Cycle South 2019 la segunda parte. From Ohio to Ushuaia (now in Panama)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Ohio_Danimal, Apr 24, 2018.

  1. Ohio_Danimal

    Ohio_Danimal If I die trying, at least I tried Supporter

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  2. ohdobbs

    ohdobbs n00b

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    Dude looks beautiful. Wishing I could be there with you enjoying the scenery and having a beer or two. Keep up the posts, following them daily
  3. Ohio_Danimal

    Ohio_Danimal If I die trying, at least I tried Supporter

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    Mark, it's great to see you post and to know that you're following along with me. It'd be wild to be riding with you. You and I have traveled extensively together, and I've always felt comfortable with you around. You are a brave man and a great Father to step up and raise two girls on your own. You get maximum respect from me for that. Someday you'll be able to do whatever you want.
    Me? I scraped together every cent I have to do this one. I'll arrive back spent, but still consider it worthwhile, considering what my Country is going through. I'm glad I'm not there to be honest, it hurt so much to see every day.

    Today I left the house I stayed at in Belize City around 8:30, and headed to the Atlantic Bank, where I first took out money at their ATM and then went inside and exchanged it for part US dollars and part Guatemaulan quetzals, knowing I would need it at the border to Guatemaula.
    I studied the border crossing procedures hard, utilizing @rtwpaul 's book about CA border crossings, @Sjoerd Bakker's book, and also @CanuckCharlie 's RR from his trip to SA last year, as he well-documented the procedure and costs at each crossing.
    So I (thought) I was ready lol.
    When I got there, nothing was as it was supposed to be!
    Every building location and such had changed a little, and to top it off, the building on the Belize side where copies are made was closed, so I had to walk over the bridge into Guatemaula to pay a tienda to make copies of three documents, then walk back....in the heat.
    All during this a very friendly young man kept offering his services to help me, which I replying "yo no necesitas ayuda!"
    But he kept helping! And he really was a help, knowing the people at each window and counter, and knowing where everything was (as they had recently moved it all around)
    At the end, we chatted a bit, and he exchanged some US dollars and Mex Pesos into Quetzals. I then gave him the equivalent of $5 US for his help. It was worth it IMO, and total time to get through was about 48 minutes. I was drenched in sweat and it felt great to be rolling again!
    I immediately loved the riding compared to Belize, which is flat, straight, hot, humid, little shade and did I mention hot?
    Guatemaula was rolling jungles, huge old trees everywhere, well-kept small farms and villages and friendly folks most everywhere I looked.
    One thing though...the roads there are always in the extremes. VERY smooth and perfect, then sections with chuckholes and cracks that will swallow your wheel whole!
    On top of that, all truck traffic is constantly swerving to avoid said chuckholes. So not only do you have to be on your toes watching your lane, you need to look for holes and such in the oncoming lane, and mix that data together with the oncoming traffic you see and compute your every move. The sights were begging your attention, but, wanting to survive this journey, I fought the urge to look all around constantly, and stayed focused, which is in itself tiring as hell.
    I eventually made it to my Airbnb spot in Flores Guatemaula, right on the shore of a massive lake, Lago Peten Itza. From the dirt street it's on, it looks like a tienda called "Smoothies".
    Inside their compound is a restaurant, beautiful shaded eating/relaxing area and gardens that the owner Sarita takes care of.
    My room, which is huge, has two beds and a nice shower and is very tastefully decorated. One of the nicer places aesthetically, (but no A/C)

    I'll be headed towards Antigue now, where I hope to meet up with Chelsea Southward, a metal artist who is there working on a project. Chelsea is travelling solo RTW on her DR650! Chelsea's ADV name is @unusmundusproject
    Here is a link to her ride report here
    https://advrider.com/f/threads/chelsea-and-the-phoenix-rtw-currently-in-guatemala.1337198/

    It'd be great to meet her and chat over beers.

