Oregon to Ushuaia on an XR650L

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Ulyses, Oct 29, 2012.

  1. Ulyses

    Ulyses Long timer

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    Location:
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    Day 73
    Medellin, Colombia
    Day's Ride: 137 Miles

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    I woke up this morning and changed my mind. I was going to leave Medellin. I packed up all of my gear, locked up the Pelican cases and began loading my stuff. That's when I realized that I still needed a ratchet strap. I walked over to Moto Shop to talk to Federico about finding one. He hooked me up right quick. That's when I decided that I needed to call Juan David from the XR club and tell him that I wouldn't be making it to the meeting that night.

    When I told him the bad news, he told me to wait for him at the shop as he was already on his way over to see me. So I stuck around. He showed up a few minutes later and begged me to stay. He even gave me a Colombian flag balaclava and promised me stickers and free food if I came to the meeting! How could I resist?

    That settled it. One more day. I said goodbye to Federico and he laughed at me and told me he would see me tomorrow. Yeah, probably.

    Juan David asked if I wanted to go ride the "Vuelta a Oriente" and grab some lunch before the meeting. He promised to take me somewhere authentic. Why not? Juan David called up his buddy Daniel and we all jumped on the bikes and headed for the countryside. Juan David is on a smoking XR650R and Daniel is on a surprisingly fast XR250 (the real Japanese version, not the XR250 Tornado).

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    We went to a resteraunt near to where Albert and I had dropped off the Brits a few days before. I had Juan David and Daniel order for me to ensure that I got something that was really "typico".

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    I can't remember what it was called, but it was delicious! Beans and ham with a side of rice, shredded beef, avocado, and few things that I didn't really recognize.

    As we were eating, another XR rider showed up. His name was Rafa and he was riding an XR650L like me.

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    After we finished, I tried to pay for my meal, but my new friends wouldn't hear of it. They told me that it would be paid for by the club. Well all right, I like where this is going!

    After lunch we went out and snapped a few pics of the bikes.

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    And then it was time to ride!

    Rafa got us off to a nice start by pulling some huge wheelies:

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    Which pretty much set the tone for the rest of the ride. We struck off on the "Vuelta a Oriente", a stunning windy path through the countryside east of Medellin. The road was pristine, the weather perfect, and the riders all equally crazy.

    We rode the rest of the afternoon and even stopped for a little desert in a small town. I had some Tres Leches cake. We finished up the ride and I headed back to the Shamrock to get ready for the night.
  2. Spud Rider

    Spud Rider Long timer

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    The four, Honda XR bikes look great outside the restaurant! :thumb

    Spud :beer
  3. Ulyses

    Ulyses Long timer

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    Sorry for putting this in two parts, I didn't get back till after midnight last night....

    After riding the Vuelta a Oriente, I returned to the Shamrock and got ready for the evening. At around 7:30 PM, Juan David showed up on his XR650R and led me to the gathering.

    "Honda XR Antiochia" is a group of Paisas (Paisas: Colombians from the north western part of Colombia) that all own and ride Japanese made XR's. This is an important distinction as there are tons of Honda XR's in South America that are made in Brazil and are of substandard quality. The good XR's are all made in Japan and imported to Colombia. Earlier in the day I had asked how much a bike like mine would cost in Colombia. They replied that it would be around $8,000 - $9,000 used because of import fees! Considering that I bought my bike (2008 XR650L with 1,400 miles) for $3,800, that's a hefty markup!

    I guess that goes to show why the imported XR's are so cherished. The XR Antiochia club consists of over 60 bikes; last night there were about 20 in attendance. They claim that they are the largest group of XR riders in Latin America and Europe. I'll admit, this is the largest gathering of big bikes (over 250cc) that I've seen since I left on the trip!

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    You'll have to forgive the substandard photography, my camera doesn't do too well after dark. All told, there were 6 XR650L's, 1 XR650R, a number or XR600R's, a few XR400's, and a single XR250. It was incredible! A few of the bikes had been converted into Super Motard variations. One guy had gone full black with acerbis plastic.

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    As soon as I hoped off my bike it was absolute mayhem! I had Colombianos swarming all over me and the XRL asking me questions and looking at the bike. I was quickly introduced to the leader of the pack, Andres, who presented me with the official club baseball hat, t-shirt, shoulder bag, and sticker! These guys were super generous!

    We spent the next twenty minutes or so going around and talking about the bikes. I asked how they had found me at the Shamrock and they told me that one of their members had been surfing the internet and had come across my blog. After seeing that I was in Medellin and that I had visited Federico at Moto Shop, Juan David had gone and asked Federico where I was and then tracked me down at the Shamrock. What a crazy story! Apparently I'm a celebrity now.

