This was the ride of my life.
And this is where it all began:
So, to be honest, I've already been riding for almost two weeks, but I've been concentrating more on the actual riding portion than I have on blogging, or reporting, or trip reporting, but I suppose I should probably start now while I've got a day off in Mazatlan.
I was originally planning to do this trip on a 1992 BMW R100GS; however, after a few difficulties with the bike, I decided that a new strategy was in order and began hunting for a 650 thumper. Not really knowing much about thumpers or riding through central and south america, I decided on (with much encouragement and a little cash from my brother alvincullumyork) a 2008 Honda XR650L I decided on the honda because it's a simple aircooled design that has been unchanged for almost 20 years and I figured it would probably be much easier to find spare parts and get repairs done in random third world countries. What I didn't know about the bike is that it doesn't really do highway miles very well, has an extremely weak subframe, and needs lots of modifications to bring it up to par for a serious overland trip.
And so, I dug deep and shelled out a little coin for some of the more important farkles:
- 5.8 Gallon Acerbis Tank
- TCI Out Back Rack
- Seat Concepts Seat
- Cee Bailey's Windscreen
- Uni Foam Air Filter
- 1 Gallon Rotopax
- Sutton Cycle Works Oil Cooler
- Skid Plate
- Shoria Lithium Battery
- Heated vest with adapter
- Moose Barkbusters
And improvised a few others:
- 40mm Grenade Ammo Can Panniers
- Highway Pegs
- 12 volt outlet
- Aluminum windscreen struts
- Structural Carbon Fiber hand protectors
- Dave's Mod Carb
Some of these mods were done by my brother who was babbysitting the bike for me in my absence. He also did the fabricating on the highway pegs, windscreen struts, and hand guards as his day job gave him access to a large, well equiped shop and plenty of down time.
I'm still happy with bike and it's performance so far, though it does have a tendency to eat a little oil when you run it all day at high speeds (plus reading the oil level correctly requires a certain amount of luck, skill, and black magic). And the stock exhaust sounds kind of like a cross between a sewing machine and a clothes dryer. And even thought the ammo can panniers are solid steel, weigh 22lbs apiece dry, and will probably out last the bike, they are still pretty damn cool, make a great center stand for the bike, and serve as impromptu camp chairs. but I digress.....
I started from Grants Pass Oregon and rode to the Coast of California via the redwoods.
Stopped for my first night and stayed in a teepee in a KOA in West Port, CA.
Second day I continued down the Coast via highway 1, crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and made it to Salinas.
Third day I rode to Cambria, CA for the HU conference were I stayed for the next three nights. Was a little dissapointed at being the only guy on an XR650L amonst a sea of R1200GS's and KLR 650's, but I met a lot of cool people got some good information and tips for my trip.
At the conference i linked up with a few people that were headed in the same direction and we all planned to meet up in San Diego in a few days and cross the border together. I rode from Cambria with "Ed Zachtamundo" and parted ways with him in Santa Barbara where I stayed with my cousin.
The next day found me in San Diego staying at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot where my veteran status paid off big time in the form of a $30 dollar, two room sweet in the Bachelor Officer's Quarters. As I took off my panniers for the night, I noticed that the TCI rack had fractured! I was sweating bullets as I only had a day before I was supposed to link up with the group and cross the border. I woke up early the next morning and went to a powder coating shop a few blocks from the depot and found a guy who offered to weld it up for $40. Sold! What I didn't know until he started was that it would be a wire feed job....eghhhh.....
In any event, the guy did a good job, and I had him weld on a small gusset underneath the break to shore it up a little more. And yes, I was so busy disconecting the battery, pulling the CDI, and unhooking the grounds that I left a full rottopax on the bike, just abover where he was welding. Doh!
I proceeded on to home depot where I made a nifty tool case in about 15 min to redistribute some of the weight out of the boxes and onto a more secure location for the bike.
And finally, in my mad dash for preperation, I stopped at Auto Zone, picked up some rotella, and found a smog shop that let me change my oil in their parking lot. It was a hectic day to say the least.
The next morning I linked up with four other riders in an ARCO parking lot in Chula Vista at 0630 in the morning. Our grand armada consisted of 3 KLR 650's, 1 KTM 690 Adventure, and me, the Lone Ranger on the XR650L. After some chit chat, we mounted up and started riding south!
Crossed the border in TJ with no issues and rode south for El Rosario and Mama Espinoza's Hotel/Cafe. Arrived and was given a mustache sticker by Ed Zachtamundo for the XR which I promptly applied to the front fender:
At which point, I decided that the bike needed a name. I figured that the mustache added a certain latin flair of Machismo to the Honda and that the bike should probably be christened "El Senior". Done.
Day two found us making tracks for Guerro Negro, almost 220 gasless miles away. En Route we stopped and took a little path into the desert which allowed us to practice our trials skills on grossly overweight 650's:
Arrived in Guererro Negro, found a $20 room with secure parking and wifi and crashed.
Day three in Mexico found us leisourly riding to Muelege, a scant 130 miles away. Finally reached the sea of cortez and made into Muelege around 2 pm. Beautiful little town, wished we could have stayed longer.
Day four and we were pushing hard to get all the way to La Paz and catch the sunday ferry. Arrived in town and began fruitlessly searching for the ferry office. A nice cop on a V-Strom 650 soon picke us up and lead us to the office which was closed! Then made a mad dash to Pichelingue to see if the office near the harbor was open. It was closed until 8:30 PM! Sat around and ate tacos and drank beer until the office oppened and then were told that Tourist Cards were no longer issued at the ferry or in La Paz and that we would have to return all the way to TJ to get them! Everyone was a little frusterated as we had all heard from multiple sources that they could be obtained in La Paz. Discouraged we headed back into town and found a cheap hotel for the night.
In the morning, two of our riders headed back out to the ferry office to try again, while two more headed to the airport to try their luck there, while I strolled down to the Maricon and had coffee and crepes and chatted with a nice american couple who were riding their R1200GS towards SA as well. Walked back to the hotel and bumped into "el tigre", a former air force B-52 pilot who was now piloting one of the KLR's in our little band. His run to the airport had been succesful and his tourist card was now in hand!
Following this, the rest of us scrambled to the airport, got our cards, then b-lined it for the ferry. Made it just in time, got the last five seats available, and we were underway to Mazatlan by 4:30 PM. On the ferry, a drunk mexican guy sat down in the seat in front of me, leaned his chair back, and proceeded to try and rifle through my bags. Zachtamundo saved the day by thumping the back of his chair hard enough to cause him to bolt upright.
Arrived in Mazatlan this morning, found a hotel, and now we are settling down for the evening. And that's all I've got for now. Hopefully I'll have a little more time to up date this thing as we go.