A Yankee goes south...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Junyah, Oct 5, 2014.

  1. GoatKiller

    GoatKiller Mister Sarcasm!

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    Looks super sloppy!
    Good Luck with that!
  2. Bigbore4

    Bigbore4 Long timer

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    How long / how many miles did that go on for? Adventure, yes! Fun, NOPE!

    Keep it coming!
    Dave
  3. Andres@1976

    Andres@1976 Adventurer

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  4. Andres@1976

    Andres@1976 Adventurer

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    I hope you can find a nice pressure washer machine...the lawnmower will gladly appreciate it.
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  5. Junyah

    Junyah @ the speed of plaid

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    15.5.18


    BR-319



    I first heard about this road in, I think, Peru and it sounded interesting. But at that time Brasil seemed so far away that I never gave it much thought, I just filed it away for later research. I'd actually forgotten about it once back in the States, but as I was planning my return and doing some trip planning it popped back up across my screen again. Most of the info out there is dated at this point, and most of what I found was from the overland crowd. Which has a different view than us moto travelers, as far as road difficulty goes. But everything I found said don't do it in the rainy season! Guess when I was going to be there? Yep, towards the tail end of the rainy season.

    It also took me a while to get there. Getting from the border of Uruguay to the state of Amazonia is a long way! Brasil is huge! And for the most part, the roads suck! Of course, now, I have a different appreciation of what "suck" really is.

    For the most part BR-319 is about 600kms long, at least the part I was interested in. The total road is over 800kms and many stories are often inflated with this number, the good bits as I found out are much less. It's the 200 or so in the middle that really kicks you in the taint.

    As I sat in my hotel room in Porto Velho it dawned on me that I was getting trapped in the "what if" scenario. Trying to think of of every possibility and eventuality of what may come on this dreaded road that put a lot of people on edge. The owner of the hotel wasn't helping as she was giving me daily updates that the buses weren't running still, so the road must be closed. She also enlisted others to help her in her cause to stop me from going, they were all too eager to help. I was also waiting for another moto traveler that was entertaining doing it as well, but eventually backed out to wait for the dry season.

    Thursday morning I hit the road to have a peek at this road and make a decision then.

    Except, I chickened out and got a room in Humaita, only 200kms from Porto Velho. I need more research, I need more preparation I told myself. WTF! That night I watched one of my old videos and saw a road I had traveled in Northern Peru. A road that no longer existed, that I was told no one had traveled, other than by horse, for over 30 years! But I had. And I only found my way by following a trail of fresh horse shit to boot! (Thankfully those two horses shit a lot, or I'd still be wandering around out there!) Suck it up butter cup! You got this!

    Friday morning, with my resolve steeled, and the wet blanket of self doubt cast aside, I put on my Armour of "Fuck it!" and hit the field of battle!

    Loaded up with four days of food, 21 liters of gas, and 8 liters of water. The poor Lawnmower was freighted


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    The last turn, it's 600+kms of straight road from here


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    It's pretty much pot holed pavement and short streches of dirt road in the beginning. I easily cruised along at 50kph for the most part


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    Much of the pavement is a very thin venier that has not held up since it was first layed down in the 70's


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    About 100kms from Humaita is the little one horse town of Realidade, and the last actual gas station for awhile. Topped off the tank and grabbed another two liters of water


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    Saw this bit of Sci Fi horror on top of a power pole not long after. No freaking idea what it is, or what made it, but I think you could make a feature film around it


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    Lunch was at a Pousada, forget the name, basically a restaurant/inn/home that dot along BR-319. Beans, rice, tough mystery meat that was quite flavorful, fried fish and a cold beer for R$25/$6.85us The fish was cold so I passed on that, last thing I needed was to get sick


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    Vulture are abundant along the way


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    As are these piles of silt that flow down from the rains


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    Cell towers also dot the route every 20/30kms and the gates are open. They make a great place to spend the night out the rain. This one had a huge Owl that took up residence in the attic, but try as I might I couldn't get a pick of it. At the end of day one I managed to cover about 250kms of fairly easy road with no problems


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    I did get to watch a Hawk have dinner up on the tower though


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    Vultures were all along the perimeter fence


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    In the morning I was awoken to bats thwacking into the wall and climbing up into their roost in the rafters, big suckers too, but again, couldn't get a good pic. These loud mofo's though, I could get a pick of


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    Despite all I had read about the route not being maintained, it's just not true. I saw lots of equipment interspersed along the way to deal with wash outs and whatnot. And this well stocked station


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    There were quite a few locations that had obviously been washed away and recently repaired over the previous season, so they aren't slack about maintenance.
    At the start of day two I was quickly into the wet red clay, but just short bits and nothing too hard


