There and back again - My solo ride from NC to Ushuaia and back - Currently in Chile

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Windham, Sep 27, 2018.

  1. Windham

    Windham Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    52
    Location:
    Boone, NC
    Over the next 6-8 months I'll be riding the Americas solo on my modified 2005 Suzuki DR650. My trip began from the coast of North Carolina and I am headed to Tierra Del Fuego. After that, I will be riding all the way back to Tennessee where I plan to live.

    Sunrise in Big Bend National Park.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]IMG_0314 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr


    I'll keep my introduction brief. I’m currently 22 and just finished four years in the Marine Corps. This trip has been a dream of mine for several years now and I’m very excited to finally have my freedom and the finances to be able to make it a reality. I plan on camping when possible and staying in cheap hotels or hostels the rest of the time. I’m not a photographer or writer so bear with me as I improve over time.



    As of yesterday, I am across the Mexican border taking a rest day in Chihuahua city. Last week was a 2000 mile ride crossing America. I narrowly escaped Hurricane Florence and it took me 10 hours to drive to my parents home in western North Carolina from the base I was stationed at, due to the standstill traffic on I-40.


    After riding the trail of the dragon in North Carolina/Tennessee I headed straight west on HW 64. It was easy riding and my bike was eating up the miles like it was nothing. I camped a few days and then couch surfed in Texarkana, Texas before heading to Abilene, Texas to stay with a friend. My friend decided to come with me for a few days and she and I camped near Marfa before heading down to Big Bend to camp in the National Park. Sunrise the next day was incredible and we cruised the next 100 miles to the border before crossing at Ojinaga. The crossing was easy and even though I speak almost no Spanish (yet), I had no problem following the directions. All you needed was a passport and registration for the bike as well as $300 as a vehicle deposit. I should get this money back when I leave Mexico. After picking up insurance in town we pushed on and took the old road (Mex16) to Chihuahua. Dinner was $4 and we found a hotel for $11. All in all a great day, I’m glad to be in Mexico. The next day we toured the beautiful city, walking around the local downtown and enjoying the classic architecture, taking pictures as we walked.

    Stay tuned for more pictures as I head to Copper Canyon.

    South West Texas
    [​IMG]IMG_2874 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr


    [​IMG]IMG_2867 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    Art in downtown Chihuahua
    [​IMG]DSC_0257 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0376 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0390 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0385 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0422 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    [​IMG]DSC_0247 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    Big Bend National Park
    [​IMG]DSC_0232 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    Free campsite somewhere in rural Arkansas.
    [​IMG]DSC_0183 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr
    #1
    knight, RJ44, Sneeze Juice and 25 others like this.
  2. holckster

    holckster dougholck Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,449
    Location:
    Lodi, Ca
    This trip will change your life, FOR THE BETTER.
    You will be a smarter more compassionate adult as a result of your travels.
    Follow your gut instincts and avoid situations that don't FEEL right.
    Fantastic photos.

    Safe Travels
    #2
    Dillard, td63, eakins and 6 others like this.
  3. ShiftHead

    ShiftHead the f is silent.

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    389
    Location:
    Fort Mill, SC
    I'm in! This looks awesome. And the DR650, modified how?
    #3
    Windham likes this.
  4. BillUA

    BillUA Las Vegas, NV

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    623
    Location:
    Las Vegas Nevada
    Semper Fi Marine!
    Your report is off to a great start! Thanks for including us in the ADV community. This is going to be awesome!
    #4
    Windham likes this.
  5. Folly1

    Folly1 Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    May 11, 2014
    Oddometer:
    712
    Location:
    Charleston, SC : Bath, Me
    Great write up and great photos. Thank you so very much.

    Ben Peeples.
    #5
    Windham likes this.
  6. TaZ9

    TaZ9 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    Oddometer:
    754
    Location:
    NoCo
    Awesome start. Great photos. Keep it coming.

    Ride safe,

    Taz9
    #6
    Windham likes this.
  7. Windham

    Windham Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    52
    Location:
    Boone, NC
    Probably not going to remember it all but I'll try.
    5.3gal tank
    Upgraded front and rear shocks
    Handle bars + Risers + heated grips
    Bigger foot pegs
    center stand
    windshield
    Garmin GPS mount with power
    3 external power outlets (one on handle bars, one in rear metal box, one on the side of the bike for a heated jacket)
    Procycle Seat
    Motoz tires (on the recommendation of RTWPaul)
    Addition frame welds on know weak points
    All LED light conversion
    Metal oil filter and magnetic drain plug.

    A friend did most of the difficult work so I can't take credit for all of it.

    Packing list:

    Off the top of my head: Sleeping bag, sleeping pad, cook stove with fuel bottle and burner, laptop, headphones, camera, tripod, go pro, phone, a bunch of tools to work on the bike, knife(s), 2 pairs of pants, 3 shirts, 5 pair underwear and 6 pairs of socks, tide pods, 2 large water bottles, passport, notebook, GPS,
    helmet/gloves/jacket/pants/rain gear, coffee maker (aeropress), small coffee grinder, travel mug, spices (salt/pepper, etc), spoon/fork/knife/bowl, water purification tablets, small backpack, headlamp, hiking shoes, flip flops, spare parts.
    #7
    scudo, B10Dave and pir8liner like this.
  8. Windham

    Windham Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    52
    Location:
    Boone, NC
    On top of this report I'll be posting more "in the moment" things on instragram if that's your thing. @windham_t

    09/28/2018

    My 23rd Birthday!

    Friday morning we left Chihuahua, headed to Creel in the mountains. The roads were beautiful and it was another sunny day of easy riding on nicely paved roads. The temperature has been perfect in Mexico so far. I think I'm getting a little lucky combined with the end of the rainy season. This is definitely the time of year to be in Mexico. We found a cheap ($23) hotel in Creel and went out for dinner. After dinner we stumbled upon a café that served mixed drinks with coffee. They were seriously good and the husband/wife who owned the cafe were also playing music and singing classical Spanish songs, at one point the entire café was dancing in-between the tables. It was quite an unforgettable night!

    09/29/2018

    My friend's car was having a few issues so she headed back to the border to find a good mechanic. I pushed on alone, headed to Batopilas. Batopilas is an extremely small town, situated on the banks of a river that used to be overflowing with silver. These days its just a small town with a very friendly people. I stayed in a cheap ($16) hotel right on the river. The owner must have been used to bikers coming through because she told me I could drive my bike though her house into the courtyard. Not long after that, a friendly couple pulled up on a massive Harley. They were from Juarez out on a weekend getaway. Even though they spoke very little English we quickly hit it off. I asked where the gas was and he said he would take me there. It was just some guy selling it in bottles from a small building on the river but I was happy to have found any. We got dinner together and wouldn't let me pay. After that we picked up a few Tecate, sat on the porch and watched the river slowly grow as it rained into the night. I would have taken more pictures on the drive in but a local in Creel said it would not be a good idea to stop in the bottom of the Canyon.

    09/30/2018

    After consulting my maps I decided that I would take what looked like a curvy mountain road back out to civilization. I was wrong and it turned out to be an difficult single-track dirt "road". I don't think a big bike would have been capable of making it but my DR650 did as well as could be expected. In just a few miles I had climbed from 1,800 feet to 7,000. 20 miles in I still had not seen a single person and was getting a little worried that I might be headed to a dead end or run out of gas before I got anywhere. I was in first gear almost the entire section and the path was cut right into the side of the mountain with parts of it having a thousand foot drop right beside me. I pushed on, as my GPS advised, and after a few low-speed drops I made it to some pavement. 3.5 hours later and 45 miles of dirt was enough for one day! The bike handled everything without a hitch and started back up, no problem after the drops. Later, after grabbing a quick lunch in Guachochi I cruised on though the mountains toward Jimenze where I got non-descript hotel If I could describe the roads this afternoon I would say they were like the Blue Ridge Parkway with no speed limit! I seriously love bombing through the canyons on roads as beautiful as these were. Tomorrow I am heading to Zacatecas where I have a couchsurfing host, after that I am Mexico city bound to meet up with a friend and hopefully ride Central America with.


    Hotel in Batopoilas.
    [​IMG] by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    Tons of trees growing like this in Batopilas
    [​IMG] by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    "gas station" in Batopilas
    [​IMG] by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    The road from Creel to Batopilas was a an amazing feat of engineering.
    [​IMG] by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    [​IMG] by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    The crazy dirt road out of Batopilas headed to Guachochi. I also have gopro video but the wifi here is too poor to upload anything like that.
    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    [​IMG] by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    Messing around with the camera settings.
    [​IMG] by Windham Taylor, on Flickr
    #8
    scudo, td63, stoney4vida and 6 others like this.
  9. XR Valdeez

    XR Valdeez Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    921
    Location:
    So. Cal
    Hey there Jarhead!

    Good job on your trip! I'm ahead of you in South America, Peru actually! I'm taking my sweet ass time to Ushuaia. When u get down here, look me up. I'll buy the first round!

    Semper Fi!

    Steve
    0352
    #9
    stoney4vida and Cmnthead like this.
  10. Windham

    Windham Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    52
    Location:
    Boone, NC
    I’ll drop you a message. If we cross paths I’m down to ride. Really looking forward to South American even though Mexico has been good to me so far.
    -0351


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #10
    Cmnthead, XR Valdeez and 95Monster like this.
  11. OdyBandit

    OdyBandit Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2014
    Oddometer:
    1,539
    Location:
    Central Illinois
    Sitting in a tractor in a bean field in Illinois. I’ll be following along. Sounds like you got it together. Have a great trip, keep us posted and learn a little Spanish.
    #11
    Windham likes this.
  12. lifetravelled

    lifetravelled Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2016
    Oddometer:
    880
    Location:
    Melbourne
    Trip sounds great so far, we will be heading the same way soon so hopefully we can catch up on the road, we are in Baja for another week then we will see.

    Stay safe

    Josh and stef
    #12
    Cmnthead and Windham like this.
  13. unusmundusproject

    unusmundusproject Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2016
    Oddometer:
    89
    Location:
    Hometown: Bethlehem, PA
    I’m in San Miguel de Allende en route to Ushuaia part 1 of rtw, been on almost the same route as you so far just a lot slower. And a landslide was involved for that road from Batopilas to Guachochi.... but yea! I’m sure we will be crossing paths at some point, let’s grab some tecates when we do! My RR is up here too!
    #13
    Windham and 95Monster like this.
  14. MarkMexico

    MarkMexico "A roving stove gratifies no mice!"

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Oddometer:
    84
    Location:
    San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mx
    Hola, "C", glad we got a chance to meet here in SMA. I'm following this one and yours. Mark
    #14
    Windham and unusmundusproject like this.
  15. Windham

    Windham Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    52
    Location:
    Boone, NC
    I’ll be on the nov 3rd Stahlratte cruise so I’ll probably see you there at the very least. Tomorrow I’ll be near Mexico City for a couple of days if you’re around.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #15
    95Monster likes this.
  16. kleinergti1

    kleinergti1 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    Oddometer:
    139
    Location:
    dubuque,iowa
    Safe travels. Trip sounds amazing. Big Bend is one of my favorites in the US
    #16
  17. Windham

    Windham Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    52
    Location:
    Boone, NC
    Finally got the video of some off road riding I did last week up.

    Oct 2-3: Zacatecas, Mexico. I spent some time couchsuring in the beautiful city of Zacatecas. For those who don't know, the city is very old. One of the central locations (the church) was built in 1540. The streets are lined with cobble stones and many of the buildings are built from the same bricks. I really enjoyed my two days here and I think if I were to move overseas this would be on the top of my list. I spent my day checking out the city center and drinking beers with my hosts. They own a restaurant just a few blocks from my house which was very good. 40 pesos for a burger! The weather has been excellent on my ride so far. I haven't been rained on once yet in Mexico besides a few sprinkles and while its a little hot and humid near the coast the mountain climate has been perfect.

    Oct 5: Toluca City.

    This is a nice city situated north west of Mexico City. I spent the night with a very kind host and we made Enchiladas for dinner before checking out some local attractions the next day. This is a stained-glass depiction of the beginning of the Cosmos. (cosmosvitral) The right side is supposed to show all the evil that has been committed since the beginning of time and the left shows the good. The gardens were beautiful and this was definitely the highlight of the city.

    I've been riding hard for a few days now to catch up with a friend in Oaxaca. After a couple 400 mile days on toll roads through central Mexico we finally met up and plan on riding Central America together. Last night we also met up with a my riding partners friend (Errin Burns, keentobeen.com). He's been riding in South America for two years and it was good to hear his stories and advice in for parts of the trip I have not planned yet.

    Oct 6: Puebla City.

    This is one of my favorite cities in Mexico so far. The city center had a beautiful park and the people were extremely friendly. Unfortunately I didn't get to spend much time except to grab dinner and find a coffee shop the next day to restock my dwindling supply.

    Oct 9: Tuxtla

    Worked on the motorcycle for awhile to fix an Issue with the choke cable. My friend Yun and I are riding almost identical bikes, both of which he built in his garage. Within 20 minutes I had the bike apart, the issue fixed and was putting it back together again. I really love the simplicity of the DR650 and Yun is very knowledgeable about these bikes. His website is brakethecycles.com.

    Neither one of us has many connections through Central America though so if anyone has suggestions or wants to meet up, shoot me a message. We're going to be in Mexico for three more days before crossing the Guatemalan border and I have the booked the Stahlratte for November 3rd.

    A few pics from Zacatecas
    [​IMG]Zacatecas, Toluca and Puebla, Mexico. by Windham Taylor, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Zacatecas, Toluca and Puebla, Mexico. by Windham Taylor, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Zacatecas, Toluca and Puebla, Mexico. by Windham Taylor, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Zacatecas, Toluca and Puebla, Mexico. by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    My awesome host in Toluca. She showed me how to make enchiladas the Mexican way and we toured the city center together.
    [​IMG]DSC_0294 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    This is the the beautiful "cosmovitral". It depicts the beginning of the cosmos.
    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr
    [​IMG]DSC_0285 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Zacatecas, Toluca and Puebla, Mexico. by Windham Taylor, on Flickr


    Puebla at night. This city felt like it had a ton of old culture.
    [​IMG]Zacatecas, Toluca and Puebla, Mexico. by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    My friends host wanted to sit on my bike. They mostly drive the scooters and small 125's down here.
    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr
    Secure parking in my hotel
    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr


    My hosts in Tuxtla took me out to a "cantinas". It had live music and dinner and drinks for the three of us was 370 pesos! Not bad!
    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    First problem with the motorcycle found and fixed. Idle was running very high causing the engine to heat up too quickly while in traffic. Turned out to be a jammed choke cable. I had the bike apart and problem fixed in just a few minutes thanks to Yun's guidance. I also found a small crack in my exhaust, probably from where I dropped it in Batopilas. I'll get it welded eventually, it doesn't seem to effect anything. 55MPG yesterday!
    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    Yun and I ran into some brush fires on the edge of the road. Traffic was still moving through so we did the same. You could feel the heat as we passed it.
    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    Yun and I at an overlook on the road to Tuxtla.
    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    Errin, Yun and I after finally getting some AC in a small coastal town which I forget the name of. It had been badly damaged by the earthquakes last year and there were dozens of guys in the streets pouring concrete and laying block.
    [​IMG][​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    What comes out better? Medium pictures like the ones in this post or large like I put in the first post?
    #17
  18. 95Monster

    95Monster Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2015
    Oddometer:
    817
    Location:
    South Carolina
    I'm ahead of you in Antigua, Guatemala and headed to El Salvador border tomorrow. I'm also on the Nov 3rd sailing. Puebla, Oaxaca and San Cristobol were my favorite Mexican towns. Antigua is pretty cool too. Go see Jose at Moto Tours, Antigua. He has rooms too.
    #18
    knight likes this.
  19. holckster

    holckster dougholck Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,449
    Location:
    Lodi, Ca
    #19
  20. SOLOKLR

    SOLOKLR Back to work

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    614
    Location:
    Green Valley, AZ
    good luck! I'll be following along.
    #20
    Windham likes this.