Join me in Colombia!

Back in August I shared with you the first two pilot episodes for the upcoming New World Ride – a Colombian motorcycle documentary. Mike and I filmed these episodes back in June as we were preparing for the future film tour. If you haven’t checked out the final two episodes already, do so now. There is a lot of adventure in these two – Avalanches, grave tunnels, Colombian kids, riding single track down the edge of a mountain, nearly crashing while passing trucks, Bike Week with a local biker club, delicious fresh fruit, and a tour of a working colombian coffee finca.

Episode 3 of 4:

Episode 4 of 4:

Mike and I are getting really excited for this journey. We received lots of interest and spots have been filling up fast. We have only two more spots available. Contact me if you’d like to ditch the snow this winter and ride through paradise! Our tour begins on January 15th and runs for 8 days. Spots on the tour are going for $3,500 which covers nearly everything except plane tickets.

I’ll be posting lots more photos and video clips from our tour in January so stay tuned for more adventure!

Oh ya, I found myself in India on a business trip just last week too and decided that I need a 3-wheel tuk tuk taxi! It would be great to ride around Manchester…

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The New World Ride – Colombia Motorcycle Documentary

2 months ago I started a new full time job. The new gig has no shortage of engaging challenges and I’m really excited to make a solid dent my student loans debt. After I accepted the offer, the count down to “normal life” began and so with 3 days notice, I hopped on a plane and flew to South America. I visited with my friend Mike from Motolombia. I met Mike in early 2010 when I was passing through Colombia. He also owns the superb Casa Blanca Hostel in Cali where he’s housed more than 1,000 motorcyclists over the past three years! Originally from Denmark, Mike’s been traveling the world on two wheels and four since he was a child. Several years ago he settled in Colombia, married, and started a family and business.

Mike and I kept in touch since I passed through and he was really excited about the Motorcycle Mexico film I put together to get riders educated and inspired to ride in Latin America. Now, we have teamed up to create The New World Ride – A Colombian Motorcycle Travel Documentary. In January 2012 I’ll be headed to back to Colombia to film the ride.

We’re looking to give 6 lucky riders the adventure of a lifetime. To learn more and to join us on tour, check out www.TheNewWorldRide.com. In addition to riding on tour, we also have non-riding spots available in Mike’s SUV as well as opportunities to pre-order the DVD and T-shirts.

A few months ago, Mike and I toured Colombia to research routes. In doing so, we filmed 4 pilot episodes to show you just a little of what to expect in Colombia. Two episodes are now live and the remaining two will be posted in a few weeks.

Episode 1 link: http://youtu.be/XL_eN21pTDA

Episode 2 link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_uMHs7B6rk

Here are a few photos from the recent Colombia ride when we filmed the pilot episodes:

Tour Guide, Mike, ripping it up at a local’s motocross track in southern, Colombia.

The local kids put us to shame when they jumped their Chinese 125s!

A spectacular afternoon of riding at the local “backyard style” motocross track.

Popayan – The White City

Wire bridge with wooden planks…

Drunk locals in Silvia, an indigenous village in the mountains, offered us lots of free whiskey at 10 in the morning.

Muddy road far off the beaten path in Colombia.

Friendly construction worker.

Local kids at the top of a natural pyramid in Tierradentro.

Mike crossing a river in Colombia’s coffee region.

Colombia is a beautiful country with a tainted reputation. Did you know, in Colombia the locals said I was crazy for going to Mexico. Yet, in Mexico the locals told me I was crazy for going to Colombia… However, in New Hampshire they tell me I am crazy for going to Massachusetts – I don’t know what to believe anymore… The truth is, Colombia has spectacular on and off road riding, friendly and interesting people, delicious food and amazing scenery.

I’m really excited about this project. If you or someone you know would like to join us on tour, sign up at www.TheNewWorldRide.com. Even if you can’t get away, you can still join the adventure and support the project by pre-ordering the DVD and T-shirts. Go ahead and share the videos with your Facebook friends, Google+ circles, and Twitter followers. Mike and I really appreciate your support!

Hasta la proxima!

Categories: Colombia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Weekend of Freedom World Tour

Some Most days I daydream about riding the world. While it’s not always possible to get away, there’s still room for adventure. In order to celebrate our freedom on the Fourth of July. Amber and I packed up the bikes and headed north. Some might think of this trip as a relaxing ride through New England’s back roads. Instead, I like to think of it as a mini world tour…

First stop, the Wright Museum which exhibits artifacts illustrating the heroic efforts of ordinary people living during extraordinary times and is dedicated to celebrating Americans’ sacrifices and achievements during WWII.

