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. J.Luis Vázquez

    J.Luis Vázquez Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2015
    Oddometer:
    373
    Location:
    Jeráhuaro de Juárez/ Los Azufres Michoacán
    Well, you are making me to squeeze my poor neurons, you are right, Martin Cortes is the name, son of Doña Marina the christian name for Malintzin and Hernán Cortés, but he had a brother with the same name from different mother, so I don’t know which one was the one who got the Hacienda.
    Now I need a Tequila !


    Enviado desde mi iPad utilizando Tapatalk
    dwj - Donnie likes this.
  2. Peter640

    Peter640 Peter 640

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,391
    Location:
    Sydney
  3. Peter640

    Peter640 Peter 640

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,391
    Location:
    Sydney
    Great RR ... Thanks

    Peter
  4. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2016
    Oddometer:
    180
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    Thanks for the interesting discussion guys, not too worried about the altitude any more, I've been above 3500m for weeks now! Definitely got a bit dizzy the first few times above 4000m but all good now

    Had a pretty frustrating day today, ended up riding all the way (540km!) to Potosí, as I left la paz at 6am and didn't like the look of Oruro too much. The frustrating part being the Bolivian petrol selling situation, in short it's a shitshow. Leaving la paz I was refused petrol by no less than four places, with them lying saying there was no petrol as someone filled up next to them. At this point I was willing to pay the extranjero price (THREE times the local) but they couldn't be bothered to do the paperwork, just started mumbling and waved me off..

    Eventually I just camped out at one place getting a big angry line behind me until they sold me some, but damn. Later on, a station in the middle of nowhere sold me petrol at the local price without me even asking, the inconsistency of the experience is probably the most frustrating thing! I've got to turn it into a fun game otherwise my head will explode.

    Sent from my SM-G920I using Tapatalk
  5. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2016
    Oddometer:
    180
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    [​IMG]

    Forgot to add this picture! This was the highlight of an otherwise very frustrating, long day. I had stopped for a quick break and a local guy stopped and we had a good chat about bikes, my travels and the roads in Bolivia. Check out how many layers he is wearing, the altiplano is freezing!
    #1Fan, chudzikb, fasttortoise and 3 others like this.
  6. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2016
    Oddometer:
    180
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    Today I arrived in Sucre, no photos yet but I thought it deserves a post since my outlook has changed completely since the last post. I think I wrote it when I was a little upset at a few things, it was probably unfair! Today I cruised to Sucre, finding some cheap negotiated fuel on the way, and arrived in a beautiful, lively city. I'm staying in an awesome hostel (Celtic Cross, has space for a few motorbikes inside) that has a fourth night free so I guess I'm staying here for four nights! They do spanish lessons here as well so I'll do a few hours of that per day. To top off today I was super productive - buying some fuel containers for the Salar, doing laundry, and grocery shopping in the market. Had a great chat to a money changer about lots of things and got to drop in some of the new words I've been learning so that made me feel much better about the improvement in my language skills, although I think the Bolivian accent is a lot easier to understand than the Peruvian.

    Its almost tiring how different each day can be, yesterday I was despairing at everything and today I'm in love with Bolivia!
    #1Fan, shuswap1, Stubanger and 4 others like this.
  7. everready

    everready Stuck in Ohio....Ugh!!!

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2013
    Oddometer:
    2,143
    Location:
    Macedonia, Ohio
    As long as you're health, it's all good!
  8. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2016
    Oddometer:
    180
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Sucre is pretty nice. I’ve spent four nights here chilling out, getting the bike ready for the salt flats and getting some more Spanish lessons. Met loads of great people and had some great chats with locals too! I was having so much fun I forgot to take photos, but I ran around today and got some quick shots so that I proof I was here!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I’m getting excited about the Salar and the southwest entrance into Chile, I think I’ve basically got my route sorted! I’ve bought a very very cheap tent and sleeping bag which I’m sure will create some great stories as they are almost certainly going to break. If I manage to make it to San Pedro de Atacama I will meet up with some of the people I met here (keep the comments to yourselves :wave )!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  9. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2016
    Oddometer:
    180
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    [​IMG]

    Going off the grid for the next few days to ride across the Salar de Uyuni and the desert of Southern Bolivia. Apart from starting in Los Angeles and finishing in Ushuaia, the only other goal on this trip was to complete this ride, so I can’t wait!

