Sketching a Trip

Discussion in 'Latin America' started by RockiesTwin, Aug 3, 2008.

  1. RockiesTwin

    RockiesTwin Dfrag y0ur BrAin

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    Hello Everyone! I've been poking around the posts here for some time (though just recently registered) and it seems like there is an enormous amount of accumulated experience/wisdom/mistakes/etc in the group. I'm hoping that I can benefit from some of that in planning for an upcoming trip. Here's the outline (rough as it is). Please do not hesitate to comment and throw in your .02; If it gets much more I'll put up a PayPal link and you can REALLY contribute :)

    The Bike: 2002 R1150 GS Adv. :wings
    The Origin: Denver, CO
    The Destination: Panama City Panama
    Timeframe: Dec 08 to Jan 09
    My Experience: My riding has been limited to the Western US and Canada.
    Pace: 2-400 miles per day Max

    Now based on what I've been reading this seems like a severely condensed timeframe for what most have done and I'm wondering if it is totally unrealistic for starters? I do realize that it'll be impossible to fully experience the countries travelled through - but see this as an expeditionary endeavor right now with an intention of running the full PanAm at some point.

    Cheers and Thanks Ahead for the input...
    #1
  2. j_seguin

    j_seguin Been here awhile

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    Yeah it's a bit condensed, but if thats all the time you have do it. It's not impossible. There are guys that make it all the way down to Ushuaia in less time than that. Not the way I'd like to do it, but it's possible and better than nothing.
    #2
  3. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    You're in Denver, so you don't have an excuse for not coming to the rally next week, right? We will not only answer all your questions, we've even gone so far as to have already done the ride for you!
    #3
  4. RockiesTwin

    RockiesTwin Dfrag y0ur BrAin

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    You're right that I don't have too many excuses unless I've already planned something for that time. So when and where ??
    #4
  5. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    All the info is here: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=344315

    It's also on my sig line and the sig lines of half of the inmates who post in this forum.
    #5
  6. RockiesTwin

    RockiesTwin Dfrag y0ur BrAin

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    I'd have more than a few puncture wounds! :) So I've posted on the thread for the Rally. I've been spending as much time on the bike as I can (commuting) running errands, etc trying to settle myself in.

    GEAR ========================
    So far I've discovered (and am in the process of acquiring):

    1) Needed new boots. I've got the Combat Touring Boots.

    2) Some needed FARKLE:
    a) Aux Lights (PIAA)
    b) new foot pegs
    c) bendable controls
    d) lockable tool-cover
    e) crash bars (will likely weld on some foot-pegs for a stretch)

    I still need to get another set of hard-bags as the stock ones I have are just don't work for me. I can barely get my daily riding gear in them. Anyone know of a decent set of used Jesses' anywhere? there's no scratch&dent ones on his site.

    ROUTE PLANNING ====================
    I'm actually considering starting out the trip with a Saddle Sore 1000 to the beginning of the trip. Figure this way it'll be a good shakedown whilst I'm still in the US of A. This would only work if I entered via Nuevo Laredo or Reynosa) Does anyone have any thoughts one way or the other on these?
    How about Ojinaga ? It's not technically on the InterAmerican - but maybe that's a good thing ??
    #6
  7. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    It sounds like you're looking to carve a notch doing this ride, one that might be perceived as cool.

    The only thing you really need is the key to start your bike.

    Who will the SS1000 impress? Nada... Ditch that idea. Take another breath.
    You'll see much more off the PamAm than on, if that matters.

    Why torque yourself during a ride that should be fun...
    #7
  8. RockiesTwin

    RockiesTwin Dfrag y0ur BrAin

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    Lone Rider: I appreciate the comment and you're right. Blitzing past a part of the world unknown to me isn't my goal. That said the SS1000 would be inside the US on the way down (DEN > TX) which I've driven more times than I care to admit and while the journey IS the most important part it was just a way to motivate me to not lolly-gag on my way south. It's also been one of those goals I've shared with some friends (who might accompany me only on that part of the ride).
    #8
  9. RockiesTwin

    RockiesTwin Dfrag y0ur BrAin

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    So I've completed the part from ME to CO and damn if I didn't learn a bunch ;) First - the roads in Canada + Me = Tire issues *LOL* they just eat up tires and I seem to discover it at the most inopportune times. So I got to spend a few days in Ontario over the Labor day weekend till I could get some new shoes slapped on. It was a good reminder about deferred maintenance.