Next stop, Whitehorse gear in North Conway so amber can pick up a kidney belt for back support.

The friendly folks at Whitehorse gave us a great road recommendation that took us up through Evan’s Notch in the White Mountain National Forest. Once in Maine we said hi to our buddy Paul Bunyan who was hanging out in Rumford.

The riding was mellow and fun.

Soon afterwards we crossed into Mexico. Wait, what? I’m so confused…

The plaque threw me off a bit. Shouldn’t it be in Spanish?

Sadly, there wasn’t even a Mexican restaurant in Mexico, Maine! Maybe that’s a business opportunity…  After Mexico it was off to Peru. There is no downtown – just lots rural land. Does anyone know what an ATV bottle is???

So, are we on Peruvian soil or American soil?

Having had enough of Latin America we jumped across the pond and stopped by Rome for lunch. Rome was burning so we notified the volunteer fire department.

After our civic duties were done we went east, really far east, like to the far east. Welcome to China!

Unlike mexican restaurants in Mexico, we did see plenty of chinese restaurants in China. Oddly, China looked a lot like Rome, Peru, Mexico, and Maine… Oh well. We looped back around for a quick stop in our hometown of Manchester. Well not Manchester, NH but Manchester, ME. This one goes out to our buddy Pete from Manchester, England. Last month he rode his motorcycle to every Manchester in the USA (there’s more than 30 of them). We had dinner and beers with him as he rolled through our Manchester.

With 300 miles logged we called it quits for the day and headed to Amber’s aunt’s place for some delicious homemade apple pie. mmmmmmmmm.

Awake and reenergized we set out the next morning to continue the adventure. We headed south to Lisbon, Portugal Maine. Unfortunately we were a week early for the Moxie Festival!

Lisbon was fun so we decided to see more of Europe. Next stop, Poland. I had to pee and just as I was about to take a leak by the building I caught myself. Fearing that if a local kid saw me peeing by an elementary school I would be charged as a sex offender, I decided to postpone my whiz until I could find a proper rest room facility.

We continued with the European theme and headed north to Norway.

Only a stones throw away from Norway, we found Paris. Imagine what a mini Eiffel Tower replica would do for tourism… Unfortunately, there wasn’t  much going on in Paris, Maine.

A few more miles (pun intended) down the road was Sweden. Judging by the few people we talked to, I’m willing to bet that most folks here do not know there’s a country called Sweden. The fire department had the only sign in town.

After Sweden we popped back down into mainland Europe for a quick stop in Denmark.

By that time we really started to enjoy Europe, so we shot over to see Amber’s other aunt who lives in Naples, Italy Maine. Together we celebrated our journey with a traditional Italian pizza served in an Irish pub…

The next morning I realized I had a freeloader trying to hitch a ride around the world. He wasn’t talking much…

We wrapped up our Weekend of Freedom World Tour with a brief stop in Limerick, Ireland Maine where they conveniently have a US Post Office.

Maine has several other worldly towns that were a bit out of our reach. We’ll leave Madrid, Moscow, Columbia (ya, they got the spelling wrong), Athens, Stockholm, Verona, Belfast, Lebanon, Vienna and Belgrade for another trip.

Editors note: We skipped all the English town names because just about every other town in New England is named after… Well… England…

As my friends at NEMO would say – Adventure Anywhere. Because memorable and meaningful adventures can happen anywhere from the backyard to Mt. Everest.

Categories: Uncategorized, United States | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Adventure Motorcycle Presentation

Hey Everyone. It’s been about 6 months since I’ve had an update. Since we last spoke, I’ve launched the Motorcycle Mexico DVD. It’s now being distributed by Amazon and Whitehorse Gear. If you’ve been dreaming of riding your motorcycle through Mexico, this should be your first stop for research. I’ve sold a few hundred to date and the feedback has been wonderful. It’s not a Hollywood masterpiece but the content is a gold mine of information for planning a trip south of the border.

I’ve also been busy presenting at Overland Travel and Motorcycle Rallies around the US. In April I presented at the Overland Expo in southern, Arizona. The event attracted thousands of veteran and aspiring overland travelers from around the globe. I sat on the panels for group discussion “to ride solo or not” & “borders, bribes and checkpoints” and I moderated the “safety on the road” discussion. In addition to presentations I share space in the authors and filmmakers tent alongside many of my heros. Ted Simon, Carla King, Austin Vince, Lois Pryce and Sterling Noren just to name a few. I made up a fun poster for rally goers to jump in and take a photo. All in all it was a great event.  You can read the full write-up on the Motorcycle Mexico Blog.