    I think maybe two or three more days in Guatemauls, and then roll right down CA1 towards Panama, making good time (aside from the border crossings lol)
    Romero, roadcapDen, Cal and 3 others like this.
  4. Ohio_Danimal

    Ohio_Danimal If I die trying, at least I tried Supporter

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    Wowee what an intense ride today.
    You can watch videos and read about places with intense motorcycle, scooter, tuk-tuk, giant semis spewing black smoke, chicken buses, bicycles and such in places like India or China (or Guatemala) but until you experience it first hand, it’s hard to comprehend how everyone survives (well, mostly everyone)
    The day started out rough. I left my room and rode to the waterfront to find an ATM.
    The first one, attached to a motel, seemed to work at first, but wouldn’t give any cash.
    I rode to a mall that had two, and the first one was down.
    By then I was frustrated and dripping sweat. I found a shady spot to sit near my bike and then I got a phone message from Charles Schwab. There had been a fraudulent $68 charge on my card from that motel!! The message said I would get a call shortly.
    I waited about 15 minutes and then they cancelled the charge and blocked the motel.
    Then a cop told me the other ATM in the mall was at the Supermercado.
    I went there, successfully got cash, and walked around a bit in their coooold air conditioned store.
    Picked up yogurt and fruit for breakfast, and a few things for later.
    Finally out of town, got back on CA13 South.
    Slow going for a while. Multiple herds of Brahma bulls crossing the road, refusing to allow their keeper to direct their flow to make room for me or cars. One such blockade lasted almost 30 min.
    Finally rolling, I stayed on CA13 to CA9 east towards Puerto Barrios, where tonight’s room is.
    Then the number of motorcycles started multiplying. Rapidly.
    Then as the semis slowed for the hills, it became a free for all.
    Motorcycles laden with firewood. Motorcycles with 3-4 people on them. With huge cages filled with chickens.
    With loads of PVC pipe. You name it.
    I went with the flow and followed locals on the berm and everywhere else.
    When able, dropped a gear and let Sunny sing, leaving most behind me, which only goes to accelerate the time until you come to the next slow train. Semis belching black smoke was giving me a headache. But I stayed focused and made it through the madness.
    My room is a newly remodeled room in a 150 yr old colonial home. Shelves everywhere for my things. Crazy strong water pressure on the shower (felt incredible)
    New TV and AC too, for $10/night. Can’t beat that.
    Now to see where I am in relation to the town’s highlights.
    Because I’ve got a loaf of bread, Nutella and jam, can of tuna and mayo and plenty of water, I may not leave the room lol. Feel exhausted after that ride.
    Sorry no pics really. Was focused.
    All is well though!
    Joris van O, NCJ, BillUA and 8 others like this.
  5. Ohio_Danimal

    Ohio_Danimal If I die trying, at least I tried Supporter

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  6. Ohio_Danimal

    Ohio_Danimal If I die trying, at least I tried Supporter

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    Superlatives aren’t enough.

    What I did today was perhaps the craziest motorcycling I’ve ever done.

    And I thought the traffic going into (and out of again early this morning) Puerto Barrios was intense, it pales by comparison to that of Guatemala City.

    Wishing I ran ride video just to scare the bejezus out of my riding friends.

    Maybe it’s good you don’t see it, or many might say “screw that!” And never want to visit.

    I’ve never split lanes like today, and Sunny is a wide load with the panniers.

    At one point a yellow SV650S blew by me. Splitting lanes and nailing every gap.

    I followed a while, as the traffic was opening room for him. Even still, my left mirror clipped the mirror on a Mahindra van. He beeped but I was already gone (thank God)

    I flipped my mirrors in for the remainder of the ride. I lost count of the traffic jams that I went around. Followed a number of bikes up into a sidewalk to get by a half block of jammed cars and trucks. As we passed, more and more bikes joined us. Thankfully the sidewalk had no pedestrians!

    Then out of GC it was hammer down on new highway all the way to Antigua.

    Then as you turn into Antigua it’s all hand laid cobblestone. Rough and tumble lol.

    Then the surprise. A message from my Airbnb host saying he was canceling my reservation!

    So I pulled into a shady spot and started looking. Crappy cell signal made that difficult at best, so I remounted Sunny and putt-putted around and found a room at Posada Dona Clara. A bit more $$ ($26/night) but they let me ride Sunny right through the main hall, and parked in their courtyard. Actually a nice room.

    Man oh man....there are gringos everywhere! Like more than anywhere I’ve seen so far in Guatemala.

    So it’s shower and food time.

    I should be wiped out, but feel wired from the adrenaline.

    Staying here two nights.

    Need to recharge a bit.

    Will post pics of Antigua after I go out a bit later.

