Prairies to Patagonia: 200 Days South of Saskatchewan - 9/25/26 - 4/13/17

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Sparky.marky, Sep 12, 2016.

  1. Sparky.marky

    Sparky.marky Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 23, 2012
    Oddometer:
    321
    With less than 2 weeks to go, maybe it's time I start a Ride Report.

    At the end of my shift on September 25, instead of heading home and continuing the routine I've developed over the past 3+ years, I'll be hopping on my motorcycle with my sights on the Southernmost tip of Argentina. I expect to cover 30,000 km through 15+ countries (route still not decided - as any proper moto-trip should start) over the course of 200 days. The next chapter of my life is essentially the biggest blank canvas I've ever had; No more bills, no more schedule, no plans, no obligations. As of now, the only reservations I have are to make it to Portobello, Panama by December 29, as I'll be setting sail onboard the Wildcard, on route to Cartagena, Colombia to continue my trek through South America. I booked this boat ahead of time, as the Stahlratte wasn't sailing that late in the year, and the options for those of us who'd like to accompany our bikes across the Darien Gap via sea are limited and book up fast. The Wildcard staff were super informative and easy to deal with as well - thanks guys.

    I'm not terrific at writing, nor am I fan of having to track down wifi and sit in front of a screen while travelling. To be totally honest, I can't remember the last time I've sat down and typed this much. However, I've been reading ADVRider Rider Reports for years, having read countless Pan-American blogs (thank you to everyone who has taken the time to report, document, and share their experiences) and it's been a huge inspiration and part of what first opened my eyes to Adventure/Dual Sport moto-travelling. The folks on this site (as well as HUBB) are an endless supply of information, tips, and help when needed. Thanks to all those I've messaged that have messaged me back offering guidance or advice, and to all those who will be helping me along the way.

    I bought my first Vstrom 1000 when I was 17 or so. It wasn't my first bike, but it was my first adventure bike (prior to it I had an old Maxim 550, CB750, Boulevard c90/Intrude 1500, dirtbikes, etc. - the Vstrom is the first bike that took me internationally) and for this trip I specifically bought a well sorted, cheap, higher mileage 650 Strom. I originally planned to take my DR-650, but decided against it due to the long days I'd have onboard it, and started thinking of taking my Tiger 800 XC. I deemed this bike was a bit too new, too high tech, too flashy, and too expensive to risk taking down there, and coincidentally found a super cheap Vstrom 650 two hours from where I live, less than 3 weeks ago. Feels odd to be back on a 1st gen Vstrom, but I guess it was meant to be. As ugly, boring, slow, and cumbersome as it feels compared to my new Tiger, I'm glad I have it and being back on a strom brings back a lot of memories. If this one treats me as good as my last one did (I'd still have it if I didn't end up totaling it in Utah last may after 88,000 trouble free km), I foresee the perfect bike for this type of trip. Reliable, good dealer network, comfy on and off road, and capable of comfortably carrying myself, luggage + a passenger) For prep work, I started by renting a room from a friend, instead of an entire house, as I had been. This was enormously 'freeing', and allowed me to sell/give away 90% of my possessions that I really don't need (lawn mower, toaster,microwave, furniture, etc..), and have slowly accumulated over the years. What I now have left is kept in storage (parent's garage/basement) and consists of my high end snowboard/ski gear, some clothes, and my tools. Strangely enough, it feels really good to have less. This is probably a lot of the reason why the minimalist nature of moto-travel has always appealed to me. Having time away on a motorcycle with the ability to go anywhere, anytime, with no constraints may truly be one of the best experiences I've had in life.

    For this trip, I've packed:

    MSR Hubba Hubba tent, MEC sleepign bag, MEC sleepign pad, whisperlite international stove, MSR fuel bottle Camp cook-ware, Garmin GPS, Ipod, Spot Tracker, Iphone, DSLR Camera, 7 pairs socks, 7 pairs underwear, 4 shirts, 2 pants, 1 sweater, 1 swimshorts, 1 shorts, heated vest, gopro, sunglasses, tool kit, plug kit, tire pump, hammock, raincoat, runners, flipflops, drybags, backpack....

    Riding gear: Klim Badlands Pro Jacket + Pants, forma adv boots, cheap mechanic gloves, alpinestars full gloves, Icon Helmet (Need a new one), Sena headset

    I also have a pile of paperwork photocopied... Just waiting on my new HealthCard to arrive in the mail.

    I still need to find a CHEAP laptop/computer of some sort to A) Backup photos/videos B) Blog C) use for research/any online work - I hate using my phone for this

    I'll post some photos in the next day or two, once I figure out how, and continue on with some of the prep work I've started, and include some notes on what I have vaguely planned/thought out.

