From the End of the Earth to the End of the Road: South Pole to the Darien

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by bouldergeek, Oct 31, 2009.

  1. bouldergeek

    bouldergeek Filthy, poor KLR dweeb

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,074
    Location:
    Palmer Station, Antarctica
    I am looking for my first line. I want the perfect opener. Where is my "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times?" "Call me Ishmael." Nah, already been done.

    Since it is now a cliche that a picture is worth a thousand words, perhaps I can use an image to get this party started. This both documents the start of my trip, and symbolizes the electricity of solitary adventure and the hopefulness at the beginning of the journey.

    [​IMG]

    So many epic ride reports have come before mine. As I may have mentioned a thousand times, in 2008, I was fortunate enough to have been voluntarily marooned at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, Antarctica. For the year that I was "on ice," I scoured this forum, determined to finally embark on an international ride of my own. Fulfilling that dream became my focus, and little by little I put together a best-of-breed list of tools and components that had worked for others, and fit my budget.

    In mid-November, 2008, I was finally released from the South Pole, after successful completion of my contract. In my mind, successful meant obligations realized, nobody died, I had some money in pocket. The first thing I did was to rent a DL650 "WeeStrom" on New Zealand's South Island, to refresh my drive and remind myself that the rider in me was still present. If you want a great place to rent a DRZ400, Transalp or V-Strom 650, you can't do better than the treatment that I got from Howard at BackRoadsBikes in Dunedin.

    While I sat at a desk, in an elevated station above two miles of compacted ice, unreachable by either resupply or rescue aircraft, I thought about what I would do when I got out, and what unrealized dreams I had. Back in the 1990s, I had a wonderful, classic BMW R100GS Paris Dakar. I loved that bike, and always imagined that I would take a Mexico tour on it. Years went by, both the bike and myself fell on hard times in the tech bust of the early millennium. The bike eventually was sold, and I replaced it with a VFR750. My dual-sporting went away, and subsequently I only rode short rides up twisty canyons.

    So, I browsed ADVRider. I read every book on moto touring that we had at South Pole, and we had quite a few. Fellow inmate Boarder06, lucky owner of the new XT660 Tenere, had brought several with him, including Striking Viking's "Two Wheels Through Terror." My hope was to use a bike that was a rough replica of my old PD, with modern parts, ease of maintenance, and a low cost. After years of waiting for the Africa Twin to come to the US, I finally accepted that it wasn't going to happen. The new Tenere looked great, but, alas, not a US bike, either. The new F800 looked wonderful, but far outside my price range. The ensuing technical dialogues and fantasy festivals kept me occupied as the auroras swirled overhead, the silence of the Antarctic plateau deafened us, and slowly, the darkness melted away as the sun returned at a glacial pace.

    Fast forward nearly a year. I returned to the US, got a worse deal than I fantasized I would negotiate on a 2009 KLR650, and set about farkling it with a vengeance. My friends LiteWait, iHop, and Sweetjeri76, here, endured lots of pre-trip talks, and lent invaluable handsas the project bike took shape. I now type this in shorts and flip-flops, on Isla Colon, in Panama's Bocas del Toro, stuffed after a huge breakfast of pancakes, fruit, fresh juice and Panamanian coffee. Bananaman is messaging me to start a ride report. I must silence the voices. I must begin this RR. I've only been on the road for four months, 7800 miles on a KLR, one face plant accident, several international riding partners, lots of dead animals, police, guns, a few cocktails, and, finally, some fulfillment of my ice dream to explore hot lands, foreign languages and different cultures on my own.

    This report won't be linear. Instead, I imagine it will be much like our memories, occurring in flashes of disconnected vignettes of experience, senses, songs and observations. I have to accept that I am not Melville or Victor Hugo. I'm just a hacker. A poor, filthy, moldy-Aerostich-wearing, KLR-riding hacker, as well. And this is my story.
    #1
  2. bouldergeek

    bouldergeek Filthy, poor KLR dweeb

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,074
    Location:
    Palmer Station, Antarctica
    OK, now that some verbose text is out of the way, I'll throw down some images. Tropical jungles, Colonial towns, lots of KLR pics, and maybe even an ADV sticker or two.

    Costa Rican mountain roads:
    [​IMG]

    Sunset viewing the active Volcan Arenal, in Costa Rica:
    [​IMG]

    Yours truly, after water crossings to the rocky coast, Costa Rica:

    [​IMG]

    Bananaman warned me that it would rain:
    [​IMG]

    Bridge crossing with KLR, northern Panama:
    [​IMG]

    Yeah, I saw some cultural sites. Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico:
    [​IMG]

    Durango-Mazatlan Highway, Mexico 40, was epic:
    [​IMG]

    And, in contrast to the lushness and verdant hills, this is where I started the thought process, South Pole RF Building, July, 2008 (~ -110F windchill):
    [​IMG]
    #2
  3. Ebbs15

    Ebbs15 Parttime Saddletramp

    Joined:
    May 5, 2009
    Oddometer:
    501
    :lurk subscribed!
    #3
  4. spirre

    spirre Freedom!

