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Venezuela to Atlanta...advice sought

Discussion in 'Americas' started by rob feature, Feb 1, 2008.

  1. rob feature

    rob feature pull my finger

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    This trip just kinda got tossed in my lap. Errrr, not the trip, but the invitation to ride along on it.

    Here's the skinny. So far it'll be 2 of us...a Venezuelan and a Nashvillian :deal. Me shipping my bike to Venezuela and flying over and riding back home. Then my riding pard shipping his bike home once he gets here.

    Why? Do you really have to ask that?

    When: Late July and August of this year. Yeah, it'll be sunbathing weather.

    So basically, I was hoping to hear from some who have done something similar perhaps recently and happened to have some pointers. Yeah, I know, it's dangerous, but so is getting out of bed. However, I'm well aware that there are particularly bad places and we're hoping to stay out of them. And the only way to attempt that efficiently is to ask up and hope that someone can at least steer us away from where we absolutely don't need to be.

    Some steering as to where to be would be helpful too.

    I think we'll be avoiding a couple countries mostly: Panama and Colombia Yeah, I know, it sounds like I'm jumping in with 2 feet tossing caution to the wind...I'm not...this is really only getting set into motion today.

    Anyway, I hope to solicit some words of wisdom and expect to take some 'you dumb-ass' lashing. I'll get over it.

    We'll be taking our time on the trip...visiting ruins and everywhere else we wanna go.

    I'm expecting around $1500 to get me and the bike there and another $1500 for the trip. Am I way off? We'll be camping alot, so the hotels will be kept to a minimum. Our major expenses, barring breakdowns, will be gas and food. Oh, and cervezas...might wanna make that $3500 :lol3

    Whadaya think?
    #1
  2. rob feature

    rob feature pull my finger

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    Okay, never mind, it'll be Panama City as our, or at least my starting point. Venezuela to there wouldn't work.
    #2
  3. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    I think Girag flies direct outta Miami to Panama City.
    #3
  4. rob feature

    rob feature pull my finger

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    Sheez, more updating and nothing's done yet.

    I understand that we might not be doing that much camping. I'll run this by the committee, as I'd LOVE to camp most of this, but it looks like we may do hostels/hotels/motels. Stay tuned.

    The other thing, and something I probably should have mentioned in the first post, is our bikes. Should this come to fruition, we'll be riding F650s. My '02 Dakar and a Funduro. My bike's certainly set up for a trip like this, which gives me oober giggles, but I just thought I'd mention our pedigree of choice.

    2 pairs of D606s planned for me. TKC80s for the other.

    One Garmin 60CS...check

    One layer of extra-thick, yet breathable skin...on order :lol3
    #4
  5. rob feature

    rob feature pull my finger

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    Muchas Gracias for that one

    See, I'm already practicing my Spanish :norton
    #5
  6. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    Tires....

    Unless you plan much off-roading, the 606's will be a waste.
    You could get about 5k miles from a Mefo or IRC GP110 rear, compared to a reasonable max of 2k or so on a 606.
    A rear Tourance would take you well past 8k.

    A TKC front could easily go past 8k.
    --------

    Start with all fresh maintenance items: chain, sporckets, filters
    Unless recently changed, a spare set of steering head bearings carried between the two of you wwouldn't be a bad idea.

    17" rear tires and tubes won't be plentiful, and neither will be 19 fronts.
    Two spare front tubes and one rear between you both.

    Unless you're riding straight through, one extra oil filter per bike.
    #6
  7. boyscout

    boyscout sittin' down

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    I'd question that $1500 dollar price tag for the trip. $3500 sounds a lot closer. How long are you planning to take? Starting in Panama City will save you from shipping the bike across the gap but even if you take the shortest path home things cost money. Gas itself will cost you something like a third of your prospective budget. That leaves you 1 month of living on $30 a day after gas.

    If you are basing housing and food costs on a travel guide, remember that the dollar has been falling of late. I have found most countries more expensive than listed in the guides on my trip.

    Not trying to be a bummer, just trying to encourage you to put aside enough money for the trip so you don't have to deal with money stress in the middle of it.

    Too bad you're skipping Colombia. I'm in Medellin at the moment and so far Colombia has been one of my favorite places in my trip.
    #7
  8. rob feature

    rob feature pull my finger

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    You forgot replacing the oil return line with a stainless one for the GS. And a spare water pump :deal

    We don't know what our road conditions will be like. We both plan to ride offroad a good bit when we can, so we'll likely appreciate the knobs. Changing the rears somewhere halfway along is expected. We should be able to make the whole trip with the front intact. If not, then not...it'll be dealt with then. By then, we should be in the US, so getting a tire around Texas to fit an F650 should be a breeze...since that's where half of us live:lol3

    Good idea on the tubes. Unfortunately, we'll be running different sized fronts, but carrying 2 spares of each MIGHT get us back into civilization. That and a good patch kit. That is, should we decide that civilization is the goal :deal

    Actually, mechanical issues are the least of my worries. I'm more concerned with political/local snags and shipping issues.
    #8
  9. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    Use a known shipper and go for it.

