When I met Tomas Adomavicius, a 28-year-old photographer from my home town of Vilnius in Lima a few months back, he had just come back from his 12,000-mile journey from Peru to Ushuaia and back. Riding a Chinese-made Cross Triton 250, bought locally, Tomas has spent three months traversing the South American continent on and off the road, taking amazing photos, and having an adventure of a lifetime. “This little bike has taught me a lot about patience. 120 miles on this bike could take me five hours or more, if the road was in the mountains. It’s a different kind of travel, but I loved every minute of it”, – Tomas told me.
No stranger to small bikes and South America myself, I wanted to hear all about his journey from Peru to Patagonia on a 250c.
– Tomas, how did it all begin for you?
Five years ago, I first tried riding a motorcycle in Cyprus while on a holiday, and I was instantly hooked. When I got back, I got my license and bought a Suzuki 500 from a friend. Soon, I started traveling around Europe and I’d always try and rent a bike locally. Greece, Spain, Portugal – I’d rent an adventure bike and just go exploring. I loved it so much I started riding off-road on the Suzuki back home, although it wasn’t really meant for that and had street tires. It didn’t matter, I just loved riding off road.
A couple of years back, I bought a Yamaha XT600R and rode it to Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovakia, and Austria. My friends and I would always try to find smaller, regional backroads and off-road trails in the mountains, and it was just awesome. Every summer, I’d explore Lithuania off road. I’ll never get tired of our forests and lakes, it’s such a tiny country but we do have some kickass off-road trails.
-And then one day, you decided to try and ride South America?
An idea of a big trip has always been on my mind. I was even thinking of riding around the world, but then settled for South America. I took five months off work and began planning. Somehow, Lithuanians tend to mostly head for Asia, whereas South America is still this big, exotic mystery for a lot of people back home. I was always very intrigued about the history and traditions of Peru and Bolivia, those cradles of ancient culture just fascinated me.
A lot of friends asked me whether I wasn’t afraid, I heard a lot of stuff like “don’t go there, you’ll get robbed or killed”. I guess people assume South America is very dangerous and still cling to so many old stereotypes. I felt that a lot of them were largely baseless, and they were mostly repeated by people who have never actually been to South America themselves.
So I decided to see it all for myself and draw my own conclusions.
I found a bike online and with the help of Toby from Around the Block Moto Adventures, I bought the motorcycle. Toby helped me deal with all the paperwork; when I got to Huanuco, all I had to do was pick up the bike and go. It was a very easy process. I sold the bike back to Toby once I got back.
I chose the Cross Triton 250 because in South America, Chinese motorcycles aren’t anything crazy. Lots of people ride them and enjoy them, so I figured I’d give it a go.
-Did you bring your luggage and gear?
Yes, I brought my Mosko Moto Reckless system which worked great. I don’t usually wear lots of gear, I prefer to travel light and I don’t want to look like an astronaut, so I wore my Pando Moto Kevlar jeans, a RevIt jacket, hiking boots, and a Klim Krios helmet. I had an off on pavement in Peru, and both the jeans and the jacket held exceptionally well. I loved how light the Krios helmet was.
-How were those first months on the road?
The first month was surprisingly easy. Crazily enough, on the plane from Amsterdam to Lima, I met this American guy, Jordan, who was going to do the exact same thing. What are the odds, right? Anyway, we rode together for the first couple of weeks, we figured we’d just feel better if we weren’t completely alone in the beginning. During the first three weeks, we rode to Arequipa and Cuzco, then separated and I traveled alone from then on.
My first impression of Peru was: wow. The roads were so twisty it would take me hours to do a hundred miles, I had to deal with quickly changing climate – freezing cold in the high Andes, scorching hot or muggy in the desert or the Amazon.
I had a little trouble leaving Peru. First, I tried to cross the Chilean border, but the Peruvian customs officers refused to let me out because the bike has Peruvian registration. So I turned around and headed to Bolivia, and funnily enough, there were no issues whatsoever – papers got processed in no time, and I entered Bolivia.
-Was it very different than Peru?
Bolivia was probably my favorite! It’s just so impressive. The Salt Flats of Uyuni, the nature, the people. The riding was much harder here, more off-road trails, sand, mud, very high altitude. There’s so much wild nature, pure chaos, and colors in Bolivia. I loved it.
Argentina and Chile, on the other hand, felt a lot like Europe. To me, Peru and Bolivia are the “real” South America – messy, raw, real, and just so much more interesting.
Although Chile and Argentina felt a tad too civilized, I loved riding the coastal routes in Chile, especially south of Antofagasta. And of course, Patagonia was awesome. At times, it looked like Switzerland, at times I felt like I was in the wilderness. All those mountains, lakes, glaciers, it’s really a fantastic corner of the Earth. The only difficult thing in Patagonia was the insanely strong wind, I struggled a lot on my tiny bike sometimes. I’d sometimes go 20 miles an hour – the bike just couldn’t do more because of the gale force winds.
-Looking back, are you happy with your bike choice?
Yes. A smaller, less powerful bike taught me to be more zen. I’ll admit, I did want a little more speed at times, but on the other hand, I rode everywhere I planned to and saw everything I wanted to. In fact, I probably saw more than I anticipated.
To break down in South America is always an adventure. So many people helped me along the way, I got a lift in a pickup truck when I had a flat, a mechanic in Patagonia helped me fix an issue with the engine… The people in South America are absolutely wonderful, and they’ll always help you out.
-What would you say to people who want to do a trip similar to yours?
I guess a trip like that teaches you not to overreact to anything and have patience and empathy. You learn to just accept things, situations, and people as they are. There’s no point in getting frustrated or angry. A solution will always come along.
South America is an incredible continent full of seriously awesome people. If you want to travel, if you dream of riding your bike someplace you haven’t been before, just go and do it. Life’s short, and we create the life we want. There’s no point in listening to the naysayers and get infected with someone else’s fear. You’ve got to make up your own mind and do what you want to do.
And do it with love.
Intrigued? Check out Tomas’ amazing photography on Instagram!