South America and back on a 250 Super Sherpa Minimalist Adventure

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JDowns, Oct 2, 2012.

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  1. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    Hi AlmostThere,

    I know what you're saying. Not to worry. It's my job to keep you entertained this winter during the doldrums in PNW weather. Believe me, I benefited from others who kept up ride reports and kept me entertained during Oregon winters when I lived there.

    Kindest regards,
    John Downs
  2. Gun Smoke

    Gun Smoke Banned

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    I'm really looking forward to reading this report. I know it's not likely you'd but I wonder how many gallons you'd use on this trip. I'm guessing 400.
  3. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    Hi Gun Smoke,

    When you're buying liters for pesos followed by gallons for quetzals and soon to be liters for lempiras it's hard to keep track. Plus I don't know how long this trip will last before my money runs out.

    So far I've traveled over 7000 miles. The Sherpa gets 70 mpg on a good day. Usually mid 60's per gallon in the mountains. So a little over 100 gallons I think. If that's wrong, Julio will let me know.

    Kindest regards,
    John Downs
  4. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    Took off for Tikal at dawn. Beautiful morning for a ride out here in northern Guatemala. Mist on the fields at sunrise:

    [​IMG]

    Lago Peten Itza is quite large and you have to go all the way around it to get to Tikal. Here it is around the far end with sunrise clouds reflecting in calm morning waters. Really peaceful out here at daybreak:

    [​IMG]

    There was paving and road construction going on so I was able to squeak around between the paving machine and the guardrail and down in the ditch around the dump trucks. Everyone else was stuck there and Tikal was empty when I got here. Here are some boys laying concrete pavers up in the main park area with homemade wooden mallets. The Jefe (foreman) is standing there as Jefes do around the world. They were doing a nice job. They pointed the way to camping:

    [​IMG]

    Nice palapa. I was able to ride across the park and set up in 15 minutes. Locked my stuff in the tent. :

    [​IMG]

    The GPS tells me it is at:

    N 17º 13.483'
    W 89º 36.633'

    Rode over to the Jungle Lodge down the way to get some café con leche and wifi while I wait for the fog to lift and the clouds to burn off. Here is my office for the morning:

    [​IMG]

    I plan on spending the whole day here exploring. So stay tuned for a stone mason's impression of Tikal later….

    Saludos,
    Juanito
  5. GuateRider

    GuateRider Long timer

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    Hola John,
    in Tikal you can get a permit to ride up to Uaxactun . The permit is free and it is a 1 h ride through the jungle to this incredible archeological site out there , in the middle of nowhere and no tourists around . If yo go there, make sure to visit both sites out there, they are only 1-2 km apart from each other . It used to be one of the most important observatories in the Mayan world .

    Julio
  6. LethPhaos

    LethPhaos Been here awhile

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    this sounds so awesome :eek1

  7. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    Hola Julio,

    Thanks so much for the tip. I am back down at the Jungle Lodge for some almuerza after spending the morning wandering around Tikal. Really nice out here.

    Uaxactun. I'm on it. Guatemala es mejor.

    Muchas gracias amigo,
    GringoJuan
  8. Scootrider

    Scootrider Adventurer

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    Senior Juan!

    Finally caught up. Great entertainment and education. Love the masonry critiques, as I have done a fair bit in my day. Contributed to your 'kittie'.

    Question: What's up with the flats? Are these punctures or is there something going on inside like spoke nipples chafing through the rim tape or something....Curious, because changing flats on either of my bikes would be much more PITA. I think your ride is prob one of the easiest types of bikes to do roadside repairs on no?

    Am also following Dwight er, Kedgi. You guys are both great travel loggers, and the differences are interesting....Looking forward to when you finally meet up.

    Thanks for doing all this, Phelps
  9. MissOrganized

    MissOrganized Adventurer

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    Live in Seattle, riding in Chile and Argentina
    I'm starting a trip on December 9th in Santiago, Chile. I"ll be riding with my husband and our buddy Nivs for six weeks starting in Santiago, going south to Tierra del Fuego, then North to Buenos Aires and back west to Santiago. Our trip will end around January 18th.

    Do you plan to get to that part of South America? If you'll be there anytime while we're there perhaps we can connect, but at the very least I just started a ride report called "Coffee to Mate" and if we find any useful tips/hints from those two countries I'll post there.

