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Old 11-11-2014, 09:38 PM   #1
motobiko OP
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Joined: Oct 2012
Location: Colstrip, Montana
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The Big 3

The time is now. The moment has arrived. Adventure calls. Opportunities abound. Hazards exist. Perils are right around the corner. The future is far from certain. Experiences are unending. My destiny awaits. I cannot resist. Onwards I ride on in precarious exuberance. By far this is my most tumultuous expedition yet.

So after riding around most of the states and a fair amount in Canada, plus doing some backpacking trips to Asia in the last 4 years, I finally decided to combine the two and ride down to Ushuaia from my home in Montana.

My moto of choice is a 2009 Kawasaki KLR, which i have had in all the contiguous states in the 2.5 years I have had it. Its been a fairly decent bike so far, hasn't left me stranded in 38000 miles.

My goal was to leave MT on Halloween and return in March. I had been debating doing this for a couple years, but I didn't want to quit my job, since obviously this is a trip you need more than just a couple weeks off. By chance I was able to procure a little over 4 months off, in which I will ride down to Panama, take a boat to Columbia, then ride down the Andes through Patagonia to the end if the world, or at least as far south as a man might ride.

I don't mind stopping to see sights, but usually I like to either be on the bike or go hiking. I'm pretty much excited to see what the Andes have to offer in both areas.

I officially made the decision to do this in August, after much research and debate. It was A bit of a concern to be counting on good weather so late in the year. We have had a foot of snow by Halloween some years, but this year turned out to be perfect. Low 60s were the highs for that week, so I really can't complain about that. I did leave a day later than planned, finally rolling out of Montana on November 1st.

I'm in Mexico right now, ready to go in to Guatemala in a few days. I'm not really planning on being in Mexico or Central America that long, I can always do a shorter trip to Panama later on. Where I really want to be is in the Andes in South America, so that is where I'm planning on spending the majority of my time in this trip.

The plan is to update it a few times a week at least. Ill try not to let it get too far behind. Thanks for reading along.

So here we go. The Big 3.
#1-North America
#2-Central America
#3-South America

-Luke
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Old 11-11-2014, 09:52 PM   #2
Kiwi Mo
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Sounds awesome . Have fun and safe riding.
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Old 11-11-2014, 10:10 PM   #3
motobiko OP
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So originally i was planning on leaving on Halloween. But my bike had other plans. It just didnt want to leave home. When i went to start it the main fuse blew. I replaced it several times, hoping it was just a bad fuse, but no, everytime i turned on the key the 20 amp fuse on the starter relay blew. I was not a happy camper. Not how i wanted to start the trip at all. Had to take everything off, unload my panniers, get out my tools, change clothes, go buy more food, unlock the house, etc.

I worked on it til late at night, not making any headway. I initially thought it was the starter relay, but that checked out ok. Didnt see any obvious shorts, but i had recently adjusted the valves, rerouted the cigarette light, and installed heated grips. I thought perhaps one of those things had thrown something off, but alas, everything checked out alright.

I didnt have a smartphone or internet, so i had to wait until the next morning to go to the library to check things out. Evidently its a common problem for 2nd gens to have wires ground out. The main harness goes on the right side fairing piece to numerous electrical components in the fairing.

I pulled the instrument cluster off when i got back and low and behold there were 2 wires grounding out on the frame. No tape or sheathing on them at all. I taped them up good and installed more sheathing elsewhere on the wiring system and it fired right up.

There is a brown wire that send power out from the ignition switch when the key is on to most systems on the bike. So if a turn signal, brake light, horn, etc goes out you are stuck. Some people have installed a lighter fuse (<15amp) on nonessential systems, so if one of them shorts out, you can at least ride the bike home.

Finally i was ready to go! To Denver! At 442pm! In November!

Not yet...


Ok, now we are ready!

Got to the Denver area around 1am. 38 degrees out. Thank God for heated grips.
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Old 11-11-2014, 10:48 PM   #4
motobiko OP
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I spent several days in Colorado. 11/2-3. I have some family and friends down there I wanted to see before i left. It was 45 on the 4th anyway, so i didnt really want to go then anyway.

