South America by Geezer

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by RexBuck, Oct 14, 2012.

  1. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,109
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Thanks for that Deeewight.

    Thanks also for the heads up on that road south of La Paz . . . I was a good little boy and didn't have to pay any "tolls". :evil

    Looking forward to some of the good beers we have at home and particularly looking forward to some the fine bourbons you don't see any of down here.

    I don't think Bolivia deserves the "most unfriendliest" label. I met some really friendly people there and I was only there two days.

    Cheers
  2. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,109
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Thanks for joining in Sandino - your compliments are greatly appreciated.

    I've kind of run out of time now and there are so many places I would love to get to south and east of Peru but won't be able to. Paraguay is certainly one of them.

    Thanks for the offer of assistance and maybe I'll be able to return to South America someday to explore all the parts I missed.
  3. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,109
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Some final pics of Aguas Caliente. The little stream dividing the town


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    The main river roaring below. It looks like Hidroelectrica downstream is a pretty substantial power producer. With power in this river, it's no wonder.



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    Little girls are cute everywhere


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    Catch the early train back to Hidroelectirca. While they still have the special dome car on the train for tourists, it originated in Ollantaytambo and is primarily bringing workers and locals to Aguas Caliente, Machu Pichu and Hidrolectrica. Just like a bus, it stops along the way to drop locals off.

    Get to Hidroelectrica and another train engine is slowly coming down a second track in front of all the vendors and the track was swarming with people from my train. No problem. They put a guy on the front of that train and he whistles at everybody to get out of the way. Low tech works again! :thumb

    I’m hoping someone was creative and figured out how to get one of these mini-buses over to this side of the slide as I’m not relishing carrying my bag over the little hill and across the slide. Hot damn, there is one and the helper recognizes me as the guy with the moto. Get over to the washout and the helper grabs my bag and disappears with it. I’m starting to think maybe I tipped the crazy guy too much if I’ve got that much of a reputation around here already. Turns out this is one of the Santa Maria taxi drivers and when I get there he’s already got my bag in his van and loading people up.

    Where the road used to be at the washout. Starting to rebuild.

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    Looking out on the valley between Santa Teresa and Santa Maria

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    This outlet pipe is the size of a tunnel. I think this is another example of their style of sticking the generating facilities inside a mountain. There is enough fall in the river to just divert some and forget about big expensive dams.

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    Looking across the valley at what looks like a new road. Looks like they don't have problem getting rid of excess material, just push it over the side.

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    Load up and head out of Santa Maria in some nice sunshine but of course can see clouds up around where I’ll be ascending. Fog wasn’t that bad – maybe down to 200 ft vis in a couple of places. Had a blast on the switchbacks again. Started raining pretty hard towards the top. Down to about 5 deg and it was getting chilly.

    Stopped just before Ollyantombo at a roadside restaurant and had some fantastic chicharon with fresh mint leaves.

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    Took a picture of the restaurant. Notice on the left side of the building is the little restroom or, Baño. On the side of the Baño you can see a blue line, which is the urinal. Latin American's seem to be less concerned about the act of peeing than we of uptight English stock are.

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    On to Ollyantombo which has some Incan ruins dating to the same time as Machu Pichu. These are easy to get to as they are right in town.

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    This was apparently the personal home of the King and was where he holed up trying to defend against the Spanish. Vacated it around the same time as Machu Pichu was vacated.


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    Notice the sets of terraces on the hillsides? I have no idea why they built these here other than they were either holy places or defense positions

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    Stopped at the little town of Maras to find the famous salt mines. I found this fascinating. They are located a few miles from town and as we approach, this is our first view in the valley below

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    The Incas and their predecessors had found this spring that has a high concentration of salt in its water. Sure tasted saltier than ocean water.

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    They decided to devise a method to extract salt by evaporation. These beds were originally designed and built by the Incans. It is a pretty simple but effective way to make salt. The beds were built down the hillside as terraces to allow for ease of getting the water to the beds by gravity

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    The stream is channeled along the top of the beds


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    Smaller channels (along the top of the ridge near the bottom of the photo) take the water down the hill where it can be diverted into the beds which are filled.