    Whew!
  7. whm3223

    whm3223 Adventurer

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    In Colombia you'll experience the same crazy lane splitting. Good thing you got an intro to it already haha.
    Ohio_Danimal likes this.
  8. Head in the wind

    Head in the wind Adventurer

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    New Hampshire
    Dan took me a week to read. New to site, all I can really say is WOW. Envious, yes, dreaming of course. My longest MC trip pales yours, 16 days. Trying to get in all 48 lower states. Was wondering how a happily married man as myself could do something like this? Reading your thread answered it, when you flew to Mexico for DR. app. I could fly wife in at some point. Thanks keep on riding and posting.
    Ohio_Danimal likes this.
  9. Ohio_Danimal

    Ohio_Danimal If I die trying, at least I tried Supporter

    Joined:
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    First, thank you for taking your valuable time and reading along.
    It warms my heart truly to learn of new followers, especially one’s who enjoy the diatribe. Means more to me than you know. Like you, I spent a lot of time reading various blogs on ADV and elsewhere (even when I was happily [I thought lol] married) and fueling my desires to one day follow my own path.
    If I was in a solid relationship, I’d have my spouse on her own bike riding along.
    Kids, jobs, all the “normal” Western responsibilities prohibit that, I know.
    But I also know that we make time for the things we dream about, so take your time planning, ride a lot, repair your own bikes, learn to think quickly and it’ll all work out.

    I spent only two days in Antigua Guatemala, as I didn’t want to feel stressed or pressured to meet the July 20 boarding of the Stahlratte in Carti Panama. I wanted a few extra days in there for potential problems or just rest days.
    So I left Antigua behind this morning, even though I was starting to really like the place.
    Riding South towards CA2 and the coast put me right at the base of Volcan de Fuego. Wow. It’s massive. And quiet right now. No plums. No lava flows. But it’s still considered active.
    Then as I got closer to the El Salvador border, the road condition worsened.
    About 5 miles out, I passed two guys sitting on the side of the road next to a motorcycle.
    They smiled, waved and hopped on and nailed the little 200 to the stop to catch my mighty 650 lol.
    As I was dodging potholes they pulled up alongside me and yelled out they worked at the border and wanted to help me.
    Again, like into Guatemala, I yelled out “yo no necesitas ayuda!”
    They persisted and followed me still. I wicked it way up but then remembered the mine field that is the road there and slowed a bit, and they caught up. Right as we approached the border.
    When I got off the bike to get my passport stamped out, I repeated.
    He then asked me what I would be willing to pay for prompt crossing.
    Knowing a lot of riders spend 3+ hours at this one, I threw out a lowball price.
    He took it.
    And he really did a great job! The biggest hassle is showing officials my VIN number, as it’s under the fairing in front, requiring removal of the faring, about a 2 min job.
    Both out of Guat and into El Salvador, they allowed him to look under there with a flashlight and recite the numbers for the official. Worked great!
    Total border time was 1-1/2 hrs. Not too bad as it was hot as hell!
    So then I stopped at a place called Rey Pollo (King Chicken) and had two huge pieces of the best fried chicken in a long time, and a Gatorade for $3 (El Salvador uses US currency)
    Then headed further East along CA2, which then swooped down to the coast.
    And then over and over it would open up to the most spectacular ocean views ever. High cliffs, huge surf (surfers everywhere) and improving road conditions.
    I ended up stopping at a newish hotel/restaurant called Firewood, in El Sunzal El Salvador. Has a pool and strong AC.
    Leaving tomorrow for somewhere close to the Honduras border. Not planning on crossing though until the next day.
    I think that barring any mechanical issues, I should make Carti easily by the 20th.
    The only wifi here is up front in the restaurant, not in the bungalow.
    Will try to get a coastline pic up tonight.

    It just hit me today.
    I rode my freaking motorcycle from Ohio to El Freaking Salvador!!
    Stay tuned
  10. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

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    Here and there... but more there than here
    Dude. You’re just gettin’ started!!
    Ohio_Danimal likes this.
  11. Ohio_Danimal

    Ohio_Danimal If I die trying, at least I tried Supporter

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    I’m in Honduras!!

    Decided to press on rather than spending another night in El Salvador. The distances aren’t that great between the borders, and I wanted to get another border crossing checked off the list.
    Waiting in a small town for the Airbnb host to meet me and show me the way to his apartment. Air conditioned!!

