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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ADVegan, Nov 14, 2018.
Absolutely Correct RedDogAlberta
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.
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.
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!
First of all... what did you just say about her?
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"
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.
Thanks for sharing your trip.
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.
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
I think this is about due for an update! I know a lot of people felt like there was cliffhanger with Rachel and I.
At the end of December we both got back to Seattle and started trying to figure things out. Man that transition was difficult- not so much things between us but the shift from long nights and warm weather to it being rainy, cold and dark at 4pm hit me like freight train. I came back thinking about all the things I could do and once I got here it felt like there was no time to do any of it- I'd wake up and before I knew it, it was dark. Rachel basically decided that Seattle was not her place. We worked with a counselor who was super helpful and tried to move back in together but I felt us slipping back into familiar patterns and I knew that wasn't what I wanted so I decided to move back out but continue working together on our relationship. Things were rough, but we really found a lot of success with a book called 7 Principles for Making a Marriage Work. Specifically, there was an exercise designed to build back up fondness and admiration. With the rough spot on the trip, and subsequent time apart it had been easy (at least for me) to focus on negative aspects of the relationship and what I felt needed to change. The exercise was really helpful for reminding me WHY I actually wanted to make it work.
We got to a good place, but neither of us felt like getting a house or apartment to rent in Seattle was the right choice. Her mom had graciously allowed her to stay in her Airbnb for the months of Jan and Feb, and we were at the end of that time frame. She decided she wanted to go back to Bali, and she could support herself with online writing and photography gigs. She'd prefer I went with her, but I knew I needed to figure out my own stuff first. At the beginning of March I took her to the airport and sent her back to Bali. I had been at my parents and starting to feel like "c'mon Josh you gotta DO SOMETHING!" Travelling is so nice for me because I don't have to worry about what I "should" be doing. I just need to go a few hours down the road and boom- I feel productive. I don't have to think about why I'm not "finding my purpose", "building equity in property", "volunteering" or whatever else circles around in my head when I am still for longer than a week.
I was looking at RVs to live in temporarily while I figured things out. One night I found the perfect one on eBay and then day after I put Rachel on a plane I flew down to Orange County and picked up this little guy:
Has a bathroom, shower, kitchen and a big bed over the cab. I was back on the road and feeling good. I had always thought it funny that I'd been to some 40 odd countries and never seen the Grand Canyon, so I decided I'd go check it out on the way back. I caught a Mariner's Spring training game in Peoria, saw the Grand Canyon and kept reading about the virus in Seattle- wondering why I was driving in that general direction anyway. I bought a folding electric bike in Arizona with the intention of delivering Uber eats on the way back for gas money. I had financed the RV, and the liquidity in my bank account was looking like the Arizona desert I was driving through.
It was a little more isolating than the bike because I had no need to check into hostels and talk with other people. I found I liked isolation for about two days, then I was eager to talk to the gas station attendant for an hour. The mind can drift a lot more driving a car than on a motorcycle and the places mine drifts can be pretty weird! At one point I caught myself wondering "hold on, do I have an inherent responsibility to keep myself alive, and if so, to whom do I owe that duty?" and that was about the time I knew it was time to buy an aux-cord so I could listen to some music!
By the time I hit Salt Lake City, the virus concerns were finally evident and I found shelves cleared out at the grocery stores for the first time. That made me feel like I should get back to where I at least knew people. I did visit Rachel's aunt and uncle in SLC, my dad's friends in Idaho Falls, and a couple work friends in Spokane, WA. All of those now probably inadvisable but you gotta remember this was late March. I stopped in Leavenworth, WA at my brother's property. All of his Airbnb guests had cancelled and I found it quite pleasant so I wound up stay a week and trying to help out where I could on the property. Money was still on the back of my mind. I drove over to West Seattle for a few days and delivered food, but it just didn't seem right. Everything was tense, I realized how little money I actually was making delivering food. I could pay for my RV payments, and food but it wasn't exactly a happy existence tucked back behind my best friends house. So after 5 days I went back over to Leavenworth where I am writing this now. I've been here about a 10 days.
Rachel is on her way back from Bali, and we will quarantine here for a couple weeks when she arrives. I had always read about how it was hard to re-integrate after long distance motorcycle rides. I didn't know I'd also be dealing with figuring out my marriage, finding a place to live, an income, and a global pandemic simultaneously. I guess all things considered I'm doing pretty well!
Thanks for the update. Wishing you guys the best, whatever that is
Wow! Returning from that long trip to marital and social adjustments, and then into COVID-19...I feel like I'm watching one of those movies where you think, "What else is gonna happen?!"
First, thanks for ride report. That was an epic ride, or rides, since the solo part feels distinctly different from riding with Rachel. As you noted, that's not surprising; there's something very freeing about traveling on your own. The singular focus on the mission, the ease of making decisions, the simplicity of caring for just yourself...it can be transformative. That solo time can also remind you of what you liked about traveling with that other person. Rachel sounds like she did her best, and to me it sounds like her only real mistake was not calling a halt earlier, before she was fed up with the ride and everything associated with it. Might have made possible a calmer exit.
