One Day at a time - Riding the Americas

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by RangeRoad, Sep 5, 2017.

  1. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

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    Day 106 – High Altitude

    We knew that we were in for a long day of riding. It was going to be over 400 kms to the camp that we were hoping to make and the road was going to be twisty. Ten minutes out of Nazca we were back in the mountains. Passing trucks between hairpin turns as they crawled up the mountain road. Soon we had climbed over 1500 meters, it was still hot and dry but again, it had its own beauty. What looked liked Inukshuk’s lined the side of the highway. By now we were over 3000 meters. The air started to feel thin and even walking could cause some huffing and puffing.
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    We continued onwards, back down this mountain range, and then up another. It was obvious that more rain hits this area, but the high elevation keeps the vegetation from getting too thick. Llamas, alpacas and sheep walked along the roadside. After this plateau we started to climb again, reaching another plateau in short order. Now we were over 4000 meters. We stopped at a lake to get some pictures and put on more layers. The temperatures had dropped and were now around ten degrees Celsius. Thunderstorms seemed to be on the horizon. Charlie’s Hydraulic clutch was feeling strange, the pressure difference at this altitude was stressing more than just our lungs and our engines. We kept moving, but soon we were getting wet. We put on the rain gear since it looked like rain was going to be the theme for a while. It wasn’t a hard rain but the clouds blocked the sun and the temperature continued to drop. Now it was 4 degrees and wet. We reached the high point around 4600 meters on this desolate plateau. Unbelievably some hearty souls actually live here, mostly tending to their flocks of sheep and llamas.
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    We made good time crossing the plateau since it was wide open and pretty straight roads. I can’t speak for Charlie but I was praying that the road would start back down… it was damn cold.
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    My prayers were answered and soon the hairpins started back down into a lush green valley. As we descended the landscape changed from a dull brown of the high plateau to a lush green augmented with red rocks of the valley. So many different landscapes in one day. We would follow the river all the way to our camp. For the most part the rains stayed away, the road was fast sweepers and traffic was light. I was in awe the entire day. In one day we went from desert, to dry sandy mountains, to grassland plateaus, then high elevation plateaus with glaciers and lakes on the horizon. To finish we passed through a subtropical tropical valley and camped in the warmth beside the river. One of the most diverse and memorable riding days I have ever had. To cap it off, we were camping on December 23rd. Try doing that in Canada!
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  2. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

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    Location:
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    Day 107 – Christmas Eve

    Another spectacular riding day greeted us. We packed up our slightly wet tents from a gentle overnight rain and headed for Cusco. Continuing the trend of hairpin turns up and down mountains, we slowed our pace and enjoyed the ride. Maybe not quite slow enough. Lola started acting up. I had been hearing boiling sounds coming from the cooling system for a few days, I put it off to just hard riding in the thin air. The reservoir seemed to have coolant in it and temps were normal. When I checked the coolant level a couple days earlier, I must not have put the cap back on properly. When I pulled over for a rest, steam was pouring up from the front the bike. Coolant had been spilling over the top of the reservoir and burning on the headers. I put the cap back on more carefully this time and hoped it would hold up.

    Soon we reached the valley where small red roofed housed dotted the lush green landscape. We stopped for lunch in a small town outside of Cusco before heading to our hostel for the afternoon. The hostal had a great courtyard for the bikes, although it is a bit “rugged” and could use some updates. It looked like I was going to make use of that courtyard for some maintenance work since coolant was now boiling out the overflow tube and pouring on the ground. But it was Christmas Eve so solving this problem would have to wait.

    Charlie and I went out for a good diner and then did our best to make pisco sours before calling it a night. I watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” and thought of everyone at home. This was the hardest night for me on this trip. I really wanted to be home for Christmas. All of the other hard moments of this trip can be dealt with and overcome, but there is no good way to replace the warmth of sharing the holidays with family and friends.


    Day 108 – Feliz Navidad

    Merry Christmas to everyone back home. I did my best to send Christmas ecards, emails and messages. It was great to talk to everyone, thank you for spending the time and effort to skype and chat. I spent the day relaxing, listening to some Christmas music and eating some good food. Pretty well what I would be doing back home anyway. I was surprised at how many shops and restaurants were open in Cusco, but that is likely the product of being a major tourist center.

