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Old 04-13-2011, 06:24 PM   #1
trackpete OP
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Wink South America on Three Wheels

This winter, I spent 104 days riding a 125cc Peruvian Mototaxi from Lima, Peru to Ushuaia, Argentina then back up north. This thread documents that experience - in story, in photos, and in videos.



Hi, I'm Pete! I am a long time lurker on ADV, though a quite experienced adventure rider. I was inspired to finally join a bit and post after meeting some cool ADV people in person on my scooter trip to the Arctic Circle and thought I'd do a real ADV-style ride report for my current expedition:

South America on Three Wheels

A year and a half ago I fell in love with the idea of the Peruvian style mototaxi, a three wheeled tuk-tuk that combines the real live front end of a motorcycle with a padded bench and some wheels. I joined up with The Adventurists to drive one around on their pioneer Mototaxi Junket, during which I became in all likelihood the first person in the history of the world to cross the Salar de Uyuni on such a vehicle:



I knew I wanted to spend more time in South America - and more time on three wheels - so when I got back from the top of the world, I decided it was time to head towards the bottom. Even better, I decided to do it at the wrong time of year, heading south into the teeth of oncoming winter... because what's the point if it's all fun and games?

On April 14 I arrived in Peru, and by April 16 I had purchased a brand new Honda CG125NL Motokar Ultra Abierta. With a ten day wait for delivery followed by another fifteen or so days for all the paperwork, I spent some time learning to surf and jetting over to Easter Island. I returned from Lima today to get the great news:

My mototaxi is here, and the paperwork will be ready tomorrow. My journey south - first to Ushaia, then back up north to who knows where - will begin this weekend.

I hope you'll enjoy coming with me on this adventure!

For more stories about me, including some photos and videos of past adventures, please pop over to my personal web site at whoispete.com. Otherwise, see you around ADV as things get rolling...

This is the Mototaxi:


Customized SPOT path, zoom out to see the entire route history:


Here are a few photos to get you interested, there are tons more throughout the thread that will blow your mind!



















This is what I looked like when it started:



This is what I looked like when it ended:



You know you wanna read it. :)
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Ride Reports:
2011 - South America on Three Wheels
2010 - DC to AK and back on a 106cc scooter (mini-report)
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Check out my 2009-2010 Adventure Highlight Video on Vimeo!

trackpete screwed with this post 08-17-2011 at 09:23 AM Reason: Updating at end of ride
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Old 04-13-2011, 07:10 PM   #2
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Preparation: Buying the Mototaxi

Preparation: Buying the Mototaxi

I knew from a little research that buying a motorcycle in Peru can result in a long wait, and that the best idea is to take care of everything ahead of time. I had enough going on in my personal life (and, truth be told, enough of a devil-may-care attitude) to decide that I'd worry about everything once I arrived in Peru... what happens, happens.

I am by no means fluent in Spanish, however I spent three years in Colombia during the early 90's and can get by - even though I haven't really used my Spanish much in fifteen years. If anything, this trip would really put it to the test.

My first day in Lima I headed over to Honda Desert Racing SAC, based on recommendations from here on ADV and other research. I walked in and introduced myself to Enrique Delgado and told him my desire to purchase a Honda CG125NL Ultra Abierta and drive it around South America.

Instead of disbelief, he responded with excited glee, my first of what would be many times people would love the craziness of the idea. Within minutes I had a price (it was even on sale - 5,740 soles, or approximately $2000USD) and bank account info for a wire transfer. I immediately used xoom.com to wire the money, though I could not get their account to work and instead wired myself cash at Banco de Credito del Peru (BCP).

When my transfer cleared, I went to pick it up and was surprised at the modern setup at the BCP branch nearby, complete with a touchscreen kiosk to select my service and take a number. Eventually I made it up to the counter and with minimum fuss was able to accept the cash transfer as well as perform a deposit into the Desert Honda account. BCP provided me with a receipt which I then took back to Desert Honda so they could order the mototaxi!

After much back and forth, I was given to understand that it would take ten days to deliver the mototaxi and fifteen days for the government plates. I thought they could do both at the same time (for fifteen days total), but that turned out to be a misunderstanding... which I found out when I returned ten days later and was told it would still be another fifteen days!