    Your ride looks awesome! Can't wait to start my own!
  10. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    Hi Phelps,

    It's my pleasure. Thanks for the donation. It will go to the guides for the El Mirador expedition. It looks like it's on for day after tomorrow. 5 days of slogging through the jungle to see some awesome ruins. El Tigre is the height of a 21 story building. Pictures from the top will be due in part to your sponsorship. They say you can see Calakmul from the top. That is the honkin' pyramid I climbed on the Mexico/Guat border a couple weeks ago.

    As far as flats, there seems to be a slight imperfection in the sidewall of my rear tire. None of them have come from punctures. The flats are all initially coming from abrasion in the exact same spot on the side of the tube 12 inches from the valvestem. Baby powder would probably help, but I forgot to bring any and I keep meaning to pick some up but haven't in the last 7000 miles. The other flats are from the cold patches peeling off in the hot weather running hard. It's no big deal. I'll be replacing the rear tire soon and in the meantime I get to change my rear tube every 1000 miles or so. The Sherpa with it's small tires is a piece of cake to change flats on. I'm getting really fast.

    You live in a beautiful area of the country. At least it was nice a couple of summers ago when I passed through.

    Scootrider goes on the gas tank. Glad to have you along as Chief Executive in charge of Granite Quarrying.

    Kindest regards,
    John Downs
  11. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    Hi Phelps,

    It's my pleasure. Thanks for the donation. It will go to the guides for the El Mirador expedition. It looks like it's on for day after tomorrow. 5 days of slogging through the jungle to see some awesome ruins. El Tigre is the height of a 21 story building. Pictures from the top will be due in part to your sponsorship. They say you can see Calakmul from the top. That is the honkin' pyramid I climbed on the Mexico/Guat border a couple weeks ago.

    As far as flats, there seems to be a slight imperfection in the sidewall of my rear tire. None of them have come from punctures. The flats are all initially coming from abrasion in the exact same spot on the side of the tube 12 inches from the valvestem. Baby powder would probably help, but I forgot to bring any and I keep meaning to pick some up but haven't in the last 7000 miles. The other flats are from the cold patches peeling off in the hot weather running hard. It's no big deal. I'll be replacing the rear tire soon and in the meantime I get to change my rear tube every 1000 miles or so. The Sherpa with it's small tires is a piece of cake to change flats on. I'm getting really fast.

    You live in a beautiful area of the country. At least it was nice a couple of summers ago when I passed through.

    Scootrider goes on the gas tank. Glad to have you along as Chief Executive in charge of Granite Quarrying Operations.

    Kindest regards,
    John Downs
  12. UtahFox

    UtahFox Been here awhile

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    Just up to this point in your RR and had to post. I'd love to follow in your tire-tracks sometime next year, but your trip is the next best thing! I love the signing of the tank, and would most definitely do the same - though you'll never be able to get rid of it. Easy for you in NE, but tougher for a city boy like me - guess I'd just have to keep the bike forever :) Also getting greeting cards made up in advance of a trip like this is a great idea too.

    Off you go, I'll be following somewhere after you.
  13. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    Spent a lovely morning wandering around Tikal today. I had initially considered getting up this morning for the sunrise tour that Tricepilot mentioned, but the kids at the Los Amigos Hostel said it was a bust during the rainy season because of the fog and clouds. Something better done in the dry season in a couple months. They couldn't see anything. And indeed it was foggy this morning when I got there shortly after sunrise around 7ish. So I hung out and drank coffee until the sun burned off the fog.

