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Old 04-17-2013, 06:30 AM   #1
The Motorcycle Thing OP
Joined: Apr 2013
Location: Beijing
Oddometer: 22
Colombia to Argentina - an improvised trip

Hey guys, I'm new to the forum, and thought I would post an article (bit shorter than a ride report) about a trip I did from Colombia to Argentina. Apologies if it's not hugely in-depth, but I wrote the article for my website (hence it couldn't be too long), and just really wanted to capture the spirit of the journey. Thanks for reading.....Joel

As I prepare for a round the world motorbike trip, I have started to look back at the origins of my passion for bikes, and on the experience that equips me for such a mammoth adventure.

My parents had always discouraged me from motorbikes, stating their poor safety record, and if that wasn’t enough of a deterrent, threatening to cast me out on the street if I ever had the gumption to come home with one. I lived in the middle of nowhere, and riding a scooter at 30mph for an hour and a half to the nearest respectable city in pissing rain seemed like no fun anyway.

Then it was time to move to University, so the rebellious teenager within had to wait until his twenties to finally disobey his parents, and start on the slippery road towards motorbike obsession.

I was in South America when I first tried a motorbike, with the encouragement of my then girlfriend, who said it would be a good way to do some sightseeing in Bolivia. The man renting the 250cc dirt bike seemed none too concerned that I was practicing riding circles in front of him, and wished us luck on our new adventure. Taking things steadily, we emerged from the day unscathed. Although there was one moment when I stalled on a hill and struggled with my clutch control, losing man points.

From then on I was hooked, hiring a motorbike whenever possible in the rest of my adventures through South America. It was just so liberating, to be able to take off when you wanted and go where you wanted, without the irritating little voice of a tour guide in your ear. I was the master of my own destiny, and I was not to be controlled.

And then a chance encounter led me to where I am today: I was staying at a little hostel in Banos, Ecuador where I met an Austrian couple who were riding the length of South America. Their tales from the road and awe inspiring photos provided the very nudge I needed to embark on my own voyage of self discovery. I immediately emailed my girlfriend, and persuaded her to go home to her parents in Colombia where we could search for a motorbike to ride back down to her adopted home in Argentina.

The search was for a bike was arduous, and only quite fortuitously were we able to get our hands on something up to the job. It involved convincing a man that he should load his bike onto a boat and sail from Panama to the Northern coast of Colombia, where I would be waiting to take it off his hands, no questions asked. Luckily his faith in humanity served him well, and after fulfilling our end of the bargain, we came away with a BMW K75 for slightly over $1000. I knew we had got a good deal when I went to change the rear tire and the local mechanic offered me $1500 on the spot.

Over the course of three months, we worked our way down the Pan-American highway in a trip that exceeded my wildest expectations. I had previously been journeying by bus, and on the motorbike, finally felt the shackles fall away. Free to roam as we pleased, it was the unplanned stops on the trip, off the gringo trail, that proved the most exhilarating. It felt like we were really living the journey, meeting people who were genuinely interested in what we were doing, and all the more helpful for it, showing off their country and culture in ambassadorial fashion.

All the obligations of normal life were absent, and had been replaced by the main task, which was survival. Eat sleep ride became the maxim we lived for, and a pleasurable existence it proved to be. There is no better feeling than removing all extraneous objects from your life for a short time, to see how little you actually need. It’s funny how the developed world has conned the rest into thinking that accumulation will bring happiness, whereas there are a small few that have seen through the illusion of wealth. For those three months, with just my torn leather jacket and my cheap motorbike, I felt like the richest man alive.

Of course, like any good thing, it could not last. The little money I had soon began running out, and a return to the reality of commuting, bills, and career beckoned. We had already achieved our original goal of getting to Argentina, and although my desire to reach the end of the road in Patagonia was strong, it was not to be. With winter approaching, the temperatures on the bike were below freezing, and despite wearing every layer I owned, I was still a shivering mess after five minutes of riding. Our rear tyre was also giving out, and the choice between replacing it or having enough fuel money to reach Buenos Aires left us with little option.

But all is well that ends well. After returning to Buenos Aires, and getting past the initial thrill of a hot shower and a hearty steak, it was time to part with our beloved bike: That which had delivered us from one end of the continent to the other, through five countries. We immediately managed to sell it for a very respectable $3000, giving us enough money to complete our pilgrimage to Patagonia by air, more comfortably, but a whole lot less satisfying.

I think back to this journey often, and more than the fine points, the main memory that emerges is that of complete contentment, living in the moment, and enjoying life in all it’s Zen. And it’s with the same raw enthusiasm that I look forward to the next trip, when ‘The Motorcycle Thing’ takes on the world.

__________________ - a platform for the petrol head brethren among you. All hail the bike.
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Old 04-17-2013, 11:13 AM   #2
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Nov 2010
Location: I really dont know..
Oddometer: 171
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