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    Crank up the sun to evaporate the water and, salt. The skill comes in scrapping up the salt – some people get white salt and the less skilled get brown salt.
    Some of the bagged salt ready for sale

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    This guy was making adobe bricks beside the road to the salt mines

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    Above the valley with the salt mines

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    Very common sight of a lady tending her sheep

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    You can see the edge of the lake that was built to supply irrigation water to the area. The patchwork of little plots is pretty. Mostly corn and what looks to me like beans

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    A little spillage from one of the irrigation canals created this pond and this is one happy porker

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    Another common sight is people cutting some sort of forage and carrying it back to their livestock. This guy has a burro so he can carry twice as much

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    Back to Cusco for a night.
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  4. ONandOFF

    ONandOFF Road, or off?

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Oddometer:
    10,753
    Location:
    The Shenandoar valley
    Awesome!
    And I'd seen pics of those salt pools but hand't realized much detail of how they were operated.
    Thanks!
    :super
  5. poolman

    poolman Gnarly Poolside Adv.

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    806
    Location:
    Darnestown, MD
    Really enjoyable ride report, thank you for taking the time to write up and post. I also visited the Salt Pans of Maras and was overwhelmed by the vastness of the place. You did a nice job of capturing this in your pictures.

    Cheers,
  6. Cal

    Cal Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,318
    Location:
    Calgary
    These are great photos!! I believe the terraces on the hillsides were food store houses..well ventilated up on the Mtn. sides.
  7. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,109
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Thanks guys
  8. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,109
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Thanks for following along.

    I had no idea what to expect and when I came around the corner and saw them spread out below, I was so shocked, I almost fell down . . . again.:muutt
    Really appreciate your comments.
  9. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,109
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Cal, could well be. The Incas were pretty clever in developing fairly simple ways to accomplish things and that would be a good example.
  10. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,109
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Interesting day. Expected to be a fast 400 km from Cusco to Chivay at the top of Colca Canyon so, left late.

    Came to a little town called Urcos and saw a number of ladies wearing these quite fancy hats. I call them the lamp shad hats.


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    Then got to the square and saw this Transita with a western hat :evil



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    Turned off the highway to Espinar and the road immediately turns to dirt – decent quality and except for a few spots up hills chewed up by trucks can move along ok. Thinkin this may turn my fast 400 km day into a not so fast 400 km day. After about 20 km of this, turns into nice pavement. Smokin!


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    Arrive in the town of Espinar and will need to fill the bike and fill me. Decent sized town. Find a restaurant which is huge and packed. Ask for the Almuerzo (Lunch) – soup, something I’m not sure of but sure is good, some of those corn nut things that I ate with my soup and a glass of hot lemonade. Delicious!


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    Come out and my bike has attracted a crowd. Asked the usual questions about the bike and the trip. Notice a kid quietly looking over every detail of the bike. Ask him if he wants to sit on it . . . didn't have to ask him to smile


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    Lady with the "high bowler" seen a lot in this region. Also notice the knit leggings which have been very common in the colder climes.



    [​IMG]


    Gas up and go. Road out of town is dirt and that condition doesn’t change until the very end of the day. Decent quality road though and can maintain 70 -80 kph most of the time with ease. Road takes us through a big mine and processing plant. (Sorry SR, no pics)

    A few wet spots that made things interesting – have to let cars and trucks get all the way through the mud bogs or I’ll run into them as they are going so slow. Too much traffic the other way to pass.

    Beautiful country – rolling hills with volcano craters visible. Slightly to the right of center, stand two little peaks that are remaining sides of a crater


    [​IMG]


    Slowly climbed and everytime I figured I got to a new high, the road would turn and go higher. Finally got to a new record altitude. Basicly I started the day at 11,000 feet in Cusco and reached 14,000 after a couple of hours and never returned to that level.


    [​IMG]


    Some of the rugged, volcanic mountain peaks


    [​IMG]


    A little house with its rock fences up against some interesting rock formations


    [​IMG]


    Finally got a picture of a grass roofed house. Notice in front of the house is an adobe fence. They seem to always put some grass on top of adobe walls - I presume to shed the rain so it doesn't erode them.


    [​IMG]



    Some alpacha crossing the road


    [​IMG]


    Many flocks of sheep with a member of the family standing watch. As gained altitude, the sheep were mixed with Alpaca and Llama then just straight Alpachas and Llama’s. Lots of cattle along the way also. Stopped next to this lady herding her flock of alpacha, pull out my camera and ask if I can take her picture? She wags her finger at me and says no. So when I point the camera at her, she smiles anyhow. Good sport.


