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…

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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 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!


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.

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Loading the bike onto the trailer.

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

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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.

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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.

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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… (


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!!!!!

Ushuaia 017

Kick back and relax!

 Ushuaia 015

And a special end of the world dance! (


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.

Ushuaia 008

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.

  Ushuaia 004

Old ship in the port.

 Ushuaia 002

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

 Ushuaia 007

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 🙂

 Porvenir 003

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.

 Beagle Channel 011

 Beagle Channel 029

 Beagle Channel 027

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Sea Lion Island.

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Sea lion island video.



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  Beagle Channel 129

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  Beagle Channel 134

Penguin movie – watch them waddle!


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.

 Beagle Channel 138

Beautiful mountain scenery at the bottom of the world.

  Beagle Channel 149

 Beagle Channel 161

 Beagle Channel 153

 Beagle Channel 141

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

 Porvenir 009

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.

 Porvenir 004

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.

 Porvenir 002

Big chain.

Porvenir 005

Strapped down for the ride.

  Porvenir 010

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.

 Ruta 40 - Border (Los Antigous) to El Calafate 001

Back to desert. Windy windy desert.

Ruta 40 - Border (Los Antigous) to El Calafate 002

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

Ruta 40 - Border (Los Antigous) to El Calafate 003

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?

Ruta 40 - Border (Los Antigous) to El Calafate 027 

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:


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).

El Calafate 002

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

El Calafate 003

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.

Perito Moreno Glacier 002

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!

Perito Moreno Glacier 003

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!

Perito Moreno Glacier 030

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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Perito Moreno Glacier 024

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Perito Moreno Glacier 011

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

Patagonia, Chile – Carretera Austral

Welcome (back) to Chile!

Border (Futalafu) to Puerto Puyuhuapi 001

I’m back in Chile again to ride the famous Carretera Austral. Here the road turns to gravel and the scenery comes to life. It’s cloudy the whole way and the rain holds out until the last 30 minutes of my ride.

Border (Futalafu) to Puerto Puyuhuapi 002

I spend my first night in Puerto Puyuhuapi – a tiny little village with a beautiful bed & breakfast (Casa Ludwig – ya, the Germans settled this port). Here’s the house as seen from the dock.

Carretera Austral (Puerto Puyuhuapi) 005

The village is at the end of a gorgeous fjord.

Carretera Austral (Puerto Puyuhuapi) 001

Before turning in for the night I was reading in bed and felt the house sway. The rain had just started and I figured it was the wind. It only lasted a few seconds and then it was gone. I thought nothing of it. However, at 4 in the morning I woke up to my bed shaking back and forth. I could hear everything in the house moving and creaking. It lasted for about 20 seconds. There was no mistaking it, this was an earthquake! I checked online the next morning and sure enough there was a 5.2 magnitude quake not more than a few hundred kilometers away. Fortunately, that fine German engineered house withstood the quake with ease.

Carretera Austral (Puerto Puyuhuapi) 006

The next morning I packed up and headed out in the rain. I passed through beautiful scenery (that unfortunately was covered in clouds). Here’s a look at a waterfall in the Bosque Encantado (enchanted forest).

Carretera Austral (Puerto Puyuhuapi to Villa Cerro Castillo) 001

My camera just can’t do this place justice (and the clouds aren’t helping either). I haven’t seen land this spectacular since New Zealand.

Carretera Austral (Puerto Puyuhuapi to Villa Cerro Castillo) 003

Stunning valley.

Carretera Austral (Puerto Puyuhuapi to Villa Cerro Castillo) 006

I get some pavement and a break in the rain and decide to push on to the small village (600 habitants) of Villa Cerro Castillo. I’m enjoying this tranquillo lifestyle. I pull into town and park the bike to look for a hospedaje to spend the night. I think I’m OK behind this truck – he’s going anywhere soon.

Carretera Austral (Villa Cerro Castillo) 001

It’s a quiet little village surrounded by enormous mountains and glaciers.

Carretera Austral (Villa Cerro Castillo) 003

Packing up the next morning I had a break in the rain. Wonderful! Then just as I hopped on the bike it started to rain. Go figure… I battled light rain all morning. The gravel road was a little slippery and the views were tainted by thick clouds. I could see mountains going up the they were under cloud cover. It wasn’t until I looked up even higher that I saw some mountain tops poking above the clouds. All of a sudden I realize just how massive these glaciated peaks are and it’s a magical experience to be surrounded by such powerful land. Here’s a few shots from early in the day. Unfortunately, the camera can’t capture the dynamic range very well so I won’t be able to share that experience with you all. I’ll always carry with me the memories.

