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Old 05-27-2013, 05:00 AM   #346
csustewy OP
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la Ruta Bimodal

Our turn northbound back on Ruta 7, the Carretera Austral, took us into Parque Pumalín, another one of Douglas Tompkins lands (see our post about Parque Patagonia) that is now a protected Nature Sanctuary in Chile. Best of all, there is a hot springs (entry just US$3!) just up the road from the southern entrance to the park.


(I guess we wear a lot more clothes than most. Our gear at left. Normal people gear at right. El Amarillo hot springs)


(Sector el Amarillo, Parque Pumalín)


(The road into Parque Pumalín)


(I think this is the world's biggest nalca plant. At least it's the world's biggest nalca plant that I've ever seen...)

Just 25 km north is the town of Chaitén. A volcano eruption in 2008 destroyed the town, not only from the ash but also because the volcanic activity caused the Blanco River to change its course, now flowing directly through what once was some of the town. During reconstruction, all important regional functions were temporarily relocated to Futaleufú, where they are now going to stay. We saw a lot of stickers on people's cars and storefronts to bring back Chaitén, suggesting that it was a government decision to let this town die.


(house filled with volcanic ash)

The northern stretch of the Carretera Austral is known as the Ruta Bimodal because of its split between land and sea. While in Chaitén we asked at the tourist info stand about camping in the area, hikes, and the ferries running north. He told us that we needed to reserve/buy our tickets at least a day in advance to ensure we had a spot. This was contrary to what we had seen online, that if you want a ferry from Chaitén to Chiloé you need to reserve ahead (and schedule appropriately, as it only runs a couple of times a week). Turns out the advice to reserve ahead was wrong, especially with a motorcycle - it was easy to get on the ferries. But it was fun trying to get a ticket.



At the NaviMag office in Chaitén it was as if the two of us were causing some unknown problem, so much so that no one wanted to acknowledge us. The customer in front of us purchased the exact same ferry ticket that we wanted to buy. When they were done, the worker got up, didn't look at us and went to a back office. Minutes later she came out and still wouldn't look either one of us in the eye. It was very strange. When asked about a ticket for the ferry, she said the system was down. This was not true, as the customer beside us purchased a ticket after we were told the system was down. After many questions to try to figure out what we should do (can we come back later, do we need to reserve, ...), we finally got out of her that we can just go to the boat and talk to the captain to get on. It worked out fine, but what a silly way for it to work out!


(we weren't the only ones waiting for the ferry at Caleta Gonzalo. In fact, we weren't even the only ones without a ticket. Some cars didn't get on and had to wait til the next day)


(la Ruta Bimodal in action)

The first ferry from Caleta Gonzalo to Fiordo Largo was a short one, just over 30 minutes. Then everyone races off the boat in true Latin American style to be the first ones on the next ferry, just 10km away. And unless you drive slower than the tanker truck, the boat will not leave you behind. This second ferry is a few hour ride, but had a snack bar (open until the line dies away, then it closes) and some comfy booths good for watching action movies (theirs, not ours), napping, and playing cards. There were also some pretty views from the deck.


(Fjords between Leptepú and Hornopirén)

We arrived in Hornopirén fairly late in the evening, and tried 2 campgrounds at the edge of town, but both were closed (for the season?). While asking a delivery truck driver where a cheap hostel would be, the guy accepting deliveries said we could stay with him at his boardinghouse. It was a fine place and he was a real nice guy once you got through his initial seaside gruffness. The grocery store in town was about the only thing open the next morning for breakfast - yet another unplanned Sunday in a town.


(the bay at Hornopirén)


(Lots of boats waiting for high tide in this region. This near Gualaihué)


(coastal view between Gualaihué and Caleta Puelche)


(Fish farm between Gualaihué and Caleta Puelche)

From Hornopirén we headed towards Puerto Montt, where we needed to change some more Chilean pesos into US dollars to prepare for our return to Argentina. We actually had two more ferry rides waiting for us that same day. The first one to end our time on the Ruta Bimodal.


