Central and South America on a Road King

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by RoadHD, Jul 26, 2010.

  1. RoadHD

    RoadHD Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    108
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Hello and thanks for clicking. Two months into a ride from Los Angeles to South America, I wrecked in Ecuador resulting in a 4 inch fracture through my right Scapula (Shoulder Blade - a cool X-ray below), now the trips on a three month summer recess while I mend. I'm hoping this ride report will help me to catch up on my writing, store some memories and hopefully you'll find it amusing that one man can be such a consistent idiot.

    A brief intro: I ride a 2008 Road King Harley Davidson, quite possibly one of the most comfortable toys to churn up highway miles, except I don't like to ride highways, in fact, I'm happiest on twisties, dirt, and knee deep rivers.

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    In fact, there are very few places the 1,250lbs of bike, man and gear won't go on a set of road tires.


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    Dalton Highway, Alaska

    Some quick background: I started riding 2 years ago - on a dare. I had been saving money for a while - I was planning on buying a small sail boat or maybe take flying lessons. I work freelance in TV commercials and sometimes I have several weeks between jobs. The downtime in LA was driving me crazy - I love to travel and I needed a hobby. I work with my brother and while we were driving to set, he wanted to pop into a Harley dealership in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles (no we don't work in porn). My Brother has a Road King from the late 90's and wanted to check out some of the newer HD's. Walking among the bikes, I was a little bored and had little interest, I thought motorcycles were dangerous, I had no desire to own one, especially a Harley. We walked around the small dealership and I was dismissing most of the bikes as impractical, silly, and clearly a tool for a middle-aged man to overcompensate for making exclusively the "safe choices" in his life.

    Then I saw it and the world simply slowed - a black and chrome Road King Classic, I was in love [full stop]. I smiled and told my brother that that I found my bike, no question about it. He laughed, thinking I was joking or maybe bluffing, there was no way that I was going to buy an 800lbs cruiser for my first bike, and know what, he would have been right had he not said just the right thing, "If you don't buy that bike, you’re a pussy." I'll hand it to him, even though I was 31 years of age, big brother can sure lay on the peer pressure. The challenge had been laid and I found my vehicle for traveling, I didn't need a boat or plane, too impractical - I needed a Harley.

    I called over the salesman with the most detailed arm sleeve tat's, and said that I found my bike. The sales guy was overexcited, he gave me a high-five and slapped me on the back, causing the breasts of the hourglass shaped naked woman tattooed on his forearm to vibrate. After filling out the paperwork and finding an insurance agent who would take-on a certain disaster of a first time rider buying a full sized cruiser, I was ready to take the keys. The salesman ran up more excited than ever, his raspy voice was an octave higher, "You're a Harley Man now, you excited to ride your bike home?" I responded, "Um, yeah, but no. I can't ride the bike home, I don't know how to ride. But my brother will get it home for me." The smile drained from the salesman's face, he was heart broken, he was sure this would be just another shiny Harley that would sit in some dick's garage, collecting dust between the two weekends a year it would be ridden. He was almost right.

    I put less than five hundred miles on the bike in the first three months, absolutely white knuckled terrified every time I took it out of the garage. Sure I would enjoy some straightaways on the Pacific Coast Highway, stealing a brief glimpse of the ocean before someone in an SUV would swing in front of me, cutting me off, after all, this is LA and to be fair, I was afraid to do more than 40 miles per hour. I knew I would never learn how to ride only doing 60 mile loops to Neptune's Net, in fact, I'd was pretty sure that I hated riding a motorcycle and I was starting to regret even buying the bike. If I wanted to really learn how to ride, I would have to get out of LA and commit to something big.

    With six hundred miles of experience under my belt, I was heading East to New York. The sun was setting behind me, this was the first time that I ever rode on a freeway, at night, in rush hour and I was alone - statically I should be dead. Fortunately for me it's LA, traffic was slow and stopping often, so I wasn't going to get into too much trouble that first night. The plan was simple, LA to South Dakota where my brother would meet up with me for the Sturgis rally in August, then I'd head to New York alone, meet my best friend since childhood and we'd both ride back to LA.

