TerraNovaExpedition pt 2 aka broken bike tour
In July 2009 my friend Tim Dzaman and I left Calgary, Alberta, Canada on a RTW bike trip. What was really cool about this trip (to me anyway) was that it was spur of the moment (about 2 months prep) and at the time we decided to go I didn't have a bike and in fact hadn't even ridden in almost 10yrs. Also, the recession hadn't been very good to my industry (construction) and I was essentially unemployed and had basically no money. However, as the saying goes, "Where's a will, there's a way". I picked up a job as a bouncer evenings and weekends (and almost lost the sight in my right eye in the process), sold basically everything I owned, got a renter in my house and financed a 2009 F800GS. It was the best decision I ever made. The following 4 months were amazing and has totally changed my life. The trip lasted 118 days, wound through 19 countries over a distance of 30,000km.
Tim and I took over 10,000 photos and recorded over 300hrs of HD video for production of an upcoming DVD of the trip.
Here's a short, not yet complete trailer:
Terranova Expedition Trailer
During the trip we started talking about where we wanted to go for the next adventure. The obvious choices were Mexico, Central and South America or Africa. After much debate we decided to head south.
So on Oct 17th, we start all over again. Leaving Calgary we will head west to Vancouver then down the west coast to San Diego, across the border to Tijuana, down Baja then across to Mazatlan via ferry from La Paz. From there we're just going to wing it. We are undecided about flying or floating around the Darien Gap. Once in South America, we'll head down the west coast to TDF before heading up the east side through Brazil. We may ride all the way home or we may ship the bikes from Bogota and fly home. Tim's pretty flexible on his return date but I need to be back for early April.
I'll do my best to keep this RR up to date and interesting. We'll have a SPOT tracker with us and our progress can be followed at www.terranovaexpedition.ca
We also have a facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/pages/TerraN...7666433?ref=ts
The original Terranovaexpediton RR (uncompleted, my fault) is located here: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=471982
My bike build thread: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=598108
Terranova Expedition 2010 is now officially underway. We left about 1:30 pm, gassed up and rode to Golden, BC. It was cold (about 4-6C degrees), but sunny and clear skies. A great day.
We want to thank everyone who came out to the Send off party (about 50 ppl), and again today to the Departure at Crescent Heights. It is humbling to have such wonderful friends.
We rode from Calgary to Golden on the first day. Nice and cool, it was a great day for riding. Slightly slower through some of the construction, but no issues.
Day two dawned cold (-5) and frosty. We waited around Golden until about 10:00 am, I went and bought a buff because my neck was kind of cold on the first day. We then headed out to cross the Rogers Pass.
-1 isn't cold. -1 at 110 km/h is. We had every stitch of clothing on, which was fine, but constricting. I fully filled my jacket. It was hard to move.
Other than some slightly cold hands and feet, it was fine. We did about 650 km today and ended up in Chilliwack B.C. We'll move on to Vancouver tomorrow morning, where we need to make a couple stops to pick up some supplies we've ordered, then will head south to the US border.
Short riding day today. We stopped in Langley BC and toured the Alco aluminum plant, the company that manufactures the products I sell in my "regular" life.
We stopped by Pacific BMW to get some visors for our helmets. They didn't have any in stock. So the accessories manager called the owner at home and asked if they could take apart the two helmets they had in stock. The owner said sure, whatever to help out. We got there, and they not only gave us the visors, they gave us a couple other pieces off the helmets that we needed too. Plus stickers and T-shirts. We NEVER would have expected such gracious help, but it was offered without us even asking.
This is the second time that we have been to Pacific BMW, and both times they have gone so far beyond our expectations.
We crossed the border into the USA. It took about 1 minute. They scanned our passports, asked me where we were going, and waved us through. Russia could learn a thing or 10 from them on border efficiency. :)
We rode till about 6:00 pm, and are camped about 70km north of Seattle. The ladies who run the campground kept the pool and hot tub open late for us. Nice of them. :)
We left our camp north of Seattle, and rode into the city. Our only stop of the day was to visit the US headquarters of Touratech. What blew us away was the absolute awesome way we were treated by Matt from Touratech. He gave us full run of their shop to work on the bikes, and ran back and forth getting parts for us. When it was time to settle up, he gave us an really fair deal, and threw in some free t-shirts and stickers. In other words, he went above and beyond what he needed to and provided incredible customer service.
We have quite a bit of Touratech gear with us on this trip, and dealing with Matt reinforced that not only do they make great products, but they stand behind them as well. Thanks Matt.
After leaving Touratech, we rode about 300km to Washougal, Washington (across the river from Portland), where we met up with our friends Jason and Don, and had a wonderful supper.
We're sleeping in Jason's garage tonight (it's warmer than outside, and dry).
