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.