    Dressed in full leathers and taking ATGATT to an epic level not seen since the middle ages, I spent the first thousand miles debating if I'd rather be cremated or buried. The next thousand miles were spent wondering if my health insurance even covered motorcycle wrecks. And after spending a week in Sturgis, I spent a thousand miles wondering if Harley was the right bike for me.

    It wasn't until I was around turn number 200 of the Dragon's Tail in North Carolina that I had what I could only describe as a holy experience, my body and bike just knew what to do and how to lean, there was no other thoughts in my head other than the ride, and I loved it. I was one with a piece of machinery, this shiny mass of steel, chrome and rubber had become an extension of my body. I felt like I was right where I was meant to be, on the perfect bike for me, and I knew that few things could make me happier than leaning right, then left, then right around a series of curves.

    My buddy Doug and I had a blast on the ride back from New York, although I was happy to be home with my girlfriend and dog, I couldn't wait to get the bike out on the road again. The bike got very little use over the next 10 months as riding around Los Angeles sucks, I want the open road. Every time I'd take my bike out for a spin around town, I debated just heading one direction and not looking back, like an addict, I knew I needed to get a travel fix.

    I talked it over with my girlfriend, who is amazing and although upset, understood that I needed to get out of LA; she is so supportive and I love her dearly for it. She smiled and asked where I was planning next, I simply said "North."

    North took me through British Columbia, up the Al-Can through the Yukon, and I kept the setting sun on my left until the road stopped in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, literally the end of the road. The landscape of Alaska is breathtaking, truly exceeding all my expectations.

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    Dead Horse, Prudhoe Bay, Alaska

    Eventually I want to do a Ride Report on this solo trip to Alaska, but the trip through Central America is fresh in my mind, and I want to get it down before it gets lost in the ether. I posted some pictures of this ride through Alaska onto Facebook and my friend who drove cross-country the year before said that he wanted to do another trip, he wanted to head to Alaska. Although I eventually do want to go back, the world is a big place to explore, I told him I wanted to head South. He called my bluff, and we set April, 2010 as our start date.

    I spent the next 10 months anticipating a trip to South America, careful not to read too much about the journey as I still wanted to be surprised. It seemed like forever waiting. In early April, fearing a large job that I had later in the month could delay the start of the trip, I rode to Texas and stashed the bike in a hotel parking lot so I couldn't back out. So that's it, my introduction to this little journey I have planned South through the Americas, I hope you enjoy.

    I guess this is where I'm meant to put in the teaser...
    so Spoiler Alert - I've made it to Ecuador, before a rockslide caused an unsuccessful pavement power-slide - now I have a neat fracture and I'm on a summer hiatus. I'm planning on heading back to Ecuador in late September to continue this trip South. If I can keep up with this RR, I'm hoping others find the stories that go along with these pictures as amusing as I do.

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    Crossing into the Darian Gap - Via Pedestrian Bridge

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    Columbian Car Alarms, yup the army just loaned me three loaded assault rifles

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    And fortunately, more than a few pictures featuring my Harley's skidplate

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    So that's a Scapula - check out the larger crack on the upper right of the bone

    I'm looking forward to sharing this journey South.
    #1
    Baldy likes this.
  2. ryanwilliamcantrell

    ryanwilliamcantrell Get Out and Ride!!

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,861
    Location:
    Nampa, Idaho
    You're out of your mind. :clap

    I love it! :bow
    #2
  3. RoadHD

    RoadHD Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    108
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Thanks, I'm just having a blast and I can't wait to get back on the bike!
    BTW - I love your signature - "Ride your own ride" - I couldn't agree more!
    #3
  4. crashmaster

    crashmaster ow, my balls!

