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Old 09-23-2008, 04:35 PM   #301
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Flat Tire Week

I, Jeff Schnitzer, do hereby declare the first week of September as Flat Tire Week.









There was one other tire removal I neglected to photograph.

Stories will be filled in chronologically.
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San Francisco to Panama and back... eventually?
How I Nearly Killed My Friends In Baja

stickfigure screwed with this post 09-24-2008 at 11:03 PM
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Old 09-24-2008, 08:28 PM   #302
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Zipping through Costa Rica... or not

Nir and I followed the west coast north through Costa Rica. Since we've both spent plenty of time in the country, our plan was to blaze through as fast as possible. Gavin, his Ducati finally fixed, was waiting for us in Nicaragua.

Lots of southwestern Costa Rica looks like this:














Nir's photo

Really! It's all bridges! And a few long stretches of road about to be paved:




Nir's photo

Unfortunately, just as the road turned from dirt to pavement near Quepos, my rear tire went flat. Fortunately I was carrying a spare tube and I was within rolling distance of a llantera! It turns out (as I will soon discover) that no matter where you are in Central America, you are nearly always within rolling distance of a llantera.



I tried to unseat the bead from the tire myself. It's a serious pain in the ass. I can do it, but I'm much happier to leave it to the professionals.

The new tube lasted less than five minutes before going flat in the middle of Quepos. We called it a day.

The next morning was spent running around in the rain with the wheel getting it fixed. We were downgraded to a simpler form of two-wheeled transportation:



The new llantera dude told me that the tube was *way* too narrow and I needed a wider one. This surprised me since I got the spare from Scuderia in SF and they're a top-notch shop. The moral lesson is to make sure you understand the fundamentals yourself and never just blindly trust other people... since inner tube sizing seems to be poorly documented, here's the explanation.

Finally, we were on our way...

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Old 09-24-2008, 08:54 PM   #303
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Speaking of Scuderia, I mentioned your previous post (wishing you had taken a 990 instead) to a friend who was looking for the hard-to-find 690 Enduro.

The next day, he showed up at my place in SF with a left-over new 2007 990 Adventure that he had just gotten from Scuderia! Since you're indirectly responsible, now you have two n00bz waiting for you to show us the rides around here when you get back :)

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Old 09-25-2008, 01:21 PM   #304
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Deferred Maintenance

Some bike-related issues worth mentioning.

* My rear tire is pretty much bald.

* My rear sprocket is nearly round:



San José (and thus a good KTM shop) was an hour or two out of the way. However, since I'm thoroughly sick of San José, I made the decision to push onward and look for a new tire in Managua.

This was a poor decision.
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Old 09-25-2008, 03:13 PM   #305
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Nicoya



The northwestern part of Costa Rica is a large peninsula called Nicoya. This is what I knew about Nicoya:

* Nicoya is the main tourist destination in Costa Rica.
* Several maps, including google, show a road around the coast.
* A vehicle ferry crosses the gap between Puntarenas and the southeastern tip of the peninsula.
* It was raining.

This is a recipe for adventure... the kind that doesn't go as planned

The ferry crossing was short but rainy:



It docked here:



Just off the ferry, the road *immediately* turned to dirt. And by dirt I mean MUD! And the term "road" is being quite generous in places...





Water crossings!





On exit from that water crossing, Nir's (far too loose) chain slipped off. We tightened it then and there.



This is a road??



We landed in the cute little beach town of Montezuma just as darkness set in. It's the little mark on the map above... after several hours of hard riding, we didn't make it very far.

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Old 09-25-2008, 05:02 PM   #306
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Nicoya Part 2

We pressed on.



The river completely wiped out the road here.


Nir's photo

A lot of cars were waiting on the other side... and probably were going to be waiting for a couple days.



It would have been very difficult to get the bikes down and up the muddy embankment... so we dropped tire pressure and went out on to the beach!













This was my first time riding at speed on sand... and it was crazy fun. I must do more of this!

After some length we returned to the road, which rapidly deteriorated.






Nir's photo



This pickup truck had been stuck there for three days because they couldn't get a tractor past the destroyed road sections:




Nir's photo

This was the end, for us. The riverbed was soft mud. I didn't even want to cross it on foot. Later a passing motorcyclist told us what we had already surmised: The coastal road is completely impassible in the wet season - up ahead were even bigger, deeper water crossings.


