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Old 02-06-2013, 05:42 AM   #1561
TUCKERS
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I wonder how they aligned the weld on caliper vertically to get it in line with the brake disc, and which position on the fork to get it in line with the axle?

It's probably misaligned, not much chance of them plopping that on there correct.

If you pull the caliper and hang it with some wire you will see if the front wheel tracks better.

Great ride report.

Keep on keepin' on John
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Old 02-06-2013, 05:55 AM   #1562
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Originally Posted by TUCKERS View Post
I wonder how they aligned the weld on caliper vertically to get it in line with the brake disc, and which position on the fork to get it in line with the axle?

It's probably misaligned, not much chance of them plopping that on there correct.

If you pull the caliper and hang it with some wire you will see if the front wheel tracks better.

Great ride report.

Keep on keepin' on John
Hi Tuckers,

The Sherpa has a used hub and front brake rotor off some other bike. I imagine they laced up the Sherpa rim and bolted it to the donor forks in order to get the caliper bracket close.

Mind you I had to shim the Sherpa caliper out by trial and error to get it to align with the donor hub and front rotor.
The Sherpa is firmly in ratbike territory at this point.

Saludos,
Juan Kawazuki
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Old 02-06-2013, 06:39 AM   #1563
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Originally Posted by Adv Grifter View Post
Love to hear your opinions on Venezuela. 17 cent per gallon gas ? How bad could it be?

A question to answer at your leisure ....
A year or so ago it was 7 cents a gallon. Must be bad inflation.

Juanito, so glad that you are enjoying Colombia. I love that country. Youre doing it right.
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Old 02-06-2013, 10:02 AM   #1564
Adv Grifter
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Originally Posted by JDowns View Post
Hi AdvGrifter,

The front wheel isn't perfectly round so the bike has some hop. It tracks straight and the front forks are a bit stiffer than the original Sherpa since it came from a bigger bore bike.

The bike rides okay and corners fine. The guy here who helped me get the bike started this morning says there is a guy in Puerto Berrio down the road who can true the front wheel for cheap, so I may see about that since I don't have a spoke wrench.

It's not unsafe, just slightly annoying around 30 mph on smooth roads. Not noticeable on rough backroads like I'm on right now though since they are full of ripples and rough patches.

I would rather be riding an imperfect bike than waiting around for perfection.

Saludos,
Juan Imperfecto
That's excellent news! Getting a "HOP" out is doable but not sure spoke tweaking will do it. A few accurate hammer wacks may be required. Make certain the front tire bead is FULLY seated into the wheel all the way round.

If the wheel is distorted ... could be its preventing the bead from going all the way in. You should look closely at the tire around the rim ... look for a high spot. There is your Hop.

I had this on a friends bike last year. A wheel guy trued it ... with a hammer! (actually he used a Jig to line it up ... then tapped it into alignment) PERFECT!

Best of luck! Enjoy!
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Old 02-06-2013, 10:06 AM   #1565
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Originally Posted by crashmaster View Post
A year or so ago it was 7 cents a gallon. Must be bad inflation.

Juanito, so glad that you are enjoying Colombia. I love that country. Youre doing it right.
I was just guessing on that. I do remember your AAAA report from a few years back ... and a few other good ones since then. RTW Paul told the story of he and a group of riders pulling into a gas station, chatting with a local ... who ended up picking up the tap for ALL four bikes! (added up to less than $2 USD !) No idea what the current rate is.
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Old 02-06-2013, 10:46 AM   #1566
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... Carnivale in Baranquilla starts in 4 days. I think the weather gods are sending me that way. Buenos noches, Juan Fiesta
I believe you will love carnaval - I know I would. If you can find yourself una amiguita to pasar el tiempo with while you're at it, all the better! But yeah, I'd say get there a little beforehand and make some friends.
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Old 02-06-2013, 12:28 PM   #1567
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adv Grifter View Post
I was just guessing on that. I do remember your AAAA report from a few years back ... and a few other good ones since then. RTW Paul told the story of he and a group of riders pulling into a gas station, chatting with a local ... who ended up picking up the tap for ALL four bikes! (added up to less than $2 USD !) No idea what the current rate is.
Yeah, its amazing how you can travel all day in VZ, pull into a place in the evening and you still have a pocket full of money.