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    5,308
    Location:
    Alaska
    Dude. :loco :lol3 :clap

    Now thats riding a Harley. :thumb
    #4
  5. tracyprier

    tracyprier Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2008
    Oddometer:
    73
    Location:
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Yeah :)

    way cool dude... proving I suppose that poseurs are people, not motorcycles :)

    Have a quick recovery

    Tracy
    #5
  6. IRideASlowBike

    IRideASlowBike Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2010
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    1,786
    Location:
    SE PA
    Always love to see a great ride report on a Harley around here. Makes the dumbass Harley bashers on this forum stick their feet in their mouths.


    You are following in Cavebiker's footsteps, except with 300 pounds more steel under your ass (he rode a Sportster). :thumb
    #6
  7. mundobravo

    mundobravo Long timer

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    Oct 4, 2004
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    new mexico
    I'm so in ... keep it coming brother
    #7
  8. av_mech

    av_mech Risk Taker

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2010
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    Location:
    Boise, ID
    Hmmm..ATGATT and Harley? That's pretty rare.:rofl
    #8
  9. rtwdoug

    rtwdoug prominent underachiever

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Oddometer:
    3,760
    Location:
    Alabamski Oblast, Redneckistan
    A Road King!
    how cool is that?

    Just in case your interested, Duro makes a nice 16" dual sport tire. I went offroading in Romania last week on my shovel just to try em out a bit :evil

    Im glad you didnt let your crash slow you down, get healed up fine, & good luck as you continue south!

    Doug
    #9
  10. Dessert Storm

    Dessert Storm Dances With Drunks

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2005
    Oddometer:
    811
    Location:
    Off route, recalculating
    Fantastic. More please! :clap
    #10
  11. Beater

    Beater The Bavarian Butcher

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2009
    Oddometer:
    3,614
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA, USA
    :lol3

    Good for you! In all seriousness ... GREAT of you to get out and explore ... doesn't matter the 'tool' used ... just as long as you do the work!

    Fantastic! Can't wait for you to mend and continue the story!!!
    #11
  12. rtwdoug

    rtwdoug prominent underachiever

    Joined:
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    3,760
    Location:
    Alabamski Oblast, Redneckistan
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by RoadHD
    I was a little bored and had little interest in the bikes, I thought motorcycles were dangerous, I had no desire to own one, especially a Harley, since I'm not a doctor, lawyer or douchebag.



    hmmm.....
    well, Im not a doctor or a lawyer........

    :lol3
    #12
  13. RoadHD

    RoadHD Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    108
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Thanks to all for the encouragement. I'm new to ADV, maybe it was all the Harley bashing but I only occasionally lurked :dunno and didn't plan on posting until I met Crashmaster in Columbia who insisted that I share my stories and photos. Thanks Vinnie.

    Doug, I met you last year in the HU meeting in Northern CA, you thought my RK sounded like a BMW, which I'm pretty sure was meant to be an insult :rofl I loved your RTW on the Indian presentation and stories, and I'm blown away you repeated it on a hard-tail with an FU brake light cover. You are an inspiration. I was just reading your RR in Chernobyl, holy crap, that was amazing place to visit and completely ballsy.

    Thanks for the tip about the 16" Duro's. I spent hours searching the internet looking for a set of 16" knobbies just for the ridiculousness of riding with them on a cruiser, the only 16" tires I could find were for mini-bikes with only a couple hundred pound weight limit. Thanks man, I'd love to have a set of dual use tires, I'll read up on the Duro's and likely pickup a set before heading down to restart the trip.

    That actually means a lot to me, thanks.

    Beater's right, the Harley is just a 'tool', of course it's kind of like using a sledgehammer when I need a screwdriver, but it'll get the job done :wink:

    I hope to have a new post up tonight.

