Lone Ridin' 15 Countries: California to Argentina

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by cycleTown650, Jul 4, 2016.

  1. HBLQRider

    HBLQRider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2016
    Oddometer:
    137
    Location:
    Southern California
    Great RR so far.

    I'm in.
    #41
    cycleTown650 likes this.
  2. BluByU

    BluByU Been here awhile

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    Feb 24, 2007
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    831
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    Lost in America
    Great writeup
    I'm in :nod
    #42
    cycleTown650 likes this.
  3. scudo

    scudo Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2010
    Oddometer:
    21
    Location:
    Sheffield UK
    Great RR, loving it. I also like the push bike (as us Brits call them) rack, never seen one on the side though, always on the back of the M/bike. Enjoy.
    #43
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  4. cycleTown650

    cycleTown650 Been here awhile

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    San Diego, CA
    Merida had a lot going on as this was also the vacation season for Mexicans and many people were out dancing in public and seeing various exhibitions. If I was to drive through Mexico in the fall, I would not be so sure that there would be so many free public events going on showcasing the lively culture.

    This dance event was hosted by the Merida police department, what a great way to boost their public image when the police get such a bad reputation.

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    The night light show explaining the history and culture of Yucatan was cool, too bad my Spanish is not all that great.

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    While in Merida, we ended up going to see the famous Chichen Itza and Cenotes. So many tourist...

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    I left Merida for Playa Del Carmen to see what the hype is all about.

    Thank you Diana and your dad for taking time out of your busy two days to help me find a tire in Merida.

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    #44
  5. cycleTown650

    cycleTown650 Been here awhile

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    Arriving in Playa Del Carmen, I instantly did not feel safe for myself and my motorcycle. Not sure what it was, I spent a night there and moved on to Tulum which was very mellow and had amazing beaches and ruins overlooking the ocean.

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    I was now stuck in Tulum as Hurricane Earl was heading full speed through Belize and Mexico. Once I got news that the hurricane weakened to a tropical storm, I made the dash for San Cristobal to escape the heat. The ride was not bad with 30 minutes of intense rain and some mud slides here and there. Boy was I glad I brought a bottle of Rain-X with me.

    You know its been an adventures day when your water proof boots are soaked wet and your are drying them with a heat gun. Note to self, wear riding pants on the outside of the boot when its raining.

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    I was warned in Merida that the road to San Cristobal through the mountains was dangerous as locals would pull up a rope or cable on the road, stopping all traffic and demanding that you buy something from them. Keeping that in mind, I wound my way up the mountain, enjoying the cool fresh air and tight curves while noticing everyone carried a machete. As I came around a bend, a rope flings up 20 feet in front of me, I hit the brakes hard and do my best to keep the bike straight. As I get closer to the rope, two twelve year old girls rush me, armed with their large smiles and a baskets of baked goodies while their friend holds the rope. Noticing that I was not interested in stopping to see what they had, the twelve year old girl dropped the rope and let me pass through. I had a good laugh about the whole situations and continued my way up. About twenty miles up the road as I got higher into the mountains, I passed a group of people on both sides of the road and noticed a thick steel cable laying on the road, anchored to a concrete post on each side of the road. Man was I happy that they let me pass and did not even look twice at me. I had a feeling that they only stop the large tourist buses.

    Arriving in San Cristobal, I was welcomed with cool mountain weather and live public performances. This was the place to be.

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    #45
  6. cycleTown650

    cycleTown650 Been here awhile

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    The dancers and live bands were so good!

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    With the cooler weather I decided to take apart my bike to resolve the super cooling issue I've had once and for all as my temp gauge was not showing any temperature. Checking over my temperature sensor connection, I noticed that it was not connected correctly by the Kawasaki dealer in San Diego when they did my valve shim adjustment. Reconnecting the temperature sensor wire and putting everything back together, the bike roared back to life showing normal operating temperature that evaded me since I left for this trip. Happy to have the issue resolved, I took it in for it's first wash.

    These guys knew how to put the green back into this bike for just a couple of bucks.

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    While making new friends in San Cristobal, I got into a discussion of learning new languages with my new local friend. As we talked, I pointed out that when someone learns a few words of a new language they tend to be words you would not use around your dear mother. She agreed, and proceed to teach me a few new words I did not know. As I explained to her that knowing "penis" in Spanish was of no use to me, she was happy to proclaim that "vagina" in San Cristobal and some parts of Mexico is "ai yai yai." I could not believe it, I have used "ai yai yai" up and down Mexico to express my defeat of high prices. At that moment I understood why so many Mexicans laughed when I used "ai yai yai." On that note, I headed for the Guatemalan border, more careful of the words I choose to use.

    The border crossing into Guatemala was fairly simple and did not take more than an hour. Apparently the vehicle import cost is now 160Q and not the 40Q I saw on HUBB posted a few years back.

    Guatemala had some epic scenery.

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    Laguana de Chicabal - The holy lake which was a great hike that showed how out of shape I got in the past five weeks of motorcycle travel.

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    Guatemala has plenty of exploring and I will be spending three weeks here before moving on to El Salvador.
    #46
  7. cycleTown650

    cycleTown650 Been here awhile

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    Feb 29, 2016
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    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    My current progress for those who wonder.

