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

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    Jul 12, 2017
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    Had what I thought would be my final border crossing of the trip. As you edge towards Ushuaia more and more bikers emerge.

    Border DSC_2608 (2).jpg

    Crossed through easy enough and made the crossing to Tierra del Fuego.

    The boat is cheap(~$9) and takes around 25 mins.
    DSC_2611 (2).jpg

    Some pretty cool 'Commersons dolphin' following the ferry.
    DSC_2617 (2).jpg

    Stopped for food once off the ferry, just to take in what was about to happen, the final road.
    #61
  2. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

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    The road to Ushuaia for the first few hours is pretty uneventful, then the mountains appear and it becomes one of the best on the trip.

    DSC_2629 (2).jpg DSC_2622 (2).jpg

    Before you know it youre abruptly met with two large towers, letting you know that your work here is done.

    DSC_2631 (2).jpg
    #62
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  3. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

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    So im currently here, Ushuaia, its a much nicer town than what ive read, only problem is its arguably the most expensive place ive ever been haha, im having a few legality problems with selling the bike, so fingers crossed it will get sorted and I wont have to drive to Buenos Aires. As much as I love the ride, im long overdue for a rest.
    #63
  4. sspiff22

    sspiff22 n00b

    Joined:
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    Pa
    Just discovered this - what an incredible voyage! Well documented, well narrated, and gutsy travel. Good on ya!
    #64
  5. Arman8

    Arman8 Adventurer

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    Location:
    Greece
    Very nice riding, in April I will do the same trip from Greece to Vancouver Canada and South to Ushuaia, have a safe ride!!!
    #65
  6. Arman8

    Arman8 Adventurer

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    Very nice finish had your trip important you are safe congrats!!!!
    #66
  7. TripleDubYa

    TripleDubYa Intrepid Explorer

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2015
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    Location:
    Boise, Idaho
    Once you finish I'm hoping you'll share how the experience changed you, if at all, and how you feel about going back to a "normal" life. Normal is a relative term, of course.
    #67
  8. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

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    First time ive tried a blog type thing. Glad I did it, already adds to the reminiscing and ive just finished, im sure in several years ill look back fondly.

    Thanks

    Cheers, are you going Greece - Vancouver? is that possible? Sounds awesome.

    Ill do my very best in the next few posts :)

    So Yesterday I said goodbye to the beast :(, I ended up selling it for scrap as the transfer process wasnt going to happen in Ushuaia, The guy was ready to buy with cash in hand, and the thought of driving >3000km in the wind wasnt too appealing knowing that I might not find a buyer.

    I ended up selling for $1k, yes $1k. I factored in the cost of biking to Buenos Aires, oil change, hotels for the days of travel, missed work time etc, and tapped out. Was selling it for more before the transfer problem.

    The guy gave me 3 hours after we had been to the customs office to roam about. Was like meditation riding it for the last time, like one long moment of clarity.

    DSC_2627 (2).jpg

    R.I.P the beast, Oct 12 2017 - Jan 12 2017, never forgotten.
    beast.jpg

    Today I bought a suitcase, was a disgusting experience, becoming normal again.

    Also woke up and had to walk to my hostel :( I bought new trainers, a shirt, and a coat this afternoon, ill not lie, that felt pretty good. Every item of clothing I brought is either old, or covered in oil.
    #68
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  9. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

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    Ill likely stay in Ushuaia for a few more days. Flight prices are insane(if I wanted to fly to London anytime this week its ~$1.8k), so ill hang around, drink some beers, and get caught up on work.

    How did the experience effect me?

    I've been travelling for the past 5 years, so I thought I was used to the isolation, but I typically stay in towns for months at a time, even if there is a language barrier. You usually grow acknowledgement with some of the locals, whether it be in your local bar, restaurant, fellow expats, cab driver, etc, etc. This was different, every day you are alone, and if you are doing this trip somewhat quickly(I did it in 3 months), you dont ever get the chance to connect and meet people(I also have to work ~5 hours a day, so going out or getting drunk with people in hostels isnt an option), one of my only chances was on the Stahlratte, where there was no language barrier and no internet. I guess it says alot in that it was probably my favourite part of the trip.

