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Utah To Panama And Back

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by halfthrottle, Feb 23, 2009.

  1. halfthrottle

    halfthrottle Been here awhile

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    Utah, USA
    My buddy and I rode to Panama and back, he was on a KLR and I rode a GS. We made a bunch of video's about our trip. I just put together a little highlight reel of our trip. It was an amazing adventure for me, hope you like it.


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    #1
  2. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

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    Looks like fun (except the accident). Where will you put up more videos? Do you have any stills?
    #2
  3. halfthrottle

    halfthrottle Been here awhile

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    Here are some of the best movies from the trip. If you want to see them all you could check out www.youtube.com/halfthrottle, but I have posted many movies there, some are just about my travels and have nothing to do with motorcycles.

    Hope you like the other video's I'll work on getting some photos up.

    I ride my GS over a narrow suspension bridge.
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    In this movie Mitch's muffler falls off his KLR
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    Crossing a river on a ferry in Belize
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    #3
  4. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Wow! :thumb

    thanks for the embedded links keep'em comin' :lurk
    #4
  5. halfthrottle

    halfthrottle Been here awhile

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    This one has some footage of me on the GS, but many of the video's I made are about cool places to see in Central America. For part of the trip I traveled alone. So I could only get footage of me riding when I could find a hot 20something chica to film me. Bwahahahaha!!

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    One of my favorites, this street musician gave me a perfect soundtrack for my video.

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    #5
  6. WeeBee

    WeeBee Proud Deplorable

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    Cool vids - have you already done a RR or do you plan to do one?
    #6
  7. halfthrottle

    halfthrottle Been here awhile

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    I wrote many blogs while I was on my trip. I'll post some of the good ones here. Seems to be an issue with the photos being posted, when that is fixed I have some cool pictures too.

    True Grit

    Our trip so far has had some ups and downs. Getting past the Mexican Drivers permit in Sonora was a nightmare. Worrying about Mitch being able to continue the adventure after the breakdown in Arizona were some of the worst days ever. But we grit our teeth and drive on.

    The first time I can remember having to grit my teeth was Basic Training. Dingo Boy was saluting with his left hand and couldn't figure out why Drill SGT Pipken was so furious. I was nearly in tears I was laughing so hard, but after a few weeks of training I had found that gritting your teeth was a pretty good cover for smiling. Watching Privates get “smoked” is the most entertaining example of modern day torture a person can hope to see. But if a Drill Sergeant can see that your enjoying it you will be the next participant.

    "Hey Dingo Boy! One of these things is not like the other." Drill Sergeant Pipkin shouts standing 3 inches away from Dingo Boys face, foaming at the mouth and spitting as he speaks. "You had better fix yourself, before I throat chop you and skull drag you up and down the Parade field." The problem here is that Dingo Boy is standing directly across from me, like an image in the mirror. So when the order came to present arms, and all our arms snapped to our brow in a sharp salute Dingo Boy did look like the rest of us. Since he could only see what was straight in front of him he had snapped his left hand up to match my right. It wasn't his fault. Dingo Boy was from a backwoods town in Louisiana, and the most brainless thickheaded person I have ever met.

    The Drill Sergeants barrage of insults continued. "I'll throw your butt so far out of the Army that when you land there won't be anything but brown rip-stop on your uniform!" I bite down hard to cover the smile that is brewing my face grimaced in pain. Maybe it's the sun in my eyes, maybe my muscles are sore from all the PT this morning, maybe it's a blister in my boot from yesterday's 10K road march, but as long as I keep gritting my teeth maybe Pipkin wont notice that it's really a smile. "Hey Dingo Boy do you wake up every morning and hit yourself in the head with a brick?"

    I am trying to help and while keeping my salute in place I make eye contact with him and begin to move my elbow up and down, trying to hint that it's his right hand he needs in the air. Playing off my direction he begins move his elbow higher and lower, changes the angle of his hand, moves his fingers above his eyebrow and then down below. But still the fury of Drill SGT. Pipken rains down on him. "Dingo Boy I will kill you!" Finally noticed by the Drill SGT I begin to knock out an unspecified number of push ups, while keeping my body stiff I slowly move up and down parallel to the ground, my hands cold on the January asphalt of Fort Leonard Wood, while paying the price for laughter and watching sweat roll off my brow, still I grit my teeth.

    Driving from Sayulita to Guadalajara we hit our first rainstorm. Drops of rain big as your fist pummeled us from the sky as we drove through mountain passes soaking us completely. We stopped for a moment to put the rain fly’s on our tank bag then kept going. During the heat of summer the heavy trucks create grooves in the soft asphalt. Now those grooves are pools of water so we must ride in the middle to stay on the high ground and avoid hydroplaning. Oncoming traffic is sending a constant tidal wave of water at us from the road. Forcing me to grip my handlebars tight as the waves crash against me. I shake my head after each swell breaks trying to clear water off the visor of my helmet, hoping to catch a glimpse of traffic before the next wave breaks.

