Young Aussie biting off way more than he can chew : LA -> TDF

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by clumsy_culhane, Jul 14, 2017.

  1. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

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    I have been lurking advrider, scouring threads for information and advice. After taking so much it seemed only fair to give back in the form of yet another Ride Report. I'll try and keep it interesting, but no promises! I am keeping up a blog (https://chasingtheblackandwhitedog.wordpress.com/) but I will post here with similar content, although I will definitely be more detailed about moto specific stuff that my friends and family back home don't care about!

    A quick summary. I'm 24 years old, grew up in Melbourne, Australia and a year out from uni, working as a mechanical engineer. As luck would have it, the timing worked out nicely so that I could convince my employer to let me take six months off which is good because I've been planning my trip for years now!

    Outside of riding I ride a pushbike a lot, run a bit and swim even less, racing triathlons and loving it. It's all the freedom of a motorcycle with lots of extra effort. I used to take photos a bit, so this trip will be a good motivation to get some of those skills back, I'm a very mediocre rider but hopefully my photos will make up for it!

    I started riding moto's only two years ago, and after doing lots of research (this will become a common theme...) I ended up on the stalwart, the pig of a 2009 KLR650. Cheap to buy in Australia, L-Plate legal and the sort of bike I could take overseas later on if the trip eventuated. It's since been on quite a few trips, dropped once or twice and had most of its adv-specific bits upgraded or added.

    [​IMG]

    Here's a pic of me for reference (my sister joked that this will be the pic they show at the funeral if I die during my trip.....)

    [​IMG]
    And its finally here.

    I'm sitting back in my childhood room after moving back to my parent's, two days from flying to LA to begin my adventure. I will start with my motivations for the trip, might help get a sense for why I'm doing it.

    This whole thing started six years ago. Fresh out of a stressful but nevertheless successful final year of high school, I ventured overseas for my first overseas holiday - almost a rite of passage for middle class Australians it seems, for better or worse. We picked Vietnam, having spent too much time watching Top Gear, filling our heads ideas of adventure and camaraderie.


    [​IMG]
    Sa Pa, Vietnam

    Whilst the reality was far less off the beaten track, it was still exciting to briefly experience others people's lives, I got much more out of people watching than I did hitting up two tourist traps a day.

    [​IMG]

    Over there I found I got the most enjoyment not from visiting Halong Bay or the Củ Chi tunnels, but rather the day Matt and I spent riding north along the coast out of Nha Trang. This sparked the idea that maybe one day I would go further.

    In 2014 I was lucky enough to go overseas again, this time to the UK, Switzerland Germany, and the USA on exchange. This time I was more ambitious - two three day solo cycling trips, one from London to Coventry, the other from Zurich to Munich. It was these trips that drove my desire to turn a pipe dream into reality.

    [​IMG]
    A few hours from Banbury, UK (Not pictured - blood, sweat, tears..)
    During this trip I also cemented my understanding that I'm happiest away from the city, in New York this hit me particularly hard.

    [​IMG]
    Brooklyn, NY

    I returned home from this trip and within months had bought a bike - a 2009 Kawasaki KLR650 with the intention of riding through Latin America after completing University.
    #1
  2. chudzikb

    chudzikb Been here awhile

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    Remember the medivac insurance! Best to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. Just saying...
    #2
  3. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

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    Yup all sorted!
    #3
  4. RobBD

    RobBD Been here awhile

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    Following this one ! All the best - looking forward to your photos as the few you posted so far were great!
    #4
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  5. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

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    This was due for an update. Trip has officially started and I'm starting to freak out! I'm in LA (a city I have never really liked...) and spent half the day working on my sunburn and walking between US Customs, United Cargo and LAX. Turns out my crate, which was supposed to arrive the same time as me, will actually arrive tomorrow. Not a huge disaster as it allows me a night here without worrying about a bike, but frustrating with all that walking in the heat.

    [​IMG]All crated up!

    The week leading up to departure was crazy. So many little things went wrong. Mis matched bolts, lack of valve shim availability, pinched tubes, missing oil tube thingy that goes through the oil filter (doh!). As well as having to move all my stuff back to my parent's place it left very little time for route planning, which I will end up doing here in LA and later in San Diego. I'll put a post in the appropriate forum to get some feedback so I don't end up riding through random Mexican industrial towns.. It remains to be seen whether or not the $500 saving from clearing it myself will pay off...

