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Old 11-17-2010, 11:28 PM   #31
JGBrown OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sarahp
Man that reminds me of my first major roadtrip on my GL500 (the touring version of the CX500). I still have such a soft spot for those bikes, despite the fact I still consider them very top-heavy: they're virtually indestructible and can go-go-go, provided 1) you don't have too steep of a hill with lots of items, and 2) your stator doesn't get fried.

I'm not sure if you're a part of it yet but check out Honda CX500 and GL500 Forums. The people there are an entire encyclopedia of knowledge on these bikes and were a Godsend for me on more than one occasion!!!

If you're not too in a rush for Argentina check out the deserts in the southwestern states - right now is the PERFECT time to visit weather-wise! I particularly love Joshua Tree National Park but you'd probably like Glamis Dunes (seriously, some of those sand dunes are HUGE) and parts of Anzo-Borrega Desert (I skipped Slab City when I went through, always did regret that).

Subscribed and look forward to reading more about your adventure!

ETA: HA! I check out the CX site and there you are, with several others helping you out. I really do miss my twisted twin now!!!
Good to see you back over there, Larry was wondering if you'd made it past the server update.
The hills aren't a problem with mine, even on wet grass with street tires and fully loaded, tons of low end torque.
Stator problem is fixed with a G8(silverwing one, only one heavier, higher output winding) and an Ignitech box, which eliminates the second winding required for the CDI.

You should buy one of Larry's he's got a survivor(original low mileage) with saddlebags and all GL500 that's been fully worked over with the Larry rebuild, carb job, new windshield right down to OEM stickers on the tank, right now he's getting the original factory paint at 500$ a quart to finish it. nd the project bike, he sourced all new parts, down to every bearing in the engine, new tank, everything, it is better than new.
Mine runs great now that he's had at it, the acceleration alone was worth it. They run better.

Can I ride on the dunes? I stopped at Lava Beds, but got chased out by a storm on the second part of day4/start of day 5, I'd waited 7 years to get there again, and only got two hours, it is full of rangers and tourists and new builds and pavement now.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Backcountryboy
Gotta love ride reports like this, the "gotta get out of town" and unique bike aspects just give them a special high quality flavour.
Thanks, hope you enjoy!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Airhead Wrangler
Several pieces of advice from someone who just got back from the same trip:

1) Google maps won't plan the route because there is NO WAY to drive to South America. You've heard of the Darien Gap right? You'll have to either fly your bike and yourself or find a boat from Panama to Colombia. Neither are cheap, so good luck with that. The easiest place to find a boat is Puerto Lindo east of Colon, but they all want a LOT of money.

2) You'll want to figure out why your bike is burning gas that fast. There are some sections down south where you'll want at least 200 miles of range or you'll be SOL. Remember it's not the states. There aren't gas stations every twenty miles and just because there is a station doesn't mean it has gas. I had about 350 miles of range and still had a few VERY close ones, but then again I took a LOT of crappy dirt roads through the middle of nowhere that you probably won't try on a CX.

3) Have fun. Live it up. Buenos Aires is GREAT. Also be sure to plan on spending some time in Medellin and Bogota in Colombia. Two awesome cities, both very different.

4) Watch your ass. The driving in can be absolutely insane. I got hit by two cars in Colombia. Their fault both times. Also, be sure to by insurance in Colombia or the cops will take your bike away and you may never see it again. It's cheap, so don't try and sneak by without it. Biggest rule of all. DO... NOT... RIDE... AT... NIGHT............EVER. The driving is much worse because everyone's drunk and all the crooks are out trying to f&*k with people. Find shelter or a camp site before the sun goes down. Always.

If you want a preview of things to come, check out the link in my sig. Have fun!!!
1) I keep thinking I need to edit that, so many people are pointing it out to me, I am aware of the Darien Gap, but I thought the humor of it, and my frustration at it's lack of routing even in Mexico or Guatemala would illustrate my amazing ability to underprepare.
I've found so far that to get the good roads like 395, you have to hand drag the route as google maps won't do it, I'm not sure if that's why the road is so nicely empty.