(our last ferry on the Ruta Bimodal. At Caleta Puelche)

On to Chiloé we went...
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Old 05-28-2013, 05:45 AM   #347
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Chiloé

We found the island of Chiloé quite intriguing, without knowing exactly why. And after exploring it for a few days we still find it intriguing. It is fairly disconnected from mainland Chile in many aspects - culture, food, architecture, history - a bit of a world of its own.

Additionally, Chiloé is home to a well known penguin colony that we were definitely stopping at since we missed our chance to see the little creatures down south. After the short ferry ride onto the island we camped just outside of Ancud, then went straight over to Pinguinero de Puñihuil in the morning. We thought we were on the early bird schedule, getting there around 8:30 without anyone else in sight. Turns out we were late by about a week. We knew the season was winding down, figuring we'd still find at least some penguins on land. And we did. About 5 of them.


(in the middle of the image, on the mid-distant rocks, are about 5 penguins. That's about as good of a view as we got)


(Jill touching her second penguin)

So, with our big ticket item for the island already checked off, we set about wandering through the backroads. It was a great place to wander, made even better by some gorgeous weather for our first couple of days.


(you see why it was so fun wandering around the backroads?)


(overlooking the bay just south of Puñihuil)


(future cover shot for 'el Hogar Chilote' magazine)


(colorful bee boxes all over. We have since learned that the multi colors help the bees find their right home again)

The sleepy little enclave of Queilén turned out to be a gem. The town has a population of around 1700 people, and the limited offerings to match. The one main street has a small grocer or two, a couple of random shops, a bar (where we met some locals in various states of intoxication), a library and a fairly schnazzy hotel/restaurant that we didn't go into. Asking a municipal worker, we were directed to a campground at the edge of the town. Expecting to get stuck with some more outrageous Chilean camping fees, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that it was free! It may be because it was past tourist season, but however it worked out, the price was right.


(Free municipal camping in Queilén)


(sunset from camp)

The next day we decided to make it down to Quellón at the southern tip of Chiloé. That town was much less appealing than some of the others on the island. It felt like a busy, but small, port town anywhere else in the world. And we happened to have a cold, rainy day on our hands, which didn't help the town's appeal any. It did, however, cause both of us to fall in love with the nice little coffee shop that served us warm coffee and a sandwich.

Quellón also happens to be where the Panamerican highway ends. At least one of its branches (I think the original road turned straight east from Santiago to connect to Buenos Aires...). But we figured we'd drive the few km out of town to see the end of the line. Our best estimate puts us on the Panamerican for less than 1,800 km total out of the 60,000+ km we had ridden by this point. We tried to avoid it even more than that, but got suckered into riding it for a few hundred km at a time in most Central American countries (save el Salvador), and then again in Colombia and Ecuador for a couple of hours each. We avoided all but ~150km of it in Peru, and only connected into Santiago on the superhighway. Even so, here we are at a monument for it:


(Mike at Hito Cero - end (or start) of the Panamerican)


(TA at the Hito Cero monument)

Castro was a really pleasant town to check out for a day or two on our way back north. It was a good place to walk around, had a lively plaza, and has plenty of good restaurant options (we went for Chinese). The city may be busier during peak tourist season, which could definitely change the feel, but even if more crowded it would still be pretty chill.


(Palafitos, or wooden stilt homes, in Castro)


(Big wooden church in Castro)


(A single serving of Curanto, a traditional Chilote dish that was usually prepared in the ground with hot rocks, but is now more often prepared in a huge dish and even includes completos (= hot dogs). Quemchi, Chiloé)

Perhaps the most widely known features of Chiloé are the wooden churches dating back as far as the 16th century. The island has over 150 wooden churches, with about 16 on the UNESCO World Heritage list. We ended up riding past a few, as anyone will with such a high wooden church density.


