Wolf and Zebra's adventure: San Francisco to Ushuaia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by wolfandzebra, Jan 22, 2014.

  1. wolfandzebra

    wolfandzebra Adventurer

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    Nov 25, 2013
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    Howzit Inmates!

    We are a South African (Zebra) and a Frenchman (Wolf) who met in California and are now going to ride down to the Southern tip of Argentina. :D

    We both share a great passion for travel and motorcycles, and ever since we met at Thunderhill raceway we've been dreaming of traveling the world on two wheels. This February we're starting with South America on a pair of DR650s. We've been planning for months: working on the bikes, packing up the apartment, figuring out the route and now we are *almost* ready to go.

    We'll post updates here every so often, but please feel free to follow our blog or like us on social media too!

    blog: http://www.wolfandzebra.com/
    facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wolfandzebra
    instagram: http://instagram.com/wolfandzebra
    #1
  2. mopulga

    mopulga Been here awhile

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    Asheville, NC
    signed up!
    #2
  3. salcar

    salcar Riding 4 Health

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    Location:
    Nicaragua or Mexico or ?
    Let me know when you are close to Nicaragua. We have a room and food for you at our house where you can relax. Enjoy the ride south:freaky
    #3
  4. wolfandzebra

    wolfandzebra Adventurer

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    Thanks Salcar. We'll definitely be in touch when we get down there. :wave
    #4
  5. wolfandzebra

    wolfandzebra Adventurer

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    We are almost down to 2 weeks to departure date! :happay

    This week has been the first week where we have both been funemployed and able to focus 100% of our time on trip preparation. This has helped reduce the panicky feeling that we might not get it all done. Some of the key decisions we made this week include:

    - The locator beacon we will take: ACR PLB (You can read why we chose this over the delorme or spot here)
    - The health insurance I will buy for the next 12-18 months on the road - IMG Long Term Medical plan I researched this topic very thoroughly, and this plan offers coverage in the US as well as abroad, has emergency evacuation coverage and does not exclude motorcycle riders as long as the motorcycle is for transportation and you are not riding in any professional capacity. I read all 25 pages of the plan to verify this information. It ends up being roughly $1100 for 1 year with a $1000 deductible, which is the cheapest option I could find with the coverage I need. There are some specific eligibility requirements depending on your citizenship but I was able to meet them easily (for me it was to be outside of the US for 6 months out of the next year)
    - Chosing a second camera to document the adventure: Sony RX-100 It always surprises me how long it takes to research these things, especially if you want to be thorough about it.

    We also have the Wolfmobile and the Zebramobile both running after all our work on the wiring harness to hook up all our extras - cigarette chargers, battery meters, heated grips and euroswitches so we can turn off our headlights if we want to. The last orders have been placed at Amazon for all the items we still need. Now we're just going to have to figure out how we fit it all into our luggage! We'll post pics next week when we attempt some trial packs... :clap
    #5
  6. gaahrdner

    gaahrdner Adventurer

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    Austin, TX
    I'll be watching this one too! I'm right ahead of you guys, probably crossing over to mainland Mexico in a week or two so who knows, maybe we'll cross paths! Good luck! :clap
    #6
  7. Johnnydarock

    Johnnydarock Been here awhile

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    Redondo Beach CA
    This adventure sounds good. Let's get it on the road.
    #7
  8. wolfandzebra

    wolfandzebra Adventurer

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    Great stuff Phil - We checked out your blog and are already gathering tips from your border crossings. Hope to see you on the road. :wave
    #8
  9. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    Location:
    Villa Maria Sanitarium, Claremont, CA. USA
    We just finished our trip tuckers to tdf. You may find some useful stuff in there

    The drs were great

    Colleen carried a waterproof snapshot camera around her neck for that all important shoot

    Make sure all your stuff is waterproof or watertight

    Did you upgrade your suspension
    #9
  10. wolfandzebra

    wolfandzebra Adventurer

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    Brilliant! Thanks James. We'll go through your thread in detail. :norton
    We have made several upgrades to the DRs including the suspension. We are putting together the full list - it's still in progress right now - here.
    #10
  11. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

    Joined:
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    Villa Maria Sanitarium, Claremont, CA. USA
    Do you have bar risers?

    2" are really good. very comfortable.

    Hand guards too.

    Head light guard. Couldn't find any so I made them.