After 118 days on the road last trip you’d think we’d have our packing and gear list all in order but this morning we managed to pare down our packs quite substantially. I’m not sure why when we leave on a bike trip we feel the need to take ½ our home contents along but after a few days you have a moment of clarity (or frustration) and started dumping things left, right and center. Between Tim and I we managed to fill a photocopier paper sized box with things we realized we could do without. A great weight had been lifted, literally.
Anyone that knows Tim knows of his numerous food allergies. This affliction makes it difficult for him to eat on the road (especially when traveling through non-english speaking countries). To alleviate this issue he carries a large amount of MREs (meals ready to eat). MREs are all in one, freeze dried meals that you simply add boiling water to, wait a few minutes then eat. Although this may not sound real tasty they are pretty good actually. Tim had pre-ordered his MREs before we left and we needed to swing by the warehouse in Tangent, Oregon to pick up the goods. We will be gone about 170 days and Tim had ordered 60days worth of food…60days X 3 meals a day… that’s 50 lbs, yikes! After half an hour of shuffling things from bike to bike and packing, and repacking we had it all stuffed in and on the bikes.
About 3 months ago I was in a car accident and my back hasn’t been 100% since but it’s been pretty good for the last few weeks so I didn’t give it much thought before leaving on Sunday. Since the 2nd day of our journey my back has been giving me grief. After a few hours of riding I have a stabbing pain just under my shoulder blades. It’s made riding very un-enjoyable. After 4 days of this annoying issue I was starting to wonder how it would affect the trip and if it may lead to a shortened trip for me. I was losing sleep thinking/worrying about it. While riding this afternoon I began thinking that I shouldn’t assume the pain was caused by the accident. Things have been great for several weeks so no reason to flare up now. I was trying to think of things that I had changed on the bike since the last trip that maybe an issue and I realized my handle bar position was rotated slightly forward. I figured I was grasping a bit thinking that maybe the cause but stopped and I tweaked the bars a couple degrees and viola! Problem solved. I spent the rest of the day wondering how different the trip could have been if I wasn’t grasping at straws! I also spent some time wondering what very small adjustments I could make in my regular life that would net me big improvements. I’ll keep you posted should I come up with anything ; )
We were hoping to make it Grant’s Pass Oregon this evening but it was getting late and traffic was moving slow on Interstate 5 due to an Oregon Ducks football game (Ducks, really??). Since neither one of us is a big fan of riding at night we grabbed a camp spot at a nearly empty state run park in Pass Creek, Oregon, complete with a gazebo and pond full of Canadian Geese.
We started out this morning from Redding in the pouring rain. Which was a little depressing, but after 10 or 15 minutes, we remembered the 23 days of rain we rode straight in Siberia, and then it didn't seem so bad.
We covered a lot of ground, about 660 km, but we did have one problem with the bikes. Tim noticed that the front end was vibrating a lot, and was making his hands numb. He rode like this for a while, but we came around a corner and the bike lurched. He quickly pulled over to the side, jumped off, and saw the front tire was flat. We mixed up some soapy water, checked the tire, but there was no leaks. So.. WTF? We pumped the tire back up, it held air fine, and is still holding air 5 hours later. So no idea so far what happened.
We checked into a hotel tonight, to dry out a bit, and were hoping to watch the UFC fight at a local bar, but no go, there are no bars in the city showing the fights.
So, we'll go for a walk around the town tonight, and see what we see.
We rode another full day today, in fact, with a nice break during mid-day on the beach, we rode into the night. The goal was free room and board.. at my parents house in Indio, California. They have a nice condo here, and it sits empty through the summer and fall, so no one is here right now. It was a good 600 km today to get here, so we pushed on.
We made arrangements with the neighbour (thanks Red!) to come over and open the gate and house, and turn on the power and water.
So, here we sit, in luxury (for us). I took one picture, just for my Mom. We promise to clean up when we leave... promise! :)
Slab City, California
Slab City (Located at 33°15′32″N 115°27′59″W), is an abandoned World War II Marine Barracks (former Camp Dunlap), that has been inhabited by squatters and RV owners since it closed.
It takes it's name from the concrete slabs that remain from the military base.
Most of the people who live there (about 150 full time) do so from poverty. There is no charge to stay. There are no hookups or water, but supplies are available in nearby Niland.
At the entrance to Slab City is "Salvation Mountain" created by Leonard Knight. We met Mr. Knight at the base of the mountain, he toured us through the concrete and adobe painted project he has been working on for 30 years.
Tim doing yoga:
Sounds like a fantastic trip. Good luck, will be following this for sure. Look forward to DVD when it comes out too.
San Diego, California
We rode a shorter distance today after leaving Slab City this morning. Arriving in San Diego, we stopped at a Target where we did some shopping. After hopping over to a Starbucks for some free internet, we programmed our GPS's for the local BMW dealership (new tires) and another bike store for some upgraded helmet cams.
