The Gap Year: Southeast USA

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by 95Monster, Sep 2, 2018.

  1. Kevin S.

    Kevin S. noob saibot

    Joined:
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    thornton, co
    loving the pics, looks very relaxing !

    Any idea what kind of car this is ? Looks like step up on the drivers rear quarter panel ? Is a mini pickup ute ? Hard to tell with the body damage...
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  2. 95Monster

    95Monster Been here awhile

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    For my last night in South America, I wanted to stay somewhere special and checked into the Alvear Palace, BA's oldest hotel. The palace is pretty formal so I gave my civies a good sink wash before heading over. When I arrived, I scored a decent parking spot out front.
    BetterBike Parking.jpg
    Mmmm, yes. This should do. ThisDo.jpg
    Okay, what now. Slippers.jpg
  3. 95Monster

    95Monster Been here awhile

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    I think I'll take the elevator. Stairs.jpg
    Best hamburguesa I've had since Arizona. Hamburguesa.jpg
    I think I fancy a bath. Bathroom.jpg
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  4. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    San Jose, CA
    Love the parking spot. We had similar at a Westin in San Jose del Cabo, Baja Sur. They didn’t know what to do with our bikes - couldn’t valet park them. So they had us park them on a walkway behind some pillars in front of reception .

    Glad you made it through the floods!
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  5. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    And I guess I need to go back and re-read your posts: Last night in S.A.? What’s next? Shipping the bike?
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  6. 95Monster

    95Monster Been here awhile

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    Not sure. Maybe a VW mini truck.
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  7. 95Monster

    95Monster Been here awhile

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    As I sat in the bar of the Alvear Palace, a gentleman came up and introduced himself with "They say you rode that motorcycle all the way here from California. Is that true?" IMG_6009.JPG Well, we got to talking and turns out he was from Edisto Island, SC, about an hour south of where I was headed. In fact, we were on the same flights from BA to Atlanta and Atlanta to Charleston. Small world indeed.

    Next morning, I reluctantly checked out of the palace and went to meet Javier and Sandra from Dakar Motos. Bye Bye palace. I'll be back in the afternoon for High Tea. IMG_6011.JPG
    Dakar Motos are widely known as the 'Go To' team to facilitate shipping motorcycles from Buenos Aires to anywhere in the World. When I originally contacted them I was thinking Madrid...then Miami...then Atlanta... finally settling in on Charleston. We met outside the Cargo Terminal at the Ezeiza International Airport. I'd been warned to arrive with as little gas as possible. I usually don't have enough gas and now had too much. So I took the long way, in Dynamic Pro mode, at high RPMs, and arrived on reserve with what I claimed was 3 liters. (I had no idea how much was in there. 3 liters sounded good.)

    Sandra & Javier took my passport, title and Argentinian TIP inside while I removed the Top Box, windscreen and mirrors. When they returned, I went with an official to weigh the bike then rode inside the warehouse and up onto a shipping pallet and disconnected the battery. Immediately, the guys started strapping the bike down and preparing her for shipping. I was instructed not to watch as the guys are a bit grumpy and if they think you're peering over their shoulders they'll just up and walk off and wont come back for a few hours! So I tried not to watch as my baby was packed up but snuck a few photos. IMG_6017.JPG
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  8. 95Monster

    95Monster Been here awhile

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    The bike was strapped down and I was allowed to ship tools, spares and riding gear along with it. But no camping gear or 'personal items.' Once everything is secured on the pallet, it's wrapped in plastic, moved to the x-ray machine and you wait for Customs/Aduana. IMG_6059.JPG When the Customs lady arrives, she watches it go through X-ray and that's it. IMG_6029.JPG
    Its a strange feeling watching the bike you've been glued to every day, for 227 days, go off with strangers while you climb aboard a bus and ride back to town. I went back to Alvear Palace and relaxed until it was time for my overnight flight to Atlanta.

