A String in a Maze: NYC to Patagonia solo

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by infinityjellyd, Oct 6, 2016.

  1. Precis

    Precis Maladroit malcontent

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2009
    Oddometer:
    5,698
    Location:
    Body's back home, but soul is in Central America
    Casa Matte: say Hi to Christian and Frederica for us! We were the "older" pair of Aussies on DR650s to pass through there, in April. Be careful where you go for a haircut nearby - there's an old lady who likes to rip off foreigners!
    As an Aussie -I'd advise your mate with the KLR to head to southern Africa first: it is incredibly cheap, there's lots of great riding and good advice to be had on the wilddogs.co.za forum.
  2. infinityjellyd

    infinityjellyd Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2014
    Oddometer:
    376
    Location:
    Lost
    Ok. So today was a dooooosie.

    Checking valves. Bike has 26k mile and I haven't done it since I got the bike at 3.5k. Just a tiny bit overdue.

    On the DR650 access is pretty easy, but the valve gap itself is below the lip of the rocker head so you have to curve the gauge to check the gap. But since it's entering from an angle, you get false friction. So I decided to buy a set of gauges and physically bent the ones I need to get a clean reading. It works and I get the exhaust valves to spec, tighten them lightly and do one check now that they're tight before I close the rocker head.

    That's when I notice that the gauge tool feels weird. I look at it, and the pivot screw is wobbly and on the other side there is no nut.

    Oh. Shit.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Seven stages of grief ensue, along with frantic searching for the bolt on the floor, in exterior corners of the engine, on my lap, in my coffee mug---really, anywhere but the nightmare of it being in the engine. Eventually, I do find it indeed in the rocker head but thank Poseidon I'm able to fish it out with some hanger wire. [​IMG]

    But here's the thing: another guy here has the same shit chinese gauge but his has a washer on it. So where is the washer? Was there even a washer on mine in the first place?

    These are the questions that will keep me up tonight while I decide to take it to a mechanic for a full tear down to find a possible non-existent washer or just put it together and press the ol' red button and hope my karma account is in the black.
    dave6253 and fasttortoise like this.
  3. Precis

    Precis Maladroit malcontent

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2009
    Oddometer:
    5,698
    Location:
    Body's back home, but soul is in Central America
    Got a magnetic sump plug?
    We found the eye of a circlip stuck to one... twice...
    Bike runs fine.
  4. Ride Now

    Ride Now Graybeard

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2011
    Oddometer:
    332
    Location:
    Yakima, WA
    To help put your mind at ease, I just checked all 3 of my cheap feeler gauge sets; straight, bent and mini. None of them have a washer on them and just now was the only time the nuts have been off these gauges. :D
  5. infinityjellyd

    infinityjellyd Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2014
    Oddometer:
    376
    Location:
    Lost
    Thanks. I went back to the store where I bought it and checked the same ones and none had washer, so I'm safe. Started her up this morning and no scary noises so I think I'm in the clear!
    TaZ9, kenbob, dave6253 and 3 others like this.
  6. infinityjellyd

    infinityjellyd Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2014
    Oddometer:
    376
    Location:
    Lost
    Border - Los Libertadores

    So after Buenos Aires I rode across central Argentina to Mendoza, a route that consists of flat marshlands. On the plus side there were lots of birds: herons, storks, hawks, ducks, doves. On the downside, lots of insects. It was basically two days of uninspiring view and wiping the guts of some bicho off my shield every minute or so:

    [​IMG]




    After two nights in Mendoza I headed to the border but was stopped in the last town in Argentina, Uspallata, because a recent storm dumped a meter of snow in the mountains. After a full two days of shut down the border reopened to two days worth of waiting crowds. Below is the border office in its beautiful mountain setting: 3000m above sea level and a few miles from Aconcagua, the highest peak (6960m) in the world outside of Asia. The second foto is looking behind us and though you can't see it, the line of vehicles goes even farther than is visible in the picture. Each one of those cars needs to do the paperwork and have vehicle inspections to enter Chile. The moto allowed us to skip some, but not all of them. Long day.


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]





    But it wasn't all bad. While camping and waiting for the border to open I met a Chilean couple on a new Triumph Tiger. After our shared suffering in crossing the border they invited me to stay with them in Santiago a few days. Good people.