    Spare pilot jets are good, as are the little carb filters from the intake line.
    #11
  12. wolfandzebra

    wolfandzebra Adventurer

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    We finally got every last little thing out of the apartment, and all the things coming with us for the next year or so packed on the bikes. The apartment looked very empty, and the bikes looked very loaded up. The Zebra and Wolfmobile have become the Donkey and Mulemobile. After packing, repacking and rearranging, we have convinced ourselves that it's not actually so bad, once you take the tire-pile out of the equation. We'll use up what's left of our stock tires as we pound the California asphalt down to Mexico and once we hit Baja, we'll change tires... and neither of us can wait to lose the extra load.

    We spent the first night camping in Big Sur and thanks to the storm that has been following us from San Francisco, we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to test the waterproofing of our tent. We have decided that we need to buy a new tent. The wind howled all night long and we did not get much sleep. Determined to salvage the Big Sur leg of the trip, the Wolf convinced me to attempt the dirt road option to get back to highway 1. My limited dirt-riding skills were tested very hard by slippery conditions, and I ran out of talent on a few occasions sending the Zebramobile nose first into the mud. The Wolf would come running to my rescue, but the wind was so strong, it often blew the Wolfmobile over while he was helping me. Fun times!

    Our soggy campsite >>
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    The views on 1 were amazing >>
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    We eventually made it back to highway 1 after almost 5 hours of mucking about in rain and mud. Coffee and sun revived our spirits in Cayucos (thanks for the recommendation Dana) but they were dashed again by a massive downpour on 101 near Pismo Beach, so we decided to find a hotel and hang everything we own hanging out to dry. Most of the stuff that was wet was from the camping fiasco or had been stored in our non-waterproof backpacks. We were very happy to see our rollbags and saddlebags kept their contents nice and dry. Thanks Michnus and All Terrain Gear

    The next two nights were spent visiting friends in SoCal as we approach the border and thankfully the rain has let up and we've even seen some sun here and there. Everywhere we go we have been told how it hasn't rained here for over a year, so I guess we just got lucky :huh. We'll take one more day to plan our Baja route then we'll cross over into Mexico tomorrow :clap

    (a few more pics here)
    #12
  13. mopulga

    mopulga Been here awhile

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    Hell yeah! :clap I have been looking forward to the start of this one!


    I am looking forward!! :1drink
    #13
  14. wolfandzebra

    wolfandzebra Adventurer

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    The days leading to our departure from the US were mostly soggy so we comforted ourselves with some pancakes in Solvang and motorcycle porn at the Solvang motorcycle museum.
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    Everyone we encountered marvelled at how it was the first rain in those parts in over 18 months – of course. After a fun sunset jaunt on Mulholland Drive, we reached Rancho Santa Margarita where the Heys family brought some much needed warmth and sun to our lives. Ryan serenaded us over lunch after a trip to REI for a critical tent upgrade, while boots and gloves were drying out in the sun. Afterwards we headed to Carlsbad to see our good friends Rowan, Erin and Petunia and I was finally united with my Rev’It riding gear that had been shipped there. It was at this point that we realised our time had been completely monopolised by wrapping up our lives and setting up the bikes, and we’d done very little planning for the days ahead. We imposed ourselves on our hosts for 2 extra days so we could wrestle our GPS software into submission and figure out where to aim once we crossed the border at Tecate.

    The border crossing was smooth and easy, but still took a couple of hours, so we found ourselves riding the La Rumorosa mountain pass after dark. Our destination for the night was Cañon Guadalupe and so that meant navigating the dirt road in the dark, which would not have presented any problems it it wasn’t for the sand. The sand that would become the bane of my existence for the next week or so. It was a long few hours, but the night sky was spectacular, and the Wolf was mostly patient, so we eventually found the entrance to the hot springs and picked a spot to test out our fancy new tent for the first time.
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    The next morning Oscar, who owns the land, set us up with our own private campsite, palapa and hot tub fed by the natural hot spring. Imagine a personal paradise, nestled amongst rocks and palm trees, with a perfectly flat, tent-sized piece of ground right next to a natural rock pool filled with water heated by the heart of the earth. There is nothing like a day of waterfalls followed by an evening of soaking in a hot tub in the moonlight to recover from a long night of riding sand.