    During a lull in traffic I glance in my mirror to check on Mitch. The black bandanna with the skulls is off his face and around his neck. I can see his teeth. But can’t be sure if it is from pleasure, or pain.

    --Ryan
    #7
  8. halfthrottle

    halfthrottle Been here awhile

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    They call him Pinball

    [​IMG]
    Mitch “Pinball” Curwen has made it through Mexico.

    It took 4992 miles, and 2 motorcycles. He is on his 6th chain, and 3rd sprocket. He has dropped his motorcycle 5 times, been in 1 accident, 1 ambulance ride, had 4 stitches, and 1 high-speed dismount on a muddy road. He has been pulled over by Mexican Police and watched them siphoned his gas tank. Broken a turn signal and lost a pair of nail clippers. He had a Guardian Bell, a gift from a friend to ward off problems when placed on a motorcycle. But he has crashed so many times it fell off.

    He made his way through Mexico with the strategy of a pinball. One large unshaven steel ball bearing bouncing off of, around, and over anything in his way. How many times can it be the end of the road for one person? His first motorcycle gets a blown engine? He gets a new motorcycle. Hit a car going 30mph and land in the hospital? He gets his stitches and rides the bike to the next town that very night. He breaks a chain in the middle of nowhere? He waits on the side of the road for me to bring him a new one.

    There is no motorcycle endorsement on his driver’s license, he hasn’t taken any riders safety courses, and he has more balls than brains. But he does have a ½ shell helmet, combat boots, a leather jacket, and a black handkerchief. Nobody could have blamed Mitch if he had gone home after the Heritage broke, or after his accident in Sonora. But someday when Mitch is an old man, and his grandkid climbs on his knee to ask what he ever did that was so great. He won’t have to say “Well… I was going to ride a motorcycle from Utah to where the road ends.”

    --Ryan
    #8
  9. halfthrottle

    halfthrottle Been here awhile

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    In The Groove

    [​IMG]
    I know riding a motorcycle is dangerous. But it doesn’t feel that way when I ride. On small 2 lane roads across Central America lane sharing is a way of life. As the road twists through mountain passes, lumbering Mexican beasts of burden billow black toxic smoke. Your choice is to breath the smoke and let it fill your eyes, or go for it.

    Weaving in and out of traffic I become hypnotized. The danger doesn’t register, I am leaning hard into a corner passing a chicken bus. When I can see around the bus there is a truck coming my way. I don’t flinch, I don’t brake, I put the front tire of the BMW right on the centerline. I’m not crossing my fingers, I feel no adrenaline. I don’t hope the vehicles next to me wont swerve. Somehow I know they wont change the path they are on. I feel completely in control of things completely out of my control.

    Once while passing a bus I lifted my right hand off the throttle. With the throttle lock in place the bike continued to accelerate. At 60 mph while passing I reach out not thinking, just riding. I caught myself at the last second, realizing that dragging my hand along the bus was a really bad idea.

    It is hard to describe the feeling I had. I was totally aware, yet unaware. In control, but out of control. Musicians playing together get in the “groove”. Soldiers in combat can speak without words. Motorcycle riders can control the space around them. Until they get hit. Then they lay on the ground, bleeding, and looking at their mangled bike, with a expression on their face like there has been some kind of mistake.

    --Ryan
    #9
  10. pdedse

    pdedse paraelamigosincero

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    Alluring...Wacky...














    Fun!
    #10
  11. davidgibson999

    davidgibson999 Been here awhile

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    really enjoying this.
    #11
  12. halfthrottle

    halfthrottle Been here awhile

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    [​IMG]
    It felt good to hit the 5000 mile point. We thought we would be on our way back from Panama after so many miles, but it turns out we were just entering Belize. Thankfully the countries get smaller from here.

    Not far into Belize Mitch noticed that his rear sprocket had turned itself into a table saw blade. The chain had worn deep into the teeth of the sprocket making each tooth look like a hook, if not replaced soon they would begin to break and the chain would start to slip.

    Luckily we were in Belmopan the capital city of Belize. The capital of an entire country, finding a mechanic or spare parts should be no problem right? Wrong big time, Belmopan is lucky to have a gas station. We couldn’t even find a bank that would exchange our Mexican Pesos for Belizean Dollars. The Mexican Embassy even turned our Pesos away!

    We caught a break when the only bike mechanic in town rode passed us. He didn’t have any parts would could use, but he did point us in the direction of a Mennonite Colony, “If it’s in Belize the Mennonites will have it.” He said.