    Headed up the trail. Here is a giant Ceiba tree. This lovely English tourist was having her boyfriend take a picture and so did I. Gives an idea of the massive scale. My camera isn't big enough to catch the huge branches just above covered in epiphytic tilandsias. Looked like feathers. :

    [​IMG]

    Beautiful maze of roots in the path:

    [​IMG]

    A little Coati or Coata Mundi was rooting around for insects near the trail:

    [​IMG]

    more coming…..
  14. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    I really enjoyed walking around Tikal. They are doing a nice job restoring the place. Here is an unrestored wall:

    [​IMG]

    And you see how they are less cubist and more into rectangular with a horizontality. Here is a restored facade. It mimics the style of the original work:

    [​IMG]

    Of course no limestone temple would have faces and edges this crisp after 1500 years in the jungle. But unlike most of the temples at Chichen Itza they let you walk around the temples and see the back side to get an idea of what they started with:

    [​IMG]

    and the side they are currently working on:

    [​IMG]

    and they have pictures of what they started with:

    [​IMG]

    And what they've created:

    [​IMG]

    Here is a picture of the restoration crew sitting on the base staircase they are restoring:

    [​IMG]

    Nice work. The further you hike out in the jungle the less restoration work they have done. They are starting on the base and top of temple IV. This pyramid is huge. Here is the base they are starting:

    [​IMG]

    This is the only pyramid they let you climb. On this staircase. Built to code. 7 inch rise 11 inch run so it has to zig-zag back and forth up the unrestored face with trees growing out of it up to the top:

    [​IMG]

    Once on top they have built the top with reinforced concrete lintels over the doorways and begun building stairs down from the top. This is looking straight down from the top. Really steep, seems like a straight dropoff into the abyss when you're standing at the top:

    [​IMG]

    This gal from Israel was striking a pose at the top of temple IV for her boyfriend to photo:

    [​IMG]

    Then her friend got in on the act. That's an almost straight drop off two feet over. I wish I was that flexible. You don't see this kind of stuff in Nebraska much:

    [​IMG]

    Nice view from the top of temple IV looking out towards III and V sticking out of the jungle:

    [​IMG]

    I visited the restoration area behind temple IV where they are making stair stones:

    [​IMG]

    and slaking lime in pits to mix with sand to use as mortar to approximate the original:

    [​IMG]

    I thought this temple was interesting. They started the staircase at the top and seem to have taken too steep of an angle and had to go around the base rock by the time they got to the bottom:

    [​IMG]

    Anyway, I won't bore you with more pics of ruins. I took a pile. But i think they are doing a really good job of restoration and thoroughly enjoyed my time at Tikal. Highly recommended.

    I headed down for some lunch after wandering around for hours all over Tikal. Guaterider posted that I should go check out more ruins up the way. I am uploading those pictures and will be back in a moment with more afternoon explorations. And let me tell you, it was an adventure. My thanks to Julio for providing me with a great afternoon of sliding around on muddy roads and getting lost in the jungle on single track looking for ruins. It doesn't get any better than that in my little world.

    Stand by…..
  15. 0theories

    0theories Enthusiastically Skeptical

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    Oh man, I really wanted to do that the last time I was down there. I thought it had to be done from the Mexican side :huh. Looks like I'll be following in your footsteps once (many times) again :evil

    Should be entering Mexico in a few days!!
  16. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    Hi 0theories,

    I'm just doing the research and development for your entertainment. I will report back what I find. Too bad you're not down here. I have been reading your ride report. I like your style. You'd make a great jungle slogging compadre. Hope to see you down the road.

    Kindest regards,
    John Downs
  17. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    Guaterider posted at noon that in Tikal you can get a permit to ride up to the ruins at Uaxactun (Wa-shock-tune). So I asked the guard at the gate to Tikal and he pointed me to this yellow building over the way:

    [​IMG]

    and here is the nice Guatemalan fellow writing up my free vehicle permit to ride north of Tikal past the barrier:

    [​IMG]

    It only took a few minutes. Name, license plate number, drivers license number that sort of thing. They just want to make sure you make it back out. You show the permit to the guards and they raise the gate and you ride up past Tikal weaving through all the tourists and hit this cutoff:

    [​IMG]

    What could be easier? The guard said the road was poco despacio (a little crappy). Now when a Guatemalan says that, you know you're in for some fun. It turns out that they just laid down a couple inchs of clay. And it rained hard last night. Now this would be a piece of cake on a dry day and you could rip down the way through the ruts:

    [​IMG]

    and hopefully by the time you ride down here it will be the dry season and this road will be packed and dry. There was nobody out here. It really felt like I was riding into a lost world. These guys who were fixing a washed out culvert were the only people I ran into:

    [​IMG]

    I squeaked by on the right. I don't know if you've ever ridden on slick clay, but it means a very light and steady throttle and virtually no braking. This was the worst hill. I stopped to see if the guy who slid sideways into the ditch was okay:

    [​IMG]

    It was Francoise's car. The Quebecois I went to dinner with last night in Flores. Small world. He was nowhere around. He had mentioned something about a rainbow gathering of the tribes he needed to go to . Something about them averting the Mayan apocalypse I think. Anyway, it didn't look like he averted the apocalypse on this road.