Without much of a fuss, I found things to entertain me (what happens, happens right?) in the interim, arriving back in Lima today to find out that my mototaxi is here and my paperwork and license plates should be ready tomorrow. I'll find out for sure how that goes then, but for now, here is a picture of my mototaxi (phone shot, real pictures will be forthcoming) and some information on it:



Year: 2010
Engine: 125cc, gasoline, 1 cylinder
Power: 7.2@8500 KW/rpm (~9.6hp @ 8500RPM)
Width: 1,315mm (~52 inches)
Length: 2,840mm (~112 inches)
Height: 1,710m (~67 inches)
Net Weight: 235kg (518lbs)
Gross Weight: 415kg (915lbs)
Max Cargo Load: 180kg (397lbs)
Axles: 2
Drive: 3 wheels, 1 drive (rear left)
Passengers: 2

The General Plan:

I will be heading south mostly trying to avoid large roads - the Panamerican especially. Unfortunately I need to take it (jumping off onto the accompanying side roads as much as possible) down to Ica, then the plan is to swing towards Arequipa for the first service.

After that, I hope to head towards the Salar de Uyuni while it's still covered in water, then slide southwards towards Tierra del Fuego on the crappiest, most remote roads I can find (as long as they aren't pure sand). With a top speed around 60kmh, it's just frustrating and boring to drive on perfect tarmac - plus I hate cities, instead preferring small villages and raw nature.

Food will be foraged as available from local villages, though I expect to find myself hungry and alone as often as not. During the night I expect to mostly be sleeping in the mototaxi, though I have a tent for crazy weather (and I am carrying some solid gear which should stand me for all weather)... A mototaxi can be surprisingly comfortable from previous experience:



The rest will be about great random experiences, awesome photos, and as much fun with video as I can manage... plus I'll be writing on my blog as well as more motorcycle-related posts here.

How long will I travel for? I don't know... right now, the plan is to stay down here in South America until I run out of money. Originally I planned for 6+ months, but the way I'm being irresponsible it may be limited to three or four. We'll see how it goes - what happens, happens.

The Hook:

As part of this trip, I hope to inspire people to donate to an awesome charity that has done amazing work all over the world, especially down here in South America: Operation Smile. They put on large clinics to perform surgery on children with facial deformities in order to massively improve their quality of life.

If, over the course of this ride report during the next few months, you find yourself enjoying my writing, photos, or videos, I hope you'll take a moment to share the word with others by linking them to my site at threewheels.net. I hope you may even be inspired to donate a small amount - even just $5 makes a difference - on my behalf by clicking the donate link on that page or by visiting http://trk.pe/te?donate. I won't harp much, but this trip isn't just about me.
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Old 04-13-2011, 07:17 PM   #3
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Old 04-13-2011, 07:35 PM   #4
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Old 04-14-2011, 04:39 PM   #5
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And we're off...

Paperwork appears to be complete and I have a Peruvian plate on the motorcycle, which should mean I am all set to go!



I picked up some last minute spares including two tubes, two spark plugs, one each of throttle, clutch, and brake cables, a liter of oil and some chain lube. Additionally, I had them swap out the stock tires for dual sport tires to hopefully help me avoid getting stuck in the occasional patch of deep sand on bad roads (I got stuck for hours once at 4000 meters trying to push myself out of a sand well, the effort was exhausting to move six inches at a time).

The downside is that their shop was busy enough that they can't swap the tires until tomorrow morning, so in theory the mototaxi will be ready for pickup at 11AM and I should be on the road out of Lima by noon. I doubt I will make the 300km to Ica, but at least I'll be on the move!

I spent all of last week zooming around Easter Island on a Yamaha 250 enduro bike... I think I may be in for an adjustment!



One random comment: According to the manual, the transmission is a "rotary system" which goes N-1-2-3-4-5 then starts over (or vice versa, depending). This means you can shift "up" from 5th into Neutral (then first!) or shift "down" from Neutral into 5th and not go anywhere. The shifting is also set up like a race bike, meaning you click down to go up a gear and up to go down a gear. I've ridden a bike with such before, but never this "rotary system." Hopefully it doesn't confuse me too much!
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Old 04-14-2011, 04:55 PM   #6
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Go Pete, Go......This will be great. Any mods planned for the tuk?
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Old 04-14-2011, 06:08 PM   #7
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wow. flipping cool man.