    After bouncing down the dirt road to the colony we found the shop easy enough, and sent the owner rummaging through his storage room for a new chain and sprocket. After a few minutes he came back with a dust covered plastic bag. Inside was a glossy black 43 tooth sprocket, on the side was stamped KLR650. Cheap Mexican chains and sprockets intended to run a 150cc scooter have plagued our trip. And here in the middle of nowhere was an honest to goodness Kawasaki KLR650 rear sprocket. If they didn’t have one our next option was to buy a bus ticket back to Cancun, the nearest Kawasaki dealership is there. So this was a major break.

    I guess what I am trying to say here is; buy a motorcycle with a shaft drive. And thank God for Mennonites.

    --Ryan
    #12
  13. halfthrottle

    halfthrottle Been here awhile

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    #13
  14. advjackass

    advjackass orange crusher

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    i rode to cabo a few years ago and we arrived on a day when there was a biker rally going on. nicest people i have ever met. nothing like riding the streets of cabo with 75 drunk mexican bikers. something i willl never forget.
    #14
  15. halfthrottle

    halfthrottle Been here awhile

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    We told some of the guys there we had ridden there specifically for their rally (which was a lie). They took us up on stage, gave us T-shirts, and treated us like hero's. It was great!

    I recommend if you are planning a trip through Mexico google around a bit and find a rally to hit on your way through. No matter the kind of bike you ride you will be accepted, and have a great time.
    #15
  16. Dave-in-Turkey

    Dave-in-Turkey Mild Mannered Adventurer

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    Hey Ryan,

    Watched the whole 2 hours of vids on your website.......FANTASTIC :clap:clap:clap:clap:clap:clap:clap:clap

    Put your link up here mate for the 38 vids on your website page, I'm sure plenty of inmates here would like to see the trip presented in your own unique style:thumb

    Cheers

    Dave..
    #16
  17. LaOutbackTrail

    LaOutbackTrail Certified Smartass

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    I found these a while back... looks like you had a great trip. Great attitude... I'm off to bug my retired friend in town to see if he wants to go.:wink:
    #17
  18. halfthrottle

    halfthrottle Been here awhile

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    You can view all of my video's in order at www.half-throttle.com You can also visit www.youtube.com/halfthrottle I have some other video's about my travels posted there as well.

    I wanted badly to post my adventure on advrider while I was on the trip, so people here could follow along. I logged on and posted an announcement in two different forums. Next time I logged on I was greeted with a screen that said I had been "Banned For Life." For making a double post. I would come here from time to time just to watch the sweet slideshow on the home page. The lifetime ban seems to have magically disappeared, so I figured better late than never.

    I'll try to post more pictures once the servers are updated.
    #18
  19. halfthrottle

    halfthrottle Been here awhile

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    #19
  20. halfthrottle

    halfthrottle Been here awhile

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    Driving on the roads in Central America is fun, down here it’s a free for all. Just do whatever needs to be done to get to your destination as fast as possible. For me passing cars is a habit. I will be happy if I can drive from Panama to the Untied States and not get passed once by another car. I feel it’s safer to drive fast, than it is to have cars sneaking up on me from behind.

    Today around the city of Leon in Nicaragua the police were everywhere. It’s times like these I wish I could turn my headlight off. I can see the police checkpoint from a ways off, but because of the BMW’s super bright headlight they can see me too. When I see orange cones in the road ahead I will try get in close behind a truck or something bigger than me. That way I can hide all the way into the checkpoint, then cruise through before they realize I am there.

    Today my plan backfired when they stopped the truck I was hiding behind, maybe they saw me, or maybe it was just a bonus I was there. The officer asked for my documents on the bike, which I gave to him. Then, pointing to his eye said he saw me pass a truck, and I needed to pay. I had been passing trucks all day, and couldn’t think if the last one would have been in eyesight of the officer or not. I pointed to the broken yellow line in the road and told him it was okay to pass. He shook his head and kept pointing to his eye, while I kept pointing to the yellow line, and pretending to not understand what he was asking. This went on for a while, but he eventually became frustrated and let me go.

    After this I was on my guard for more checkpoints. I found a truck driving at a good speed and stayed behind it, no more passing and no more speeding. About 10 miles down the road there is another checkpoint. I can see it through the windshield of the Toyota in front of me. When the pickup is through and the cop can see me, he starts waving madly and pointing at the side of the road.

    I love the TV show “World’s Wildest Police Chase’s” I watch it secretly hoping the bad guys get away. When they get caught I think, “If I was driving that old red Ford pickup I could have gotten away, even if the cops had spiked my tires and there was no rubber left on the rims.”

    So here is this (likely crooked) Nicaraguan cop waving at me. My day has come. I pretend not to see his frantic waving and continue to coast at 10 mph right through the checkpoint. A few more meters I am over the speed bump, and have made a clean get away. We both know his old 4-cylinder cop car rusting on the side of the road will never catch me.

    Getting away from the Nicaraguan police has given me a big confidence boost for when I get back home. Even if it would be classified under World’s Mildest Police Chase’s, it makes me think, maybe I could….

    --Ryan
    #20