Central America on a Shoestring

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by bgoodsoil, Jun 8, 2009.

  1. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

    Joined:
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    finally, a ride report! after a year of turning wrenches on the old beemer i´m actually riding it.

    The plan is to head to panama, from Georgia. i´ve got the lonely planet guide for Central America. i´ll show up in a country, open the book and see what it recommends.
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    i had planned on leaving on a monday right after a wedding. it didn´t work out like that. my gearbox started slipping and i ended up having to tear the bike apart and take the gearbox to boxerworks.

    here´s the bike on wednesday

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    nathan got the gearbox fixed for me in less than a day. i rode out on thursday.

    edit: it didn't fix the gearbox. I was taking steep hills lugging second gear to keep from ruining the transmission.

    the obligatory odo shot.

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    i put 3k on the bike before i got this speedo. that´s 14,000 miles in the 7 months or so i´ve actually had this bike running.

    i did about 350 miles the first day and made it into mississippi. there was a heckuva thunder storm going on and i stopped early. is this stealth camping or what?
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    that´s my tent back in the bushes.

    i found a little trail heading out into the edge of a swamp. water squished up aound my feet when i walked but there wasn´t any dirt. the plants went on forever.

    it was pouring buckets. there was a liter of water in my tent within the 3 minutes it took me to get it up. 20 minutes later, the rain stopped and it got hot. wonderful! there were a million billion mosquitos.

    new invention! the moto dryer
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    70mph winds drys coolmax in no time.
    #1
  2. outpostbabu

    outpostbabu Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Not sure where (or if) this is going but I was toying with the idea of an Atlanta to Panama trip next year... so I'm all ears :ear. Good luck!
    #2
  3. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

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    the next day i just felt like riding. i did 700 miles and made it to about 100 miles from the mexican border at brownsville. i rarely ride over 70mph but i ran the bike at around 80 for a while. the bike felt fine but my gas mileage dropped down to crap. about 37mpg. next fillup i kept it under seventy and it went back up the usual 43. with the mega tanker on the bike i usually flick on reserve around 380 miles. that´s with a few more gallons to go.

    i slept in my hammock in the woods behind a rest stop in Texas. it was across from the leech field for the septic tank of the stop. the methane hit if the breeze picked up. i had to get the bike across 100 yards of sugar sand over the tank. it ain´t easy riding 500 pounds of bike through that stuff.

    i crossed the mexican border at 10. the mexican border isn´t like other borders. they just wave you through. nobody stops you and says ýou need such and such paper or you need to pay this. you have to figure it out on your own. i went through the aduana, got insurance and paperwork.

    then i got lost. my map said 180 south left the city. it doesn´t. you have to get on 101 first. a supposed ´travel guide´said he´d help me. before i knew it he had hopped on the bike, sitting on my drying laundry, and he guided me through the city. then, of course, he hit me up for money for his free services. dern, swindled on my first day.
    #3
  4. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

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    i did a long day across mexico and made it to tampico. staying near the coast is a much better idea than going through the center. i went through central mexico last year. it´s all desert and it´ll suck you dry. the coast was beautiful though. it was hard to find a spot that wasn´t covered in green.
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    i thought it´d be a touristy beach town. it´s not. it´s an industral city. no tourists anywhere. i really stood out.

    i was beat. i tried to find a cheap hostel since i knew i wouldn´t be able to find a place in the woods in a city this large. no tourists means nos hostels. i pulled into the first hotel i saw, the hampton inn.. $90 a night! i was tired, but not that tired.

    i poked around the city a little more and found the Grand Royale. still $50 a night, dern expensive, but i was out of water and i just couldn´t ride anymore. really nice hotel though.

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    and to think, 2 days ago i was sleeping in a swamp

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    air conditioning! glorious air conditioning!
    #4
  5. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

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    i´m a firm believer in ATGATT but i´ve found a few chinks in my armor.

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    bring on the redneck jokes! another thing that occurred to me. what is it about white people that makes us feel the need to dress like indiana jones whenever we travel¿

    the bike had been shaking a bit so i adjusted the valves in the parking lot.

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    left a big oily spot in the parking lot. for 50 bucks i earned it.

    here´s a pic of the lovely city of tampico

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    i was clean, well rested, had a big breakfast and loaded up the camelbak with good water. the bike was running smooth again and i felt like riding. i got 4 miles down the road and the bike died. i´ve been stuck here in tampico for 2 days now.
    #5
  6. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
    Stuck in Tampico for two days. This is the first line of an old country song, right?

    Good luck.
    #6
  7. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

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    the bike was running fine then it died completely out of nowhere. i pulled over to the side of road and dropped the bowls. they had gas. i pulled the plugs and didn´t get a spark on either side. gapped new plugs, installed ém. checked connections at the caps and the coil. no go.

    i was near a federal weighin for trucks and the guy there let me chain the bike up to a tree next to the station

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    i hopped in a taxi and asked him if he knew of a hotel that was close to the bike. my spanish is holding up well. he found me a hotel less than a mile away. i went back to the bike and pushed it over to the hotel.

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    this´d make a good childrens´book The Chicken and The Moto. it´ll have a sad ending. the moto breaks down and the chicken gets eaten.

    the chicken tried to peck me a few times. can´t blame the guy. if i order quesadillas con pollo for dinner tonight he´ll get killed.

    the hotel was much cheaper, has air conditioning, tv and serves food. i´m happy :D
    #7
  8. Solo Lobo

    Solo Lobo airhead or nothing

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    Stuck for two days? Did you isolate the issue yet?