    I gained a greater appreciation for my friends and family, driving in the middle of nowhere for hours at a time provides a ton of time to think about life and what you want from it. As a result, Im planning on moving back to Belfast for at least 6 months, which is something I thought would never happen in the near future :)

    Myself and some riders who made the trip from Brazil
    DSC_2634 (2).jpg

    Find myself openly just talking to myself as Im walking around the shops here, out loud. Gets a few awkward glances from people, all that time with the Helmet on rolling through a town has me slightly insane I guess :)

    Rank of my favourite - least favourite countries throughout the trip:

    1. Guatemala - I just loved the landscape, the people I met, and Antigua. Some parts of it are pretty third world, but for riding and views its awesome. $2/beer.
    2. Argentina - I think its in a pretty tough time, it seems people are handcuffed by the govt here, with some shops offering 50% off for cash, passed through some towns were maybe 40 of 50 shops were closed, etc. But the views and riding experience it brings, means it has to climb up towards the top. $7/beer.
    3. Ecuador - Great roads, $6 to fill up a KLR(~4 gallons), great variety of views. Great country for riding. $1/beer
    4. Nicaragua - Great roads again, very cheap, good climate if you enjoy the heat. $1/beer.
    5. Chile - Most of my ride was through desert, and its somewhat expensive, but loved the people and bars. $5/beer.
    6. Peru - The most challenging country to ride(imo), dogs are very aggro, but the landscape is 2nd only to Argentina on this list, and it creates some memories of how hard a task this is. $2.5/beer.
    7. Mexico - I loved the Baja, and appreciation for it grew as I continued on the ride, perfect riding temperature and varying landscapes. It would feature higher if not for the expensive fuel, toll road situation, and people in the service industry trying to take advantage of you being a gringo every single time. $2/beer.
    8. USA - I love the US, and it probs deserves to be higher. Just spending $100/day keeps it down for me. $6/beer.
    9. Costa Rica - Really hits you how expensive this place is cause you cross from Nicaragua. Good views and roads. Price of things brings it down, just cause its basically Nicaragua but more expensive. $5/beer.
    10. Panama - Police presence spoils the ride(only place I got a speeding ticket and I was over the speed limit for most of the journey), good roads, not much to see, friendly people. $5/beer
    11. Colombia - My least favourite location of the trip, the ride is great, views and roads superb. The state of poverty, overpopulation and addiction is apparent throughout the cities, simply put, there is better countries on this list than Colombia. Granted it is the cheapest country for everything by a good margin. $90c/beer.
    12/13. El Salvador/Honduras: NON VOID: I spent one day in El salvador and drove through Honduras in the same day, so dont feel qualified to judge them, I will say the ride was better than I was expecting. ?/beer.
    #69
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  10. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2017
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    Purrretrog's list for attempting this trip.

    Before starting this trip I had never riden a motorcycle without an instructor before. So as you can imagine I made some mistakes on the preparation. Ill try to list some of the things I wish I had done better, and maybe if someone reads this can add to theirs.

    In no order:

    1. Learn Spanish: I had 3 months of lessons prior to the trip, it still caused me hassle at borders and couldnt really interact with the locals. I guess I know 100 words, id suggest having a vocab of no less. Will save you money when dealing with oil changes, border helpers, looking for a room, etc.

    2. Dont bring a lock: I brought a lock for my bike, but literally every place I stayed either had a garage, or insisted I parked my bike indoors(sometimes literally in the house). The only place I used it was in the US, its heavy and takes up space.

