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Old 01-28-2013, 09:19 AM   #346
AnjinSan OP
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Until the next story... some "dirty" memories from the rainy season in the Andes...
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Old 01-28-2013, 10:16 AM   #347
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Cusco is full of them. Banners, posters and lightly bright comercials., all of them offering various trips to Machu Picchu. There are people on the streats, offering as well trips, inviting you to their tourism agency to sit down for “the Machu talk” as we nickenamed it. But, once you start investigating you realize that in fact there aren’t so many options. At least not for the budget minded traveler. And this is because all the Macchu Picchu “universe” is a well greased, excelent functioning tourism machine. From the site admistion fee (a modic US$ 50 per person per day) to accomodation near the site, how to get to the entrance, and even how one can get close to Machu Picchu, everything is well thought of and is working like a clock. A “clock” though that costs a lot.

And I was mentioning, “getting to the site”. The idea is the following: Machu Picchu is on top of a mountain. In order to start the climb on that mountain you need first (obviously) to get somehow to the buttom of the mountain. There there is a single village Aguas Calientes, and to get to it, one has to take a train or… walk. There is no road and no other way. This should be interesting! So we are in Cusco and we have to make a decision. Well the decision is rather straightforward: we would really like to go to Machu Picchu. But you see, when it time to big spendings, after 6 mounths on the road, no decision is straightforward anymore. Not even the good coffee is not making it easier…

And the initial inquieries didn’t helped much. A 4-5 days Inca Trail trip (only ~US$1000 for 2) or a train ride (~US$200 plus all the costs with site entry and additionals), or maybe a 7 hours minibus ride, cheapest of the offerings (yet not really cheap) but somehow speding so much time in the bus, driven by a Peruvian driver didn’t appealed to us that much.

We toss the options back and forward and then we just think, why wouldn’t we skip all the tours, take our bike and ride it as close as possible to Machu Picchu (a village called Sata Teresa) and then make our way on our own to the top. Yeah, let’s do that.



But in order not to start “head first”, we ask around on AdvRider people who took the same route and also talk to Alex, owner of a bike rental in Cusco, figuring that he will know the road conditions. He tells us that we will have around 20 kilometers of tarmac, over a 4300 mountain pass and then around 30 kilometers of dirt roads in “OK condition”.

The road is 240 kilometers long out of which the last 30-40 are dirt. But the views until there are spectacular and full of Inca ruins.

When we asked about the weather Alex told us: “you are in rainy season, the question is not IF it will rain you, but how much and how heavy”. Mrrr, not the best of perspectives but indeed… 50 kilometers under way and we need to stop to put our rain gear. Here we go!

And this is happening just as we are approaching a mountain pass, at 4300 meters.

Normally when I am on tarmac I am not worried about rain. I just slow down and mind my way.

But the thing is… the fog is playing with us as well and there are parts where the tarmac just ends. So you get visibility like this:

And the road can get like this:

And there is something else: when you climb to above 4000 meters, you have to wonder if what you see on the tarmac is just water or there is maybe ice? I don’t have a thermometer and I do not know the temperature but it is getting cold. Really cold.

We get to the top of the pass but unfortunately we cannot see too much because of the clouds. We do see a sign that makes us feel good. It’s not because we did a big thing but because we know that this means we will start descending. Unfortunately we are still in the clouds.

And when the sun does come out, we feel like in a fairy tale:

The road descents about 4000 meters taking us into a… tropical climate, just to start the climb again, on the dirt this time.

Come on, just a little bit more to Santa Teresa. We are slowing down, following the road going up slowly. The river to our left is getting lower and lower. Way too low.


As it rains a lot during the summer (rainy season) all the rivers are bigger than expected. And there are not too many bridges, you have to cross through the water.


Ah, actually we did find a bridge. Notice there are no shoulders or railways and the only option to cross if you are on two wheels is to go “straight” on one of the wooden boards for cars, there are some boards missing in the middle.

