BackpackerMoto: ADV Noob vs. Patagonia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by BackpackerMoto, Mar 10, 2014.

  1. Gooner

    Gooner DC 43

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    Rocket City
    His failure to do more to build up the squad in the last two tfr windows has been painfully evident in the last two months. FA Cup and 4th will secure at least one more year for him, but can't help but wonder what someone like Laudrup would be able to accomplish at the Emirates.
    #81
  2. BackpackerMoto

    BackpackerMoto Outcast

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    The Teton Range
    Agreed, though I am holding out hope that 4th and the FA won't be enough to earn him another year. Contract is up, good time to move on. I respect what he's done in the past, but the transfer failures, one dimensional tactics, set piece weakness (offensively and defensively), lack of grit down the middle... yah, I'd like to see someone else give it a try.

    Nice to have Ramsey back though. Wife and I went to the opener last August, just loved his hustle and heart. Class player.
    #82
  3. BackpackerMoto

    BackpackerMoto Outcast

    Joined:
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    The Teton Range
    [​IMG]

    It's 1975.

    I am on the floor of my father's home office, quietly racing my Hot Wheels on a track scratched into the thick carpet. He is sitting in the chair at his desk, doing paperwork. I dare to interrupt him.

    "How did I get my name?"

    He looks up, puts down his pen, and swivels to face me. "You..." he begins slowly, a faint smile appearing, "You are named for my all-time favorite motorcycle racer. He was the best of the 1950s, an Englishman who rode a Norton."

    A hesitation.

    "Though, your mother and I chose to spell your name the correct way."

    This was it. I had today and tomorrow morning to reach Santiago. As ever, 680 miles would normally be a cakewalk, but today's ride included 130 miles of winding mountain road and I intended to enjoy every inch of it. There was also a border crossing back into Chile to negotiate, and we all remember how much I enjoyed the last one of those.

    Oh... and the KLR had a new noise. I first heard it in low gears as I was pulling out of my overnight digs. It was a low clacking sound, only when in gear. I rode down a quiet side street, straining to hear its origin. As ever, I checked the rear wheel alignment, the chain tension, and they seemed pretty good. My fix from two days ago appeared to be staying the course, new sound notwithstanding. The noise seemed to vanish once into third gear and above 30 mph, so of course my solution was to use the higher gears and stay above 30. Hah! Who says I'm not mechanically inclined!?

    Having proudly executed an 8 AM kickoff, I was on the road as the first rays of sun began to descend upon the awakening vale. At the junction about 60 miles before the border, I wheeled the KLR to the west and began my ascent into the Andes. Behind me, early morning light graced the gentle hills and rocky formations. I pulled the bike to the side, jabbed the kill switch, and savored the silence as I took a final look upon the lowlands of Argentina.

    [​IMG]

    The road quickly rose back into the mountains and worked its way around a glassy smooth Lago Nahuel Huapi. The morning stillness, blue waters and blue skies, gentle curves of the pavement, it was like that extra present hidden behind the Christmas tree. There could have been no better farewell to this exquisite region.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Just prior to the border was the beautiful mountain community of Villa La Angostura, about what you'd expect from a ski resort. Personally, I never get tired of these, though the Bohemian RTW riders seem to enjoy ridiculing such towns. To me, the setting and scenery always overcome the overdone touristy themes. I gassed up and did my usual inspection of the bike. The new noise was slightly louder but still only in lower gears, and my attempts to solicit opinions from the station mechanic proved utterly futile. He looked as baffled as myself.

    Shortly thereafter I breezed through Argentine border control before arriving at the Chilean entry. This crossing was much less invasive than the last time, but the entire process still took the better part of an hour. Finally clear of all the border control traffic, I settled in for the final miles of mountain riding.

    I finished my traverse of the Andes blessed with endless undulations and high speed bends. This last stretch of tarmac was pure old school road racing gold, the type where men played for keeps on public thoroughfares in heroic places like Spa and the Isle of Man. One magical corner after another, I came plunging downhill, went blasting uphill, through Eau Rouge, through the hamlet of Francorchamps, then through the entirety of Snaefell Mountain.