    [​IMG]

    After arriving in Uyuni I changed the front tyre out with a Pirelli MT21 I’ve been carrying since Cusco. It’s a lot closer to a full knobby than I’ve ever run, I’m hoping it will keep me a bit more upright over the next 700+km of dirt ahead. It was only $50 so when it gets burnt out on the pavement it’s not a huge deal. The bike is loaded with 450+km of fuel, two days food and water.. and the cheapest tent and sleeping bag in Bolivia. I look forward to the tent breaking, will be sure to create some memories!

    [​IMG]

    The route plan is Isla Pescado (camp), then the south exit to San Cristobal for fuel top up with the next stop in Alota, Villa Mar or Laguna Colorada depending on how I’m going. I’m keeping it open as I don’t know what sort of pace I’ll be making. I decided against the western Lagunas route as it looked like it had lots of deep sand which would make for a miserable time if I was by myself picking the bike up a lot. My next post will be from Chile with some luck.

    If you want to see if I’m still alive, my spot tracker will be pinging – you can view it here!
  10. VTbeemer

    VTbeemer Traveler

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2009
    Oddometer:
    614
    Location:
    People's Republic of Vermont
    If you continue down the street about a block and a half from where your bike is parked is the Tonito hotel on the right. Enter the hotel and go all the way to the rear to the Minuteman Pizza Shop. Great food run by an ex pat named Chris from Massachusetts.

    The Lagunas route would be epic but yes the deep sand and solo would be a handful. You can always look out for the passing Land Cruiser tour trucks. They are lifesavers out there both for navigation and maybe spare gas if needed.

    Dan
    clumsy_culhane likes this.
  11. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2016
    Oddometer:
    180
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    Cheers for the tips! I went to Minuteman before checking into my hostel but they were closed! Went round the corner to the iOverlander recommendation of Snack San Juan - quarter chicken and 2L of coke for 30 bolivianos which hit the spot!
    VTbeemer likes this.
  12. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2016
    Oddometer:
    180
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    [​IMG]

    Well guys, I did it! That was the hardest three days on a bike I’ve ever had. Miles and miles of sand, deep gravel, washboard of all shapes of sizes and of course the delicious salt flat.

    [​IMG]

