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Old 01-15-2008, 12:03 PM   #1
bananaman OP
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Latin America!

Do you really want to read this?



Latin America!








January 15, 2008: I have always always always always wanted to do this. I have no guarantee that it will end well. I am hoping for a grand adventure. I define "adventure" as an attempt to get into an unkown amount of trouble, then get out without being busted.

I am right now in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. Barb and I arrived around 8 last night. Oops- we rode the mountains in the dark! Please donīt tell our mothers.

Itīs been almost 3000 odometer miles since last Monday, so weīre taking a day off from riding. Today is for laundry and checking the bikes over.

log entry: "January 5, 2008. 1:54 PM, Madison, WI. 29,817




4:53 PM Mendota, IL. 29,948. -very slow going. Fog from Madison to Beloit. Thunderstorms in Beloit. Thunderstorms now."

I rode untl about 8 PM and had to stop for the night. Too many thunderstorms. Tornado watch. The weather channel showed a tornado south-west of me. It was a tremendous frontal system. I ended up riding 1000 miles of rain, thunderstorms, and tornados. Near Osceola, Arkansas, I think I rode under a funnel cloud. I stopped at the next rest area, and two people in cars said we missed an actual tornado by less than five minutes! I guess a town just off the highway got flattened, or something.

Riding south from Madison Wisconsin United States of America in the beginning of January just isnīt very easy.

I found Barb in Austin. I donīt count the ride from Madison to Austin as "adventure riding." It was just a pain in the butt. The real adventure started south of San Antonio.

It took a little while to get out of Texas. Barbīs KLR had a nasty speed-wobble. Probably from being tied down too tight for the trailer ride from Denver. The dealer in McAllen did a fantastic job for her.

Adventure night 1: Three-Rivers, Texas.




Adventure night 2: Santo La Marina, Mexi

Before I left- actually as I was leaving- I posted a little note over in Outer Darkness. Here it is again, from January 7, 2008, 1:42 PM.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bananaman
Current location: Madison, WI. Temp 50 degrees F. Fog. Snow melting. Waiting all day for fog to lift. I'm leaving anyway.

I've got a PLB and a brand-new SPOT. So no worries about my location. SPOT is on and tracking fine.

Destination: South of here.
(post-ride Edit: the brand-new SPOT didn't work as advertised. It hardly worked at all. It was a total waste of money.)

January 10, 2008, 8:42 PM, I added this entry, still over in Outer Darkness.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bananaman
I'm in a McAllen, Texas Holiday Inn. How did I get here? First, Hectoglider started motivating me way back last summer in Merril. Then I rode south from Madison in fog. In Beloit Wisconsin I heard tornado sirens THROUGH MY HELMET. I pulled into a gas station and they said a tornado was just west of us. HOLY SHIT! I waited a while and shoved off. Storms and rain all the way- I had to keep stopping. Finally at about 8 PM just north of Bloomington Illinois I had to get a room. The lightning was cool to watch but it wouldn't go away. I was itching to ride though.

I started up again at 5 AM. As soon as the tornado watch was lifted. It kept raining. I had to keep stopping for lightning. Right after getting gas somewhere in Missouri the electricity went out. I was really glad that I was filling up every 200 miles, and not using the entire 11 gallons. In Arkansas I noticed VERY WIERD CLOUDS. I pulled over as soon as possible, and people in cars told me we'd just driven (or riden, like me) through a tornado! This was near Oceola Arkansas. I guess Wilson (Arkansas? Tenn?) got hit. That was just a few miles from me.

Tuesday was a 970 mile day- Bloomington to Dallas. Yesterday was a slow day- Dallas to Three Rivers. Today was a slow day. My travel buddy on a 2007 KLR got the wobbles. We finally found a dealer and they noticed that the rear shock was shot, the tire was rubbing against the muffler, and the front fork was out of alignment. At about 65 mph the thing would sometimes wobble and scare the crap out of me. Looking like a tank-slapper about to happen. Not fun. But now it's fixed.

The SPOT is great. I'm pressing "ok" in the morning, noon, 4, and at night. If I don't check in for 24 hours... they'll know where to start looking. I've got extra lithium batteries. As a back-up to a terrible emergency I still have my PLB. My family won't worry too much.

Ironman- we're headed toward Tampico tomorow. I'll send you a PM with my phone number. Send me a text if you want to meet up.

Hectoglider- YOU SHOULD BE HERE ON YOUR HARLEY! Could you see it- a Harley, a BMW 1100GS, a KLR, and a Triumph? Like the Village People on motorcycles!

bananaman screwed with this post 10-07-2008 at 11:19 AM
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Old 01-15-2008, 01:52 PM   #2
bananaman OP
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Our equipment.