    A direct route puts you at less than 2,500 to the TX border.
    #9
  10. rob feature

    rob feature pull my finger

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    $1500 is what I'm figuring to get me and the bike to the start point. Then another $2000 after that for a total of approximately $3500.

    I've never gotten less than 55 MPG on the Dakar, no matter how hard I try. I usually get around 65. Riding very conservatively gets me over 70. So given conservative estimates, 4000 miles will burn up 80 gallons of fuel. That's at 50 MPG and at $3 a gallon, that's $240. I expect to pay far more for fuel, so we'll call fuel cost $500...giving me some room...probably plenty of room. That leaves $2,000 for lodging, food, cervezas and a blow-up sheep for my traveling companion.

    Do-able?
    #10
  11. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    Your statement echos many others. :thumb
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  12. rob feature

    rob feature pull my finger

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    Perhaps something I need to bring up.

    IIRC, skipping Columbia was a safety issue. Is that way off?
    #12
  13. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    From e v e r y t h i n g current I've read, yes.

    I'd like to spend a couple of months just between Colombia and Venezuela.
    #13
  14. boyscout

    boyscout sittin' down

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    Let's see.

    As an American I'm staying away from Venezuala right now. From talking to locals it sounds like Bush and Chavez are in some kind of a pissing match. Could be a rumor but more than one person has told me that Bush threatened to bomb Venezuala. I wouldn't trust the military or police there to help me out and it's a bit wild now, lots of black market activity.

    As for Colombia it feels very safe. There is a lot of military and police around but so far they have been nothing but friendly and helpful. Rode a mountain pass yesterday and there were soldiers posted every few miles. FARC is a reality but they are mostly focused on wealthy Colombians, not tourists, as far as I know.

    I'm not saying there is no risk. Just saying that the people are wonderful and friendly, the countryside is beautiful and the weather great. It is reasonably cheap and not overrun with gringo tourists. I think the benefits outweigh the risks.
    #14
  15. boyscout

    boyscout sittin' down

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    Somewhere my math took a wrong turn. I assumed a 7000 mile trip and 55 mpg. I think that is about what I did from SF to Panama City. Certainly not a direct route but what fun is the direct route. $3 is probably a good average price for fuel. That still puts you well under $500.

    Read some ride reports for road conditions. Unless you plan on doing Baja there is very little riding that asks for knobs. I've been running Metzeler Enduro 3's since Creel. Knobs would have been nice for the ride out of Batapilas and the muddy track to Carti, Panama. Other than that I've been really happy with the Enduros and have gotten great life out of them. I would be on my third D606 rear by now.

    #15
  16. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    I've heard that Mugabe was going to free Zimbabwe and it's people from capitalist bonds, setting them on the road towards paradise.

    The bomb stuff is BS, but even leaving that out, you make Venezuela sound appealing and interesting at this time.
    #16
  17. boyscout

    boyscout sittin' down

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    [HIJACK]
    I know it is BS. Chances are it is a rumour spread by the Chavez government but if people believe it, it can cause trouble for travelers. Recently Chavez had massed the military on the Colombian border to "stop smugglers". Not a good time to be an American crossing into Venezuala me thinks.

    Another issue with Venezuala right now is that the currency is screwed. Black market rates are 6000 to 1 whereas any bank will give you somewhere around 2000 to 1. Everything is priced at black market rates so unless you like wasting money you have to exchange on the black market which opens you up to A LOT of risk.

    Venezuala may sound exciting right now and I am sure it is, in that looking over your shoulder hoping you don't get mugged kind of way. I'm not risk averse, for the last 3 months I have been travelling through Central America and have been in Colombia for a month now. From talking to people who have just come out of Venezuala, most say now is not the best time to be travelling there.

    My two cents. It's worth as much as you paid for it.
    [/HIJACK]
    #17
  18. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    What were the attitudes like on Margarita?
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  19. dziner

    dziner Adventurer

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    You wouldn't happen to be planning this trip with SS in Vzla would ya'? I would LOVE to join you guys.
    #19
  20. rob feature

    rob feature pull my finger

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    We're still in very early planning stages and aren't even sure when this is gonna happen. I do know that the other party is reluctant to add people to the trip, as am I. Should we decide to add a person, it'll very likely be just that...one more person.

    I guess a good answer would be that we just haven't crossed that bridge yet...only mentioned it in a conversation the other night. Adding people on a trip like this adds complexity on many levels. I'm sure we'll address it as soon as we decide WHEN it will happen. Until then, there isn't much point in getting too detailed...we're just kinda planning on our own ends by trying to look forward (you know...kinda the reason for starting this thread) and thinking out our packing situation...which is about the closest to something concrete we can hope for at this point.

    I'll drop ya a PM when I know more.
    #20