(one of the many wooden churches)

Our path back to San Rafael took us right through the Lakes District of southern Chile. The area is beautiful. And full of high end destinations/lodges/houses/cabañas/wineries/etc. We took some secondary roads up towards Pucón, stopping to camp along the way at a reasonable place where the owner was super friendly. When he offered us a room for only a few dollars more with private bath and hot water, TV, wifi, comfy bed, all the amenities, it was an easy decision.

When we arrived in Pucón we fully expected to camp on the outskirts of this town known for its outdoor activities and lifestyle. The municipal campground was a few km from town and still wanted ~US$20 to camp in a shoddy facility. In town we found a nice hostel for not much more, so brought our standards up once again. We cooked a nice meal there and walked around town for a minute. It was fine and all, but felt a bit like an upscale, upsized version of el Chaltén, Argentina. Our favorite stop was in a used clothes store where we each found a pair of pants and a couple of t-shirts for pennies that we could wear on the farm in San Rafael.


(lover's lookout in Pucón)

In some small town (maybe Cunco?) we stopped at a small sandwichería and had our last taste of the ubiquitous Chilean sandwich. The shopowners were super nice and curious about our trip. His curiosity quickly turned into questions about how to translate auto parts into English, find them online in the states, then import them to Chile. He is in the middle of building an early 80's Ford Bronco into an off road monster, and will likely be in the middle of that project for the foreseeable future.

All of Chile's Zona Sur is a fairly active volcano territory (remember what happened to Chaitén?). It was again especially noticeable as we made our way to the Argentina border.


(TA in front of a field of volcanic rock)


("Volcanic Danger Zone: Behavior Instructions")


("Volcanic Alert Stoplight" showing Yellow)


(somewhere near the Reserva Nacional China Muerta (yes, that's right, that's what it is called))


(Passing a cool tree. Reserva Nacional Alto Bio Bio)

Crossing back into Argentina was smooth as could be. The outposts between the Chilean side and Argentina are separated by tens of kilometers, but that distance is strangely filled with lots of people along the road picnicking, walking, peeing, or otherwise just looking suspicious. After getting all checked in with Argentina, we backtracked to the west side of Lago Aluminé to camp for the evening. The municipal campground there is beautifully situated right on the lake and has really nice bath houses. Proving that we were back in Argentina, the cost was just a few dollars total.


(View from the municipal campground)

Our next day took us back into Chos Malal, following a road at a surprisingly high elevation, making it more bitterly cold than necessary. But we made it back to the muni campground in Chos Malal for one night, and for one fine pizza meal, before returning to San Rafael, where we stayed for a few weeks with our friends John and Annette.


(this was much colder and windier than it looks here)
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Old 05-28-2013, 12:40 PM   #348
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WOW great update!
The pics from Torres del Paine just made me jealous, seems like you had a very nice time hiking the park
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Old 06-17-2013, 02:23 PM   #349
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Hey SS - how good to see that you are still following along - our longest subscribed follower!

You are right that we truly enjoyed our days hiking in Torres del Paine. Well, some of the really cold and rainy days were a a battle, but we really had fine weather overall, making for a great trip. I know it's a ways from your abode, but if you're into hiking you should use it as an excuse for a long ride...
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Old 06-17-2013, 02:39 PM   #350
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I know it's a ways from your abode, but if you're into hiking you should use it as an excuse for a long ride...
I was there in 2006 with my wife & daughter (4 y.old at the time) we drove our Land Cruiser there did a couple of shorter hikes and had a great time... Definetly one of the highlights of our overland trip through South America. Have been dreaming of riding the bike down there (and having a long hike) ever since....

Buen viaje!
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Old 06-17-2013, 02:47 PM   #351
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la Cosecha

Our timing in San Rafael was perfect to help our friends John and Annette with their plum harvest (= cosecha). After traveling by motorcycle for a couple of years, then returning to the UK for a short time, they ended up moving to a small farm in San Rafael. Most of their land is planted with plum trees, but they also have a couple of acres of grapes, walnut and pine nut trees, fruit trees, and a nice garden. While there, we got the down and dirty on what it takes to harvest over 30 metric tonnes of plums in a couple of weeks.

