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Old 03-23-2013, 07:19 PM   #1
camitzi OP
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Joined: Feb 2013
Location: Vancouver BC
Oddometer: 94
Chasing the KTM from Vancouver BC to Ushuaia and back

We started this trip last year in October, and we started a blog as well, but a lot of people asked us why we didn't blog on adv. Well, because I didn't even have an adv account until recently. So, it might be a bit late, but we decided to put it here too. I will load the story from the beginning, and then I will update as we go.
We are two riders, my boyfriend on a KTM 990 Adventure (the best bike ever according to him) and I, on a BMW F 650 GS (the best bike for me, as I don't have the advantage of long legs).
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Old 03-24-2013, 10:16 AM   #2
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Let's get started

We've got this idea years ago, that it would be nice to go all the way down to South America on a motorbike. At that time I wasn't even riding a bike. Or actually I was, on the back seat. Vasile was riding a Suzuki V-Strom at the time, so the plan was to go two up.

Turned out that riding is a catching*disease. I got the bug too, and now I am riding a BMW 650 GS and Vasile upgraded to a KTM 990 ("OMG, the best bike ever!!!" - according to him).

So here we go, getting ready for the big South-American adventure.We will be riding our motorcycles from Vancouver BC all the way to Ushuaia, Argentina. Or at least this is the plan. Excited!!!!

We will leave on Oct 1st, accompanied by a couple of good friends, Robin and Matt. They will join us for a month down to Mexico, after which they will turn around and we will continue our journey.

Vasile and Matt became friends when Vasile bought his KTM 990 from Matt. And now they are twins:) So the trip starts with two KTMs and two BMWs.

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Old 03-24-2013, 11:02 AM   #3
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I needed Vasile's help on this blog, as mechanics is his forte, not mine, so he's the one who edited this blog.

HE chose the bike best suitable for what lay ahead. Any decent rider should know there can only be one – the KTM 990 Adventure. Its pedigree is ready to take on all comers in a stylish free for all fashion.

I purchased my bike one year and two months prior to departure and ever since it was a non-stop steep learning curve. Watching youtube videos everybody thinks they can spin the wild big elephant by the tail, but when one saddles the dragon they’d better hold on, cause there’s only two ways to get off: in a hurry or ride it off. In the same package with the bike came a life-time friendship that words and a blog cannot do proper justice.

The bike as it comes out of the factory is ready for an adventure, but here is the list of mods that I did. Starting from the front:

-******* Rims: Replacing the stock 2.15 rim with Excel 1.85 rim (which is much more suitable for the off-road and doesn’t sacrifice a lot of the smiles on-road).

-******* Front Suspension: Super Plush .70 Spring load (“Stiffler” Suspension… when you wanna’ turn that marshmallow “into an offer you can’t refuse”).

-******* Windshield: KTM Touring (so you don’t have to stop every 30 km and clean the pizza off your visor).

-******* Lights: HID H4 Bi-Xenon High/Low beam bulb (not a must, unless you’re Radek dipping your toe into the Baja 1000 with the big elephant)

-******* Crash Guards: SW Motech

-******* Cooling Fan: Secondary Cooling Fan from KTM Twins (a must have fan if you want to fly hiiigh like a butterfly when you pass through a 45 degree gradient slope)

-******* Skid Pate* – Touratech (or Black Doggy Dog from KTM twins as my much better riding friend has – must have unless you want to visit the doc for an engine rebuild).

-******* Side Stand Relocating Bracket (a must have if you want to keep that smile on and the $4000 engine rebuilt in your pocket)

-******* Foot pegs Extensions: KTM Twins ZipTy Racing KTM 690/950/990 Adventure Enduro Foot peg Extension Kit (better control of the bike, less pulling on your controls)

-******* Luggage System: Jessie Backs with pannier mounting bags.

-******* Mod (Motorcycle Overland) Rear Rack.

