Adventure Dreams - Riding the Americas

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by squr3l, Jun 7, 2017.

  1. squr3l

    squr3l alpaca

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    Instead I set my sights on Cape Flattery, the northwestern-most point of the contiguous US. I enjoyed the cruise up the coast through little bays and towns, through the Native America reservation and out to the tip of the peninsula.
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    I also got my first glimpse of Canada so far this trip! Those mountain tops are Vancouver Island.
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    It's a short easy hike out to the point with absolutely beautiful views every direction
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    After soaking it in, I headed towards Port Angeles and figured out where I was staying that night.
    #81
  2. squr3l

    squr3l alpaca

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    You might remember Dave and Jill from Norcal. Well, when I stayed with them a week ago they made sure to introduce me over the phone to their good friend Russ who lives in, you guessed it, Port Angeles. I got into town and punched his address into the GPS.
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    A short ride later I pulled in to meet him and the whole family. It's funny what a small world it is. I soon found out that Russ used to run the El Camino Store based out of Santa Barbara, and wouldn't you know it, I sold my '69 El Camino right before this trip, and went to school in Santa Barbara! So we actually had a lot in common to shoot the shit over. And if that's not enough... then he showed me the man cave he built in his backyard shop and offered to let me stay there!
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    I'll leave you hanging with that for now, and I'll try to get the rest of the story out in less time than this one took.
    #82
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  3. squr3l

    squr3l alpaca

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    Well I didn't mean to leave you all hanging for so long, and I appreciate anyone who's still following along and waiting for an update. I'm much farther along in the story now. I have a bit of free time these days, plus an apartment in Lima Peru, and recently got my computer delivered to me. That has made this process of trying to catch you all up on the story less daunting than it had been previously with only my phone on the move.

    I'll start with some selections from the ending of my ride to Alaska, then get you up to speed with where I am now.

    After my time in Washington, I ferried over to Vancouver Island and spent a few wet days riding around and out to Tofino before heading back to Victoria and ferrying over to Vancouver. I opted for a hostel in Tofino with some new traveler friends I met and paid for my first night of accomodation of the trip.

    I stayed with some friends I had in Vancouver for a day or 2, then rode out and met the new friends from Tofino to hike up Stawamus Chief peak in Squamish. After that I continued on to Whistler where I reunited with more friends I had made on mountain biking trips to Whistler in years prior. I made their couch a homebase for the better part of a week, and did some wagonwheel spoke rides to points on interest nearby, including the Train Wreck hike, Soo River, Lillooet Lake, and Skookumchuck T'sek hot springs to name a few. I also enjoyed some of my favorite spots around Whistler like Lost Lake, and ended up floating down the River of Golden Dreams from Alta Lake to Green Lake with my friends I was staying with.

    Lost Lake, Whistler:
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    Here's an edit from riding around Soo River one day with Oliver Charni who was heading back south after his Alaska moto trip:
    https://www.instagram.com/p/BVAmGp4lYzK/

    And here's an edit from floating down the River of Golden Dreams:
    https://www.instagram.com/p/BVCrLpGFDuW/
    #83
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  4. squr3l

    squr3l alpaca

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    After some time relaxing in Whistler I continued north and found some nice camping spots on the way out towards Hyder.

    I stayed at Seton Lake one night:
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    Then later I rode out to a deserted campsite at Twan Lake where the skies proceeded to open up and dump rain and hail on me before I could get anything setup in camp. Video of that here, but I apologize in advance for any foul language :X https://www.instagram.com/p/BVI2_dGFjBw/

    The next morning I found myself deep in the back woods something like 50km away from pavement and all the roads had turned into a snotty muddy mess. I tried to continue the shortest route on to the next town, but it was terrain I hadn't ridden the day before and in less than 5kms I performed a spectacular pirouette in the mud. I had a hell of a time getting the bike up as my boots couldn't find any hold in the mud until I laid down all the thick tree branches I could find. I turned around and backtracked the way I had arrived after that fiasco:
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    As I got closer to Hyder it got harder and harder to resist stopping to snap photos around every bend in the road:
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    Here's Bear Glacier that you pass on Hwy 37A before you get into Hyder:
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    And here's a shot from Salmon Glacier:
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    Next up was the Sign Post Forest in Watson Lake:
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    I caught up with a familiar looking truck bed camper as I was getting into Whitehorse, Yukon, and it turned out to be a German guy about my age named Max who I had run into at a small roadside lake and passed on the road several times up to that point. We met up and wild camped together near Miles Canyon outside Whitehorse.
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    Here's a friendly visitor we had as we were hanging out and preparing dinner. The fox almost stole my bag of top ramen but I knew he wasn't prepared to cook it properly, so I refused to give it up.
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    I was getting pretty close to Dawson City by this point, and started seeing a lot more riders converging. At a random gas stop I got chatting with a couple ADV riders I had passed a few times on the road, and Jason and Derek and I ended up camping out off the Klondike Hwy the last day before catching Dust 2 Dawson.
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    And then at Dust 2 Dawson I had a blast with all the like minded riders soaking up the local entertainment and rally shenanigans. Here's a picture from the top of Midnight Dome that I ended up making into my sticker for the trip down south.
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    #84
  5. Greedyg76