    I will say the shot of the front cover off of your G/S while adjusting the valves made me a bit nervous...

    Let us Old Skool guys know if you need any parts Fedex'd your way!
    #8
  9. demirgursel

    demirgursel Adventurer

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    TURKEY
    NİCE THREAT :clap
    #9
  10. Quetzal

    Quetzal Guatemalan Import

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    :lurk
    #10
  11. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

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    here´s the new hotel.
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    the picture makes it seem kinda nice. at first, i thought it was an abandoned building. heck, the taxicab driver thought it was abandoned. a little yelling got the lady to come out of hiding though.

    i figured i´d need a telephone to call boxerworks and get them to send me parts. i asked the lady at the hotel if they had a phone. the answer before i payed for the room was ´si´. the answer after i payed for the room was ´no´. poop!

    my room
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    the ignition system has 3 parts-the coil, the icm, and the trigger.

    i got a fancy new dyna coil before i left so i didn´t think that was the problem. the icm is pretty tough and doesn´t seem to fail often. i figured it was the trigger, better known as the bean can.

    nathan at boxerworks strongly urged me to take a spare but i wanted to wait for a fancy new all electronic system to come out before i spent $250 on a spare old system. so no spares.
    #11
  12. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

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    i got up the next morning and met the owner of the hotel. he´s in his 70s but speaks okay english. 2 of the guys that work for him are my age and they are trying to learn how to speak english. he´s diabetic so we sat around for about an hour practicing english and spanish, eating mangos and waiting for him to finish taking his sugar and getting his insulin.

    here´s the plan we came up with for the moto.

    the icm probably isn´t the problem but i remember hearing that volkswagen used the same part in some of their cars. so, we´d go into town and try to track down that part. install it and see if the bike works. if not, i´ll have to call the states and get a new bean can sent to me.

    we got in his car and went into town. it was great. this is what i came on the trip for. we went to hardware stores, auto parts stores, bike shops and the volkswagen dealership. i never would have gone to regular non-tourist oriented stores if this hadn´t happened.

    juan, the owner, did most of the talking for me. i told him about the bean can, or lata de frijoles. we´d go to a store and he´d start talking. most of what he said went over my head but then i´d hear ´lata de frijoles´ i´d look at the clerk and see them start to grin.

    i kept telling him that a bike shop wouldn´t have the part but he kept taking me to scooter shops and honda dealerships anyways.

    we finally get to a volkswagen dealership. it was every bit as clean and fancy as a store in the states. it seemed out of place. i showed the part to the clerk, they looked it up on the fiche and found it on a mid 90´s jetta. 1,800 pesos. just over a $100! not worth it for a part that i didn´t know was right and even if it was probably wasn´t what caused the failure. ah well, at least they got me the part number.

    they gave us directions to a small volkswagen shop. they had the part for about 20 bucks. i bought it even though it didn´t look the same.

    we got back, i swapped out the part and tried to get a spark. i promptly shocked the crap outta myself. i´ve never been so happy to have 10,000 volts run across my chest :lol3

    i reinstalled the plug and the bike fired right up. w00t!

    here are the parts
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    they mount differently, but electrically they must be the same since i just took a ride with my volkswagen jetta ignition system. the bolt holes didn´t line up but a few zip ties seem to be doing the job. ya gotta love these airhead beemers.

    i´m going to spend the night here and head out tomorrow morning. i may run back by that shop and pick up another icm. heck, i´d like to have a spare and they´re cheaper here than in the states.
    #12
  13. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Wow!! Fantastic.. thanks for taking us along, and best wishes for a safe journey :thumb

    btw, that's an ultra modern LCD odometer you have there on that airhead!! :huh
    :lurk
    #13
  14. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

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    the stock speedo, like just about everything else on the bike, broke :D
    #14
  15. HowdyDoody

    HowdyDoody Lost in Amish Land

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    Congrats Brad! Safe trip to you! Amazing on the Jetta ICU and actually finding a cheap one in Mexico! CooL!
    #15
  16. Stagehand

    Stagehand Imperfectionist

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    crazy :D


    :lurk
    #16
  17. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

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    the phone didn´t work cuz the owner hadn´t payed the phone bill. we rode over to the phone company and payed the bill. now i have a phone...but my calling cards don´t work. dunno why. i think i need a ´county code´for mexico but the sprint page won´t load. poop.

    on the other hand, i now have dsl internet all to myself. don´t even have to pay for it.

    not bad for $20 a night eh? after dinner i´m going to go sit in the air conditioning and watch star wars on FX.
    #17
  18. Gimmeslack

    Gimmeslack furthur

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    Whoaaa!! we're finally off and away!!:clap

    This is gonna be good. I'm sure of it.

    Ride safe man...

    :lurk
    #18
  19. hardwaregrrl

    hardwaregrrl ignore list

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    Jeeez, Brad...already?! Already you have to fix shit. Glad you got it sorted and glad you're aokay!!!! Keep it comin'. This one is gonna be good!!!
    #19
  20. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Long timer

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    Nice find on the ICM. The jetta ignition definitely added to your bike's RTW street cred. I'm sitting comfortably at home feeling like converting to the points can was the right move. (I wasn't sure half an hour ago) Have a good trip. Smooth sailing from here on! Have fun :clap
    #20