** NOTE **

John and Annette are happy to host overland travelers with an exchange of some work for room and board. If you are interested in helping them out while on the road (which we looked at as a way to help ourselves out too - after 2 years of traveling, we appreciated the opportunity to stay in one spot, get our hands dirty, and have some English chats) give them a shout to learn more.

They are located just outside of San Rafael, which is about 3.5 hours south of Mendoza. Their farm is a pleasant place to stay. You may be lucky to get the guest bedroom, unless others are there already. But even if you are camping, they are happy to share their space with you (especially the bathroom and kitchen).

As far as what work you will do, you will need to coordinate with them, but there are a lot of varied tasks that will help them out. And they're not slave drivers; they just want a hand and in return for that you get a nice place to crash and some great food! At harvest time, that is what's done, but aside from that you could be out in the fields, or helping with their construction projects, or gardening, or whatever you think may be a good fit.

We enjoyed the chance to see what happens at harvest time. And the evening cocktails, too. we enjoyed those. A lot.

A really nice write up of other traveler's account of their time, there a couple of weeks before us: http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/tst...ton/005587.php
John and Annette's offer is shown here: http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...exchange-68716
Annette's email is: yahoo.co.uk - at - annetteonwheels [you need to reverse this, and make the @ sign, of course]

Hope some of you have the chance to hang out in San Rafael. Now back to what we did while there...

** / **


(22 kg of plums go into each of these wooden boxes)


(Mike and Jill catching a ride with a few plums)

The plums can either be sold fresh, or sun dried. The drying process depends on a number of factors: rack space, sun, and high temps are big ones. But once dried, the plums generally have more value or can be stored until they do, so it's worth drying what you can.


(Jill, John, and Annette spreading out the plums)


(Annette and Jill spreading plums with John on tractor)


(plum hand)


(Loading up ~275 boxes made us look this tired)


(old trucks are the norm in the area. This one fully loaded and ready to go to the dryer)

Annette's nephew and some of his mates visited for a week or two while we were there. I'm not sure all 4 of those boys knew what they had signed up for, but it really helped having the extra hands!


(UK boys making themselves useful)


(Mike, Annette, John, Lamb, Richard, Tom, Pinner at lunch)


(Kitty sleeps in some precarious spots)

John and Annette put on a fantastic asado while everyone was still in town.


(1/4 cow and Mike)


(Lamb on guitar, Pinner next to him on lead vocals, Tom on relaxing. In background, Annette butchering a cow with some devoted onlookers)

While we worked hard for a few weeks during the plum harvest, it was actually refreshing for both of us to be in one spot and doing something every day. The physical activity felt really good. Beyond that, we had a really good time getting to know John and Annette better, as well as Richard and his friends. Annette's wonderful cooking made our stay even more enjoyable - she's a natural culinary expert!


(Mike and birthday cake)


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Old 06-17-2013, 03:28 PM   #352
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(common gas stop for travelers, as evident by the sticker accumulation on the window. They even actually had gas this time past)
Did you see my sticker ? So great to read your story and ride to Ushuaia and Torres Del Paine !!

So where you staying for 6 months?
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Old 06-18-2013, 08:07 AM   #353
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Originally Posted by SS in Vzla. View Post
I was there in 2006 with my wife & daughter (4 y.old at the time) we drove our Land Cruiser there did a couple of shorter hikes and had a great time... Definetly one of the highlights of our overland trip through South America. Have been dreaming of riding the bike down there (and having a long hike) ever since....

Buen viaje!
Right on! Traveling South America by Land Cruiser must have been amazing! And that's great that you guys enjoyed Torres del Paine while that far south - that place is incredible.