    Greedyg76 Certified Card Carrying A-hole

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    Been following on IG, and it’s been an incredible adventure! I’ve spent a fair amount of time up and down Peru chasing the surf and your posts always bring back such great memories. Thanks for sharing
    #85
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  6. Mr Head

    Mr Head Adventure Hippie Supporter

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    Excellent to see this thread being updated. I'd of course forgotten all about it until it popped back up in my feed.
    Old man thing. :gerg
    Looks like a wonderful time too. :thumb
    #86
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  7. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Truly, this is really well photographed!! Great work!!
    #87
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  8. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv Super Supporter

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    Following along with great interest and taking notes.

    Thanks Sqrl getting this RR back on page 1.
    #88
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  9. squr3l

    squr3l alpaca

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    Awesome, glad to hear that!

    Thank you, it's been a blast!

    Thanks a lot!

    Thanks Joel, happy to provide some research material for you!
    #89
  10. squr3l

    squr3l alpaca

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    I had a fun time in Dawson City, which gets completely overrun by ADV riders during the rally.

    This was as I arrived to the campsite I shared in town:
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    Leaving a bar at 2am one night. The sky never gets dark up there in the summer!
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    Watching Derek do the sour toe cocktail:
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    The local entertainment at Diamond Tooth Gerties:
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    One of the highlights was the poker run around the surrounding area. I rode a bit with Cameron during the run, who was a nice guy from Whitehorse camping out next to me.
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    After the poker run I participated in the bike games and didn't do very well at the standard events, but got wrangled back over to ride in the pillion games where my new pillion and I did pretty well.
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    Later that night I figured it was my last chance to join the club, so what the hell...
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    After a few fun days relaxing at the rally, plus an extra day in town to hang out and fish for good measure, I was ready to continue towards Alaska.
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    Here's a little Dust 2 Dawson edit I put together on the side of the road after I rolled out of town: https://www.instagram.com/p/BVgEwO7AqrG/
    #90
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  11. Beenriding

    Beenriding Been here awhile

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    picking it up again huh pal?
    #91
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  12. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer Super Supporter

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    What a trip it has been for you! Happy Trails Man!
    #92
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  13. squr3l

    squr3l alpaca

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    And after a rather sustained absence, I'm back to continue where I left off! After this RR got off the rails I always had the intention of coming back and filling in all the details. But the idea of that became more and more daunting as time passed and I stayed busy with work and more travels. Alas, here I am again.
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    I left off at the end of the Dust 2 Dawson rally. From there I pointed the bike west and rode the scenic Top of the World Highway towards Chicken.
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    About halfway there I realized my bike sounded a lot louder than it should have. I already knew the cause and I couldn't do anything else to help so I just kept on going until I pulled into the funny little village of Chicken, Alaska. It's not much more than a dozen buildings with a couple dirt roads connecting them.
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    I hopped off the bike and was surprised to see what looked like a chicken blown out of a hole in my exhaust. I had lost a rivet back in Dawson or shortly beforehand, and it had started tearing the paper-thin casing of the Yoshi pipe during the rally. I had tried some bush fixes with metal zipties and bailing wire back in town but they clearly didn't do the job. In retrospect, some good hose clamps probably could have saved it had I acted in time.
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    I did my best to wire it closed again for the time being. Then walked into the only souvenir shop where a local made knives, little tin fire starting kits, and various knick knacks.
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    I bought a handmade stone or antler pipe if I remember right, then rode over to the saloon for a bowl of chili.
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    Well nourished, I hit the road towards Tok, where I found a quaint motorcycle campground full of unique accommodations. You could stay the night in a converted ambulance, or school bus, or teepee, cabin, bunkhouse, etc. I was going to take the cheapest tent option, but for the same price I stayed in the tiny shared bunkhouse that I had all to myself. It was raining off and on too, so that would save me time packing a wet tent in the morning.
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    The next day I rendezvoused with another new friend from D2D, who happened to have a MIG welder in town. We pulled my exhaust off and let him get to it. The stainless steel was paper thin and I could see it disintegrating as soon as he hit it with heat, but eventually he gobbed on enough material to close the holes.
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    It certainly wasn't going to win any beauty contests, but adventure bikes are all about the battle scars and stories, right?
    #93
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  14. squr3l

