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Wedding Vows in Action: Riding South from Seattle

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ADVegan, Nov 14, 2018.

  1. DavidR400

    DavidR400 Adventurer

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    Wyoming
    Absolutely Correct RedDogAlberta
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  2. manshoon

    manshoon Been here awhile

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    Merry Xmas to you and Rachel. I hope for the sake of everyone who has had the pleasure reading your ride report, that the two of you find a way to make it work. Relationships are hard work and finding the right balance mutual to the both of you. Rachel, just might be that white buffalo of your life time, that's not something you want to loose.
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  3. CharlestonADV

    CharlestonADV I do my own stunts. Supporter

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    There's no question that ADV inmates can be very generous with advice...frequently to a fault. This is especially true when it comes to legal guidance, medical issues, and matters of the heart.

    Thanks for posting your ride report. I enjoyed following your travels. Good luck in your future journey.
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  4. powderzone

    powderzone Been here awhile Supporter

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    Apr 19, 2016
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    Calgary
    Just got caught up with your RR.
    I lost track of you guys while getting as much riding in up here in Canada, before the snow flies. Great to see you made it to Ushuaia and offloaded the bike. You (both) seem to have good luck...and tenacity...both of which will help reintegrate with the huddled masses back home.
    No relationship advice from me. If it’s worth saving, you’ll (both) make the effort.
    Thanks for taking us along. Great RR. Thanks for keeping it real. More motivation to get me riding south again. Merry Christmas!
  5. ADVegan

    ADVegan Been here awhile

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    First of all... what did you just say about her?
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  6. ADVegan

    ADVegan Been here awhile

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    Sure, I'd love to! I'll start with what you mentioned and see if I can think of anything else as it pops up. I have seen some engineer travelers go insane tracking this stuff which isn't my style, but hopefully this info can help!

    Total miles: 21,000 give or take 500

    Fuel: I averaged about 42mpg (US gallons). So I imagine I used about 500 gallons. In the high altitude of Bolivia I was getting as high 53mpg. Against the wind in Argentina I was as low as 32. Gas stations are plentiful through Central America and almost all had good fuel. Fuel is one of those unknowns when planning a trip, something people worry about and I would say don't even think about it. You'll find it. Down in Southern Argentina was the only place I had to look ahead to see "can I make it to the next fuel station?" and the only time I came across a station without fuel. I carried the KTM "bad fuel dongle" with me the whole time which is supposed to help if you get 80 octane. Most places had higher octanes than available in WA state (97 with the different calculation, which I think equals 93 or 95. In WA we only have 91). The dongle was not installed on the bike and I never felt like I wished I had actually installed it. I didn't have jerry cans, and only once or twice had to buy fuel from a guy with a plastic bottle and only then because I had not been paying attention. Bottom line: quality was not an issue to even worry about, availability would only need to be considered if you have a small range (sub-200 miles).

    Hotel cost: This varied dramatically. Both by country and by Rachel's presence! First, we didn't take camping gear. With both of us on one bike it just didn't seem to make sense. Rachel isn't all that into it anyway, and for the number of times we would camp in Central America- just seemed dumb. That was correct. I feel for our situation having camping gear would have been really annoying and we would have regretted it. There were times in Patagonia that I would have liked to camp a few times but even then the amount of use to amount of space used ratio just wouldn't have penciled out. For me.

    We paid as high as $145/ night for a treat, and I paid as low as $6/night for a decent bed in hostel dorms after Rachel left and I was trying to squeeze my money to last to Ushuaia.