I hope that you and your family are weathering the political transition in Venezuela without any hassles. I have read some reports of food scarcity (and other staples) and hope that you are able to keep your shelves stocked. I also hope that the overall situation improves rapidly, but that may be a long shot...

Best wishes,
Mike & Jill
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Old 06-18-2013, 08:14 AM   #354
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Did you see my sticker ? So great to read your story and ride to Ushuaia and Torres Del Paine !!

So where you staying for 6 months?
MARK!!!! Good to hear from you. Yeah, we did happen to find your sticker. Not only there, but we were following in your footsteps ever since we parted ways in Bolivia. Those little reminders brought a smile each and every time! I gotta ask, how often do you have to resupply your sticker stash?

Tierra del Fuego and Magallanes was absolutely incredible. I'm glad you enjoyed our posts. I've been lurking on your RR for the past few days. Australia looks like a blast. Looks like you'll have to keep your speed down - just ride like we're still with you .

We are staying here in San Rafael, Mendoza, Argentina. Through John and Annette (see our la Cosecha post above) we met an American couple that wanted to travel for 6 months. So we are finca-sitting until November. It's a pretty sweet gig.

Now that I am finally catching up to the posts, I will get some pics of the place (and animals) up soon...
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Old 06-20-2013, 05:17 AM   #355
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Crossing the plains

We left San Rafael with about 3 weeks to make a loop through a bit of Uruguay and to check out Iguazu Falls. The days filled up quickly, and involved more riding in a straight line than we would normally choose, but that seems to be a necessity to cover any of eastern Argentina, home of the pampas (= plains).

At least we enjoyed some nice hilly roads on our way through Córdoba. Turns out we weren't the only ones on the road those days. It was the start of an official 5 day weekend covering Easter sunday (some national holidays combined with some religious days off) and the Argentine travel spirit took hold. It was nice to see so many people out on the road, but there were 2 particular places that this caused a bit of an issue: gas stations, which tended to run out of gas, and campgrounds, which just about ran out of space.

The first night we camped in a little town near San Luis. The first campground we came to looked really nice, seemed to be located on a fairly luxurious, mansion-filled road, and wanted us to pay the price for it, something around US$15 (okay, maybe not exorbitant, but we know what camping prices should be in Argentina...). A small little kiosk just a couple of km up the road had camping for a few bucks and we had the place to ourselves. A fairly early start the next morning took us through Mina Clavero, along with many other people.


(Lunch stop in Mina Clavero)


(Camino de los Artesanos, leaving Mina Clavero)


(Camino de las Altas Cumbres, outside of Mina Clavero)

The municipal campground in Alta Gracia, just outside of Córdoba was a gem. There were lots of activities at the neighboring park in the evening (that actually quieted down when it got dark, rather than picked up) including soccer (of course), BMX riding, asados, and plenty of people just drinking mate.

Alta Gracia happens to be the childhood home of Ernesto "Che" Guevara. We passed the museum, located in his old house, randomly when trying to follow the gas station attendant's directions to the campground. However, in the morning the place had an entirely different feel.


(tour groups in front of Che museum, Alta Gracia)



The crowds seemed a bit much, so we kept on kepting on. Turns out that on display there is a replica of the bike that Che and Alberto rode on their South American adventure in this museum, but we have only seen pictures online. Next time, next time...

Not knowing exactly where we were going to stay, we started eyeing a little town on one of our tourist maps that showed hot springs - La Paz. That little town was a perfect stopover. We ended up squeezing into the municipal campground along with a whole lot of Argentines, many who had set up for the full 5 day holiday. A 10 minute walk took us to a nice hot springs complex that was also quite full of Argentines, but big enough to find a comfortable spot to soak.