Let’s just call it an…. interesting experience and all I could think of while crossing the bridge was that I will have to cross it back again… Scenery is impressive but there is no time for that either. The motorcycle is too heavy for this type of road. But that’s all we have so we have to deal with it.

We get to Santa Teresa and quickly looking for a place to park our bike. By total chance we end up in the same place that our friends from AdvRider.com were last year. So we are ready for the last leg until Aguas Calients, which can be done either by train or… walking. We manage to sync with the train’s schedule and catch it.

In Aguas Calientes we meet Phill who was 1 day ahead of us and was already coming down from Machu Picchu. He took the train tours to here and we congratulate him for his choice. It must be a very pretty ride. He wishes us good luck the next day and we are sure we will be meeting somewhere down the road again.

It’s early morning… and I mean very early! At 5 AM we are up and after a quick breakfast we head out for the buses that take the turists up to Machu Picchu. Although we are quite early the queue is already huge.

There are people waking up very early just to make sure they get up there while there are still few people in the ruins. We end up in the tenth or eleventh bus but still, when we enter the ruins we manage to get “that classic picture”.
Classic! But what a classic! This is one of the most impressive places I’ve seen in my life. The sun is also helping a lot as it shines from behind the clouds just in time.

Yes, Machu Picchu is a place worth seeing. One of the few I could say it “shines” above all the touristy propaganda.

We look around and we can’t get enough. Seeing is nice but hearing stories about this place would be even better. At the gates there are guids that offer their services. We try to get one but again (maybe because we are foreigners) we get a very “incredible” price. Hmm… that’s not going to work.

So… instead we approach an organized group and we ask if we can join in and share the costs to +2. They are very nice, say yes and the guide agrees as well so we join the group.

Things seem to arrange themselves quite nicely. Here we are, in Machu Picchu, reaching it on our own and then having a guide and a fun group to visit the site with.

After the guided tour is over we remain behind, findin a nice secluded place where we can have lunch.

Then we have a last look before descending into Aguas Calientes. The place is by now quite full of tourists but somehow, we still have with us the images from the early morning, when you could walk at your heart content through the empty ancient streets.

One could spend here days, entire days and still have things to discover. But this is true for a lot of places where we’ve been in the last six months. We are happy with the little time we had there, and most grateful that we had this opportunity. I wonder where the road will take us next?
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Old 01-28-2013, 10:33 AM   #348
jbcaddy
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riding along

I am still riding along with you in spirit I would of had a difficult time deciding between riding the motorcycle or riding the train. I love trains and would love to do both means of transportation, but will settle for now just following along with your ride report. Thanks for shareing
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Old 01-28-2013, 10:44 AM   #349
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I vote your report as "Most Likely to Make Me Smile !".
I've enjoyed your veiw of the Americas , all along and I look forward to seeing the occaisions when you don your national dress.
It happened again with the Machu Picchu pic.
Thanks, Kenneth
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Old 01-28-2013, 05:20 PM   #350
AnjinSan OP
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Originally Posted by bk brkr baker View Post
I vote your report as "Most Likely to Make Me Smile !".
I've enjoyed your veiw of the Americas , all along and I look forward to seeing the occaisions when you don your national dress.
It happened again with the Machu Picchu pic.
Thanks, Kenneth
Thanks Kenneth! I have no idea about what this poll means but being voted as the "smile bringer" is quite impressive in my book :)

So we are in Patagonia now and basically Ushuaia is "within sights"... but we still cannot believe it. Amazing things keep happening in this trip, even here in these great steppes. I must say that we are enjoying also the parts we are in now (deemed by others as boring)!

In a way I am sorry that I am writing quite in a hurry and skipping some parts. But I am trying not to fall to far behind and then... internet opportunities are quite scarce here so I am wiring whenever I have a chance. Which is not bad, Patagonia is good in offering other stuff.

Until next time,
Alex

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Old 01-29-2013, 02:01 AM   #351
duncanmac
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Well, guys, I am just blown away by your ride report. I started following you in Canada/USA because in July my wife and I start our round the USA trip and I was looking to learn from your experiences as rider and pillion. It was helpful and fantastic!