    So I was rolling through NE, in the cold (or at least I was cold) howlin' down I80 when I stopped in Grand Island, NE. As I sat there at Bossleman's wondering if I should press on or stop at the motel - the answer came to me in the form of one of those IronButt riders. While I'm sure his intentions were fine - in my condition and mode his comments came across in a light that immediately scratched any desire I had for an IronButt anything. I was left with a comment my friend Alan (a Motorcycle Lunatic of highest degree) said: 1000 miles of interesting riding? SURE! 1000 miles just to say you went 1000 miles ? No thanks.

    That's when it hit me - the guy didn't ask how I was doing, if I was having fun, anything. Just how many miles had I made that day and some snide comment about how the miles on my bike didn't measure up to his. I checked into the Motel 6 and slept for 12 solid hours. The next morning after 6 miles on the "superslab" I stopped... turned off on a secondary road and immediately proceeded to get stuck in a river ;) :wings

    Lesson Learned!
    #9
  10. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    I stayed in that same Motel 6 on my way back from the Latin America rallye. My thought processes were almost the same. I could have pressed on, or got a decent night's sleep. Good for you for making a prudent decision.

    There's nothing wrong with doing long rides when you've got to be somewhere, but there's surprisingly good explores in Nebraska.

    You know that you have to change the final drive fluid if you dunk the final drive, right? Because of the breather-port. Unless you put a snorkel on the breather-port. And even then, it's better to change the final drive fluid.
    #10
  11. RockiesTwin

    RockiesTwin Dfrag y0ur BrAin

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    No I didn't but now I do --- Picking the bike up today from it's major service - I'll ask them.

    Danka!
    #11
  12. RockiesTwin

    RockiesTwin Dfrag y0ur BrAin

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    So i picked up the bike and the Shop gave it the A-OK :thumb So I've been riding everyday I'm in town and I must say that I REALLY do prefer the big GSA over my old 1100 in all but one area: Muscling it around *LOL* The old GS feels like a toy in comparison. Likely this isn't due so much to a difference in weight as height. The two bikes side by side look VERY different in size.

    It's been hitting the 30's here in the early mornings and the other day I rode off with frost on my butt - but it felt niiiiice to be out riding. The new Tourance gear is proving to be worthwhile.

    Now that the bike is in running order and has it's clean bill of health: :deal It is time to REALLY start looking at the details in earnest for the trip, roughly 50 days and counting till departure.
    #12
  13. Charles Seguin

    Charles Seguin Noob4Life

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    Sounds like a good trip and quite doable in your time frame, although I would suggest maybe doing less countries and doing more stuff in those countries. I would venture a guess that you`d enjoy the trip more if you left it off in Guatemala. That doesn´t save you that many miles, but it does save you 8 or more border crossings, which have at times taken people 7 or 8 hours. Also remember that there are a lot more variables when you get south of the border. I don`t know what will happen to you if you can`t make it back in time, however I personally would be rather paranoid about making it from Panama to Denver in 2 weeks. In all likelyhood it would go just fine, but you could get sick for a week as we did, or who knows what else. If I was doing a 4 week trip like yours it would be to Mexico, and probably Guatemala.

    Stay off the qoutas in Mexico and you will have a lot more fun and the people will be a lot friendlier.
    #13
  14. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    Never ever ever ever ever ever ever let anyone tell you to slow down. You're riding a f-ing motorcycle! Go as fast as you want. Keep a few spare $20s for when you get stopped and you're actually speeding. Consider them the toll.

    Even though I was riding with a girl who would not get up in the morning, and we always stopped before it got dark, and we took a few rest-days, we still made it to Panama in two weeks. The way YOU ride, you could easily do it in one. Sure, you won't be a tourist, but you WILL be on an awesome ride. An awesome ride.

    You're not just riding a f-ing motorcycle, you're riding what is perhaps the finest overland touring machine ever built. While you're riding, you'll be able to go as fast as you want. There's a HUGE advantage to riding a big GS: you will be able to pass at will. The yellow line belongs to you. There is no such thing as a "no passing" zone.

    A buddy of mine once rode a bicycle from Wisconsin to Panama. He doesn't respect my effort very much, but he did envy my ability to get from one place to another place as quickly as I wanted. You'll be able to do the same. You can wake up in Veracruz, and go to sleep in San Cristobal de las Casas.

    If you want a beach vacation, or if you want to explore one country, you can go back, later, and do it slowly.