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]



    And here's your feral narrator upon reaching his 14th (and final) country on this trip:

    [​IMG]
  7. Precis

    Precis Maladroit malcontent

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2009
    Oddometer:
    5,698
    Location:
    Body's back home, but soul is in Central America
    Sensational pictures, as always!
    While waiting, did you get to visit the Inca Bridge on the Argie side? And the ruined hotel/clinic built to cure STDs via the cleansing effect of Andean snow melt? Brrr!
    If it's any consolation, the queue going the other way, in mid March, is just as tedious, if somewhat warmer.
  8. infinityjellyd

    infinityjellyd Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2014
    Oddometer:
    376
    Location:
    Lost
    So, you're saying I could have used Andean snow?

    :D
    shiryas and Precis like this.
  9. TreasureState

    TreasureState A murse posing as a freelance dirt rider

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2017
    Oddometer:
    572
    Location:
    Went from the minor groove to the lagging strand
    Infinityjelld,

    There are a lot of ride reports that I like, and all of them are different, which means that I like them for different reasons. Each motorcycle journalist puts their own touches in there. This ride report was no exception, a true modern day grown man's Tow Sawyer expedition to fin del mundo (I hope to get there some day myself).

    Your post made it seem like this was the end of the trip, if so, I would love to get a roll up from you (even if much later when you return home) of good kit, things you wish you had, things you wished you had known, etc. I saw your preparation thread about pack out and such, just curious how your needs evolved on the trip.

    Care to share what you left behind careerwise in NYC, and what awaits you when you get back home?

    Thanks for a solid ride report, have enjoyed every post from a fellow DR650 rider.

    TS
    Trip Hammer likes this.
  10. infinityjellyd

    infinityjellyd Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2014
    Oddometer:
    376
    Location:
    Lost
    Thanks, TS. I did plenty of research on ADVrider and other sites, had prior mountaineering/hiking experience, and did a (practice) weekend ride or two all geared up before I left so I was pretty well prepared and haven't really had any surprises or mishaps on gear, etc. Feel free to PM if you have specific questions. One thing I will say: learn as much Spanish as you can before you go. Really.

    Really.

    Report's not yet over. Just been settled a bit so no fotos worth sharing. Should be entering Patagonia in November so more to come then.

    I've had a variety of jobs: corporate, non-profit, education. Never really had a career.

    Not sure what awaits beyond the horizon, I'm a guy who could only ever seen twenty feet ahead of me. In April I'm hiking the Camino de Santiago with my 75-yr old dad. Talked him into doing half. I figure if I'll do it I might as well do the whole route. I was in talks with a Dutch girl to ride horses across Mongolia next summer, but I'm pegging that at 20% probability. More a drunk dream we shared than a real possibility. Somewhere I will need a job again since money doesn't grow on trees. Least not any of the ones I've seen.
  11. Ohio_Danimal

    Ohio_Danimal If I die trying, at least I tried

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,692
    Location:
    Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio (The Crooked River)
    Always in awe of both your photography skill set and your prose.
    This is, and has been for a while, my favorite Ride Report here on ADV.
    In many ways you have inspired me, and cemented my desire to replicate in kind a similar venture in 2018/2019
    Thank you so much for taking the time to keep us enchanted
  12. infinityjellyd

    infinityjellyd Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2014
    Oddometer:
    376
    Location:
    Lost
    Thanks. Always a pleasure to hear I've inspired others. When I was planning this trip I read a great RR by another innate that had the same effect on me.



    Been chillin' on the coast of Chile for a bit. Lots of epic sunsets.

    [​IMG]
  13. Ohio_Danimal

    Ohio_Danimal If I die trying, at least I tried

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,692
    Location:
    Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio (The Crooked River)
    we demand an update!
    adventurebound9517 likes this.
  14. joenuclear

    joenuclear Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,193
    Location:
    Top of the Ouchitas, bottom of the Ozarks.
  15. wmdsasquatch

    wmdsasquatch Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2016
    Oddometer:
    26
    Location:
    Virginia
    THIS PHOTO IS EPIC!

    Thanks for the window into your world.
    TreasureState and Ride Now like this.
  16. infinityjellyd

    infinityjellyd Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2014
    Oddometer:
    376
    Location:
    Lost
    Thanks, sasquatch. Like I said, the sunsets are epic...and plentiful:

    [​IMG]



    Ok, update:

    On the road again today for the first time in almost a month. Just left the coast of Chile where I spent four weeks doing a Workaway (google it) with a couple of hippies. I hope to write more on it later when I have the time to give it its due. But the short version is that I helped him build stuff around their property help with construction at a house made of two containers that the guy is building for his mother. During my stay I had my very own little cool dome hut to call home.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]



    One project was to build a vegetable garden. We used young eucalyptus trees from the property for the structure and doors. Lots of digging to build that retaining wall. I hate digging.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]



    We also finished enclosing a deck he built on the side of his mom's house. We did the left half wall, which doesn't match the right at all. That's the thing when you freestyle construction and are a little scatterbrained: you change plans along the way and improvise a lot. We did a lot of improvising. That door is from Indonesia and was so old and warped that to make it fit we have a lot of trapezoidal and triangular pieces. I'd say a good 90% of our methods would not be OSHA approved. I've never seen someone use a circular saw in so many many ways...