    [​IMG]

    Of course, I did little honour to the greats who did battle in those legendary places, nor to my famous namesake, as my beat-up KLR was no more up to the task than my ham-fisted riding. Still, there is no value you can put on such memories.

    I finished my ride down from the Andes, reached the broad north-south valley below, and linked back up with the Pan American Highway, aka Ruta 5. I was now just north of Osorno and it was already 2 PM. I stopped for gas, food and a map consult. Still 560 miles to Santiago. If I could beat the sundown and make it to Linares, where I'd stayed my first night in-country, that would leave me just 180 miles to do tomorrow morning. I got down to business. After so many days of uncertain roads and weather conditions, the civilized yet monotonous nature of Ruta 5 was not entirely unwelcome, especially given my haste. Still, I realized by late afternoon that there was no way I was going to make Linares before dark. Not even close. Since I had managed to get the KLR's high beam working somewhat more consistently, and given Ruta 5's four lane divided highway, I figured if I was going to break my "No riding after dark" rule, this was the time to cash in any remaining Luck chips.

    For about 90 nervous minutes, I cruised through the blackness, just me and the occasional big rig with barely functioning headlights. O Fortuna was with me, as I safely arrived into Linares and beelined for Hotel Victoria Said, where the same charming woman booked me into the same charming room as before.

    It was now 10 PM, and I was drained. Dinner of Gatorade and Oreos before I thudded into bed.
    #83
  4. BackpackerMoto

    BackpackerMoto Outcast

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    The Teton Range
    [​IMG]

    It's 186 miles to Santiago. I got a full tank of gas, half a pack of Oreo's, it's dawn, and I'm wearing sunglasses.

    I hit it.

    Admittedly, I was not on a mission from God, nor even a pilgrimage to a holy land. Spirituality was loosely defined in the household of my youth, meaning that everyone was free to find their own righteous path with no<DEL></DEL> strong-armed influence from the parental units. Mom and Dad hammered home those core values that are near-universal to mankind, but on matters religious they left us kids to our own devices, let us ask our own questions, let us individually define spirituality. It was one of the finest gifts they ever gave us. Thus, it may surprise a few people that I was on a damn the torpedoes attempt to reach a sacred gathering in Santiago on this, the final day of my trip. It was the only aspect of my adventure that I'd planned. Three months ago, when I'd been on the fence as to whether or not to attempt a solo South American moto adventure, the fortuitous timing of this event had single-handedly tipped the scales.

    Personally, I was skeptical that I could pull it off. Day 20's agenda looked like this: in addition to the mileage to Santiago, I had three errands that would account for a manic 25 miles of city driving on the crazed traffic-filled winding streets of the Chilean capital. I had to 1) find the office that had my ticket to tonight's gathering. 2) find my hotel and unload all my stuff from the bike. 3) find my way back to the place that rented me the KLR. After that, I'd need a cab back to the hotel for a shower and food before a subway ride to tonight's assembly at 8 PM sharp. Still using 8000 year-old technology perfected by the ancient Greeks, my Santiago city map was the only tool at my disposal, as I certainly couldn't put much faith in the oft non-existent street signage.

    Pulling out from Linares, the KLR's recently developed clacking noise was noticeably louder, though it still vanished once clear of first and second gear. I had no solution, but the time for half-measures and doubts was over. I rolled the dice one final time as I chugged out of town and back onto the northbound Pan American Highway.

    Over those final 186 miles, I was as nervous as Dan Marino on draft day. The KLR was trembling and shuddering like the space shuttle on re-entry, bouncing and skipping along the surface of Ruta 5. Each time I pulled away from a toll booth, the now horrific clattering had me convinced that it was only a matter of time before I'd be stranded roadside with my thumb in the air. Not sure when... it might be next week, next month or next year, but at some point I am going to be due a very bad run of misfortune indeed. Because on those final miles into Santiago, I exhausted my Luck savings account and borrowed heavily against my future. Somehow, I rolled past the city limits with the KLR still running. Like the T1000, it just refused to die.