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    After receiving so many gifts, I decided to return the generosity by handing out mustache stickers and having a tank signing party. Here's Juan David and Andres:

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    I eventually had the whole club sign my tank. A few minutes after handing out the mustaches, I started seeing them appear on bikes:

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    After the exchange of gifts we got a group shot......

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    ......and it was time to ride! Almost all of the bikes present had aftermarket pipes and the roar of 20 thumpers soon filled the gas station parking lot where we were congregated. As soon as we pulled out into the road, all hell broke loose. There were guys riding over the medians, through lawns, and pulling wheelies with their girlfriends riding pillion. If you've ever done a group ride with a bunch of crazy guys on Jap bikes, through a Latin American city, at night, you'll know what I mean.

    We busted out of Medellin and headed towards a town called Santa Fe in search of a roadside BBQ joint. We ended up blasting through this huge tunnel, must have been almost three miles long. I nearly suffocated on all of the fumes and lost my hearing due to the noise of twenty bikes.

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    We arrived at the BBQ place and I was introduced to some delicious Colombian beef and lemonade.

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    From what I understood, the beef was actually veal. For only 15,000 pesos a plate, it was quite a deal.

    After dinner we all mounted up and rode back to town.

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    Had to make a brief stop at the toll gate before the tunnel and wait for the traffic to pass since the tunnel traffic is one way and switches directions every 15 minutes or so.

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    After we exited the tunnel, I waved goodbye to the majority of my new friends and Juan David led me back to the Shamrock. We made a brief stop to check out the Christmas Lights along the river.

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    And then it was back to the bar. We pulled up around midnight and I said my goodbyes to Juan David. What a great guy! Super generous and an awesome rider. I had a great time last night. The best thing about this trip so far has been meeting cool people and last night was the biggest meeting of cool people I have had so far. Me encanta Colombia!
  4. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    Hola Ulyses,

    Every traveler I talk to coming north says Medellin (pronounced Medezheen) is a don't miss city.

    I can see why now. I'm having fun just following your ride report. Keep up the good work.

    The more I read about Colombia, the faster I ride through Centroamerica. Last week I was 5 countries back and today I'm only two countries behind you.

    Buena suerte,
    Tio Juanito
  5. trululu96

    trululu96 Adventurer

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    Location:
    MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA
    hey ulysses....

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    a picture with an aweosome traveler

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    and another moustache pasted in an incredibly fast xr 250 r :evil

    safe trip again, Daniel
  6. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer

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    Freaking Awesome:clap:clap:clap That's what good travel is all about, meeting great people. Looks like a great time for sure with some great Colombians.

    Nice write up.
  7. oldswimr

    oldswimr Flatlander

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    Been reading the whole blog since it's dead around here this time of year.

    Great job, and I wanted to sincerely thank you for your work as a U.S. Marine, some of our Nation's finest, and apparently, craziest! No easy way to have done the work you did in A'Stan.

    My son is Active Duty Air Force, I'm a retired Coastie. Dad was Navy, Uncle served in Korea, at the 'Frozen Chosin".

    And it's true, it's all about the people you meet, good and not so much, and the stories. And this one is a winner.

    I'd say stay safe, but, how much fun would that be??

    rlm
  8. aviatorbdm

    aviatorbdm Been here awhile

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    I'm glad you are having such a great time in Columbia. You have turned into a rock star! Now I must visit there. I've always been impressed by most folks I have met while traveling in central america or ones I have met from south america. They are generally accomodating, polite, upbeat, fun loving, and a pleasure to be around.
  9. crashmaster

    crashmaster ow, my balls!

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    +1 By far the best part of my southern travels for sure. :freaky
  10. Mossy-Back

    Mossy-Back Brown Falcon

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    That is awesome seeing that many big Honda thumpers together!

    And the food is making me hungry... I better go eat!
  11. Merlin III

    Merlin III Mean SOB

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    Just curious how often you meet people like this bunch of guys who talk about traveling north some day?
  12. Ulyses

    Ulyses Long timer

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    Portland, OR
    Day 74
    Medellin, Colombia to Santa Rosa, Colombia
    Day's Ride: 137 Miles

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    Well, I finally managed to leave Medellin. It was hard, but I forced myself to pack up and get out. Before I left I had to have Al sign the tank:

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    And then I had to get a picture with him and Zach, his manager, and James, one of the Motolobia guys, in front of the Shamrock.

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    Al, if you're reading this, thanks for the great stay! The Shamrock rules! By the way, you need to start a wall of fame with pictures from all of the overlanders that stop at your bar.

    As I was leaving, Byron and Isabel rolled up and took over my room. It was good to see them again. I have a feeling I'll be meeting them again at least one more time.

    Getting on the road south again felt good. It was hot out, but my new pressure suit thingamig was working great. After passing quite a bit of stalled traffic coming out of the city, I began to reflect that the double yellow line running down the middle of most roads does not mean "don't pass" but is actually a tiny passing lane for motos.