I started to lose a bit of interest through Central America, but your experiences and photos of South America have just inspired me so! Because of this, I have now decided that, God willing, in 2015 we will ride South America. (I have not yet told my wife :-))

Keep it coming!
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Old 01-29-2013, 01:35 PM   #352
AnjinSan OP
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Originally Posted by duncanmac View Post
Well, guys, I am just blown away by your ride report. I started following you in Canada/USA because in July my wife and I start our round the USA trip and I was looking to learn from your experiences as rider and pillion. It was helpful and fantastic!

I started to lose a bit of interest through Central America, but your experiences and photos of South America have just inspired me so! Because of this, I have now decided that, God willing, in 2015 we will ride South America. (I have not yet told my wife :-))

Keep it coming!
Duncanmac, Central America is an awesome place. Please don't let in any way our Ride Report (which might be lacking inspiration) put you off about Central America. I would say, do more research and I am sure in 2015 you will want to see Central AMerica too
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Old 01-29-2013, 01:49 PM   #353
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Guys, I am coming back with a technical question.

So, since 2-3 days I hear some strange repetitive noises coming from the chain.

2 days ago I've done a normal adjustment to the chain and the mark lines were at 4 lines. Today (after ~800 kilometers) I've discovered the chain was VERY loose (almost touching the central stand) I've tightned it again and I had to go all the way to only 3 lines to make it OK.

So that's very much in very little kilometers... And after adjustment the "hrsh hrsh" repetitive sound hasn't went away...

The chain is an EK 525, installed in Guatemala, has ~18000 kilometers. It is clean and lubed regularly. Until 2-3 days ago everything seemed OK, no chain noise no nothing. Nothing strange happened and we've used it mostly on-tarmac (other than some offroad in Peru, Bolivia and in Argentina). But no more than 1000 km in total out of those 18 000. So I was relaxed thinking the chain is about mid-life but now... this happened.

We are now in El Calafate so I am a little in doubt what should I do? Any idea about what would cause this and what would be the best course of action? Continue on to Ushuaia or... ?


Thanks for the help.
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Old 01-29-2013, 05:38 PM   #354
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Originally Posted by AnjinSan View Post
Guys, I am coming back with a technical question.

So, since 2-3 days I hear some strange repetitive noises coming from the chain.

2 days ago I've done a normal adjustment to the chain and the mark lines were at 4 lines. Today (after ~800 kilometers) I've discovered the chain was VERY loose (almost touching the central stand) I've tightned it again and I had to go all the way to only 3 lines to make it OK.

So that's very much in very little kilometers... And after adjustment the "hrsh hrsh" repetitive sound hasn't went away...

The chain is an EK 525, installed in Guatemala, has ~18000 kilometers. It is clean and lubed regularly. Until 2-3 days ago everything seemed OK, no chain noise no nothing. Nothing strange happened and we've used it mostly on-tarmac (other than some offroad in Peru, Bolivia and in Argentina). But no more than 1000 km in total out of those 18 000. So I was relaxed thinking the chain is about mid-life but now... this happened.

We are now in El Calafate so I am a little in doubt what should I do? Any idea about what would cause this and what would be the best course of action? Continue on to Ushuaia or... ?


Thanks for the help.
If you put the motorcycle on center stand and spin the rear wheel by hand - with engine off - perhaps there will be an audible indication where the noise comes from, front or rear sprocket or is it a tight spot in the chain. Also check if the chain slack changes by spinning slowly and continuously checking the chain (may be tight in one place and very loose in another), it may have stretched uneven or have some broken rollers on some links.
Check that especially front sprocket is still tight on axle, and both sprockets are worn even.
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Old 01-29-2013, 07:44 PM   #355
AnjinSan OP
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Hi,

yeah, I've checked exactly like that and the news are not very good :(

the front sprocket is worn quite a lot. And even I've seen some piling of metal from the sprocket, sprayed around the place (like small sparkling "dust"). The pins are "shark fin" shape. So that is quite gone. And I don't understand why as the wheel was aligned right and the chain was lubed.

