Dirtbikes & Death Roads, 2200 Miles in Bolivia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by RockyRoads, Jan 15, 2008.

  1. Timba

    Timba Luckiest Man Alive

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    Outstanding and heartwarming report!

    You're good folks!
    :bow
    #41
  2. eisenmann

    eisenmann nOOd

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    Thank you! As many have said, GREAT REPORT! It's like taking a Bolivian culture course.:ricky
    #42
  3. Boottrac

    Boottrac Been here awhile

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    We would love to see a mape of the route.
    #43
  4. Chuckracer

    Chuckracer Jerkus Maximus

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    Excellent! Thanks so much for sharing this with us!
    #44
  5. davevv

    davevv One more old rider

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    Thanks for the excellent report. I'm enjoying it immensely.
    #45
  6. offroute

    offroute Been here awhile

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    Absolutely fantastic. I wanna go NOW. Thanks so much for the descriptive narrative and great pics.
    #46
  7. Mat Sub Zero

    Mat Sub Zero Adventurer

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    I usually don't comment on ride reports because other 'inmates' pretty much say it all, but your RR is AWESOME!!!! I like your style!!!
    #47
  8. 805gregg

    805gregg Long timer

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    Thanks forf the great pics and report, do they rent those bikes without the guides?
    #48
  9. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

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    Kathy, absolutely stunning narrative and fantastic photography! :bow

    I also really enjoy the stories of your sponsorship of children around the world. We sponsor two boys in Mexico through Compassion International. I was able to visit them in Mexico City last year on a Compassion sponsor trip. It really makes a difference, getting to go to their country and to meet them and their family.

    This ride report is like a National Geographic tour of the Americas - can't wait for more of your travelog!

    Bob :jose
    #49
  10. Kieth

    Kieth Been here awhile

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    Thanks so much for sharing it with us. Next time take along a heated electric jacket (bring your own battery connection, no more bulk than a regular jacket liner, but when it gets cold and wet it really helps. Thank you again for spending all of the time telling the story and taking the pictures, others of us do not do this as well as you. Kieth in Tulsa:clap
    #50
  11. roninwva

    roninwva Been here awhile

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    Thank you for the one of the best combination of pics and narrative I think I've ever read. I feel as if I've been there right beside you as you travel. It's cold, rainy and just plain nasty outside here, so I sit here and read your story wishing I was there. It does seem like that every story I read about traveling in Central and South America involves getting ill somewhere along the journey. Looking forward to the rest of your adventure, ride safe. Any word on the gentleman who fell and broke his collarbone?

    :clap :clap :clap :clap :clap
    #51
  12. Cloud9

    Cloud9 I was HERE?

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    SSsweeeet
    #52
  13. RockyRoads

    RockyRoads RockyRoads

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    I am not sure if Maurice will rent the bikes without the guides. His email is contact@moto-andina.com if you want to write and ask.
    #53
  14. RockyRoads

    RockyRoads RockyRoads

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    Regarding gas, the chase truck had a storage tank for gas. Most mornings we fueled up at gas stations, although some of the towns that we stayed in did not have a nearby gas station, so we had to get fuel from the truck in the morning. We also got gas during the day from the truck. Gas can be pretty scarce. For example, when the chase truck got stuck in the salar, Maurice actually located a big 4x4 truck in a village some miles away, and looked into having that truck pull our chase truck out of the muck; however, the truck did not have the gas to get to the salar, and that village did not have a gas station.

    As for the DR650's, I actually bought one (an '06) prior to the ride to get used to it. I normally ride a KTM 250 XCF-W (and used to ride a KTM 400 EXC) in the dirt, and I wanted to get comfortable on the DR before spending 12 days on it in Bolivia. (My husband used to own an XR650R, and I never felt comfortable on that bike.) I was going to sell the DR after the trip (I got a really good deal on the purchase, and could sell it without losing any money.) However, I absolutely LOVE the DR as a street bike--I don't have to "tip toe" through the wet, bumpy goat trails like I do on my Daytona 675. It is very easy to ride and has a lot of power. So I am thinking of keeping the DR650 (and maybe even selling the Daytona!). However, I need to do some research on some trick items to snazz up the look of the DR.

    I don't know if any of the other riders loved the DR650--one already rides a DRZ 400, and I think that he said he prefers the 400 over the 650. In the high altitudes, however, I don't think the 400 would have performed as well. The DR650 loses a lot of power in the higher elevations--in Bolivia, I maxed my speed out at 82 mph when we were around 12,000 to 14,000 miles up, but my bike at home (sea level) pulls 85 effortlessly with plenty more power. (I haven't tried to max mine out yet at home.)
    #54
  15. RockyRoads

    RockyRoads RockyRoads

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    Thanks for your questions!

    1) I'm not sure that I have an accurate answer for why the shoe shine boys wear ski masks. In researching Bolivia before our trip, we read that shoe shine boys are generally street kids, and that they wear the masks to hide their identities because shoe shining is considered a very "low" job.

    2) The towns themselves don't have gates, but there are various checkpoints (with gates across the road) at the entrance and exit of the natural reserve parks (and often the checkpoints are located at the edge of a village).

    3) Gérard is doing okay now. He had surgery in La Paz, and my understanding is that he was very pleased with his doctors there. Then he flew back to Belgium. His shoulder is healing slowly but surely, leaving behind an apparently permanent lump; however, he may need additional surgery on his foot, as two of the bones have subsequently popped out of their proper places.
    #55
  16. sherpa

    sherpa ...Robert

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    Wow Kathy....what a trip...thanks for making the effort to post a Ride Report.