At one gas stop, I filled up the 990, about 6 gallons, I was looking for some change to pay the attendant but didnt have any so handed him a bill. He gave it back to me, told me not to worry about it and have a nice day.
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Old 02-06-2013, 03:20 PM   #1568
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This morning started out with thunderstorms, so I hung out in the palapa at the restaurant and watched the world go by as I drank cafe con leche. Interesting how the thatching is different up here in the hills. They are using the same small palm fronds as the Kuna do out in the San Blas Islands of Panama but string wire across the rafters and weave the palm fronds in a completely different way:



It was raining cats and dogs and this roof was completely waterproof. The main hotel uses really thin quarter inch thick tongue and groove mahogany overlaid with tarpaper and clay tiles. With rafters spaced approximately every 16" or half meter I think this will fall apart in the tropics in 20 or 30 years. There are flying termites down here after all:



The rain let up and I sat around waiting for the road to dry out. Here is the local propane delivery vehicle:



Finally headed out on the open road and wound down through the curves to the river valley and hit Puerto Berrio. I was cruising down main street and moto dudes were pulling up asking where the heck I was from. I explained that my rin no es circular y mi espejo izquierda es quebrada (my rim isn't round and my left mirror is broken). The boys had me follow them down to the local moto shop for a quick repair. And I do mean quick. I pulled up to the taller (ta-yer) de motocicletas (moto shop) and the boys were clearing out motorcycles and had the Sherpa up on a lift and the front wheel off in no time:



Pedro took off the tire and tube and went into the back room and with his ratchet spoke wrench had the Sherpa wheel round in no time:



The dude was an artist. I have re-spoked moto wheels before and it took me forever to do what he did in minutes. These Colombian moto mechanics are amazing. Another kid had a new left mirror on and the Sherpa was good to go. I have been riding for the last few hundred miles with no left mirror and let me tell you, threading through traffic is no fun.

So I paid the dueño 35,000 pesos ($21.00) and was off. Boy what a difference! Suave (smooth). Riding an out of round rim is like going over washboard. If you've ridden over washboard and hit a paved road you'll know what smooth is. The Sherpa is getting better by the day. The front forks are a bit stiffer which is a good thing. The stock Sherpa front end was nothing to write home about. The only thing left to do is tighten up the steering head bearings a tad. I'll see if I can fab a thin 28mm thin stubby wrench to slide under the handlebars to loosen the cap nut and tighten up the steering head bearings mañana. After a couple hundred miles there is a slight wobble in high speed corners. Just a tad tighter is needed.

I headed out of Puerto Berrio over the river and hit the rather straight boring road north to the coast. Mostly flat pastureland with cattle grazing and long straight roads. I saw some mountains over to the east and took the turnoff to Bucaramanga:



Wow! What a great road. It heads over to Cucuta near the border with Venezuela. Really dramatic canyon riding up past a new dam they are building. Here it is off in the distance from a mirador:



This whole valley will be a reservoir next time I'm through here. Really great riding. Steep curving mountain roads. Passing trucks and buses. It doesn't get any better. Really rough road with lots of potholes, gravel stretches and missing parts:



And as it got closer to Bucaramanga it smoothed out:



And out popped a huge city in the middle of a high mountain valley catching the afternoon sun:



Wound down the mountain and headed to El Centro and looked for a likely faded glory hotel and found the Hotel Bocata with a nice room for 29,000 pesos (17.00).

After sleeping on cement for the last week or so this place is like the Ritz. An actual bed to sleep in. Hot shower, cable TV, fast internet. Holy cow! I'm in heaven. Here is my office for the evening on the third floor with the balcony overlooking main street:



If anyone knows anything about the border crossing to Venezuela at Cucuta (I'm talking to you Throttlemeister) please give me a clue where to go. I think the aduana is a little hidden. But this mountain riding is the bomb and I'd like to head over that way before wandering back to Baranquilla for Carnival on the 9th.

I spent 89,200 pesos (51.26) today on food, bike repair, mirror, lodging and gas. I spent about 10 bucks yesterday on food and lodging.

Bucaramanga is a really nice town. Surprisingly big, cosmopolitan and clean. Nice friendly people which seems to be the case everywhere I go in Colombia.

That's about it for today amigos.

Saludos,

Juan Buca
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Old 02-06-2013, 03:26 PM   #1569
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDowns View Post
I would rather be riding an imperfect bike than waiting around for perfection.
I'll have to relay that to my wife. She could have waited for the perfect husband, but she snatched me up at age 15, so all I can try to do is not wobble too much...and make sure we take the roads less traveled.
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Old 02-06-2013, 03:42 PM   #1570
SS in Vzla.
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Venezuelan Gas and Currency Exchange

Quote:
Originally Posted by crashmaster View Post
A year or so ago it was 7 cents a gallon. Must be bad inflation.

