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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Joris van O, Apr 26, 2019.
@Towmater I remember meeting you guys! I think we got talking about the rear tire you were running (darkside right?). Great that you found the report and liked it :)
Ha Frankie, that is awesome, great to meet you here! You mean this KLR?
I remember that evening well, it was such a great little town with that event going on. You said you were going to take a ferry in Prince Rupert to avoid the long haul back to Vancouver, or am I wrong thinking that was your plan? Did you make it back alright? Guess the trusty KLR didn't let you down :)
Another sight that you cannot miss out on while heading south is the Perito Moreno Glacier.
So on we went, away from the Andean mountainrange and back onto the barren Patagonian steppe.
There was a boat, on a truck, on a bridge. Probably also heading for the Perito Moreno glacier.
And close to El Calafate it was time for a little celebration! Reset the clock!
It was still early day when I arrived in El Calafate, so instead of finding a campsite I grabbed a quick lunch and continued to the Glacier. Guess who also was there? The big yellow beast, Bison. I figured Dec and Lauri were probably already somewhere in the park.
Now this Perito Moreno Glacier, most people have probably heard about it at some point, as did I. But actually seeing it in real life, this massive wall of ice, is something else! It was a bit foggy when I got there, but after a while the sun came out and the colours got even better. The thing is also to big to fit into a single frame.. so excuse me for the amount of photos.
Eventually it was time to leave and of course it was then that I bumped into Dec and Lauri, so I followed them to their campsite in El Calafate. Well, when I say followed, I mean I could barely keep up with their cruising speed. We cooked some dinner together and had a few beers afterwards.
It took a while for the yellow beast to be loaded (cramming two peoples worth of stuff on there), so I headed off first. We would probably run into each other somewhere in the following days anyway. Time to head back into Chile again, to Puerto Natales and subsequently to Torres del Paine national park. Thus far it didn't really feel like the southern tip of the world yet, but riding to Puerto Natalas it really hit home that I was almost at the very bottom of the planet.
Puerto Natales waterfront, beautiful view of the mountains that lay further away. Stopped to use the wifi at the tourist office to find a campsite.
With said campsite found I went on to finally change the rear tire I picked up in Santiago. The old one still had a smidge of life left but I wasn't going to carry the new one any further. I went to two shops but they refused to even look at changing the thing. Instead of looking for a shop to be turned away at, I decided to do it myself. Thanks to the tubeless rims I had the new tire on there pretty quick, downfall of tubeless is the need of compressed air to set the bead. I scouted a gas station down the road, so with the tire on the rim I walked to the station to use their aircompressor. Only, those bloody things need backpressure to operate (or at least this one did). So another walk to a shop I hadn't been to yet to explain my predicament. Luckily the guy took a brake from his other jobs and helped me out with the air compressor, for free even! Many muchas gracias were said!
Joris, off those 11 Honda Brazilian CG150's I bought I still have one left for you to use the next time you get back here!
I fear we're coming close to the end.
wow...that glacier is a spectacular sight, and nice to see multiple shots. what? no drone pics?...
Parque nacional Torres del Paine is famous for its hikes (the W- and O-Trek), but as with the other National parks, I have to come back some day to do those hikes. This time it would only be a clockwise ride through the park.
When I left Puerto Natales the skies were threatening, and all the peaks were covered in clouds. I had my hopes up for clear skies though!
I stopped at this viewpoint to enjoy the view over the lake, and snap some pics. And a Caracara (a Patagonian Falcon-like bird) was hovering above me for a while! I'd seen a lot of those birds while ride but never got a chance to actually look at them for a while.
While enjoying the view, guess who showed up again? Can't seem to get away from them So we rode together for the rest of the day. Dec and Lauri told me that the entry fee for the park was 30 dollar per head, because we were only riding through we agreed that we could do without the entry ticket.
Besides the strong gusts of wind the weather was cooperating, and patches of blue were showing.
The Salto Grande waterfall. With the sun breaking through the clouds the colours are just incredible. With the grass turned golden because of the forthcoming fall, the white blue glacial river and the snow covered granite mountains, it is obvious why so many people want to visit the park.
