Irishman attempts San Fran - end of the world? Whilst working full time.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by purrretrog, Oct 14, 2017.

  1. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2017
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    31
    Hey, Im 27, from Northern Ireland, and likely one of the most inexperienced riders to attempt a trip of this feat.

    Total experience is 2 years 125 honda clic driving in Thailand, + the lessons and test I had to get my license in the UK.

    Spent the last 3 months in Playa del carmen, Mexico, learnt some spanish, but couldnt acquire a bike on a tourist visa. Upon lurking this forum came across TUCKERS, who seemed to be helping people out in a similar situation. Ive only good things to say about James, everything in our dealings went smooth and the prices very reasonable, he also helped me out and had patience with my lack of knowledge, if anyone is in a similar situation and finding themselves stuck to get a bike bought or registered in the USA, I couldn't recommend TUCKERS more.

    I decided on a KLR 650, my decision was made largely on seeing plenty of others doing similar trips, some googling, and thinking it looks cool.

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    Due to working while being on the road, I feel my inexperience is somewhat less important as it might be to others as there is no timeline for this trip, if im having a tough time I can always stop somewhere and learn. I do respect and spend time trying to learn more and more about the bike, its just never been needed until now, so I have alot to catch up on.

    As far as a plan goes, there isnt much of one, Ive been travelling for the past 5 years, and found that most time spent planning is wasted energy, due to unforeseen circumstances, falling in love with a town/girl, etc. Ill just be making sure I complete my work, googling some attractions in the next 200-300 miles, hitting some key points (Baja, Antigua, Panama, Medellin, Peru, Santiago) and stopping when I run out of road.

    The goal of this thread is to have a place where I can reminisce if times get tough, hopefully get some advice when I inevitably run into some problems, and maybe inspire someone who keeps putting off a trip they dream of to go out there and do it.

    Wish me luck :-)
    #1
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  2. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2017
    Oddometer:
    31
    Pre collection:

    I flew with my girlfriend from Cancun - San Francsico, I was picking up my bike from James in Los Angeles, but knowing this route to be great I thought it would be worthwhile to start here, see some memorable things on the way down, before saying goodbye to her for the trip.

    SF:
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    Didn't manage to get to the Golden gate bridge on this trip due to work related reasons, but the gf managed to do the bike ride.

    Few things of note on arrival in the US:

    - SF is insanely expensive, a beer just doesnt taste as good when its costing you $10.
    - Was always curious about Taco Bell, I've heard of it alot but never seen it anywhere outside of US, but its arguably the worst food ive ever encountered, kinda baffling how it seems to be a leading fast food chain.

    We picked up a rental car in SF and headed towards,

    Yosemite:
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    Driving from 2000-8000 feet at this time of year enables you to pretty much see 4 seasons in a day:
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    #2
  3. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2017
    Oddometer:
    31
    Pre collection continued:

    From Yosemite, we continued south to Sequoia National Park, was insane to see how large these trees are in person:

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    Sadly no bears were seen on this trip :( but the parks were over and time to hit the coast, heading back up to Monterrey to hug the coastline down to San Diego, the bike collection was looming.

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    #3
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  4. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2017
    Oddometer:
    31
    Pre bike collection continued:

    You really get to see how massive this country is when driving along the coast, its sheer beauty keeps me from getting too bored though. Going from city-desert-forest-back again without even leaving a state is kinda amazing to me.

    DSC_1757 (2).jpg DSC_1768 (3).jpg DSC_1773 (2).jpg

    Particularly enjoyed the beach towns close to LA, Huntington, etc, all fairly similar but with a nice vibe. A few more pics for my benefit and then we'll get into the bike stuff I promise :)
    #4
  5. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2017
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    Turned it around at San Diego and headed back to LA to pick up the bike, was starting to get pretty nervous as I had never driven on a freeway before and it seemed that it was an essential part of travel here.

    San Diego

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    Above is the Ho Chi Minh Trail, alot of fun if youre fit enough.

    Bonus pic of GF.

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    Got back to LA to finish the mini trip, was pretty nervous as on top of my lack of experience, I had spent the last 3 months unable to ride, id also be riding on the right side for the first time. Too late to back out now :), so the next day I went to pick up the bike.

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    #5
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  6. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2017
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    Picked up the bike at Tuckers, my lack of knowledge was apparent but eventually I stumbled on, my first task was to get it to the airbnb myself and the gf had booked for the night, 3.1 miles away, she expected me within minutes, I arrived 2 hours later :lol3

    Made the trip from Claremont-Las Vegas the following day, my gf was flying out from Vegas so this was an unofficial start to the trip. Was pleasantly surprised at how smooth the 250 mile journey went. Done the whole Vegas thing, some gambling, beers, and took a trip to the Grand Canyon.
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    Heart stopping views
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    The gf flew home the following day, and was time to start the solo trip.
    #6
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  7. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2017
    Oddometer:
    31
    Picked up some supplies before leaving, got a X grip Phone holder, up until now i'd just been grabbing my phone out of the tank bag anytime I required navigation :) Grabbed some oil and chain lube and was good to go, so far I had driven ~350 miles and no sign of oil being drunk by the KLR, so far so good.