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    #47
  8. robdr1

    robdr1 Adventurer

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    Jul 21, 2013
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Arboletes Colombia
    Excellent!!!
    #48
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  9. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2007
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    Location:
    Burbank CA

    this young man is on a mission.

    thanks for the update.





    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #49
    advFord and cycleTown650 like this.
  10. migilito

    migilito Been here awhile

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    Feb 19, 2015
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    s-cal
    Book this guy for s presentation at NooBs next year.
    #50
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  11. Sparky.marky

    Sparky.marky Been here awhile

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    May 23, 2012
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    Following! I'll be making the same trip, leaving in 6 weeks
    #51
    cycleTown650 likes this.
  12. hankgs

    hankgs Long timer

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    Location:
    Solvang, CA
    Nice report Amigo!
    How's the communication aspect of the trip going?
    #52
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  13. cycleTown650

    cycleTown650 Been here awhile

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    Thank you!

    Communication is not an issue unless I am camping in the middle of nowhere. Most places have free wifi or you can buy a local SIM card for your phone fairly cheaply. WhatsApp makes it easy to text and call across the various international numbers for free.
    #53
  14. hankgs

    hankgs Long timer

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    Sorry, should have been clearer- Was wondering about English / Spanish communication... :ear
    #54
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  15. juno

    juno Long timer

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    Great trip and pics so far.
    You have spoken more positively about Mexico and CA so far then most riders.
    #55
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  16. cycleTown650

    cycleTown650 Been here awhile

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    In regards to language communication, I took a semester of Spanish at the local community college before leaving for the trip. So I know and understand the basics and can ask my way around if necessary. I think it's important to at least know the minimum before embarking on such an adventure. The locals appreciate the effort of you trying to communicate with them in their language and are more willing to help you. Dualingo is a great place to start learning Spanish if you are looking to start somewhere.
    #56
  17. cycleTown650

    cycleTown650 Been here awhile

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    Feb 29, 2016
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    Thank you, Juno. I think it helps that I travel with no expectations of people or places.
    #57
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  18. cycleTown650

    cycleTown650 Been here awhile

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    Initially I thought I was just going to spend just a night in Xela, Guatemala but it turned out to be a city with lots of hiking and exploring to do.

    Fuentes Gerginas hot spring near Xela, the twisty roads to get there were the fun part.

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    The food was also great and cheap, where three tacos cost less than $1.50.

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    Heading for Lago Atitlan, I was following Google Maps where it failed me with wrong directions and almost took me and the bike off the cliff. Switching over to the Maps.me app I was able to quickly find my way to San Pedro.

    Cliff view of Lago Atitlan.

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    The navigation with Google Maps was fairly easy up until Guatemala. When Google Maps failed or I had no wifi to find a location, Maps.me app was a great substitute as the whole app can run offline when you download each country of travel. I also use the iOverlander app to find nearby camping spots, border crossing with current information on it, and other details that a dedicated GPS will not have. For any specific off-road routes or GPX files that Google Maps may not have, I use MotionX-GPS app which works well. With all these apps on my iPhone, I really see no need for a dedicated GPS unit as the units tend to be expensive and the maps not always current.

    Once in San Pedro, I met two fellow KLR riders who rode from New York to Panama and were on their way back home to complete their three month journey.

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    #58
  19. cycleTown650

    cycleTown650 Been here awhile

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    San Pedro was the party town of Lago Atitlan where I made great friends from France. We ended up exploring the lake and the surrounding area for the whole week together.

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    The view of Lago Atitlan from Indian Nose. The hike up reminded me how out of shape I was.

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    I had plans to camp at the lake but it turned out that camping was more expensive than staying at a hostel and with the heavy evening rains, I was glad I opted for the hostel.

    Hostel Del Lago in San Marcos was the perfect place to relax. The girls that worked here later told me that the hostel was raided by the police a few weeks back and one traveler was arrested for having one spliff. He ended up spending four days in jail, with no food or water provided by the jail. Also, while I was here in San Marcos, a 10 PM curfew was implemented due to an increase in robberies. With all of this going on, at no time did I feel my safety was at risk.

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    After more than a week in Lago Atitlan, I moved on to the beautiful city of Antigua, where I was threatened with murder by another westerner with a hammer on my first nigh. After talking with a few other guys at my hostel who have been in Antigua a while, they mentioned that most safety issues they had were with other drunk or high westerners rather than locals. Brushing off my crazy hammer encounter, I explored Antigua on mountain bike and motorcycle.

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    #59
  20. cycleTown650

    cycleTown650 Been here awhile

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    Taking my motorcycle up into the surrounding mountains of Antigua, I ran into a group of local downhill mt. bikers. After talking with one of them, he invited me to take his bike for a spin on their technical downhill track. It was such a great random mt. bike adventure that would not have ever happened if my mode of transport on my South America adventure would have been any different.

    Guille, thank you for showing me your local track and trusting me with your fancy bike. Guys like you give a great name to our sport.

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    In the heart of the mt. bike jungle.

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    I am on my way to El Salvador tomorrow and will be staying with locals so I can continue to learn Spanish.

    Thank you to those who continue to encourage me to continue writing this ride report.
    #60