-******* Roto Packs 2 gallon Jerry Cans with mounting bracket (for the petrol head)

-******* Tires: Hydenau K60 Scout Front and Rear (tires of choice)

-******* Oxford Heated Grips

-******* Acerbis Hand Guards

-******* 12 V outlet

-******* CrashBar Bags

-******* Maintenance Prior to the trip

  • 75,000 KM:

    • Valve clearance

    • New rear wheel bearings

    • New spark plugs

*79,000 KM:

- New air filter

- cleaned pre-air filter

- new front bearings

- new sprocket carrier bearings

- coolant flush

- oil change
- brake fluid change

- clutch fluid change

- new clutch kit

BMW F650 GS Twin

SHE chose the best bike for HER needs due to the physical limitations and she bought the best bike money can buy. But don’t let that fool you. This is the “pink crush” of the female world: silky smooth and flick-able like a stripper shoe.

-******* As it comes from the factory the bike is suitable for reasonable gravel roads.

-******* But a suitable skidplate is a must for a low-clearance motorcycle.

-******* Touring windshield, SW motech pannier racks, BMW hand guards and engine guards.

-******* Mod Motorcycle Ovealand Rear Rack.

-******* Givi paniers.

-******* Foot pegs extensions.

-******* Battery Volt Meter.

-******* Tire of choice (Hydenau K60 Scout)

  • Maintenance prior to the trip.

    • Valve adjustment.

    • Spark plugs.

    • Check air filter.

    • Front and rear bearings check.

    • Coolant flush.

    • Brake fluid flush.

    • Oil and filter change.

  • Spare parts (for both bikes):

    • Brake Pads

    • Fuel Filters

    • Air filter (just for BMW)

    • Front and rear sprocket for KTM (because I already have them)

    • Oil filter.

    • High pressure oil hose (2 ft)

    • Tools and tire repair kits (electric compressor and hand pump, chain lube and lots of chain cleaner)

And the secret ingredient – SMILEY SIDE UP, RUBBER SIDE DOWN!!!*

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Old 05-27-2013, 10:25 PM   #4
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Joined: Apr 2012
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Originally Posted by camitzi View Post

So utterly tacky. A first world couple on a first world vacation through third world countries who have undoubtedly witnessed extreme poverty have the audacity to seek out donations. Why the hell would anyone donate to your vacation rather some cause to alleviate suffering. Disgust
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Old 05-30-2013, 02:17 PM   #5
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Loool - why so unhappy brah? you're toilet's not working or something. Stinks from over here! Not the smell of s**t but your ego.

What they are doing takes a lot of courage. And you passing judgement with no knowledge about them speaks volumes about your fears and inadequacy.

How about we see your travels and your blog?

As far as donations? Do you buy books or movies, or do you download everything off torrents? If you actually worked for a living the you understand the expression "Time is money". Them writing this blog and taking the pictures and editing them for your reading takes effort and time from their trip.
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Old 05-30-2013, 02:23 PM   #6
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Hey First World Couple!

So I finally made and account on ADV! and now I can look at all the posts and start vomit my envy at your adventures too!

By the way I think that's a pretty catchy line:
"First world couple in third world countries" (when I first read it, it sounded like a compliment, but I guess it's all context and when I read the rest of the post I knew all is normal the internet stayed as it was).

I'll be quick in this post - but man - stop posting pictures of food - I'm dying over here!!!
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Old 03-24-2013, 11:11 AM   #7
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First couple of days

So we left Vancouver heading to the misterious South America.

It took us about an hour and a half to cross the border. And then another 2 hours to wait for our good friends, Traian and Razvan, who are pretty much going to do the same trip as us, but on a G-Wagon, and in half the time. We saw them right behind us, but it turned out they had the truck surched at the border, so it took a while.

We finally reunited, so we can part ways again. We will head to San Fran, for a couple of days, and they will head to *Yellowstone National Park.

We will most likely meet again in Los Angeles, and cross the border together.

We had a great ride the first day. Nice twisties, beautiful weather, until we hit the mountains. It all changed in the evening, so the first night we camped in the pouring rain, at*New Haven. We enjoyed it though: some Grand Marnier and Cyder warmed us up, and good friendship and company made a great evening.

Next day the wheather looked a lot better, so we got up after very little sleep (too cold for me, so I could not really sleep much), and back in the saddle. Beautiful ride through Winthrop, and then we decided to stop in this little gorgeous Bavarian town called Leavenworth.

