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Published: January 10th 2011
Patrick & Damon
Trying their best to pretend they weren't concerned about me, but I know better. Colombia.
Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year! I'm a touch late I know but here in South America they don't actually celebrate Christmas until mid February or New Year until late March (fact) so I can be forgiven.
Prior to letting you know what I've been up to I want to wish you & yours all the best for 2011 & I truly hope to say hello & share a drink with you at somepoint during the year. You'll have to buy them obviously, as after this little adventure I'll be broke, but it's the thought that counts.
I've actually covered some ground since I last said hello, over 5000 miles in a month in fact, which on South American roads, goat tracks & mountain trails is easier said then done & more then a little scary at times. Well done me! Admittedly, not all of those miles were in a due south direction (or even in the right direction) but still, atleast I'm trying.
No doubt you'll be pleased to hear the majority of my time has been spent riding through yet more torrential rain & unusually cold temperatures for this part of the world. Who knew
Where can I get one?
A motorcycling Colombian poodle wearing a pink bandana.
it could ever get cold on the equator? However, one day out of every eleven or so the sun shines & all is well with the world.
The picture chosen to be the first in this blog was taken in Medellin, Colombia & I chose it because 30 minutes prior to it being taken I'd hobbled back to the hostel with a sore foot. Despite my share of a bottle of whisky & 'all you can drink' beer (I still don't like beer) as anesthetic, my foot was pounding. Showing true strength of character Patrick & Damon tried to put their concerns for me & my foot to oneside & continue to enjoy themselves, hence the photo.
However, I know them better than that & if you look closely you'll note they're not really enjoying themselves at all. They're clearly far too worried about me & my foot to have a good time. I'm just sorry I ruined their night.
As I'm a month behind updating the blog I thought rather than tell you what's been happening day to day I'd instead try to describe a typical day to give you an idea of how I spend
my time. You can then multiply it by 30 odd & we're up to date. Magic!
So the night before we set off Patrick, Damon, Andy & I agree to get on the road 'first thing' next morning. 'First thing' implies dawn to make the most of daylight hours as riding in the dark is not a clever idea, but in fact means whenever we all happen to have fallen out of bed. A recent record for 'first thing' was 11:38am, dam near the crack of noon.
Damon's alarm goes off at 7 & again at 7:30am. Patrick & I know this but Damon doesn't as he never hears it. I get up, choose not to have a cold shower then dig around for yesterdays t shirt & shorts that I'll wear under my biking suit again today. Yesterdays t shirt & shorts have been exactly that for a number of days but if they pass the sniff test they are good to go. Tolerances on the sniff test have been greatly increased in the past months so what might be acceptable to wear on a motorbike in South America would set off radiation alarms at home. If
say the t shirt does fail, usually around week three, it's time to alternate to the grey one & start the process over.
Then it's time to don the socks which if you want to retain your sense of smell (& levels of consciousness) should under no circumstances be subjected to the sniff test.
My biker suit comes next that my sister & brother in law bought for me for my 30th birthday & which has seen a washing machine only four times since. Invariably the pockets are full of crumbs & coins from a country I passed through months ago.
Next come my enormous biker boots which fortunately are waterproof but unfortunately not in the conventional sense as they let water in but amazingly not back out. Thus waterproof from the inside out & not the outside in. Brilliant. It does however make for a nice wave effect around my feet as I brake & accelerate.
Then gloves, then helmet & finally I'm ready to get to the bike. All other gear is packed away into the three small panniers & I either have to stuff it all in wondering how did it all fit
before, or it all fits nicely I wonder what I've left behind?
Then there's the bike maintenance, i.e are both tyres black & round (check), full of air (check) & does it start?
With all the above complete it's time to get on the road (which without a map is easier said then done) after agreeing with the others the need to 'really put the miles in'. Usually less then 30 miles later we can be found sitting in a cake shop or similar moaning about the rain & discussing which are the best cakes.
You can repeat the above for nigh on 6 months with variables for cakes, weather & solo riding but you get the idea.
So since I last said hello I've...
- Managed to get over my case of obsessive compulsive disorder that saw me getting soaked whilst my rainsuit stayed dry safely tucked away in my panniers. Finally after days of continuous rain & one downpour too many I relented & accepted defeat. I stopped, climbed into my rainsuit for the first time in months & yes, within 5 minutes of putting it on I was riding along dry roads
in blissful sunshine. I've said it before, that suit is magic! Obviously I then stubbornly refused to take it off & so lost about half a stone in weight during the next five hours but I knew if I did, regardless of current weather conditions, it would pour down.