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  3. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

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    Day 109 – Boxing day maintenance

    I walked around the corner to what appeared to be the motorcycle shop section of the city. Despite most of the bikes being cheap sub 250cc machines, there is an abundance of premium lubricant brands available. Motul, Liqui Moly, Bel Rey, Motorex etc. can all be found. If you can’t afford to buy the bike that Sam Sunderland rides… at least you can use the same oil. It was easy enough to track down some chain clean and coolant, although a new chain is still proving to be elusive. We booked our train tickets to Machu Picchu, and got our admission ticket. Overall a productive morning.

    I then got started on solving the coolant mystery. I topped up the radiator and the reservoir then ran the bike until the fans kicked on. No problems. I let the bike cool for a bit and tried again. Everything seemed to be working normal. I think the coolant had just been low which wasn’t allowing the system to pressurize properly. This caused the boiling and the eventual boiling over. With the coolant mystery seemingly solved I attacked 25,000 kms of grime on the chain. It took a couple hours but by the end it looked good as new. I checked every link, not a single one was seized which gives me hope that I can make Santiago before replacing.

    While doing the maintenance we met Ben and Lindsey, they are traveling on a DR650 and WR250R respectively. They do almost all dirt roads and camp a lot. Quite a bit different from our relative luxury travel. It was great to run into a couple more bikers. It had been a while since we had crossed paths with any other moto travelers.


    Day 110 – Inca Culture

    I wanted to get out and explore some of the area around Cusco. Also talking to Ben and Lindsey made me want to get back on the dirt. I headed to Tipon to start. This is a site known for the aqueducts that direct water through the complex. The water comes from a spring at the top of the site, flows through a ceremonial section before entering the vast array of beautifully built channels.
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    I then headed up the trail nearby to get my dirt fix. Lola and I ascended almost 1000 meters up a narrow single lane dirt track. For the most part it was dry, although rutted in some sections from previous rains. The view from the top was spectacular, one that not many get to experience and something you can’t get from a bus. On my way down I was chased by a dog. I just don’t understand why a dog would be up there. There were a few sections used for farming, but I didn’t see any people around. He chased me for a while until he was too tired to continue. Silly creature.
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    My next stop was the ruined city of Pikillacta. This complex, although lacking a truly unique feature such as the aqueducts of Tipon is impressive in its size. The red rock walls surround a very large complex with hundreds of buildings. There weren’t many people visiting this site, but there was some extensive surveying and research being done.
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    To end the day I ventured into the sacred valley, riding past Pisac on my way back to Cusco. This was just a taste of what we will see in a few days on the train to Machu Picchu.
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    Lola performed beautifully, the cooling system showing no signs of its previous ailments. No more boiling sounds and definitely no boiling over. Mystery solved.
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  4. FlatLanderRed

    FlatLanderRed n00b

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  5. FlatLanderRed

    FlatLanderRed n00b

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    You're so much in our thoughts over the holidays! OK. Well... not just over the holidays :) Thankful you had a buddy with you for Christmas and extra thankful for Facebook video chat! Love your stories.
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  6. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

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    Day 111 & 112 – More Maintenance

    I had been planning to go out of town for the day and do about a 200km mostly unpaved loop. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate and left me sitting inside watching the rain for the better part of the morning. With half the day gone and the roads likely very wet and possibly muddy I decided to get to work and change my tires. Even though they weren’t completely worn, I don’t want to carry tires any longer than I have to. I should be able make it to Buenos Aires on this set. The rear was a bear to break the bead. Thankfully Ben was still here with his bead breaker tool and we got it off the rim after some sweating and flying tire irons. I worked slowly, spending more time snacking and chatting than actually working but eventually both tires were on. Sort of. The front tire wouldn’t seat up properly, but I was tired of fighting it for the day. The rear wheel bearings seem to be starting to wear, there is a bit of play in the rear and the dust seal on one side is on its last legs. Hopefully they all hold up until Santiago where I will do a big round of maintenance.

    The next morning I went for a ride, hoping I could get the front to seat. After 20 or so bouncy kms I gave up and headed back to the hostal. I reinstalled the front, this time with a heavy dose of dish soap to lubricate the bead. With some work it finally set up properly. I wasted a lot more time than I would like installing tires, but it is done now and should be good for the rest of the journey.