    squr3l alpaca

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    I then made my way to Fairbanks. Looking back at the pictures from those days now there wasn't a whole lot to report. The bike and I ate up a lot of long highway miles, and it seemed like I was always heading into a storm. Every once in a while I would see a huge moose along the shoulder or clumsily meandering across the road. Once in Fairbanks I opted to stay at the university dorms, which seems to be a popular choice, though I can't see why. I was due for an oil change at this point, so I spent a day running around to Napa, Walmart, O'reilly, and finally the BMW dealer before I found the right oil and filter for my bike. Then I headed back to Walmart and changed the oil in the parking lot. The service station guys were kind enough to loan me a pan and dispose of the old oil.
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    A bit underwhelmed with the big city, I was really ready to get back out into nature. As it would have it, Cameron who camped out near me at D2D, was also planning to ride to Prudhoe Bay. We stayed in touch and met up about a week after D2D early one morning in Fairbanks. We grabbed some coffee and breakfast and planned out the day's ride.
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    We figured we would ride to about Coldfoot that day, and make it to Deadhorse & Prudhoe Bay the next. We hit the road and cruised some nice dirt along the Dalton Highway. It was a beautiful day, with hardly a cloud in the sky. At some point we realized you need to book a tour of the Prudhoe Bay oil fields 24 hours in advance to actually get all the way to the Arctic Ocean. So when we pulled into the only gas station on our way we jumped on one of their computers and booked our tour reservations online. Around 2:30pm we made it to the Arctic Circle where we snapped a few pics at the sign and picked up the free certificate they hand out in the parking lot.
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    I remember hopping on the bike and riding towards the exit to turn back onto the Dalton. Anddddd... that's about it.

    Then I wake up in the hospital. I don't remember much of the hospital at this point, but it's clear I was in bad shape just looking at the first texts I sent when I got my phone in hand. I texted someone saying I thought I might have broken my arm and my leg. In fact it was a broken shoulder and a broken jaw. I think this photo was a few days later, after Cameron made it to the Arctic Ocean and back down to Fairbanks where he visited me in the hospital.
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    I had a few shitty days getting fixed up there in Fairbanks. Some facial plastic surgery as I had bit through part of my lip, jaw wired shut, & lots of opioids that really put me out of it. My shoulder put me in a lot of agony, and the doctors in Fairbanks told me there was nothing they could do as it was shattered beyond hopes of surgery. It was a comminuted fracture to the neck of the humerus, which apparently means it had splintered into a dozen or more little pieces upon impact. I remember reading the discharge report and one of the doctors pessimistic comments concerning why there were no options available to repair my shoulder. It didn't help me out at all. I was starting to feel really depressed about everything. To realize I had just started this awesome trip, quit my job and sold my car, prepped everything for a year of travel... then barely scratched the surface of it with 6 great weeks, and now might never be able to ride motorcycles again.
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    My Mom had unfortunately received a call from the hospital to alert them of my accident, and was already en route to Alaska by the time I was conscious. She picked me up at the hospital and we arranged new plans. My trip was off. My bike was totaled.
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    We went to see the bike at the tow yard. It was dumped on it's side with a tarp covering it when I got there. The bike somersaulted down the Dalton Highway perhaps 5 times. The forks were bent, the steering stem and triple clamps had been ripped from the head tube, all the plastics were smashed, the headlight and speedo were tossed on the ground next to the bike, the tail rack was bent 90* up as if the bike landed perfectly vertical on the tail at some point.
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    Insurance told me they were going to ship the bike down to California. I wanted to pull whatever farkles I could salvage off... my Scotts stabilizer, Seat Concepts, skid plate, whatever... But I could hardly stand at that point and I wasn't about to start any of that there. And insurance would end up keeping the bike in Alaska in the end... so legend has it those farkles are still lying under that tarp in some tow yard in Fairbanks.

    With all that said, I gotta give a massive thank you to Cameron for literally saving my life there. He was riding behind me on the Dalton a bit south of Coldfoot when he says my rear wheel got a crazy wobble around 65 or 70 mph. I tried to lower my center of gravity on the tank and ride it out but in the flash of an eye something happened and the bike and I vaulted forward, somersaulting down the highway. I ended up smashing my modular Scorpion EXO-AT950 helmet straight into my chin, breaking the helmets front hinge and forcing it into my jaw presumably when my face made first contact with the ground. Cameron says the bike and I ended up off the road down the embankment on the edge of a drainage ditch or marshland. I had my ACR Artex PLB in my jacket pocket as is always recommended, but I was unconscious and my broken shoulder was twisted behind me in a bad way. Even with a satellite rescue device on me who knows when I would have come to or if anyone driving by would have seen me.
    [​IMG]

    Cameron is a chief paramedic in Whitehorse so as terrible as it all was, I have to think I got really lucky to have been riding with someone else (and someone damn competent at first aid) when I wrecked. That was only the 3rd time I had ridden with anyone else in the last 6 weeks from California to Alaska. He called for an ambulance, which drove me to Coldfoot, then a medical flight flew me to Fairbanks.