    En route to the ticket office, I inadvertently chose a major street that transmogrified into a mini-expressway, and suddenly I was in a three lane underground tunnel, surrounded by concrete walls with everyone going 70 and a breakdown lane exactly 10 inches wide. If the KLR failed here...

    I drifted off to a happy place and held my breath for three miles until an exit ramp appeared. Blissfully, it was the very street I was looking for. I bailed out of the tunnel and breathed again. I was fortunate to find some easy parking, scoot up to the office, claim my ticket, and then ride the few miles to my hotel without too much effort. Though, unloading the bike, getting everything out of the panniers, and securing all my stuff in the hotel lobby (too early to check-in) took the better part of an hour.

    By my best reckoning, it was about eight miles from hotel to the rental place. I was babying the bike as best I could, but the constant start-stop traffic on the congested major streets was taking its toll. Consulting my map, I spotted an alternate route that would take me through a quiet residential area. I pulled off the main thoroughfare and was immediately rewarded with empty streets and no traffic, no cars or buses or cabs attempting to murder me. I sedately motored at a vastly reduced speed, determined to turtle my way to the checkered flag.

    I putted about eight long blocks through some nice clean neighborhoods, and reckoned I had about three miles to the finish line. At the next four way stop, I looked in all directions and rolled through it slowly, before easily taking second gear and ever so gently getting on the gas.

    *SNAP* *GRIND* GRRRRRRRR*

    Metal dragging on asphalt. I coasted up a driveway and onto the sidewalk, a slight grin upon my face. It only seemed appropriate that the chain had come off one final time.

    Except it hadn't.

    It had broken completely, along with a tooth on the rear sprocket. After 4452 miles and the brutalities of the Carretera Austral and Ruta 40, over wind blasted ripio and two crossings of the Andes, it had chosen this moment to fail, just three miles from home. There could be no quick fix.

    I looked at the clock. It was 4:25 PM.

    To be continued...
    #84
  5. queenpdog

    queenpdog Long timer

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    OOoooHHHhhhh, So close!
    #85
  6. itlives

    itlives Adventurer

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    Apr 15, 2014
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    Shreveport LA
    Just....wow...
    The enormity of this great planet gets lost when we stay in our little peice of it.

    I'm fixing to leave on a 9 day trip of my own Sat 5/3.

    It won't be anything like yours, but I will get out of my little piece!

    That last pic is like a painting it's so perfect!
    #86
  7. lakota

    lakota Geeser

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    Jan 31, 2007
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    3,616
    Location:
    Annapolis MD
    Was there for my 60th birthday to run in a 3 day stage race. Loved that town before the start and especially after the finish.

    Glad to see you are safely back in Santiago.:clap Looking forward to seeing how the final rescue plays out.
    #87
  8. BackpackerMoto

    BackpackerMoto Outcast

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2014
    Oddometer:
    206
    Location:
    The Teton Range
    So very true! A good friend of mine once said, "Travel is the best education you can get." And he had two doctorates!

    Outstanding news! And there's plenty of time to have grand adventure in 9 days, don't sell it short!

    I would have liked more time to spend in Angostura and, in fact, that entire stretch from there south to Esquel. My kinda mountain region and roads. But then, I guess I could say that about many parts of my trip!
    #88
  9. 27Dgresridn

    27Dgresridn LowMi Lurker/HiPerf Sherpa

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2014
    Oddometer:
    210
    Location:
    Poppasquat, GA
    Really enjoyed your RR...loved the flashbacks as we got to know YOU and what motivates the ride! Where next? - LF2it

    27
    #89
  10. queenpdog

    queenpdog Long timer

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    He's not done yet! We need to hear the rest......:lurk
    #90
  11. BackpackerMoto

    BackpackerMoto Outcast

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    The Teton Range
    My thanks! I find it difficult to reveal too much about myself, but childhood memories played such an important role in this adventure, I couldn't leave them out.