2) If you check out the build thread in my sig, the reason I've been delayed so many weeks, the gas mileage is fixed, it was the chronic carburetor problems older bikes get over time, fixed by the steps in Larry's bookhttp://www.donlhamon.com/carbbook.html. the bike is better than factory now in handling, braking, general performance and mileage. We rebuilt everything, tore the block apart only leaving the pistons in because we didn't have rings, even the main bearings got pulled and inspected, the original honing marks were still in the cylinder.
With the larger standard tank modified and mounted, and the rear fuel cell built, my fuel capacity went from 2 gallons to 7.8, all usable without stopping to fill, I can even pump from the cell to another vehicle if someone else is out. Expected range is up around 350-400 miles a fill, in bad areas I have a old MSR drinking bladder(1.2 gallons) I can fill as well. On 395, there was one area with 120 miles between stations, and Lava Beds was the end of my range, I had to wait at the gas pump in a 20 person town for 3 hours until the owner let me fill up at 7am, 2 hours before opening.
Even with street tires, I've had fun offroad, from the wet grass, mud, gravel and moss I practiced on with the CX, to a summer of riding in mud, loose gravel and even exploring offroad in the Coolees along a river in Saskatchewan, with a Suzuki GS on ancient street tires, steep enough to fall over backwards when my front tire rebounded off a rock hidden in the scrub and loose dirt.
I have every intention of finding the limits of what Aurora and I can handle in remote areas, especially now with the new TKC-80/Duro HF904 tire combination, all of the modifications were geared towards reliability range and durability for those areas.


4) thanks for the heads up, I will avoid it! I guess I won't be in Kansas anymore. No more riding through the night for me.
I think I actually read a lot of that thread while I was still lurking, definitely worth a re-read.
Any recommended fun roads to get on, I'm trying to stay off freeway type roads as much as possible.
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Logbook for
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JGBrown screwed with this post 11-17-2010 at 11:44 PM
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Old 11-18-2010, 12:00 PM   #32
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Hey JG...

Good luck with your trip, I am really looking forward to what you get yourself into
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Old 11-19-2010, 05:26 PM   #33
Foot dragger
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2500.oo Dollars to re do a CX500? Wow! Thats a special ass bike for sure.
Best of luck on the trip. I'll be reading.
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Old 11-20-2010, 06:37 AM   #34
Animo
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Not sure which coast you will follow in Mexico..... But if you are riding through Yucatan/Quintana Roo/Belize give me a shout, especially if you need help with anything. Have a great ride!

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Old 11-21-2010, 10:39 AM   #35
JGBrown OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foot dragger
2500.oo Dollars to re do a CX500? Wow! Thats a special ass bike for sure.
Best of luck on the trip. I'll be reading.
More than that now, I think all in I'm over 3000$ now.

But a cheap price for a brand new bike, fully kitted out and tuned, as well as 3 weeks worth of learning about fixing it. Which is what I've paid for in my mind.
All wearing parts replaced, and tons of custom work.
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Canada to Panama on a 79 CX500: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=62962
Logbook for
motorcycle travelers I'm developing, draft now available for review.
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Old 11-21-2010, 10:39 AM   #36
JGBrown OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matteo2
Not sure which coast you will follow in Mexico..... But if you are riding through Yucatan/Quintana Roo/Belize give me a shout, especially if you need help with anything. Have a great ride!

Thanks! I'll be over that way for sure, going to Merida on the way south.
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Logbook for
motorcycle travelers I'm developing, draft now available for review.
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Old 11-26-2010, 06:49 PM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hardwaregrrl
Good luck with your trip, I am really looking forward to what you get yourself into
I seem to be developing an amazing ability to get myself in the shit. Hope you enjoy that.
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Logbook for
motorcycle travelers I'm developing, draft now available for review.
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Old 11-26-2010, 06:49 PM   #38
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I had planned to stop early and camp on day 4, but when I stopping for gas and talking with the attendant around 4pm I think, since my watch strap broke I don't have exact time anymore. While talking I found out it was supposed to get even colder, well below freezing, and that area has hit some record low temperatures, so I kept on going.