This is like a study in contrasts, BMW R1100GS on one side, Kawasaki 650 KLR on the other. 90/10 rode/off-road tires on mine, TKC 50/50 tires on Barbīs. Both bikes do the job perfectly. I call it a tie.

I did a practice ride in Mexico on my old R1100RS of about 1000 miles last spring. Then I went home and made a list of exactly what I wanted for this ride. I bought a clean and basic 1996 R1100GS. The only nice things it had when I got it were ABS and heated grips. I added a few things: touratech 11 gallon tank, aeroflow wind screen, touratech hard parts and steering stop, wunderlich foot guards and oil lock, piaa head lamps, zega cases, givi top case, and an RID from beemer-boneyard. Between us weīve got two garmin 60CSX GPS units, a SPOT tracker, a satelite phone, a PLB, a laptop, and three i-pods. Weīve got several contradictory maps, a lonely planet guide, and some notes from friends and this here internet thing. We wear enough goretex to make a space suit (and we still get a little wet). We carry warm sleeping bags and strong tents, iodine tablets and water filters. Weīve noted every precaution you can read about in Outer Darkness. We need better boots. We need bigger side-cases. We need we need we need...

Actually we are both completely satisfied with our bikes and equipment. There are times when Barb wishes she had the power of my big BMW, and there are times when I wish I had the nimbleness of Barbīs KLR. In the end, it's a personal decision, but we both wish we could have the best of both. Could someone please call BMW and ask them to fedex us two 800 GS's?

Barbīs KLR is almost stock. She added a custom seat, a bigger windshield, aluminum side cases, and a lowering kit. Her idea is to ride a bike that she can get fixed anywhere in Latin America. My idea is to ride a bike that doesnīt break (ha ha) but just-in-case, Iīve got a fully-stocked BMW shop (and parts department) in my side cases.

bananaman screwed with this post 01-15-2008 at 02:08 PM
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Old 01-15-2008, 02:29 PM   #3
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What a fantastic journey... thanks for the report and pics and looking forward to following you on this great adventure

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Old 01-15-2008, 03:09 PM   #4
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Hello!

Hello Barbara and Bananaman!

Great pics so far, keep them coming!


I'm a friend of Barbara's and got her first update email today. I found this thread and scrounged up my old advrider account so I could post.

Happy Adventuring!




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Old 01-15-2008, 03:15 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bananaman
I define "adventure" as an attempt to get into an unkown amount of trouble, then get out without being busted.


Looks like a helluva ride. Gonna do my own South America ride this fall so I'll be watching yer thread closely.
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Old 01-15-2008, 06:59 PM   #6
bananaman OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Seguin


Looks like a helluva ride. Gonna do my own South America ride this fall so I'll be watching yer thread closely.
Hey Charles- if there's anything you want us to look out for, or tell you about, or just plain lie about, just ask.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2betterthan4

Hello Barbara and Bananaman!
Great pics so far, keep them coming! I'm a friend of Barbara's and got her first update email today. I found this thread and scrounged up my old advrider account so I could post. Happy Adventuring! Ian
Hey Ian- I'll tell Barb you're an inmate. Could you explain things to Gadget Boy?

Quick update: you gotta pay the Indians if you want to take their picture. I paid $10, which is ten pesos, which is about a dollar. But they wouldn't smile. I wouldn't either. That's because here, I'm a giant. Everyone knows GIANTS don't smile.







Getting this far in this many days has been a combination of quota riding and libre riding, meaning toll roads and free roads. Free roads mean battling with everything from dogs to goats to cars packed with way too many people and always there's someone with no brake lights practically stopped at the speed bumps. Most times we pass at the speed bumps, because we can take them at 10 to 20 mph, while trucks and buses and many cars practically stop. You see the most interesting things on the free roads but they're the most exhausting. On the toll roads we still have to do battle (BATTLE!) but at least there ain't no speed bumps. The downside is the cost and lack of sight-seeing opportunities. We must have spent at least US$100 on tolls. Just from Veracruz to San Cristobal de las Casas I think we each paid US$50. Sometimes it's super fun to ride the free roads, but other times we just want to get somewhere. Even the toll roads don't let us cover a ton of miles a day. I'd guess that covering a mile in Mexico is about twice as hard for me as a mile in the US. And the miles add up!

We're both getting more comfortable with the new-ness of this trip. Sorry I haven't had many good pics yet. Part of that is because of the weather, but part of it is from not being in a good comfort-zone. I haven't been able to do any type of riding since October, and Barb hadn't been on her KLR since summer. I'm still not in a rythm of knowing where all my stuff is stuffed in the cases and bags. I keep forgetting to re-stock my fake wallet. Taking the malaria pill in the morning isn't habit yet. But I'm starting to feel a groove coming on. Yep. Things are gonna start to flow, baby! Guatemala tomorow!