    I spent the afternoon walking around Cusco. I stopped at a couple museums and a small music store. There are three instrument shops selling handmade guitars and charango’s (small ten stringed instrument, historically made from armadillo shells, now usually wood). So far they are all complete crap. The finishes are poor, the woodwork is rough and the overall feel is bad. I don’t know who would pay 400+ dollars for these instruments. I am sure the price is negotiable, but for people who claim to be artisans and luthiers they really need to step up their game. There just doesn’t seem to be any pride in making these instruments. I don’t expect perfection but I feel like I could do a better job. I would be tempted to buy one of those charango’s just for fun, but I can’t support that kind of poor workmanship.

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  7. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

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    Day 113 – Luxury Travel

    We were up early to catch our train to Aguas Caliente. There are definitely cheaper ways to see Machu Picchu, but riding the train is a great experience. It offers a nice slow ride through the valley, good coffee and a decent snack. Compared to our normal way of doing things this was luxury. I still prefer the bike, but this was a cool experience and now on my trip I have used a lot of different transport. Trains, planes, buses, cars, trucks, motos, taxis, tuk tuk’s and boats.

    Aguas Caliente is built entirely to serve the visitors to Machu Picchu. Prices are high and the infrastructure is entirely restaurants and hotels. It is cool that there are no cars in town since the only way to get there is by train or walking. We walked along the tracks to a botanic garden in the valley. There was a beautiful array of flowers including a large variety of orchids. It was nice to be back in the cloud forest. Warm, humid and huge diversity in plants and animals. It was a good warm up for the hike up the mountain the next day.

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  8. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

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    Day 114 – 23 Hours.

    We woke at 4:30am to grab a quick breakfast before starting the hike up to Machu Picchu. By 5:30 we were starting our ascent. The hike was harder and hotter than I expected. By the time I reached the gate I was sweating buckets and my legs were already tired. Too many months of riding a bike and not enough exercise I guess. Charlie joined me at the top, mumbling about how we should have taken the bus.

    We found a guide and negotiated a price. It was worth every penny. The guide showed us details of the city we never would have realized on our own. He Explained the history and did an excellent job of moving us through the complex before the crowds got too heavy. I would like to write more about the city itself, but I just don’t even know where to start. It truly is a must see destination. After the tour we walked up to the viewpoint for the classic photo. By now all the big tour groups had arrived and the crowds were thick. What is it with people wanting to pose for photos right in the middle of the walking paths? There are lots of spaces to take pictures, why do you have to get in everyone’s way. Your rushed selfie or your fake yoga pose is going to look like crap anyway, so just do us all a favour and take your photos where you aren’t blocking everyone else.

    We then made our way up to the sun gate for a little taste of the Inca trail. The sun gate was the original entrance to the city and is the entry point for anyone doing the full trail hike. It must be amazing to crest the hill in the morning, walk through the gate and see the ancient city laid out below. The view from the gate is spectacular and worth the sweat to hike up.

    The hike down was almost as hard as the way up. My legs felt weak, like they were made of jelly as I carefully made each step. We made it back to Aguas Caliente just as the rain started and settled in for a few hours of rest before taking the train back to Cusco. The train again was a pleasant experience, with dancing and snacks to help us forget about our aching muscles.

    Upon return to the hostal I was greeted by my friends Paul and Lucy who I have met twice now on this journey. We had planned to spend new years together here in Cusco. They had found a whole host of other bikers, and had prepared a massive new years eve dinner. We drank Pisco, ate good food and laughed our way into the new year. By the time I went to bed, it was 3:30am. I had been awake for 23 hours.

    Happy New Year everyone!
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  9. 10ecjed

    10ecjed Been here awhile

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    Happy New Year to you too. I just caught up with you RR. Your keeping me entertained. Thank you very much. Keep up the good work. Hope you find your chain.
  10. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

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    Days 115 & 116 – Life in the valley

    New year’s day was a write off. The lack of sleep and the excess of alcohol likely to blame. The only productive action of the day was that I confirmed my wheel bearings are worse than I thought. There is some play in the rear wheel on the right side and some in the front on both sides.

    The next morning I went on the hunt for bearings. I found brand name bearings in the correct size for a very reasonable price. My plan is to carry them for now in case things get really bad, worst case I can swap them somewhere along the way before Santiago. With this small victory I packed up and said goodbye to Charlie. He is going to continue on to Puno, I am planning to spend a bit more time near Cusco and then check out the area near Arequipa before going to Puno to catch some of the Dakar.