Threw a few bucks in for the cause
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Old 04-19-2011, 11:19 AM   #8
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I'm especially interested in this report. I've got some experience with mototaxis, and I too want to buy one someday (though I never considered riding one down to Tierra del Fuego) and also you're going through areas where I visited a couple places you've mentioned already. I stayed in Ica and took the dune buggy tour an tried my hand at sandboarding. I also passed through Nazca and opted not to pay to see it from an airplane.

I even got to drive a moto for a short distance (I've got a pic someplace) and once rode in one with six other people, including the driver.

Good luck to you.

Jamie
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Old 04-19-2011, 01:52 PM   #9
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Great start Pete. Discovering the weaknesses and strengths of your machine is all part of the adventure. Pick up a bicycle pump and then lose some air in your tires for better traction in the soft stuff when you need too....... Rock on brother....
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Old 04-20-2011, 07:54 PM   #10
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Day 5: Coracora to Puquio

Begin: Coracora, Peru @ 12PM (noon)
End: Puquio, Peru @ 5:30PM
Distance: approx. 102km (~64mi) in 5.5 hours (~18KMH / ~11MPH average)
Average Gas Mileage: ~45MPG
Stopped by Police: Never saw any

Misery! Or awesomeness, depending on how crazy you are… Every tried to drive 30km down a mountain through 2+ inches of mud? With horrid ruts torn into the road by trucks and buses that are barely wide enough for your vehicle? This was the end to my day – it was exhilarating and exhausting, endless fun combined with constant fear, and perhaps a bit of doubt.

I woke up early in Coracora to pack my stuff and show up at Ponte Honda by 8AM as agreed to have my first service done. It was supposed to be at 500km, but it had taken me 821km to get to Coracora (Google had indicated 600km but did not know about twisty roads). In retrospect the decision to go to Coracora instead of Abancay was… ill inspired, to say the least – but the good thing is that it helped shake out a lot of problems with the moto on crap roads.



When I knocked on the door at Ponte Honda the mechanic came out and started to work. First up was my bent front fork, which I was shocked to find could be easily straightened by loosening two bolts and banging on them with a hammer for awhile! I suppose I’ve never had to do this so how could I know, but I was disappointed to see how easy it was – I half expected to need to replace the front end or something.

As he set about the rest of the checkup, changing all the fluids, checking the chain, etc. I begged off to find the one internet place in town and upload the prior days info and catch up on my e-mail. When I got back around 11:30AM he was all set and I was ready to go! I made the coin-flip decision at this time to head BACK towards Puquio then north towards Abancay and Cusco. I initially avoided this route because I did it before, but I was really sick of getting hassled by all the policia on the Panamerican… so I’ll cross my fingers with the crossing at Desaguardero.



As I was all set to go I thought maybe I could get some extra stuff done really quick – why not put a plastic enduro style fender on the front and get some handguards in case of rain and cold? Some quick brainstorming and some action with zipties and a hacked up set of bolts, I was all kitted out like some sort of Mad Max offroad moto – for a whole $10! Excellent!

The first thing I noticed as I set off to retrace my previous day’s travels was that I was much more confident on the bad stuff, I think a direct result of knowing my chain had been re-tensioned and figuring that anything that was going to fall off already had. I tore across the valley much faster than yesterday, then ascended high into the mountains. The views today were initially much nicer as there were less clouds and I could more clearly see everything in the bright sunshine. I had a quick snack of some yogurt overlooking the valley before crossing back deep into the mountains.



As I wound across the mountain tops between Coracora and Puquio, I kept my eye on a very evil set of black clouds over to my right, smashing themselves against a nearby mountain. The speed at which these clouds moved was unreal, watching them slide across the sky reminded me of a timelapse video sequence. Then I noticed something very very bad: as I crested a hill, I saw my road turn straight towards the evil clouds.

I stopped to put on my rain boot covers just in time, the POCK POCK POCK of hail hitting the canvas of my moto warning me that this was not just a rainstorm coming to drown me. Darkness settled in, so deep that I could not see with my sunglasses and had to take them off. The hail battered me as I ascended deeper into the storm system, then slowly lightened to a constant medium force rain. Most of the road in this area was still rocky so traction wasn’t a problem, but all I could think of was yesterday’s ascent in dried mud… dreading it, knowing it would be a horror show.