    If I had to put a general cost on hotels in the whole trip I'd budget $25-30/ night. (for two people, private room, maybe a private bathroom. A common thing in Latin America was private room with a shared bathroom. If you're OK with this, it's usually about $10 cheaper than your own bathroom.) Don't get me wrong, you can do this trip much cheaper. But a big realization for me on this journey was that I really actually enjoyed not staying in the shittiest place I could find. As the Wolf of Wallstreet said "There is no nobility in poverty!" The story I always used to tell myself was that going as cheap and uncomfortable as possible will result in better stories. This is sometimes true, but mostly it just sucks. If you do a year long trip, and spend an extra $10/ day on hotels that's $3650 more you'd need to save before you go, for a dramatically different lifestyle. I know everyone has different circumstances, but for me saving that extra amount would be worth it because it makes the traveling more sustainable mentally.

    Food Cost: Also varied a lot based on region. Once we got to Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru we really felt like "Ahh here is the cheap food!" I remember our first meal in Ecuador after we crossed from Colombia, we got a big breakfast with two coffees each in a sit down restaurant and the bill was $5US total. I think I would say an average of $5-10 per meal out would be a good judgement. In a lot of countries, the markets were my favorite places to eat. We didn't really do that much when Rachel was with me because she was having insane stomach issues. We figured limiting the "street food" would be smart. Once I was by myself, I would head into the markets, sit down on a stool and explain I only wanted rice, beans, salad and juice. They often thought that was pretty funny, but I would get a big plate of food for under $2. I did not suffer food poisoning that I can recall. (Maybe one night in Ecuador, but we ate at our hostel. And I had alcohol that night as well, but I don't think it was enough to cause the amount of vomiting I did. Oh and of course the ayahuasca, but that can hardly be considered food poisoning, more just being an idiot.)

    Bike Choice/ Maintenance: I chose to take the bike I owned which was a 2016 KTM 1190R. Maybe people have the impression that KTMs are not reliable, this was not my experience at all. When we left, the bike had 10k miles on it. I put gas in the top and a couple times I had the oil changed. That's basically it! I wasn't anal about the chain, and basically neglected it. It still lasted 33k miles.

    The issues I had: 1) I thought the bike was running too hot in Mexico. Turns out that's just what happens when you ride with two-up with a few hundred pounds of gear in 97f temps in second gear for a few hours. 2) The gas tank started pressurizing itself because there is a little ball valve in the tank vent that stops fuel from flowing when the bike is tipped over. The ball got stuck, I removed it and problem solved.

    When I met up with the brothers from Seattle, they had purchased high-milage BMWs in Colombia. They were constantly doing maintenance. Replacing chains, sprockets, needing tires, one needed to get a shock rebuilt. I was happy I hadn't needed to worry about any of that stuff. I had always read about DR650s being "bullet proof" and then I'd read ride reports of people constantly fixing them. It's great you can fix them in low-tech places, personally I'd rather not have to fix anything.

    Some people talk about the electronics on bikes being "more to fail". The KTM has several computers on it, traction control, cornering ABS etc. Frankly, I feel the same way about this as carbs/ fuel injection. People say "carbs are easier to work on", but I would much prefer to never even think about fuel ratios when I'm going from 16k ft to 2k ft and back up in one day. The electronics don't seem to be the things that break/ wear out, that's more likely to be traditional mechanical stuff. People said "what are you going to do if it breaks out here?" I don't know I just figured I'd wait till that happened and figure it out. It never really did.

    Side rant: the Bosch cornering ABS system in the KTM lineup and now other bikes is not talked about enough. I think people think talking about it makes them look weak. Whatever, I love the system and the next bike I buy will have it. I am not a perfect motorcyclist- sometimes I come into corners too fast, not often, but it happens. With the KTM I could apply the brakes without the bike standing up and sending me into oncoming trucks. I don't understand how it works, but it does. One guy said "it makes you a worse rider". Ok- sure, and a computer makes me a worse typist because I can backspace when I couldn't on a typewriter. I still choose computer every time. I might be a worse rider, but I'm also a living rider.

    Youtube "KTM - ABS and Cornering ABS Explained"

    Tires:
    The KTM has spoked tubeless wheels. I like tubeless tires, especially given when we set out two-up I wasn't planning on riding a ton of off-road. Tubeless tires are just easier to plug and get back on the road in my mind.