    [​IMG] THe grimace is relief, not happiness.

    The main logistical challenge of this trip was getting the bike over to the US. I considered sea freight but after reading lots of stories of delayed shipments and crazy port charges, I settled on air freight. After shopping around, I settled on Tradelanes to carry the bike, Stewart was a pleasure to work with and had lots of experience in shipping bikes and cars, and was pretty much the cheapest too. It turns out the air freight portion of shipping is relatively cheap only $1257 for a 393 kg chargeable weight (actual weight was ~300 kg, but the crate gets charged by volume as it's not that heavy). The security, export docs and customs add up, bringing the total to $1825 which I thought was pretty reasonable considering a flight to LAX can sometimes be almost a grand for a person!

    [​IMG]Paint Marked every bolt I took off, I'm a bit particular and it makes checking for loose botls a bit easier.

    During the lead up before leaving, I took a week off work to sort the bike out properly, replacing everything I could that might break or need work, as working on the bike by the side of the road in the middle of Mexico didn't sound as fun.

    [​IMG]Almost a naked bike

    [​IMG]Bagging camshafts and blocks to keep everything separate and clean.

    In summary, I stripped the bike down, new sprockets/chain/tyres, wired in a more robust accessories circuit and did some other important maintenance.

    [​IMG]Camshafts not too bad considering 50,000km of unknown use.

    [​IMG]Fishing tackle boxes make for great bolt storage and allow you to keep track of what order things come off.

    [​IMG]Covering off fuel lines and removed valve cover

    [​IMG]Finally got access to the shims, first time doing this job on the bike.

    [​IMG]The more sockets you have the easier the job is right?


    Wiring was the most fun, I haven't done it before so it took a while to work out the best way to do it to ensure my bike doesn't burn to the ground. Squeezed in a 6 way fuse box under the seat with a single line from the battery to save having 6 different leads on the battery with a bunch of relays etc. This way it's a lot easier to diagnose!

    [​IMG]New fuse box (with 30A relay beforehand) mounted

    [​IMG]I used existing wiring as much as possible, but when making new ones I tried to make them pretty! all 10A apart from the two 15A, one for the sae under the seat (for tyre pump), the other for the 15A power outlet that will power my tank bag

    Also added some weatherproof USB ports and 12v output on the dash a SAE 12v output under the seat for a tyre pump which hopefully I will get minimal use out of. If I have done anything dangerously badly shoot me a message so I can fix it up!


    [​IMG]Headlight and accessories switches mounted on the left, dual usb and Merit/DIN plug on the right.

    [​IMG]Big bird the crate will be loaded on.

    Hopefully from here on out the content will get a bit more interesting, not too much to write about yet!
    #5
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  6. DanMan8

    DanMan8 n00b

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    Looks like you are ready to go. Looking forward to seeing pictures. Ride safe.
    #6
  7. migilito

    migilito Been here awhile

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    Not sure if you know this, however the word 'Whilst' cannot be used in South America :) Good luck on your adventure! Keep us posted.
    #7
  8. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

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    Not a full update, but I am now in San Diego after successfully clearing my bike through Customs and collecting it from Cargo in LA. Wasn't as much of a hassle as I expected, just needed to hand in my EPA Exemption form (applied for weeks in advance), EPA form and CBP forms and I was all done in less than 30 minutes. Telling them that you are only staying in the states for a week puts them much more at ease!

    [​IMG]

    One question I have is my route through Mexico. I love the look of Creen, Batopilas etc but routes to get there through Arizona are a little thin on the ground from my poor googling. I have made a thread in the route forum if you have any input it would be much appreciated.
    #8
  9. Blind Warrior

    Blind Warrior Lost in the Ozone

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    I would head out I8 to Bisbee Arizona. Bisbee itself is a treat, and the crossing at Naco is very laid back. You can get your TVIP at Naco on the weekends, otherwise get it at Cananea. Then head down the Rio Sonora Valley to a place called Banamichi. An inmate called TurkeyCreek has a hotel these, and he is full of knowledge about Copper Canyon etc. From Banamichi you can head south to Moctezuma, then spend the night in Sahuaripa. South from Sahuaripa puts you on twisty Mex 16 and the road to Creel.

