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Posts Tagged ‘ adventure motorcycling ’

July 3rd, 2012 - Brazil

As usual I apologize for the lack of updates…  As you may have heard we are back in Canada for a visit and have left our motorcycles in Montevideo, Uruguay. Originally we had planned to stay in South America to work and live in a major city while waiting for the summer season so we can travel to the southern tip of Argentina, however many things were compelling us to return to Canada. I had to return for my good friends wedding and the cost of flying home for such a short period of time wasn’t a very logical decision. We then read that our Russian Visa’s would be easier to obtain on Canadian soil and the more we thought about it, spending 6 months in Canada just seemed to make sense. We could enjoy the beautiful Canadian summer with our friends and family, attend our friends wedding and earn some extra money. So here we are back at work and loving it. Crazy I know… but we have purpose and direction so come Dec. 1st we will be on a plane heading back to South America to pick up where we left off.

Simply put, Brazil is HUGE. After riding so many relatively small countries over a long period of time, entering Brazil was quite a shock and the fact that the spoken language is Portuguese also didn’t help. Despite our new found language barrier the people were as friendly and hospitable as ever. The first town we stopped in, Boa Vista, we were taken in, fed and entertained for days by an amazing couple. Even though our communication was lacking we still managed to enjoy each other’s company as they took us hiking and out for dinners. It was a wonderful introduction to Brazil.

South of Boa Vista my bike ran into some trouble at a construction site. I had shut it off while waiting and when I went to restart it she wouldn’t go. It was turning over but no ignition. I spent the evening stripping it down and diagnosing the problem. It was not getting spark and that was due to the Starter Interlock System, a system of safety switches that prevent the bike from starting if it’s in gear unless the clutch is pulled in and the side stand is up. I tested all the switches in the system and they all tested in good working order so it had to be in the wiring or the relays in the system. I have said it before that electrical is not my forte so before hacking apart wiring harnesses and hunting down the problem I decided it was better for a professional electrical mechanic to do it. The city of Manaus was only 450km’s away and it had a BMW dealership so that’s where we headed.

BMW got to work right away on my bike but I admit that I was a little sceptical in the beginning. I had told them what the problem was and that all they had to do was trace the fault or short but the mechanic kept coming in and telling me my battery’s water was low and my front brake pads were very thin. I know he was just doing his job and inspecting all possible problems but all I could see was dollar signs. Brazil is an expensive country and the shop rate is nearly equal to that in North America so the more time they spent on my bike the bigger the bill. We sat in their lounge on nice couches drinking fancy espresso while my frustrations grew… How much was this going to cost me?!? Before I let it get the best of me the service representative called us into the back. We walked through the shop to find my bike on the operating table wide open with multiple people probing and prodding in every nook and cranny. All of a sudden one of the guys hit the ignition and my bike fired up, ahh what a sweet sound. Any concerns and frustration I had felt were now gone, I was so happy to hear my bike running again. The mechanics explained they had found the problem in the Starter Interlock System but it would not be finished today. Relieved by the day’s outcome Erin and I headed back to our Hotel for the night.

They next morning we returned to BMW and enjoyed some more fancy coffee. We shared a couple laughs with one of the salesmen who had spent part of his evening on our website watching some of our videos. It was a comfortable atmosphere filled with great staff so we continued our wait on the couch losing track of time. Around mid day I spotted a bike ride by the window.

“That was my bike! He’s taking it for a test ride!” I said with excitement in my voice.

When the technician returned they sat us down and explained what they had done and drew me a diagram for future reference. Then there was a small awkward pause. It’s time for the bill… In a mix of English, Spanish and Portuguese the head of service manages to spit out:

“Now it is not time to pay.”

Erin and I look confused at each other. That must have come out wrong. We’re sure he meant to say “It’s time to pay” but then in perfect English he says:

“It’s a gift for your travels.”

We were ecstatic and jumped up smiling, laughing and shaking hands. All this time we had been dreading charges worth a day and a half’s work at a dealership and now we had no bill. It’s times like these that really blow your mind at how generous people can be. It also felt great to be riding a BMW and to be backed by such a great company and group of people. We thanked our new friend’s over and over then rode away absolutely overwhelmed by their kindness.

Stay tuned for more on our travels through the Amazon and an amazing new video.

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April 12th, 2012 - Central America Video

Finally!! The Central America video is finished!

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April 7th, 2012 - The Damned Bolivia – Part One

boliviaA whole century later, I must have had the same look as the Sundance Kid as he stepped off the train in Bolivia. I stood in front of a mound of rubble, no sign, no road, no nothing, but a narrow mule track straight out of the 1900 which marked the border of Bolivia.