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2009
    Oddometer:
    41
    Location:
    Oslo, Norway
    Sounds really interesting, Im in!
    #4
  5. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Oddometer:
    103,512
    Location:
    right here on my thermarest
    :lurk
    #5
  6. Steffo

    Steffo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
    211
    Location:
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Yup. I am so in for this one. :lurk
    #6
  7. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    57,519
    Location:
    Toronto
    Wow!! :thumb

    :lurk
    #7
  8. bouldergeek

    bouldergeek Filthy, poor KLR dweeb

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,074
    Location:
    Palmer Station, Antarctica
    After nearly 40,000 posts from GB, I find it amazing that I can produce a "Wow!"

    Most excellent, thanks!

    Bonus photograph:

    [​IMG]

    Are these coatimundi? There were a whole group (tribe?) of these guys crossing the road up in Costa Rica. They seemed to have a primate social group structure.

    I need to get myself going. I am going to explore this island and try to find a secluded beach for camping. I brought this great Hennessey Hammock down with me, and haven't used it since Arizona!
    #8
  9. Roughshod

    Roughshod weld proud

    Joined:
    May 6, 2009
    Oddometer:
    101
    Location:
    Calgary, and backroads of Alberta and BC.
    Hello there Bouldergeek. It seems to me by that last paragraph you have a healthy right-brained point of view and you do have a refreshing slant to the said linear pattern. Im following you. Ride safe dude and enjoy your dream to the max!
    #9
  10. Jedediah

    Jedediah Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2006
    Oddometer:
    818
    Location:
    Riverside County, California.
    This looks good Bouldergeek.

    Killer intro. You done some good thinking down on that ice cube thing.

    In.

    Jed.
    #10
  11. bouldergeek

    bouldergeek Filthy, poor KLR dweeb

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,074
    Location:
    Palmer Station, Antarctica
    Is that like a psychopath that lives in 80301, wears Birkenstocks and drinks macrobiotic microbrews at the Mountain Sun? :D

    For the record, I have no Birkenstocks, I wash my hair, and I still haven't gotten the trustfund. So, I am not really a boulderpath.

    :norton

    I do tend to ride bicycles, wear lycra and meditate on Flatirons sunsets, however. And I think that Poppy is the perfect Boulder dog.
    [​IMG]
    #11
  12. pdedse

    pdedse paraelamigosincero

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,204
    Yup. Also called pizote in CR.

    Looks like a great trip. Happy for you that after reading so many other reports and books that you're on doing your own!
    #12
  13. oldgringo

    oldgringo Jacked it all

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2008
    Oddometer:
    145
    Location:
    Lima/Quito
    Mike,
    It was great meeting you on the road, this is one of my favorite photos from Guatemala.

    Gary

    [​IMG]
    #13
  14. bouldergeek

    bouldergeek Filthy, poor KLR dweeb

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,074
    Location:
    Palmer Station, Antarctica
    Wow, so personal. Thanks, Gary. We definitely had some huge fun.

    Great, now the community with think that I have a heart and a soul.
    I haven't produced the dead bird or tire stripe pix, yet.

    Thanks for propagating the perception that I am a kind and clean-cut individual, acting as benevolent ambassador of international travel. :D:huh
    #14
  15. crashmaster

    crashmaster ow, my balls!

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    5,314
    Location:
    Alaska
    Wow, you're actually going to do a RR? :clap Great pics amigo.:thumb

    Careful now, Mountain Sun was one of my favorite breweries when I lived in the 25 Sq. miles surrounded by reality. Actually Oasis was my favorite, but I hear that closed down. I also miss all the mountain biking and rock climbing right out the backdoor. :cry

    If you run across any spare trust funds let me know. :rofl
    #15
  16. Thorne

    Thorne Sherpa-ing around

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2008
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    1,206
    Location:
    Lone Pine, ON, Canada
    Wicked! I am in............
    #16
  17. hvilla

    hvilla Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2008
    Oddometer:
    153
    Location:
    Aztec, NM, USA
    :lurk :lurk :lurk Waitin' for more... keep it comin'! Thanks! :thumb
    #17
  18. oldgringo

    oldgringo Jacked it all

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2008
    Oddometer:
    145
    Location:
    Lima/Quito
    Believe me I know better, we are missing you in Cali!

    Gary

    [​IMG]
    #18
  19. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    8,178
    Location:
    Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
    :clap

    Great opener.

    About that pic of you, your bike, and the naked Indian...
    #19
  20. KHVol

    KHVol Long timer

    Joined:
    May 21, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,495
    Loving the RR so far, Bouldergeek, and next trip, I'll keep that good lookin' dog for ya...
    #20