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Old 05-05-2011, 09:16 AM   #1
csustewy OP
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Location: back in Denver
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Travelin' Light - Riding 2up through the Americas

We left Denver, CO, USA on May 1st 2011. Our route so far includes the SW USA, Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, northern Brazil (Transamazonica and BR-319), the Guyanas, and points further south as we get there...

INDEX for this RR:

Trip Planning - just scroll down

TOOLS & SPARES LIST + EQUIPMENT REVIEW - 187

SW USA - 11
Mexico - 46
Guatemala - 116
El Salvador - 132
Honduras - 133
Nicaragua - 134 (entered at end of Post #133)
Costa Rica - 142
Panama - 145

CENTRAL AMERICA SUMMARY - 151

Colombia Part I - 153
Venezuela Part I - 155
Brazil Part I - 162 (entered at end of Post #161)
Guyana -
163 (entered at end of Post #162)
Suriname - 165
French Guiana - 196
Brazil Part II - 199
Venezuela Part II - 229

NORTHERN SOUTH AMERICA (THE GUYANAS) SUMMARY - (coming soon...)

Colombia Part II - 231
Ecuador - 246
Peru - 252
Bolivia - 280
more to follow...

Route Map -




The Plan:


We left Denver, Colorado, USA on May 1st, 2011 to head south, destination unspecified - we'll know it when we're there. Our ultimate goal is to get to Ushuaia, Argentina, commonly considered the southernmost city in the world. Along the way, we are both hoping to pick up random jobs that will allow us to stay in one spot for awhile and get to know people. Jill is also looking forward to taking Spanish classes somewhere as her Spanish is not quite up to par (Mike's is much better). Other highlights we are looking forward to are visiting friends in El Salvador and Panama, visiting the community Jill lived in for Peace Corps in Suriname, visiting the community that Mike worked with through Engineers Without Borders in Peru, and going back to Buenos Aires where Mike studied abroad. Oh, and we are also looking forward to the beach, jungle, mountains, bugs, stomach issues, awkward cultural exchanges, street food, motorcycle repairs, and everything else we are going to see on a daily basis.


The Bike:




A 1989 Honda Transalp with just over 20k miles on it will take us on this journey. We had owned a fancy BMW 1150GS before, but it was a huge beast and she seemed a little stuck up. This TA feels better. She is going to fit in well in Central and South America. And hopefully repairs will not be hard to come by. The final modifications on the bike included installing a new HyperPro progressive rear spring, as well as chain, sprockets, and sliders.





A new (retrofitted) muffler went on so it she'll have a growl (Jill's excited because she thinks loud motorcycles are cool and Mike's hoping fewer people may try to hit us if they hear us... and please don't start a debate about loud pipes vs safe riding here... we all know the right answer, and besides this pipe isn't even that loud, it's DOT/EPA approved...).







Modifications:
Corbin seat, GIVI trunk, taller windscreen, 12V power outlet, heated grips (all previous owner)


GIVI crash (engine) guards
Acerbis handguards
Lenac Big Brake kit (larger front rotor)
Braided stainless brake line
Eastern Beaver H4 headlight kit
HyperPro progressive fork springs
HyperPro progressive rear spring
Titanium Suzuki GSXR-1000 exhaust
CigarMike prototype centerstand


Luggage:
Givi Trunk
Nelson-Rigg saddlebags
Wolfman tank bag
el cheapo ATV tank bags



We are not traveling with a computer, so our updates will be irregular, but hopefully fairly frequent. Excited to be on the road, and will keep you posted!

Mike & Jill
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csustewy screwed with this post 05-31-2013 at 03:53 AM Reason: index, map updates
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Old 05-05-2011, 09:25 AM   #2
csustewy OP
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Packing it up

After running around the midwest to visit family in Iowa and Missouri and to drop off a few important possessions (we sold the house and most everything inside of it), we are finally ready to hit the road!

Our Packing List includes:
JILL

1 pair of jeans (Gap)
1 pair of brown nylon pants that I hope don't look too safari-like (North Face)
1 pair of board shorts (Roxy)
1 pair of running shorts (Nike)
1 skirt (Prana)
2 tank tops (Icebreaker, Mossimo)
3 short sleeve shirts (New Balance for riding 100% polyester, American Apparel t-shirt is cotton blend, Ex Officio nicer short sleeve is non-cotton blend)
1 merino wool sweater (Smartwool)
1 longsleeve baselayer that will will look fine by itself (Smartwool)
1 baselayer pants (Under Armour)
2 bras (Under Armour &
3 pairs of underwear (1 Under Armour & 2 Ex Officio)
1 quick dry towel (REI)
1 lightweight rain pants (Sierra Designs)
1 pair flip flops (Chaco)
1 pair casual shoes (New Balance)
1 stocking cap (Alpine Designs)
1 swimsuit (Mossimo)
1 belt
2 pair short socks
1 pair ski socks for riding
MIKE

1 pair khakis (Royal Robbin)
1 pair jeans
1 pair board shorts (Quicksilver)
3 pair boxers (Ex Officio)
3 t-shirts (polyester t-shirt REI & Columbia, marino wool Icebreaker)
1 nicer t-shirt (Prana)
1 button up shirt (North Face)
1 marino wool sweater
1 longsleeve baselayer (Smartwool)
1 baselayer pants (Hot Chillys)
1 quick dry towel (REI)
1 pair short socks
1 pair ski socks for riding
1 pair thin socks for riding
1 pair flip flops (Reef)
1 pair casual shoes (Saucony)
1 stocking cap
Mike's sister and brother in law gave us some awesome Marmot compression bags we are going to pack all our clothes in and put in the saddle bags.



