21 December 2011

Cuenca, Ecuador to La Paz, Bolivia

Location: Mendoza, Argentina
Distance ridden: 8600km

Average fuel economy: 120km/gallon
Days since leaving: 21
Days offroad: 6
Days of bike repair: 2
Nights camping: 10

The Ushuaia for New Year's Rally continues at a butt-numbing pace.  With a top comfortable speed of about 50 mph, most days have me riding about 10 hours in order to get 300 miles in.  Highways go through many twists and towns at times.  Other times there is nothing but wind and sand.  My route took me towards the Peruvian coast.  In Lima, after too much of the wasteland riding, I turned inland and headed up into the Andes, cresting a mountain pass at 15,807 feet (the highest altitude I have ever visited).  From there, I followed river valleys and altiplano (high plains) to Cuzco and the heart of the old Inca empire.  After a day of bike repair(new suspension, new bearings, and an oil change), I cut for Lake Titicaca and the Bolivian border.  In La Paz, I put in a new timing chain, a new tire, and replaced a leaking oil filter cover seal.  Back on the road, I crossed the world's largest salt flats and rode through the desert down into Argentina.  In Argentina, I picked up the famous Ruta 40 and continued rolling through more desert to Mendoza.

Ushuaia lies ahead on the home stretch.  3300km left to go in about 10 days.  I am looking forward to reaching Patagonia after being on my brain so long.  Pictures will have to wait until I get a new USB adapter because the salt water from the famous canoe incident finally cooked mine.

Party in Ushuaia for New Year's.  Free airport pickup!  Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, or whatever else you might like to celebrate. 

02 December 2011

Colombia and into Ecuador

Current location: Cuenca, Ecuador

After leaving Salento, I detoured over to Bogota with a motorcade riding for Peace and Liberty, but specifically to raise awareness for the plight of the kidnapped in Colombia.  A bus accompanied the 15 day tour of Colombia, full of ex-kidnapped and their families.  Each stop was quite emotionally charged with personal accounts, and speeches.  Police escorts, good company, and lots of delicious food, too!  They were happy to attach a flag and pick up another rider.  From Bogota, I headed south, to Mocoa, then up over the Andes to Pasto, where I crossed into Ecuador.  A night in Otovalo, and then down to Cuenca, via Quito and Riobamba.  Tomorrow, I hope to cross into Peru.

The goal is Ushuaia for New Year's Eve.  About 11,000km in a month.  Why do I have to go and make everything so difficult?

Sprockets imprinted in the sidewalk in Salento

awesome Land Cruiser, eh?

getting off to a muddy start

joining the bike rally for freeing the kidnapped

a round the world biker showed up on his Yamaha.

the line-up

showing off my new dome protector

hogging the highway with a police escort

arrival with much fanfar in Ibague

lunch stop at the army base.  tamales!

there were quite a few characters present

Rafael says thumbs up to free gas courtesy of the Colombian Army

we rode through torrential rain, a beer truck crash, a landslide, and heavy traffic.  then there was a big moth on my tire.  Pirelli Scorpion for all you tire geeks out there.

meet the press.  with fantastic extensions.  everyone though rafael and i were brothers, despite the fact that he is swiss and i am american.

it's 2am and we are at a mcdonald's in bogota, still in wet riding gear.  WTF?

at 3:30, we finally got to sleep in the barracks of the presidential guard.  too bad they rise and shine at 4:30

skirting the edge of the Tatacoa desert

tree tunnels remind me of indiana

death roads remind me of the andes, which is where i am

welcome to high altitude

approach blind corners slowly

yeah, it's like that

fast descent into a bucolic valley

terra cotta roof is par for the course

last sunlight of the day!  time to camp

good morning colombia!

a rare blue sky

the line-up at customs.  my DR200 dwarfed the Honda Transalps and Kawasaki Versys

hello Ecuador.  you are brown.

Ecuadorian Dodge Power Wagon

Good morning Ecuador

passing glance

beetles in the urinal at the gas station

most of ecuador looks like this so far

high visibility

finally got out of the fog this afternoon.  smooth sailing on the Panamericana.
By the way, I crossed the Equator today.

20 November 2011

2-wheeled treason and the Colombian vortex

Location:  Salento, Colombia
Days on my motorcycle: 2
kilometers: 400
engine size: 199cc
miles per gallon: between 65 and 100, depending on terrain

after cycling to Medellin, then San Antonio de Prado, I threw in the towel for now and got a motor.  I love motorcycles and I want the freedom to explore a greater area.  I also want more time to spend in given locations, as many of my favorite experiences traveling have taken place off the bike. Climbing long mountain passes on a loaded bicycle gives me a certain satisfaction, but then again, so does zooming up them with the wind in my face and the sun warming my carhartts.

A parting shot of the crystal waters of Turbo

Cycling to Medellin involves running the FARC gauntlet.  The army has some cool trucks to keep us safe though.

everybody else rolls around in these cute Diahatsus


Hello, and welcome to the Andes.  Lungs, prepare to burn.

Yep, this is the main highway.  Landslideville.