A few weeks later I was off to the BMW Georgia Mountain Rally. I rode down with Bob and Sue of Micatech and we trailered the bikes behind. Once again it was great to escape the New England cold and head down for fun in the sun. After camping through a tornado, the weather really cleared up and the entire time was perfect. I gave a few presentations and had my bike on display for everyone to explore. After the event I ate some boiled peanuts and rode Deals Gap – 318 cuves in 11 miles! I continued north on the Blue Ride Parkway for a few days getting free moonshine from the locals until I made it back to NH. Read all about it on the Micatech blog.

Sidestand Up, the worlds only Motorcycle Radio Road Show had me on as a guest and we talked about riding down south of the the border. Here’s the link to the interview.

Back home in New Hampshire I’ve been giving several presentations about my travels through Latin America. Many of the local public libraries have contracted me to present to their patrons. I really enjoy my sharing my stories and photos and it’s great to inspire others. I added the list of presentations to the  sidebar of the A Few More Miles homepage.  At the time of this post, here’s the upcoming schedule. All presentations are free and open to the public. If I’m in you’re area, be sure to come on out for a night of adventure!

Drop me an email at ben AT motorcyclemexico DOT com if you would like me to present to your group. 

(all events below are at the respected public libraries)

2/15 – Lee, NH 7pm
3/23 – Derry, NH 6:30pm
3/29 – Hooksett, NH 6:30pm
5/10 – Milford, NH 7pm
5/19 – Hancock, NH 7pm

6/14 – Gilford, NH 6:30pm
6/16 – Lincoln, NH 7pm
6/21 – Goffstown, NH 6:30pm
6/22 – East Kingston, NH 7pm
7/12 – Amherst, NH 7pm
7/14 – Bow, NH 6:30pm
7/17 – Freedom, NH 4pm (Sunday)
8/3 – Epsom, NH 7pm
9/16 – New Boston, NH 7pm
9/22 – Dunbarton, NH 7pm
10/19 – Sommersworth, NH 7pm
10/20 – Salem, NH 7pm
TBD – Dublin, NH

I’m actually writing this post from Casa Blanca hostel in Cali, Colombia where I’m working on a pilot episode for a new motorcycle travel documentary taking place in Colombia. But I’ll tell you more about that later…

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Now Available: Motorcycle Mexico DVD

Hey folks!

As I announced last fall, I went back to Mexico for another round of adventuring and more importantly to film for my new project, Motorcycle Mexico. I wanted to make the DVD I wish I could have seen before I left on my trip. I hope it will help riders to get inspired, get educated, and get on their way.

Have you been dreaming of a motorcycle trip through Mexico? In this 2-disc DVD set, you will get the advice you need to help you cross the border, buy insurance, organize your documents, interact with police, find safe hotels and camping, break the language barrier, avoid Montezuma’s Revenge and much more to ensure that you have an amazing ride!

In addition to what he learned on the road, I interviewed veteran travelers and local experts who share their hard-earned knowledge with you. This DVD will get you inspired, educated, and on YOUR way! Whether you are riding in Mexico for just a few days or en route to Central and South America, This DVD will help you prepare for YOUR ride!

Here’s a short 5 minute movie trailer to show you what it’s all about.

Motorcycle Mexico DVD Trailer from Benny on Vimeo.

It’s $36.99 + $4.99 Shipping = $41.98.
It’s 2-discs. 5 hours of insightful content 
Available at www.MotorcycleMexico.com

Disc 1:
Intro, People, Culture, Weather, Gear, Border Crossing, Border Towns, Accidents & Insurance, Family Reactions, News & Drug Cartels, Personal Safety, Bike Safety, Women Riders, Riding, Road Quality, Toll Roads, The Left Blinker, Topes, The Bike, Tires, Tools & Packing, Mechanicals.

Disc 2:
Gas, Navigation, Camping, Accommodations, Secure Parking, Food, Drinks, Montezuma’s Revenge, Health & Evacuation Insurance, Health Risks, Checkpoints, Police, Money, Language, Connectivity, Get Gone, Credits, Bonus Footage.

Thanks to everyone that contributed and encouraged me along the way!

Ride & Explore!

Categories: Mexico, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Where Are They Now” Edition

New to the site? Click here to follow the blog in chronological order. Thanks for checking out the journey, enjoy!

Hey Everyone!