I rode out the morning of the 4th. Sunny and 60s. Perfect. I stopped by Rocky Mountain Kawasaki in Longmont because my cousin works there, and i needed some chain lube and an extra headlight bulb. They wanted a picture of the bike before i left as well.

I made it to Colorado springs by noon. Met my friend Steve (ColoradoRed) there, who is riding with me to Panama, then going back to Colorado when i go to Columbia.

We made it to Lubbock, TX later that day with temps in the 50s, then 40s. I had some issues with my lights flickering on my klr. The lowbeam was super dim unless you applied the brakes. Then the tach started quitting here and there. Then it died and I had no power on anything.

I was worried that something else had fried and i would havwe to tear it apart in a dark parking lot somewhere in Texas. Everything checked out, but no power. Until i put it in neutral, then everything worked fine. Strange.

589miles today.

The 2nd day riding together(11/5) we made it to Laredo,TX. It started raining pretty good an hour or two into the ride, so we were pretty soaked by the time we pulled in at 7pm. I had only been to Dalhart,TX prior to this, so it was kinda neat to see what else Texas had to offer(rain mostly).

The bike ran fine, except the tach quit a few times for like 5 minutes. Before it rained. After it started raining, no problems whatsoever. Stopped at Motel 6 in laredo about 3 miles from the border. Parked the bike under the lobby roof. Changed my oil in the dark.

We did 505 miles today.

Today (11/6) I had to change my tire before going into Mexico. Put a new avon Gripster on right outside the lobby. They never said anything. We went to get insurance for the bikes right next door and i got some money exchanged.

Went to Walmart and got a few things and off to Mexico we went! It was still raining when we finally found the Migracion/Bancerito office. I didnt see it from the bridge, so we had to stop and ask, then double back to where it was. Why cant they just have it visible when you drive through? Who knows?

Paid $400 for the vehicle deposit, $59 for the bike sticker and i think there was some other fee. It only took 30 minutes for me to get through. Not bad at all.

It rained pretty much the whole way to Monterrey. We stopped and ate, then found a hotel with a parking lot off the street. $665 pesos was a bit pricier than i thought it should be, but i didnt want to be in the rain anymore.

The next day(11/7) it was raining as well, when will it end? Rode out of town in the mountains in the rain and fog. Still pretty chill out. Somehow we missed the cuota in Saltillo and ended up on 54 instead of 57. We turned off on highway 62, which lead to Matehuala and back on 57 we went.

We didnt get to San Miguel de Allende until 7pm. Steve hit a pothole in the dark pretty hard at 70mph. Later driving through town i noticed his rear wheel was wobbling pretty bad. Later inspection revealed it had a bad dent in it, plus his windscreen busted on one side and on of the latched broke on his panniers. Not a good way to arrive in San Miguel.

457 miles today.

Steve and our bikes in Lubbock, TX
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Old 11-11-2014, 10:59 PM   #5
motobiko OP
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We spent several days(11/8-9) in San Miguel de Allende. Beautiful town. My first extended stay in Mexico. The only other time ive been there is when i walked across to tecate in 2012.

Steve had hosted a foreign exchange student who now lives here 25 years ago, so he wanted to catch up with her. I walked around town quite a bit. Ran into Silverfin (Carl and Kathleen), who were staying here a month on there way south from Washington state.

The rain had quit when we were in between Matehuala and San Luis Potosi on the way in, which is when i noticed i had oil all over the right side of my engine. Upon further inspection the gasket had popped up right between the right side engine cover and the block where the filter is. I had installed a magnetic washer that fits around the rubber end on the oil filter, and the only thing i can think of is it didnt let it compress enough and pulled the cover away from the engine.

I loosed up the bolts on the cover and pushed the gasket down. There was an Autozone in town, just like the ones in the US, and they had some red silicone, which i bought and put over the outside of the cover where the gasket broke.

