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Old 09-06-2007, 12:30 PM   #1
R-dubb OP
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R-dubb's South America Planning Thread

This one will be more a blog to help me stay organized (and hopefully round up some helpful comments and suggestions).

My dear friend Eduardo (Joder!) and I have been looking forward to this upcoming adventure for years. We rode to Alaska together in '01 (Alaska Ride). Upon our return, we soon began to talk about heading south, way south. Eduardo grew up in Colombia. What better way for a hillbilly gringo like me to take the cook's tour. At that time we promised each other within 5 years. Time's up and we're going, this November. It will be a two month whirlwind tour beginning in Quito, and ending in Santiago if all goes according to plan. We ship out in T-minus 66 days. Time to get serious about the preparations. I'm just going to ramble along and talk about various planning topics as time permits.

Topics that come to mind:
Trip concept (who with, where to go, what kind of roads, what bikes, how much distance between stops, budget)
Travel arrangements (bike transport, insurance, documents, contingencies)
Planning the route (maps, guides, GPS, milestones, itinerary)
Bike prep (which bike?, preventative maintenance, spare parts, luggage, ergonomics, electrics, tires, security)
Equipment (riding gear, sleeping, cooking, clothing, tools, parts, communication)
That's it for now. One of my biggest issues at the moment is time management. I've got kid's going back to school, sports, work, a marriage, bills to pay, and too many pet projects. Being prepared to leave home for two months is a big deal. I already feel the anxiety growing on a daily, if not hourly basis. Hopefully this thread will help to stay on top of things.

cheers

R-dubb screwed with this post 09-06-2007 at 01:13 PM
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Old 09-06-2007, 03:27 PM   #2
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Well, this oughta be interesting. Subscribed.

If I may, one suggestion is to keep the bike simple, bulletproof and easy to work on.

I don't suppose you have an xr650 handy?
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Old 09-06-2007, 03:43 PM   #3
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Nice, I'm subscibed too. Lurkin'.
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Old 09-06-2007, 07:51 PM   #4
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Think KLR. There are several touring companies in South America that use them, so there are parts available. Cheap and disposable if needed.
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Old 09-06-2007, 07:55 PM   #5
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This will be interesting as it unfolds.
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Old 09-06-2007, 08:24 PM   #6
R-dubb OP
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The Concept

  • Two months.
  • Ship bikes to a friendly destination in the North.
  • Travel south towards Patagonia in Summer.
  • Invite no more than two additional buddies to join us.
  • A distance oriented (250 miles per day average) itinerary with highlights.
  • Concentrate on the Andes and Patagonia avoiding large cities where possible.
There are three logical choices of a starting point. Bogotá, Quito or Santiago. Eduardo really wants to tour Colombia, but travel restrictions and common sense seem to point to the possibility of long delays and excessive risk. Not sure if that's true anymore, but it will add to the distance and lessen the probability of actually making it to Patagonia. Santiago could be easy, but means not seeing Machu Picchu. We settle on Quito.

That settled, we float the idea to my other best riding buddy, Jean-Luc, and of course, he was right on it. Perfect, well nearly. Eduardo is not much for dirt, and J-L is more dirt the better. I go both ways. A quick review of the facts regarding distances, and it becomes apparent that too much dirt means more risk and less distance, much less. We decide to concentrate on secondary roads and mix in some easy dirt and desert sand in prime locations. In any case, we felt three riders would add an element of safety in case of trouble along the way. All three of us have large dual sports and the long distance aspect seems to favor a big bike for us old farts. We considered middle weights (my KLX650 and KLR's), but opted for the big bikes. More about that latter. It could be the wrong choice.

Next, negotiate with the wives. They all bought in. Well, we had to bribe them. Come meet us for Christmas...
We organize a very rough schedule around meeting for Christmas in Buenos Aires! Timing to make that work will be critical. They arrive on the 22nd and stay till the 3rd.

Oh, one more thing. The wives ran out and bought plane tickets. Talk about commitment!
That's the challenge. Time to go work on a real plan.

R-dubb screwed with this post 09-06-2007 at 08:41 PM
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Old 09-06-2007, 10:15 PM   #7
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Im sure you can pull it off. Sounds terrific.

A friend of mine has been plugging at me to take a trip from NY to Ushuia. Same two-month format. Although thats just one-way, and the return was open ended- I've done only about 2000 miles in Argentina and Chile, so far, but am looking forward to getting down there again, if possible.

From my limited experience, its helpful to know Spanish, but you being on bikes, everyone will love to help, and be very interested in you. Otherwise it was no more serious or outlandish than touring the US in terms of cultural issues.

What are you planning for Medical? Evac was something we opted for on every overseas bike trip so far.


and some really amazing volcanic springs/resorts in Auricaria district in Chile.