Looking back at all these pictures while it's cold and wet outside and the whole country is in lockdown I can't help but feel a little soft inside.. What a place that was!
The last stop before leaving the park.
Back in Puerto Natales I finally got little red washed. While there another bike pulled up, Peruvian plated even. Jessie, a girl from the US had bought it in Peru a few months prior and had ridden it all the way south. I think those XRE300's are the coolest bikes ever, especially with the red, white and blue. It's like a miniture Africa Twin. Shame they don't sell them in Europe.
After the cleanup I noticed a problem with the sprocket carrier. I knew the bolts holding the sprocket were hitting the swingarm, that's why I had to grind a bit off in the past. My reasoning was the shitty sprocket I used was to thin. But now I noticed the aluminium recess on the rim itself, which holds the circlip which in turn holds the sprocket' was wearing out. To the point there was only a little sharp aluminium ridge left to keep everything in place. Oh no.. not good. I looked for easy solutions, but came up with none, so out came the liquid metal I'd bought in Dawson City. Doesn't look pretty, but as long as it keeps it from moving it won't wear out further..
Oh.. and to add.. I bought a new bike (again). It rides great, but it's a pain to work on.. But maybe that's what BMW had in mind when they designed it, but I prefer something old and simple any day of the week! Took me two hours and a lot of cleaning afterwards to change the oil.. (Sells bike.. and runs back to old japanese rustbuckets)
Oh.. tempting Den! Maybe I can do the TAT on it? If the border ever open again..
I'm afraid so.. I've got some pictures left that I didn't post earlier. So I think i'm just going to copy some of the posts about the last days I made earlier and add a few things here and there to keep some sort of chronologic order.. (Plus, there's the Dempster)
A drone would be good, wouldn't it? :) I still think they're a bit gimmicky, but if I can get one of those small DJI Mini things for a good deal I would consider getting one. It does add a lot of possibilities!
WOW again Joris!!!
Loving the "falcon", the views, the "red" and the good work on the liquid metal repair.
I won't comment on the BMW or Mercedes, jaja...
Gonna tell us more about Jessie!?!?
I owned a 2007 F650GS for 115,000km rode it mostly in Mexico, I liked the bike and oil changes were a snap once you have done a couple. Mine was starting to have little electrical problems so sold in for DL 650 which has had zero problems and I am now up to 105,000km. Not sure if I told you but I bought a 2018 CB500X to ride back up to Inuvik which never happened due to the plandemic. I am really enjoying that bike.
I've already posted many of this back in march, so feel free to skip this one I've added some pictures here and there.. but mostly just posting this to keep some sort of order in the RR.
From Puerto Natales there's a whole lot of nothing up to the Argentine border. There was however one cool stop on the way, Parque Pinguino rey (the King Penguin park).
Casting off from Puerto Natales it was a sunny morning again, I had been so lucky with the weather! When I was reading stories of people visiting Patagonia many said that March was to late in the season and the weather would be awful. Glad I carried on instead of waiting half a year for spring to arrive.
In San Gregorio, a small abandoned settlement these things came into view! Just like the few buildings around, it looked like these ships had been there for quite a while. The Amadeo was a steamship built in 1884 and deposited on the beach here in 1932. The one behind it -or whats left of it- the Ambassador was a sailing 'clipper' from 1869 and was beached in San Gregorio in 1896.
A bit further up the road was the ferry that would take me to Isla Grande del Tierra del Fuego. I was joined by Dec and Lauri on the crossing.
Once on the big island that is Tierra del Fuego we followed a little gravel road and ended up watching these guys for a while! Incredible, and those little ones look so fluffy :) Apparently these King penguins just showed up a few years ago and decided that this windy coastal area would do nicely and began expanding their family.
Except for a few penguins there was not a whole lot around, so I kept riding toward the Argentine border. Crossing it wasn't a big hassle, and soon I was in Rio Grande. Where there was a nice moto hostel named Motohostel Fin del Mundo to get out of the cold.
I made some pasta (as Ive been doing for the last week or so) and paired it with a cheap bottle of wine. It's definately not Instagram worthy
With a few other bikers from Argentina, Germany and Switzerland we watched the news unfold. Argentina announced that all borders would be closed for foreigners that night. Pfoe.. Luckily I was already in Tierra del Fuego. But it would mean my plan of riding north to Buenos Aires or Brazil could go in the bin.