    I used the Motoz Tractionator GPS front and rear. I will be a Motoz fanboy for a long time. I never changed the front tire. The rear, I rode 2k miles before we left WA and replaced it one time in Ecuador. I didn't really need to, I just thought I might as well since we were going back to the US anyway. You could ride from AK to Ushuaia on one set of these tires. On a 150hp motorcycle, two-up, weighing 1000lbs.

    They worked fine for any off-road situations I got into, and just never seemed to wear out. On a long trip I would pay 4X for a tire that lasts 3X as long. Just to avoid changes, makes sense to me.

    Oh yeah- total flat tires, technically ZERO! I can't say that's MotoZ, I think that's my good luck. One time, I had the tires aired way down on a gravel stretch, I hit a pothole hard which gave the rim a little dent and the tire came off the rim. But it didn't have a hole that needed to be plugged, I just needed a little help getting it back on the rim. I was impressed with the tires.

    If you get to Ecuador and want to swap tires Ecuador Freedom Rentals in Quito now is a MotoZ distributor.

    CLOTHES/ RIDING GEAR:
    This was one of the hardest things to research before the trip. I could not figure out what the weather was going to be like! That's probably because it was going to be a little bit of everything, sometimes on the same day. I debated mesh/ gore-tex back and forth for a couple months. Basically until Bolivia, it was altitude-based not based on seasons. If you're high up, it's cold. If you're down low it's hot. I know there is something about not using mesh if it's over a certain temp because that actually dehydrates you more... I don't really know about all that. If I was doing the ride again, I would go with the same pants I had. They were the Revit Tornado 2 pants. They're mesh, but they have a waterproof insulated liner. I liked having the mesh, and when it was cold the liner really made them feel like regular non-mesh pants. I wished I had the same set up on my jacket. I didn't really get rained on that much. Again, maybe luck.

    I had some TCX road boots. Again wasn't intending to do gnarly offroad, so high boots just sounded too hot. These went up over my ankle, but were unobtrusive and much cooler in hot Central America.

    I also had a heated vest that I plug into the bike. This makes such a big difference! Down near Ushuaia it was getting pretty cold and at times pretty wet. Mainly my hands would get cold. The heated vest really helped keep my hands warm. I would notice that my hands were getting cold first, and realize the vest had come unplugged. Doesn't take up a huge amount of space and I highly recommend it.

    Wow, that got super long. If there are any other questions I am happy to answer them- it's really fun to talk about, so ask away! I can only provide my opinions and experiences but maybe valuable.
    BC Biker, Mofrid, Riel and 8 others like this.
  7. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    Mar 11, 2008
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    :ricky
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  8. bbanker

    bbanker Been here awhile Supporter

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    Thanks for sharing your trip.
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  9. BillyGoat4130

    BillyGoat4130 Been here awhile Supporter

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    Oct 19, 2014
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    Awesome trip and ride report. I was so excited to see Rachel with you as this has kind of been a dream of mine also - to have a significant other with me on a trip like this. Then I could see as things were progressing it wasn't really working out, and that really bummed me out for you guys, but also at the realistic prospect that this maybe wouldn't be a good idea for me either. I hope you guys are able to work out whatever is best for each of you. And thanks for sharing the not so great side of things with the rest of us too. Life on a motorcycle can be wonderful, but hey, it's still life.
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  10. Yellowledbetter

    Yellowledbetter Adventurer

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    Jul 8, 2008
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    Seattle
    I crack myself up! I've been reading this thread for the past week, thinking it was a live thread and was happening as I read it. Only just now did I notice that I am actually one year behind the times. Hilarious! But it was also this morning that I noticed December 29 is Rachel's birthday, so I wanted to say happy birthday Rachel. I am still finishing the thread and thoroughly enjoying it. I hope it ends well, and it makes me realize I need to get off my ass and start planing my next epic ride. I am thoroughly envious! Best to both of you.

    John from Tacoma, WA
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