At the first bike store we arrived at, we met up with two bikers (Neil and Troy) from the internet that we knew were doing the same route as us. They just happened to be at the same store at the same time.
After we got their hotel info, we left them and headed to the BMW dealership to shop for tires. As we pulled up, Simon from Calgary, another biker we know, was just leaving the store. He had hooked up with the two other bikers we had met earlier in the day. Small world.
Spent the day prepping the bikes some more. I changed the front tire on my bike from an Anakee to a Dunlop D606. I wanted something a bit more aggressive upfront to keep the bike from washing out in the sand and dirt. Tim finally replaced the broken and bend windshield bracket bit (vandals in Russia).
A few days previous while riding the road from Indio to Slab City which has a series of short rolling hills and I noticed my rear suspension seemed to be spongier than I remember on the last trip. It bothered me a bit but I recently upgraded the front forks I thought perhaps I was just now realizing the stock rear shock (in comparison) wasn't great to begin with. The other possibility was the shock was nearing the end of it's life and could completely go at anytime. The more I thought about it the more it concerned me. Murphy's Law says it would blow out completely and leave me a in bad spot. The prospect of shipping a shock to Mexico or Central America didn't really appeal to me so I decided to try to find a good used stocker or a shop that had F800GS aftermarket shocks in stock. I was lucky enough to find Trout, a fellow ADVrider, in SoCal with a new Ohlins unit for sale. The shock set-up specs looked real close to what I needed. We had JUST missed the Fed Ex and UPS cut off for shipping the shock from LA to San Diego next day so Tony offered to ride half way and meet Tim and I with the shock. After a quick ride to San Clemente, we were back at the hotel and had the shock installed in a bout 45mins.
Tomorrow, we ride into Mexico.
We got up early and got the bikes loaded and made a final trip to Walmart and REI where we answered numerous questions about where we were headed and why we didn't have guns with us:huh Carrying guns across international borders doesn't sound like a very intelligent choice but maybe that's just me!
The trip through the border was interesting but uneventful. As we approached the Mexican border, both of us had a slightly nervous feeling that we haven't had at any other border. It was likely because everyone we had met in the last week had been warning us that if we crossed the border into Mexico, we would be murdered, decapitated, raped and robbed in that order. Of course, like most things, the reality is a little different.
The Tijuana border crossing is the busiest land border anywhere in the world, with over 17 million vehicles and 50 million people per year passing through the gates. Of course this area can be very dangerous, so we had no intention of sticking around after we made it in. It took us about 2 hours to cross, get inspected, arrange our tourist cards, and register our motorcycles for travel into Mexico.
After we were cleared, we pulled out and began riding towards Ensenada along the Pacific coast. The Baja peninsula is separated into two states, Baja California, and Baja California Sur.
We've been running into quite a few teams from the Baja 1000 off-road race, which begins in a couple weeks. They started arriving to pre-run the course as it changes every year.
While the Baja is desolate, there are quite a few towns and settlements along the way. No problem with gas, although they don't take Visa at the ones we have stopped at. In terms of the quality of life, the level of prosperity is much lower in Siberia and Mongolia that it is here. There are shops and stores and restaurants, that while not up to American or Canadian standards, are certainly much higher than what we experienced on the last trip.
Shortly after we rode though Ensenada, Simon had announced he was going to go it alone. Tension had been rising in the group for a day or two and none of us were surprised at his sudden departure. Ride safe.
We stopped at a small motel in San Vicente. The hotel owner was great, gave us some tips on good places to eat, shop and even provided us with a thick chain to secure our bikes over night.
Bike Update: Cory's bike is running great (loving the new rear shock!). Tim's bike has developed a leak in the final drive, which was actually pulled apart and serviced before we left. We will be monitoring it as we make our way south to Cabo San Lucas, where there is a BMW dealership. Hopefully it is just a seal, and not something more serious.
Tim (Troy in the background)
We were being lazy in the morning and didn't hit the road until after 1pm. Along the way we ran into Mike who is walking from Tijuana to Cabo with his donkey to show people that Mexico is in fact safe.
We didn't feel too ambitious so we rode about 200km to "Old Mill" just South of San Quintin. This place is run by 2 ex-pat Americans and seems to cater to ADVriders, motocross riders, Baja racers etc. There were 3 Baja 1000 teams here. They had just dropped off the Pro-Trucks and were head back north. We spend some time chatting with everyone and getting settled in.
A group of 12 MX riders along with 2 UTVs and a F350 support truck rolled in. It's a company that rents bikes and runs tours in Baja. Everyone seemed to be having a great time. We met up with everyone at the lounge next door for drinks.