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been back in the USA for over 4 months! Spending time with friends and family has been great and the summer weather has been beautiful here in New Hampshire. So… What’s been going on? Well, 6 months without regular exercise coupled with 3 or 4 daily meals of delicious fried food plays a toll on the body. I weighed myself when I returned home – I gained 15 lbs… YIKES!!! Riding the motorcycle everyday was exhausting but it wasn’t stimulating my cardiovascular system. Now back at home I’ve been kayaking, running, biking (of the pedal variety), and hiking on a daily basis and I’ve shed that baby fat. Here’s a few shots from the absolutely stunning Acadia National Park in Maine.

Have no fear though, I’m still riding the motorcycle nearly everyday. My car has only seen a few days of use this entire summer. Being stuck inside the 4-wheeled box is near torture. The KLR, a.k.a. El Burro, has been a true workhorse. He now has roughly 35,000 miles (I say roughly, because I’ve been without a spedo/odometer cable for the past 12,000-ish miles). All that traveling has taken it’s toll and I now have piston slap. It looks like I’ll be rebuilding the engine’s top end…

This Bike Climbed Mt. Washington

I recently presented the my journey through the Americas at the New Hampshire Latino Festival. Latinos and Gringos alike came up and asked all sorts of questions. “Are you fucking crazy!?” was a popular one. I met Salvadorians, Mexicans, Colombians, and Guatemalans. Their eyes opened wide as I described riding through their countries. Many young kids who are still learning about their heritage stopped by to check out my photos. Their parents would point to a picture and say “That’s our country.” Who knows, maybe in a few years I’ll inspire one of these kids to jump on a bike and ride through their country to experience it first hand. I made this highlight map to have on display.

Motorcycle Central and South America

Crucial to the success of my journey were the Micatech panniers and top case. You’ve seem then in every photo with my bike and I certainly put them to the test. With over 50 tip-overs ,they are still in excellent shape and waterproof (although a bit dirty). The boxes are made only 30 miles from my home and since returning home they’ve contracted me to do some engineering and design for new products. The projects has been fun, challenging, and engaging. Designing and building adventure motorcycling products is great. One key element in product development is field testing… Alright, so what’s next??? Ya, it’s about time for a new adventure. Well, in 3 short weeks I’ll be back on the bike, riding 3,300 miles across the country to California where I’ll be presenting my journey through the Americas at the Overland Rally. Are you interested in traveling the world by car/truck/van/motorcycle/bicycle then this is the event for you. So, if you’re in the Bay Area between September 23 and 26, sign on up and check out the rally.

Overland Rally

After the Overland Rally I’m headed south to Mexico! Wooo Hooo! I’ll be riding down the Baja Peninsula and then crossing over to the mainland where I’ll be riding for 5 weeks. While south of the border I’ll be filming for a How To Guide for Motorcycling in Mexico. I’m super excited about this project and hope to inspire others to go and ride their dream. Check out the website at www.MotorcycleMexico.com. Interested in following the new journey? Then sign-up for email updates by clicking here (because I won’t be updating this website anymore). When I make it back home at the beginning of November I’ll have put on another 10,000 miles!

Motorcycle Mexico

That’s about it… What have ya’ll been up to? Drop me a line and keep me in the loop.

Ride & Explore!

-Ben

Categories: Mexico, United States | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Welcome Home

Welcome Home

Amber and I braved the rush hour traffic into Boston. A ride that usually takes 45 minutes took 2 hours! Obeying traffic laws and being stuck in traffic was torture – get me back on that bike! First stop: American Airlines Cargo warehouse. I grabbed my paperwork and then was told I needed to go to customs for some stamps (stamps??? I thought I left Central America). The best part is that the customs office is downtown. I paid my tolls to leave the airport, headed downtown and was greeted by a customs officer with no personality. He was a bit confused why I was shipping a US registered bike from Argentina to the States. “If you did any offroading, the bike will need to be cleaned and fumigated at your expense. Did you do any offroading?” he asked me. I answered “Nope, always on the pavement” (wink wink). 30 minutes later I got my stamps and headed back to the airport. Despite the fact that I was told I’d not have to pay anything when picking the bike up in Boston I still had to pay a $30 fee (that apparently all shipments are charged). Here’s the guys bringing the bike.

Bike Return 002

Loading the bike onto the trailer.

Bike Return 008

With the bike back home it was unloaded and reassembled hassle free.

Bike Return 016

I guess it’s time to quit moving around because I’ve run out of pages in my passport. At the end the border officials started stamping over old stamps. Here are just a few.

 Passport Stamps 002

Passport Stamps 005

Passport Stamps 008

Passport Stamps 009 

Once I had the bike back up and running I met up with my friend, photographer Sid Ceaser for a post trip portrait session. You might remember the photos that Sid took just a few days before my trip started 6 months ago. Sid is a master with light and created some wonderful images. Here are a few “Before & After” photos with a few other tossed in the mix.