Oh jesus, I need a beer!

pleasant riding.  my first time in a cool climate since mexico.  ahhhhhhh

and these are the foothills.  just wait for peru!

me an' Tatanka

typical breakfast

Medellin 53, High accident zone.

full suspension bike crossing

tire shop: montallantas

the kids always love my mexican wrestler

i can totally see how guerilla can exist here.  not exactly the midwest...


after a final climb, medellin came into view with its endless red brick sprawl.

luckily, i made the brutal climb to san antonio de prado with the help of cesar's motorcycle and burly left arm

yum, sancocho!  yucca, plantain, cilantro, peppers, and hunks of meat, with a side of avocado.

we're going to keep the halloween pictures G rated.  sorry.

nathan made enough to buy himself a beer with this clever outfit.  i thought the curtain ties were a nice touch.

at Hooter's Medellin, they wear tights because Colombian women are not tough enough to brave the cold in those famous short shorts.  American women +1.

the facial expressions of all pictured sum up the night pretty well.

Troy on his KLR650, sweeping through a turn near San Antonio.

We attended an enduro race, but the best part by far was the mud bogging. 

vintage yamaha calibmatic

Colombian women +1


no riders made it through, and some spent significant time clawing their way out.

riding up there took us straight back to the pacific northwest, only with smaller logs.

windy roads in the foothills of the andes...

Troy, the carpenter and his KLR

Maria says she's stealing this chopper and coming with us.  Yes please!

Old Chryslers still lurk on the farms here...

When Juan buys everyone rum, the night seems to go downhill.

exhibit A

Apparently my SPD boots were a snug fit for Martha's pedals, and I had to have an exciting dismount.  Maria pried them loose for me again.

Touring the backroads around San Antonio!

Maria tries on some of the Canadians fashionable riding accessories.

Dodge power wagon Chiva!  Amazing.

fantastic hot pink yamaha DT 175

Nathan winds up the mountain on a one way rollercoaster

the bike i almost bought.  a 1978 yamaha XT500.  so hotttt

south america!

we adopted a stray but it steals everything.

Ted can't resist a peak into the box

probably the foulest graffiti i have ever seen.

meet Ted.  Straight from the streets of Driggs, Idaho.  He'll be rolling south on a KTM 640

Bandeja Paisa...  sausage, beans, prok belly, egg, rice, shredded beef, fried banana, tortilla, and juice for about 7000 pesos.

contemplating the idea of touring on a vespa battle scooter

Beltran came up to Medellin for some raging.

Beltran!  My friend from Apartado.

Jaime, whose mind was about as focused as this picture after a healthy dose of whiskey and aguardiente (fire water)

yeah, that's about right.

nom nom nom.  did anyone actually get any in their mouth?

Jaime got inspired, and put the moves on a cute British backpacker.

Make it a double...

But then he went down for the count...

ok, this one is staged

Aguardiente, which translates to Ardent Water, is made from sugar cane and annis.  Kinda like ouzo.  You buy it by the liter here.

The pack of ''lone wolves''

big bikes with canadian plates draw cops.

finding some mud on the way to visit a friend

Nathan, Beltran, and Troy. good times.

piƱol at lago de guatepe.  climbing the stairs reminded me that i haven't done much riding of late.

lots of coves to explore.

4 trips to the DMV, AKA Transito, but now I have a bike in my name.

sorry RUNT, no public service today

2nd story moto parking involves riding up and down these concreted stairwells.

where are you going to park that harley?

Nathan gets a pocketwatch tattoo as a reminder that we have more time than life.  go slow.

oh dear.

medellin has a black shiny building on a mountain called a library.  really, it is a horrible waste of space and materials, but an interesting visit.

you can't help but wonder what is inside, which is basically nothing.

but getting there involves taking the gondola over the poor neighborhood, very strange to not be riding through.  you miss all the stares and smells and sounds that make it interesting.

neat to look at.  waste of space inside.

at the hostel, the suzukis and kawasakis park inside, and the BMWs sit out in the rain.  haha.

Ted brought down some new panniers for Manuel, who is smiling like a kid on Christmas.

at the welder shop, there's a bike bell on the gate

lots of old american trucks around.

welding up a cargo rack for my new ride.

thanks Walter!

we worked together to bend cut and weld some tubing to make a solid rack for the Suzuki DR200

Cesar relaced the rear wheel for me.

Tatanka stays at Manuel's house, and I continue on his motorcycle.

Hanging up the bike for a while.

All loaded up for the ride south.  See ma, look at those pads and helmet!

A good omen, I hope!

Pangs of guilt as I see the other cycletourists soldiering onwards.

 a last goodbye to Cesar, Manuela, and Martha of San Antonio de Prado

Nathan eyeballs the route down through Bolivia.  We've covered about 3 inches so far.

Evening stroll through the markets of Manizales.

Manizales, Colombia

Have you ever had someone cover your banana split with sour cheese curds?

first banana split of my life that i couldn't finish.

this looks way more appetizing.  in case you didn't know what the inside of a pig looks like...
 hang on tight.  the pace is about to quicken.  watch as i rally all the way to the southern tip of south america by the end of 2011!