    Time for some Pink Floyd... IMG_6055.JPG
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  9. 95Monster

    95Monster Been here awhile

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    Ahhh Charleston. Been a while since I'd had grits. IMG_6054.JPG As another inmate posted elsewhere- "we Americans eat like we have free healthcare!"

    I left Buenos Aires on a Monday, arriving Charleston Tuesday. My bike left BA on a Wednesday, arriving in Newark the next morning to be trucked to the lowcountry. Tracking info showed it stalled in Newark. When I contacted the local freight forwarding company, they had no info and said when it arrived, they would contact me. I gave it a couple days then called again. This time, I was told to call Newark as whoever shipped it only shipped it to Newark. Bullshit, I thought, since I was looking at an airbill that stated destination Charleston. Well, Newark didn't answer their phones so I called the lady in Charleston back and pleaded to please help me. She started an e-mail chain, which I was on, to a half dozen folks who all flamed back blaming each other for the delay. I don't think the others realized I was on the thread: )

    Anyway, the bike was in Newark because it was 'hazardous goods' and somebody didn't do something so they just left it sitting on the dock for a week! I wasn't in too much of a rush since I was preoccupied with sorting out my registration issues and eating all the Shrimp and Grits I could find. Somebody at the freight company with a clear head squashed the squabbling and expedited the bike to Charleston where I was repeatedly told I would need a Customs Broker. Huh? I've moved my bike through 12 countries with countless border crossings and I need a Customs Broker to return it home? I ignored that advice and just went to the Customs office myself and would have got it cleared right away but their computers were down! IMG_6031.JPG What? The U.S. Government's computers were down? We don't need a wall. We need an IT guy! Anyway, next morning Customs stamped my paperwork and I retrieved the moto... minus my favorite folding knife that somehow went missing between Newark and Charleston.
    IMG_6038.JPG
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  10. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    Wow. Amazing how your US customs snafus and delays remind me of their Central American counterparts! I guess it is a universal thing - bureaucracy breeds worker indifference and systematic inefficiency!
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  11. 95Monster

    95Monster Been here awhile

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    And the only crime I experienced the entire trip was a knife stolen from a pannier either in Newark or Charleston.
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  12. dksd39

    dksd39 Been here awhile

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    Have very much enjoyed following along and have learned a thing or 2 in the process. Thank you!
    My next journey south begins May 15th
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  13. 95Monster

    95Monster Been here awhile

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    You're killing me, Charleston. I gotta get out of this place! IMG_6044.JPG
    Well, the Latin American leg of my trip is over but the trip itself isn't over. From here, I'll head North to Canadaland. No plans other than a quick trip to VA this weekend for the HU Gathering in Appomattox then back down to CHS for a family reunion next weekend. After that, Leg 2 officially begins and I hope to ride the MABDR on the way up to the Trans- Labrador Hwy. Labrador, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia then... I dunno.

    If anyone has suggestions for places to ride, camp, stay, eat along the way north, let's hear them. And now, a few words about tires...

    South of the border, you can't always get what you want but you can get them. So I got to experiment a little with several brands.


    Dunlop Trailsmarts: 4,721 miles, rear down to cords. Front more than half worn but plenty of tread and proper shape left. Street biased tire. They stick great in the canyons and and are fantastic for aggressive 'sport bike' riding. They also work well in the rains. They suck on wet dirt and mud (like most tires) and are okay, but not great, on dry dirt, sand and gravel.

    Michelin Anakee 3s: 4,016 miles, rear to wear bars. Front at half life. Street biased tire. Not quite as confidence inspiring as the Dunlops on the fast asphalt but a solid choice for street riding. (Actually, my only choice.) Worked well on wet asphalt. I don't think I ever had any dirt, gravel or mud to speak of other than road construction detours.

    Continental TKC70s: 6,214 miles, front cupped and multiple flats on it's last day (looked like I ran over a cactus!), rear past wear bars. 50/50 rated tire. This tire saw mostly dirt and gravel roads in Colombia and Ecuador. Okay on fast asphalt and wet asphalt. Great on dry dirt and gravel. Okay on wet dirt, gravel and light mud.

    Continental TKC80f/70r: TKC 80 Front went 6,994 miles and was badly cupped at change. TKC 70 Rear had a blow out at 3,204 miles and was down to cords. The rear saw almost all dirt and gravel and blew out on a very rocky section of mountain road. (I had 60km to go and the rear was at wear bars but looked okay so I got a little too aggressive.) This is my favorite combo so far for offroad biased riding. Love the TKC 80 front! tkc80f.jpg

    Heidenau K60 Scout rear: 3,696 miles, plenty of life left but couldn't wait to get that off! In all fairness this is a 50/50 tire that saw mostly asphalt. Poor choice for asphalt. Uncomfortable feeling leaned over, no wet traction, squirrelly in the Patagonian winds and hard as a rock. Maybe it's better in the dirt but I didn't like it one bit.

    Continental TKC80s: Currently mounted, I expect the TKC 80 rear will be too soft for the trip north but it was all I could get. When it expires, I'll put a TKC 70 on the rear. My other choice was a MotoZ Tractionator GPS but it looked too similar to the Heidenau K60 and I just couldn't do it.

    tkc80r.jpg
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  14. 95Monster

    95Monster Been here awhile

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    Yes! Glad to have you follow along. Where are you heading?
  15. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

    Joined:
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    Here and there... but more there than here
    Congrats on finishing your first leg! I’m really glad you’re continuing on though. Most of my current “crop” of rides are wrapping up. Probably for the best as I may be starting my own next month (depends on a job I reluctantly put in for).

    Not to question your route choices, but what were your deciding factors on doing North America next rather than Europe?

    Carry on!
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  16. 95Monster

    95Monster Been here awhile

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    . It’s a great question since I’m not sure I chose wisely. The short answer was I was feeling a little homesick and needed a reset. (Even though Charleston isn’t my home, I grew up here and my family still lives here.).

    The long answer- Taxes, bike registration, gear, helmet, finances and Moto all needed attention. While you can do it from a hostel in Spain, it seemed more inviting to do it amongst family and friends. And I wanted BBQ and Shrimp n Grits.
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  17. dksd39

    dksd39 Been here awhile

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    Jul 11, 2013
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    Hollywood, FL
    I have only been as far south as Honduras so the next 2 months ish will be central america then shipping to Bogota to do SA.. im planning 10 months but i have no plans and also no time limits lol
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  18. jowul

    jowul Been here awhile

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    Shrimp and Grits sounds like a good combination :lol3 . I still remember the first and last time I had Grits (sometimes late 70's?). Why Charleston? Are you planning on riding north from there and do the TAT? :clap. Great report by the way and a stylish ending (for now) in a fancy, classy hotel in BA.

    Sorry I should have read further since you answered most of those questions.
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  19. jowul

    jowul Been here awhile

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    Sounds like my experience. I grew up in Colombia and the first crime I experienced was in Germany (where I went for post secondary education). My Fiat 500 (the real one from 1962) just got new Michelin tires and one morning I found it leaning on its right side break drums with two wheels missing.
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  20. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    Jan 4, 2014
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    San Jose, CA
    Really appreciated that - very useful. I put TKC70's F&R on both bikes (mine and my wife's) before we left California - they are still holding well and I hope to make it to Columbia before changing (looks like I'll make it - we are at the Guatamala/Honduras border now and still good bit of tread left). I have been happy how well they have managed the dirt. I had been considering the TKC80's for front, and may try that out based on your report.

    I need to find a place in Columbia to source and install the tires - if you (or anyone following this) have recommendations based on your experience, I'd be happy to hear! I'm hoping that if I contact in advance I'll have a better chance of getting what I want.

    Will continue to follow you as you take on this next NA leg of your journey!
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