In the morning I packed my stuff, thanked everyone and set off to ride the last 200km to Ushuaia. But before I rode off I checked my phone. There were rumours on different FB groups that Chile might close their borders that night. Crap.. That meant I had to get my ass over to Ushuaia and back asap.
After seeing mostly flat grassy plains for the last few days I was very surprised to find beautiful forests and mountains at the end of the world.
I was really lucking out with the weather in Patagonia. In two or maybe even three weeks I might have had two days of rain. Going over the Paso Garibaldi I had to get out the rain gear though, temperature dropped fast too!
Down from the pass the sun came out again making those last kilometers very special.
And then.. Rounding a corner.. There they were, the famous Ushuaia towers. I couldn't believe it, I actually made it. I pulled over, turned off the ignition and sat there on my bike. I must have sat there for five minutes. Not moving, just contemplating the whole thing. It was such a surreal experience to stand there after riding for more than ten months, covering close to 60.000km. I couldn't help but cry, especially in the light of all the things that happened in the last week, I was very emotional. But with all these thoughts running through my mind I also couldn't help but feel an enormous sense of accomplishment. With tears running across my cheeks I was laughing like a maniac. What a crazy ride it had been. I did it, I fucking did it! Shipping a bike across an ocean, riding it all the way north, blowing up an engine, getting back on the road, riding with my brother, surviving central America and then south America, all the way down to the other end of the world just before a pandemic virus shuts down our lives. And while doing all this I had the honor of meeting so many incredible inspiring and wonderful people, learning so many things about these countries and cultures and visiting so many stunning places that I could've only dreamed of seeing. Oh man.. What a ride. Who would have thought, that little bugger would take me all the way.
I calmed down a bit and found a place to get lunch and some Wi-Fi to get up to date with the news. Good news was that Chile would shut their borders a day later, so I had an extra day to get back. Bad news, I had a list of missed phone calls from my mom. At the tourist information the Wi-Fi was good enough for a call and my mom confirmed that my grandma had passed away that morning. For the second time that day I had tears running down my cheeks.
This was not how I imagined to reach the end of the road, in an emotional roller-coaster. There was nothing I could do back home and there was no time to linger around in Ushuaia. So I straightened my back and walk around to at least see something. I wanted to ride to the national park at the end of the road but this was closed due to Covid-19. So Ushuaia was my end of the road then. I got a patch and a sticker at one of the shops and just when I was ready to leave bumped into Dec and Lauri on their yellow BMW. How remarkable that we met at Dust 2 Dawson in Dawson city all those months ago and still arrived on the same day in Ushuaia. I sure was glad to see them.
I would have loved to spend more time in the beautiful area around Ushuaia, but it wasn't to be. Only a few hours after arriving I set off to ride the 200km back to the Moto hostel in Rio Grande. I did stop along the way to enjoy the scenery though (alright and to take a leak)
Late in the day, and the light was just magical!
When I arrived at the hostel the owner Miguel had already printed the photo that he took of me that morning when I left.
How unsettling, in every good and bad way. Small wonder it took you months to report this.
It's been a pleasure getting to know you.
Those dreary low clouds far from home always put a pit in my stomach.
"YOU fuking did it" and little red!
Bloody good job! A great Christmas read
Again, Well Done & Merry Christmas and all the best on your future adventures.
One of the all time great ride reports, and pictures thanks for taking us along.
Thanks a lot guys! Hope you all had a great Christmas too. I wish you all a healthy and joyful new year, here's to new adventures!
This one I also posted way back in March, so feel free to skip!
Back in the Motohostel Fin del Mundo the German girl and Swiss guy were still there and since we were all heading back to Chile we decided to stick together for the ride to Punta Arenas. We left Argentina and entered Chile without issues.