Stunning turquoise rivers and lakes.

Carretera Austral (Villa Cerro Castillo to Chile Chico) 001

Earth at its finest.

Carretera Austral (Villa Cerro Castillo to Chile Chico) 011

The attendant and I chit chat for a bit. I take off my riding gear. I ask if there is gas. It’s all good until he tells me that there is no electricity to run the pump. The next station is 70k down the road. 

Carretera Austral (Villa Cerro Castillo to Chile Chico) 012

The rain breaks in the afternoon and the sun tries to peek through the clouds. Stunning mirror lake views surround me.

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Mountain berries.

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Yes, please.

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I want to live here.

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There’s some road construction going on and cars have been backed up for hours. Again, it pays to be on a moto because I find a small path through a muddy stream. BRRRAAAAPPP and I’m on my way with locals cheering for me.

Carretera Austral (Villa Cerro Castillo to Chile Chico) 026

The magnificent country continues.

Carretera Austral (Villa Cerro Castillo to Chile Chico) 028

Here’s 2 video clips from riding on the Carretera Austral. (If you can’t see the video in the email, just click the link).

Video 1:


Video 2: 


I eventually arrive in the small colorful town of Chile Chico just a few kilometers from the Argentina border.

Here’s some route details for the Adventure Riders out there. After leaving Trevelin, Argentina the pavement ends. It picks back up about 100k south of Puerto Puyuhuapi around the town of Manihuales. There’s another 20k stretch of dirt road after that and then pavement again to Coyhaique and all the way to Villa Cerro Castillo. The unpaved section is far better than the ripio on Ruta 40 in Argentina. Just watch out for those deep gravel patches and trucks coming around the tight bends on the single lane width sections. I never went more than 300k without finding a gas station. Be sure to fill up at every station you see though because you never know if the next one will be out of gas…

Cerro Castillo to Chile Chico (around Laguna General Carr) is all dirt but for the most part it’s in great condition. About 8 hours to get here (with lots of photo stops). I almost skipped this part by taking a ferry across the lake. I’m glad I took the long way around, this was the most beautiful part.

More fun to come. Stay tuned!

Categories: Chile | 5 Comments

Central Argentina

My friend, Charlie, has been following the journey with a map he keeps updated on his desk at work. Thanks for the support, Charlie!

Charlie's Map

Argentina! Woot woot!

Border to Mendoza 001

Shortly after crossing the border I’m able to see the tallest mountain in South America, Aconcagua 6962 m (22,841 ft). I thought about climbing it, but then I thought better of it and just took a picture.

Border to Mendoza 004

A few more kilometers down the road and I find the migracion and aduanas office. It’s the first border crossing that resembles order and logic. It still takes a while, but it’s all good.

Border to Mendoza 007

And a few more kilometers down the road I come across this truck that’s flipped over and halfway off the road.

Border to Mendoza 008

A bit further down and it’s the shrine for the local saint, Difunta Correa. Legend has it that she travelled through the country during the civil war in the 1850s and died of thirst. When local villagers discovered her body they were amazed to see her baby son was still alive. He survived by suckling on her breast and living off her milk. This miracle prompted a shrine. People now present her with offerings of water bottles and it’s told that she protects travelers on these barren roads.

Border to Mendoza 009

As I get closer to Mendoza I pass through the wine region. Lots of grape vines.

Border to Mendoza 010

I really enjoyed my stay in Mendoza. It’s a beautiful and lively city and everyone is using the word “vos” down here. It’s the informal form of you in Argentina. Other Latin American countries use “tu” instead.

Leaving Mendoza I head south on the (in)famous Ruta 40 for Malargue. As I get closer to Malargue the wind picks up. It’s very windy in the town and the next morning as I’m making my way out of town, down the main road that has 3 poorly visible traffic lights, I get in an accident! I can’t be certain, but I’m pretty sure I ran a red light. The traffic lights were poorly angled and near impossible to tell the color. Regardless, I should have been paying more attention and driving more defensively.

The accident was like slow motion and fast forward all at once. I entered the intersection and suddenly noticed a car coming from my side. I slammed on the brakes and skidded. The car did the same (unfortunately, had he kept his normal speed there would have been no collision). I crashed my front end into his rear panel. Somehow I high-sided, fell off the bike, and rolled down the street. By the time we collided I wasn’t going very fast and fortunately I wasn’t hurt (neither were the driver or passenger of the car). There was a loud crunching sound as we met and then my bike lay in the middle of the road. The driver came out yelling but quickly calmed down and helped me pick up the bike and move it off the road. I took an inventory of the bike and noticed the mirrors were bent (easy fix) and that the front plastic cowl was broken (bummer, but OK).

