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Operation S.A.-14; The deep south, as in TDF

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by PDX Alamo, Nov 20, 2014.

  1. borscht zanetti

    borscht zanetti Pura Vida ! ... eh?

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,842
    Location:
    Trail, BC Canuckistan
    Really enjoying this! Great pics and commentary too!
    Care to comment on your Mitas tires and how they are holding up? I am considering them for my DRZ.
    #81
  2. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR

    Wasn't really impressed with mine on road or dirt., I replaced them early as they were useless on the roads I was riding ( lots of dirt). The sides had some meat but the center was thin. This is them at about 4500 miles before I tossed it.

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    Several people I met riding down here have switched to Pirelli MT-21 rally cross and I have as well. Amazing tire on the road and off. The milage I hear about is all over the map so I'm guessing maybe 3500 miles. Down here they are $160 for both front and rear. I love em so far on and off road. I won't ever buy another E-07. Now the M-21 is a meaty tire and going to the 120/90/17 made a huge difference in handling.

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    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #82
  3. Comrade Art

    Comrade Art Working stiff

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2006
    Oddometer:
    824
    Location:
    Oregon
    Traveled through Peru in 2003; your pics bring back good memories.
    Nice report amigo. Keep posting :thumb
    #83
  4. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Cusco to Chivay, map is not that accurate Ill work on a better one.

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    Turbotagteam and I headed out to Colca Canyon earlyish with the belief that we might actually make it before dark. Beautiful drive there and we bypassed some of the paved route for more dirt. It wasn't the best road but not really hard either and very much worth the extra effort.

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    When we rejoined pavement we had some amazing views.

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    In Yuri the pavement ends for good and its fast hard packed stuff. We did come across a giant water-crossing but as we were looking this impossible task several locals told us no way and pointed to a bridge about a 1/4 mile away. The road to Tres Canyons is hard paced dirt and you can cook it pretty fast.

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    You will get to a small village with a tiny bridge made over a narrow rocky baby canyon. Here you take a right over the bridge and head to Tres Canyons and it is a fantastic ride , one of the highlights of my trip. I am not sure why this one has not been mentioned on the ADV gringo trail much. The maps for this route were tricky but Motobiko figured it out. Some of the roads are only on Google maps but no where else.

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    After Tres Canyons the sun was going down and we were both commenting on what an awesome route this was and what an incredible day it had been. The trail giveth and then taketh away.

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    We started heading up into the mountains and in 20 minutes we were in a snow and hale, WTF! No choice but to carry on and luckily we dropped back down into snowless territory. Had it not we were both so cold that we were contemplating setting up camp right there on the road. Then the road we had been warned about reared its ugly head and it was rough. After a dozen miles or so the KLR blew its shock and not a baby leak but it rammed through the top of it and poured oil all at once. To have oil pouring out of the bottom of your bike in the middle of no where I guess the shock is the best place for it to come from.

    Turbotagteam bounced like a pogo stick all the way down to the first town we ran across; Sibayo which was only a few miles from Chivay. It was well past dark and we were wooped. Luckily they had a place to stay there and the rain started up again. In retrospect Sibayo to Chivay is like 30 minutes of high quality pavement but we didn't know that. We hit they hay and figured tomorrow we would find some internet and work on the shock issue. A nice warm beer to end the day.

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    #84
    TreasureState likes this.
  5. Laphroig

    Laphroig n00b

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2014
    Oddometer:
    6
    Location:
    Oregon
    Hey Travis, thanks for the great photos and commentary! I am learning lots from you as I continue to prepare my DR for my trip next Jan. I have already added 16 gauge aluminum sheets between the Pelicans and the bracket mounting loops. Plus I just added the adjustable needle for mixture optimization at altitude. I was at the Shot Show last week in Vegas and visited the Pelican booth. Their rep stated that they are guaranteed for life and will be replaced upon your return! Get warm and have fun - Engineer Tom.
    #85
  6. Comrade Art

    Comrade Art Working stiff

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2006
    Oddometer:
    824
    Location:
    Oregon
    :lurk
    #86
  7. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Colca Canyon to nowhere

    We headed into Chivay on a nice smooth road and checked out the Canyon all be it on a limited basis since the KLR was a bouncing carnival ride.

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    After that we grabbed some food and internet to check on the possibility of getting Turbotagteam a new shock. Since it was my last chance to get a Guinea pig I ordered one up. What a waste of $12, there is no meat on that little dude and it was like leather. I took some pics and then ordered another meal.