To tell the story of the damned Bolivia, I must first tell the hellish story of getting to Bolivia. Imagine yourself sitting under Read the rest of the story…

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September 23rd, 2011 - The bees, trees, and a dead cow

When I find a road that is not on the map, my first reaction is to always roll on the throttle and ride straight for it. This time I found a road that was not charted, was reasonably short, and from the GPS Topo maps, it seemed to be passing through some beautiful landscape. Little did I know that this 50km section would prove to be one of the most isolated, hottest, and sandiest roads in entire Argentina. Read the rest of the story…

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September 22nd, 2011 - Canada Video

Hey everyone, Check out the video of our travels throughout Canada. Erin and I really enjoyed traveling Canada and it feels great to see our home country before traveling the world. If anyone has any questions about where any footage was filmed feel free to email us, we would love to talk to you. I apologize for any imperfections in the video, I had problems with the compatibility between my footage and the editing program. I have solved the problem for future videos. Enjoy

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September 18th, 2011 - Boston By Blacks

Boston has been one of my favourite cities so far on our journey. It is also one of the few cities where we put the effort into exploring it. Having all our possessions strapped to the back of the bike requires that the bikes be in view at all times if not securely parked somewhere, so parking and walking around a city isn’t really on option. We needed a base camp and tried to find a campground in the Boston area but after half a day on the internet we found there is no such thing. Campgrounds ranged from 25 to 50 miles outside Boston with ridiculous rates from $26 to $42 a night. We settled at 30 miles away for $30 a night which is over half of our daily budget but I was determined to explore Boston.

We picked out a great spot in the back woods of Cape Ann Campground and felt it was a safe and comfortable spot to leave our gear. Originally we had planned to ride one bike empty into the city but after talking to the owners of the campground we had another option. There is a passenger train only 5 minutes away from the campground and would apparently equal the cost of parking in downtown Boston. It turned out after paying for parking at the train station we were out an extra $5 but we did enjoy our train experience. All the trains in the greater Boston area converge on North Station and it being such a big station we figured it would have lockers available for rent that we could store our helmets in.  This was not the case and after a little bit of a goose chase in the area we managed to find a place that would hold our helmets… for $20. No way we were paying that…  So for the first 2 hours of our time in Boston I was a big grumpy baby lugging my helmet around. I eventually got over it knowing that my $20 could be spent on something amazing like a tank of gas in the Andes Mountains or a cold beer in the Sahara.

Boston is a great city for people on a tight budget like Erin and I because there is so much to see for free. Many cities have “things to do” but from a travellers point of view that means “things to spend money on”, so we often look for “things to see”. Boston offers The Freedom Trail, well marked with bricks or red paint, that leads you around the historic downtown showcasing the history of the American Revolution. The first stop for us was the USS Constitution, the oldest floating commissioned naval vessel  which was originally launched in 1797. The ship is stored in a naval yard and after passing through security we were treated to a free guided tour. I enjoyed the whole experience, even with my helmet, and would recommend it to anyone looking for free things to see.

As we continued on the trail it led us down beautiful old cobble stone streets surrounded by ancient building and monuments of distinguished revolutionary figures. Although the city is one of the oldest in the United States, I started to notice the overwhelming amount of youth in its current culture. Young business men fresh out of collage walked the street in abundance, along with students and artists from every ethnic background. It was a cultural mosaic thriving on a very active and modern lifestyle. Bicycle lanes and recycling programs were apparent throughout the city and people seemed to enjoy their green lifestyle as the streets were packed with people walking, running and cycling. I don’t consider myself to be a city person but I could picture myself living in Boston even if only for a short time. Although it had its hustle and bustle it seemed to have a very relaxed feel and I look forward to one day experiencing it again.

Erin and I are now enjoying our first Couch Surfing experience in Middle Haddam, Connecticut. Our hosts Richard and Linda were very quick to respond to our very short notice Couch Surfing request and kindly opened their home to us. For those of you who don’t know what Couch Surfing is, take a moment and look it up, it’s a fantastic community of people. Not only is it a free place to stay but you get to meet great people and get true local insight to the area you are traveling through. I’ve enjoyed the relaxing few days we have spent here and find joy in such simple things like taking their dog for a walk around the neighbourhood. Come tomorrow we will trade these simple pleasures for the city of all cities… New York City!

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September 14th, 2011 - Lady Luck Smiles Three Times By GP

I spent a couple of days in Reno with my new friend Doug and his wife Sara, where I visited Lake Tahoe, enjoyed great conversation and received great tips and advice from Doug who is also planning a trip to Ushuaia Argentina. Doug and Sara are great people; I continue to be impressed with the kindness of people I met during my adventure. (More on this later, today was an eventful day.)