As water began to puddle and run down the road in small rivers, I battled my way up towards the final pass, sometimes sliding sideways through patches of mud but mostly hammering up the road as fast as possible and trying to skip across the puddles and potholes, throwing water everywhere. I came around the hill I recognized as the final pass because of all the little statues, torn between a fear of the unknown mud and elation that everything would be downhill from here…

The pass as clear and I stopped to gather myself for the road ahead, noting a mile marker (one of the few on this road) that indicated km33 – if that started in Puquio, only 33km to go! I psyched myself up, switched on some Red Hot Chili Peppers and began my descent at full speed, skipping across the stones at nearly 50kmh, sliding around corners and back and forth across the road as I fought to avoid the deepest potholes.

I rounded the corner where the top of the mountain ended and the descent began and slammed on the brakes, slowing to barely 15km as I passed into an intense, deep fog. The world reduced itself to an arc perhaps thirty feet in front of me as I puttered down the road, corners sneaking up at the last second.



Then the mud began, as I knew it would. It was worse than I anticipated, the ruts ground down to perhaps two inches of mud, often with standing water – navigable with care downhill, but only because the momentum kept me skipping through the top of the mud. The side and middle of the road were typically a solid eight or more inches of mud, however, a sure death trap for my teeny tired and one wheel drive moto. The ruts themselves, smashed down by the dual tires of a few trucks or buses, were just barely big enough to fit both of my rear wheels.



At a near constant press in second gear, I spun my way down the mountain, literally sliding more than driving. With only one wheel putting down power and no traction for the others, I had to hold the moto at a constant slight angle in order to prevent it from sliding out of the rut. Every ten or twenty seconds a change in the shape of the rut, a weakening of my arms, or some other random twitch would cause a slight change in the angle of the moto and suddenly it would attempt to careen full speed into the mud on the side of the road, off a cliff, or into the middle to get stuck. My attention would snap back completely and I’d fight the front wheel, sometimes pushing the moto with my front wheel at a solid 45 degree angle to my direction of travel, slip sliding through the mud…

Twice I lost control badly enough to smash heavily into the mud on the side, once bouncing out and the other time saving myself with an instinctive (and dangerous!) push with my right leg against a convenient rock. For what felt like hours (and was), I slid down the side of the mountain, the only relief being a lessening of the horrible fog until finally I got beneath it – and realized it was a cloud, not fog.



As I neared the end of the horrible mud, a new problem began to scare me even more… my chain began to skip! The chains on a mototaxi are usually a bit loose because they need a lot of play due to the three wheel independent suspension and large area covered by the chains. As such, they do not handle rapid changes in speed well – such changes in speed that happen when a wheel loses traction and begins to spin extremely fast, then catches and slows down. Combine this with the amount of mud now wedged into my undercarriage and all over the chain and skipping was inevitable… but the last thing I wanted to deal with was trying to re-seat the chain in the mud if it came off!



I started modulating the throttle much more carefully and made it the final few kilometers to the bottom, where the road began to ascend the final hill towards Puquio. I knew this section was rock, so I wasn’t worried too much, but it turned out I had remembered wrong! The first section, at least, was a thin but very slippery mud! UGH! I closed my eyes and gunned the throttle, spinning my drive wheel the entire way up with the moto sideways and barely moving… occasionally kicking off the ground with one or both feet to help a change of direction or just move the moto upward a few inches… and finally made it to the rocky bit!



Home free from there, I whipped into town shortly before dark and decided to take the honorable way out. I drove up into the downtown area and looked for a hostal with a garage, pulling into the first one I found for the night and enjoying a clean and slightly upscale (compared to where I’ve been before) room for 40 soles. After another quick meal of pollo a la brasa it was time to crash.