    After a full recovery, we faced the sand and dirt once again to get to San Felipe.
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    As we arrived we spotted a herd of dirt bikes at a beachfront restaurant and decided to stop for a beer. It turned out the dirt bikes belonged to a bunch of guys from Reno who were on a weeklong tour of Baja. They showered us with advice, recommendations and even donated a AAA map of Baja to our cause. Special thanks for the juice recommendation guys, Gabriel’s jugos were amazing! Armed with our new-to-us map we boldly aimed at Bahia San Luis Gonzaga were we planned to spend the next night. (We felt the recommendation from The Reno crew to ride all the way from San Felipe to San Ignazio was poquito loco!) Some time after the pavement had ended and turned into dirt, which just happens to be part of the Baja 1000 route, we spotted some sparkles in the distance. To our great surprise the sparkles turned out to be the multitude of cans decorating the surrounds of the renowned Coco’s Corner. We had apparently missed Gonzaga entirely.
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    Coco is an amazing old character who spends his days manning his little cantina where he sells beer and sodas to passing drivers and riders and regales them with stories. Over the years, he’s lost both his legs, but this has not stopped him from running his operation accessible only by dirt roads. Coco gruffly greeted us, and told us in no uncertain terms that we should not ride any further, but stay in one of his trailers. No charge he assured us, we just needed to buy a couple of beers or cokes and that would be that. He asked us if we’d like meat or potatoes and the next thing we knew the Wolf and I were making tacos in Coco’s kitchen as he barked directions at us. 3 Alaskan guys, immediately dubbed “Chupa Cabras”, “Nalga Seca” and “Espanto Pajaro” by Coco, joined the party and we spent the evening around the fire while the Wolf shared pilot stories with Nalga Seca.

    The next day was once again a late start after waiting for Coco to get back with some extra gas for us, since we missed the Pemex in Gonzaga… Doh! I cruised along the road from Coco’s to Chapala and began to feel cocky about my off roading skills. This would not last long. After a quick taco in Bahia de Los Angeles we embarked on what I will now refer to as the death ride to Bahia San Rafael, which is the same road as the Baja 200 race.
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    It might not have been so bad, but since we had to wait on gas in the morning, we once again found ourselves riding by moonlight. Then the gravel began. And the rock gardens. And, of course, more sand. For many miles, there was a 15cm wide path of packed dirt lined with a foot of gravel on either side threatening to swallow the Zebramobile’s front tire at every opportunity and throw him down to the ground. We battled along for 6 hours to cover the 50 miles. Yup, that is embarrassingly less than 10 miles per hour, and probably some kind of record for that stretch of road. The Wolf could have killed that road in 2 hours flat, but he patiently picked up my bike for me the countless times I crashed and coached me through all the obstacles. We finally arrived and Pancho’s beach and threw up our tent. I was beyond grateful we had bought the tent that was easy to erect.

    The next day once again called for a recovery day.
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    Pancho welcomed us with coffee, and proceeded to tell us he would make us some lunch. In his youth Pancho apparently had a penchant for gambling but when his good fortune ended he found himself cooking on fishing boats for a living. 24 years ago he planted himself down on this small slice of paradise, now known as Pancho’s beach and frequented by about 1000 tourists annually. Lunch preparation turned in to a private cooking lesson on how to make flour tortillas, and the cooking lesson turned into a Spanish lesson. Needless to say, the tortillas were amazing and the fish stew was the best thing we’ve eaten on the trip so far. We capped off the day with a nap in Pancho’s palapa on the beach. It was a good thing the day was so perfectly relaxing, because the road to get to Vizcaíno would once again test my resolve and every ounce of skill I do and do not have. 100 miles of sand, punctuated with treacherous rocky mounting passes and steep cliff drop offs, and 14 hours later, I had only crashed twice (Progress!) but I had cried a few fearful tears, a few despondent tears and a few tears of exhaustion. Morale was very low. On our arrival in Vizcaíno we booked ourselves into a nice hotel, showered, fed ourselves and passed out after agreeing to stick to pavement for a little while. Morale had improved a bit by morning.

    We set off for Mulege at around 10am and had a very relaxed ride, albeit on sore backsides; one doesn’t recover from 14 hours in the saddle overnight. A lemonade in San Ignacio and an ice-cream in Santa Rosalia later, we found ourselves in the charming town of Mulege, where we are now finally updating the blog and doing some bike maintenance in the courtyard of Hotel Hacienda, shaded by a giant lemon tree and the most impressive magenta bougainvillaea I have ever seen.
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    More pictures online here
    #14
  15. AdventurePoser

    AdventurePoser Long timer

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    IN!:clap
    #15
  16. wolfandzebra

    wolfandzebra Adventurer

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    After the beating our DRs took in the 300km of sand separating Bahia San Rafael from Viscaino, we decided to take advantage of our break in La Ventana to get a bit of maintenance work done.
    The Heidenau tires we have been carrying since San Francisco have been mounted to the Zebramobile, bolts have been tightened but we are concerned with one of our FMF exhaust. As shown on the video, all 4 rivets have started to elongate the sleeve's holes making the whole tip vibrate in a rather unhealthy way.