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    The ride out of Medellin heading south towards Cali is fantastic. Their is a fairly large climb and then an even larger drop down into a long river valley. Part of the road follows a ridge line down into the lowlands.

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    Stopped for lunch at a roadside restaurant after I finally got to the floor of the valley and ordered "Choripapas", which I figured would be sausage and potatoes, but ended up being french fries and potatoes. Close enough.

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    After lunch I was blasting south when I saw a couple of riders stopped by the road on a VSTROM 650. I pulled over and said hi and asked for directions. They were taking a break from their riding gear as it was incredibly hot and humid. Once again I was thankful that I had purchased the pressure suit.

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    After leaving the VSTROM riders, I was coming around a corner when I ran right into a Colombian Speed Trap! Ay Carumba! The cops immediately jumped out into the road and motioned me to pull over. As soon as I had my helmet off, one of the cops came up and started asking for my papers and telling me that I had just been caught violating the speed limit. Blast!

    I tried the stupid gringo trick and acted like I had no idea what he was saying; however, he was extremely persistent, so I eventually gave him my fake driver's license, and copies of my passport, importation papers, and insurance. He took everything over to his jefe and they started writing me up. I waltzed over and took a look at their operation. They had a perfect location, just at the bottom of a long sweeping curve where the speed limit dropped from 80 KPH to 50 KPH in the span of a few meters. You can see the curve in the background as one of the coppers scrutinizes my xeroxes:

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    I was a little pissed, but there wasn't much that I could do. It's not like I've actually been paying attention to speed limits. I don't usually ride much over 60 MPH anyways so it seemed like there was no need. This was also the first time I had seen Colombians using a speed gun. It was pretty legit though. They showed me the laser and replayed the video of me coming around the corner with my speed (88 KPH) pasted across the image.

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    Well, they got me fair and square. I waited for the discussion of money to begin; however, the jefe took my documents and started writing me a ticket. Well I'll be. I don't have to bribe anyone.

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    I was still playing stupid so I couldn't really ask him where to pay. Next time I'm just going to try giving them the sad Gringo look. About the same time they gave me my ticket and told me to go away, another motorcyclists on a R1200GS got pulled over. I asked the rider if he spoke English. He did. He then told me he recognized me from yesterday; apparently he had been eating lunch in the restaurant that I stopped at with Juan David, Daniel, and Rafa. Small world. I asked him what I should do.

    "Don't pay it. Just get the hell out of Colombia. They aren't advanced enough to have it in the system by the time you cross into Ecuador."

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    Okay then. I'm not sure if that's the best advice, but I don't really know what else to do. I guess I'll try and figure it out tomorrow.

    I hopped back on and continued riding until I reached Santa Rosa. I continued out of town until I reached the Hot Springs, or "Termales" as they are called. Al told me about this place and said it was a must see. There is a huge waterfall at the back of the complex, probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 feet.

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    My pictures don't do it justice.

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    Getting into the nice Hot Springs costs 40,000 pesos (about $20). I probably wouldn't have paid that much, but a good soak sounded like a good idea and the restaurant had wifi. Since my Cabana down the road does not have internet, I decided I might as well take a dip and post on the old ride report. So here you go!

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    That's all for today. If there are any Colombianos reading this that want to give me advice on that ticket, I'd appreciate it. I've got to go, the lady in the lobby of the hotel that I'm pirating this wifi from is starting to give me dirty looks.....
  13. Ulyses

    Ulyses Long timer

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    Daniel! Mucho Gusto! Good to see you on here! Take care man! Ride hard, and try not to wreck again!
  14. Ulyses

    Ulyses Long timer

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    Hmmm...not sure I understand your question. Are you asking how often I meet Central/South Americans who want to ride to North America?
  15. Ulyses

    Ulyses Long timer

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    You're going to love it John! You need to get your ass down here!
  16. Ulyses

    Ulyses Long timer

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    Thanks man! Glad to have you reading along!
  17. Ulyses

    Ulyses Long timer

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    Thanks man, will do!
  18. drex

    drex So Cal

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    Reading your thread has been a great way to spend this afternoon.

    Thanks for the writing and the photos -- and most of all for pouring your perspective and personality into it.

    Ride on!

    Dan
  19. alvincullumyork

    alvincullumyork I wish I was cool

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    Staying safe is officially third in the list of priorities held by professionals everywhere. The first two priorities are, in no particular order, looking good and having fun.

    P.S. Thank you to you and family for there service.
  20. purpledrake

    purpledrake No Pretensions

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    Careful, Boys. Don't make a decision that you would later regret.

    You said that they saw your passport, right? What do you do several years from now when you visit Colombia again, and they deny you entry at the airport for unpaid fines? Or, sock you with a 10X fine? (....with your wife and children watching....)

    Clean conscience, happy days.

    PD