    [​IMG]


    Often have dogs run out into the road to bark at me and chase me away. Nothing different today except this one border collie type came charging out and I didn’t slow, as I normally don’t, but I should have known better. This guy is smart enough to figure out the correct angle of attack to get at me and goes for my front tire. I’m doing about 50 kph and wham I feel him hit my crash bar followed by a yelp. Look in my mirror and he’s rolling down the road ass over tea kettle. Stop and by the time I get off my bike, he’s run back to his house. I’ll bet he’ll have a headache for a couple of days. Pushed my right side spot light down a bit but no other evidence. Felt crappy about that – hope he was ok.

    Finally get to the turn off to Chivay – road certainly looks much less used. Immediately encounter the biggest mud puddle in the world – must have been a hundred yards long but, foutunately, it only crossed the entire road for about 25 feet – water was deeper than the bottom of the engine.

    Carried on with what appeared to be a decent road but not well maintained. Doesn't appear to be used much either as I encountered no traffic other than a gazillion Alpachas and Llamas grazing in huge herds. I’m thinking this is a bit weird and am starting to fear the road may be out. Figure I may as well carry on for a while and see what’s up. After awhile, came to a large dam and reservoir and the road goes downhill in the direction of the base of the dam. Sure enough, there’s a river and there’s where the bridge was.



    [​IMG]


    Check out my paper map and it looks like I can get to Chivay by going back to the road to Arequipa and make a big loop. So, hi-tail it back to the turn-off. At the turnoff some guy in a car stops me to ask about the road. Wouldn’t believe me when I told him it was closed. Finally convinced him just when another car goes barreling past us.

    Take off towards Arequipa and come across a little town and ask a guy directions. He too was surprised the road to Chivay was out. Tells me the long way to get there. I head out. GPS finally figures out the route and says I will arrive about 9:30 – this detour will add 200 km to my route.

    So, here we are. It's after 5 PM, getting dark, getting cold (now its 5 deg) and I've been watching these ugly and massive clouds building in the direction I now have to go. I thought about wild camping along the road but most of it is wet with a lot of standing water. I don't really want to ride that late in this stormy night so maybe somebody will let me sleep on their floor.

    Although the GPS doesn’t show any hotels until Chivay, I'm hoping it missed one - it's not unusual for it to not only miss many hotels, it sometimes misses whole towns.

    We have about 60 km to the next turn and it looks like the road we turn onto is major and I'm hoping will be paved. It has now started to rain and I want to get there before this rain starts to accumulate on the dirt road and turns it into a mud road which would make for a long and tedious night.

    Sure enough, turn onto a paved road. My temperature gauge is now flashing at 3 deg C. It is pissing rain, it’s pitch black and I’m looking for a place to stop. I can see a few lights in the distance and my GPS shows the town of Imata. Get to this wide spot in the road – truckers stop. See a couple of restaurants and then spot the nicest sign I’ve ever seen. Hospedaje. Yahoo! (From the next morning) It wasn't a big sign but it stood out like a MacDonalds Golden Arches.

    [​IMG]

    Sure enough, they have a room – 30 soles ($12), hell, he could have told me it was 100 soles and I would have nodded my head. Has toilets out back, but, not only is there no hot water, there are no showers. But they do have a restaurant. I’m smillin.


    Guy wants me to ride my bike around back which as far as I can tell involves going up the road a ways, riding down a muddy ally and what looks like a junk strewn muddy field to get to the back of his place. I'm tired and I'm cold, I think I’ll just park in the front and hope my bike is there in the morning.

    Change and get down to the restaurant. Cena? (Dinner) You betcha. :dg Starts off with a cream of chicken soup and then a chicken dinner. Man did that taste good. Asks what I want to drink - no beer, I don't want coffee so, I opt for the Matte de Coca tea – which is coca Leaf tea and is supposed to help with altitude problems. The altitude has not bothered me but we’re at 14,500 feet and I figure I’ll be up here for awhile so might as well have a cup for preventative measures.

    That was quite a day, I'm good now.