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    We went outside and were suiting up for the cold to go over the pass when we where approached by some locals who warned us the pass was covered in snow and super cold. They told us we needed to get up early , like 5:00 AM and try the pass before the afternoon rain came. Well they knew better than us so we grabbed a room at a hotel by the Peru Petrol station , its right next to it and had great parking for the bikes; called "el" something it buts up against the parking lot. Cant miss it. We looked into the shock issue and perhaps shipping one in. Here was the skinny, Bolivia shipping is next to impossible (see ADV threads) . Peru is a giant pain in the ass. Chile was the only logical choice but would take at least a week plus and be stupid expensive. By a stroke of luck a moto rental company near by , less than a 150 miles had one they would sell him for $400!!!! What I learned from this is that if you think you are just going to just ship parts in , your high and if the service department orders one your looking at 7 weeks or other crazy times. Perhaps you get lucky but the hours of calls and digging around gave me the impression it would be a mess.
    #87
  8. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Chivay to CocoCabana Bolivia

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    Well we got up way early and headed up , up , and up. To our suprise the pass was over 16,000 feet and with the sky clear you could see everything. Breathing was tough if you made any sudden movements but what a sight.

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    Turbotagteam headed to Arquipa and I headed to Bolivia. Most of the road was over 14,000 and 15,000 the entire way. It was pretty much like driving down the interstate in the USA except I was having carb problems and could barley move. ( it turns out it wasn't the bike but the previous owner put in a 170 jet !!! and the bike was way way rich. I later put in a 147 jet that another ADVrider had and all was well.)

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    The Bolivia border crossing was easy and they had recently changed the visa to a 30 day so it only cost me $54 US instead of a hundred something. I didn't need photos or any of the stuff I read about it. The Aduana guy wasn't around then all of a sudden he shows up wearing a soccer uniform ( must have been 1/2 time) opens up bust out my import papers and closes up shop to return to the game.

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    I rolled into Cococabana and found the Hotel Los Andes which had great rooms, excellent parking , and right next to the water. It was cheap also, $15 or so. Lake Titicaca was big and crowded , I really wasn't impressed with the place. Its a nice stop but the name is more impressive than the town. You could skip this place and be happy for the rest of your days. I will say the Bolivians make some very good beer. Word of advise, fill up with lots of gas in Peru if your heading this way as the area around Lapaz is a dead zone for gas to gringos. More on it later but I was denied gas at 7 stations!! Outside Lapaz area was no problem at all but near there a nightmare.

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    #88
  9. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Cococabana to La Paz Bolivia

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    I headed out early in the morning and met some Brazilian bikers riding two up with their ladies throughout South America. We traded maps and with my limited language skills some suggestions but they offered to set me up with other moto clubs around Buenos Aires. Great guys

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    The ride to the ferry is a good one and it takes you up in some altitude then back down to the lake and to the very modern ferry system. I was lucky to get in the back of the ferry so I just walked it back out. I am unsure if I could have turned the bike around on the boat since most of the gaps between the boards are huge and nails abound.

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    Heading into LaPaz I needed some gas and stopped at seven gas stations none of which would sell me gas. They had it but would not sell to me at any cost because of my foreign plates. At station 7 I was almost completely out of fuel and refused to leave the pump until I got my gas. A long line developed and honking started. I stood my ground for 10 minutes or so then launched into an obscenity laced tantrum ( very mature) after I realized it wasn't going to happen. The overweight insolent Bolivian lady running the station just starred at me and gave me the stink eye. For those who don't know the gas in Bolivia is subsidized so foreigners pay three times the price. This requires the person at the station to fill out a form and give you a copy. I learned later from moto tour folks that the area in and around La Paz is known for not selling gas and outside of LaPaz I had no issues at any other station. I routinely bought gas somewhere in between the official and foreign price . Some of the tricks i was told later were to say "Big tip" or "Sin Factura" (NO RECIPT) and to tell them you need to call police to make a report for the board of tourism for refusing to sell it.


    Defeated I left into the city hoping to make it to my hotel before the gas was all gone. While trying to navigate the city I was taken down a dead end with my GPS and the hill was so steep I couldn't get the bike up due to the altitude choking my over jetted bike. I had to walk it up revving the whole way and the altitude was doing a number on me as well. There was so little fuel that I had to get the bike on level ground in order to even start it up. The area I was in looked sketch and this was the only time on my trip I felt unsafe being stuck at the bottom of a hill with no gas.