    Hard to convey what this heat and humidity is like. It’s like swimming in air. If you’re not moving, you’re sweating.
    The border crossing (which a number of moto travelers have said takes 3+ hours) was wrapped up in just over and hour.
    No fixers used.
    Thanks @CanuckCharlie and Greg of Terradrifting fame for the detailed crossing guides. They really helped.

    Then...
    A little change in plans due to a bike issue.
    While waiting for Orlando, the Airbnb host, to come and direct me to his apartment (BTW, Orlando works at a solar power manufacturing plant here, has a nice apartment and rides a new Ducati Multistrada), I parked in the shade near a gas station and kicked out my highway pegs attached to my crash cage to lean back and relax.
    Then I felt the footpegs both move when I put my boots on them.
    Not good.
    Got off the bike to inspect and found that BOTH front cage mounts bolted to the frame had broken!
    The cage is not an essential component on Sunny. But.....having highway pegs to stretch out on rocks.
    So...showed the broken tabs to Orlando and he made a call. He has a guy in town that can weld them.
    So...because I arrived early in town (Orlando had to leave work to come get me) I decided as I was drenched in sweat and beat tired, and because his apartment kicks ass and is cheeep, that I’ll stay here two nights and get the repair done tomorrow when I’m fresh. Should be an easy couple of bead welds, a bit of paint and back in business. And I don’t really lose a day as I originally planned to stay two nights in El Salvador.
    So Orlando went back to work. When he gets off at 5, he’s taking me to dinner!
    Right now, freshly showered, sitting in a leather recliner, watching an old Paul Newman movie on a big screen, sipping some wonderful coffee.
    So even with the unexpected mechanical issue, not too bad of a day progress-wise.
    Only three more pain in the ass crossings left!
    Nicaragua
    Costa Rica
    Panama
    Then all aboard the Stahlratte on July 20th. Next stop then Cartegena Columbia!
  12. Jay_In_Milpitas

    Jay_In_Milpitas Zero to sixty in February

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    Milpitas, CA
    I will always remember that little jingle: Don't you know, you meet the nicest people in Honduras.
  13. scout68

    scout68 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2018
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    353
    Location:
    Germantown TN

    Following along and loving your story .....

    The bolt thing is weird , no? Your cage isn’t particularly load bearing , and you haven’t laid the thing down or been crushed or anything ..... could it have been while it was strapped down to something ? I just find that really strange.

    As someone who is trying to learn to always fix my own bike whenever possible, this just has me puzzled.

    Really glad you have pushed past previous boundaries...July 20th will be worth a cold bev to be sure. Ride safe
    Ohio_Danimal likes this.
  14. Jay_In_Milpitas

    Jay_In_Milpitas Zero to sixty in February

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    Vibration is often the culprit. Adding the foot pegs to the bars changes the harmonics and polar moment.
    Ohio_Danimal likes this.
  15. Ohio_Danimal

    Ohio_Danimal If I die trying, at least I tried Supporter

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    Bolt thing? No hardware broke. The two welded on mountings both broke free from the cage.
    I’m sure one broke from vibration then the other cracked.
    No falls. Never used to strap down.
    We’ll see tomorrow whether it can be rewelded or not.
    Jay_In_Milpitas likes this.
  16. Ohio_Danimal

    Ohio_Danimal If I die trying, at least I tried Supporter

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    6AA71173-898D-4D6C-BCEE-EE953795252F.jpeg A793FD41-6C3F-4C6F-ABCB-0F5BABF244F1.jpeg BBCEDC46-523E-4986-A51A-D3A50137E457.jpeg EE3C8098-F027-4C82-B8EB-4117E6878316.jpeg Damn. Worse than I thought. One tab was mounted to the upper oil cooler mount, which also broke off the oil cooler (which is aluminum)

    Poor design. I even thought that whenI mounted it.

    Now they have to try to weld the aluminum back together, and will try to create a new bracket for that side that mounts to a solid point on the frame

    What a morning. I was at the repair shop from 7:30 am till 12:30

    Like I said earlier, they were able to successfully weld the broken aluminum mounting tab that is part of the oil cooler itself, back onto the oil cooler.