    Here's the strom, a few days after purchase

    [​IMG]

    First oil change / air filter / plugs / etc. I did all this, but upon ripping the bike apart and pulling the filter and plugs out, and draining the oil... It looked like it had all just been done. Oh well, at least now I know. The brakes had reasonable life left, and the fluid looked clean. The 650 has a cable actuated clutch, unlike the 1000's hydraulic clutch, which is nice. My 1000's slave cylinder seal wore out every 30,000 km or so. My chain and sprockets look OK. Once I'm on the road, I'll have a better idea of how much life is left int he chain based on how often it needs to be tightened. Tires are brand new Tourances. I'll probably swap these for Shinko's or TKC 80's in California. Does someone on ADVrider want a set with of Tourances less than 1500 miles?

    [​IMG]

    Ditched the givi knockoff for a Pelican Case. I tried finding some tooltubes locally, and considered making some out of PVC. I don't think I'll have time now at this point. I'll be working every day until my departure.

    [​IMG]

    $18 Amazon KLR footpegs, huge upgrade from the factory slippery rubber ones. Best cheap strom upgrade

    [​IMG]

    Cheap Amazon bar risers, gps mount, and phone mount.

    [​IMG]

    I leave exactly 2 weeks from today. The Strom is pretty much ready to go. I bought it outfitted with aluminum panniers and racks, crash bars, windshield, givi topcase, and fender extender. I swapped the topcase for a pelican case. My bike still needs some USB / cigarette style chargers wired in. A skid plate would be nice, but on a $2500 CAD Vstrom with 59,000 km, it's hard to justify spending another $300-400, especially considering that I likely won't bring the bike back home. I also still need to register and find a spot for my spot tracker, it will probably stay in my magnetic tank bag since I keep it with me all the time. I've also been following a pile of RideReports and Instagram accounts of guys slightly ahead of me... Thanks guys, it's good to see a little bit of what lies ahead.

    Cheers
    #1
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  2. Sparky.marky

    Sparky.marky Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 23, 2012
    Oddometer:
    321
    The Plan:

    First stop will be in Edmonton, on the 25th of September. The following day I have my Yellow Fever Immunization there, and once that's done I'll probably head South to Calgary and hopefully stay with some friends or family I have there. Day 3, September 27, I will head towards to Kelowna. if the weather is nice, I'll make the trip in one day. If it's not so nice I'll either stop somewhere in Southern BC and camp, or I'll just suffer through it and push on... I'm a little leery about the weather and potentially low temperatures that the end of September often bring.

    In Kelowna I'll probably spend a few days site-seeing, hiking, and having my last few Canadian beers. I'm picking up a passenger here, her name is Kaitlyn, and she's a part of the reason I ended up taking the Vstrom instead of the DR650. She'll be with me for 2-4 weeks, and will catch a flight home from... Somewhere. Likely somewhere in Mexico. It is her first bike trip, but she bought good gear and I told her what to prepare for, since we'll be travelling through the PNW during October; it'll likely be cold and wet. I'll be mostly camping, couchsurfing, hostelling, or cheap hotelling (once I get far enough South that the hotels become reasonable).

    After Kelowna we'll likely follow the west coast towards California, south towards Cabo, ferry across to Mazatlan, and then ride the old hwy to Durango. After that I was recommended to head towards Zacatecas, then San Luis Potosi, Mexico City, Puebla, Chiapas & Oaxaca.... I haven't done a ton of research, but these places were recommended to me by a friend who had spent a few years living down there. Following Mexico will be Belize & Guatemala... I'll likely do a week or two of Spanish somewhere in Guatemala and get some surfing in along the way. This is as far as I've planned, and nothing is set in stone other than my $50 deposit to sail on The Wildcard out of Panama on Dec 30/16.

    Short test ride tonight after work. I've only
    put 20km or so on it since buying it

    [​IMG]
    #2
  3. borscht zanetti

    borscht zanetti Pura Vida ! ... eh?

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,232
    Location:
    Castlegar, BC Canuckistan
    I'm in. Sounds great!
    #3
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  4. Sparky.marky

    Sparky.marky Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 23, 2012
    Oddometer:
    321
    One week to go

    Finally test fit everything. Should fit in 2 panniers + my topcase. Probably throw my big wolfman bag on top of the topcase for my clothes

    [​IMG]

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #4
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  5. Sparky.marky

    Sparky.marky Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 23, 2012
    Oddometer:
    321
    This is everything packed up. Only things not shown are my riding pants, jacket, heated vest, boots, and pelican topcase with camp gear inside (permanently attached to bike)

    [​IMG]


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #5
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  6. Cmnthead

    Cmnthead Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2012
    Oddometer:
    81
    Location:
    Teeswater Ontario Canada/ Playa Oria Panama
    Awesome, I'll be following along. And as always, you have a place to hang your helmet for a few days if you need before you reach Panama City. Most overlanders are welcome to hang out for free if they need to while waiting for their crossing. Playa Uverito near Las Tablas.
    Safe travels
    #6
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  7. Sparky.marky