Juanito, so glad that you are enjoying Colombia. I love that country. Youre doing it right.
Ok, so here is the math for Venezuelan gas as of today... (which is more complicated than actually getting it ) obviously echange rates will fluctuate

The price in Bolivares (Bs) for 95 Octane unleaded is Bs 0,097 per liter... Which amounts to Bs. 0,37 per Gallon.

The OFFICIAL exchange rate is Bs. 4,30 per 1 US$, so OFFICIALLY gas is 8 US$ cents per Gallon (a little over 2 cents per liter).
BUT (and this "but" is an important one)
The black market exchange rate for US Dollars Cash is around Bs. 19.5-20 to 1 US$....
This means that fuel is around 7 cents per gallon....

The black market exchange rate is VERY important in order to save money... You DO NOT want to use your US credit or debit cards while in Venezuela as the bank will use the official (4,30) exchange rate...

Yo need to have enough US Dollars in cash to exchange as you need, you cannot get US Dollars once you are inside the country, so whatever you think you might need, bring it with you....

You can exchange your left over pesos and US Dollars at the border. I'd exchange an amount that you think would keep you covered for around two weeks and go from there.... Since you are a tourist, they will try to rip you off... offering 8 to 1 or some such nonsense... Let them know YOU know it is 20 to 1 and that 17 or 18 is a fair price.... If they don't budge, go with your gut, but you should manage to get 15 to 1. In the end, they have to make a living and you won't be able to get the full 19,5 to 1 black market exchange rate, but DO NOT accept anything less than 15 which still mean BIG savings.

When you are close to running out of money, ask around the hotels for someone that might exchange you $50 or $100... Same scheme as before, they might try to rip you off at 8 to 1 or similar.... Let them know you know the actual black market rate. Small amounts at a time is easier, but small bills ($20 o less) are not "liked"... Exchanging at black market rates might be difficult to impossible in small towns.... Go to the largest store in town (Ferreteria or Supermarket) and ask for the owner, they might help you when they hear your story.

One last thing.... Border areas between Colombia and Venezuela are indeed dangerous places... Ask before venturing through a desolate road... Colombians might be more upfront about the danger, Venezuelans are afraid of repercussions from the guerrillas (who are in-country protected by the goverment so they do as they please) so you might not get a straight answer but a hesitant one... Anyway, if people in the area say "don't go there" I'd probably keep away...

Buen viaje
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Old 02-06-2013, 03:49 PM   #1571
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SS in Vzla. View Post
Ok, so here is the math for Venezuelan gas (which is more complicated than actually getting it )

The price in Bolivares (Bs) for 95 Octane unleaded is Bs 0,097 per liter... Which amounts to Bs. 0,37 per Gallon.

The OFFICIAL exchange rate is Bs. 4,30 per 1 US$, so OFFICIALLY gas is 8 US$ cents per Gallon (a little over 2 cents per liter).
BUT (and this "but" is an important one)
The black market exchange rate for US Dollars Cash is around Bs. 19.5-20 to 1 US$....
This means that fuel is around 7 cents per gallon....

The black market exchange rate is VERY important in order to save money... You DO NOT want to use your US credit or debit cards while in Venezuela as the bank will use the official (4,30) exchange rate...

Yo need to have enough US Dollars in cash to exchange as you need, you cannot get US Dollars once you are inside the country, so whatever you think you might need, bring it with you....

You can exchange your left over pesos and US Dollars at the border. I'd exchange an amount that you think would keep you covered for around two weeks and go from there.... Since you are a tourist, they will try to rip you off... offering 8 to 1 or some such nonsense... Let them know YOU know it is 20 to 1 and that 17 or 18 is a fair price.... If they don't budge, go with your gut, but you should manage to get 15 to 1. In the end, they have to make a living and you won't be able to get the full 19,5 to 1 black market exchange rate, but DO NOT accept anything less than 15 which still mean BIG savings.

When you are close to running out of money, ask around the hotels for someone that might exchange you $50 or $100... Same scheme as before, they might try to rip you off at 8 to 1 or similar.... Let them know you know the actual black market rate. Small amounts at a time is easier, but small bills ($20 o less) are not "liked"... Exchanging at black market rates might be difficult to impossible in small towns.... Go to the largest store in town (Ferreteria or Supermarket) and ask for the owner, they might help you when they hear your story.

One last thing.... Border areas between Colombia and Venezuela are indeed dangerous places... Ask before venturing through a desolate road... Colombians might be more upfront about the danger, Venezuelans are afraid of repercussions from the guerrillas (who are in-country protected by the goverment so they do as they please) so you might not get a straight answer but a hesitant one... Anyway, if people in the area say "don't go there" I'd probably keep away...

