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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by cycleTown650, Jul 4, 2016.
Thank you Trip Hammer, got more coming...
With a great group of people on board, we began to settle in.
From relaxing to snorkeling to jumping off the boat, there was plenty to do for everyone.
The Kuna women selling there hand crafts
Doing pirate stuff in the crow's nest.
A solid bearded crew
After all the fun and hanging out at the San Blas Islands, we began our boat ride under engine power as there was not enough wind to sail. The waves were choppy and many got sick and began the fish feeding frenzy. I felt fine with the choppy waves and just ate light for the first half of the day.
After hours of bouncing around on the boat, we arrived to Cartagena where we were dropped of for the day with the bikes still on board the boat waiting for the necessary stamps that we were supposed to receive the following day. The city was on full lock down with the peace agreement deal being signed there and made getting around the city a challenge. I still managed to see the walled city and found some cool interesting spots like this USSR themed bar.
Everyone was wearing white for the peace deal celebration, they jumped the gun to celebrate as the deal was voted down by the people the following week.
The following day we offloaded the bikes and everyone went their own separate ways. I was happy to see my bike back on land as I was ready to tear it up in Colombia. There were going to be some crazy adventures to come where I would break my KLR.
Waiting for the offload.
After spending a night in the hot and beautiful Cartagena, I decided I would head for the cool Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains were I can do some camping and adventuring. On the way there, I stopped at the famous mud hole Volcan Lodo de Lodo el Totumo.
What a great time. The nice thing of travelling on the off season or by motorcycle is that you can avoid the large crowds that come on tour buses.
The experience of floating in mud and not being able to touch bottom is surreal.
Afterwards, I headed for San Lorenzo in the Sierra Nevada's as I heard this place had epic views and a great off-road trail. On the way there, I stopped in Minca which is a great little hipster town. Talking with the local shop owner, I was warned that the trail is for 4x4 vehicles and that was the trail was not very pretty, just what I was looking for.
The shop owner sweet Toyota Land Rover.
This is where the moto adventure began as I left Minca and headed for higher elevation. This place would test the limit of my motorcycle as there was mud that would send you in a crazy slip and slide, rocks big enough to dent your rim, and steep slopes that would ask for every horse power of your bike. I was stoked!
The slip and slide, and this is the smallest of them. I saw a whole truck get swallowed by a bigger one.
Rocks ready for some rim denting
You had to know how to pick your lines on these climbs, thank you mt. biking for the years of experience.
And the views were well worth it.
Not through the middle! :-D Watch out for target fixation.
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, military base.
I tried my luck to camp all the way at the top by the military base but they shut me down, after I unpacked my bike of course.
I ended up camping for a night too, away from the military base.
After a fun few days, I realized how bad I needed a new rear tire as it was completely bald in the middle, I was surprised how far up I have made it. I headed back down to Santa Marta to try my luck at finding a tire hoping that I would not have the same two day long tire hunt experience I did in Merida, Mexico.
The first shop I stopped by pointed me across the street. After talking with the guy there, another guy overheard us and told me he had just what I needed, just follow him across the city. I jumped on my bike and began chasing the erratic driving Colombian in search of the perfect tire.
Always trust a guy wearing green if you are riding a Kawasaki.
Small bike is king in these congested cities, I was the fat cow that made everyone nervous as I passed them.
I was in luck, they had just what I needed. Except I was not too excited about it as it was the same exact Pirelli T60 tire I had on which lasted in a little over 5k miles. I wasn't too upset about it as I found a tire in less than an hour and it was $40 bucks cheaper than in Mexico.
So after making it all the way down from Sierra Nevada's and getting a new tire mounted on the KLR in Santa Marta, I decided to make a dash for Valledupar, where my adventures would take a turn for the worse. After driving through a crazy down pour and making it to Valledupar before dark, I met a couple of local guys at my hotel who wanted to go out and check out the city.
There was an annual Arhuaca festival going on which was cool to watch. The Arhuaca are native to Colombia and do their own thing to preserve their culture.
Shenanigans with these three locals.
The following day I began my ride to Nabusamaki, a small village in the middle of nowhere where the Arhuaca live. I was warned that the road there was not for the faint of heart, boy were they right.
My bike bounced up and down and slid around the loose dirt. I was struggling to find a rhythm. It eventually got swallowed by this rut after my bike jumped like a wilder beast.
This trail is where I began to regret upgrading my front stock sprocket from a 15 tooth to a 16 tooth. The goal I had when doing so was to increase my gas mileage as I knew 80% of the road would be fairly smooth with no special requirements. Working my clutch by feathering it, I kept moving climbing over gnarly terrain that could only be done at a slow speed, something I struggled with having a fully loaded bike and a front sprocket geared for speed. For the first time, I was in trouble and I knew it.
As I worked my way up and down the mountain, I struggled to keep a necessary slow pace for the technical stuff. The fog did not help, limiting my visibility to a few meters.
This trail was beginning to wear on my KLR and I could feel it.
The KLR gasped for every breath of air it could, it was pulling over 700 pounds!
The clutch was starting to feel funny, I persisted.
super RR .
Thanks a lot .
But at the beginning you show us your way on a map and now you stop it .