Second, you made a comment about how the ride, its pressures and its forced closeness, likely brought to the fore issues between you that might well have detonated years or decades later. Over my roughly 4 decades of adult life I've seen many examples of this happening, so in that respect the ride was a useful relationship tool. Having identified the friction points, you can try to find ways to work through them. Or not; some relationships are not good for either partner. I'm rooting for you though...
Third: Seattle in winter. There aren't many places where I'd say the breakup, the divorce, was just because of location - but Seattle is one. The sun of a New Mexico winter is just so much more calming, energizing..
Best of luck to you two.
Thanks for the update. My only words of wisdom are 'only that which is worth pursuing is worth pursuing'.
Did you sell the bike in SA?
lots of useful and valuable info here. thanks and best wishes to both of you.
Thanks for the update, sorry for your couples issues but if you get through them now you will get through anything later on. Good for you two for trying.
I think you're smart for leaving the Seattle area during this pandemic. I moved from West Seattle last October and with all the crap going down with the Corona virus and then the West Seattle bridge is out of commission I'm not regretting it one bit. I think a smaller population center is a good thing. I am in Spokane now and people here just seem to have common sense. We are still getting out but not hanging out in groups. I've gotten out a couple of times on my moto to explore my new area and so far I am loving it! BTW my trip to Bali got cancelled for May so consider your sweetheart lucky to be able to go.
Keep on keepin' on!
I truly hope you two are able to find that common ground and build a future together. I will have been married for 22 years here in a couple months, the last 10 have been with my wife surviving brain cancer. I say that because life is hard, Marriage even more, but like your ride, if you want it bad enough you can make it work.
Great report and information, appreciate all the time and energy that has gone into this, and hope for a brighter future and more reports!
Also, being Vegan ADV rider myself, It's really nice and inspiring to see someone complete this trip with a positive attitude and stay healthy, it's on my bucket list too :)
FINAL POST ON THIS RR:
I was talking with my Dad and he asked if I had provided an update here. I hadn't since I haven't actually ridden an ADV motorcycle for 8 months, but for those that read the whole thing it would be pretty lame not to tie a ribbon on this thing. I'm thinking this is like the end of the movie, before the credits where the narrator gives "what happened next" overview.
Rachel came back from Bali April 12th and we quarantined in Leavenworth, WA at my brother's house for a couple weeks. Absolutely gorgeous area and no better place to quarantine in my mind. We continued working with a counselor. Before her return, I really felt like things between us had improved and I was characteristically optimistic. That proved to be a miscalculation. One day, we looked at renting a house for the rest of the summer, but at that point I was without income and pretty low on cash. But more importantly, I didn't feel like Rachel was into the relationship and I just didn't have a good feeling about what those 3-4 months would be like. I ended up making the difficult decision to ask for a divorce.
That period was incredibly rough for both of us. We rented Rachel an apartment in the small town of Leavenworth but since I was the only person she knew and everything was shut down for Covid, it wasn't really healthy. She went to her mom's house for a week or two and found a place to move to in Santa Monica. She resides there to this day and is still hoping to return to Bali when borders open up. She crashed her bicycle and got a concussion and broke her arm, and I suggested tricycles might be an attractive option in her future. That makes three two-wheeled hospital visits in a 12 month span...
As for me, I took my RV over to Seattle and began delivering food on my e-bike. Not what I thought I'd be doing at this stage in my life, but I'll be honest it was pretty fun zipping around, being outside and working when I chose. And I was able to stay on top of all my expenses during a pandemic. I did get a stimulus check, but I was ineligible for unemployment and that didn't feel right to apply for anyway given I had just fucked off for an entire year... At some point I realized I was sleeping on the street in an RV and was effectively homeless, and I needed to do something else. I started applying for jobs and getting interviews. A little over a month ago, I learned the two interviews I was waiting to hear back on had fallen through. I got the news as I was driving back over the mountains to Leavenworth for a visit and to get out of the city. I called an old friend and he said "Dude, you're not doing anything and you have your house with you, why don't you go down to Boise and check it out? I'm pretty sure I can get you a job there." I decided that was a fair question and kept driving down to Boise. Haven't spent a lot of time there before and I liked it! I met with the manager of an electrical wholesaler there who was in need of a senior acct manager for some larger electrical contractors and we got along well over a couple beers. I move down to Boise this Friday, and the RV is for sale as soon as I get the title from WA state. My plan is to work in Boise and get another KTM (or two) as soon as I can, but I promised myself I'd buy a multifamily investment property before a motorcycle. There's plenty of motivation there.
In time I've realized that being a relationship just wasn't right for Rachel at this point in her life. At first, it was hard not to take that personally but now I really don't believe it would have mattered who it was with. Looking at it through that lens has given me a lot of understanding about her behavior and attitudes. It was probably very stressful to try to make it work while deep down sub-consciously feeling it wasn't right for her. Did the moto-trip cause that? Absolutely not. Did it force the issue? I think so. And I'm actually quite grateful for that.
Thanks to everyone who read this whole thing, it's been fun to write. In the end, I had the life-changing trip I hoped for. And I can't wait for the next one.
Dang! If nothing else, you did get to take an amazing ride. Be well and all the best!