How far away to we have to be from The States to start saying "Back in the States..." I'm thinking we're almost there. How are things "back in the States?" We hear news but it's all so... "back in the States."

Like, Back in the States I can carry my laptop around and use any old hotspot I can hack into. Here I feel lucky to have found an internet cafe with a workable keyboard and reasonable download times.

bananaman screwed with this post 01-15-2008 at 07:17 PM
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Old 01-15-2008, 07:41 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bananaman
I have no guarantee that it will end well. I am hoping for a grand adventure. I define "adventure" as an attempt to get into an unkown amount of trouble, then get out without being busted.

I am right now in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. Barb and I arrived around 8 last night. Oops- we rode the mountains in the dark! Please donīt tell our mothers.

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Old 01-15-2008, 08:02 PM   #8
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Que les vaya muy bien!!

Amigos the best of luck in your adventure, I too will be reading 'cause I will like to see what you live here in my land and the rest of our Latin America...


Saludos and eat, drink and drive all you can

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Old 01-15-2008, 09:36 PM   #9
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Old 01-16-2008, 04:56 AM   #10
marior97
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El Salvador

Great adventure youre living, you guys going through El Salvador ??
if you r give me a call 78336338
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Old 01-17-2008, 09:29 AM   #11
Charles Seguin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bananaman
Hey Charles- if there's anything you want us to look out for, or tell you about, or just plain lie about, just ask.
Just hoping you're gonna do a road test in Colombia and Guatemala for me...
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Old 01-17-2008, 02:52 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Seguin
Just hoping you're gonna do a road test in Colombia and Guatemala for me...
The road from San Cristobal de las Casas to Comitan is fantastic. High- 6000 to 8000 feet, and twisty, and good pavement as long as you stay on it. From Comitan to the crossing at La Masilla it's still good. Thanks to pilot for the recomendation- crossing into Guatemala was a breeze. It felt like a real frontier type of place. Wild West.

We made Huehuetenango by 5 and had to quit for the day. I was up for trying to reach Lake Atitlan, but riding in the dark in Guatemala probably isn't a good idea. Now we're in Solola, Guatemala.

Today we were almost held-up by banditos (some witnesses called them Ladrones), and my front brake is leaking. Other than that the weather is awesome and the riding is beautiful. The food is good and cheap. The beer (gallo) tastes like water. Or am I that thirsty?



This truck had just tipped over. By the time we got stopped, someone else had gotten the driver out and put him in the backseat of a car. I made them move the car because gas was pouring onto the pavement- Va a explotar! I said, but it didn't. I did a rapid body survey and palpated sharp pain in the lower lumbar, and upper abdomen on both sides. I got help to lie him down in the back seat and told him to lie very still. His pulse was 120 and a little thready. Not good. A cop showed up and I told him he needed to get the driver to the hospital ASAP. The cop said an ambulance was on the way. I did not want them to wait for an ambulance, but I'm not arguing with a Guatemalan cop. Then Barb and I noticed three men walking toward us- two with pistols drawn, one carrying a shotgun. Go Quickle, I said. Barb said I AM. So we walked, mounted up, and left. But just before we noticed the bad guys, one of the other witnesses said that the driver had been assaulted by ladrones, he tried to evade them, and ended up rolling his truck. He's fucked.




Landslides!



This was trying to park this darn big thing.

bananaman screwed with this post 01-17-2008 at 03:53 PM
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Old 01-17-2008, 03:56 PM   #13
2betterthan4
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Wow! The adventure has really begun!

Glad you got outa there before a run-in with the Banditos...


Great pics!

How many people did it take to pick up the laden beast?


Tell Barbara "Hi" for me


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Old 01-17-2008, 04:06 PM   #14
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Que gran aventura. Pinche ladrones! Putos!

Que les vaya bien, amigos.

Vieron el "Sub" en San Cristobal de las Casas?
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Old 01-18-2008, 09:03 AM   #15
Charles Seguin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bananaman
TThen Barb and I noticed three men walking toward us- two with pistols drawn, one carrying a shotgun. Go Quickle, I said. Barb said I AM. So we walked, mounted up, and left. But just before we noticed the bad guys, one of the other witnesses said that the driver had been assaulted by ladrones, he tried to evade them, and ended up rolling his truck. He's fucked.


What happened to the cop, or was he in on it? Smart move getting out of there... Looks like you'll get all the adventure you signed up for amigo.

Gautemala and Colombia are the two countries I'm worried about riding... be watching closely.
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