I ran into a couple riders in a little town who's name I can't recall that didn't even have a gas pump, this whole stretch had been very tricky and pushed the limits of my tank and spare gas can often, with detours to find gas.
bear carving at a gas station, I rode with another rider
who has a blog as well, http://hank-went-thataway.posterous.com/31314067

I stopped for gas and he rolled onwards to catch up with his friend, They were trying to make it to Burns, Oregon that night. After tanking up, I rolled onwards too, when I started to notice some signs of incoming bad weather from the north. Rolling through Burns, I stopped for gas as usual, and a UPS driver in the gas station warned me that it was supposed to start raining during the night, possibly freeze and not stop for several days. It was already cold up on the passes, so I wasn't looking forward to riding in rain equipped as I was.
I made a decision to push on, at least to Lava Beds National monument. It's an incredible place to explore, I've waited years to get back since I was there when I was a lot younger and planned to spend a couple of days there. Since it was already fully dark, and I felt the risks of heavy rain, cold conditions and very old street tires would put me in more danger than continuing as I already was. It was a calculated risk, and it paid off, seeing what followed me the rest of the way.
It did however get colder, and with no windshield, heated gear or insulated pants I had been feeling it from a couple hours before sundown. Saddly I didn't take many photographs, but I did end with some pretty vivid images in my mind I'll never forget. The trip took much longer than riding fast down I5, including many small highways who's names I didn't even learn at the time. I have always enjoyed riding at night, I would go as long as 4 hours without seeing another vehicle on the road, and enjoyed it despite the physical misery of the cold. As it was night, the travel time got even longer, while riding in the dark was an acceptable risk, as a couple hours after sundown and the deer tend to be gone from the road. the potential injuries from over-riding my headlight was not. I rolled along between 45 and 50 miles an hour, alternately warming one had then the other on the engine heads to keep my fingers working, a bit of a trick while riding and keeping the throttle open. I learned many new innovative seating positions to try and keep my legs from cramping up and stay out of the wind.
I also started to ride on the edge, a trick I've used in the past to push through on projects and work when I would normally be unable to keep going. To get on the edge is simple in concept, using your body's own survival mechanisms to keep going. The human body has many mechanisms built in. The simplest I've found to sharpen that edge is hunger and cold. By staying hungry when you are cold, your body will refuse to start shutting down for sleep and making you drift off or lose focus, honing the edge takes some practice, just like sharpening a knife, if you go too far you get dull again, too hungry, too cold and you lose that edge as surely as you can roll the edge of a blade. The trick is to keep a balance of the right amount of food for your body to be digesting and expecting more, and just cold enough to keep alert without the dulling effects of hypothermia. This is why it is virtually impossible to fall asleep camping unless you are well fed and warm.

One in the morning I rolled through the California border to find an inspection station like I would have expected at the border of a country not a state. It turned out to be an agricultural inspection station checking for fruits and vegetables that should be entering the state. The man working there was a great guy, an avid outdoors and fisherman, as well as a fellow rider. I ended up staying a couple hours swapping stories, and he let me warm my frozen gear and cold body inside his station. The unexpected kindness of strangers has started to become a theme on my journey.



Rolling onwards it started to get still colder, Riding along the edge of a lake, without any buildings or light within hours of riding and seeing lightning and thunder up on the peaks with the moon glowing off the lake, and the wind gusting waves up was an experience won't soon forget, as well as the continual concern about fuel. Getting off 395 onto some unamed two lane road I started to feel truely alone. It was an eerie ride, as the road descened continually into the black, riding through a narrow cut in the trees, with a small meadow interspersed occasionaly along the way. As usual I ran out of gas, during the day this was an irritation, at night it was frightening, even knowing I was only going to stop and refill from my gallon can strapped to the back, there is something about feeling the engine sputter and stop before you coast to a halt that really leaves a lasting impression. Fueled up and moving again I came across another inspection post where a lady gave me directions to find gas, this part of the state was so empty there were no stations open at night. It was such a small community that she offered to phone and wake up the owner of the closest station to let me fill up. I declined and rode on to find it, a tiny town, one general store with a gas pump and a population of maybe twenty, located on an old back road into Lava Beds. I crashed on the porch of the general store for a couple hours until someone woke up to leave for work, and he turned the pump on to let me fill up, with the wind picking up I didn't waste any time packing up and riding into Lava Beds.



The backroad was the kind of riding I'm hoping to find the rest of the trip, rough pavement and a few gravel sections twisting through the badlands and scrub. Part way into it I surprised a hermit walking along the road, he didn't look best pleased to see me so I didn't stop to talk or take his picture. The rest of the ride the light was amazing, I'd stop, jump off the bike and shoot for a minute then it would vanish again only to reapeear from behind the clouds a few minutes later.













With the road's condition I was expecting to find it unchanged from my memories of years ago.