    Sparky.marky Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 23, 2012
    Oddometer:
    321
    Thanks ! I'll keep that in mind. Appreciate it


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #7
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  8. Sparky.marky

    Sparky.marky Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 23, 2012
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    321
    #8
  9. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    20,162
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Sounds good. I'll be following along. Ride safe.
    #9
  10. DesertRatliff

    DesertRatliff Tinker Tinker Ride Ride

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,782
    Location:
    Durango, CO U.S.A
    Awesome! Two of the nicest overlanders I know are from Saskatchewan but they prefer to travel in their homemade Dodge EarthRoamer-esque machine. Safe travels to you and all the best!
    #10
  11. squiffynimrod

    squiffynimrod maximum shrinkage Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,184
    Location:
    Flatskatchewan
    And a free Coors Light cooler from the SLGA!
    :rofl
    Following and jealous in Regina.
    #11
  12. Skansen

    Skansen Distinguished Twin addict

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Oddometer:
    94
    Location:
    Bike seat and French Texas
    I'm in :lurk:tb
    Ride safe.
    #12
  13. Sparky.marky

    Sparky.marky Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 23, 2012
    Oddometer:
    321
    I see much cheaper beer the future:photog

    Edit: I ended up spending 4 hours packing, unpacking, repacking, etc. last night after work. Somehow I ended up scrambling to get ready even though I had months to prepare. Funny how that happens. The only thing I didn't get a chance to do was bleed my front brakes. I thought I had a couple containers of DOT4 brake fluid... turns out it was FORD brake fluid, same yellow container though. Oh well, it's easy enough to do on the road. I also left my Kryptonite Brake Disc lock key in my toolbox, which is in my dad's garage - 400 km in the wrong direction. I'll have to pick another one up on the road. I guess my brother just scored himself a free one since I won't be needing 2 when I return..

    I've spent almost everyday of the past 2 weeks at work, working 12+ hour days. I was supposed to have some time off, but got offered some overtime... and figured the extra money will be appreciated down the road. I've been really really busy between working so much, packing, prepping, and trying to get all my paperwork in order. I just got my new health card yesterday! Last weekend I was able to sneak away to say goodbye to my family. I likely won't see them until next spring/summer. Also, my sister might be flying to Panama from Dec 22-29 ish, depending on her school schedule. She's never backpacked, rough camped, or motorcycled before though. OR packed light. Will be interesting. If anyone has any recommendations for a good 7 day trip to do with her starting and ending in Panama City, I'm all ears

    Obligatory photo of my brother and sister and I all together last weekend. Not often we're all in the same place at once

    [​IMG]

    Brotherbear and I in the badlands during a short weekend trip this summer. He's on my old versys. He's also the guy taking care of my tiger while I'm gone. [​IMG]
    #13
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  14. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2016
    Oddometer:
    335
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    I'll probably be following your track in early 2017. Starting with a tour of the USA mid-october then back to Vancouver in nov-dec and then down South. I hope I can find a co-traveler at some point otherwise I'll go solo.

    Will be following your report. Good trip and stay safe!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    ---
    Carpe Diem.
    #14
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  15. Side_Kick

    Side_Kick a.k.a. Consolation Prize

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2015
    Oddometer:
    13
    Location:
    Colorado
    If you end up riding thru Denver, CO and need a place to stay you are welcome to stop for some cold beer, food and everything else Colorado has to offer.
    #15
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  16. flying.moto

    flying.moto Earthbound Misfit, I Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2007
    Oddometer:
    507
    Location:
    South of Gorman
    Absolutely Awesome!
    I am IN! :lurk

    Found your thread just now, while beginning my almost identical route scouting for the winter of 17! :lol3

    Safe (and exciting!) travels!

    Drop me a PM when you are near Los Angeles.

    I have not much but you can count on a warm meal, cold beer, and a shower. And a well equipped mechanic's shop :super
    #16
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  17. adolphe

    adolphe Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2015
    Oddometer:
    10
    Location:
    Waterloo, Canada
    Sounds like a great trip upcoming! Subscribed!
    #17
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  18. Johnnydarock

    Johnnydarock Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 6, 2009
    Oddometer:
    517
    Location:
    Redondo Beach CA
    This report should be good.
    #18
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  19. fabriktr

    fabriktr Build it if you can.

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2012
    Oddometer:
    133
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    Oh man, this sounds brilliant. I am along for the ride.
    #19
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  20. Turk34

    Turk34 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    147
    Location:
    Atlanta, USA
    Hope to see u on the road to south. We are in Tula, Mexico now. Safe ride
    #20
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