CAMPING
We are planning on doing as much camping as possible on our trip partly to save money and partly because we enjoy it. Here are the things we are going to bring to camp with:



1 Big Agnes 0 degree bag (Jill)
1 Lafuma 30 degree bag (Mike)
2 Big Agnes sleeping pads
1 Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight tent
1 double hammock
1 cook set that includes a pot to cook in, sporks, knive/spatula and bowls, a gas cannister, and the "stove" by MSR
Water Purifiers: Microfilter and a UV Steripen



Somehow, we got most all of it to fit in the case that will go on the back of the bike.

MECHANICAL
We didn't get a good list of the spare parts and tools (mostly because Mike was in charge of this aspect instead of Jill), but in the engine guard bags and 2 tool tubes we have a limited assortment of tools, an extra tube, JB Weld, loctite, spare clutch cable, spare CDI unit, straps, zip ties, tire pump, etc. I'm sure you, will learn more about what we do have, and more about what we don't have but should have as we get down the road...

EDIT: Updated list of tools and spares, along with equipment thoughts/review can be found at post #187
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Travelin' Light ride report - 2 up on an 89 Transalp through the Americas
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csustewy screwed with this post 05-31-2012 at 04:54 AM Reason: Added link with updated info
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Old 05-05-2011, 12:17 PM   #3
SS in Vzla.
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Have a great trip!
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Old 05-05-2011, 03:36 PM   #4
Mtnjohn
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Kewl, I'm in.
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Old 05-05-2011, 03:55 PM   #5
RydRy
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very cool!

nice man thats awesome- LIVING life for sure! great moto choice too :)
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Old 05-06-2011, 07:55 AM   #6
csustewy OP
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Glad to have a few inmates already following along! Thanks for your interest, and we are stoked with our bike choice, too.

We are trying to catch a tour in Mesa Verde this afternoon, but once we make Zion on Sunday, a major update will happen with details of our first week of riding. Stay tuned....

Mike & Jill
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Travelin' Light ride report - 2 up on an 89 Transalp through the Americas
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Old 05-17-2011, 04:59 PM   #7
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Riding in the wet

Riding in the wet? If you find the inside of your panniers collection moisture along the way, consider this cheap mod: trash compactor bags at the supermarket offer an additional layer of defense against the elements and they tend to fit very large panniers very well.

Safe rides!

Brian
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Old 05-17-2011, 05:27 PM   #8
Jim Bud
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Watching the FUN!

Enjoy the trip.....
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Old 05-18-2011, 11:27 AM   #9
potski
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Enjoying the RR csustewy, subscribed.
The Alp looks really well.
Looks like you are much better than me and my wife when you pack for a 2 up trip; how is it coping 2 up with all the kit?

Ride safe both; looking forward to your next update.

Cheers
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Old 05-18-2011, 12:42 PM   #10
WilderRider
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Love the ride. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 05-20-2011, 10:55 AM   #11
csustewy OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brianstanfill View Post
Riding in the wet? If you find the inside of your panniers collection moisture along the way, consider this cheap mod: trash compactor bags at the supermarket offer an additional layer of defense against the elements and they tend to fit very large panniers very well.

Safe rides!

Brian
Brian - thanks for the tip! We will keep that in mind as we find ourselves in wetter situations, but so far so good...

Quote:
Originally Posted by potski View Post
Enjoying the RR csustewy, subscribed.
The Alp looks really well.
Looks like you are much better than me and my wife when you pack for a 2 up trip; how is it coping 2 up with all the kit?

Ride safe both; looking forward to your next update.

Cheers
Potski
Potski - thanks for the compliments . It looks like you've got a couple of beauts in your stable as well. Is your '88 in moonstone? That color scheme is tops in my book.

2-up touring on the TA is definitely pushing the limits. Both Jill and I are happy to get along with minimal changes of clothes - the true test is whether our friends and acquaintances along the road agree with us! With a bigger bike we would have brought a couple more small items, had more room for food (we can only really pack 2 days worth of light meals) and water, and had an easier time stashing our jacket and pant liners. But so far, we're managing pretty well. And we're expecting that the smaller size of the TA, relative to the big 1150GS we used to have, will be a benefit more often than a detriment. Only one way to find out...
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Travelin' Light ride report - 2 up on an 89 Transalp through the Americas
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Old 05-24-2011, 11:45 AM   #12
csustewy OP
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Adventures in Camping

We ended up driving through the industrial part of Phoenix for a majority of our morning, then found a Greek restaurant in downtown Tempe. From there we drove towards Tucson hoping to find some camping in the national parks surrounding the city. We could see the mountain where we thought we would be able to camp, but every road seemed to lead to more Tucson sprawl. We couldn't figure out how to find these huge parks in the GPS either and the people we asked at the gas station were of very little help, so we just drove around for awhile hoping to magically find a place to camp. Eventually we got to Saguaro National Park, but there was no camping there, and they were closing the park because it was getting dark. The first park ranger we saw recommended a couple of pay parks that may or may not be closed for the night and do not allow people to come in after hours. The other recommended place was about 30 minutes in the direction we had just come from and we didn't really want to backtrack. We were standing around trying to figure out what to do when another park ranger arrived and told us there was free camping about 15 minutes from there.