Our trips tend to be a day of riding anywhere from 2-500 miles or whatever, and a day of exploring on foot the local area. Just riding everyday is hard to see stuff, you know? Mileage works out about the same as if youre riding everyday, unless youre just ironbutting it.

My hats off to you- I'll be watching.
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Old 09-07-2007, 07:22 AM   #8
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Just my thoughts, but 250 miles per day average sounds like a lot. Considering the roads and sights, that would be five to ten hours every day with no time for sight seeing.
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Old 09-07-2007, 01:19 PM   #9
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Miles per day

I'm a rolling stone kind a guy. Even stopping for pictures takes a little angel tapping me on the shoulder. So the built in efficiency factor is fairly high. We'll stay as flexible as possible on how far to go in a given day. Shit happens. The itinerary will serve as a pace setting device. If we fall behind, then we look for ways to cut mileage. There are many opportunities to do that. If we run ahead (unlikely), then we get a day off or an added side trip.

My experience is that even on bad roads, it's easy to make time in relatively remote areas. By contrast, lot's of towns and villages makes for a slow day no matter how good the road is. That's the balance. Stay off the beaten track, avoid cities and go for the scenic destinations. Remember the southern portion of the trip, which is the most time constrained, has at least four hours of extra daylight. I do agree, 250 average miles (400km) is a lot. We will see. More on the planned route latter. I've had my nose deep in Lonely Planet for the past two weeks.
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Old 09-07-2007, 04:50 PM   #10
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I would avoid Colombia. I have done some caging around Colombia in a bullet proof SUV, not a friendly place, especially if you are percieved to have money or be American. The FARC, ELN and AUC are real and kidnappings are very common. Think Quito, it's a great city, friendly, and there is some good riding. We took one road down to the coast to Manta and then Guayaquil, it was cool.
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Old 09-07-2007, 05:29 PM   #11
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fwiw, i know a few locals here who've been through Colombia recently and they indicate from their research and first hand experience things are improving in Colombia.

also, there's a beemer group in Colombia who are known to provide escort for riders passing through. i'm pretty sure i've heard mention of them on here (advrider) as well, though i can't recall the name of the org.

.02

edit: and there's another guy i just met last saturday who was leaving the same day and will be riding through Colombia solo en route to Tierra del Fuego. i mentioned the tenuous situation there and he said he's been through there numerous times solo.
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Old 09-07-2007, 06:07 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Misery Goat
fwiw, i know a few locals here who've been through Colombia recently and they indicate from their research and first hand experience things are improving in Colombia.
Eduardo confirms what you say. He has family there and keeps in close contact. Things have got better with the exception of Cali and some of the plantation areas. He says that during some seasons the military escorts caravans on major roads (that doesn't sound like much fun). He feels the highway south from Bogata is considered safe during the day. It's a mute point for us anyhow. We've booked flights to Quito.

I would like to go for a ride in Phil's G-man truck though!
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Old 09-08-2007, 05:16 AM   #13
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Dubb,

I'm planning to head north from Ushuaia (or Punta Arenas) in January. It might well take me three months, but I want to ride all the way home.

My needs for this are 1) shipping from Nashville to Punta Arenas, and 2) getting the bike across the Darien.

So do I fedex the bike down?
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Old 09-09-2007, 04:30 PM   #14
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Why take your bike at all?

Quote:
Originally Posted by John™
Dubb,

I'm planning to head north from Ushuaia (or Punta Arenas) in January. It might well take me three months, but I want to ride all the way home.

My needs for this are 1) shipping from Nashville to Punta Arenas, and 2) getting the bike across the Darien.

So do I fedex the bike down?
Why take your bike at all? They got bikes down there which are not sold in America and we got bikes they don't have parts for down there.

The road conditions in the parts of Central and South America I have visited really don't compliment larger bikes. Something 350 or 600 is plenty big enough.

Want to do Central America? Fly to Panama, buy a small Honda, drive it North, sell it in Mexico (or try to bring it across the Border?) and fly home.

Ditto with South America. Fly to Chile or Brazil, buy a bike, ride around, sell it, fly home.

When you consider the costs to ship your bike down and back, Customs fees, and hassle, the idea to Fly and Buy takes on a whole new shine.

Just a thought.
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x32792 screwed with this post 09-09-2007 at 04:36 PM
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Old 09-09-2007, 08:42 PM   #15
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Thumb Fly-buy or rent in S.A.?

That is what I want to do. Fly down buy or rent 650ish size DS. put 5-7k on it and return home. I don't need to take my 990 adv down to have a good time. Any advice on who, what and where on the west coast of S.A., Santiago or La Paz, can do something like this? I would like to go in January.
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tvbh40a screwed with this post 09-09-2007 at 08:51 PM
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