Ride South! ⬇️– In Colombia! San Francisco to Patagonia on an R NineT & HP2 Enduro

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by caliform, Nov 25, 2015.

  1. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile

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    Yup! My girlfriend (bless her) got us tickets to the East Coast so we flew back, which gave us an excellent opportunity to get the KLR parts and a few other doodads before resuming the trip.

    On another note, I'm updating from a hostel in San Cristobal de las Casas now, and we've got only a few days left in México... I better write the other posts out fast :D
    #81
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  2. jnorton1

    jnorton1 Been here awhile

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    Great photos! Enjoy your trip.
    #82
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  3. fabriktr

    fabriktr Build it if you can.

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    Caliform,
    I just found this ride report and I am subscribed. I read your Alaska report and loved the photos.
    I have been riding and wrenching on the KLR for many years. Your broken spring is from the Doohicky. It is the tension er spring for the balance weight drive chain. It does not have any thing to do with the cam chain. Do not ride it. You need the kit from Eagle Mike in San Diego.
    You also need the wrench that holds the flywheel bolt and rotor puller. Do not buy the Kawasaki tensioner. Eagle mike's is the only way to go. He is on the internet.
    #83
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  4. SimonThomas

    SimonThomas Been here awhile

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    Great ride report and photos! As a fellow photographer I am curious to how you carry your gear on the bike, I'm forever changing my setup and cant seem a safe and practical median, my last ride rattled my 20mm prime to pieces....
    #84
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  5. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile

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    Excellent question! For now, I keep two lenses in the huge back pouch on the riding jacket (super handy, yet pretty well hidden). One of the lens pouches also clips to my belt loops when needed. The camera itself is either on me or in the tank bag. I don't use lens caps or filters so those aren't stored (read: lost) anywhere.

    I haven't had the vibes from my Ducati or the balancer-shaft-less HP2 rattle the lens or even the rangefinder of my Leica to pieces (yet!). :D
    #85
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  6. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile

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    This indeed was the issue. Stu bought the bike with it being asserted that the 'Do' was done. No such maintenance was ever done, however, and it failed. Eagle Mike was ultra-responsive and made sure the parts arrived pronto in New Jersey, at Stu's family house. We flew back with them and installed them (with the provided tools) in a day.

    [​IMG]

    I say 'we' here because I did the hard work of photographing it, making jokes, walking around, drinking beer and other supporting activities.
    #86
  7. fabriktr

    fabriktr Build it if you can.

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    caliform'
    One issue, I would say "SORTED".
    Ride of amigo.
    #87
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  8. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile

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    Thanks friend! The KLR's indeed once again purring like a (mechanical, insane, thumping) kitty!
    #88
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  9. mattscott

    mattscott Been here awhile

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    Glad to hear it got sorted! You're telling me you keep nothing infront of that 'Lux when you're on the bike? Hood?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #89
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  10. Mac-1769

    Mac-1769 Adventurer

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    I always thought the Klr sounded more like a singer sewing machine doing a tracker impersonation. Mac
    #90
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  11. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile

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    I totally forgot the hood when I flew home for a few days so now it's naked. Doesn't feel right, I gotta stay, but you manage. It'll be properly protected again in about... oh, 11 days, as I gotta race to meet my girlfriend in Costa Rica who is bringing it.

    Sucks to rush through Central America like that, but on the plus side, Stu's going to take a more leisurely time and make sure you guys get all the amazing shots from his experience as well as my rushed impressions.

    Today, we're in Huehuetango, Guatemala. What a place - what a ride! Our first serious Latin-American border crossing, and it was a breeze. Again, I gotta update the RR...
    #91
  12. Sashaxplorer

    Sashaxplorer n00b

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    nice, I'm in
    #92
  13. Sashaxplorer

    Sashaxplorer n00b

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    nice pics
    #93
  14. Tex83

    Tex83 Motersykle Advntyers

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    Absolutely, under no circumstances, lower the quality of the photos on this thread! I've been following on IG but this is where I get my real travel fix lol. Love everything about this, great attitude, great photos, great writeup. Next time I'm in SF I will have to buy you a beer and pick your brain on some photo editing.. Buena Suerte!
    #94
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  15. Sashaxplorer

    Sashaxplorer n00b

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    So nice!
    #95
  16. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile

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    Well, I found some internet and time here in Costa Rica so I'm working to get updates flowing again starting tomorrow. Me and Stu are now separate; he's still in Guatemala, I think, taking his time to explore the Central Americas. I met with my girlfriend and am typing away here at a hotel and looking for a good Alamacen Fiscal today.