    Down into the bottom of the city I made my way to the Oberland hotel hoping it would make it there. With 1.5 miles to go the bike ran out of gas and I pushed the bike to a side street. No cell service and no one to call I asked around where the nearest gas was. I was pointed in several directions all of which resulted in hills that I was unable to push the bike to. Finally I saw a man in uniform driving a regular car. Thinking he was the police I waived him down hoping he could help. Turns out he was a 3 star Colonel in the Bolivian army and spoke perfect english. I told him my problems and he said he would help me get some gas but had to go to work and tell them he was going to be late. He returned and I had a gas bag that I bought in Colombia so I hopped in the car and he took me to a gas station where they luckily filled up the bag. He handed the bag for me to carry and of course there was a leak . I held the bag and pinched the hole until we got back to the bike. I was super grateful for his help as I didn't think I would be able to buy gas even if I had made it to the station.

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    At hotel Oberland the rooms were $45 a night and the camping was full. I had no gas so had to stay the night there. The place was pretty awesome and a step up from my usual $5 a night places. I told them my gas issues as well and they hooked me up with a guy who knew a person who could get me gas. It was probably easier to get cocaine than gas I was guessing.

    A few hours later a guy rode two up with me to the gas station and he helped me get a full tank by having his friend at the station fill it up with a fake license plate. I of course had to bribe the gas lady and give the guy 50 Boliviano, but hey I got gas.

    The next day I was able to find some tires for the bike and was tired of the Mita's which were worn and had little to no dirt ability. I joined the rest of the people I had met on the trip and bought MT-21'S Rally which were $161 for the set and that included a tube. I loved the tires and if doing the lagunas route recommend you pick up a pair. Many people here have got 4,000 miles plus on them. I had em swapped out for a whole $5.

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    The old shoes

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    New Shoes,

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    Turbotagteam got his new shock and met me at the Obeland with the plan of riding he death road the next day.
    #89
    TreasureState likes this.
  10. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @motopossum

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2008
    Oddometer:
    13,907
    Location:
    FLAT Lander
    Great photos and a fantastic journey thus far! :freaky
    #90
  11. Ulyses

    Ulyses Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,368
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    I love that you got a Bolivian Colonel to help you! :clap

    Good to see you having fun! Can't wait for the Salar/Lagunas write up. :D
    #91
    TreasureState likes this.
  12. 2 Dogs

    2 Dogs 2 Dogs Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2011
    Oddometer:
    593
    Location:
    Dirty South- ATL
    Awesome! Keep it coming :clap
    #92
  13. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    LaPaz to Potasi to Uyuni

    At the last minute after talking to several other ADV guys we were told the "Death road" is not it's all cracked up to be and I disliked LaPaz so much I was happy to get out of dodge. We hit the highway for a long USA style interstate on almost brand new roads to Potasi where it was of course raining. We stayed at the Hotel Nuevo Milenio Av Universitaria 450 which had ok rooms but fantastic indoor parking in a massive enclosed courtyard and top tier artwork. We also sampled fine Bolivian wine at a pretty good Pizza place.

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    The next day we headed out in the morning to Uyuni but we had messed with the needle on the bike the night before and the bike was unridable. The engine was chocking out and finally had given up on me. We luckily found an old gas station with a covered area on the way out of town. We opened up the bike under the rain and took out the giant 170 jet!!! After switching the fouled out plugs from running super rich the last few thousand miles, changing to a 147 jet that Ivan had, and 3 separate needle adjustments we were finally on the road. Man o man with the new jet my bike was running great. All the miles I had t put along was all because of the giant jet but I didn't have a spare jet so thats on me. Anyway I wish I had this through all of Peru.

    With that taken care of we finally left on our way to Uyuni and happy to drop in elevation to warm up a bit with some nice views along the way.

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    We landed in Uyuni and found a hotel with a unique sign. I do not remember the name but it had great parking and was across from the big playground on the main street. Hotel was ok but its Bolivia so what can you expect. Tomorrow , The SOLAR!

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    #93
    TreasureState likes this.
  14. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    The Solar

    We headed out on the long dirt track to the famous Solar to find it slightly flooded at the entrance. We hung out taking some pictures all scared to give our bikes a salt bath. Turbo tag team said the hell with it first. Ivan and I were both still scared to go.....then after 10 minutes headed through the water. Sure glad we did or we would have missed this amazing landscape.

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    We ended up doing racing loop around the tourist at the picnic shack to everyones delight.

    After a fun day of soaking the bike in salt we gave it a good bath. Right as you finish the long dirt road back to Uyuni there is a car wash place on the left. The guy washing looked like a ISIS guy but probably just trying to keep from being burned in the sun. They did a awesome job and the boss even checked each bike to make sure it was done right and for extra measure we had them fog the bikes with diesel. A good bit of it got on the brake rotors causing less than stellar stopping ability which we took care of later by buying two cans electronic contact cleaner since carb or brake cleaner wasn't around.

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    Also made the obligatory stop at the train graveyard on the edge of town.