All was going well but when we stopped for a break in Cerro Sombrero the Husqvarna did not want to start. Oh, it's probably just a code Rico said. So he disconnected the ECU and we should be good to go. Only it wasn't, measuring the voltage it seemed the battery was dead. We pondered our options, tried putting my battery in (which didn't fit) and eventually decided that we should get it to a mechanic (and I again found a leaking water bottle in my topcase). Figuring all this out took some time and it was already late in the day, so we found a hostel, probably the only hostel in town. Using an old strap the little 250 towed the Husky up the hill to dump his luggage at the hostel and then to the mechanic out of town to see if we could fix the problem.
The video is a bit tilted and is made up of about three pixels, but you'll get the idea of how the towing went. Good thing the Husky isn't a heavy weight.
After charging the battery at the mechanic, the Husky fired right up, and some measurements soon taught us it wasn't charging. Oh oh.. not good.
Rico rode the stricken Husky back to the hostel and we called it a day. We couldn't do much more than research possible problems using the free wifi in town. The hostel owner let us use the restaurant kitchen, which was downstairs of the hostel.
Cloudy morning in Cerro Sombrero. We still didn't have a solid plan and with the wind and rain picking up we moved from the hostel back to the supermarket where we could sit warm and dry. Around 1 o'clock the rain and wind let down a bit and with no other options we decided that Rico would try and make it as far as his battery would last and I would tow him the rest of the way to Punta Arenas. Well, he made it to the ferry and then he made it almost into Punta Arenas. Leonie and I caught up with him 20km short of the city and I towed the stricken Husky the rest of the way to our hostel.
Unfortunately because the border with Argentina is closed, the ferries to northern Chile not taking passengers and with Torres del Paine National Park also of limits each and every backpacker and traveler fled to Punta Arenas to fly out. That means all the hostels and campsites were full. So after we towed the bike to the hostel, which was full, we walked around and asked at a few more places if we could stay there. We eventually found a place and then had to tow the bike across town to the other hostel.
Back in March it was still pretty quiet here Punta Arenas, no crazy lockdowns or mandatory quarantines. Back then we could even go out for a beer!
We spent one night in the hostel and then decided to get an Airbnb for a few days to wait out the situation. The Airbnb we booked was still occupied when we arrived. There was a French guy with a Peruvian plated Honda XRE300 staying who was also looking for options. Luckily the woman renting the place offered us two other apartments for the same price. We initially booked for 5 nights because at that moment we all still didn’t know what to do, maybe wait it out. But as the days progressed the news of more and more people leaving the country made a big impact. Even my embassy prompted everyone in the country that had the chance to go home to please do so before all flights would be suspended. Eventually our mood swung from ‘let’s see what happens’ to ‘I think it’s time to go’. So we needed a few more days to arrange our flights and our stuff.
Before heading home Leonie and I also did a ride and hike to the San Isidro lighthouse south of Punta Arenas. It was a beautiful sunny day and it marked the last real ride on little red. Boy, I miss that little bike!
Fin de Camino, the end of the road to the Faro San Isidro, the southern most lighthouse on the South American mainland.
Starting the hike, you could see the lighthouse in the far distance. Looking at that one lonely tree sticking out with Monte Sarmiento in the background, you get an understanding of how ferocious the winds can be there.
After walking along the shore for 5km we reached the lighthouse. It was al bordered up, so I'm not sure if it's in use still.. But the location is great!
That ride to the southern most lighthouse on mainland South America was the last ride on 'Little Red'. With flight tickets arranged the next step was to hand over the bike at the customs office. Besides the enormous amount of hassle it would take to ship it home from Punta Arenas, it also just wasn't worth it. So the next day I went to the Aduana in the free trade zone to ask about the bike options. Of course I got there at 12:59 and they closed for lunch at 13:00. I used the time buy a big duffelbag and distanced myself on the parking lot with a can of Pringles and tea. At 15:00 the aduana opened again and the guy there told me I should go to the office in town, but they closed at 14:30. Atleast the guy understood what I was asking so that was good. Back at the Airbnb I used the afternoon to strip the bike of all the (emotional) valuable parts, those being the tins and the heated grips.