(1) Before:

Portrait 6

(1) After:

Post 1

(2) Before:

Portrait 3

(2) After:

Post 4

(3) Before:

Portrait 4

(3) After:

Post 5

A Few More Photos.

Post 7

Post 2

Post 6

Post 3

And of course after five and a half months without a hair cut or a shave it was time to get cleaned up a bit. (Click here if video doesn’t work)

It’s been strange getting re-adjusted to “normal life” again. It’s great to see my friends and family but the adventure meter drops to zero. And what happened to all the Spanish? English… that’s no fun. I keep putting the TP into the waste basket and when I do remember to put it into the toilet I feel like I’m doing something naughty. I find it strange that all bathrooms are stocked with toilet paper and have toilet seats. I look at my closet full of clothes and I just want to wear the same shirt and pants I’ve been wearing for the last 6 months. I pulled up to the gas station and waited around for someone to pump my gas, sadly there was no attendant. Credit cards are now accepted everywhere (even when I paid the shipping agency to ship my bike home they made me pay in cash – to a bank down the street…). I went to a restaurant at home and they had 20 different kinds of turkey dishes – I’m used to walking in and asking what they have. They say chicken. I say “OK, I’ll have the chicken” nuff said. It’s a strange new world…

Charles and I have been keeping in touch since parting ways in Ecuador. He’s been rolling south and having a wonderful journey. Then he sends me this photo… In Quellon, Chile he got in an accident. Charles has no memory before the crash (or even for a while thereafter) but based on eyewitnesses he thinks he had a mechanical failure and lost control. Fortunately(?) for him he crashed into a fire truck. He broke 3 vertebrae, and twisted up his ankles, wrists, and knees. With a broken back he somehow managed to remove the tank bag, save only half of his camera’s memory cards, camping gear, and his passport. His other belongings, as well as the bike, were complete incinerated. His story made the front pages of both the local newspapers. Charles then spent 8 days in a Chilean hospital before returning home to Colorado. He’s doing well and studying to take the Bar exam this summer. Get well buddy!

Charles Inferno

Zoomed In… (For Sale: KTM 640 Adventure – light smoke damage)

Charles Inferno

I’ve really enjoyed sharing my story with you all. Thanks to everyone who followed along and for all the comments.

Until the next adventure…

Categories: United States | 7 Comments

Punta Arenas to Buenos Aires – Riding North

Back on the mainland in Punta Arenas I spent a few days in town waiting for a mechanic to take a look at the bike. Luckily the hostel owner was a moto guy and sent me to his mechanic. He thought I’d easily be able to sell my bike here. He called a few friends but unfortunately no takers. So when the bike was finished up I headed north. So, for the 4th and final time I entered back into Argentina. I doubled back on some roads that I used on the way down however it was a completely different experience. There was no wind and it was heaven!!! I got an early jump on the day and without the wind I used little energy and rode 1000 km (600 miles) north along Ruta 3 to Fitz Roy. 15 km before the tiny town I was having some problems with my drivetrain. The chain was skipping. I stopped and noticed the chain was shot and the sprocket teeth looked like cresting ocean waves. There was no mechanic in the town but an Argentine motorcyclist came by and said he was a mechanic in the next town 70 km away. Maybe I can make it I thought… I started up and the chain popped off. OK, that’s that. He said that if I can get to Caleta Olivia he’d be able to help me. Fortunately, there was a police checkpoint and I convinced the cops to ask all trucks passing by if they could give me a lift. 2 hours later it’s pitch black and there’s has been little traffic.

Caleta Olivia (Ruta 3) 002

Finally a nice couple with a very small pickup agreed. We loaded the bike and I hopped in the back for the 45 minute ride. We called Diego, the mechanic and he came down, opened his shop and showed me to a hotel. Exhausted, I passed out. The next day Diego and his team found me a new sprocket and chain for a great price. We shared some matte and I also helped them translate instructions for a carburetor synchronization tool then I was on my way. Diego was intrigued by the Jetboil Flash.

Caleta Olivia (Ruta 3) 003

But today was different. The wind and rain returned and the roads were super slick with my  balding tires and numerous oil slicks. Riding fast and pushing into the night I finally arrived in Trelew. Back up early the next day it was another 1000 km through the boring pampa up Ruta 3. It’s the start of Semana Santa (Easter) and I saw lots of motorcycles out on the road enjoying the nice weather.

