• Idaho – Nowhere on the American Coast

    Posted by Loren on October 11, 2012

    Idaho – the state that doesn’t appear to want any tourists. How else to explain “Potato” on their licence plates, and that previously being my entire knowledge of the state? Not really a conduit for attracting an international contingent of tourists. After criss crossing the state for 8 days the only potatoes I saw where of the fried type sitting proudly next to my hamburger. What I did see plenty of was empty, sweeping, glorious roads following the curves of rivers cut deep into the Rocky Mountains. That has a much better ring to it for an advertising campaign than “Potato”.

  • Montana – No Hannah To Be Found Anywhere

    Posted by Loren on September 12, 2012

    The astute reader will recall at the end of the British Columbia update, I said that I was going to Idaho. This I did, turned left, and an hour later I was in Montana.

    I have a set of maps from Butler Maps which cover all the mountain states and do a brilliant job of showing routes and all sorts of other bits and pieces specifically for motorcyclists. Each evening I sweep an area clear on the ground, secure the corners of the map with a mixture of riding boots, bear spray and firewood, and plot the next day’s ride and create the route in my GPS. I then sit back and be led by Garmin. Thankfully the data in the Garmin is much more detailed for North America than it was for Central and South America, where if a country was lucky it would have a couple roads listed, accurate to +/- 150km.

  • Argentina – Where Water Falls

    Posted by Loren on June 2, 2011

    The flat plains were calling, and I obliged, keeping the throttle open as I road through Argentinian farmland. Miles and miles of cotton fiends were interrupted with miles and miles of wheat. I love riding through lush farmland so was right in my element as bugs splattering across my visor. I was not paying particular notice to what the effect of going fast was having on my fuel consumption, and when I pulled into Quimili for the night, I had 35km left in the tank. Luckily, Quimili had two fuel stations, but unluckily, neither had fuel. Putting this little problem aside, I noticed a motorbike part shop in town, and went to see about the possibility of getting a new front tire. They had one in stock, so while they were mounting it, I went to the ATM to get replenish the money supply. All ATM’s in town were down due to a communication issue. There is no credit card facilities anywhere in town. Quimili and I aren’t singing from the same song page so far.

  • Argentina – Goodbye Andes

    Posted by Loren on May 31, 2011

    Argentina should create a “how-to setup a border” guide and distribute it to Central America. Following the clearly marked numbers, providing a couple signatures, I was back on my bike in no time, flying along the plateau, even getting my “bike on gleaming white salar” photos making up for the disappointment of the wet flats in Bolivia. Descending into Purmamarca on Ruta 52 was on the tightest, most numerous switchbacks yet. Thankfully this was Argentina and good, wide roads with an actual maintenance crew made the journey down very enjoyable. The next morning, a straight, warm freeway ride popped me out in Salta, and a quest to find a new front tire.

  • Chile – Crazy, Beautiful

    Posted by Loren on May 22, 2011

    I have read many reports of exiting Bolivia, entering Chile and being greeted with beautiful smooth road happily containing road markings and squeezed between guard rails. No such luck for me, and the gravel, sand and salt flats continued. With no other vehicles around I had the snow capped mountains and salars all to myself. Three hours later, line markings gleamed on the horizon like a mirage. I had reached the promised land!

  • Bolivia – In Search of Gasoline

    Posted by Loren on May 19, 2011

    The only thing more relaxed than myself after an Easter long weekend was my bike. The dashboard had been flashing the need for a service for the last 1000km, which I obliged with at the all accommodating BMW Santa Cruz. With all fluids changed, new brake pads fitted, and front wheel balanced, we reunited and plotted a course to the west and Ruta del y Che. It was good to get back into the mountains as the Cordillera Oriental range was stunning. No photos to prove this, however, as someone forgot to charge the batteries on his camera. I told you I relaxed.

  • Bolivia – Someone Needs to Update the Maps

    Posted by Loren on May 11, 2011

    Murray and I often said that when we were not having fun, that it made for the best blog updates. Lovely, smooth pavement with perfect berms don’t transfer to more than a few words. So it is my dear readers, that I sacrifice the next week of my life for your entertainment.

    A 20,000km service on my bike dictated that I go to Santa Cruz, the only BMW Motorrad dealer in Bolivia. Looking at the map, with consideration that I hadn’t been warm for a long while, I chose the route to Trinidad, located in the jungle in Bolivia. Your geography lesson for the day is that 1/3 of Bolivia is in the Amazon Basin. Educating and entertaining.

  • Peru – Thanks for the Memories, Hello Bolivia!

    Posted by Loren on May 3, 2011

    Fluffy pancakes stacked high, dripping with maple syrup, greased with a double espresso at Heart’s Cafe in Ollantaytambo is, I can confirm, the perfect way to start a days ride. Two fellow riders from Argentina were staying at the same hotel and heading in the same direction, so we all decided to ride together. In true Peruvian style, we experienced 4 seasons in one day, and a new one where one freezes and gets pelted with hail. Not my favourite season.

  • Peru – Cusco and Machu Picchu

    Posted by Loren on April 26, 2011

    A three week stop in Cusco, Peru was exactly what was needed to recharge my batteries, reacquaint myself with a daily coffee, eat way too much good food and put the final touches on my Spanish. As Spanish classes were finished by 1pm, I was left with plenty of time to ensure my bike didn’t grow moss, taking it out and about around the very pretty hills of Cusco. I also had my front rim fixed after the unfortunate incident with a rock in a river, replaced the very fast wearing Metzeler rear tire with a Pirelli MT60, stocked up on decent chain lube and scratched my itchy feet. After a couple days of sharing stories with Alberto and Naomi, two Canadians who road a similar route to us, and are on their way back north, I well and truly had the urge to get riding again. Pulling out of the courtyard at Hostal Marani for the last time, I locked Machu Picchu into the GPS, and set course for one of the Wonders of the World.

  • Peru – And Then There Was One

    Posted by Loren on April 25, 2011

    Earlier this week, Murray and I visited two friends that volunteer at the Diospu Suyana Hospital in Curahuasi, which is two hours north of Cusco, Peru. The hospital is a marvel of modern medicine, and runs as a charity giving the poor farmers in the region access to quality treatment. One of the perils of riding through Central and South America is the nonchalant attitude towards food hygiene. Murray has been suffering from stomach troubles so he booked in to see one of the German doctors in the hopes of being prescribed medication to remove the parasite. Unable to find the cause of the problem, the doctor advised Murray to return to Australia.

  • Peru – Where Rivers Cross

    Posted by Loren on April 25, 2011

    Getting out of bed on the wrong side is usually a good indicator of how the rest of the day is going to go. Attempting to exit a town, the road detouring through a garbage dump, and general being lost for an hour, is another healthy indication that they day isn’t going to go as planned. And so it was that we departed Ayacucho, mud and a mini tornado of garbage flying from the rear wheel as the accelerator was twisted harder and harder with each wrong direction acquired from the locals.

  • Peru – Central Contemplations

    Posted by Loren on April 12, 2011

    With our camping stove problem sorted, we exited Huaraz about the same time as we would normally be looking for a camping site. With plenty of snow covered peaks reaching over 6000m, high mountain passes, and lakes covered in white foam, there was certainly plenty to keep us entertained. Three hours after the arduous task of packing our bikes, we were unpacking them in a rock surrounded paddock, scrapped out of the side of a mountain. Tents erected, ground tested to ensure we hadn’t set up on a slope that would result in sliding off the sleeping mattress halfway through the night, a scrumptious dinner was cooked on the newly fixed camping stove, and we were lulled to sleep with the sound of an Andean river fighting it’s way to the sea.

  • Peru – Making our way South

    Posted by Loren on April 4, 2011

    I have had a standing invitation to Carjamarca for many years, as that is where my good friends Mike and Melinda live. An endless supply of fresh coffee, good food, hot swimming pool and great company is a very good reason to park the bikes and make use of the invitation. So that’s exactly what we did – kind of. A 100km ride is considered parking in our world. The ride was way up into the mountains for a personal tour by Mike of the property of his employer, a very large gold mine. We swapped our helmets and riding gear for hard hats, safety vests and steel toed boots and headed down into the pit, avoiding the 80 some odd Caterpillar 797′s (BIG) dump trucks carrying 360 tonnes of dirt up out of the pit. It is incredible the amount of earth that is moved and processed to extract a small quantity of gold. I shall forever think of that huge pit whenever I put on my gold chains and bling.

  • Ecuador/Peru – A Carnival crossing

    Posted by Loren on March 18, 2011

    Being on an extra long holiday doesn’t diminish the special feeling of a Saturday ride. Impossibly colossal green mountains grasp at the sky, the road clinging wherever it can, the valley floor disappearing far below, appearing in the pit of your stomach around the next switchback. Blue sky and thoughts of a sunburnt nose are soon replaced with pellets of freezing rain pummelling your face as the clouds are reached and their contents are scattered across the road and in through any forgotten openings. Thoughts of stopping to extract proper winter gear from the most inconvenient of the four bags are quickly eradicated as the mountain is summited, the bikes rev with approval as they scream downhill and the sun returns from it’s brief sabbatical and starts the task of again drying our clothes strapped to the back, washed the prior night in a pint sized handbasin.

  • Ecuador – Off the Edge

    Posted by Loren on March 6, 2011

    Throttle released, drop down two gears slowing a little more than normal as the right shoulder is a sheer vertical drop 1000m to the floor of the Andes, the apex of the corner lined up, begin hard acceleration, biking leaning over, gyroscopic keeping everything in place, and what is that? A 93 year old man in a three piece suit with a walking cane, slowing walking across the road. ABS chatter, gears are dropped and I come to a complete stop as the old man stops in the middle of the road and gives a death stare. They still mustn’t like German machines around these parts.

  • Ramblings from Northern Colombia

    Posted by Loren on February 27, 2011

    After an unplanned 4 day sabbatical in Cartagena, with customs and insurance papers in hand, we swung a leg over the bikes, and pointed them north to Santa Marta. Well that was the plan, anyway. We promptly turned the wrong direction and ended up in a part of town that won’t be making the Lonely Planet anytime this decade. A quick confer with a taxi turned him into our pilot vehicle, and off we rode, putting Cartagena and our customs drama behind us. The road rolled under our tires, wind blow through our helmets, and jackets sweltered us, further confirming we are bike riders, not sailors.

  • Sailing the San Blas – Panama to Colombia

    Posted by Loren on February 23, 2011

    The road from Alaska to Argentina is continuous, except for a 160km swath of undeveloped, impassable and dangerous land between Panama and Colombia. There are only two ways to pass it; by boat or by plane. We had organized passage via boat on the 38.5m Stalhratte, or Steel Rat as it is affectionately known. The trip from Puerto Lindo on the Caribbean coast to Cartagena, Colombia via the San Blas Islands would take four days. A break on a sailboat through the Caribbean sounds like a good idea.

  • El Salvador

    Posted by Loren on February 23, 2011

    Comment of the Day – “Everyone just wishes Honduras would go away”. Tom – Green Turtle

    A suggestion to anyone that is thinking of starting their own country, spend money on your border crossings and bring them to a standard above a garbage dump. It is very hard to get excited about entering a country when the border looks like a toxic waste dump that went bankrupt. About the only thing to be thankful for at the Guatemala/El Salvador border crossing, was that we weren’t truck drivers. Hats off to these guys, as after spending up to a day attempting to cross the border, they still laugh and joke. Maybe I would too if I was being paid, but I’m not, and I want to get to the beach!

  • Honduras – from Loren’s Eyes

    Posted by Loren on February 8, 2011

    Time Elapsed Time Description Cost
    El Salvador – Honduras 09:47 00:00:00 Arrive El Salvador Border Entrance
    -copy permits 1
    -cancel permit, stamp permit
    -copy stamped canceled permit
    09:59 00:12:00 drive to El Sal border
    10:05 00:18:00 Immigration Exit El Sal
    10:16 00:29:00 drive to Honduras border, checkpoint
    10:17 00:30:00 continue, further checkpoint
    10:22 00:35:00 remove plates to copy 2
    -copy 4 x reg
    -copy 4 x plate
    -copy 4 x licence
  • In the Clouds – Guatemala