Troy (from Australia on a KLR) and I enjoying the Margaritas and Pina Coladas:
Tim and Troy:
Neil (from Denver on a KLR), me, Tim and Troy:
Neil after a few too many Margaritas:
We're just relaxing today. The MX tour and Baja teams all split early this morning so we were woken by the roar of bikes and trucks.
Awesome :clap Thanks for the detailed report and great pics!!
A list of our bikes and gear:
Tim’s Riding Gear
Helmet: BMW Carbon Fiber Enduro
Jacket: KLIM Traverse
Armour: Polaris Pressure suit
Pants: BMW Rally 3
Gloves: BMW Pro-Summer, BMW Adventure
Other: Buff head wear
2007 BMW R1200GS Adventure
Front: Michelin Anakee (on road)
TKC-80 (off road)
Rear: Michelin Anakee (on road)
TKC-80 (off road)
Rims: Stock BMW front and rear
Front: Elka Coilover w/Remote
Rear: Elka Coilover w/Remote (1000 lb spring rate)
Panniers: Touratech Zega w/Custom Base Reinforcement
Navigation: Garmin Zumo 550
Custom Sargent Seat
Custom aluminum skid plate
Bark Buster hand guards
StarCom 1 Digital with Garmin Rino 110 GPS radio
Kaoko throttle lock
Touratech Light Guard
Touratech Reservoir Guards
Touratech Luggage Rack
Deka ETX 14 Battery
Birthday: January 12
Cory’s Riding Gear
Helmet: BMW Carbon Fiber Enduro
Boots: AlpineStar Scout
Jacket: AeroStich Darien Light Gor-Tex
Pants: KLIM Traverse
Armour: Polaris pressure suit
Gloves: BMW Pro-Summer, KLIM Mojave
Other: Buff head wear
2009 BMW F800GS
Front: 90/90-21 Michelin Anakee (on road)
90/90-21 Pirelli MT21 (off road)
Rear: 150/70-17 Michelin Anakee (on road)
140/80-17 Michelin Desert (off road)
This trip: 90/90-21 Dunlop D606 front & 150/70-17 Michelin Anakee
Front: 1.85x21 Excel by Woody's Wheel Works
Rear: 3.50x17 Excel by Woody's Wheel Works
Front: Custom Marzocchi Shiver 45/F800GS hybrids with HyperPro springs
Exhaust: Leo Vince SBK Titanium
Drive Chain: D.I.D. VM2 525
Panniers: Pelican 1440 top load
Racks: Modified Hepco Becker
Navigation: Garmin Zumo 550
Highway Dirt Bikes bar clamp upper bridge
Mad Stad Engineering adjustable wind screen
BMW aluminum skid plate
Bark Buster hand guards
StarCom 1 Digital with Garmin Rino 110 GPS radio
Kaoko throttle lock
Deka ETX 14 battery
Extra HD tubes
Touratech 20L aux fuel tank
Touratech skid plate mounted tool box
I'll get a list of Troy and Neil's gear and bike specs up asap.
Guerrero Negro, Baja, Mexico
We left our wonderful hotel this morning, but not without a great story.
As we sat down for breakfast, it became apparent that our waitress kind of had the hots for Cory. It must be the large bald head, and obvious healthy look he sports that attracted her. :)
Either way, it was quite hilarious as she came back to the table time and again, singing and paying so much obvious attention to him. She first asked how old we were, then if we were married. Then she asked if he would be her boyfriend. Cory said sure. After going to get our coffee, she came back and said "Instead of my boyfriend, how about you be my husband". Cory said sure, but he didn't have a ring, so they shook on it.
I'm not sure of the legalities of the union, but for the rest of the trip, in my mind, Cory has a wife.
We found out she was 20 years old, and has 2 kids. The oldest is 6. You do the math.
As we were packing up the bikes to leave, she came over with her camera, and we took a couple (wedding) pictures with her.
Cory and the Mrs.
She kept asking when we were coming back this way. Sadly I don't think we will, so they might have a problem with the long distance aspect of their relationship (seriously.. I can't keep a straight face writing this...)
After getting on the road, we ended up riding through some gorgeous desert, full of huge cactus and awesome mountains.
We're holed up in Guerrero tonight at a hotel. 400 peso's, about $33.00 dollars per night for two people.
You guys are off and running. :clap You'll probably catch me by Brazil. Which gives me an idea. :scratch
Trans-Amazonica during the wet season? You guys up for it? :D
No worries. It wont be fun. Actually it will be about 3000 kms of a miserable mud fest. :roflI was just thinking out loud.
Enjoy Baja. I miss that place. The first thing I am going to do when I get home is cross the border on my 450 and get lost in Baja. :D
If you want something from the US, Fed Ex, UPS or DHL would be the way to go if you dont want to wait weeks for your package.
What kind of stuff are you looking for? You should be able to find everything you need for the Beemers in Mexico.
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