tell us about it!

This was always a part of the preparation for the Sierra Gorda, I would like to visit all the places I know, one after the other, and share them with everyone, and after that, Huasteca Potosina, which is its twin (to quote The Surreal Garden by the exiled poet Edward Frank Willis James) but offers a humidity coming from the Mexican Gulf that connects with Tampico and from there you can have the whole route complete to go to the sea, it makes me crazy just to think about it. Another adventure is visiting Baja California and making a round-trip around the peninsula. These are only a few that I have in mind.