    I normally am 5'10''. By the time I walked back to the bike I was 6'2'.:

    [​IMG]

    Okay, I'm exaggerating. Here is the Sherpa getting Washocktuned:

    [​IMG]

    Eventually I came to a sign for the ruins pointing down a jeep trail:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    the road split into three and I took the center path:

    [​IMG]

    It went down a steep hill and through a mud pit. I took the left track. A wide bike wouldn't have made it I don't think:

    [​IMG]

    It turned to muddy single track. I followed it for a few kilometers even though I knew this probably was the wrong way. Nothing better than single track through the jungle out in the middle of nowhere in my book:

    [​IMG]

    The trail kept going and eventually I turned around in a wide spot and doubled back. Took the right hand path this time and it led through the jungle on a single track eventually that led to this ruin. Really lost Mayan world feeling out here. I didn't see any observatory that Julio had mentioned so I wandered around. Seemed like a big flat area that used to be a city square of some kind:

    [​IMG]

    more pics loading. Stand by….
  18. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

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    :rofl
  19. GuateRider

    GuateRider Long timer

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    Hola John,
    I really enjoyed your RR about this afternoon :rofl:rofl:rofl so far . Even if I don't know you personally, but I suspect that at the end you found your way .
    I was tempted to post some pics of the real Uaxactun , but I'm sure yours will be better !
    I hope you are still down there by the time I get back , so I can buy you a few Gallo and you can tell me your Uaxactun adventure .

    Julio
  20. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    I wandered around this lost city out in the jungle for a while. You could see that it was surrounded by mounds that used to be something manmade with a few stones sticking out here and there:

    [​IMG]

    And someone had mixed up some lime mortar on this tarp to stabilize the stairs at some point in time:

    [​IMG]

    Pretty trippy place. Eventually I rode back and took the left hand path:

    [​IMG]

    And ended up here:

    [​IMG]

    And by golly there really were a bunch of rainbow gathering of the tribes people out here. They had serapes laid out with peace pipes in a big circle and were camping out here in the middle of the jungle. Big ceremonial fire of some sort. Lawn chairs in a circle like a Quaker meeting on acid. They didn't want me taking pictures of their little layout. I can respect that. But you can get an idea from this photo looking across the acropolis to the far temple:

    [​IMG]

    Anyway it is a cool set of ruins. Here's the astronomical observatory:

    [​IMG]

    Lots of original stone work with faded carved designs:

    [​IMG]

    Somebody had done some work to the upper observatory but this staircase looked original:

    [​IMG]

    Loved this pyramid with what looked like huge carved stone jaguar heads. You can't see them too well in this picture but they are 8 feet tall and quite imposing. I can picture them covered in plaster and painted up. Must have looked fierce back in the day:

    [​IMG]

    And this huge jaguar head on the backside with what looks like a tooth necklace. You can see the slitted cat's eyes staring through the centuries of time. I like it.

    [​IMG]

    I was crimping the rainbow stylers, so I fired up the bike and headed back down the road. It was raining on the way back so you can imagine what it was like. I felt lucky to be alive by the time I got back to Tikal.

    I decided to pack up my tent when the guy told me it was 50 quetzals to camp at the palapa. I'd rather spend 50 more and live in the lap of luxury back in Santa Elena at the Classico Peten. Besides I need a shower.

    I dropped by Los Amigos on the way into town over in Flores and found out that 4 people want to trek up to El Mirador the day after tomorrow. With Carlos the guy with the good vibe. So I told him I'm in. I will check back tomorrow. I asked him if I could get by for 250 and he said mas o menos (more or less). That is Guatemalan for 280. Still it should be interesting. I will report back what I find.

    I spent 325 quetzals today or about $42.25 for food, gas, lodging and the 20 dollar Tikal entrance fee.

    Buenos noches mi amigos,
    Juanito
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