After having a delicious Bavarian saussage, and a very good glass of wine, we are ready for a good sleep, and then the next ride

And you know what? I realized I didn't come all the way here for nothing. Suddently, when I saw this little thing, it dawned on me

So this is not just a ride, it's free therapy (well, free might not be the right word).

As we got back to our time share (I know, we got fancy this time:) Mat and Robin have "relations") we just found an email from Razvan that they got stuck with the G-Wagon in Missoula. Something wrong with their transmission. They are waiting for parts to come from Vancouver. Hopefully they will still catch up so we can meet in Los Angeles.
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Old 03-24-2013, 11:29 AM   #8
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Good people still exits

Yesterday we had a nice surprise: Cristian, a very good friend of ours, came to join us in Lavenworth. He will be riding with us for 4 days (Chris, I hope you didn’t quit your job at the bank again ). He got here in the middle of the night, making Vasile believe someone stole his bike (Chris is riding the same bike, a KTM 990).

In the morning, at breakfast, we met this little nice lady, Clarice, who offered us to stay at her cabin, close to Bend, called La Pine. For FREE!!!! We could not believe how generous she was!

So we hit the road (zero degrees Celsius outside) and we kept riding through these really nice winding roads all the way to Bend. We found Clarice’s husband, Karl, who was more than welcoming and he invited us inside. The cabin was more than we would have ever expected. This cute little thing with a really old TV, stove and fridge, it reminded me of my grand parents’ house. A really nice cosy little place where we cooked some sausages and we had dinner and a glass of wine. Thank you Clarice and Karl!

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Old 03-24-2013, 11:38 AM   #9
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Riding on the coast of California

After a great night at Clarice and Karl's place, we hit the road again, heading to Douglas City. We had a last camping night with our friend Cristian; the next day*Cristian and us parted ways. He turned around to go back to Vancouver (and I heard he got there pretty early, he must have flown back or that bike has more horse power than we think it does).

We took some really scenic routes (Hwy 3 and Hwy 36) and then into some back roads, coming out into Hwy 101 to Garberwille. We stopped to gas up in that little town, where everyone seemed to be very*happy. We met a guy at the gas station, and after a little chat about our trip, Vasile asks him "So, what are you doing in this little town?" And the answer comes very honest: "I grow weed, just like everyone else in this town" Now this explains a lot

Robin, Mat, Vasile and I took the Hwy 1 towards the coast, a beautiful twisty road; we had a lof of fun!

Then we found a nice place to camp on the beach, and celebrated Robin and Mat's wedding anniversary with some cheap wine and expensive cheese.

And this is what we woke up to the next day:

Next day we got to San Francisco, where I spent a couple of days of quality time with family, and Vasile fixed his leaking rear suspension at Superplush Suspension

and went to KTM twins to put a face to the voice with the KTM Twins owner (who is an awsome guy).

Tuesday we left San Francisco, and I dropped the fully loaded bike right in front of my sister's house, before we left, leaving my sister and mom pretty worried, I think


We got to San Jose, where we were planning to camp up on the hill, but it got dark, so we had to turn aroud and find a motel. This is San Jose viewed from up the hills:


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Old 03-24-2013, 11:42 AM   #10
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San Jose to Palm Springs

We left San Jose the next morning, and we hit again the twisties, to cross Mount Hamilton.

Beautiful road, and lots of deers and squirrels on the side of the road (everywhere, not just here), which is cute, but also made us be a lot more careful, since they can jump in front of you anytime. Especially the squirrels, those little things love to cross the street right when you are speeding towards them – crazy adrenaline junkies

We stopped at the University of California Observatory, on top of the hill, to take pictures.

Then we rode through the desert all the way to San Luis Obispo.

We camped at Avila Beach Hotsprings and we watched a movie while in the hot pool (that was a first, and it was awesome!)

The next day we woke up in the pouring rain, and we decided we didn’t like to be wet, so why not ride to Palm Springs, where it was nice and sunny. The plan was to get going, and get out of the rain as soon as possible. Well, turned out “soon” was 8:30 PM, when we got to Palm Spring. We rode a whole day in the pouring rain! I think someone up there figured our gear needed a good wash.