    Posted by Loren on February 4, 2011

    Our first thought when entering Guatemala was “no topes – yes!” Maybe we have finally left the speed bumps behind. In our first town coming over the border, Murray was in lead, and we were on the radios discussing which direction to take. Just then, a bus coming from the opposite direction, careened into our lane as he passed a black smoke spewing ute carrying an entire class of school kids. To avoid a head on, Muz veered off the side of the road kicking up dust, empty beer cans and 10 year old plastic bags. Safely back on the road, he then came back on the radio, and continued to discuss the directions. You know you have been in Latin America awhile when the only acknowledgement of a near head-on collision with a bus is 3 seconds of radio silence while you avoid barrelling into the myriad of coconut sellers on the side of the road.

  • Adios Mexico

    Posted by Loren on February 4, 2011

    Our two week sojourn in Mexico has drawn to a close, and we are a little sad to be leaving. We have finally thawed out, been impressed with the friendliness of the Mexicans, eaten way too many tacos, had some truly awesome rides and seen so much in two weeks. As a final goodbye, Mexico turned up 120km of crosswinds so strong our bikes were being gusted up to 2 metres off course. This is not a relaxing way to ride, and recommended finding a different route when you see wind turbines.

  • Somewhere on the Mexican Coast

    Posted by Loren on January 27, 2011

  • El Espinazo del Diablo

    Posted by Loren on January 22, 2011

    “The best motorbike road in the world”, the man said, “160 miles with 3800 perfectly banked corners”. Mexican legend says when the Archangel Michael threw Satan out of Heaven, his broken spine formed a jagged ridge that winds across Sierra Madre: El Espinazo del Diablo or The Devil’s Backbone. This is the road to which our new friend referred, but first, we have a bit of a trek to get there.

  • Look Ahead – Creel, Mexico

    Posted by Loren on January 18, 2011

    A good nights sleep, and a breakfast of banana’s, OJ and a muffin can do wonders for ones outlook on life. The stovetop espresso maker was broken on the previous days adventure, so couldn’t make the morning quite perfect. The first hour of riding was tentative for Loren, due to confidence at low ebb. A nice warm morning in the dirt soon sorted that out, and the backend was soon hanging out around the corners.

  • The Sun – Arizona

    Posted by Loren on January 13, 2011

    Quote of the day – from traffic sign – “State Prison, next left.”. Sign beneath “Do not pick up hitch-hikers”

    We have had a very busy few days, racking up the kilometres and getting the last bits of gear together before we head into Mexico, and the next phase of our trip. Two way radio issues were sorted out, allowing us to critique each other’s wave at fellow bikers. There is a great degree of skill and style involved, none the least of which is to ensure the bike stays in a straight trajectory whilst slowly “dragging the arm”, as we have taken to calling it.

  • California Dreaming

    Posted by Loren on January 8, 2011

    Quote of the Day – Women in Fuel Station – “Welcome to Whacky Weed Country”

    During planning, there might have been the perception amongst two riders that by the time they hit mid Oregon, things would starting warming up. Should you been of the same mind, let me advise you – you are wrong! If you are of a greater intellect than ourselves, you would know that mountain passes in Oregon and California are cold in the winter, and I mean sub zero degrees cold. Thankfully we were of mind to pack cold weather gear keeping the blood flowing to all body parts, and “Loren and Murray’s Guide to First Aid, Featuring the Leatherman” safely tucked away in the tank bag.

  • Pickup and Assembly

    Posted by Loren on January 3, 2011

    What a time to travel from Australia, with the Australian dollar is at an all time high. We had the majority of our equipment and parts delivered to a friends house in Seattle. It was a boys best Christmas, more motorcycle toys than one could think possible.

    Between December 23 and January 3rd, we need to pick up the bikes, arrange the insurance, assemble the crash bars, skid pads, panniers, windscreens and Barkbusters.  A voltmeter, wire, snapties and a New Years long weekend, and we were ready to tackle the electronics.  A brand new bike with the panels off and wires hanging everywhere is a test of ones commitment to the cause.