    For anyone reading this thanks for coming along for the ride.
    - Rob
    #13
  14. rtwdoug

    rtwdoug prominent underachiever

    Joined:
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    3,760
    Location:
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    Doug, I met you last year in the HU meeting in Northern CA, you thought my RK sounded like a BMW, which I'm pretty sure was meant to be an insult :rofl



    hahaha
    no, I wasnt tryin to be insulting, I was just havin fun.
    I do apologize tho, as I didnt know you were actually planning to RIDE the damn thing like it was never intended :lol3

    I think Parts Unlimited distributes Duros, and they are cheap, you can get a pair for less than one of those HD dunlops.
    they dont last as long on the road tho, but you should be able to get 8-12k miles out of a rear, depending on how you ride

    Doug
    #14
  15. RoadHD

    RoadHD Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    108
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    I had a monster job looming that would eat up most of April, so in early April, I packed up, well over packed really, and hightailed it towards Texas, figuring that I could find somewhere to stash my bike in Dallas for a few weeks, and return once the job was done.

    Although it would be a load of highway miles, I wanted to try and squeeze some fun along the way:

    Tombstone, AZ - Sunrise over the OK Corral
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    Simply put, Tombstone is a tourist trap, kind of like a Disneified version of Dawson City in the Yukon Territory. I arrived well after dark, popped my tent and bar hopped. I couldn't help but think of a Simpson's episode where the family visits a Western Town complete with a wooden sidewalk, and Marge excitedly snaps a picture of planks of wood under her feet - I found myself doing the same.

    At dawn I strolled around, taking loads more pictures (I'll spare your bandwidth and not post the ones of sidewalks, wooden or not). I waited for the The Toughnut Silver Mine to open. I really find mining intriguing, these miners would work underground for 8-12 hours a day, while only being issued three "one hour" candles, which means they spent most of their shift wielding a sledgehammer in the dark.

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    I learned something new: whenever miners blew a set of dynamite charges, they would set the fuses at different lengths and count the explosions, which would help them determine if there was a misfire.

    After leaving the morning Toughnut tour, I packed the tent and started down Interstate 10 when I came cross a road sign for Patagonia, in Arizona.

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    I had a sudden rush, surely I was heading in the right direction, "nearly to Patagonia" I told myself, see it's right there on the sign, just a mile. The following picture doubly confirms that I'm heading the right direction, who-hoo! :clap

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    A cause for concern. For the first time, I put some Ride-On into my tubes before the trip started, and on they way to Tombstone my I checked my tire pressure and on the hot Arizona roads, the rear was running at 48psi, not good since the rear pressure maxes out at 40psi. I let some air out and drove another hour and rechecked my tires, back up to 47psi. Um, this had me a little spooked, the pressure was jumping by 20%. I brought it down to 36psi, it heated back up to 42.

    I was a little concerned that I was over loading my tires, I swung into the Arizona weigh station to get a gauge on the bike's (and my) weight. Also, it's a great way to brake up the monotony of the highway.

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    The officers working the weigh station tried waving me past, pissed that I'd ride a bike through. When I came to a stop, they tried to shoo me away.

    I tried explaining that my tires have a gross weight limit and I wanted to double check that the bike, gear and I didn't exceed my tire weight presenting a potential traffic hazard. The guys weren't at all amused, weren't having it, said the scale was broken and basically told me to get lost. It was clear that I would have to wait to learn the weight I was running, the nerve.


    White Sands National Monument, New Mexico. Wow, White Sands is very cool and absolutely worth a drive. It's like being on a petrified snow field.

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    According to the experts at Wikipedia, White Sands is made up of Gypsum, which is water soluble and most often carried by rain water to the ocean. The valley that makes up White Sands is trapped between high mountains, unable to run to the sea, causing the gypsum crystals to constantly dissolve and reform with evaporation. The gypsum dunes fools the senses, my eyes think it's sand, it feels like table salt, it has a fine powdery smell. Nope, I didn't give it a taste, maybe next time.

    On a side note, maneuvering a motorcycle on wet gypsum is like riding on a vast vanilla slushy, a bit squirrelly, but easier than Calcium Chloride - I just hope gypsum is less caustic. It was a fun drive, and I loved the contrast between my bike and the infinite fields of white.