    Leaving Uyuni I was more than a little nervous about what lay ahead. I had pored over the maps and read ride reports, trying to make myself feel ready for everything. Of course in reality plans go out the window really quick but I feel like it still helps a bit!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The salt flat is just as good as everyone says it is. Once you follow the tracks to enter on the eastern side, you pretty much can go wherever you want.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I burned across to Isla Incahuasi and had a llama burger – my last nice meal until arriving in Chile. The walk around the island is kinda fun and the view is really nice to get a sense of just how big the salt flat is.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    One really frustrating event was all the tourists wanting photos with the bike (totally fine!) but at some point, one of them must have tried to get on the bike and dropped it, because the right-hand side aux light mount was broken when I got back and the right-hand fuel canister had leaked fuel. I was a bit furious as those mounts from Denali are impossible to get here, and it had ripped the thread out of the light itself as well. I ended up JB-welding it which has held up so far, but still not overly happy about it!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    From there its only 20 km or so to Isla Pescado, where I would camp for the night. One thing I didn’t plan for was getting to my campsite about five hours before sunset… so I spent the afternoon sitting on the salt flat listening to music, then later retreating into the cove to watch movies on my laptop which seemed like a waste of the scenery, but there’s only so much salt flat you can look at! My $20 tent and $15 sleeping bag were definitely not the most ideal equipment, but it was all I could find in Sucre so I suffered a bit through the night, adding a layer every hour as it got colder and colder.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The next day the real fun began. Cruising south I exited the salar and initially everything was very easy, on beautiful hard pack dirt that my knobby front tyre stuck to like glue. Soon enough though it was time to turn off and I got my first taste of deep sand. I hadn’t ridden sand since Colombia and that was with no panniers which helps a lot. Now I riding through with a completely laden bike with 10L of extra fuel and everything else. I was very quickly greateful for the knobby front tyre, if I was going to make it through that day I was going to need all the help I could get.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Cutting through the mountains, off the Land Cruiser tour route, the scenery began to get more and more epic, looking back down onto the salt flat on one side, the desert on the other. It was here I had my first bike drop of the day, on a very sharp switchback in deep sandy gravel. Nothing broken but getting it back up was a struggle as every time I lifted the bike, it would slide back down the hill a bit more.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Once I got into San Cristobal I found some cheap market food and restocked with snacks, tuna and water. When I went to get fuel there was none, myself and five other locals had to wait an hour for the truck to arrive with more. Glad to have my last fuel transaction in Bolivia sorted I headed off south, aiming to get to Laguna Colorada.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I wouldn’t arrive in the Laguna until almost 5pm after some of the roughest and most difficult roads of my life! Lots of sand and gravel that was deceptive in its difficulty. You would be travelling along fine until your front wheel would skip a bit, dig in and then suddenly you were fighting for control and hoping that you could keep it together until you stopped or the deep patch ended. And did I mention the washboard? Oh boy, I’m so much more impressed at the KLR after suffering through washboard for hours on end with missing a beat.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The last few kilometres into Laguna Colorada were some of the worst as I was tired, a bit cold and definitely over it. The sand was deep and the tracks all over the place. I entered a patch and couldn’t keep it together, and the bike fell on my leg. Nothing hurt but I quickly realised I was somewhat pinned. Grateful for my tall boots and soft panniers after a few minutes I sort of dug my leg out from underneath and pushed the bike off. What was scary was it was starting to get cold and most of the landcruisers had finished for the day – I could see the hospedaje’s in the distance where they were staying but it would have been a long wait for help if I couldn’t get the bike off my leg myself!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The next day I only had 180 km to get to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile, and the road wound itself south, cutting through some of the best scenery of the trip. By this point I had improved greatly at riding the tracks so I made good progress, stopping at some of the lagunas to take photos and talk with the tour guides who all thought I was crazy!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Two kilometres from the Chilean border I met a cyclist who was cycling from Canada to Ushuaia, he had been on the road for more than two years! We were both happy to have survived southwest Bolivia but when I offered a tow up the last little hill he respectifully declined. After pulling away the Bolivian migration official from his lunch I was into chile where the pavement started again. I almost kissed the ground.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  13. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    348
    Location:
    GTA, ON, CDA
    Freakin' beauty Man!
    clumsy_culhane likes this.
  14. GuateRider

    GuateRider Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,559
    Location:
    Antigua , Guatemala
    Great pics , well done :clap:clap:clap
    clumsy_culhane likes this.
  15. Turkeycreek

    Turkeycreek Gringo Viejo

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,152
    Location:
    Banámichi, Sonora, Mexico
    Well done and good on ya, laddie.
    Excellent write up and great photos.
    clumsy_culhane likes this.
  16. jmcg

    jmcg Turpinated..

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    483
    Location:
    The Dandenong Ranges, Vic
    Great update, thanks.

    :thumb

    JM.
    clumsy_culhane likes this.
  17. gavo

    gavo Slacker

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,536
    Location:
    Gympie QLD
    Good write up, hope you're having fun. Just a question, do you intend to ship the bike back from your finish country?
    clumsy_culhane likes this.
  18. FTL900

    FTL900 White and nerdy

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2005
    Oddometer:
    835
    Location:
    Las Vegas
    Las Vegas guy stuck in an office all day and I just found your RR this morning, so now I'm all caught up!

    †Type II fun... I like that!!! I think I've experienced that more than once... I've never gotten any good at riding in sand! But you know what they say.. if everything went smoothly, if everything went according to plan, it wouldn't be an adventure!
    [​IMG]
    clumsy_culhane likes this.
  19. #1Fan

    #1Fan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2008
    Oddometer:
    911
    Location:
    Lakewood, CO , USA
    Congrats on the Salar ride! And thanks for sharing with us!! Cheers!! :clap:clap:clap The Salar is one of my bucket list rides as well!
    clumsy_culhane likes this.
  20. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2016
    Oddometer:
    180
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    Thanks for the comments guys, I'm mostly just relived to make it back to civilisation in one piece haha.
    Not sure yet. Got a quote for about $2500 to fly it home from buenos aires, it's expensive but I'm becoming awfully attached to the klr...
    Thanks! Looks like your all across it. I think sand would be a lot more fun on a Mn enduro bike without all the luggage shit!

    Sent from my SM-G920I using Tapatalk