Tomorrow I need to find a SOAT so I stop getting bothered by the cops! I’m going to sleep in a bit so I leave around 8AM, hopefully something will be open and I can get this out of the way… then it’s off towards Abancay, 300km or so distant.
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Ride Reports:
2011 - South America on Three Wheels
2010 - DC to AK and back on a 106cc scooter (mini-report)
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Old 04-20-2011, 07:58 PM   #11
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Day 6: Puquio to Abancay

Begin: Puquio, Peru @ 8:45AM
End: Abancay, Peru @ 6:00PM
Distance: approx. 320km (~200mi) in 9.25 hours (~34KMH / ~21MPH average)
Average Gas Mileage: ~57MPG
Stopped by Police: 1x

Ah, Abancay. This I know. As I approached and saw the road coming down from Chincherros I was almost overcome with emotion at the memory of being here a year and a half ago, the horrible descent into Abancay in the dark with Rob & Will’s chain constantly coming loose as I illuminated the road for them, their headlight on the fritz as well. Seeing this road in the daylight from below was a shocking reminder of that moment, as well as the realization that for the next few days I would be retracting my steps from that previous journey.

The day started poorly, with me sleeping through all four (!) of my alarms… thankfully I woke up on my own around 7AM and was packed and out the door by just past 8AM (I am slow in the mornings). I started asking around for a place to buy SOAT (Peruvian insurance, required by law, and a huge hassle to keep talking my way out of not having it) and was told that I couldn’t get a SOAT for a moto here! Augh?! Fine, I’ll find one in Abancay, hopefully I won’t get hassled too much on the way…



On the way out of town I fueled up (SOP) and bought a wrench set, since it turns out the set included with the bike was not at all sufficient (and somewhere I lost my adjustable wrench). Then I cranked my tunes and prepared myself for the long ride to Abancay, reveling in the simple brainlessness of driving on beautiful high class pavement!

My joy was short lived, however, as I quickly find myself yet again ascending, ascending, ascending. It’s mind numbing at times – starting at 10k feet up in the mountains, you wouldn’t expect to ascend for hours… short bursts of road followed by a sharp turn and another short burst, going on and on. Every time it looks like you’re going straight for a bit you slowly curve around the “top” of the mountain only to see a higher one to climb. Hours later you’re at 15k feet up, little moto barely chugging along, wondering if it’s ever going to end…




Thankfully, it did. After quite awhile at over 14,000 feet, I came around a corner to find one of the world’s coolest roads laid out before me – a three thousand foot drop nearly straight down a hill, looping back and forth (of course). If only I had a sports car… alas, my moto will have to do! Finally giving it free reign in 5th gear, I coasted down into the valley at 60kmh, braking hard for turns and trying not to overbalance onto two wheels with the downward and outward force.



A small ascent turned me around another mountain and into a long, seemingly endless valley… could this be it? Could I dare to believe it would be downhill from here? I knew Abancay was at a “mere” 7500 feet, so a descent would be in order… well, here we go!

Then, a surprise – my fuel ran out! It should have easily lasted me to the next main town, around 200km from Puquio, but all that ascending was destroying my mileage. With two liters left in reserve, I flipped the switch to reserve and crossed my fingers that it would be all down hill from here. I rolled into the medium size town looking for a gas station and drove past a small store that had a bunch of gas cans out front for sale! Oooh, I need one of those… hah! I turned around to pick one up, pondering the irony of running out of fuel after buying a spare gas can… Luckily the shop owner told me the next gas station was close by down the road.

At the gas station I filled up and started taking off layers – it was hot! At 14k+ feet, where I had been for most of the day, the temperature was in the high 40’s when the sun was behind the clouds (according to my watch thermometer). With wind chill, I was near or slightly below freezing and thus had thrown on many of my layers. Now, down at around 9k feet, it was a bit toasty and time to take some off.



I asked the lady at the gas station if Abancay was uphill or downhill and was happy to here that it was slightly downhill! The next few hours and 120km passed in a blur of fifth gear 55-60kmh cruising, with a few trips up to near redline at 65-70kmh just for kicks. It was an interesting drive down the valley with a river on one side and huge rock walls on both sides for most of the ride. Unlike every place I’ve ever seen in the US, when a sign here says watch out for falling rock they mean like, really, rock ACTUALLY falls… every few miles there would be a huge pile of rocks in one lane, closing off half the road, every once in awhile with people and equipment working to clear it.

At one point I saw two dudes dusting the road off post-clearing, using tree branches. Seriously. That small, simple thing seemed like such a glaring “this is not home” difference – heck, it’s probably against the law to use a tree like that in the States, heh.