Ruta 3

Driving into the night was scary with the terrible KLR headlight. Finally I called it quits in the town of Tres Arroyos. A pizza and a beer and I’m fast asleep. The next day is the final 500 km (300 miles) to Buenos Aires. Dakar Motos was closed due to the holidays so I found a hostel in the Palermo barrio. A few days here was great. I walked all over Palermo and downtown. I didn’t bring my camera with me as I was paranoid after hearing 3 stories from others who had been held at gunpoint in the city. I also took a tango lesson with Eliane and Christian that was lots of fun! I’m rhythmically challenged but had a great time. Watching the professionals was amazing as well.

Buenos Aires 003

Thanks to Francisco, Christian and family for inviting me to their house for a delicious home cooked meal. A friend of a friend of a friend turned out to be a great connection!

Buenos Aires is a HUGE city with lots of character. The trains and subways were great and cheap and residents walk their dogs all over the city and never pick up the poop. It’s challenging to walk down the street and dodge the dog poop.

Dakar Motos opened after the holiday. The shop is synonymous with adventure motorcycling in South America. Javier has a well stocked shop and they have bunk beds as well. It was nice to stay with other motorcyclists and talk moto for a few days. Sebastian cooked us up a delicious curry for our group dinner.

Dakar Motos 001

Sandra immediately helped me to get a quote to ship the bike home. The next day I brought the bike to the airport where a pallet was waiting for me. Shipping charges are based on weight and volume. To keep the price down, I needed to lower the bike as much as possible so I took off the mirrors, windshield, front wheel and front fender. The airlines require the bike to have deflated tires, be purged of all gas, and disconnect the battery and wrap the cables in electrical tape. The bike and gear were then banded down to the pallet and wrapped in shrink wrap. Easy stuff.

Placing the bike on the pallet.

Shipping 005

Packed up and ready for shrink wrapping.

Shipping 011

Unfortunately, you can’t have any liquids on the pallet. There goes my idea to ship home a dozen boxes of Argentinean wine… Before leaving Dakar Motos I felt I needed to contribute to the atmosphere of the shop so I donated my inflatable sheep, Dirty Joe (a.k.a. Bahhhhhhbara the 3rd). You can tell Sebastian is excited.

Dakar Motos 003

And of course the Swedish riders sponsored by Primus shared with me their sticker. Jetboil was here too!!!

Dakar Motos 002

And just like that I took a bus to the airport and boarded a plane for the USA. Goodbye Latin America, I’ll miss you.

Categories: Argentina | 2 Comments

Tierra Del Fuego – The Land of Fire

I only keep up to date with a few websites. One of my favorites is Chris Guillebeau’s site “The Art of Non-Conformity” which continues to strike a cord with my life. It’s all about thinking outside the box, life design, entrepreneurship, and travel. The other day he posted a photo with a direct message that encompassed my journey:

Do Epic Shit

Leaving El Calafate I decided to skip the famous Tores Del Paine national park and head straight for Tierra Del Fuego. First stop – Rio Gallegos, some 300 clicks away. I stopped only once during the whole ride at a small pueblo halfway in between. It was sunny, it was dry and the pavement was pristine  but this was the hardest section of riding to date. WIND!!! A very flat topography gave no where to hide from the relentless wind. I leaned the bike over more than 30 degrees just to ride straight. For hours my muscles strained to keep the bike going straight. My entire body was tense to fight the wind. My neck took the worst of it trying to balance my giant helmet head. It was exhausting. Every hour or so I got so tired and frustrated that I screamed into my helmet. “Is that all you got!” and “AHHHHHHH!!!!” and “Bring it on!” The small bursts of adrenaline helped keep me focused.

It was early in the day when I reached Rio Gallegos so I decided to press on. Shortly after the city I saw my first signs for Ushuaia. I’m getting close!

Puerto Delgada 001 

I then crossed back into Chile (for the 3rd time now) and soon arrived at the Magellan Strait. Across this small channel is Tierra del Fuego!

Puerto Delgada 009

Puerto Delgada 009

One of the few buildings at the port is covered with travelers’ stickers.

Puerto Delgada 003

Time to jump on the ferry and motor through the rough seas.

 Puerto Delgada 008

It’s official, I’m on the island of Tierra Del Fuego!!!

 Puerto Delgada 010

The relentless winds continued as I rode to Cerro Sombrero where I stayed the night in a hospedaje. These are my favorite accommodations. Families rent out rooms in their homes. It’s a cozy atmosphere and a delight to speak with the locals.

After Cerro Sombrero there’s about 120k of ripio. I came across some rough traffic on the way.