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    We planned on doing the Laguna's route the next day and had been led to believe it was much more difficult than it was. We thought about buying extra fuel cans for the trip but all the tour guys said they would sell it to us and at a price half of what we were paying for gas in town. Food is about all you need for the trip since you pass a land cruiser every five minutes. with a ton of extra fuel.
    #94
  15. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    We headed out around our usual time....noon and it didn't take long for the route to live up to the hype. There was a bit of sand but nothing the MT-21 couldn't handle. Turbotagteam street tires not so much.

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    We were stopped doiing some water crossinngs when a guy stopped in his
    truck with a scorpion tattoo on his neck asking if Police were up the road and some others said "nope none" he then proceeded to want to take pics with the bikes. I think when that happens again you say yes a ton of cops up the road.

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    Around 5 or so a hail storm came in and we all started to freeze. Even all geared up the hail in the crazy wind was like BB's hitting you in the neck. As luck would have it as we were all about to freeze we rolled into Villa Mar and found a great little place on the hill. It was cheap and we had the entire house to ourselves even parking the bikes in the hall and setting up a makeshift laundry.

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    The skies cleared and rainbows came out and we were treated to a pretty amazing sunset.

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    We asked about food and were told someone made chicken at 7 pm. We wandered around the village looking for a sign but the only sign was an open door that when we peeked inside saw tables. The fried chicken wasn't half bad and we headed back to our little cabin.

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    In the morning we received another beautiful day , I made a k9 friend, then bought some gas from a land cruiser at 5 Boliviano a liter and headed out.

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    The lush green "grass" is actually a giant F'in cactus so when I laid down on it I had immense pain in my hands that continued for hours. I couldn't see any quills but it hurt for a while. Lots of deep gravel and some sand but I finally learned you need to go crazy fast in order to make it through this stuff.

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    Learning our lesson the day before we shut it down early around noon as thats seems to be when the winds picks up and the rain comes and sure enough all the tour groups followed in an about an hour later. . We found what can only be described as a bum shack since all the good places were full up. The little store at Laguna Colorado next to the bum shack had wine beer and minimal food. When night fell the stars were like I have never seen in my life a truly amazing sight. We again had the entire shack to ourselves and attempted to burn some of the scrub peat moss looking stuff but had no luck.

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    #95
    TreasureState likes this.
  16. ElRayo

    ElRayo Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2014
    Oddometer:
    21
    Location:
    Oscoda, Michigan
    Great RR and pictures, except I'm pretty sure that cooked guinea pig is going to be in my nightmares tonight :eek1
    #96
  17. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR

    That dude bit me while I was eating it and sliced my thumb open so I have no doubt like Freddy Krueger he will get you in your dreams.
    #97
  18. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    In the morning we made the push to Chile and more amazing views on this moonscape. The Aduana is crazy high and near by is the geysers of bubbling mud. The venting from the steam was so loud I had to put earplugs in.

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    It was a short day to the Bolivian border then pavement in Chile with things I had not seen before like lane markings, warning signs, and guard rails. Chile was very different from the other countries I had been in for the last month or so and the border was easy as pie.

    We landed in San Pedro De Atacama which we heard and learned is crazy expensive. The ATM charged $7 US to pull money and our so-so room for 3 was $60 US. Everything was on par with USA prices. It's a cool town but it's expensive and you will stay much longer than you think you will. We met two South African doctors heading to Alaska on F800's doing free medical charity along the way. You can follow their journey on Facebook or their page at Great American Trek. They introduced to another Moto guy Andreas who is Chilean and runs moto tours. He also showed us around the city for where to go and what to do. Turns out he also plays a mean saxophone and set us up with reservations at a local restaurant/ live music venue. We ended up there 3 nights in a row for great food, company, and incredible music.

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    I can't remember the name or where we stayed, if I figure it out I'll update this. Prior to leaving after 3 days we checked out the Valley de Luna which is worth a visit although sunset is supposedly the time to be there.

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    #98
    TreasureState likes this.
  19. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    San Pedro De Atacama to Pan de Azucar national park

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    We put in som major milage on the way to La Serena and TurboTag Team ran out of gas on the way so we gave him 2 liter at a time of our gas trying to make it to the next station. We stopped by the hand in the dessert but other than that it was just nothingness for hours.

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    Although when we landed at our destination it was a nice surprise for camping on the beach. Unfortunately we missed the fresh fish of the day and all the restaurants were closed. I think this is a nice stop over if your heading in this direction.

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    #99
    TreasureState likes this.
  20. 2 Dogs

    2 Dogs 2 Dogs Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2011
    Oddometer:
    593
    Location:
    Dirty South- ATL
    Great update and pics :clap