When I came upon the ranger's station the old saying about never being able to go back again finally hit me, with a wave of real sadness. Like Yosemite did, so too Lava beds has grown, from a small wooden shack to a large visitors post with all the associated t-shirts and memorbilia. Several new shiny rangers vehicles including radar trap vehicles pulled up and parked to start their day. I now believe I have learned from that and Ted Simon's experience retracing his route from Jupiter's travels and the sadness he found along the way, I won't go backwards again.




I was hoping to spend a night and explore the area, but the weather disagreed, I bought a patch for my pack, filled my water and took a quick nap, by that point the gathering clouds started to feel like rain, and a few drops made my decision for me.



I was reminded of a story my dad used to tell about a Norweigan climber who wanted to climb Everest, he rode his bicycle from Norway for years just to climb it, and made it to within a few hundred meters of the top when the weather and time turned against him. Turning around he went down and never made the summit. On such a long trip I believe it's critical to dispassionately evaluate every decision and risk.

Back on the road





Several hours of boring interstate later, I was greeted with more cold mountain passes and an awe inspiring view of Mt Shasta.





I made it to Redding California early in the afternoon where I stopped at Mcdonalds again to warm up and use the internet to write and catch up on homework, at this point I let the edge dull, and decided to stay the night instead of pushing on to Sacramento.
I put up my tent in a small patch of grass behind a gas station across from the Mcdonalds where I made an unpleasant discovery regarding the waterproofing in my tent. It seemed that Kelty did a fantastic job waterproofing the floor, designed the tent body and fly brilliantly but declined to actually waterproof the top. Every hour or two I'd be woken up with the rain inside and dry the roof out again to get some more sleep.
Around ten am the rain stopped and I packed up and rode to Sacramento, for a quick stop and bike check that turned into three weeks of working every day with Larry Cargill, resulting in a one of a kind bike modified to take me to TDF and back in one piece.
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Canada to Panama on a 79 CX500: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=62962
Logbook for
motorcycle travelers I'm developing, draft now available for review.
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=739193

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Old 11-27-2010, 09:45 PM   #39
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Vancouver-Argentina on a 79' CX500

Wow, you and your ride is a true inspiration. Your riding on the "edge" brings back memories of some of rides when I used to live in Seattle.....I even rode to Calgary Canada on an old /2 BMW to hang out with friends in a band that went up there for a gig..and I road back in a blinding snow storm with just a sogging wet WWII sheepskin aviator outfit on....

All the work and love you put into your CX500 is incredible too and finding a guy to help you that knows these bikes inside and out is a real find!

ROCK ON DUDE! THANKS FOR TAKING US ALONG!



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Old 11-28-2010, 12:28 AM   #40
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Old 11-29-2010, 05:20 AM   #41
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I'm enjoying your ride report.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 11-29-2010, 07:00 AM   #42
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How about a couple pics of the 500 after all the work and farkles. This should be an interesting "shoestring budget" report.
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Old 11-29-2010, 12:22 PM   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roninwva
How about a couple pics of the 500 after all the work and farkles.
See his other thread:
Aurora's three week long build thread:
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=635210
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Old 11-29-2010, 05:31 PM   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwoodward
See his other thread:
Aurora's three week long build thread:
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=635210
I had already looked at those and I still see no, after the rebuild, completed, ready to roll, pics. Only some before and during the build pics. Went to the blog and all the final pics on the rebuild are x'd out, can't bring them up.
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Old 11-30-2010, 12:13 AM   #45
JGBrown OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roninwva
I had already looked at those and I still see no, after the rebuild, completed, ready to roll, pics. Only some before and during the build pics. Went to the blog and all the final pics on the rebuild are x'd out, can't bring them up.
Bugger. Thanks for catching that, really helps with other people looking out. I thought I was up to date on the ADV build thread. I'll get right on it. Between the blog software having fits, the image gallery banning me(again) from my own gallery, learning the adobe suite so I don't wipe all my edited pictures(again)
and keeping the threads going on different forums with different posting problems technology is starting to drive me bananas. Maybe I could do the whole thing by postcard Probably be faster!
Madkiwi's kids are helping liven up working on stuff so far at any rate, wish I had their energy! Wonderful bunch. We're 5 in a 2 bed hotel room in LA right now, stories to follow! They're flying out for peru tomorrow, then buying a van or a bus and just going.
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