 Tierra Del Fuego 004

I felt like Moses parting the sea… (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ds9PAWTDHkY)

 

After the ripio ended it was time to enter back into Argentina. Yes, the island of Tierra del Fuego is owned half by Chile and half by Argentina. To enter the island you come from Argentina, then you ride through the Chilean side of the island, then you cross back into Argentina to hit up Ushuaia (it’s all reversed on the way back). Ridiculous… At the border I saw that my makeshift starter relay by-pass button was coming undone. So in the wind, rain, and freezing cold I gave into the weather and worked to rewire the system.

Tierra Del Fuego 007 

 Tierra Del Fuego 008

I kept on. The pavement was a nice change but as I furthered south, it got colder and the rain picked up. At the last town before Ushuaia I warmed up in a gas station for a few minutes and decided to push on in the late afternoon to make Ushuaia. Before I could arrive, I’d have to go through a mountain pass with tops covered in snow. Locals told me there would be no ice on the roads. It didn’t take long to lose all the warmth I gained at the gas station. I climbed up the mountains and twisted through the pass. The heated grips didn’t work and I was extending and compressing my legs over and over to work the muscles and warm up my body. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning – so excited for the day to come. After more than 5 months and 20,000 miles I’m about to arrive at the southern most city in the world! I was signing out loud with craziness excitement “It’s the final count down, do do do dooooo…” and “It’s a long way to the bottom top if you wanna rock-n-roll!” Finally, shivering, drenched, and exhausted I arrived in Ushuaia. A fitting scenario for arriving at the Fin del Mundo (end of the world). I was so jumbled that I missed the famous sign welcoming visitors to Ushuaia. I stopped on my way out of town instead.

I made it!!!!!

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Kick back and relax!

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And a special end of the world dance! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-cqvXMnWn0)

 

I found a hostel, took a nice loooooooong hot shower and then got some dinner and a bottle of Argentinean wine to celebrate. WOOOOO HOOOOO! And then I passed out at 10 pm, ha.

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The next day I relaxed, did some organizing, and walked around the city. The landscape is beautiful – “The land of fire” – a spectacular end to the horrendous Pampa.

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Old ship in the port.

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This is an active port with lots of shipping going on too.

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All afternoon I checked with every hostel and travel agency as well as the Antarctic Expedition Center for a “last minute” deal for a boat to Antarctica. Normal prices are $5,000 – $25,000 USD but at the end of the season they can be as low as $3,000 USD (still crazy expensive). Unfortunately, it looks like the last boat of the season left 2 days ago. I just missed it! Oh well… Next time 🙂

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The weather report for the next day showed sun in the morning and rain in the afternoon. Perfect I thought, so I took a boat ride through the Beagle Channel to view cormorants, sea lions, and penguins. Unfortunately, it was overcast all day (terrible light for photos). And go figure, the afternoon had beautiful blue skies!

Cormorant Island.

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Sea Lion Island.

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Sea lion island video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aucLny5c6hE

 

Lighthouse.

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PENGUINS!

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Penguin movie – watch them waddle! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q20ypwqZDtM

 

My Italian friends on the boat. Franco invited me to Italy to check out his collection of 15 motorcycles. Thanks for the lunch too! Next stop… Italy.

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Beautiful mountain scenery at the bottom of the world.

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In town I picked up some new stickers for the Micatech top box. Ruta 40! Ushuaia!

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I have decided to try and sell the bike down here in South America. Before leaving Ushuaia I made a SE VENDE (For Sale) sign for the front windshield.

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Then I left town, passing through the mountains and back onto the windy pampa of Tierra Del Fuego island. It was a long day riding through the strong wind. After crossing back into Chile (4th time now) it was a 140 kilometers on ripio to the port town of Porvenir. The next day it was a 2.5 hour ferry ride to the largest city in southern Patagonia, Punta Arenas. However, the ferry didn’t leave until 5 pm so I had a chance to hangout at the “dock” for a bit.

Fishing gear.

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Big chain.

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Strapped down for the ride.

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Although I’ve already made to the southern most city in the world, the adventure continues. Stay Tuned!

Categories: Argentina, Chile | 4 Comments

Patagonia, Argentina – Southern Ruta 40

A swift and simple border crossing and I’m back in Argentina for the second time.

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Back to desert. Windy windy desert.

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It’s a long days ride with lots of ripio before I arrive in Gobiernos Gregaros

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The wind has picked up significantly since the border and the landscape has changed back to Pampa. There’s lots of rheas too. They are these funky mini ostrich type birds. They run fast along the road as I pass.