    [​IMG]
  17. steveh2112

    steveh2112 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2017
    Oddometer:
    145
    Location:
    Phuket, Thailand and LA, CA
    great trip report, wonderful writing, you could teach some well know published authors a thing or 2 i suspect.
    i notice you have what looks like a pelican case on the back and soft panniers. that's what i'm planning for my trip. did it work out well for you? what do you do with your helmet when parked? thanks
  18. infinityjellyd

    infinityjellyd Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2014
    Oddometer:
    376
    Location:
    Lost
    Thanks, steve. I wish I'd written more but oddly enough I seem to have less free time than when I was working 60 hour weeks and in a relationship and had a busy social life. Now I'm a lone guy on the road with nowhere to get to and yet the days just race by. Any other ADVers have this issue while on extended trips?

    So, yeah, cases. Cases were one of the two or three issues I really went back-and-forth when I was trip planning. The bike came with the pelican case on the back and I was debating the hard or soft pannier dilemma. Lots of thread posts on ADVrider discussing this. I ultimately went with soft: Mosko Moto 35L Backcountry Panniers (love 'em!). For me, the soft panniers/hard tailcase combo is the best combo. I've been down a bunch on the dirt (screw you, Peru!) and once on asphalt (also, Peru!) during this trip. Soft bags are great as they cushion the fall and I don't worry about catching an ankle (met a Swiss guy that had this happen to him in Patagonia). I doubt hard cases would have lasted so many impacts. Soft bags are also easier for squeezing through tight spaces in city traffic. I wouldn't risk scratching a car with hard cases, but with soft I can try to make it by and not worry that I'm going to get into an altercation with any angry driver for scuffing his door.

    The trade-off of course is security. But what I didn't realize before but do now is that my bags are always either on the bike while I'm riding or safely stored in a hotel room. With the exception of camping, of course, I always stay in hotel/hostels that have secure moto parking. Meanwhile, the amount of times I've left the bike unattended and loaded on the street in fourteen months is less than 10, and in those cases always in safe places (never city centers). With the lockable tailcase,my crucial items like electronics and documents are safely secured. The rest is just clothes, tools, and gear, any of which can be replaced on the road.

    So, 5-star rating for soft bags and hard tailcase.



    Oh, and I always carry my helmet with me when parked. In the few instances where I went hiking or did something where carrying a helmet would be an encumbrance, I locked it to the bike with a long bike lock (8 ft?) that, along with bike cover, gives me extra security and piece of mind. With the Mosko Moto panniers I can just put the lock and cover in the outside stuff pockets so they really don't take up a lot of packing space and are easily accessible.

    The bike cover was also a "should I or shouldn't I bring" dilemma that I'm happy I brought. I've had my idle screw played with a few times by people in hotels or parking garages. when I didn't use the cover tarp. I'm sure people have touched and prodded other things too. It's not a BMWer or Ducati, and she's dirty and beaten up, but people still are curious and want to inspect. The cover is a great deterrent and well worth the extra space, IMO.
  19. Precis

    Precis Maladroit malcontent

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2009
    Oddometer:
    5,698
    Location:
    Body's back home, but soul is in Central America
    Snap! This exactly matches our experience in SA - though we had cheap one-helmet sized top-boxes which surprisingly, lasted the trip. We made PacSafe type mesh bags over soft panniers because we expected some opportunistic theft in Africa, but as it was, we did the whole 39,000km without incident. Soft panniers also crash well! And a simple cover makes the bike anonymous, almost invisible.
    TreasureState likes this.
  20. Ohio_Danimal

    Ohio_Danimal If I die trying, at least I tried

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,692
    Location:
    Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio (The Crooked River)
    On the subject of luggage, am looking at options for the DR650 I am prepping for a similar trip next year
    I've spent the last season riding with racks and Wolfman Expedition soft bags. Overall worked great. Plenty of capacity and have withstood multiple offs w/out much more than scuffing.
    But...heading to Latin America I also wanted lockable security.
    So I'm looking closely at the Mule-Pack panniers made from blown poly like a heavy duty trash can (in fact they kind of look like that)
    The lids are lockable, and as the cases flex, MAY be less harmful to the rider in a crash.
    Either of you familiar with them?