    Dagoberto from Motospeed in La Paz helped us with a quick fix Mexican style but the soft alloy of the exhaust flange did not allow for many good options.

    <iframe src="//player.vimeo.com/video/89551614" width="500" height="375" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe> <p><a href="http://vimeo.com/89551614">FMF Racing exhaust failing on a DR650</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/wolfandzebra">Wolf and Zebra</a> on <a href="https://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>
    #16
  17. wolfandzebra

    wolfandzebra Adventurer

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    A Thai jungle in the middle of the Baja desert
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    We stayed an extra day in Mulege to enjoy the breathtaking views the oasis town has to offer. The Mission Santa Rosalía de Mulegé was founded in 1702 and is flanked by giant cacti, but a few steps away is a view point with vistas resembling luscious South East Asia rather than the dry arid Baja we had come to expect

    The Zebra is introduced to a baby whale
    Next it was off to A. Lopez Mateo to do some whale watching. The Grey Whales come to the west coast of Baja every year to calve their little ones and raise them in the protected lagoons until they are strong enough to face the open oceans. While the Wolf and I were at first reluctant to bother mothering whales, the government supervision, eco friendly motors and apparent desire of the calves to interact with our small boat put us at ease, so off we went with a few other couples to see if we could find some ballenas. We were successful and spent an enchanting hour with a mother whale and her playfully curious three month old baby.

    A windy ride to the windy town
    We faced a long, straight and very gusty ride down to La Ventana, a known kitesurfing mecca on the Sea of Cortez. A dust storm kept our bikes at lean even on the straights of Mex 1. We reached Baja Joe's 5 hours later where kiters were also struggling with the 40kn gusts. It was no wonder we almost blew off the road! A few tequilas later, we had the pleasant surprise to see our Alaskan buddies from Coco's corner pop in. It was a lovely and long night at Playa Central exchanging tales from the trails and promises of future adventures together....maybe in Alaska?

    1st World kite foil race
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    Another good surprise was us catching the final rounds of the first Kite Foil Gold Cup racing. Some familiar faces from San Francisco, John and Jon, were rubbing elbows with some young and wicked fast young French racers. In the end Maxime Nocher won an impressive first place well ahead of John Heineken.
    We spent a large part of Monday relaxing on the beach and marvelling at how damn fast those guys are on the foils (although, hilariously, there is no graceful was to dismount the things) The Wolf even managed to squeeze in a kite session of his own before the wind died down for the evening.

    Mechanical hickups
    Our third and least favorite surprise was to discover that the Zebramobile's FMF exhaust was falling apart. Specifically the rivets holding the exhaust tip to the exhaust body had started to elongate their holes. It should have been an easy fix unfortunately the intermediate flange is made of a rather soft alloy making it hard to fit the parts tightly.
    FMF tech support informed us that we were out of luck and suggested we bought their new model, which is allegedly stronger.
    Needless to say we won't.

    A long ferry ride to Mazatlan
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    It's on a massive ship from Baja Ferries that we turned the page of this Baja chapter. We left the Zebra and Wolf mobiles huddled between semi-trucks and loaded cars, strapped to the boat railing to do our own huddling with 50 other passengers. Despite the reclining seats, it was a long night punctuated by the screams of toddlers and the special audio effects of American blockbusters dubbed in Español. Cross-eyed and fuzzy, we woke up in Mazatlan not quite ready to tackle mainland Mexico. But we boldly proceeded forward nonetheless.

    We tried to insert smaller images here per request. More pictures can be found here
    #17
  18. hansi

    hansi Teurer Abenteurer

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    :lurk
    #18
  19. Kawi-Mike

    Kawi-Mike Been here awhile

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    Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Alright the Thai jungle has me so lets see where this thing goes.
    #19
  20. wolfandzebra

    wolfandzebra Adventurer

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    Just in case somebody else plans on crossing the sea of Cortez, here is the latest info from Baja ferries:
    <a href="http://www.wolfandzebra.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/SA_bajaferries.jpg">

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    </a>
    #20