    Then, they cut off the steel tab from the cage that broke off the cage, and made a new tab and relocated it so that it was mounted to a frame mount, rather than the flexible oil cooler bracket where it originally mounted. There are two tabs on the front of the cage that both cracked and broke off. The other side was mounted solid to the frame. They just re-welded that bracket back to the cage.

    Then when remounting, discovered that the new bracket didn’t clear the oil line going to the lower motor.

    So...all came off again and they cut away part of the oil cooler mount to clear space for the new tab.

    Then when remounting found the lower oil cooler line difficult to locate. When the bike was started that line started leaking immediately.

    Damn

    Pulled the line off to discover the o-ring had a tear. And I have no spare.

    Kid made a run to the Bendix brake store and found an o-ring.remounted and restarted and no leak.

    About that time, while the kid made the run to the store, I walked across the street to a gas station looking for more water. I brought a liter and it was long gone.

    Halfway across the street felt dizzy and nearly passed out. Heat rate was sky high. Felt nauseous.

    Went into the gas station. No water. No one there. Sat in the office chair and turned the fan on my face to try to cool down.

    Guy running the station came in all pissed off, maybe thinking I was trying to steal something. Dunno all I know is they told me to get out.

    Barely made it across the street.

    The Mother of one of the mechanics saw me, sat me down, poured ice cold water over my head, massaged my shoulders, gave me water to drink, a bottle of ice cold coke, a large pinch of salt which I downed and then let me sit a while till my heart rate dropped and the nausea faded.

    By then the oil leak was fixed.

    Her son then rode a bike into town and came back with two quarts of quality oil.

    He changed my oil, and I gave him a new crush washer to use on the drain plug.

    We finished reassembling Sunny while I checked and rechecked the job for loose fasteners, etc.

    Finally when done I sat in the shade a bit, as I wasn’t feeling good again, and the mechanic came back to me and when I asked how much I owed, he wasn’t sure and got on the phone to his Dad who owned the place.

    While he did that I pulled out 800 Honduran Lampira and offered him that. He said to his Dad what I offered and they were all very happy.

    That’s the equivalent of $32 US Dollars.

    They were really a great group of guys and tried their best. The welding both on the steel and aluminum parts seems solid. They had no paint, so I need to remember to either keep the welds oils or paint them in an attempt to prevent rust. Oil would probably work better and having to reapply every so often will allow for steady inspection along the way.

    So I’m back at the apartment. Took a shower (along with my dirty clothes, which I wash while showering and then hang to dry outside...getting good at that) and now may pass out a while under the air conditioner.

    Never worked on anything in such heat and humidity in my life. They had NO shaded areas to work, and they all acted like it was nothing, although they were all beading sweat.

    The world’s filled with decent people. You just gotta get out there and talk to them


    My guess is that the crash cage doesn’t like the vibes the DR throws out there like Jay in Milpitas mentioned. When your boots are on the pegs you could feel the harmonica at certain RPMs.

    I’ll keep an eye on it and just remove the cage entirely if I see problems happening again
  17. scout68

    scout68 Been here awhile

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    Germantown TN

    Lo siento mi amigo. No entendi antes.
    Viajes seguros.
  18. inroads

    inroads Go West old man

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    Nice...the resources and will of the 3rd world never ceases to amaze me...they can motor thru a field of crap and find the roses...as for you I can't believe your mind is sharp to monitor and record all of this....the adventure continues...steady as she goes my friend....why I hate having to be somewhere on a schedule....especially down there too many variables....Cuadaso dude.
    Ohio_Danimal likes this.
  19. Ohio_Danimal

    Ohio_Danimal If I die trying, at least I tried Supporter

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    Me? Sharp mind? Hahahahahah

    Thanks. I am enjoying giving back to the ADV community. If anything for the untold hours I’ve spent reading other’s journals.
    I’ve been told my writing style is above average and my pictures as well.
    Maybe some day I can follow in the tracks of others and get something published.
    Of course I’d have to reduce the number of “lol”’s and the occasional bad language.
    Or would I!?
    qman8 likes this.
  20. Slickrick

    Slickrick Adventurer Supporter

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    66
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    Seattle, Palm Springs
    Your writing & pics are good. I am rooting for you to keep on trucking.
    Thanks for taking the time. Take care of yourself.
    Ohio_Danimal likes this.