Nir's photo

The result? We had to return *all the way back* to the ferry landing and take the paved inland route north. Doh!

Oops... going back up that hill was a little tricky:



Back along the beach.







We just made it to La Cruz, just south of the Nicaraguan border. The hotel was unremarkable, but a couple friends came out to inspect the KLR:


Nir's photo

By the way, Nir is a natural. With less than a week of motorcycle experience he's already riding dirt, rain, mud, and sand with the kind of enthusiasm that would impress an eight-year-old. It's really too bad we didn't have a few days to unload the bikes and see how far we could get. This was some of the most fun I've ever had riding!
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Old 09-25-2008, 06:40 PM   #307
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hetman
Speaking of Scuderia, I mentioned your previous post (wishing you had taken a 990 instead) to a friend who was looking for the hard-to-find 690 Enduro.

The next day, he showed up at my place in SF with a left-over new 2007 990 Adventure that he had just gotten from Scuderia! Since you're indirectly responsible, now you have two n00bz waiting for you to show us the rides around here when you get back :)
Nice! I officially have piston-envy.

There are some great rides along the coast to the north of SF but they're all paved. Sadly, the nearest dualsport rides are pretty far away. My riding buddies and I usually leave Friday afternoon to knock out the highway miles, spend Saturday exploring, and then find a meandering route back on Sunday. If we have sportbikes with us they'll take a different route and meet up with us at a prearranged hotel in the evening.

We'd love to have you along. Several friends of mine just started riding (including a couple hotties ) so there's a mix of all skill levels.
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Old 09-26-2008, 12:33 PM   #308
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Great report

I love the trip. It keeps getting better. I added more places that i need to visit. Keep the reports coming and I love the food pictures!
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Old 09-26-2008, 04:13 PM   #309
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Isla Ometepe

Crossing back into Nicaragua, our plan was to meet up with Gavin at the ferry terminal and take the bikes out to Ometepe, the twin-peaked volcanic island in the center of Lake Nicaragua.



Riding along the western edge of Lake Nicaragua, we found these wind turbines under construction:





We met up with Gavin at the ferry terminal. He was in good spirits although he had suffered an accident in the previous week. The consequences were some broken plastic and a groin injury (ouch!) but he can still ride. Having children may be a different matter.

Our destination:



Our ride:



Our bikes, tucked away nicely:



Ometepe is a beautiful island. A road runs a figure-8 around the two volcanoes and half of it is paved. There are a couple small towns but we went out to Playa Santa Domingo, where the pretty hotels are. They're still dirt cheap.

We stumbled on a place called "Little Morgan's". It's beautiful and cost us $6/night each. Unfortunately the owner (an Irish guy named, not surprisingly, Morgan) turned out to be a total asshole, one night getting drunk and turning what was a light-hearted discussion about guns (my experience in Panama, politics of gun control in the US) with some Irish and Australian girls into a really ugly scene. The guy started screaming obscenities at Gavin and I and at one point threatened to knock over the bikes. It was weird, but it was pretty obvious to me that he has deep-seated anger issues with Americans. His Nica wife was deeply apologetic. In the morning Morgan just pretended nothing had ever happened; for all I know he doesn't even remember it.

This kind of stuff doesn't phase me at all. I laughed.





We climbed one of the volcanoes the next day, along with two Australian girls. It was a long, incredibly steep climb, lasting about 8 hours up and back. There were howler monkeys and birds and leafcutter ants everywhere.









The caldera at the top:


Nir's photo


Nir's photo

The following day we left the island. This was not without a minor scare - my bike started having the same inability to rev beyond 3k rpm that left it stuck in the mountains of Costa Rica. This time I had a flat, dry place to work. I drained the carb float bowl and spent 5 minutes running the bike just above idle but below the cutout point. It finally started revving and has been reliable since.

I'm not sure if this is caused by water in the carburetor or water in some other part, perhaps the ignition system. Rain is definitely an issue.