Also the chain is tensing so it is worn uneven. Basically in a full rotation of the chain, there are 2 main "positions":

the chain is either very tight/tensed in a spot or de-tensed for the rest of the time.
That is what was making the noise: when I've adjusted the chain last time, it must have been on the "lose" position... which resulted in a very tight chain when it revolved into "tensed" position. So at each revolution it was "hurshing" and making that awful sound.

Now I've readjusted the chain so that even in tight position it still has the 1.5-2 cm slack. This of course resulted in a much larger slack in the "de-tensed" position but I think this is a better situation than having it very very tight in the tensed position.

The bottom of line: I need to buy new chain and sprockets set after only 18000 kilometers. And I've really taken care of the chain and lubed it and adjusted it. I think next time I might as well try to leave it be and not clean/lube it.

Now the question is: how safe it is to continue using this chain until we get out of "middle of nowhere" and into a bigger town where we will have a chance to change the chain?

And that is a big question, as I would really hope that the chain is strong enough not to brake and allow us to get out of here.
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Old 01-29-2013, 08:30 PM   #356
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I think you will be just fine to make it to a place you can get a new chain and sprockets, this is not an emergency.
I used to get that same problem on my Honda VFR 800 Interceptor 's and I owned 2 for over 45,00 miles each, never had a problem as long as I adjusted the chain with some slack in the tight zone. It will not come out over the sprockets if you adjust slack just under most tense zone. Also consider that when you both sit on the bike and suspension is compressed the chain gets tighter than when checked on center stand. With all the load and two people, you should adjust suspension to put maximum preload on rear shock - that will minimize the chain wear.
The idea is not to overload the transmission pinion bearing because of a too tight chain, that's allot bigger trouble so keep it on the loose side. You probably would have not gotten even half this life out of it if not cleaned and lubed regularly, so don't disregard maintenance.
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:19 PM   #357
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Well Alex, I remember when you saw your brand new chain and said "I wonder how good this is?" The question has been answered. I have a chain last me 40,000 kms and a chain barely lasting 5,000. The longest lasting chains have been OEM yamaha and Suzuki. I have seen sprockets completely toothless, but not the way you baby it, only in copetitions. You will do fine getting out of trouble, but the more important question is, will there be a sprocket available for the Weestrom? You need to start asking and see if you need to have one shipped, like you did here. Big Suzi's like Gunnar are not common down south.
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Old 01-29-2013, 11:25 PM   #358
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Go with a brand name if you can find it, DID or RK chains and OEM original sprockets to get longest life. Reminds me of my old Jawa 350 and using agricultural combine chains in the "sad times" they used to last few months before disintegrating. Thats' when I appreciate the BMW's shaft all the better
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Old 01-30-2013, 04:13 AM   #359
AnjinSan OP
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Guys, thanks for the advices. I am inclined of going on for a while with this one as well. The thing is that the chain is not a no-namer... EK is quite well regarded, at least in the States. And was counting on him getting me home. Well, no problem, as long as we are OK and it will not break on us, is still fine.

Last night I've asked a guy in Chile in Punta Arenas (~700 kilometers from us) and he said it would take 48 hours to get the set from Santiago (and I do not know the price yet).

Also I've asked an Argentinian friend and he will try to find today if I have better chances going to Rio Gallegos in Argentina (~400 kilometers) for a new set.

So all in all I hope at least one of the 2 options will be OK and tomorrow we will head out that way hopping everything will be OK.

In the mean time camping and hopefully today visiting Perito Moreno Glacier as a "civilian" (meaning 80 kilometers of bus or hitchhiking. This should be fun :P)
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Old 01-30-2013, 06:58 AM   #360
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Gret Machu Picchu Post

AnjinSan,

I really enjoyed your Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu observations and pictures. Your positive outlook is serving you well, and you are a great ambassador to Romania.

I hope you are able to quickly and affordably resolve your chain ans sprocket problems?

All the Best,
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