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    I was just in time for magic hour and sunset, it was breathtaking.

    I went for a stroll out on the dunes. It is such a peaceful place, I wish I had more time to take it all in.

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    Just after sundown, I went for a couple dizzying rolls down some sand dune (it's much steeper than it looks). I ended up getting the gypsum everywhere, including all over the camera. I wonder if the warrantee covers being an idiot?

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    It was getting dark, and I still had a hundred and fifty miles to cover, but I wanted to get off the highway. I wound up taking a route through Lincoln National Forest, with some nice twisties and a few thousand feet of elevation change. I ride a lot at night, and I regret passing through roads like this in the dark because I'm sure the views would be stellar.

    30,000 Miles.

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    It was after midnight, and my body hadn't yet acclimated to really long days on the bike, I was pretty beat when I pulled into a Motel6 close to the Texas border. I felt bad waking the night clerk, but I was tired and grateful for a bed. Up again around dawn, I quickly road into West Texas, the miles seemed to just roll away.

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    I wanted to gas up, but there wasn't an attendant.
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    It was dark by the time I arrived in Dallas. I did some site seeing, which brought me to the Texas School Book Depository. I couldn't believe this plaque is actually mounted to the side of the building where Lee Harvey Oswald "Allegedly" shot JFK, come on "Allegedly", it's right there on the plaque?

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    The Grassy Knoll - after having seen it, I can see where Oliver Stone arrived at his obsession. I figured that this poorly constructed wooden fence with posts missing would have been torn down by now. It's almost as if the City of Dallas wants to aid and abet the conspiracy theorists, maybe it's good for tourism. Allegedly weird.

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    I had an early flight back to LA the following day, and it was time for me to stash the bike somewhere in Dallas. The airport parking lot didn't seem like a secure option. I wish that I knew a little more about ADV, I would have reached out to a few inmates. Lacking a garage, or a thoughtful plan, I figured the safest place to leave the bike was a Comfort Inn parking lot, next to a 24 hour diner. I figured the diner would deter thieves, but looking back, the diner would just attract more attention to the bike, and at 4am, surely the wrong kind of attention. I don't know what I was thinking, but it seemed like a good idea at the time and this gave me the piece of mind to board the plane back to LA to make a couple bucks before really starting the trip South.

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    Sure I was concerned that my bike might not be there when I returned, but that's just part of the adventure, right?

    [Side note - my bike is currently parked at a hostel in Ecuador South of Quito, well at least it was the last time I checked - it seems that I don't really learn :D ].
    #15
  16. candohome

    candohome Notta Poser

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2004
    Oddometer:
    254
    Location:
    Baños, Ecuador
    In.

    Did you say you over packed? :rofl

    Let me know if you need to reach out to any inmates on the ground here.
    #16
  17. VegasRider

    VegasRider Ya, I'm a n00b.

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    296
    Location:
    NV, Henderson
    Nice RR. I think it's nice to see a good Harley RR here.
    #17
  18. ADVWannabee

    ADVWannabee Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2009
    Oddometer:
    212
    Location:
    Virginia
    Great ride you have going there, hope the shoulder heals quickly. I sorta know what you mean about riding a cruiser. I ride a Honda VTX which is a HD imitation. I guess that I am posing as a poser. :evil The Road King is on the top of my list when it comes to Harleys. But I suspect my next bike will be a DS.

    Anyway, I will be reading once you get back to it.
    #18
  19. rtwdoug

    rtwdoug prominent underachiever

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
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    3,760
    Location:
    Alabamski Oblast, Redneckistan
    so, what are you saying? :evil



    :lol3

    Doug
    #19
  20. SparkyL

    SparkyL Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    211
    Location:
    Dirty North Joisey
    I'm in! Thanks for demonstrating the qualities of a Road King. Those must be the only river crossing pics I have seen with a Road King. Really nice collection of pics too. Don't know if I could leave my Road King parked long term in a random parking lot!! Keep up the RR! Thanks.
    #20