    As for where next... that is always the question, ain't it?

    OT: 27 is my favorite number.

    The queen is right. I'm not there yet!
    #91
  12. BackpackerMoto

    BackpackerMoto Outcast

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    The Teton Range
    SITREP.

    The chain and sprocket were broken. My detour through quiet residential streets, seemingly clever at the time, was now a serious detriment to my mission. The gazillions of cabs that had been trying to run me down were now nowhere to be seen, they logically patrolling only the major thoroughfares. It was 4:25 PM, tonight's event would begin straight up at 8 o'clock.

    "Never a cell phone when you need one," I commented to a gray cat sitting on a nearby wall, peering at me with the eyes of the unimpressed. There was nothing for it; I would have to abandon the KLR, chose a walking direction and hope for a major street with some cabs. I also had not eaten now in more than 24 hours, and the Santiago sun was beating down with triple digit intensity. I drank the last of my water and, after locking up the bike, began to stroll northbound where I thought I could see a steady flow of traffic about 3/4 mile away.

    Fifteen minutes and lots of sweat later, I found a cab and then spent a few Spanglish-filled minutes attempting to communicate my destination to the driver. I clamored in, bought an ice cold water from a curbside vendor, and arrived at the rental place just after 5 PM. I quickly gave them the rundown, showed them the bike's location on a map, and then I grabbed another cab back to my hotel. Rush hour traffic turned the seven mile ride into a 50 minute ordeal. Now, 6:15 PM.

    I refused to attend tonight's event smelling like a dung heap, so I jumped into the shower, put on my next-to-last clean shirt, and went in search of sustenance. Inhaling a sandwich as I hurriedly found the subway, I fought through the crowded platforms and stepped on the train at 7:00. Half hour later I disembarked and began to walk the final mile. At 7:50 PM, I reached the entry gates and handed my ticket to a faceless woman.

    4,452 miles and twenty days later, I was here with ten minutes to spare.

    I can't understate the personal importance of this spiritual gathering. Certain theological issues have long tormented mankind, leaving him awake at night in search of knowledge, truth, and the answer to just one question:

    [​IMG]

    No, no, no. Not THAT question!​

    THIS question:

    Is your head attached with a hinge?

    Suddenly...

    It's 1988.

    It is a scorching hot summer afternoon as I walk through one of the tunnels at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. I reach the end of the cinder block hallway and gaze down upon the field, completely covered by a mass of humanity.

    At the far end of the stadium, four men appear from behind a black curtain and walk out onto the stage. As one, thousands of people on the field rush forward, while the people on the sides of the stadium rush down onto the field. Temporary fencing collapses. Folding chairs are spat out by a hungry audience. Everywhere, yellow jacketed security personnel are abandoning their posts. Control is lost, and god help me but I do love it so.

    Except this time it wasn't the L.A. Coliseum, it was the Estadio Monumental in Santiago. This was my sacred event, to join 47,000 like-minded people for communal worship at the altar of James, Kirk, Lars, Rob and the spirit of Cliff.

    [​IMG]

    I slowly descended the steps that would lead me to the floor and the hive of general admission activity. For a long moment I hovered on the periphery, dumbfounded that I was here, in this place, at this time. Miles of riding over the past three weeks, battling the KLR's recurring issues, harsh weather, crappy roads, rebellious housewives, indignant park rangers, tenting in backyards, sleeping roadside, sleeping in plush hotels, the bike's final failure, all while suffering my own dual-sport inexperience and ineptitude. Yet none of it had denied me the path to this very moment.

    The lights went out. The crowd exploded with fury and delight, again the fences were torn down, and above their crazed roar, I heard my own incredulous whisper...