    I took the scenic route out of town, up and over the mountains again to Pisac. and back into the sacred valley. I wanted to take the long way back to the main highway, and little detour took me down a dirt road and past a beautiful lake. The hillside on the far edge of the lake looked like a quilt with all kinds of different coloured patches. I met a quad tour guide who was towing a second quad, I guess someone in his group had been in an accident. Hopefully nobody was hurt. I turned off the highway soon enough and began climbing the mountains again. In a bit of a strange moment, a bird flew out of the ditch, then turned parallel with me, only to veer to the left and hit me right in the helmet. I was shocked, this is the second time this week I hit a bird, once with the front of the bike and once with my helmet. That brings my total bird count for my riding career to 3. Anyone else seem to have a strange number of birds dive bombing them?

    What started off as a single lane paved road, turned into single lane concrete, then dirt, then mud and a bit of washed out rock just for fun. Tour vans were bringing people back down the mountain, usually they were pretty careful, but one aggressive van driver had my heart racing as we both slammed on our brakes to avoid a head on collision. I ducked into the bushes on the right, and he skidded down the hill stopping a few feet short of where I was. I guess that is why the speed limit is 35.

    A few washed out sections and a few small water crossings later had me at the parking area. Unfortunately the main camp was another 1.5 kms up the road, but the river had washed out most of that road and I wasn’t prepared to risk picking up Lola in the river. I checked into a small home stay nearby, parked Lola next to the pigs and chickens and went for the 3.5km hike up to Lake Humankay.

    The track was muddy and slippery but not an overly difficult hike. The altitude made it harder than it should have been, but I have been in Cusco long enough to be more comfortable with the thin air. About the halfway point a huge flash of lighting lit up the sky in front of the glacier, followed by a deep rumble of thunder. It was strange, there were no dark clouds anywhere and it didn’t look or feel like a storm was approaching. I waited for a few minutes, and then decided to continue upwards. A couple more quiet rumbles could be heard in the distance but nothing like the first one.

    The lake reminded me of something from the Alberta mountain parks. Clear blue water fed by the glaciers in the background. Even the temperatures were reminiscent of Canada! The hike back down was harder than the way up. Even the donkeys and horses won't carry passengers down. The conditions had me sliding on my side a couple times after a misplaced step gave out from underneath me. I returned to my home stay satisfied, a bit muddy but still dry, missing the rain by only a few minutes. Once the rain started it didn’t stop all night. The lack of heat and electricity made for a cold and dark night. Candles lit the table along with a small battery powered lamp. It was a unique experience, this is how the Peruvians live in the high altitude. Natchel, the homeowner lives there all year round, I just can’t imagine having to deal with the cold and damp conditions all the time. I didn't even want to think about what it would be like to have to take a shower in those conditions. Hot water isn't easy to come by.
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  11. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

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    Pictures on the way. Wifi hasn't been very good.
  12. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

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    Glad to have you along. Makes it worth putting in the effort to keep things updated knowing I am entertaining a few!
  13. bp68

    bp68 Adventurer

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    Keep up the report, I have been checking the RR most everyday for updates. Your doing a great job! Very interesting.
  14. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

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    Day 117 – Change of plans

    Rain the entire night had soaked the road back down. It was very muddy, but still supportive underneath. The scariest part is the other vehicles, not the road itself. All the tour vans from the day before were now making there way up the road to drop off new groups for a morning hike. I took it slow, and reached the valley floor by 10am. It took longer than I thought, and with all the rain I elected to go back through Cusco instead of the hairpin roads that I had originally planned. Most of the day was spend backtracking to Cusco and then heading towards Arequipa. It was a pretty ride along the river, the beauty of the Andes never letting me down.


    Day 118 – Valley of the Condors

    Another day of riding some of the most spectacular roads in the world. I started on a twisty blacktop road that climbed up to the altiplano. Once the trees ended and the high plains began I turned off the highway onto a washboard gravel road. It was dry and I made good time, passing locals on small bikes who looked in awe… or maybe in annoyance as I sped by. I stopped to grab water and some snacks for the day in a small town at the end of the gravel. I don’t think they get many travellers. Within minutes a crowd had gathered and were asking all the usual questions. As always, I am happy to answer as best I can but inevitably the question of how much came up. That is always my cue to leave, I hate that question and I try to skirt it as I reach for my helmet.

