Seattle to TDF and back on an airhead

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Airhead Wrangler, Dec 3, 2009.

  1. DisTech

    DisTech Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    Oddometer:
    643
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    Seattle
    Fantastic! How many in your group currently? Has everyone you started with rejoined? That one meal looked delicious! More food shots please!
    #41
  2. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2008
    Oddometer:
    7,034
    Location:
    Back in Seattle, FINALLY
    3 of us right now, with one ahead of us in Chile, 2 somewhere close behind us, a brit somewhere in the ocean nearing Colombia and one guy still in central America. Yeah, more food photos coming up.
    #42
  3. Beater

    Beater The Bavarian Butcher

    Joined:
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    Atlanta, GA, USA
    Wow. All I can say is Wow.

    Ride safe ... and keep those pics coming.

    :lurk
    #43
  4. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Long timer

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Back in Seattle, FINALLY
    It's a vacation, right? Occasionally that means stumbling into tourist traps:


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    Onward and upward to Bolivia.

    Marko and I rode up the Yungas Road north of La Paz, commonly considered to be the most dangerous road in the world. It didn't disappoint. A wet narrow single lane gravel track hugging the edge of a cliff for miles on end. Passing oncoming traffic is interesting. On this road traffic is supposed to stay to the LEFT. This is to allow drivers to be able to look out their window and see how close their wheels are to the edge. :eek1

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    We even got to ride THROUGH a few waterfalls:

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    We then turned South across the Altiplano for Uyuni. Along the way we happened to run into Colin and Grant whom we hadn't seen since midway through Peru. They joined us on the road South.

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    Salar de Uyuni is MASSIVELY fun on a motorcycle. You can stand in the center and see nothing but salt for 50 miles in all directions. Try riding at 70 mph and closing your eyes for a minute. Just be sure you're here when you try it:

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    Guanaco = wild Llama-like beast:

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    From Uyuni we continued heading south through a remote high altitude desert. We topped out at around 16,500 feet in this stretch. The roads varied wildly from an all-weather dirt road suitable for trucks to deep sand, to rocky rutted tracks unsuitable for jeeps. The scenery made the tough going more than worth it though. There were 266 miles between fill-ups here. The first day we didn't even see ONE other vehicle. It was REMOTE.

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    Here at around 13,000 feet the lakes were swarmed with flamingoes:

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    a MILDLY sandy stretch:

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    Sure, this'll do for a campsite:

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    The next day, in a forking canyon, all of us taking it at our own pace, we managed to get separated. I spent an hour and a half backtracking and riding out various other routes looking for everyone when one of the worst possible things that could happen happened in one of the worst possible places for it happen. Any guesses?

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    Here's a hint (yes, that's oil):

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    Yes, that is a 6" long crack in my oilpan. My front wheel ran over a long flat rock tilting it upward enough that my bashplate caught the edge of it. It lifted my bike up and basically pole-vaulted my front end straight up causing me to land hard on my left side. Luckily the impact was mighty enough that the first thing I checked was my oilpan. I lifted the bike off the ground and my stomach dropped when I saw a continuous trickle of oil flowing off the back of my bashplate. There I was alone in the diesert, running out of oil at least 100 miles from help. I grabbed a two liter water bottle off the back of my bike, emptied what I could into other containers and drank the rest. I then cut the top off, pulled my oil plug and drained what was left of my oil into the water bottle. I pulled off the bashplate revealing (to my relief) a long crack, instead of a hole in my sump. This was fixable. I grabbed a sacrificable pair of underwear, soaked it in gasoline and wiped away all the oil and dusty grime on the oil pan. I dug through my boxes looking for the two part epoxy putty I could have sworn that I packed and eventually found it with a huge sigh of relief. I broke off half of it, kneaded it together and mashed it into the crack. Would it stick? The gasoline soaked underwear took most of the oil off the surface, but did it get enough of it off for the epoxy to stick? We'll see. While I was waiting for the putty to cure, I saw three single headlights come over a rise a mile off in the distance. That improved my spirits quite a bit. It was Marko, Colin and Grant. Well, at least if my repair didn't work out, I wasn't completely stranded.

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    We sat around for half an hour waiting for the putty to harden and then came the moment of truth. I poured the captured oil along with a spare quart that I had been carrying back in and waited. 5 minutes and no sign of a leak. 10 minutes, no leaks. 15, things are looking good. I put the bike back together and we got back to slogging through sand and rocks. I stopped and checked my sump every 20 minutes or so and nothing... not a drop of oil. I was dubious of all the wild claims made by JB weld, but now I'm a believer. We eventually ran into a more major road and farther down it we found a small village where jeep tours stop for the night. They had FOOD!! No gas though.

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    Here, an exhausted bunch tries to stay awake long enough to eat:

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    More later...
    #44
  5. DisTech

    DisTech Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    Oddometer:
    643
    Location:
    Seattle
    In freaking credible!

    Good quick thinking with the water bottle drain pan!

    I hope I can get some high res copies of your pictures when you get back.
    #45
  6. Beater

    Beater The Bavarian Butcher

    Joined:
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    Atlanta, GA, USA
    High Drama from the high desert!!!!!

    Unfreakin' real. JB Weld ... you're my hero.