The final push into Abancay was mostly uphill, but timed perfectly with the setting sun and fading light. As I cruised up the hill, a local commuter van would keep passing me then stop to pick someone up, allowing me to pass them. This repeated itself maybe eight times, each time with everyone in the van cheering and waving as they passed me again. Soon I was recognizing areas, even though I had driven through before in the night, then my nemesis struck again!



This time there was a huge police checkpoint coming into town with the police stopping everyone. It’s amazing how much this bums me out – I’m trying to do things right but man it’s hard to find this freaking SOAT! As with last time, the officer that stops me quickly passes me off to the head guy sitting in a truck who takes all my documents and tells me that a SOAT is more important than my driver’s license or passport and that I’m in a lot of trouble for not having it. After fifteen minutes of conversation, my play works again and he lets me go with the promise to buy a SOAT in Abancay.

Any time I encounter an unfriendly police officer, my Spanish instantly gets incredibly worse and I think this ends up frustrating them to the point where they just let me go rather than trying to communicate with me. Some of this is calculated on my part, but honestly a huge portion of it is just that any time someone is unfriendly to me my brain gets scrambled and it becomes much harder to figure out how to say what I want to say. Usually this sticks with me for a good twenty or thirty minutes afterwards, making things pretty frustrating for a bit.



Regardless, he let me go and I rolled into town. Abancay is very confusing and like many towns in Peru is full of one way streets that are barely marked, so I just sort of followed traffic around in the fading light until I saw a big HOTEL sign with GARAJE underneath it. This is my new rule – stop at the first place with a garage! I’m sure I’ll break it in the future, but this one turned out to be a pretty nice tourist hotel with a nice secure garage. The price was a bit steep at 75 soles but it’s in the middle of a big town and I didn’t want to drive around at night looking.

See, here is a problem with traveling alone: if I want to go into a place, I leave my stuff unattended. My stuff that is strapped to my moto with one or two bungee cords. I generally feel okay leaving it for a few moments in the daylight, but I am not comfortable leaving it all out on a busy street in the dark for even five minutes while I find out what the deal is with a hotel. Hence my desire to get into a hotel before dark and not worry about my stuff (I have some ideas for building a cage or box to put my stuff in and may put this into effect in Cusco as an excuse to stay there a couple days).

Once I got to my room and showered (oh man, such a nice shower, tons of water pressure!) I found a very pleasant and unexpected surprise – there’s wifi! I don’t have to go looking for internet! That’s worth 75 soles to me right now, haha.

I went out to eat at a nearby Chifa, found a small grocery store that had Coke Zero (score! that’s another discussion for another time, but let’s just say for now that there’s no diet/light stuff outside big cities down here), then headed back to the hotel to write this and catch up.

You know, every time I reconnect I’m always surprised at how little has changed in the world. It feels like the last two days have been months and everything should be different… but it’s not. Hrm.

Cusco tomorrow maybe?

Bonus comment: If you wonder, most of the photos here are taken with my crappy rugged point and shoot camera. Every once in awhile I stop and get out the DSLR though – that’s why some photos are prettier than others. Also, I don’t really proof-read what I write, sorry. :/
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Ride Reports:
2011 - South America on Three Wheels
2010 - DC to AK and back on a 106cc scooter (mini-report)
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Check out my 2009-2010 Adventure Highlight Video on Vimeo!
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Old 04-21-2011, 04:23 PM   #12
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This morning I found out it's a national holiday and I won't be able to buy a SOAT until Monday. :| On the other hand, I made it to Cusco without being hassled by the policia, so maybe they are taking the time off too.

I'm in Cusco without much to update for now - I am trying to decide whether to stay here until Monday or advance to Puno and continue to rely on my sweet talking of any policia if they stop me (I can't imagine they won't be lined up at the exit to Cusco). We shall see.


(a shot down the mountain from the crest out of Abancay - every single piece of pavement in this picture is the same road and it descended for hours)
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2010 - DC to AK and back on a 106cc scooter (mini-report)
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trackpete screwed with this post 04-21-2011 at 04:37 PM Reason: (added photo)
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Old 04-22-2011, 08:40 AM   #13
Jamie Z
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How often do you get flagged down for a ride?