    3. Book a room with breakfast: From my experience this is somewhat rare in western hostels/cheap hotels, but a lot of the hotels here have 'breakfast included', at the start I avoided this as its usually ~$1 more, but its really handy to have your breakfast just outside your bedroom, especially before a big ride. You dont understand the annoyance of trying to find somewhere to eat in a town that noone wants to work before 11am until youre faced with it.

    4. Title + license is fine: I left UK with a book of my licence papers(you have 2 tests in the UK, plus a start course), kept copies of every border cross, etc. The only thing they want at each border is usually the Title of your vehicle, and your passport. I only showed my license ~2 times on the trip. Although maybe I just got no hassle.

    5. GPS not required: I very nearly bought a GPS before leaving at $1000, decided to try out google maps, worked perfectly in every location, you need to download the map prior to going to the area, if I had to guess each download covers about 1000km.

    6. Have an exit plan: I nearly stopped in Panama city, and with import laws etc it seemed impossible to sell the bike, note that I just sold at a 2.5k loss in Ushuaia on a bike ive had 3 months. Figure out whether you want to care about this, if you do, then sort out a buyer or shipping prior to arriving.

    7. Bring multiple jackets: If you have room, bring a couple of jackets for varying conditions, if I had to guess it changes from ~40deg C to 0, I was clueless on jackets/equipment when I first started, but being prepared for these things could save some bad times.

    8. Dont expect to be healthy: Somewhat of a random point, but prior to the trip I really had a routine in regards to my diet and my fitness, I assumed this would continue. I didnt work out once in the 3 months. Its just not possible, plus eating healthy isnt an option when all you have for 1000 miles is taco shops, oreos or crisps.

    9. Its more expensive than you think: I assumed it would just be like regular life, except im riding and covering land, but border crossing, varying hotel prices, and 100% of meals in restaurants add up. Not to mention refueling every 200 miles or so.

    10. Have a lockable top box/panniers: There is a bunch of places I didnt get to experience as you stumble across them, mainly because my luggage was all soft/unzippable, parking and leaving the bike in most parts of central/SA is just not an option.

    Total cost of trip: (estimate)

    Bike: 3.5k purchase, sold 1k: $2.5k
    Fees for purchase: $300
    Hotels: ~90 days: $2250
    Food: $2100
    Petrol: $1100(strong guess)
    Border crossings(+insurance): Central America: $500 SA: $200: $700(includes scam)
    Stahlratte: $1250
    Beer: $1000(guess)
    Accessories(Iphone chargers, oil, etc): $200
    Bike problems(Oil changes, doo-hickey, tires): $552
    Flights: Currently unknown, rough guess(note I flew from UK-Mexico, then Mex-SF to start the trip: $2197

    Total: $11652

    Im probably forgetting some things as im writing this on a whim, but I think its close to accurate. I decided to ride without insurance in every country that didnt insist on it, so keep that in mind.
    #70
  11. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

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    Where am I going from here?

    Ill probs post a few updates on my time in Ushuaia, then BA, I hope to be back in Ireland before the month is out. I've already started looking at bikes, my gf lives in Italy so thinking a drive from Ireland-Italy could be pretty cool.

    Ideally ill learn abit more on the workings of a bike and how to care for it, not out of necessity(I mean I just travelled >10k miles without needing it), but more out of want. Not sure if ill go for a KLR again or not, guess Ill just see how things go.
    #71
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  12. TripleDubYa

    TripleDubYa Intrepid Explorer

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    Boise, Idaho
    Really good insight and information about your trip. Having taken week long trips and experiencing a sense of isolation I can only imagine what it's like on a 3 month journey moving through countries where you don't speak the language. You start to fall into that whole Castaway talking to "Wilson" the volleyball kind of thing.
    #72
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  13. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

    Joined:
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    GTA, ON, CDA
    Great report, congrats and thanks for the beer $ in each Country!!

    Den in Canada. $5 beer, but it's Canadian beer haha.
    #73
  14. chudzikb

    chudzikb Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Your final thoughts are well considered and will be helpful to others considering such a trip. And for that, we thank you!
    #74