    My plan for today was Vegas-San Diego, in order to be ready for my pre Mexico bike health check on Saturday, but the weather had other plans, was blown off course all day, forced to miss work and still only got to Barstow. Still, not all is lost, leaving tomorrow at 5am in an attempt to get down, eagerly awaiting Mexico, with its cheap beer and hotel rooms.
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    #7
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  8. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2017
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    Managed to stick to my word and get up at 5am to head down to San Diego, arrived in good time to a tech day at EagleMike, I was just there to get the doo hickey replacement but turned out to be really worth my time as I gained knowledge from a few of the guys there.

    I was hoping to take some pics of the day but unfortunately I left my DSLR on all night and it had ran out of battery, once that happens I lose some interest, just snapped a few iphone pics.

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    Had the strangest experience after, booked a room close to the border on airbnb, the place seemed like a homeless shelter when I arrived, and my single room turned out to be sharing with 2 other guys(not bad for $60/night), I lie down on the bed and within 5 minutes a guy wearing a cowboy hat comes in screaming that ive stole his bed, after some commotion I just leave, on my way out the owner informs me that its housing for people who have just been released from jail, so he gets a few loose cannons, seems like the ideal place to put on airbnb.....

    Hopefully ill get a refund, but not holding my breath, for their 11%(ish)/night fee airbnbs customer support is terrible :(

    Got work all day tomorrow but first border crossing comes Monday :)
    #8
  9. CtMac

    CtMac Adventurer

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    Feb 23, 2015
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    89
    Location:
    Deertickistan Ct
    Good luck mate!
    Btw, what's your work?
    #9
  10. JeepDawg

    JeepDawg Long timer

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    Location:
    Famous Potatoes
    This baffles lots of 'Mericans also. If you get the chance to try it again make sure to do so at 3am after having spent 6 hours in a bar. That's Taco Hells busiest time and demographic.

    Nice pics - looking forward to more. Glad you found the tech day - too bad about the AirBNB.
    Be safe!
    #10
  11. chudzikb

    chudzikb Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2016
    Oddometer:
    648
    Have fun, but, be safe, don't do anything stupid. I know I am asking a lot with that last one...
    #11
  12. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

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    Cheers :) Im a professional sports bettor(its less glamorous than it sounds)

    Haha thanks, actually airbnb came through nicely and got a full refund :)

    haha not wrong.

    Was somewhat dreading my first border run, but was in and out in 15 minutes. The process was,

    Show up at boarder, explain my situation and they send me to a desk(no queue), get my passport stamped and go to another window, pay 500 pesos for the visa(annoying, as ive flown into Mexico ~15 times and always got this for free), paid $59 for something else, then a $500 deposit, and off I went.

    The flags at the border are pretty comical, I tried to take a pic but was told off, not sure what is illegal about taking a picture at a border, but whatever. There was no wind so couldnt see it in its full glory, but got this one in Ensenada.
    DSC_1947 (2).jpg

    Can imagine shortly there will be a pretty epic wall vrs flag competition.

    The ride down was great, abit of culture shock has stopped me taking alot of pics, i'm either afraid of getting robbed, or there is a dog that isnt happy to see me.

    One I stopped for,

    DSC_1952 (2).jpg

    In El Rosario for the night, hoping to take on my longest ride of the trip and potentially lifetime ~500km to San Ignacio.

    My company for the evening,
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    #12
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  13. Lopburi

    Lopburi Lost in paradise

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2016
    Oddometer:
    39
    Location:
    Thailand
    Tucker's is awesome. Let us know how the bike works out over time
    #13
  14. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2017
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    31
    Eventful couple of days,

    bombed down Baja covering the 1.1km in two days, disaster almost struck as I ran out of fuel in the middle of the desert. I've been getting 200 miles on the clock, and it ran out at 140, must have been sold bad fuel or something. I spent 20 minutes pushing the KLR up the hills in 40deg heat before two guys stopped and were nice enough to get me fuel.

    DSC_1979 (4).jpg

    I was planning on spending a couple of days in La Paz, but I arrived to see there was a ferry to Mazatlan leaving in 2 hours time, I tried my luck and they let me on :)


    DSC_2005 (3).jpg

    The 13 hour journey was actually a lot of fun, met 5 guys who were all on bikes, so was cool to swap trip plans and just talk with people who have similar interests, ended up having a ton of beers, and feeling pretty fuzzy, so decided to stay in Mazatlan for tonight and catch up on some work.