    If you want to some-day ride to Ushuaia, this will be perfect practice.

    It was a super cool feeling to cross the Bridge of the Americas, over the Panama Canal. It was even more super-cool to get to the end of the road in Yavisa. If these are your goals (and this is why you got rid of the old 1100, right?), DO IT!

    Never give in. Never never never never never never never (Winston Churchill, "Adamant to a point."
    #14
  15. RockiesTwin

    RockiesTwin Dfrag y0ur BrAin

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    Thanks guys for the comments (on both sides). Ultimately I leave it to what happens - happens. This is how I typically travel and some days I feel like going mach 1 other days it is .001 What I've learned is that pushing myself on the low days isn't any fun (or typically good) and go with it when you feel good.

    The more threads I'm reading the more interested i'm becoming in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. I'm even entertaining the idea of a week in (insert yet to be determined town here) to learn some basic Spanish. Who knows! That is where the real fun is.. "On the Road".

    And I still have that 1100 if you're looking to put yours back to stock Bananaman :trp
    #15
  16. Charles Seguin

    Charles Seguin Noob4Life

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    I guess Bannaman have some disagreements about the proper pace... although Bannanaman himself has suggested that we slow down to enjoy Panama. In the end you´ll do as you like.

    In any case, if yoù´re going to study Spanish for a week I would recomend San Cristobal De Las Casas in Chiapas Mexico. There is a school there called Jovel which is very good, it´s $150 for a week, which would be 3 straight hours of one on one tutoring every day. We were there 2 weeks and the tutors were great. San Cristobal is a really nice old colonial town and has a very temperate climate.

    Antigua Guatemala also has schools, I`ve heard that they aren`t as good, but they are cheaper. I couldn´t say about the town itself.
    #16
  17. RockiesTwin

    RockiesTwin Dfrag y0ur BrAin

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    Thanks Charles for the recommendation. All I say one way or the other is that I was hoping to find somewhere (if possible of course) farther north so that I could use the newly acquired knowledge in more of my trip. That said.. a day or so isn't much one way or another.

    So another thing I'm curious about is whether there are some MUST NOT MISS activities of festivals (holidays?) in a particular place that would be especially worth putting on the list OR to avoid ?

    ALSO: Regarding Temperatures and Precip.
    leaving in Late Nov and through January what can I expect (or should I prepare for) in the way of temperatures and precipitation? I tend to get warm easily and I'm curious whether I should bring my weatherproof gear AND my hot weather stuff. It seems like over-kill unless I end up passing out from heat exhaustion :-O or drowning routinely in squalls :)
    #17
  18. RockiesTwin

    RockiesTwin Dfrag y0ur BrAin

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    **IN PROGRESS**

    So my preparations are being REALLY pressed now --- Just finding out that work is basically going to have me out of town for the next month. With my departure date being right around Turkey Day I'm wondering what's going to happen. So I'm going to try and keep this up-2-date so that a few other eyes are looking out at what I'm probably missing. I'm going to post my LIST and would appreciate constructive feedback. TIA!
    #18
  19. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    In the high Mexico and Guatemal mountains the temps can be very cool, even cold. Barb and I rode with goretex from Texas to Guatemala City. I kept mine in half-way to the El Salvador border. Barb took hers out, and then borrowed my fleece. (Because she's a girl, and that's what girls do- they say they don't need something, and then they borrow yours.) Nights in the mountains can get almost frosty. The Costa Rica and Panama mountains can also be very cool, even cold.

    Temps usually drop by 4 degrees F for every 1000 feet of elevation.

    Temps in parts of El Salvador and Honduras were over 100.

    Nicaragua and Costa Rica were very comfy. On the 100km of gravel I rode in Cosa Rica, I was as unzipped as possible and standing on the pegs. At 45mph, on the pegs, it's very nice and breezy when it's 90 degrees out.

    Please say you're going to go all-the-way-to-YAVISA!
    #19
  20. RockiesTwin

    RockiesTwin Dfrag y0ur BrAin

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    I nearly choked on my chicken when I read this :)

    The cold I'm OK with -- even frosty (as you've seen). The concerning part is riding in 100 degree heat with full gear and me getting goofy!



    YAVISA or BUST ... That MIGHT make for a good ride title - guess you'll have to wait and see what it starts out with :) I'll certainly link to my forthcoming report from here. Thanks for the encouragement to be a delinquent. When are you heading back again ??? JAN ?
    #20