On the way back to the ferry (via a dirt road) Nir's rear tire went flat. A can of fix-a-flat got him to a llantera:





Waiting for the ferry:





The first ferry they tried to load us on was a passenger ferry not designed for vehicles. They put up a short, steep, narrow ramp to the top deck. We would have had to strip off the luggage to fit between the railings and even them I'm not sure it would work. The probability of dropping a bike into the lake was pretty high so we said "no thanks" and waited for the large vehicle ferry in the afternoon. I was surprised they were even willing to try.
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Old 09-26-2008, 05:50 PM   #310
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San Juan del Sur

We spent a night in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua's main surf destination. It was only an hour from the ferry terminal.



San Juan del Sur is reasonably nice but seems awfully expensive for Nicaragua. We had some pretty good food.

Gazpacho (I order it without fail when I see it on a menu):



Spicy sesame ahi tuna:



A chicken dish:



The best part of San Juan del Sur was trying to ride out to the beaches north!

A deep water crossing:






Nir's photo


Nir's photo

Mud!



Gavin doesn't like the mud so much:



It was Nir's fault for stopping in front of us on a steep hill, really!



Unfortunately I got YET ANOTHER flat tire. The lack of tread is probably not helping. The llantera was 100 meters away.





Power was out, so they filled by hand.



This is where I'm starting to really regret not going to San José in Costa Rica. It turns out there are no big tires in Nicaragua! Nobody sells them. In fact, nobody even sells an inner tube of the appropriate dimensions. I rode the KLR to San Juan, bought the biggest (but still way too narrow) tube I could find, installed it on my bike, and rode carefully along the dirt road to Rivas. There I bought Yet Another Inner Tube (still too narrow but better) and had it installed at a llantera (for $3). Why didn't I at least buy multiple tubes of the correct size in Costa Rica?



I can now get my rear wheel off in about 20 seconds.
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Old 09-27-2008, 08:16 AM   #311
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Storm at -45 ft

[please excuse this momentary break in chronology]

Last night I did a moonless night dive off the west end of Roatan. I sat on the seafloor at 45 ft, turned off the lights, and watched as a lightning storm flash-illuminated the otherwise pitch-black world around me every few seconds.
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Old 10-01-2008, 08:08 AM   #312
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stickfigure
[please excuse this momentary break in chronology]

Last night I did a moonless night dive off the west end of Roatan. I sat on the seafloor at 45 ft, turned off the lights, and watched as a lightning storm flash-illuminated the otherwise pitch-black world around me every few seconds.
Very nice.. I told you that Roatan was nice (as long as you stay out of Coxen hole at night ) . some of the best snorkeling / diving around. I just got back from my 5500 mile solo ride to vancouver and back to fort worth and after catching up with my suscribed threads..(yours inparticular) I'm already looking forward to the next trip in March to Baja/mainland.

Oh, and if you get a chance go to Jonestown.. and eat at the "hole in the wall" but get there early.. the lobster / barbaque is very good and you have to park the bike and take a water taxi over. hit me up if you want some more info.. but I'm sure your more than capable of finding the cool spots
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Old 10-01-2008, 09:57 AM   #313
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Don't come home.

Hey Jeff - I can't believe you're still on the trip! We returned home on September 3rd and after 3 days I was totally plugged back into the rat race and forgot we had even ridden to Panama and back!!!...I'm glad we took lots of pictures to refresh my memory.

Isn't the vibe a bit different when you're heading north? Even going through new parts of the same country, it's somewhat weird to say goodbye to a county...and places where you swear you'll come back with a hoard of friends (Roatan comes to mind), realistically how many years is that going to take? "Home" is overrated!!!....stay on the road as long as you can!!!
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Old 10-05-2008, 10:34 PM   #314
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Stickfigure,

I have not checked in on your ride report in a couple of weeks.

The latest photos are amazing in the mud and rain.

Awesome stuff!
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Old 10-06-2008, 07:38 AM   #315
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awesome ride report and photos stickfigure!

Quote:
Originally Posted by stickfigure
The best part of San Juan del Sur was trying to ride out to the beaches north!
ahhh, i remember this road. it was fun, but definitely don't try to cross over into Costa Rica this way (i was held by some confused and unhappy military personnel who checked my documents extensively before making me turn back).

Quote:
Originally Posted by stickfigure
Unfortunately I got YET ANOTHER flat tire. The lack of tread is probably not helping. The llantera was 100 meters away.
one of the most frequent questions i got was "what do you do when you get a flat tire?"

"well, just find the closest llantera! they're never more than a few hundred meters away!!!"
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