    Thanks for the patience :D
    #96
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  17. stevesfastr

    stevesfastr n00b

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    I'm really enjoying this thread, it's three weeks into February, what's new?! Pura Vida I guess. Looking forward to some more vicarious living, thanks. Great pics and such.

    Sent from my SM-N920P using Tapatalk
    #97
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  18. OK Lucinda

    OK Lucinda n00b

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    Wow, your 1st post in 9 years as an inmate! That must be a record.
    #98
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  19. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile

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    We returned to México City with parts and tools for Stuart’s bike and a deep lust for exploring volcanoes. All in all, Stuart had to pull his bike apart again and get pretty deep into his engine to replace the ‘doohickey’: a common issue with the KLR that, if ignored, can quite literally destroy the bike’s engine.

    We got in to the airport in the evening, ate tacos at our new favorite taco stand in México and met up with Garry’s family again. We were up the next morning cracking the engine case with Garry providing us company, tools and space.

    [​IMG]

    Stu turned it around in a few hours and upon starting the KLR again, it was purring along great. No more funny sounds, and no more risk of catastrophic engine failure!

    [​IMG]

    The next morning we were out early and Garry helped lead us out of the labyrinthine streets of México City. He was a fantastic host – and we left our doohickey repair tools at his, so if you are ever in México City with a broken KLR, he might be your best bet!

    [​IMG]

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    After Garry led us out of México City we whipped through the curvy roads through its surrounding hills towards Toluca. Quite quickly, the massive volcano Nevado de Toluca came in sight. We let out an audible gasp in our helmet microphones when we saw it. It was a great, clear day to go up it and the bigger it grew, the more we were in disbelief at its sheer scale and beauty.

    The road up to the volcano turns into a small country road at some point, with some nice turnoffs with views of alpine villages and fields. You’d never guess that one of the American continent’s largest cities is in arm’s reach from the tranquil vistas the road affords:

    [​IMG]

    Stuart snapped away and I tried to climb up onto a small field where burros were grazing to get some shots.

    More excitement built as the pavement ended where the turnoff for the Nevado de Toluca National Park began. At this point the road simply goes up, and winds through evergreen forest as we gain elevation. From Toluca City, elevation is constant, starting at the city’s already impressive 8,750 feet.

    The volcano eventually goes up to almost 15,000 ft, and Stu was already feeling it in the reduced power output of the KLR which was somewhat gasping for oxygen in the thin mountain air. My HP2 was losing a bit of power, but mostly just got fantastic mileage. Quite a beneficial side effect of being in the mountains!

    We got to the summit gate pretty quickly after ripping around a few slower cars. The road up to Nevado de Toluca isn’t incredibly busy, but there’s more people going up there than we expected, often in regular cars that aren’t very well equipped for the rougher sections of the dirt road. We passed with care. At the gate we paid a nominal fee (I think it was in the order of 40 pesos per person) and ripped right up the side of the mountain.

    [​IMG]

    This is where it gets very fun. The road gets rockier, in areas quite rutted, and some loose sand and dirt came in as the road switchbacks up the mountain through a beautiful forest that grows increasingly sparse with the elevation. Before we knew it, we hit the treeline.

    As the road wraps around a ridge of the mountain here, you can see all of Toluca and the valley around you. Incredible panoramic views were on our side as we crossed some gnarlier sections of rocky dirt before we rode up to the main gate — rather clearly indicated with about five dozen vehicles parked everywhere there was space and some Mexican Alpine Police (how cool that this exists!).

    [​IMG]

    We had foolishly assumed we’d be able to ride into the caldera and park right up to the crater lake, but that road was now closed for ecological reasons. Makes sense. We packed up some things and secured as much of our gear as we could and set off to hike in our thick Rev’It Dominator GTX riding suits.