    From this town I was surprised that the next 100 kms were fresh asphalt. They were still working on the new road in places, but it must have been laid down sometime this year. As Charlie said when we first entered the country, Peru seems to be a work in progress. At the top of the pass, about 4700 meters elevation I turned off on another dirt road. This time it met my expectations of a high mountain pass in the Andes. Lots of mud, huge potholes filled with water and large ruts laid down by overloaded trucks. I picked my way through the mud, happy to have installed the new tires in Cusco. One puddle was much deeper than expected and it caught me off guard. But when in doubt GAS IT!

    The road back down to the Colca Canyon was stunning, and that continued all the way through the valley to the Cruz del Condor viewpoint. At the viewpoint I stopped to look down into the canyon, one of the deepest in the world. From the viewpoint it was 1500 meters down to the river below. In places the canyon can be over 2500 meters deep. I sat and watched for condors that are know for flying along the walls of the canyon. I saw one large bird across the canyon, I am going to tell myself it was a condor. Ignorance is bliss.
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    Day 119 – Dakar Stage 6

    I started the day climbing back up to the altiplano, this time setting a record for Lola and I. 4900 meters at the top of the pass. It is supposedly the highest paved road in the America’s, but I think there are a few that make that claim. Either way, when I stopped for a picture a very light rain started to fall, mixed with a few small snow flakes. It was damn cold. I moved closer towards the two large volcanoes on the horizon, meeting up with the main highway between Puno and Arequipa.

    This section of highway will be used for stage 6 of the Dakar as a liaison prior to the stage special that moves along the edge of Lake Titicaca. The road from the volcanoes to Puno stays above 4000 meters almost the entire way, slowly descending as it approaches Puno and changing from desolate high planes to some mixed farm land.

    Now I will spend a few days in Puno to check out the lake and wait for the Dakar to come through. I am hoping to see some of the stage 6 special in a few days. Happy Dakar everyone! The race starts tomorrow in Lima.
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  15. tcalberta

    tcalberta Adventurer

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    Great report and thanks for sharing. Am enjoying the read!
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  16. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

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    Posts have been updated with pics.
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  17. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

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    Day 120 to 122 – Lake Titicaca

    Not just a lake with a funny name, Lake Titicaca is considered to be the highest navigable lake in the world. The water level is over 3800 meters and the lake crosses the Peru and Bolivia borders. It is a beautiful and cold place to live. Most days it starts out sunny, clouds over in the evening and then thundershowers roll in as the sun goes down.

    My days in Puno were spent mostly relaxing, lots of time on the computer catching up on some things I have been avoiding. Even lazy days on the computer can be interesting. While sitting in the dining area the family who owns the hostal began to setup their dinner. They needed my table, so I offered to move back to my room. Not wanting to be rude to a guest, they put a plate in front of me and had me join them for family dinner. It was awesome, although I couldn’t understand a lot of the conversation, it was a typical family dinner. Lots of laughing and smiles all around. Dinner was a fresh ceviche with corn and sweet potatoes. One of the best meals I have had in South America.

    The next morning I took a tour to the floating village of Uros. This village is built on the lake using the reeds that grow around the shallow sections. Although it is basically nothing more than a tourist attraction now, people used to live on these islands their entire lives. Stepping onto the islands was strange, the reed floor squishing under my feet. While sitting and watching a presentation by one of the locals I could feel the island moving slightly below me. I can’t imagine living on these small little islands. There is nowhere to move, all of the cooking has to be done very carefully as not to light the whole thing on fire and the houses constantly shift due to the reed bases decaying over time.

    My friends Paul, Lucy, Martina and Peter met me at the hostal. We elected to ride together to Bolivia and camp out near La Paz before catching the Dakar.

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  18. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

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    Day 123 – The Layered City

    We set off from Puno, following the road along the shores of Lake Titicaca. It was a pleasant ride, but we made the mistake of not getting gas in Puno. This left us with little choice but to fill up at the boarder, which meant either 84 octane from a gas pump that was old before I was even born, or buying 90 octane from a plastic jug. I elected for the plastic jug and hoped for the best.
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    The border was wild. It was like driving through a huge market. We stamped out of Peru, waited for the customs officers to eat lunch so they could stamp out the vehicles and then crossed the bridge to Bolivia. We dodged people pushing carts carrying everything from mattresses stacked 15 feet high to building materials. The line into Bolivia was long, but we got our stamps without any problems. I had my import permit in 15 minutes… but then there was a “system problem” which left us stuck for 2 hours waiting for the other bikes. At least it was sunny. I had forgotten what it was like to cross borders, Ecuador and Peru were so easy.