Seems to me if you didn't have too much stuff in the back you could earn a few bucks each day.

Jamie
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Old 04-23-2011, 06:29 AM   #14
iBiker
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I can't imagine functioning at 10,000+ ft in elevation. Is there a noticeable difference in the function of the bike as well as yourself?

I see your roads chosen as simply a road with no driver/vehicle safety in mind such as guardrails. Is this the choice of roads or just how raods are done in South America?

Its been fun so far to watch.
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Old 04-23-2011, 12:39 PM   #15
trackpete OP
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Quick update and some replies

Quick update: I have two acquaintances (one I met in India last year, another I met on Easter Island) who are in Cusco this weekend so I decided to stay for another day and meet them for dinner. After seven weeks away from home I'm desperate for a conversation lasting more than a few minutes in my native language.

Tomorrow I will head to Puno, hole up there for a couple more days and try to get some work done on the moto, then head to Desaguadero and into Bolivia. Not looking forward to that paperwork.

I also got a quote on a SOAT and it's apparently almost 700 soles! I'm not going to pay $300 for insurance that I will only need for a couple more days so I'm going to hope I can bluff any more cops on the way out of the country.

I'll update my blog and post a video when I get to Puno - for now I'm just totally relaxing in Cusco, watching junk on my laptop mostly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie Z View Post
How often do you get flagged down for a ride?

Seems to me if you didn't have too much stuff in the back you could earn a few bucks each day.
It happens about once every couple of days - most of the time I think it's pretty obvious I'm a crazy gringo from far enough away that people just smile, wave, or stare. I have given a few very short rides with people helping give me directions but I couldn't in good conscience charge them anything.. ;x

Quote:
Originally Posted by iBiker View Post
I can't imagine functioning at 10,000+ ft in elevation. Is there a noticeable difference in the function of the bike as well as yourself?
The bike is carb'd and tuned for sea level, so it runs incredibly rich at altitude. This is especially noticeable over around 12k feet when running over 7000RPM because of the constant "burping" of the extra few exploding in the exhaust. One of the reasons I do not mess with it, however, is because a day of travel can easily see me going +/- 7000 or more feet as I go up and down mountains, from canyons to high plateaus, etc. I'd rather run rich at altitude than lean in a canyon.

I've been impressed with how well it runs at high altitude, but the lack of power is especially noticeable climbing hills - shallow slopes that I could maintain speed on in 5th gear at sea level are often requiring me to be at 3rd or sometimes even 2nd to maintain speed at very high altitudes.

For myself, I've been in and out of high altitude (over 10k ft) a lot over the past year and a half and while the symptoms do bother me, I guess I've mostly gotten used to dealing with it. I combat the occasional headache with ibuprofen and generally slow down my movement a lot - where normally I jump on things all the time, I'm much smoother at altitude (i.e. slowly lift leg over bike instead of jumping onto it). Every once in while I forget and find myself short of breath.

If you haven't been at altitude, it's a really weird feeling. All of a sudden you need to take a bunch of deep slow breaths because you feel like there is a pillow on your face or something. It happens randomly, but it's not so bad. It does, however, interrupt sleep often until acclimated - I wake up for a brief while probably 2-3x every hour right now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iBiker View Post
I see your roads chosen as simply a road with no driver/vehicle safety in mind such as guardrails. Is this the choice of roads or just how raods are done in South America?
In general I've found guard rails and such to be fairly rare. They are usually only on some corners on some of the more recent/expensive roads with lots of truck traffic (such as the Panamerican). I was surprised that coming out of Abancay towards Cusco on 26A there were a lot of curbs on the cliff side, sort of like a ghetto guard rail.

In general I have to avoid travel on the nice fancy heavily traffic'd roads that would have guard rails because I get hassled a lot, however. So it's a bit of choice also.

(I always find it ironic, both here and in the US and Canada on my scooter, when a police officer would explain how dangerous it was and how they were worried so much about MY safety - after driving a rickshaw 2k miles across India, including many hours at night, I don't think I'll ever be worried about MY safety on a road again, heh)
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Ride Reports:
2011 - South America on Three Wheels
2010 - DC to AK and back on a 106cc scooter (mini-report)
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Check out my 2009-2010 Adventure Highlight Video on Vimeo!
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