Mendoza to Malarque to Zapala to Bariloche 003

The first thought in my mind is that I’m going to prison in Argentina. I then rationalized my thoughts and realized that I didn’t have insurance. OK, so the cops and driver are going to get me for a big bribe. OK, a potential loss of $500 is bad but not the end of the world. I calm down and apologize to the driver. The first thing he says to me is that we don’t need the police. Huh? We’re both pretty sure I broke the law and I’m at fault. There’s a fair size dent in his rear panel and he doesn’t want the cops involved??? He must be hiding something… but I’m not going to argue because this really works out in my favor. He doesn’t even ask for any money. He tells me to drive more carefully and we’re on our way. I’m not going to wait around while he changes his mind so I hit the road. The windscreen is flapping in the wind the whole way. Stupid Stupid Stupid. I got lazy. I’m lucky I didn’t get seriously injured. Time to focus more on the road.

Ruta 40 south from Malague starts with 50k of good pavement, then 50k of ripio, then 50k of more good pavement, then 50k or more ripio before leveling off with good pavement. It’s slow going through the ripio.

Mendoza to Malarque to Zapala to Bariloche 002

I push on for about 9 hours and finally arrive in Zapala for the night. After riding such a long day I get some dinner and pass out. The next day it’s more of the same scenery and little traffic. There’s a lot of land down here and it’s sparsely populated every few hundred kilometers. Looks like I still have a long way to go.

 Mendoza to Malarque to Zapala to Bariloche 008

The landscape starts to change around Bariloche and it’s really spectacular country filled with large rock formations and big beautiful blue lakes. It’s a pleasant change from the more barren land up north.

Mendoza to Malarque to Zapala to Bariloche 009

Bariloche is beautiful town beside a serene lake. I popped into a mechanics shop (ya, I do that a lot) and they helped me fix a few things (there’s always something needing fixing). My free brake pads from the shop in Chile turned out to be junk. The backing on them was so thin that it somehow bent and separated from the braking pad. So that’s why my brakes suck… OK, I bought some new pads (front and rear) and they helped fixed my front plastics. Some diamond plate and pop-rivets. Beautiful!

Bariloche to Esquel 003

Bariloche to Esquel 002

After leaving Bariloche, I ride through a few miles  of bumble bees. THWACK! It’s loud when these guys hit the helmet. And of course one hits my neck and goes down my shirt. I feel it squirming on my skin. I pull over and tear off all my layers to finally get him out.

Bariloche to Esquel 001

When I stop for a snack a few hours later I see that right rear blinker has been lowered and is now being melted by the exhaust. There’s always something, isn’t there….

Bariloche to Esquel 004

I arrive in Esquel in the late afternoon. It’s time to change my tires (again) to prepare for the off-road riding on the Carretera Austral in Chile. There’s always a tire changing place in Latin America. In Mexico and most of Central America they were called Vulcanizadora (or Vulka). In most of northern Central America they are called Llanterias and in Argentina they are called Gomerias. Whatever their name you can find them by the signature giant tractor/truck tire in front of their building.

Bariloche to Esquel 005

The asphalt stops in Trevelin and it’s gravel all the way to the border. It’s another quiet frontera. I’m first in line and pass through with ease. There’s also lots of European trucks on this road. Those you see in the picture below are the smallest. Most are giant lorries.

Border - Futalafu

Up next, back to Chile to ride the Carretera Austral. Stay tuned!

Categories: Argentina | 6 Comments

Northern Chile

Finally down at the low low elevation of 2600 meters (8,500 feet) I can begin to breath again. No longer does eating, showering, or even breathing make me short of breath. I’m in the town of Calama, an oasis in the middle of the desert. I decide to stay an extra day to regain more energy. It gives me a chance to try Chile’s national food “The Completo.” This hot dog has a bun so large that it can hold layers and layers of toppings like ketchup, mustard,  mayonnaise, onions, tomatoes, avocado, barbeque sauce, and only god knows what else. At home I’d expect to find something like this at a baseball game or at a street cart. But here in Chile you can also find it at fine establishments with eloquently designed holders.

CULTURE SHOCK coming from Bolivia. Life here is orderly and expensive. Gas, food, and lodging are all on par with US prices. I’m missing Bolivia already….