Would be verry interesting for me to see it , so its more perfekt to follow your way
and to understand where you take your nice pics .
Enjoy tour trip
There were three river crossing that I had to cross, making me really nervous as I was by myself and in the middle of nowhere, making it a dangerous place to seize a piston.
1 of 3 down, does not look deep until you get halfway in.
After two and half hours of battling gnarly terrain, I arrived at the gates of Nabusamaki, the heavenly retreat of the Arhuaca people.
At the gates of the Arhuaca, I was advised that I needed a permit to enter the holy grounds. I was surprised, as the locals I spoke to said of no such thing. I then began trying different methods of getting in from money to trying to bribe them with cookies, you always gotta carry something to give to the locals. None worked, but they persisted to try different options to allow me to stay as they know if made quite the journey to their little town. After some waiting around, a friendly gentleman appeared asking me how many times I dropped my gigantic motorcycle getting into their village. I liked the guy from the start and he told me that I would not be able to stay in the village of Nabusamaki but I could stay with his family near by. Disappointed by not being able to visit the village, I accepted Omar's invitations to stay with his family even though I was happy to camp as well.
The Arhuaca live off the land and don't need much, other than their 4x4 Toyota's.
This place was unreal.
Typical Arhuaca casa.
I was glad Omar invited me to stay with his family as Hurricane Matthew hit the village and it rained for three days none stop. I also found out that my MSR stove pump was not working, so I would have been a very hungry man.
The typical hang out spot for the family, a fire in the middle of the kitchen.
We played Around the World for three days, waiting the rain out. Once I saw a break, I knew I had to make a dash back to civilization as there was more rain coming the following day, and there is no getting out when it's raining at this place.
A truly generous family that saved my bacon.
The day had come to leave, I jumped on my bike with zero pesos in my pocket after giving Omar's family the last of what I had on me for their hospitality. Omar knew I had one heck of a challenge to get back up and offered to come along if only I could refuel his bike at the top. As I was out of cash, I declined the kind offer and set out on my own running into his cousin who was headed into town. While waiting for his cousin, Omar rolled up and said he would escort me up the mountain to make sure I make it up. I am glad he did. With Omar up front and his cousin behind me, I pushed the bike up the muddy slopes, dropping it multiple times, and with their help, pushing it back up the slippery slopes. I was panting like a dog, pushing the bike with all my might working the clutch as best I could. Two miles in, my bike farted and died up a steep climb. The clutch was toast, no friction zone left, zero.
For the first time on this trip, I felt defeated.
What was I to do, I was in the middle of nowhere with some of the worst roads I have encountered. My mood was busted and the locals looked at me with uncertainty.
The gnarly slick hill climbs.
My luck was soon to change for the better, as we saw a red old school Toyota truck make it's way down the steep slopes. Omar talked with the guy who agreed to return and help me tow the bike out. We waited, and waited, for three hours until his return. While waiting, we saw and heard multiple Toyota's screaming through these mountains as they struggled for grip and strength.
After sitting around and waiting for three hours, the help arrived and we loaded the bike up on the truck. I was eager to see how far we would get.
This thing was a tank and there was no stopping it.
We made it back, somehow, through the slippery slope and the swollen rivers that would have been happy to seize my piston.
Straight for the Honda Mechanic, I guess he was the best in Publo Bello.
Fernando went straight into tearing the bike down. I appreciated his hustle as they tend to move slower in Latin America compared to what we are used to in the states.
Taking the bike apart, the whole place smelled like BBQ, the number one system of a toasted clutch.
While Fernando went on a chase to find clutch disk for my bike, I went on a nice hike with the assistant mechanic, Jesus.
I was not in a hurry, I got at least five weeks here in Colombia, the local hotel had some awesome hammock views.
While waiting for the clutch disk, I wanted to tighten the pannier rack as it was loose. I was surprised to find it broken, in two places.
I guess all the dropping of the bike I did finally did it in. My new amigo Jesus was a Picaso with the welding machine and soon had it welded and painted. While we were at it, I had Fernando change the brake fluid out on both of my brakes as the rear had failed me for the second time while I was driving into Nabusamki.
Jesus, the welding Picaso.
After all the repairs and towing, I was down $160 USD. Fernando was able to find a new KLR in a nearby town and convince the shop owner to do him a favor and let him use those clutch plates for the bike. I was happy with the quick repairs in the middle of nowhere, and was soon on my way, although I knew I was not free of my clutch problem as the coolant pump seals still need to be replaced once I get to Bogota.
I headed for Barichara, Colombia's nicest little town for some relaxing. On the way there, the roads were epics and the views took it to a whole another level.
That plane is a hotel.
Barichara, great place to relax.
I will be headed for Bogota soon to get the necessary seals for my bike and will be spending some quality time here in Colombia. Thanks for reading and being patient with my posts.
Marco Polo 62, this one is for you!
Gotta say, cycletown650... This RR is getting better and better. Glad the KLR is back up and running too! I'm in my comfy shorts on a couch drinking a beer with the remote on my lap and the dog snoring next to me, but I'm envious of you. Congratulations, sincerely. You're doing this. Fucking awesome. Fantastic photography as well. Thanks for bringing us along!
Thanks for catching us up Elijah. Really good stuff!