    I really enjoyed the photos of the area around the mines at Polosi. A lot of really sad history in that locale. I first learned of them from a really incredible book titled "Indian Givers, how the Indians of the America's transformed the world" by Jack Weatherford. It's an excellent read....seeing how much you enjoyed Boliva, I think you'd love this book.
    #56
  17. wolfmanluggage

    wolfmanluggage Been here awhile

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    Great Story. I lived and grew up in Bolivia from 1979 to 1984. My Father was in the Foreign Service working for US Agency for International Developement. We lived right north of ACS the American Scool in Calacoto.
    Boy we had fun and saw some crazy stuff.
    Very cool place to ride.
    Woof

    Eric/Wolfman :D
    #57
  18. RockyRoads

    RockyRoads RockyRoads

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    Bob, I'm sure that your two boys in Mexico enjoyed your visit very much!

    There are so many children in need out there, and it is truly amazing how much our small sponsorship funds can provide for them and their families. Plus, the relationships that are built, and the bonds that stretch across cultures, are simply priceless.
    #58
  19. d0gWateR

    d0gWateR Goat Stuntaz DSMC

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    Excellent ride report, thanks so much for sharing it with us all! Bolivia certainly seems to have it all, from seemingly barren altiplano to lush tropical valleys. Truly awesome! You're guides were fantastic, and really worked hard for you and seemed very well prepared.

    Thanks again.:clap
    #59
  20. RockyRoads

    RockyRoads RockyRoads

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    DAY 10: GUANAY TO RURRENABAQUE<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Our destination today was Rurrenabaque, a town that sits on the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Beni</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">River</st1:placetype></st1:place>. Our road would descend down the last small slopes of the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Andes</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Mountains</st1:placetype></st1:place> to the edge of the Amazon rainforest.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    In the courtyard behind our hotel, Rene tightened down the luggage on top of his 4x4, which is now our chase truck. (Maurice left the pick-up in Sorata because it was having some issues engaging in 4-wheel drive, and he knew we had a lot of river crossings ahead. Luckily, Rene had a vehicle that provided a perfect substitute.)<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
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    <o:p> </o:p>
    This morning, I noticed that the many of the houses had pitched straw roofs:<o:p></o:p>
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    <o:p> </o:p>
    Here we are in one small village that we passed through:<o:p></o:p>
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    <o:p> </o:p>
    Another photo of the village:<o:p></o:p>
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    <o:p> </o:p>
    A close-up reveals the message painted on the front of the building: “Vota sin Miedo” (Vote without Fear”)--a powerful message indeed.<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
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    <o:p> </o:p>
    We crossed many rivers today. Here is Olivier crossing my favorite--you had to enter the river and then head upstream for a couple of hundred feet, manuevering around the big slippery rocks hidden under the water, until you reached the road connection on the opposite side:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>

    <o:p> </o:p>
    And here I am crossing a small one. I couldn’t figure out what the car was doing in the river; then I realized that the people were washing it!<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]<o:p> </o:p>

    Long stretches of road were beautifully paved with smooth stones (Olivier is standing with his helmet off here):<o:p></o:p>

    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    I had read a lot about leaf-cutter ants—they carry large chunks of leaves, many times their size, back to the ant hill and use the leaves to grow fungi for their larvae. We stopped at one point, and I happened to look down and notice tiny bits of green moving along the soil. Here are my first leaf-cutter ants (they’re hard to see, but you can make out one going down into the ant hole; the others are hidden under their leaf burdens):<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Ben and I traded bikes at one point to compare suspensions and other features; he had only ridden my bike a few miles when he got a flat tire. We stopped in front of a very small house (not in the picture), and some children (at Maurice’s request) brought out a container of water to help lubricate the tire when we were changing it.<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>

    <o:p> </o:p>We then reached some twisty roads that were very dusty and covered in loose deep rocks—miles and miles of it. There were also some long muddy stretches that made for some slippery fun. We finally arrived at our lunch stop, where we enjoyed soup along with meat and rice:<o:p></o:p>

    Our restaurant:
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>

    <o:p> </o:p>Across the street, there were some clothes being dried on a pile of rocks:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
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    <o:p> </o:p>
    Here is a house in the same village:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
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    <o:p> </o:p>
    Maurice stopped us here to show us the beginning of the flat Amazon rainforest, in the far distance right behind the last ridge line. Ben and Olivier:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>

    <o:p> </o:p>
    Some more houses:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]<o:p> </o:p>

    The last 64 miles to Rurrenabaque were on a long straight dirt road full of potholes. There were also a lot of muddy sections, and large trucks to avoid (they were weaving all over the road to avoid potholes and mud). The potholes were so numerous that they could not be avoided—they were intense and bone-jarring. We just cranked up the speed and tried to miss the super-big ones. Inevitably, there was one flat tire (you can see some of the potholes):<o:p></o:p>

    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>

    <o:p> </o:p>
    The potholes jolted and shook the bikes so much that Olivier’s large zoom lens on his camera broke into pieces inside of his camera case.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    We finally reached our hotel, the Safari Inn—a true oasis, with a large veranda, lush green lawns, hot showers, and a clean swimming pool:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>

    <o:p> </o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]
    </o:p>


    [​IMG]

    We had dinner tonight at Café Piraña in downtown Rurrenabaque. The French owner used to have a bakery in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">France</st1:place></st1:country-region>, and he cooked us a fabulous gourmet meal that would have been given 5-stars by any restaurant critic in the world.

    [DAYS 11 AND 12 TO BE CONTINUED]
    #60