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    Plan from here is a couple of long days on the road, first to Guadalajara, then Mexico city, I think i'll need new tires by Mexico city, which should be an experience.


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    #14
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  15. dano619

    dano619 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2011
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    528
    Location:
    sunny san diego
    IN!!
    #15
  16. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2017
    Oddometer:
    31
    Made my way from Mazatlan to Guadalajara, which is a great city, spent the weekend there, havent been taking too many pics, as I've either been on the road, and havent quite mastered the pull over and take a pic yet :( or its night, and I feel somewhat vulnerable being the lone gringo, without adding the DSLR around my neck.

    Made my way to Mexico city, and I begun to get sick of Mexico, ive spent 12 of the last 24 months here. Some things just got to me,

    - Getting shortchanged everytime I fill up gas, and having to do the whole, 'eh necesito 100 más
    ' followed by his '¿Qué? ¿cuánto era?' shocked look routine.
    - Toll roads(spent ~2500 pesos($130) in 3 days at one point), some of them are terrible roads also, I swear its the only country in the world you could be sent on a road full on roadworks, potholes, and diversions, and have someone smiling asking for $5 every 50km for the pleasure.

    Hope im not sounding too negative or obnoxious, but these are my thoughts.

    From Mex city went to Veracruz, then Villahermosa. I got food poisoning along the way, which didnt slow down the riding too much, but just hindered my ability to leave the hotel room.

    I think the only possibility of failure, despite some sort of crash, is the food situation, some of the towns you stop in the only option is pretty low rate tacos etc, and post food poisoning I have that 'anything but tacos' mentality, my latest town I just ate McDonalds every meal as I couldnt stomach anything else.

    Checked out Palenque which ive always wanted to, but its been too awkward to get to until now.


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    The road from Palenque to the Border is awesome, seen all types of animals on the roads, real feeling of being in the wild, its safe to say its a pretty dangerous trek, at one point I turned a corner and there was a hold up of 3 cars, which was pretty rare, noticed that there was two guys holding up the first car, both wearing cowboy hats, it all seemed innocent enough until they started smashing the windows and trying to get into the car. This was my cue to get out, sped off down the other lane.

    At another point turned the corner and was faced with this,
    Photo 02-11-2017, 16 35 57.jpg

    No warning, no cones, this is after I had crossed from the following side, so its just directly around the corner, left me wondering, what happens at night?

    Got to the border of Guatemala, which went super smooth, everyone was super friendly, no queues, total cost ~$20, no hassle, was back on the road in 20 mins.

    Road once again from Guatemala is just incredible, really gutted I couldnt find a place to stop and take pics :( in Antigua now for my first real break since I started riding, will probably stay for about 5 days. No parking for my bike in tonights hotel, so first time Ive had to sweat the theft.
    #16
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  17. Romero

    Romero Been here awhile

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    Jul 18, 2016
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    239
    Location:
    Morelia
    Sorry to hear, Mexico sounds rough. Safe travels through CA! Thank you for sharing your RR.
    #17
  18. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2017
    Oddometer:
    31
    ~

    All part of the experience I guess, cheers for following.

    Today was the first day that ive had no bike/work worries, was a great feeling to just go and explore with no miles or work issues in my mind.

    In a new town, usually my plan is to make a list of things id like to see, then do a somewhat stereotypical Irish plan to see them, stop in at bars until I get closer and eventually see the sites.

    DSC_2079 (2).jpg

    Today clouds closed in early, so Antiguas main attraction, the volcanoes, suddenly became covered, left me no options other than to continue exploring the bars.

    As I stopped in to get lunch there was an earthquake, was pretty surreal and only the second time ive experienced one, everyone acted as if it was the norm, and thus I followed suit.

    Street dog nearby,

    DSC_2108 (2).jpg

    The town itself has more of a coffee/superfood shake mentally to it, rather than a pub vibe. Which isnt exactly music to an Irishman on the beer-runs ears, but still managed to find a few places, even manged to get myself a Guinness in a English pub.

    DSC_2117 (2).jpg

    Was a ton of small bike shops, so tomorrow my task is to run around them and see if any of them have tires that fit the KLR. There is a good chance I stay here for a few weeks, the western food, relative safety, and occasional rest bite from spanish is just what I need.

    Granted, the guard with a shotgun at a steakhouse let me know I wasnt out of the woods just yet...

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    #18
  19. Byah

    Byah Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2015
    Oddometer:
    59
    Location:
    Australia
    Would be nice to park up for a while after Mexico!!

    You still using airbnb in Guatemala or hotels etc? trying to figure out my own trip planning!
    #19
  20. knight

    knight Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2004
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    539
    Location:
    Calgary Alberta
    There is a moto shop on the main street in Chichicastennango that had a large assortment of tires for sale when I was there

    There is also large market days on Thursdays and Sundays in Chichicastenango that are worth checking out
    #20