    PM if you would like further details.
    #9
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  10. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

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    Edited together a video, sorry for the bad quality I didn't realise my chest mount was that low, I had lots of footage which is unusable :(



    Blind Warrior, thanks for the tips, looking into the route tonight! I had planned to go to Banamichi, and it might be nice to go there straight as my first stop rather than having a few others as I'm a bit nervous. Cheers!
    #10
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  11. Normlas

    Normlas Adventurer

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    cool man, looks like a cool adventure on a nicely farkled KLR - am a bit of a KLRista myself.

    happy travels
    #11
  12. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the suggestion Blind Warrior, I'm now in Yuma. Tommorow I will go to Bisbee. It was a hot ride, about 104 deg F by the time I was crossing into Yuma, although I'm glad I took a longer route out through the hills rather than the I8 the whole way! (see tracker page here for a bit of an idea where I went). It was too hot to stop for long for photos, but I got the following one in the desert between SD and Yuma, had a bit of fun riding amongst the wind turbines!

    [​IMG]

    #12
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  13. flying.moto

    flying.moto Earthbound Misfit, I

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    Way to go!
    I'm soooo eager for more updates! This winter (US side of the world) I was planning to do the same... but, another crazy rare racing opportunity came knocking and I took it... blowing all my savings on it! :rofl well, hopefully not "all" when I'm done... so I put off my TDF ride for a year or maximum two.

    But meanwhile,

    Can't wait for more photos!

    Cheers,

    V

    p.s. last time i was out to those exact wind mills I found a few dirt tracks leading right up to them :super
    #13
  14. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

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    Thanks V!

    Yup that photo was taken from the start of them, I had a quick burn around before I continued! Quite deep gravel in parts so I took it pretty slow, I didnt fancy my chances of picking up the fully loaded pig in the hot weather...
    #14
  15. Blind Warrior

    Blind Warrior Lost in the Ozone

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    Yes, this is a very hot time of the year to be doing this ride. Aside from the heat, you will need to watch for monsoon rains in Sonora and Chihuahua. The afternoon rains can fill the vados (water channels that run across the paved road) fast. The rains can be local, so you can come across a fast flowing vado without having been rained upon yourself. Watch for slime on the concrete bottom of the vado, since most of the year they only have a trickle. The level will typically drop after a hour or two, unless there is sustained rain.

    This is the wettest time of the year for Copper Canyon also. You should be OK on the new road, but before it was paved you risked being stuck in Batopilas for a few days if heavy rains came.
    #15
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  16. SOLOKLR

    SOLOKLR Back to work

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    If you run into problems on the way to Bisbee, shoot me a pm. I'm not far south of Tucson. Stay hydrated. It is damn hot.
    #16
  17. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

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    I'm used to the heat, its pretty similar back home to have 100+ dry heat. The monsoons I'm not used to. Will have to start moving all electronics into my sealed top box in dry bags.

    Thanks for the heads up about the roads washing out, I will keep that in mind!

    Thanks for the offer KLR, I'll most likely stop for lunch around 1030 tomorrow in Tuscon! (leaving at 6am to beat the heat and rain).

    Sent from my SM-G920I using Tapatalk
    #17
  18. Lostmike

    Lostmike Cruising

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    Awesome nice work, I just emailed Stuart based on your experiences, hopefully we will be flying the bike into Chile in Decemeber might see you on the road. Safe travels.
    #18
  19. cycleTown650

    cycleTown650 Been here awhile

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    Just saw your RR and noticed you left San Diego. I had some physical maps from the same trip I just got back from if you needed. Looking forward to reading more.
    #19
  20. Blind Warrior

    Blind Warrior Lost in the Ozone

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    I see you are in Bisbee. The Naco Banjercito is not open until 10 am on Saturdays. TurkeyCreek's hotel (Los Arcos de Banamichi) has a website that has good directions to the Banjercito in Cananea which will let you cross the border earlier. It is under Home/Directions.

    www.losarcossonora.com

    But be sure to get your visa in Naco (the immigration office is on your left JUST after you cross the border).
    #20