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    But it got progressively harder as the day went on


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    This stretch I had to scout out. It was so long I couldn't see the other end from the saddle. These three pics are from full zoom back to where I'm standing on the other end


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    From here on out I was using my GoPro to document more than my camera. I was planning to edit a video but even though the GoPro was on and lit, it failed to capture a lot of the good stuff. So I'm going to try and combine narrative with raw footage to keep the narrative flowing, and save myself hours of editing. Hope this works.
    What the scouting trip looks like from my eyes


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    I made it through that without issue, surprisingly, but the next tiny one after that got me. Broke the right mirror off and the handle bar put a good bruise in my left quad. Getting the bike back up was not easy, with all the weight and lack of a good purchase it took several tries


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    The next hole after that


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    I then ran into these guys who had been struggling for 21 days to get their truck to Manaus. 21 days!!! They weren't even halfway through, and as I found out later it only got worse!


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    I helped them for a few hours and gave them my chain and pad lock for securing my bike to wrap around a tire. They were so woefully ill prepared for this road I eventually left them to it and continued on my way


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    Five kms down the road, off in the distance, I saw what looked like a bus across the road. Yep, there's a bus across the road!


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    I was happy to see I could get around it, but not expecting to see what was on the other side of it! The bus was heading to Porto Velho but couldn't make it through the mud and in the process of turning around to go back to Manaus, it stalled and wouldn't start. Dead batteries. They had been there for three days! In the pick up were Embretel maintenance guys who keep the cell towers operating. They went around the bus to give them a jump start, lost their brakes, and ended up in the drink. They'd been there all day trying to get their truck out, without success.

    Some of the passengers on the bus were from Venezuela and Juan Carlos soon became my best friend, as I could speak Spanish better than he could speak Portuguese. After four days he was desperate to talk to someone, I know the feeling Juan.

    Through some creative interpetation we hatched a plan to take one battery back down the road to the two guys I had left behind to see if they could charge the battery, to get the bus out of their way so they could pass, and the bus could pull out the Embratel truck. So I took the gear off my box, loaded up a giant truck battery, and waddled my way back down the road to Dos Amigos. They of course were happy to charge the battery, if it got the bus out of their way. I helped them for a few more hours until tension started to mount, and the sun was starting to set. I told them I needed to find a place to sleep before it got dark, ie a cell tower, and they offered to bring the battery back to the stricken bus. Cool, mission complete, I'm outta here!

    Back at the bus I loaded back up and said I'm off to find a tower. The Embratel guys said about 25kms, cool I can just make it before dark. When the bus people heard that, they offered for me to sleep in the bus, and that dinner was ready, help myself. Sweet!

    After dinner the bus driver and I were bored, so we decided to go help Dos Amigos and see how the battery was doing. We finally got Dos Amigos out their hole around 8:00pm, knuckle bumps and back slaps all around! All right guys, off to the next hole! Where Dos Amigos promptly drove into the deepest part of the hole...are you fucking kidding me!!! We tried for another hour. Nope. Firmly planted this time. But hey the battery is charged! OK, we're done. I loaded up the bus driver, and the battery!, and wallowed back to the bus.

    We get back to the bus and there's two huge ten wheel overland trucks stuck in the hole just beyond the bus! Busy place today. Bus driver throws the battery in, fires up the bus, and says we're hitting the road tonight. What! Yep, he's had enough. He's going down to pull Dos Amigos out of his way and carry on to Porto Velho through the night. You Fucker!

    So it's 9:30 at night, I'm in Jaguar country, and the safe place to sleep, that I just helped out is leaving?!? You fucker!!!

    Juan Carlos then told me there is a Pousada about two kms down the road, thanks Juan I'm outta here! I don't want anything more to do with this shit show. I managed to squeeze by the two land barges stuck in the hole and head down the road. I never did find it, it must have been too far back off the road for me to see it. Too bad to, because I was out of water at this point, and had been for several hours. After the heat and all the work with Dos Amigos dehydration had set in, and the headache that accompanies it. Well nothing to do but see if I can make it to the next tower. I'd rather ride through the night than sleep out in the open. I'd rather walk the streets of La Paz drunk at 3am (which I've done) than sleep in a tent in big cat country. We all have our fears.

    I hit some really deep holes that night, one I miss judged and ended up in knee deep custard and had to muscle the bike through. But when I got to this bridge, and couldn't walk to the other end, I was done. All right cats, one Jr beef burrito right here, come and get it


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    I set up camp on the side of the road, and dug out the only liquid I had. Two cans of tuna fish. To be clear, I don't like tuna, never have, but I eat it because it travels well and is full of good stuff to keep the body going. Tuna juice never tasted sooo goood! But it wasn't enough, time for some river water. I have a steriPen with me, but they are not the best for turbid water, and course this water was. Damn any consequence, I'm parched.