We found a place just off the road and as we set up (in the complete dark by this point) we noticed that a lot of cars were coming up and down the mountain even though we were on a gravel road seemingly as in the middle of nowhere as possible in Tucson. We got all set up and cooked some dinner with just our headlamps as light and were getting ready to head to the tent when 2 cars pulled into our pulloff where we had set up. They were the law enforcement for the park service. They said they had been watching us get set up and had been laughing at our lack of lights. They ended up being really nice guys and were very interested in our trip. They also told us that our camping area was very popular among high school and college students and this weekend was graduation so a lot of kids were coming up to party. We missed out on the parties but did get some of the noise. Here is a look at the site.



In the morning we got loaded up and headed back to the road. It looked like the sand on the way up a steep incline back to the road was pretty solid, but we ended up stuck pretty good and had a nice, gentle fall, although Mike's back hasn't felt the same since. The rear wheel dug in some, with a slippery rock in front of it, but some light pushing and throttle got us out no problem.



Our goal for the day was to buy a cooler (temperature-wise) motorcycle jacket for Jill and to get to Brisbee, AZ to couchsurf. We ended up running errands all over Tucson until about 3:00. The good news is that Jill ended up with a screaming deal on a cooler jacket. The bad news is that she mailed the coat home and forgot to clean out the front top pockets, which had the spare keys, thus creating another round of errands to try to make copies of the keys. During our marathon errand running session we also found some cooler motorcross socks for super cheap, so that was a plus.

We are enjoying Hermosillo, MX now, and will get some more ride report updates soon...
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Old 05-25-2011, 10:56 AM   #13
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Keep Bisbee Weird

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." -Hunter S. Thompson as requoted by Karl, couchsurfing extraordinaire

We really didn't expect a whole lot out of Bisbee, AZ. We only decided to go there because it was close to the border and had a person on couchsurfing with a place to stay. Bisbee ended up being a definite highlight of our trip thus far. The drive to Bisbee is beautiful because despite being desert, it is green and has different kinds of trees than in the desert. This is because the elevation is about the same as in Denver (approximately 5300 feet). Tombstone is not far away so we stopped in to take a look. They have preserved the town well, but it is quite the tourist trap, with hired actors dressed as old West characters.



This is the courthouse. It closed at 5 and we got there at 10 'til. As soon as we walked in the door the person selling tickets told us they were closed and was pretty serious about us not looking around too much.




Driving into Bisbee, you see a lot of houses built into a mountain. The town was established in the 1880s and a lot of the original buildings still exist.




Our couchsurfing host, Karl, lives in an awesome old house, moved over from Tombstone in 1906, that he has been pretty much rebuilding for the past 8 years. He was a very cool guy with lots of amazing experience, like hitchhiking through Africa, and a lot of great knowledge about the area. He took us for a driving tour of the town and cooked us dinner, then we hit up a few bars to check out the local scene. Bisbee has a very different feel than most towns and it collects a variety of odd characters. There are even cave dwellers that still live just outside of town.

The following day, Karl took us on a hike outside of town along the San Pedro river. (Who would've expected a riparian area in the middle of southern AZ?) It is known for its birds and we saw lots of really cool bird, highlights included the elegant great blue heron and the small bright red vermillion flycatchers. The hike also took us to the ruins of a town called Charleston, "The Town too Mean to Live" (in contrast to Tombstone's slogan "The Town too Tough to Die"). Charleston was run by the Clantons, rivals of the Earps in Tombstone, that led up to the gunfight at the OK Corral. Apparently the town was really too mean to live and was eventually abandoned after a flood in the late 1800's. The US government practiced bombing it during WWII but several walls still remain of the structures.





Not far from the ghost town there were several petroglyphs made by the Native Americans who lived there. It is estimated that some of the glyphs were from 2-3000 years ago.



After the hike, closer to Old Bisbee we passed one of the old copper mines that surround the area. The mines are not currently active, but the area will definitely feel the effects of the mine for a long time to come.



All in all, we had a wonderful time in Bisbee. Karl was a great host and we really enjoyed hanging out with him for 2 days.



In the morning we headed for the Douglas/Agua Prieta border and got across in 1 hour. We made it to Hermosillo, Mexico with absolutely no problems and stayed with a couchsurfing connection there. We are about to head to Bahia de Kino to go to the beach and will post more about our wonderful experiences in Mexico soon.
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