It is still holding, so im just going to have to run it that way. It was 8 days to get one at the kawasaki dealer in Oaxaca.

The weather was just amazing in San Miguel, with just one quick shower. Much better than the 700 miles of rain we rode through. And it was warmer than 60! It got in the 70s both days we were there.

I finally got around to taking some pictures. It was so rainy before, it wasnt even worth getting the camera out.

San Miguel de Allende





me

10L of orange juice

Mr Allende and Mr Pigeon




Silverfin


Beans for breakfast, i love it....

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Old 11-11-2014, 11:00 PM   #6
Pilotguyo540
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Subscribing!

I hope your luck turns around. Chin up.
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Old 11-11-2014, 11:08 PM   #7
sgifford
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Thanks for the report. This is on my someday list...
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Old 11-12-2014, 09:10 AM   #8
Thump52
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Subscribed! This should be fun, have a great trip!
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Old 11-13-2014, 09:07 AM   #9
TigerXC
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Hi Luke

I'm sure that this will be another great Master Luke/Motobiko adventure. Looking forward to reading about you and your trusty old KLR.

I'll be following along from the warmth and comfort of home.
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Old 11-14-2014, 07:39 PM   #10
stuie
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Congrats....

Luke,

Live just down the road from you, 20 miles south of Big Timber, and am getting ready to leave for South America as well...will be rooting for you, as well as hoping that we can meet up somewhere south of the Equator, and laugh about how far from home we are....

Good luck, and shiny side up...

Stuie
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Old 11-14-2014, 07:57 PM   #11
Roland44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sgifford View Post
Thanks for the report. This is on my someday list...
Same here! I hope "someday" comes soon because this looks great. Subscribed.
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Old 11-16-2014, 09:28 PM   #12
motobiko OP
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Location: Colstrip, Montana
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stuie View Post
Luke,

Live just down the road from you, 20 miles south of Big Timber, and am getting ready to leave for South America as well...will be rooting for you, as well as hoping that we can meet up somewhere south of the Equator, and laugh about how far from home we are....

Good luck, and shiny side up...

Stuie
Stuie,

Better hurry, I'm planning on being there by December. Then Ushuaia by the end of February. What bike you riding?

Luke
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Old 11-16-2014, 10:06 PM   #13
Mcgee
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Howdy Luke! Looks like you are making some miles there. Great pics and narrative. I worked in Colestrip for a few years building the power house. A lot of memories for sure. Thanks and looking forward to more of your trip.
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Old 11-17-2014, 05:32 AM   #14
motobiko OP
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Hey McGee, Thanks for reading along. We certainly have been racking up the miles. What years were you in Colstrip?
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Old 11-17-2014, 05:44 AM   #15
motobiko OP
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We rode out of San Miguel Monday the 10th to Oaxaca. The weather was just gorgeous. Not cold or rainy like every other day so far on the trip. I really enjoyed the road from Puebla to Oaxaca. Very scenic. Most of it was a good 2 lane road. The Semis would drive halfway on the shoulder if they were going under the speed limit, so you could pass them in the same lane in a bike.

One time I came upon a van following a semi going slow. I waited to pass them both when an opportunity arose, but the van had the same idea. I started to pass the van, and the van started to pass the semi just after, so we are going three wide down the highway. I passed the van while he passed the semi. Strange, but exhilarating. Ive driven out of the country in asia before and its a blast.

We got into Oaxaca around 7pm that evening and had something to eat then proceeded to Hotel Paris. The owner, Sergio, has 17 motorcycles and gave us 50% off our room. He was pretty cool. We talked about bikes, trips, roads to take for hours.

We stayed there 2 days and went to Monte Alban the 2nd day after steve had his rim fixed. He hit a pothole around 70mph as we were coming into San Miguel and couldn't find anyone to fix it there.

One of Sergios employees took the rim to a shop, where I assumed they pulled all the spokes off and straightened it out the best they could. Looked a lot better.

Before


after


Some pics of the ride from Puebla to Oaxaca




this one is kinda blurry, but you can see all the cacti on the hillside.


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