-Eaten a guinea pig which was not very tasty & are best left as pets in my opinion. Atleast that way if one day you are really stuck for a snack, you get the best of both worlds.
-Been to church. Well visited one that's built onto the side of a cliff in Colombia but it still counts.
-Learnt that Patrick, like a fat Jack Russell called Judy I had when I was growing up is as scared of fireworks.
-Rode up, across, over & around the Andes mountain range several times all the way to 15500 ft which was freezing & considering I've sky dived from 14500 is a good effort.
-Dodged all number of donkeys, dogs, buses, trucks & even one corpse on the road.
-Witnessed Damon ride over 50 miles to a hospital with a suspected broken hand whilst the other had
a deep, deep slice that required stitches, through a rain storm, on the worst road of the trip so far, in the dark & on a damaged bike. All without complaint.
- Left a beachside backpackers party resort on Christmas Eve after only a few hours through choice to ride through a desert, despite a fully stocked bar.
- Got asked to leave a hotel, not through choice. Patrick's fault.
-Crossed borders without anyone attempting to hinder, hassle or intimidate.
-Walked down into a volcanic crater in full biker gear only realising it was a bad idea when trying to get back out.
-Rode the most rural goat track roads in Ecuador & realised what the expression ' you can trudge wearily along a well worn path or get gloriously lost on the trails that lay beside' actually means.
- Now knows a map on the back of a business card covering an area the size of Wales is not an ideal navigational tool.
- Found the best biking road on the planet running for 350 odd miles between Nazca, Peru up across the Andes to Cusco. I was whooping & hollaring for
two days solid as I went from hairpin bend to apex to straight for hour after hour. It did however take months off the lifespan of the brakes & tyres but it was worth it. True biking nirvana.
- Learnt Ecuadorians love to over take on blind bends. If you see a truck slowly appearing round a bend as you approach at 60mph, guaranteed they'll be a bus in your lane trying to overtake the truck & possibly a car or two trying to overtake the bus.
- Crossed the equator without realising & had to go back the following day.
- Discovered the Ecuadorian equator park & monument aren't actually built on the equator. Nicely done Equador! The actual equator runs 2 kilometres away through a storm drain.
- Despite strange looks from locals, sat in a storm drain with a drink & an ice cream to mark the crossing of the equator.
- Rode over landslides which had closed the road south. (Those that have seen the videos on facebook will know what that sentence entails).
- Been cheered & applauded by hundreds of people for literally riding around a roundabout. (They
Ecuador towards Peru.
The Pan American Highway
may of assumed I was competing in the Dakar Rally as I was on the route at the time).
- Rode out into the Chilean desert with Patrick & Andy who are normally of sound mind when all three of us knew if we did, we wouldn't have enough petrol to make it back.
- Rode up to Machu Picchu through waterfalls & mud with enormous drop offs should I put a wheel wrong.
- Walked along a railway track at 4am asking does that sound like a train to you?
- Silently coasted the bike for miles down a mountain in the dark (because of the riding off into the desert bullet point above) with the stars shining bright for company. A blissful way to spend a Saturday night.
- Shared a drink & a chat with a motorcycle competitor in the Dakar Rally, despite him still being on the clock & therefore still competing in the rally. I don't think he's going to win, especially if he keeps stopping for drinks & snacks, but if they're giving awards for being nice, he's definitely on the podium. Jose Garcia from Spain, number 158.
- Learned not to let fat cab drivers sit on the bike as the side stand is now buckled meaning I ALWAYS have to find something to lean it against when I want to get off. Might not sound like a big deal but you try parking it against something in a desert.
And that ladies & gentlemen is that. You're now up to date with me here (HELLO!) somewhere up in the Chilean Andes, near the Bolivian border after just towing Damon's bike 20 miles through the mountains to get here. Either his regulator, his alternator or battery & maybe even all three aren't doing what they're supposed to & not surprisingly the nearest workshop is a couple of days away.
All part of the joys of motorcycling the Americas.
Best wishes for 2011.
Tot: 2.699s; Tpl: 0.059s; cc: 12; qc: 55; dbt: 0.046s; 2; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb