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Old 12-04-2010, 08:40 AM   #1
mirantesMT OP
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My first dirt ride in Brazil...

I came to Brazil to start organizing adventurous motorcycle tours, so I needed to get out there and explore. End of may 2009 I set out with my brand new Yamaha XT660R and ended up entering a 4x4 trail that would take me from the BR155 (the road from Barra Mansa - Volta redonda to Angra dos Reis) to Bananal crossing the Serra da Bocaina. What started out as just another ride, turned into a two day adventure...

I started out just after lunch, and that was a first mistake... At the end of may, it gets dark early, around 6pm, letting few margin for errors or things going wrong. Also, End of may is end of automn meaning that the winter is just around the corner. Brazil may be a subtropical country, but in the winter period, at higher altitudes, it gets very cold, even freezing.

I took the BR155 heading south towards Angra dos Reis with no particular plan in mind. Just enjoy the ride and see what happens. I passed the city of Rio Claro and about 14km further south, I saw this dirt road to the left that looked very inviting. My bike at that point, was 3 weeks old, had about 1500 km and it would be a good chance to test it on dirt.

I entered the dirt road and the first 10km were pretty cool, with some gravel but very easy to ride. I was very pleased with how the bike behaved in the curcomstances. Twice, I entered a side road, but these all lead to fazendas and I had to turn back...


One of the waterfalls on the first part of the trail.

At one point I made a left turn and started folowing a road that clearly was of another category. instead of a gravel road, it became a two track trail with many difficult stretches, like steep climbs where I had to maneuver over and around big chunks of rock or descents on wet, slippery red soil...

Then I came across this river, and it was clear that this could be the point where I had to turn back.

This river was the first big obstacle...

I decided to take a closer look, took off my boots and waded to the other side... The river was about 80cm deep in the middle and the bottom was covered with big, slippery rocks. I decided that, given the fact that I was all alone, about 20km from the main road, I didn't have a lot of off road experience, the bike was brand new... that I would be better off walking next to the bike to get to the other side.


I made it safely to the other side...

I kept pushing further on the 4x4 trail, ended up on another fazenda, asked for directions to get through to bananal, which nobody seemed to have, got stuck in the mud at one point and had to give it everything I had in me to get free... I was also constantly climbing, and to be honest, the trail wasn't getting any better... I noticed that in the difficult steep climbs, I constantly had to use the clutch to prevent the engine from dying, and decided that the XT660R was not the ideal bike to go 4x4... not in the standard configuration that is...


Another obstacle... a bridge made from branches, covered with some dirt. Good for cows, but tricky for motorcycles...

Around 4.30pm, I was about 1300m high and, due to many wrong turns and getting stuck in the mud, only 25km into the trail... And it still wasn't getting better...


one of the fazendas I encountered after taking a wrong turn... Here, people use horses and mules to get to places...



Another wrong turn... I returned, and a little further is where I got stuck in the mud crossing what looked like a small stream, but turned out the bottom was all deep mud


Here is where my clutch finally gave up... This picture is from the day after...

Bear with me here, grab some coffee and read on... It gets really interesting.

Ok, I don't have any more pictures of that day from the moment that the clutch broke down. I was at an altitude of 1300m, in the middle of nowhere, without cellphone coverage (what else is new) and it was close to getting dark (and freezing cold) so I wasn't thinking about anything else than how to get out of there... Taking pictures was the last thing on my mind...

I had my Petzel headlight, water and some food and enough clothes, but the idea of spending the night next to the bike and having to get back to the road on foot the next day anyway, wasn't very appealing
Also, my wife hadn't heard from me since I left the house, and was probably getting worried already. Not being able to contact her the whole night was simply no option.

After thinking about the situation, I decided to walk the 25km back to the road, or to a point where I would have cellphone coverage (wich was probably going to be the same distance ) and contact the people at home to arrange for someone to come and pick me up... My biggest worry was leaving the bike behind unprotected, but the point where the bike was, was practically unreachable, even with a 4X4 so I figured that the chance of someone going there and steal it was virtually zero.

I started walking back, and literally 5 minutes later I see this guy on a horse, making his way across the hills. He also had two big dogs... At that point, it's kind of a double feeling... you hear all these stories about people getting killed, and frankly, if this guy would have wanted to shoot me and take my bike apart and sell the parts, nobody would ever know, because nobody (not even me) knew where I was going to end up that day. That is part of the adventure, right?...

I shouted out to the guy and he started coming my way... The two dogs aproached me a lot faster than he did and I felt pretty nervous, but I quickly saw that they didn't have the intention to attack me. When the guy was close enough to have a conversation (he never got off his horse) I tried to explain to him what had happened. My Portuguese at that time was horrible, but I think I was able to explain to him that I needed a phone to call my family to warn them that I wasn't going to be home anytime soon. He didn't say a lot, and from what he said, I could only understand about 10%. Also because I crossed the border with São Paulo somewhere along the road, and people have a different accent in their portuguese.

the guy signaled me to follow him and that's what I did... Him on his horse and me running (yes... Running) behind him, carrying my backpack, my helmet and the bike gear... I wasn't going to let anything with the bike that could easily be stolen, right?

I thought he was going to lead me to his house, where he would have a phone with a landline, but instead he took a really small and muddy path that was climbing even higer... in the mean time it was starting to get dark.
After half an hour of this jungle run, I started to think all kinds of stuff... this guy is going to wear me out, finish me off and sell my bike, was the strongest thought. wearing me out would take him some time, since I can say I'm pretty fit for my age, but he could have a gun in his saddlebags and I'm sure I'm not going to outrun a bullet. I took my leatherman (multitool which has several knives ) out of the sidepocket of my backpack and held it in my hand, ready to try to defend myself if necessary. After 45 minutes, we finally reached the top of a hill, probably the highest in the area, and the guy got off his horse and started to open his left saddlebag. I immediately made sure I was close enough to stick him with my knife if he would take out a gun. Instead he took out his CELLPHONE... I felt so crappy about thinking such bad stuff about this guy. He explained that, from this hill, I could try to make a call, since there was a good chance that I would have a signal from the tower of Rio Claro... Unfortunately, I didn't have a signal. 45 minutes of jungle running for nothing... And now I had to go back down as well.

So, after the guy made a few calls, he got back on his horse and started to head back down. It should have been easier for me than the ascent, but in the mean time it was pitch black, and I fell at least 4 times before we were back at the beginning of the jungle trail. All the way down I was wondering about how the hell I was going to ask him to give me a place to spend the night... I was still thinking that walking back to the road would be the best option, although I started to feel pretty tired now .

When we were almost back at the point where I met him, we saw car lights coming from the other side. My friend made the car (actually, a 4x4 pickup) stop, and after a few words, he signaled me to come closer... In the pickup, 3 guys were sitting in the cabine and 1 other guy was sitting in the back, which was filled with 6 dogs. These guys were coming back from a hunting party, and the most amazing thing was, that they were from Volta redonda (that's where I needed to go)... and they agreed to give me a ride... AWESOME, no?

There was no other choice than to sit in the back with the youngest of the gang and the six dogs... I don't know if any of you already took a 25km ride in the back of a pickup, riding on a 4x4 trail, in the dark and the cold? It is something else, I can tell you that... I only had one hand to secure myself, because I had to hold my helmet with the other if I didn't want the poor thing to bounce around and get scratched all over. I felt kind of sorry for the dogs too... several times it was as if I was buried under a pile of them

Long story short... by the time we arrived in Volta redonda, (my behind was totally numb) I had been able to contact my wife, who had sent her father to pick me up. I hadn't eaten since I had lunch that day, apart from some bisuits and bananas I was carrying with me, and after the ride in the pick up, the guy with the hammer finally got me. I felt exhausted, cold and hungry, but Fernanda's father insisted that we would go to his friend's house. this friend had a motorcycle and a 4x4 pickup , and maybe he could help me to get my bike back the next day...

We arived at the friends house, explained what had happened and the guy called his son, Rodrigo, who knew another guy in the neighborhood (Carlos) who was a mechanic. Rodrigo went to get Carlos and we decided that the two of them would go with me the next day, with the pickup of Rodrigo's father, and patch my bike up so that I would be able to return to Volta Redonda with it. Carlos would take his two small 125cc suzuki dirt bikes, in case the trail would be too bad for the pick up... In the mean time it was 11pm, but Carlos insisted that we would go to his boss' oficina to get new clutch plates... and so we did. Carlos' boss only had plates for an older XT600 model, but these would be good enough to hold for a while...

the next day at 6am we headed back to the place of evil. Me, a gringo with hardly any portuguese skills, together with 2 young Brazilian guys... the weather was good and I felt pretty ok...

After 12km in the trail, Rodrigo couldn't go any further on one of the steep, rocky climbs, and Carlos and I continued the last 13km, each on one of the small Suzuki's. It was 10 times easier to ride this track on the smaller bike, and without problems we came to the point where I left my bike the day before... I confess that I was a little afraid of finding out that someone had taken it during the night, but it was still in the same spot, and Carlos started to repair the clutch...


Carlos, repairing the Yamaha... The two Suzuki's 125 in the front are a lot easier to handle in these trails...



After Carlos finished putting the plates in, we had the problem of being up there with 3 bikes and only two guys, so we went down with my bike and one of the suzuki's, planning to come back, two up, on the suzuki to recover the other one, but when we got down to the pick up, the suzuki had a flat tire... Resulting in... Right... me riding the xT660 all the way back up with Carlos on the back...



This is me, entering the river for the 4th time (Actually, there was a bridge, made of ropes and wood, but Carlos said it wouldn't be safe to ride the XT660 across over it...)



Carlos and Rodrigo, checking out my bike... note the flat front ire on the Suzuki...


everything ended well, nobody got hurt and I had my first interesting story to share with you guys on this forum...

that's it,
Sorry for the long piece of text without pictures, but I think it is a great story and a good way to show how helpfull and resourcefull Brazilians are when it comes to getting somebody out of a rut... Don't believe it if somebody tells you that Brazil is a dangerous coutry... I'm sure any Gringo on this forum would agree to say that Brazil isn't any more dangerous than any other place.

thanks for reading.
Hope you enjoyed it.
Raf

Book your own Brazilian adventure motorcycle tour with Mirantes Mototravel Brasil
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mirantesMT screwed with this post 12-06-2010 at 09:29 AM
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Old 12-04-2010, 12:57 PM   #2
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What a way to start your offroading experience.. you fried the clutch on a new bike or it just crapped out?

Thanks for the detailed report and pics.
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Old 12-04-2010, 03:16 PM   #3
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Old 12-04-2010, 09:01 PM   #4
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Great pics and great Country...

Thanks...
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Old 12-05-2010, 03:36 AM   #5
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Great story

The more you go dirt riding the more stories like this you will have. PITA at the time but make great memories.
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Old 12-05-2010, 08:15 AM   #6
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Fun stuff..... if everything goes as planned it wouldn't be an adventure.... it would just be a trip...
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Old 12-06-2010, 02:51 AM   #7
mirantesMT OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gadget Boy View Post
What a way to start your offroading experience.. you fried the clutch on a new bike or it just crapped out?

Thanks for the detailed report and pics.

Yeah, I fried it... and the bike was brand new indeed. I learned a lesson there, the hard way... but it was definitely worth it. I looove this stuff...
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Old 12-06-2010, 02:53 AM   #8
mirantesMT OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KeithTurk View Post
Fun stuff..... if everything goes as planned it wouldn't be an adventure.... it would just be a trip...

You're right... the only truly worrying part was not being able to get in touch with my wife... She gets freaked out really quickly. By now she's (almost) used to me getting in situations like this
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Old 12-06-2010, 02:55 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SCExpat View Post
The more you go dirt riding the more stories like this you will have. PITA at the time but make great memories.

Totally agree with you Mike... I have a few more already... planning to post them soon. Sorry to hear you can't make it next week... So where's your new place going to be? Are you planning on leaving SC all together?

Take care
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Old 01-18-2011, 10:03 AM   #10
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Great Mirantes!!!
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Old 01-18-2011, 12:45 PM   #11
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Nice story, thanks for sharing! Quite the trip to go on so early in your bike's life, but we'll hope the outcome (and not the beginning) sets the tone for many rides to come.
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Old 01-19-2011, 11:04 AM   #12
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Glad you made it out safe and sound - you got more adventure out of that ride than you had bargained for, huh?!
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Old 01-20-2011, 09:06 AM   #13
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Awesome story and photos!
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