    Between the leg cramps, wicked fun in a small two man tent, and the traffic going by, which surprised me, I slept very little that night. But thankfully the pounding headache was gone by the morning.

    There was also a weird sound every now and again that night that sounded similar to the bats hitting the wall at my previous camp, in the morning it dawned on me that it was the mud falling off my bike


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    Camp


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    My alarm clock


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    I was very happy to find a Pousada not even two kms down the road in the morning. Water, coffee and breakfast. Felt like a new man. Still covered in mud though


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    Shortly after that I found a nice stream, emptied the pockets and jumped in clothes and all to clean off some mud


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    The one and only ferry crossing


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    Other than the previous video of duck walking in the snot, that was pretty much the end of BR-319 and the road was good to the ferry to Manaus. Looking back at the dock, a rainbow send off


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    In the end, the road isn't that hard. All the bridges were in good shape, there is no two track with the jungle encroaching in, there is fuel and water to be had at the Pousadas that dot the road, there is way more traffic than I thought there would be so you are not that alone, but, it is a challenge. And I think that challenge will decrease as time goes on, because they are making a conserted effort to improve this road. I'm glad I got a chance to do it before it's gone, and it was worth all the effort to get there. Like this guy says "Amazon, it's not easy"


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    Junyah.


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  6. Junyah

    Junyah @ the speed of plaid

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    Thanks for following along! There was no traffic on that section of road at that time, they were smarter than me. Even a four wheel drive would struggle, anything two wheel drive would be stuck.
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  7. Junyah

    Junyah @ the speed of plaid

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    It was only about a kilometer long thankfully. There were several more shorter sections after that though. Anything with even a tint of red to it, you slow down and throw out the out riggers.
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  8. GoatKiller

    GoatKiller Mister Sarcasm!

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    Nice Job Sir! That mud looks terrible. Looks like what the Western Colorado dirt turns into when it rains. Luckily, it does not rain that often!
    You deserved that stream bath!
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  9. toowoomba

    toowoomba Certified BMW Therapist

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    Now that's an adventure! You have balls the size of Jupiter my friend. You make us proud and then some. Thanks for taking the time to post the vids and pics and bringing us along. Continued safe travels and looking forward to seeing what's around the next bend...Você é foda.
  10. De Oppresso Liber

    De Oppresso Liber Been here awhile

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    Just wow. . . .
  11. squadraquota

    squadraquota mostly harmless

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    Epic stuff! Kudos for helping out those people. I guess the bus driver was too fed up to show a bit of appreciation, but I think that rainbow at the end and that little girls smile are better reward than hugs n kisses from a muddy, sweaty unshaven bus driver :lol3
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  12. Junyah

    Junyah @ the speed of plaid

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    :photog
    So you met the bus driver then? :lol2
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  13. Junyah

    Junyah @ the speed of plaid

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    Good choice of words, looks like a week long trip down the Amazon is in my near future.
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  14. De Oppresso Liber

    De Oppresso Liber Been here awhile

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    Are you talking by boat or by moto? Either way, have a freakin’ hoot! :beer
  15. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    F'kn eh! Great stuff!
    Why did I feel deja vue on that stretch? I'm gonna back track on your RR...
  16. Junyah

    Junyah @ the speed of plaid

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    Boat my friend, there are no roads here going east.
    Went down to the port this morning and talked with the hawkers selling slots on the boat. Each one claimed to be the Captain of the San Morino, the only boat leaving Saturday, so I think I'll just show up with the bike loaded and see which one is standing on the bridge, and go from there. It'll take four days to get to Belem, thankfully on a bigger boat than these


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  17. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer

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    Awesome write up on 319, one of the best I’ve ever read. You going to do the Guyanas’ loop now.

    Thought they had the new bridge over to Manaus finished, crossing over one the main tributaries, Rio Negro or the other one? See the opera house if you are still in town.
  18. Junyah

    Junyah @ the speed of plaid

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    Thank you. No Guyana's for me, to much to see in Brasil and a limited amount of time on this leg.
    I'd be shocked to see a bridge to Manaus, it's an hour long ferry ride across the river where the two meet. I forgot about the opera house, thanks for the reminder.
    And get yourself to 319 soon, before it's gone. I'm not joking when I say they are working on it.
  19. Junyah

    Junyah @ the speed of plaid

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    Thank you, you have me curious now...
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  20. ONandOFF

    ONandOFF more off than on

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    That's a long way to go for a painfully muddy road!! :patch

    Glad you survived it.