    Apart from being rather heavy to hike in, they actually were a fantastic piece of clothing to have on because the entire peak and its sides are incredibly windy. The wind up around 14,000 feet is obviously extremely cold and dry, and it was really nice to just close the suit vents and stay warm.

    [​IMG]

    As an added benefit, the otherworldly landscape combined with our suits to make us look like we were space-walking on another planet. It felt like that at times, too, until we ran into some other hikers.

    México is amazing when it comes to this: we see families and elders and kids hiking in places like this all the time, even on a weekday like this. What seems like an easy hike is made difficult by the thin air up on the volcano, which makes hiking up the equivalent of two flights of stairs completely rob you of your breath. I was feeling sick at times with how little breath I could get — but then again, I was also born and raised in the Netherlands, which is literally -below- sea level, so I don’t think I am well adapted to altitudes like this.

    [​IMG]

    We decided to hike to the largest lake first (Lago del Sol, or ‘Sun Lake’). The hike is up the steep side of the crater at the top of the volcano and then dips deep into the crater on somewhat loose volcanic rock.

    The colors were unreal.

    [​IMG]

    Clouds formed and were quickly ripped apart on the razor-like ridges of the caldera and the wind let down a bit as we were in the shadow of the caldera ridge towering over us.

    [​IMG]

    We hung out a bit, shot a few photos and drank some water and walked the flat trail to the other lake known as ‘Moon Lake’. Both lakes were used as ceremonial sites back in the day of the Aztec civilization, and as such it’s rather expressly prohibited to swim or dive in the lakes as there is a fear or people absconding with ancient cultural artifacts. Honestly, we weren’t interested in that anyway. It was cold as hell.

    [​IMG]

    Stuart set a few steps in the shallow side of the lake and we both enjoyed the scenery. It was getting late, and the sun had sank beneath the ridge. Shadows were getting deeper, bluer and most definitely colder. We decided to hike back up the steepest trail, from the Moon Lake to the caldera ridge on loose, sharp volcanic rocks.

    [​IMG]

    The hike totally kicked my ass, but it felt really nice to be out hiking and exploring off the bikes. Once we made it to the top, orange light was playing with the rapidly tattering clouds at our altitude that obscured our view of what seemed like the entire world.

    [​IMG]

    Against better judgment, we stayed until sunset. How could we not? If you love photography and the immensely humbling beauty of nature, you’d stop in your tracks as well. We were treated to an intense spectacle of light and color as the sun dipped below the horizon and clouds began to percolate in the valley below us. No more cars were on the road.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We turned off a side of the top of the mountain to look around.

    [​IMG]

    The high-altitude clouds colored pink and orange with the sunset light, we watched the sun slip away as all the lights of the cities below us lit up.

    [​IMG]

    We rode the rest of the road downhill in pitch-black darkness. I was thankful for my extra auxiliary LED lights which I set to daystar-like brightness. Once we arrived at the park entrance we were pretty tired and extremely hungry. A small restaurant was open and we decided to just get dinner there, pitch a tent and turn in for the night.

    [​IMG]

    Even though we dropped down quite a bit in elevation, it was still cold, and still high up. I felt a bit hungover without having drank anything, which having looked it up later seemed like it might have been a mild case of altitude sickness. Sick or not, I enjoyed some of the best tacos we’d had since México City: a local specialty of blue corn tacos with green chorizo and nopales (cactus! Not the fruit, the actual green part).

    Absolutely delicious with the way-too-spicy red salsa they provided. It sure was needed to keep us warm that night. We crawled into our sleeping bags and fell asleep to the sound of wind in the trees mixed with the sound of stray dogs barking, a sleeping ancient mountain god watching over us.

    [​IMG]
    #99
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  20. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile

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    It has indeed been a while, friends. Sorry for taking so long to update. We have returned from Costa Rica and are now going to update our entire trip backlog from México City to Costa Rica... as we're back in the states for a bit taking a break from all this adventuring (and to, importantly, make some money...). Thanks for sticking with us!
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