    By the time we were near La Paz, darkness was setting in. We entered the city, expecting the worst, only to be pleasantly surprised. Traffic wasn’t really that bad and the city was relatively clean. It was a crazy place to drive for other reasons though. La Paz is built in layers, starting with the top on the north end and dropping down as you move south. We enjoyed the views of the city below as the last of the daylight faded away. Riding back out of the city after dark wasn’t ideal, but it was only a short ride to our camp. We setup our tents and cooked around a campfire, a first for me since Baja.


    Day 124 – The Hunt

    Paul had some work to do on his Honda Valkyrie. There was some noise coming from the front wheel and brakes. We pulled off the front wheel only find his brakes on one side ground down to the metal. He had them changed in Lima… how they could be gone only 1500 kms later. To make matters worse, his right front wheel bearing was completely shot. While he started on the bearing, I went in search of brake pads. Finding parts in Latin America is sort of like a big scavenger hunt. You start with the most promising place on the map, if they don’t have the parts you ask for the next best option. This time I was pointed not to a store but to a neighborhood with hundreds of auto and moto parts stores. I walked around, asking and being pointed across the street, around the corner, three blocks up and two blocks back. Eventually I found pads, bearings and a variety of other maintenance items. Unfortunately for Paul, his luck wasn’t so good. After struggling with the bearing for hours, he had to take a taxi to find a shop to do the work. The bearing was completely seized in the hub. He left the wheel overnight at the shop, hoping to have the work done first thing in the morning so that we could get on our way to the Dakar
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  19. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

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    Day 125 – Part of the action – Dakar day

    Paul’s wheel was ready to go first thing in the morning. He rushed back to camp and we worked frantically to get Valkyrie back together. We had her roadworthy by 10 am, packed up and headed out to find the Dakar. Finding places to watch can be a challenge. The organization only posts loose guidelines to where the route will go in order to prevent any racers from learning about the route prior to the start of racing. We knew that the liaison section would be coming down the main highway, so we followed that and hoped we could find the end of the special stage nearby. A police officer pointed us in the right direction and soon we were parked at the finish line of the Stage 6 special.

    For anyone at home who doesn’t understand how the Dakar works, let me briefly explain. Each day’s stage of the rally is composed of two sections, the special and the liaison. The liaison takes place on public roads and competitors must obey all the rules of the road just like an other driver. Liaison sections are not timed, they are only used to move from one place to another. The special section is where the actual racing happens. This is primarily off road and competitors try to complete the route in the shortest time possible. Whoever is the quickest through the special section each day is the stage winner. The overall rally is won by having the shortest combined time for all of the special sections added together.

    Now back to the action. We setup on top of a railroad, which gave us a great view of vehicles racing full speed down the long straight to our left, sliding around the right hand corner in front of us and then jumping the tracks as they flew by. The excitement of the Bolivian crowd was awesome, everyone yelling and pointing every time headlights came into view. My first thoughts on the race were, hold shit these guys are fast. The bikes showed up first, then a few quads joined the mix. A few hours of small vehicles gave way to the first cars. Just as the sun was starting to fade the first of the trucks raced by in a cloud of diesel smoke and dust.

    The racing was only half of the excitement. Being the only non-bolivians in the crowd we were drawing a lot of attention. We were asked to take photos many times and were thanked for coming to visit their country. The warmth of the Bolivian people was just fantastic. My camp stove drew a lot of attention as I heated water to make some tea. I could hear people asking questions and the word Caliente (hot) being thrown around liberally. It was capped by one gentleman jokingly asking why I wasn’t making enough for everyone!

    With night having fallen we decided to depart. There were still competitors rolling in but it was time to get the bikes and ourselves safely back to camp. We had to take the same road back towards La Paz as the competitors. It was a divided highway with the right side being closed for the competitors. As we left the finish line we were pointed down the closed highway. This meant we made great time back to the city, but it also meant we were mistaken for being part of the Dakar. Crowds cheered us as we drove by, waving and taking pictures. We just embraced it, honking and waving all the way home. It was one of the best experiences ever on a motorcycle, even if we were a bit of a fraud. We got to be part of the race! And it felt great!

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  20. RangeRoad

    RangeRoad Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2015
    Oddometer:
    193
    Location:
    The Prairies
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