    "I fucking MADE it."

    [​IMG]

    "Ecstasy of Gold" began in its familiar way, with Eastwood, Wallach and Van Cleef acting out their standoff for the millionth time.​

    And then... "Battery".​

    I am the mob. And the mob rules.​

    [​IMG]

    At 6'2", the closer I got to the stage, the less popular I became. Turns out, most Latin American metal fans are considerably shorter than me. They did all they could to dislodge the Backpacker Moto Gringo, but lo siento mis amigos, I am a grizzled ageless veteran of a thousand psychic wars, countless pits, countless metal shows. And, I'd just finished three weeks of combating big rigs on RN 3, the ripio of Ruta 40, and gale force winds in Torres Del Paine. Tonight, you couldn't move me with a fucking bulldozer.

    The bat-shit crazy crowd surged like waves upon the ocean, and with each wave I expertly maneuvered closer and closer to the stage. By the end of "Puppets" I was dead center and only two bodies from the front barriers. Hetfield finished the song and flipped his pick into the crowd... and straight into my outstretched hand.

    For the next two hours and twenty minutes, I celebrated that precious piece of fortune cookie wisdom: age is a matter of feelings, not years. "Seek and Destroy" closed out the show and the house lights flickered on. I was utterly, completely drenched in sweat, exhausted but still adrenalized. The only other tall guy in the crowd, a teenaged Chilean kid who'd been next to me for most of the night, gave me a triumphant high five. Grinning at him, I pointed to my chest.

    "Los Angeles, California."

    His eyes became saucers. With unbridled Latin exuberance, he gave me a spontaneous embrace and in near-perfect English, he cried proudly, "You came all the way from the United States of America to see Metallica IN MY CITY!!!?!?!?"

    Smiling, I hugged him back.

    "Yes, brother, I did. I most certainly did."

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #92
  13. oobus

    oobus Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Somehow epic does not cut it here!

    SO BADASSISTIC!
    #93
  14. joenuclear

    joenuclear Ride to eat, eat to ride... all roads lead to pie!

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    Just Wow!
    #94
  15. f4brian

    f4brian Adventurer

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    61
    Location:
    Delaware
    Thanks for sharing your adventure, it was one of the best I've read. I like your writing style, I hope I get a chance to read more of your adventures in the future.

    Your comments on Forma Adventure boots is spot on. I too bought a pair from Atomic-Moto. I have been riding over twenty years so I had my fair share of boots. When I first opened the box I thought bulky, I would have to change the shift lever up a notch. That was not the case. Comfortable to walk in for an extended period of time. Latch system easy to adjust, sole pattern grips the foot pegs and the fit was perfect.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
    #95
  16. queenpdog

    queenpdog Long timer

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    Best. Ending. Evar!
    #96
  17. itlives

    itlives Adventurer

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    Apr 15, 2014
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    Location:
    Shreveport LA
    What a great adventure! I will look forward to more from you.
    Is there a way to keep up with you?
    #97
  18. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

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    Jul 29, 2012
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    1,635
    Great, great read! And photos! Stuff from Day 10 was amazing. Those peaks like sharks' teeth! Thanks for taking the time for sharing this with us! :clap:clap
    #98
  19. BackpackerMoto

    BackpackerMoto Outcast

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2014
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    The Teton Range
    Bus and Queen, as I was standing there when the lights went out, that's exactly how I felt too. :nod

    Thanks Blader! Yes, Day 10 and Mt. Fitz Roy provided some of the most stunning scenery. Though I am also partial to Days 5-8 along the Carretera Austral.

    Appreciate you coming along! The website (lots of extra photos, too) is where you'll best find me... Backpackermoto.com

    I greatly appreciate your kind words. As for the Formas, you haven't seen the last of them! They have a part left to play in my upcoming Epilogue!
    #99
  20. jimmydteach

    jimmydteach Living the Dream

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    May 3, 2013
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    Location:
    Valparaiso, IN
    What a great read!