This morning I set out early with the intention of reaching Death Valley. Heading along highway 395 north, the road was perfect, traffic was light and the scenery was amazing. I could see desert mountains, a few lakes and clear skies. I have not been in such desert conditions before on my motorcycle and was in my own world enjoying the view. I took and nice corner on the 395 and suddenly the view changed, I saw only red and blue flashing lights on top of a Nevada State Trooper patrol car. I pulled over and a rather large but smiling Trooper approached. I rarely get out of speeding tickets and was not expecting to this time, here is how it unfolded.

Lady Luck Smiles – the First Time

Trooper: Sir you took that corner back there a little fast. I had you at 85mph and this is a 70mph highway.

Me: 85mph really?

Trooper: Where are you going in such a hurry? Is this your map? (looking at the map on my tank bag).

Me: I am going to Argentina.

Trooper: Really? You’re going to ride this motorcycle to Argentina?

Me: Yes Sir

Trooper: All the way to Argentina?

Me: Yes Sir, All the way to Argentina.

Trooper: I would like to see you get there in one piece, slow down a little.

Me. Yes sir, good idea.

Trooper: Have a nice day.

I couldn’t believe it; I just got off a speeding ticket! I carefully merged back on the highway and watched my speed while continuing to enjoy the scenery. Soon I noticed the signs for highway 50 (the loneliest road in America) and got off the 395 to head east on 50. I passed through a small town and was soon on a long stretch of highway. With no cars in sight, alone on the highway I started to accelerate, enjoying the desert view, the rush of motorcycling and excited to reach Death Valley. Again my view was interrupted by red and blue flashing lights on top of a Nevada State Trooper patrol car. I pulled over, took my helmet off and waited for the Trooper to approach.

Lady Luck Smiles – The Second Time

Trooper: Sir, can I please ask you to stand on the other side of the motorcycle.

Me: Ok

Trooper: Do you have any weapons?

Me: No sir.

Trooper: Do you know why I stopped you? Divers license please.

Me: I’m sure you stopped me for going a bit too fast.

Trooper: Do you know what the speed limit is on this highway.

Me: Well it’s a major highway so it should be 70.

Trooper: At this part it is 50, just ahead it is 70. (pointing down the road)

Me: Oh I see

Trooper: How long have you been travelling?

Me: Almost 2 months.

Trooper: Wow! Really? And what is the best thing that happened to you so far?

I told him about my stop back in Oregon for coffee and pie where the charming woman let me ride her horse. I mentioned about how nice everyone has been to me and how much I am enjoying the people here in the western US.

Trooper: Where are you going from here? (handing me back my license).

Me: Argentina.

Trooper: Really? You’re going to ride this motorcycle to Argentina?

Me: Yes Sir

Trooper: All the way to Argentina?

Me: Yes Sir, All the way to Argentina.

Trooper: Be careful. And have a nice time in the US.

I can’t believe it! I just got off my second speeding ticket and only 1 hour apart. I decided not to push my luck and made a real effort to watch my speed. In a state where gambling and prostitution is legal, the least I could do is slow down.

I continued along highway 50, enjoying the desert with its hard flat fields, rock covered mountains and long straight highway. Suddenly off to my right appeared a very large sand dune. It was out of place, everything else was brown and there to my right was a large white sand dune. I had to check it out. I entered what turned out to be “Sand Mountain Recreation Area”. The place was almost isolated, except for a few people on ATV’s enjoying the sand dune.

Lady Luck Smiles – The Third Time

I was watching the ATV’s on the sand dune when suddenly the front of my bike began to fish tail. I had not been watching the road and was now in deep loose sand. I attempted to control the bike with steering, no luck, it continued to jerk around. I released the throttle and the bike began to tip, so I gave it more throttle and the bike went upright. Wow that was close, or so I thought! Suddenly the back of the bike was fish tailing, followed by the front again. I started to go down, could not control the bike and knew I was going over. I hit the engine kill switch. It then felt like I giant had reached out of the sand and grabbed the bike, pulling it upright. I on the other hand, kept going flying through the air. All I could see at first was white sand, then clear blue sky and my black motorcycle boot. The boot was high in the air. Hitting the sand shoulder first, I flipped completely over and ended up in soft white sand on my stomach. I felt no pain, checked myself over and found no injuries, just sand down my pants. I looked over at the bike and it was almost perfectly upright, buried up to the foot pegs in sand. The sand was acting like a center stand.
A quick inspection of the bike revealed no visible damage. I moved some sand away, got back on the bike and was able to slowly drive it out of this mini dune, to more solid ground. I did a closer inspection of the bike and found nothing wrong. So I went in search of lunch, which I found at a small ghost town on highway 50.

The bike preformed as it always has been as I continued towards Death Valley. Construction delays prevented me from making great time and I am now in the town of Beatty Nevada, waiting until tomorrow before entering Death Valley. I hope Lady Luck continues to follow me.

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