When we got to Palm Springs, the wind gusts were so strong there were dunes of sand on the highway!!! I was the lucky one, I did not hit too much sand, but Vasile and Robin danced big time on their bikes. We thought the ride through storms and dark was hard, but hitting the sand in the middle of the highway at 50 miles an hour made that look like a piece of cake.

But in the end all the efforts were so well worth it! We had a great time by the pool today, and then walking around downtown Palm Springs with Robin.

In the meantime Matt and Vasile went to have the new tires for Matt’s bike installed. They were all excited about this huge biking store in San Bernadino that had anything a biker would ever need, all sizes, all colours etc.

Tomorrow, another lazy day for me and Robin (this is my idea of adventure - just kidding, but I needed a rest), while the guys are going to play a bit in the sands of the Mojave desert – Joshua Tree State Park.

To be continued
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Old 03-24-2013, 11:51 AM   #11
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Fun in the sand pit - edited by Vasile

Matt told me that he was going to take me riding in the desert today. A lot of you that know me will know that I get pretty excited about things like this.

We started off around noon going toward Joshua Tree National Park in the Mojave Desert. My day changed as soon as I turned my ABS off.

Once off the pavement, we hit some really nice sandy parts with a lot of big boulders, some paved patches, crossing the San Andreas fault. It took me only a few seconds to warm up in the sand, and then I realized I had to be on the throttle in order to keep the smile round:)

We went through a canyon, which was the most technical part of the way.

Then we got up on a ridge, on more sandy and flowy stuff. That's where Matt kicked it in high gear.

All in all, it was a really beautiful, scenic landscape, with Joshua Trees on both sides of the road. The temperature was just right for riding in the desert (87 F).

We stopped after a pretty fast sandy section for lunch and we met three guys from New York on BMWs 1200 GS.

We took the highway out of the park and rushed back to our time share to hit the well deserved swimming pool.

We had a really, really great day, and now we are having stake dinner with our girls, and preparing to cross the Mexican border tomorrow, early in the morning.

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Old 03-24-2013, 11:56 AM   #12
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Crossing the Mexican border

Today we woke up at 6:30 am, to leave early for the border. Our friends Traian and Razvan came to Palm Springs (at 7 am sharp!) to meet us, so we can cross the border together and spend a few days with us.

Around noon, we were at the Mexican border. I didn't even have to stop, they just made me sign to keep going ("Ande, ande"). I did not have to take my helmet off (can you believe that! that's what I hate the most each time I cross the border on my motorbike), I did not even have to show them my passport! We passed the border in less than a minute, which was great.

Then we crossed through the desert heading to San Felipe, where we planned to stay for the night. Incredibly hot! I cannot believe I got to miss the rain in Vancouver! After a few hours of riding through the scorching desert, I was quite ready for a cold shower and a good beer.



And yes, we got to San Felipe, and we found the beer place, a little shop on the seawall!

We asked the locals about a good "campo", and they recommended us Kiki's, on the beach. Went there, liked it, decided to stay.

We pitched the tents in a palapa (except Traian and Razvan, they had their tent on top of their truck), we had a great dinner, and now we are having a good time and XX beer with our friends

I am loving it! Hopefully soon we can convince Traian to get the guitar and play some good songs.

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Old 03-24-2013, 12:05 PM   #13
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San Felipe

In San Felipe we stayed until late, singing Romanian folk, accompanied by Traian's guitar. We probably kept the whole campground awake:)

And this is what I saw from the "window" of my palapa when I woke up this morning:

Then we went to the beach for another short session of folk singing and a swim. The water is incredibly warm and nice.

Then we realized that in order for us to cross from La Paz to Mazatlan, we need import permits, which apprently are issued at the border. And we do not have them. So here we are riding back through the desert back to the border. We rode again by this white field of salt flats.

We get to the border just so they can tell us that that's not the right place to go, we have to ride about 10 km to Garita 2. We get there and we spend about 2 hours walking from an office to the other, as they send us, to get our papers. Happy to finally have them (and sad to be a few hundred dollars lighter), around 5 pm we start riding back to San Felipe. It is a 2-3 hours ride, so half of it (parts of it gravel road) was in the dark (against all the advices we've got not to ride in the dark). But we got to San Felipe safe and sound, we had some delicious tacos, and now we get hydrated with some beer (it was again 38 Celsius today, so we all got very dehydrated riding; I have never felt so hot in my life, and those of you who know me, it will probably be hard for you to believe that I complained about being too hot!!)