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  11. Sunday Rider

    Sunday Rider Adventurer Wanabe

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,256
    Location:
    North of T.Ho., Ontario
    Holy adventures RB. Glad you made it safe for the night before the road turned to mud and who knows what. Sounds like a great end to the day, and sure beats camping in the wild, on soggy land. :clap
  12. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,109
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    I'm rarely excited about finding a place to stay - after so many times it becomes pretty routine. I was exstatic to find this place.

    I forgot to mention the highway was raised up about 2 or 3 feet from the "frontage road" and I couldn't find the entrance roads. Rode back and forth a couple of times before I found one. Would have just ridden over the edge but it was too dark and I couldn't see down to what was in front of me.
  13. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,109
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Horrible nights sleep last night. Was in my long johns and a shirt, had three wool blankets on the bed and was still cold. Must have been below 10 C in there. Guess I should have stuck my sleeping bag under the covers.


    [​IMG]


    Looking out my window from the back of the Hospedaje/Restaurant. Pretty bleak

    [​IMG]

    Went down to the restaurant which was just as busy as last night with truckers and had fried chicken for breakfast. :D

    Then headed for Chivay. Started noticing that the snow level on the neighboring mountains wasn’t that much higher than the plain.


    [​IMG]


    Pretty country up on the altiplano with huge herds of Alpacha and Llama. Very open and sparse.

    Hit a new altitude record – finally, 16,000 feet. :clap


    [​IMG]



    Now I’m thinkin that the snow level this morning would have been well below that peak and had I decided to go for Chivay last night, I probably would have been camping in the snow as I didn’t have enough gas to turn around.

    When I was near the peak I walked down a 20 foot embankment and the climb back up had me wheezing after about the second breath . . . the lack of air just about frickin killed me. Wheezin Geezer rides again.

    Beautiful valley with Chivay at the bottom. This is the start of the Colca Canyon. Some rock fences with a stream coming down the ravine


    [​IMG]


    This whole area, well into the canyon, is covered with terraced and rock fenced farms. Pretty.

    [​IMG]

    The town of Chivay

    [​IMG]

    Stopped to take one pic and as I’m getting off the bike, it decides it’s tired also and proceeds to lie down - again. I usually get on and off the bike from the right side and have a bad habit of sometimes dragging my foot over the seat (can't get it over the bags on the back) and if its parked on a right hand slope, doesn't take much to get it going.

    I swear for a moment then proceed to take most of the luggage off and as I was getting ready to lift, a guy stops to help me. After we get the bike righted again, he says to me “are you Steve?” and I’m looking around for a sign on my back or on my bike with my name on it. How’d you know that? Turns out he is the guy at Tradicion Colca Hotel I had corresponded with for a hotel reservation . . . that I didn't show up for last night. Nice guy.

    Entering the town and stopped by the police manning a gate. Want 70 Soles ($27) to enter the canyon as a tourist. Dig out a hundy and hand it to the cop and he tells me they don’t have any change. I was tired and grumpy and said, “well, neither do I” – Fees like this irritate me but I understand them to a point. If you are going to charge to enter an attraction like this then be prepared to accept any denomination bill, even credit cards . . . every other tourist attraction does. I think this guy wanted me to walk off and leave him the change. Uhhh, :eatme Finally his sidekick stepped up with some change. Didn’t make me less grumpy.

    Tradicion Colca is a pretty nice hotel. They try to provide a lot of activities (hiking, horseback riding, tours) to keep everyone happy. They have a bar . . . kept me happy. :evil

    Was thinking I might just extend my stay another day or two until I found out they have no WiFi. That’s a no go for me for a longer stay so will head out for Arequipa tomorrow.


    Had a nice meal of alpacha and then they had a couple of kids from town come and do a traditional dance. Apparently, the tradition is that boys weren't permited to be at these dances so they would dress up like the girls and hide their faces with a bunch of straps. Interesting that the boy is wearing a somewhat similar hat to the "lampshade hats" I saw yesterday.


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

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  14. ONandOFF

    ONandOFF Road, or off?

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    The Shenandoar valley
    Looks like you had a good time including mud, side trips with bridges out, and cold.
    Smokin' is right! That is one magnanamous valley.
    Very cool! I bet he's still talking about that.
    That exercise of wisdom demonstrates experience.
    Damn, almost 16k feet! I'm trying to reconstruct your route in Google Maps. Does THIS look about right for that spot?
    Don't feel bad about that, man; serves it right. I love dogs and have three but they should behave properly. Maybe now it won't crash the next guy who isn't as adept as you.
    And that was quite a story. Thank you for making it so interesting for us!
  15. ONandOFF

    ONandOFF Road, or off?

