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August 7th, 2010 - Dash to Ushuaia Argentina

The torrential tropical rain of Honduras abated for the first time in five hours and the pitch black darkness descended for yet another night on the road in Central America. The SRZero electric car was in front and the support van following closely as they decided to pass the semi-truck ahead of us on the continuous yellow line. Passing cars on curves has become our favorite and routine pastime, so we don’t even second guess our actions, but this time turned out to be the inevitable.

The SRZero passed with no problem and the van followed, so I swerved to the left, picking up speed when suddenly, there it was, a giant pot-hole (more like a crevasse, to be honest) the whole width of the lane and 8 to 10 inches deep. There was nowhere to go and as I hit the brakes frantically, we hit the hole with full force. The horrible noise of bottoming out was one thing and the realization that the bike wasn’t able to accelerate anymore because of jammed front brake was another. The low headlight beam went out, the brake jammed and a flat tire capped off the festivity.

Two weeks ago, Cynthia and I made a connection with Claudio Von Planta, the famous documentary filmmaker and producer, popularly known for his work with Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman on BBC television series Long Way Round and Long Way Down, the motorcycle trips around the world on BMW GS’s.

Cynthia had been busy with doing social networking online to get the word out about Transcontinental Humanitarian Expedition and our ride around the world to raise awareness for world hunger. In the process of linking and spreading the word, she ran across the twitter profile for Claudio and within two days of following Claudio on twitter, she saw that he put out a tweet about needing to ride pillion to Mexico. It seemed like a great idea to join forces since we were going the same direction as we could help him out and in return we would benefit from his expertise with international travel and the margin of safety traveling with a group offers. We contacted him via email that night and by late afternoon of the next day, Friday, August 6, had settled that we would join him and a team of young Imperial College engineering students, Racing Green Endurance (or the RGE team for short), traveling from Mexico to Argentina with a Battery Electric Supercar, the SRZero, and filming a documentary series about the record-breaking journey of the electric supercar.

The plan was for me to ride the motorcycle while Claudio films the electric car on the back of the bike. Cynthia would ride in the support van and switch to the bike when Claudio isn’t filming and assist with Spanish translation and photography. The team had actually already started their journey on July 4, 2010 in Alaska as their mission is to take the car on the Pan-American Hwy from Alaska to Argentina.

It was such a short notice that I couldn’t even say goodbye to my closest friends in person and in 7 hours, we packed everything for the trip, did some last minute maintenance to the bike and by 6 a.m. Saturday morning, we left for a jaunt of 1800 miles from Helena, MT to the border town of Eagle Pass, TX to join the team in an exhausting two 900 miles days. Within the first five minutes of leaving, the clutch cable broke. As I had previously routed a second cable next to the original just for occasions like this, all I had to do was to connect it and continue on. Thankfully it broke close to my friends and expedition sponsors, Debbie and Tom Matte of Batteries Plus, and they provided the tools to fix the job along with fresh batteries for my camera.

We started our trip down to Mexico on Saturday, August 7 on pretty much no sleep which made the first day a challenge to cover ground as I was seriously sleepy.  I kept having to stop to wake myself up and finally opted to try to get some sleep somewhere in Wyoming around 8 pm instead of pushing on. We were apparently the only motorcycle on the road NOT heading to Sturgis. We must have seen thousands of bikers on the road decked out in their leathers. Every gas station looked like a Harley Davidson showroom.

We were really hoping to make it to Eagle Pass, Texas for the border crossing with the team on Monday morning, but the miles were stretching endlessly before us.  I was relieved when Claudio updated us that they delayed their crossing until Tuesday morning due to some breakdowns. He also assured us that we could meet up with them somewhere on the road in Mexico if we couldn’t make the border crossing, but I still wanted to try my best to cross the border with them.

Sunday morning we headed out on the road, but stopped to get more malaria medication and supplies. I desperately tried to order a set of tires to have an extra set in case of a flat. The tires on the bike already had a lot of miles and would need changing soon anyway. However, despite calling a million places, I had no luck getting anything en route or shipped in time to the border. We stopped before Denver to pick up a new camera for our trip, and then stopped again at Tom and J’Amy Kent’s house in Littleton, CO. Tom was my hero again and supplied me with a spare clutch cable and fed us sandwiches and drinks. We debated spending the night there, but I was still quite awake and knew that we needed to cover more ground. So we bid farewell to our pit-stop lifesavers again and headed towards Oklahoma.

With lightening dancing directly overhead we drove straight into a pouring rainstorm. I had only six hours of sleep in two days and there was nothing I could do to keep myself awake anymore. My eyelids closed every 5 seconds, and I honestly have no recollection of the scenery or the road for that section. My rescue came in the form of caffeine pills called NoDoz. These little pills are godsends as they made me jitter like a monkey on coke and bought us two more hours of riding before crashing like logs in Lamar, on the border of Oklahoma. Coming up next: Lamar, CO to Eagle Pass, TX in a heroic (Stupid if you ask me) push. Stay Tuned…

Here’s the trailer for RGE as a teaser. Visit www.electric-adventures.com for more videos and to pre order the DVD.

There are 3 Comments

  1. Spanky
    August 28, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    900 miles in a day?? My personal best has only been 750.. Your a better man then me..

  2. Richard Chang
    August 30, 2010 at 6:42 am

    I am soo upset! I live less than 100 mts from where the electric car was showed in Guatemala. Behind the brewery, last Monday! I would’ve loved a chance to meet you and Cynthia! I had been waiting for news, to help you set up local talks about your cause. We would’ve loved to have met you at the border and traveled with you for a while. Good luck and hope you get the bike up and running. Honduras and Nicaragua are having a very rough time with the torrencial rains during the last few weeks. Godspeed!

  3. Chris Sorbi
    September 6, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Hi Rich,
    We are sorry to have missed you and so close as well. I had it in my mind a long ago that we could meet up when I got to Guatemala. We ended up getting in and out of Guatemala in record speed and I was really sick while there, so I really didn’t have my wits about me. The team that we are with is traveling at breakneck speed and it’s hard to keep up with everything. So far, with the schedule it’s been really crummy timing to be able to link with anyone. We are enjoying the trip but also feel that perhaps we will do well to make our way BACK up once we get to the bottom with RGE so that we can take more time connecting with locals, friends, and our mission.

    We would love to meet you and it would be awesome to ride some together.
    Thanks for the comment on the blog.
    Really appreciate it!

    Cheers,
    Chris

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