Buen viaje
Hola SS,

Thanks for the heads up on black market rates. 18 to one or bust is my motto for tomorrow at the border. Okay 17. Okay 16 but that's my final offer cabrone. I'll try to stay away from the peligro areas, but sometimes I can't help myself.

Muchas gracias amigo,
Juan Peligro
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Old 02-06-2013, 04:00 PM   #1572
SS in Vzla.
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Cucuta - San Antonio Border Crossing

Quote:
Originally Posted by JDowns View Post

If anyone knows anything about the border crossing to Venezuela at Cucuta (I'm talking to you Throttlemeister) please give me a clue where to go. I think the aduana is a little hidden. But this mountain riding is the bomb and I'd like to head over that way before wandering back to Baranquilla for Carnival on the 9th.

Juan Buca
OK Juanito, the border crossing is very straight forward....

Last year around October they changed the aduana location on the Colombian side (the one that was hidden in town and re-located it right at the border).

Just go to the Puente Simon Bolivar, you will see a large white building on your left on the Colombian side. You will stamp your passport there (DAS) and right next door is DIAN to cancel your TVIP.

Exchange your Dollars for bolivares BEFORE crossing the bridge to Venezuela.

Cross the bridge and you will see a BIG arch with the letters SENIAT on it on the Venezuelan side....

SENIAT is the aduana where you do your bike papers.... SAIME is where you will stamp your passport.... There is an office right next to that arch....
If the lines of people stamping the passport are too long, there is another SAIME office inside San Antonio del Tachira at N 07 48.848' W 072 26.649'

There is free transit between Cucuta and San Antonio, meaning you can go back and forth between the two towns without any papers.
Get enough gas for at least 100 kms in COLOMBIA as there are gas shortages around the border on the Venezuelan side.
I think RTW Paul covered this border crossing very nicely on his RR, but it is pretty straight forward.

IMPORTANT:

The SENIAT at the border on the Venezuelan side DOES NOT work on weekends... Next Monday 11 Tuesday 12 February are festive days (Carnivals) so the aduana (SENIAT) will not be open from Saturday Feb 9th to Tuesday Feb 12th.... So you need to get there before or after those dates in order to get your bike papers.... I wouldn't get there Friday afternoon either or you might end up stuck there for 4 days....

Good free maps for Garmin GPS can be downloaded here http://www.gpsyv.net/ (you'll have to register, but they are free... If you have trouble let me know)

Buen viaje... Try to stay away from the big cities as much as possible
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Old 02-06-2013, 04:02 PM   #1573
trespalacios
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I was hoping you would take that route. La ciudad de los parques has plenty of interesting things to offer, among them culonas (hormigas that is)

The road to Pamplona has plenty of twisties as you go over cordillera oriental, officially crossing las tres cordilleras. You'll see Pamplona and descend to Cucuta.

I don't know about border crossings but 3 days is too little time IMHO to go around Venezuela and back to Colombia. Too much to see. I recomend Taganga, trust me on this one.

Whatever your endeavors, stay safe and keep having fun. What an amazing adventure.
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Old 02-06-2013, 04:04 PM   #1574
SS in Vzla.
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Originally Posted by trespalacios View Post

I was hoping you would take that route. La ciudad de los parques has plenty of interesting things to offer, among them culonas (hormigas that is)

The road to Pamplona has plenty of twisties as you go over cordillera oriental, officially crossing las tres cordilleras. You'll see Pamplona and descend to Cucuta.

I don't know about border crossings but 3 days is too little time IMHO to go around Venezuela and back to Colombia. Too much to see. I recomend Taganga, trust me on this one.

Whatever your endeavors, stay safe and keep having fun. What an amazing adventure.
I concur with Trespalacios here... Go to Cartagena, go to Santa Marta, go to Taganga and the rest of the Colombian coast.... Go to La Guajira and then cross into Venezuela, after Carnavales is over.... Carnavales is a BAD time to be at the border since waiting lines will be VERY, VERY long.
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Old 02-06-2013, 04:15 PM   #1575
trespalacios
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Originally Posted by SS in Vzla. View Post
I concur with Trespalacios here... Go to Cartagena, go to Santa Marta, go to Taganga and the rest of the Colombian coast.... Go to La Guajira and then cross into Venezuela, after Carnavales is over.... Carnavales is a BAD time to be at the border since waiting lines will be VERY, VERY long.
Don't listen to me Juanito. Listen to Silvio though. Actor protagonico in epic rides through Colombia and Venezuela
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