(setting sun at La Paz hot springs. The water had a lot of salt in it, making it easy for even Mike to float (he's a sinker) and leaving a flaky white crust on you when you got out. But their showers were hot, so no problem)

That night we knew that it was raining while we slept. It turns out it was raining hard. So hard that some people woke up and left in the middle of the night, and those that we saw leaving in the morning were having trouble getting through the mud. 4x4 pick ups made it okay, but anything else caused the passengers to get out, push, and get covered in mud. Our neighbors across the road were our saviors on that extremely wet and cold morning. They invited us into their porch, giving us coffee and bread, and even let us pack our saddle bags in their porch too.


(We can't remember their names it's been too long, but these two sweethearts saved our day. Argentines are great!)

Back on the road the weather cleared and we hit the main road up towards Posadas.


(nice, even load that keeps people from passing on the right)

We found a nice little hostel in Posadas that just about kept us there for a few days. The young couple running the place was very accommodating and there were a few guests (from Spain, USA, Argentina, and elsewhere) there for a long stay that were good company. But with only 3 weeks for our loop, we continued on the next day towards Iguazu.

An even better hostel was awaiting us in Foz do Iguassu, Brasil. We knew of the place through the HUBB and looked forward to checking out the waterfalls from a comfortable place. It worked out perfectly!

Rodolfo and Adriano are excellent hosts, and the boxers were good company, too. If you are traveling through the area, check out Iguassu Motorcycle Traveller's Hostel:
Rua Nilópolis, Nº.666 - Jardim Lancaster - Foz do Iguassu/Pr - Brasil
Coordenadas GPS: S 25.29.557 / W 54.33.047
Email: iguassutravellershostel@gmail.com
Telefone: (45)9956-1091 / (45)9137-1743
Face: iguassu hostel (grupo)
Skype: iguassuhostel


We really enjoyed the hospitality offered by our hosts there. Even though the hostel is located in a neighborhood outside of town, downtown is easily accessed by bus (or by bike, of course), and there is enough within walking distance (grocery, restaurant, etc) that you won't need to go to town that often. You'll soon see why we liked the place so much...
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Old 06-20-2013, 08:32 AM   #356
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Still following along. This is one of my favorite reports on ADV. Its South America on a Transalp love it.
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Old 06-21-2013, 06:29 PM   #357
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Still following along. This is one of my favorite reports on ADV. Its South America on a Transalp love it.
Hey Cory - glad to know that you are still along for the ride!

I am an even bigger fan of the Transalp now than I ever was before. It's kind of funny running into bikers from Europe (or even some lucky S Americans) who are much less excited by the older Transalp, mostly because they have seen the model years progress, giving the bike much less of a cult following than can be found in the states. Even so, I'm biased towards the 600 cc models and couldn't be happier with her.

I hope you're enjoying the summer months in the states and getting some good rides in on your TA!
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Old 06-22-2013, 04:26 AM   #358
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Very unique....

Everything is done so neat including the way your bike is set up. It's really a very unique sort of RR and I'm gonna enjoy going back and reading more. Thanks for taking the extra time to do this. It's a great one!

Gary "Oldone"

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Old 06-23-2013, 05:48 AM   #359
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Everything is done so neat including the way your bike is set up. It's really a very unique sort of RR and I'm gonna enjoy going back and reading more. Thanks for taking the extra time to do this. It's a great one!

Gary "Oldone"
Hey Gary - it's nice to hear from you, my classic Honda brother! I saw that you tour on a 1990 Honda PC800. That bike seems perfect for the task. Do you have a destination in mind for this summer?

Also, thanks for letting us know that you appreciate our ride report; comments such as yours make it even more worth it.
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Old 06-26-2013, 12:10 PM   #360
Scootard
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Joined: May 2012
Location: Trippin'
Oddometer: 234
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Originally Posted by Oldone View Post
Everything is done so neat including the way your bike is set up. It's really a very unique sort of RR and I'm gonna enjoy going back and reading more. Thanks for taking the extra time to do this. It's a great one!

Gary "Oldone"

Grampa’s Lake Superior Ride
Grampa’s National Monument Ride
I had heard that "prior planning avoids piss poor performance." The planning seems to have worked, because everything is staying attached....yay!
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