With everything arranged it was time to say goodbye. But first I took Rico to the same shop to get him a duffelbag too. And then the three of us rode to the aduana in town. Leonie and I looked at each other as we walked in, both not wanting to hand over our bikes. But it had to be done. I explained our situation and asked about abandoning our bikes. The lady asked us to wait ten minutes while she called the right person to come and assist us. A friendly young man showed up, took our paperwork, came back 5 minutes later, we signed, and that was it. We had officially handed over our bikes to Chilean customs, with the TIP cancelled we were now free to go and fly home. Only to follow him and drop the bikes of at the secure compound.
I bought the bike in September 2017 with 12.000km, shipped it to Canada in May 2019 with 42.000km and abandoned it in Punta Arenas in March 2020 with 102500km. Not bad for a 550 euro (600 dollar) motorcycle.
Although the end was sad, it had been a great ten months. Leonie was less fortunate as she had just bought her bike ‘Alma’ two weeks ago from another traveler (for 900 euro). She made it down to Ushuaia but was now forced to abandon her bike as she didn’t want to wait and had insufficient time and funds to return later.
After getting our temperature checked we were allowed to ride into the secure compound and directed to park our bikes in a big storage hall. That is where they will stay until they get auctioned off, between the other abandoned or confiscated bikes and goods. Oscar, the guy who helped us, also showed us around the yard where all the confiscated cars affiliated in smuggling cigarettes were parked.
Walking back I felt naked, no more riding here, I was now a backpacker with a lot of unnecessary crap. A month ago I could’ve never have imagined that the impact of this virus would be so huge.
Rico found a place to store his bike for six months and also booked a ticket the night before I would leave. Somehow he did manage to get on the same flight to Santiago as I was. And from there he would take a flight organized by the Swiss embassy. Leonie tagged along to the airport in the hope to get on the waiting list. Bags packed, time to go home!
Everyone was wearing facemasks. I tried buying one, but everything was sold out for days, so I improvised. I highly doubt if it works but at least you won’t stand out this way.
My two hour layover in Santiago was shortened by one hour because the disembarking was delayed. There was one suspected case on board which had to be examined first. Great!
After figuring out where my gate was I ran, got my exit stamp, ran again and just made it on time for my flight to Madrid.
Sitting in this Boeing 787 while it taxied to the runway, looking out the window at the setting sun illuminating the sky it felt like the sun had gone down on this adventure. That was the moment it finally hit me. I’m actually going home, it is over. There might have been a few tears too, I couldn't supress the melancholic feeling.
After 12 hours of little sleep, the Ford vs. Ferrari movie and a full season of Chernobyl I peeked out the window and saw continental Europe for the first time in over ten months.
Although it was the same plane that would take me to Frankfurt later I still was kicked out and had to board again two hours later. And unfortunately also had to ditch the two beers I bought as presents for my brothers with my last bit of Chilean money. We followed the French Atlantic Coast for a long time until we turned inland near Bordeaux. I did spot Dune du Pilat, the highest dune in Europe, which I climbed a few years ago (I should do a write-up from that trip).
After three flights to get to Frankfurt it took another five trains and five hours to get to Utrecht in the Netherlands.
Just past midnight last night I got off the train and set foot on familiar ground again. This was my city, my home. But it was weird, it didn’t feel like home. Heck I don’t even have a home. I felt lost. On a normal Friday night these streets would be filled with people, all the bars and restaurants would spill out on to the street. But not now, not in these times. I hardly met anyone when I walked to my brothers place.
I was dead when I arrived, so he let me crash in his apartment. We kept our distance of course!
Today was a good day, I slept well, had a good breakfast and the sun was shining bright. After I booked an Airbnb for the next week or so I gathered all my stuff and jumped on the back of my brothers BMW R75. Although I wasn’t riding myself, I felt infinite times better than last night. We first stopped at my other brothers’ place for lunch. I hadn’t seen him and his wife in a long time!
We then rode a little bit further to my parents, It was so good to see them again (again keeping a respectable distance)! I sat down for a while, sorted my stuff and then borrowed my mums car to get to the AirB&B I booked in a town named Aalsmeer to distance myself from everyone for ten days
Well.. That's it folks, for now! Hope you enjoyed it :) Thanks for following along with me, for the help, the support and the numerous tips you all gave me! It wouldn't have been half as good without you all! And you're still doubting what bike to get for a long trip, get a Honda 250 That's the star in this whole adventure!