    Keep the pics coming!!!!
    #46
  7. knybanjo

    knybanjo kinda slow

    Joined:
    May 8, 2006
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    30,841
    Location:
    out in the clover patch
    No doubt! :bow


    btw...I've been keeping a stick of that stuff with me in the hopes that I'll never have to use it!
    #47
  8. hardwaregrrl

    hardwaregrrl ignore list

    Joined:
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    Atlanta
    You're one lucky bastard, in so many ways. Way to make us old schoolers proud!
    #48
  9. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Long timer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Back in Seattle, FINALLY
    PSA:

    If you and your bike opt for the road less traveled, you owe it to yourself to go out and buy one of these
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    and stash it SOMEWHERE on your bike. It's cheap insurance against a potentially HUGE headache.
    #49
  10. supercub

    supercub ass-less chaps rule!

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    835
    Location:
    monroe wa.
    wow, cool report. great pics. hey, where in seattle are you? i've got to buy you a beer:slurp :freaky
    #50
  11. MadKIWI

    MadKIWI Hanging out

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    8
    Awesome ride report!:thumb

    I'm heading to Santiago Chile to start my SA adventure on the 8Th of Feb.

    Got a quick question for you, Are you relying on maps or GPS for navigation

    BEN
    #51
  12. princess jamaica

    princess jamaica OLD DOG-NEW TRICKS

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    WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!:clap
    #52
  13. igormortis

    igormortis Cafe Reise

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2006
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    Location:
    London
    Amazing ride - thanks for sharing.

    Glad you're not stuck in Machu Picchu. Tourist trap indeed.
    #53
  14. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Long timer

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    Both. The garmin worldmap leaves a bit to be desired as far as accuracy is concerned, but it's right 80% of the time. Definitely carry some paper maps though. Might want to buy them before you leave because they're impossible to find down here.
    #54
  15. dlew

    dlew Daypass Adventurer

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    Brooklyn, NY
    Incredible report! Keep it coming!
    #55
  16. MadKIWI

    MadKIWI Hanging out

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    8

    Bags are packed and were flying to Santiago Chile tomorrow.

    Thanks for the info.
    :D
    #56
  17. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Long timer

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    Long overdue update. We're just north of Rio Gallegos in Patagonia. After my last entry, we entered Chile via the southwestern corner of Bolivia and continued south. After a few boring days of riding the Pan Am through the Atacama I got restless and broke off from the other guys. They wanted to head to Santiago, but my girlfriend had flown down to visit and was in Buenos Aires. I took a smaller dirt road over the Andes, in the middle of which my rear shock decided to fail leaving me without ANY damping. I spent the next couple of days blasting (and bouncing uncontrollably) across northern Argentina to Buenos Aires. Once there I rode my bike out to Dakar Motos to start making repairs and made probably the most pathetic entrance of all time: blown fork seals with fork oil all over the place, blown rear shock, cracked oil pan patched with JB weld, leaking pushrod seals and to top it all off I got a flat tire a block from the shop and pushed it the rest of the way. It was sad. Thus started a nice two week vacation from my vacation in Buenos Aires.

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    Marko had to buy gas from the Bolivian border guard in order to make it to the first town in Chile

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    The no frills Bolivian immigration office:

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    Colin was glad to see asphalt again.

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    Atacama

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    BO-RING

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    My 'shortcut' through the Andes:

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    Guanacos along the way:

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    I ended up having to spend the night in a storm shelter when it started snowing and got dark a little faster than I thought it would

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    Skip forward a few days in Buenos Aires. We went to one really raucous soccer game.

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    They have motorcycle paramedics here in order to get through heavy traffic more quickly

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    One of several large steak dinners. Argentine steaks are definitely an experience.

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    Apartment building where I stayed for a couple of weeks

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    The subway here costs $.30 and makes getting around really easy

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    The stories of fugitive nazis living out their days in Argentina are more than just stories

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    All over Buenos Aires are tiles set into the sidewalk in memory of those who disappeared (Los Desaparecidos) during the 'Dirty War' in the late '70s and early '80s.

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    Showing our German how to watch the superbowl:

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    We even went to a Tom Jones concert... yes... TOM JONES

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    So sweaty...

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    Alright, back to the bike. It needed some big repairs and I slowly chipped away at it over the course of a couple of weeks. The sump needed some serious welding to hold oil again.

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    The backyard at Dakar Motos

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    Ken the aussie working on his '81 G/S with 695,000 km on it. It's been around the world twice and has spent the last two years riding around South America - all two up. He and his wife Carol have some really cool stories to tell.

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    After a great stay in a great city it was time to hit the road again. After several days of riding across flat range land, Steve and I found something we'd never seen before...







    PENGUINS!!

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    They're curious little waddlers that will walk right up to you to see what you are.

    Fuzzy youngins

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    #57
  18. Beater

    Beater The Bavarian Butcher

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    When I grow up ... err ...

    ... maybe I just wanna be you.

    Keep it coming. This is awesome.

    :bow
    #58
  19. Drunk_Uncle

    Drunk_Uncle Long timer

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    Location:
    Fairbanks, AK
    That is one hell of a ride that I only dream of. You are a true adventure rider!!
    #59
  20. yellowknife

    yellowknife Is In Canada

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    717
    Location:
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    "probably the most pathetic entrance of all time: blown fork seals with fork oil all over the place, blown rear shock, cracked oil pan patched with JB weld, leaking pushrod seals and to top it all off I got a flat tire a block from the shop and pushed it the rest of the way."

    Excellent word pictures - you are making this snow bound guy smile a lot reading your words and viewing the pictures. Way to go...

    :clap:clap:clap:clap:clap
    #60