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    Steve! Wow, that's high! 16002' Now you can tell everyone you went to Peru to get high!
    It's amazing how cold it can be so near the equator. Hope you're heading for the costa.

    Okay, I'll bite. Why were you walking down a 20 foot embankment?

    I don't understand getting on and off the right side of the bike. Yours has the kickstand on the left, correct? (I put 'right' but that looked confusing). It's always harder to get on and off on the side opposite the kickstand plus it presents the problem you experienced. You can't pull the bike over getting off if you're on the side of the kickstand.

    Way to stand your ground on the change for the entrance fee. I'm sure it's a game to see if you'll roll your eyes and say keep the change. The more people do that, the more they'll expect it.

    Thanks again for the great stories. And it goes without saying, the great pictures. It looks like about a two week gap between the day of the events and the day posted, so I have to wonder, are you back home writing the final installments?
  16. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
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    1,109
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Was a lot of fun . . . when it was done.

    Well, I don't know how magnanimous that valley was, but it sure was magnificent. :deal

    Was going to try to construct a Google map then realized you just have to look at my SPOT map. Right here. In the adjustmenst section at the left, change history to 3 weeks or a month - start at Cusco.

    Glad you enjoyed and, thanks again for tagging along.
  17. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    1,109
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    OK, going down the embankment . . . um, looking for gold?

    Getting on and off the bike. Yah, sidestand on the left - never seen one on the right. I've always found it easier to mount/dismount from the right - much easier, particularly with a load on the back. While you can pull the bike over with a right side dismount, you can push it over with a left side mount. Moto cops used to always do the right side - don't know if they still do or not.

    Still on the road things are winding down. You can see my current position on my SPOT map in the last post. Won't be home for another 3 weeks or so.
  18. ONandOFF

    ONandOFF Road, or off?

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Oddometer:
    10,753
    Location:
    The Shenandoar valley
    The Spot thing is great, Steve; thanks for pointing out yours. I'm getting a feel for what's where by following along on the map while digesting the report. No more guesssing with the Spot! I wish it reported the altitude along with location.

    Three more weeks is great. I bet it will seem fast, though. My ventures to S.A. have always been for a month at a time. Starts out fine but the last week goes by in a flash.

    Hope you found the gold. What I initially found shocking in Ecuador was people relieving themselves in plain view on the side of the road. They don't try to hide; it's a natural thing. People here would say they are uncivilized for that, but I think the reality of it is that they are one step ahead of us in that regard. And it can be dangerous clamboring off in the rough to hide.

    I think if moto-cops use the right side for getting on and off the bike, it's because it's away from the traffic, not because it's easier. It's definitely harder to get on and off the right side. Ever seen anyone lean a bike AWAY from them to hop on? I haven't either. And I've never pushed a bike over hopping on; I hold onto the handlebars that are tipping down toward me. Now and then, I'll hop on the right as a shortcut to walking around the bike, but it's awkward. And more motions. Left mount, right foot goes over then down to the ground in one motion, tip bike to right, pop up stand and click into first in the next motion, then pick up right foot as bike moves away. Easy peasy.

    Here's a good one. Stand on the left, fire up the bike, stand it up and take up the stand, put your left foot on the left peg and click it into first, start taking off as you stand up on your left foot, and as you're accelerating gently, lift your right leg easily over the seat to its peg, shift into second as you sit down.

    Tenga cuidado y disfrute your last days before heading back to cold reality. Looking forward to following you through to home. Saludos, amigo!
  19. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,109
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    I've had a couple of notes from you loyal readers being a bit confused about the status of this Ride Report. Some of the recent posts may have made it confusing for those not used to this forum. It is not finished. I have more to write about.

    Time constraints and poor internet have prompted me to defer further postings for a few days. I apologize for any confusion.

    I'll have a few free days coming up, should have good internet and promise to get it caught up.

    Thanks for your patience
  20. ONandOFF

    ONandOFF Road, or off?

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    10,753
    Location:
    The Shenandoar valley
    First and foremost, enjoy your trip. The report is clearly a work in progress. Please take your time and maintain the high quality standard you've set thus far. Good things come to those who wait. And thanks!