Robin decided to return to the states and then back to Canada. So we rode together to the border, said good bye, and parted ways. Thanks for the awesome ride together Robin. We will miss you! Matt will keep going with us for a little while.

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Old 03-24-2013, 12:14 PM   #14
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Unplanned adventures in Baja

Next, we left from San Felipe to go to Guerrero Negro, even though the weather forecast showed hurricane Paul was still there. Our friends Traian and Razvan had left the day before, straight through the hurricane. In their own words "The next day we were surprised to see our truck still had wheels".

The road in between was about 110 km paved and about 100 km of gravel. The paved one was a lot of fun on the bike. Lots of washouts and great scenery.

And then we hit the gravel ,which was fun too....for a while. There was a lot of sand and loose gravel, which made it quite technical.

Here we passed a military check point, where they searched our panniers, apparently for guns and drugs.

And then not very long after that, about half way in our journey, the sand and I had a little disagreement, and I lost. I went a bit too far to the side of the road, and I caught a very deep loose gravel and sand patch. I was used by now to the bike dancing on this gravel road, but this time it just went crazy, and I lost control of it and I high-sided at about 50 *km/ hour. After I landed, I could not move or talk for a few minutes (almost giving Vasile and Matt a heart attack) since I could not breath, but then I recovered and I could stand up.

Initially I thought I was absolutely fine, just a bit shaken, and we were making plans as to how to get out of there, since my bike had a bit of a makeover:)

But as the adrenaline wore off, I started feeling a sharp pain in my chest, so riding the bike out of there was out of question. As we were making plans how to ride two up or something to the closest comunity, we saw a truck driving by.

He stoped and he asked us (hoping, for sure, that the answer would be no) if we needed any help. Here was our saviour! An American guy from Phoenix, Arizona, driving through the desert, having a margarita, looking for something fun to do (well, I don't know if he found exactly what he was looking for).

Turned out he had a pick up truck too (and a ramp for the bike!), so he went back to his place (about 10 minutes drive from there) and brought the pick up truck, we put the bike in the truck, and with me in the passenger seat, we headed back to San Felipe, to the hospital.

Until then, I did not realize how long the ride had been on the gravel road. But on the way back, it definitely felt like forever, since it was really bumpy and I was in a lot of pain. But we managed to get back to San Felipe, a couple of hours later (thank you, Jacob!)

just to find out that the hospital had closed, and they only had a small clinic. We went to emergency, they gave me an IV for pain, took my blood pressure and my pulse, and they told me I was good to go, since I was stable, even though I was in a lot of pain and I could barely breath. I asked them if I had anything broken, and the answer was "I am sorry, we do not have any kind of scans here, all we can tell you is that you are stable". Despite this, I have to admit I was very pleasantly surprised though of how nice and carefull they were, and how preocuppied for my pain . But unfortunately they do not have the right equipment to do more. And one more thing: the clinic did not charge me a penny, even though I went back the next day for another IV. Absolutely free! In BC, if you are not a BC resident, you pay a few hundred dollars just for being admitted into the clinic, before you even see a doctor!

Eventually they sent me to a private doctor's office to have an x-ray done ($30 for an x-ray!!! We could not believe it. I do not want to imagine how much this would have costed in US or Canada). Took the x-ray back to the clinic the next day, and after a small debate between the doctors there (broken ribs - no broken ribs) they decided I had no broken ribs. Just bruised bones and muscles from the shock, so I need at least 15 days of rest before I start feeling normal, according to them.

So here I am, like a good girl, spending my time on the beach or in bed resting all day (we had to take a hotel room, since palapas were not good enough for me anymore ), eating delicious Mexican food and enjoying the sun . The pain is getting better each day, so hopefully soon I can jump in the saddle again.

More news to come. Stay tuned.

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Old 03-25-2013, 04:02 AM   #15
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Can't wait for future updates so count me in

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