There’s only 4 hospadejes to stay in and they’re all full. Fortunately, I convince the last one to ask if anyone is willing to share a room and I’m lucky to find a bed for the night. The next day it’s more of the same – ripio and wind. Some sections are particularly challenging. I’m riding on a path not more than a foot wide. On either side is a 6 inch tall strip of deep gravel. The wind is howling and I’m leaning the bike over 30 degrees just to stay in a straight line. Every once in a while the wind pauses and then picks up with a strong burst. I struggle to correct and sometimes I’m not good enough and I run into the gravel patch, losing control and fishtailing wildly. Somehow I managed to keep the bike upright and even with many close calls I never dropped the bike. Here’s what the loose gravel looks like.

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Dirt tracks.

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I pulled over for a snack break and saw a campesino on horseback coming my way. He and his dog were herding sheep through the hillside. His skill was amazing.

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Did I mention that it’s windy out here?

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Reaching the tarmac in Tres Lagos was heaven. As the road wound through the hillside I turned to a direction that yielded a tailwind. If I matched the speed of the wind I could ride in complete silence (except the engine). No wind was blowing in my face or across my helmet and it was magical serenity. I didn’t have to struggle to keep the bike from being blown off the road. But all good things must come to an end and when the road changed directions (even slightly) the wind came back with a force and the battle continued. This sign pretty much sums it up – WINDY!

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Here’s some video of the windy Pampa. Click the link if the video doesn’t appear in your browser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xARXCUaLITw

 

Arriving in El Calafate I ran into Jeff (who I met back in Mexico) and Oliver (from England, riding Alaska to Ushuaia). We went out to dinner at a parrilla (grill house).

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Dinner = meat meat and more meat along with some Patagonian wine.

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The next morning I set off to visit one of the world’s last remaining stable glaciers in Los Glaciares National Park. The drive in traced Lago Argentino with spectacular views.

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The Perito Moreno glacier is BIG. This view (with terrible light) is from the road. It covers an area larger than the city of Buenos Aires!

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I took a boat ride to get closer to the massive glacier. It’s hard to get a reference scale but these walls are 60 meters (200 feet) tall!

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Twice, school bus sized ice chunks broke off from the face as the glacier advanced. These enormous masses of ice roared and plunged into the lake below. Incredible power! Here’s a few shots of the sparkling blue glacier.

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As I left the park the clouds disappeared and the sun shined through (figures). I stopped for a photo and my bike wouldn’t start back up. For reals?!?! Luckily I was on a hill so I coasted down and popped the transmission into gear, bump starting the bike. I figured my battery was shot since I rode out there on low RPMs with my heated grips cranked on high. I rode back with high RPMs and without the heated grips. Close to town I climbed a hill and stopped the bike to test it. Nope, nada. What a pain… OK, so I found the only mechanic  in town and we diagnosed the problem as a busted starter relay. Unfortunately, they don’t have a spare and I’m not wanting to wait around to get one shipped in. He showed me that I could use a screw driver to short circuit the relay and essentially hot wire the bike. SOLD! But that’s going to be annoying. Together we fashioned up a switch that I can use to complete the circuit. It works! Now let’s just hope it can hold the current over the next 3000 miles. Man rule #73: Find Solutions.

Here’s some route details for the adventure riders out there. Chile Chico to Perito Moreno (the town – there’s a town with the same name as the glacier but they are over 700 kilometers apart) is all paved. You an find gas in Chile Chico, Los Antigous, and Perito Moreno (be sure to fill up here). From Perito Moreno head south on Ruta 40 which quickly becomes desvio’s and ripio (they have construction going on. I imagine it will be finished within 50 years). There’s a sweet 50K of pavement somewhere mid way and then it’s back to dirt. Turn off Ruta 40 for Gobernos Gregaros to fill up with gas and spend the night (rumor has it you can stay on Ruta 40 and you’ll find another small pueblo – I didn’t have it on my map though). I left Chile Chico at 9am and arrived in GG at 5pm – 340 kilometers? The next day head towards Tres Lagos on all ripio. You’ll find gas just past the turn-off for the town and the pavement begins. It’s all pavement to El Calafate. I left GG at 9am and got to El Calafate at 4pm (with a long lunch in Tres Lagos) 330k in total? (My speedo cable broke so I’m not sure on exact distances). This can be done on street tires but if it’s wet, you’ll want some knobbies. Some of the dried mud looked horrendous. I can only imagine how challenging it would have been in the rain.

The final push for Ushuaia is coming up next, stay tuned!

Categories: Argentina | 6 Comments

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