Although my appetite is coming back, I still can’t get a good nights sleep so the next morning I head for sea level. It’s a swift ride down through the desert. Passing through some road construction I see things that I haven’t seen since the US like road cones, traffic signs, and radios to contact the other end of the construction zone. And what’s even crazier… people are actually obeying! After 4 months in Latin America this is certainly an alien sight…

Northern Chile Desert 001

Continuing on I pass the Mano del Desierto (Desert Hand). Sadly, as I’m rolling up I start signing “Get your hands up, up, up! All my single ladies!” There’s a Chilean family on holiday and so we take the usual 987239847  photos together. First just the daughter me and the bike, then with the mother, then without the daughter, then sitting on the bike, then the with the daughter while the mother sits on the bike, then the daughter sitting while the mother standing, and so on… It’s fun.

Northern Chile Desert 003 

About 30 miles earlier I passed through the city of Antofagasta and I wasn’t really keen on stopping there. It’s noon and I’m just at the beginning of a long stretch of desert with no towns in between. I decide to push it for a long days ride the beach town of Caldera. All in all it’s some 450 miles on the day. Time for some real sleep – my first night back at sea level. 11 hours of sleep never felt so good! And finally, my throbbing headache is GONE!

But with all the excitement and joy I managed to break my sandal. I’ve had these sandals for over 12 years. I really thought they’d hold up better than this… They sure don’t make ‘em like they used to (over 13 years ago). So I walked with one sandal in hand  into the bank and back around town to the hotel. Why is everyone staring at me! Oh ya, I also have this ridiculously overgrown beard…

Northern Chile Desert 013

Continuing south the scenery remains… desert. There’s some big equipment out there.

Northern Chile Desert 002

Desert Panorama.

Northern Chile Desert stitch

Late in the day today I looked down to notice that my right boot and pant leg were wet. Upon inspection I found that my fork seal had blown out and leaked fork oil all over the right side of the bike and the right side of me. Great…

Northern Chile Desert 011

A few more desert days on the way south (ya, there’s LOTS of desert here). I’m driving up a hill and pass a slow moving truck in a no passing zone. When I make it around the corner there’s a police man waiving me over. Here we go… It was a set up. Trucks crawl up this hill and I imagine that they’re always passed by traffic. The police sit at the top of the hill around the bend, with a clear view of the entire scene. This time I definitively broke the law and I tried a new approach. I pulled off the road and dropped the bike (on accident).  I pulled off my helmet and moaned that I was tired. I half struggled to pick up the bike and finally got around to making introductions with the police. They proceeded to explain what I did wrong. One man said I was getting a ticket. Then the other man pulled him aside and after some talking (they must have felt bad for me for dropping the bike) they let me go without a ticket!

As I pulled away I heard some loud clunking. Crap, I thought, my transmission is screwed. I take a better look at the bike and notice that it’s not the transmission. The chain is loose, ridiculously loose. So loose that I’m convinced something must have broke (axle, subframe, front sprocket, something). Nope, it’s just crazy loose. I also look at my rear sprocket in detail for the first time. They are both shot, dead. It’s only 30 miles to La Serena so I tighten up my chain and roll on. It’s clicking like crazy and I saw to myself over and over, “just keep going, just keep going” and I eventually make it to La Serena.

Northern Chile Desert 016

The next day in La Serena I stop into Tonino Motorsports and those guys really hooked me up. Without an appointment, I stroll in mid morning and they get working straight away. A new fork seal, new fork oil, new engine oil, air filter cleaning, new chain and sprocket and fixing the heated grips. They even set me up with a FREE set of brake pads as well as a FREE (Chinese) front tire! All finished by the end of the day at a fair price (although parts in Chile are almost double the U.S. price!). Let’s hope this is the last mechanical servicing of the trip.

Old sprocket – very worn!

La Serena 001

Tonino Motorsports Crew

La Serena 002

South south south and I reach Concon where I stay at a small B&B. The owner is taking care of 3 children displaced from the earthquake. He invites me to dinner and I chat with the kids all evening. It wasn’t until 30 minutes into our conversation that I had to ask them to talk slower so I could understand. Up until then they thought I was Chilean and they are shocked to learn that I’m from the States. It was a fun evening learning about these kids and about the earthquake. I continuously surprise myself with how good my Spanish skills are! Granted, I’m still terrible but I was able to have a conversation for hours. Awesome.

In the morning I head to the Argentina border. On the way I pass lots of women on the side of the road selling food. I’m hungry and curious to see what they have to offer. Dulces (Sweets)! The woman gives me one as a gift and I buy a second. Delicious…

La Serena to Border 002 La Serena to Border 001

I climb the stupendous mountainside up to the border. The official asks me if I felt the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that happened just 20 minutes ago. WHAT!?!? I felt nothing and good thing as I was riding up a precariously steep slope with prime rock fall… How do you like these curves?

La Serena to Border 004

I’m off to my last new country… #15 – Argentina! Stay tuned.

Categories: Chile | 5 Comments

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