    This is just what I can piece together from the accident as I don't remember any of it. I have come to the conclusion that the rear wheel bearing on my F800GS failed catastrophically as has been reported in depth in this thread...

    More to come soon. It gets better, I swear.
    #94
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  15. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv Super Supporter

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    Buck. Glad to see the continuation of this RR. No worry about the time gap between the last report and today. More important is you have people rooting for you and would like to see you achieve your dreams.

    Really relieved to see you survived that mess. Many don't have the same luck you had and having someone like Cameron along.
    #95
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  16. Wagg

    Wagg n00b Supporter

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    I know exactly what you went through. I had a bad accident and broke my jaw (among other things) and had it wired shut. I still have titanium plates in my face they had to put in to fix my shattered jaw.
    Best thing I did was get back on a bike as soon as I could. I guess things like this are a chance we all take when we ride.
    #96
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  17. RJ44

    RJ44 Been here awhile

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    Enjoyed the report to date Buck. Can't believe the crash though. Hope you have no lingering issues. I'm looking forward to seeing more of your adventures.

    Rob
    #97
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  18. MotoRojo

    MotoRojo Adventurer

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    Hey Buck, I sincerely hope you are doing well despite the horrific crash. We are all rooting for you. These events are traumatic and take time to heal main so hang in there and keep your dreams alive. Will be sure to follow your report once you are ready.
    #98
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  19. squr3l

    squr3l alpaca

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    Hey everyone, thanks for the support and good wishes! I can happily say I didn't let it hold me back.

    I ended up flying back to Los Angeles where I found a really talented shoulder specialist who put me back together better than Humpty Dumpty's men in Alaska ever could have. The doc ended up inserting a big titanium rod and a few screws into my shoulder, and stitched me back up.

    Back in California, I was in bum spirits for a while... thinking I might never recover enough to ride again. I wasn't feeling like myself for several months afterward. And I had inner ear balance issues from hitting my head so hard, that I second guessed if I'd regain normal balance to ride a bike again.

    They told me I might never be able to lift my arm above my head again... A month or so after my shoulder surgery I started physical therapy, and I made it my #1 priority for a while as I wasn't working either. Nowadays, a few years later, I'm happy to have just about full range of motion recovered, maybe missing the last 5 degrees to be able to put my arm straight vertical.

    As many have alluded to, after a pretty traumatic wreck like that it can be daunting to get back onto the bike. I didn't really feel the hesitation however. A few months after my accident, I started trying to work my way back into it so I didn't have some subconscious hurdle to overcome later.

    My buddy Patrick had an XR80 which I started riding basically 1 armed in the driveway by September. By October, he and I had already thrown the XR80 in the back of his mom's Lexus and taken it down to Baja for a few weekend trips.
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    I kept up physical therapy and eventually started scanning the classifieds trying to figure out what I wanted for my next bike. An old AT 750? An airhead GS? Hmm, no none of those seemed quite right. I knew I wanted something lightweight and nimble since my shoulder wouldn't let me control a 500lb bike again for the foreseeable future. I kept browsing and dreaming...

    As luck would have it, one day Patrick shot me a Craigslist link for a sexy little 1988 Honda NX250, nearly 30 years old at the time, but still looking fly with some rally inspired fairings that have really aged well. Turns out fellow inmate Ron, who many of you may know from his work with the BDR project, was letting go of this prime example. It fit the bill for something lightweight, and felt more like a BMX bike than any of my heavier BMWs up til that point. So I snagged it!

    I ended up riding it down to Baja solo shortly thereafter for my birthday and the Baja 1000 that November.
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    After that trial run and a few other I really had my sights set to continue my trip southbound. I started preparing for the Central America and South American portion of the trip, and somewhere along the way I started thinking that a 250cc just wouldn't cut it for the Panamericana and Patagonian long haul sections...

    Queue another new addition to the stable: this battle proven 2003 Honda XR650R... As soon as I set my eyes on her, I dreamed up some grand plans to fabricate a nav tower, add a fat Acerbis supertank and turn her into a long distance adventure machine. I was partly inspired by some crazy Vikings, Fred and Odd, whom Patrick hosted for a few days when they came through LA on their Panamericana trip. They were riding a KTM 640 and a XR650R. I gotta say that's a pretty damn brutal bike to take on a RTW Americas trip... no key and kickstart only 650cc haha!
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    Anyway... things were looking up. Now the main question on my mind was which bike to take? And when to hit the road...
    #99