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Old 06-24-2014, 04:12 PM   #1
SturgisChick OP
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South Dakota to South America

Last summer I rode out of South Dakota on my way to eastern Canada to ride the Trans-Labrador Highway and then head south down the eastern United States, across the southern states and head into Mexico...bound for Argentina.

While I've ridden bikes for years, I was mainly a street rider and had only owned a dual sport bike for a couple of years. I was inspired to combine my two loves, travel and motorcycles, into one big adventure by my boyfriend who would be with me on this trip. He'd already done the Ushuaia/Alaska run and I'm grateful he was willing to go back and cover some of those same miles again with me. I left my executive job of more than 20 years, sold my house, put my things in storage and hit the road.

At first I hadn't planned to do a ride report, and instead chose to publish a blog which I've kept up with. But I've started thinking that maybe I have something to share with other riders. I'm no mechanic, and I'm not an off-road rider either, as you will soon see. So this may not be everyone's style of ride report, and I can appreciate that.

As I write this I'm in Cartagena, Colombia, and heading out for the road again tomorrow. Hoping to get a lot of ground covered in a few posts to get you up to speed.

Wishing everyone safe and happy riding!
M
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Old 06-24-2014, 04:30 PM   #2
Scubalong
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Wow, must be Epic
Please keep the RR coming
Ride safe and have a great journey
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Old 06-24-2014, 05:33 PM   #3
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Prepping for the road

I'm riding a 2011 KLR 650 that I had lowered 1" and made some other changes/additions to - added a Corbin seat, Barkbusters, a taller windscreen, a SW-Motech skid plate, center stand and crash bars (all SW-Motech), Jesse Luggage 82 liter boxes and frames, a Wolfman Explorer Lite tank bag and more. I had to change (well Brian did) the rear turn signals because of where the boxes sat after I added them. Loaded up on spares - filters, tubes, hand tire pump as well as a Slime mini air compressor, and loaded toolkit, etc.

I replaced the original suspension with a Hyperpro/YSS combination rear spring and shock when it was time, and replaced my sprockets with JT Sprockets and added a DID chain.

My boyfriend Brian has done a number of mods to the bike, including - the 10 or 22 cent carb mod, the "L mod" where you cut holes in the air box, removed the snorkel, drilled out the exhaust and put an end cap on it, added a thumb screw carb adjuster, added a K&N filter...hmm, might be forgetting something but that seems like most of it. Needless to say, he keeps my bike running well and spoils me with his mechanic-ing skills.

I left home with a Rukka Armiina jacket and Rukka Air Pro pants, BMW Santiago boots, Gerbing heated gear, a Shoei Hornet DS helmet, Five gloves, and all kinds of goodies in an Ortleib waterproof gear bag I strapped onto the top rack. That included a Alps Mountaineering Marada 4 tent which was big enough for two of us and all our stuff, a MSR Whisperlite International stove, Primus mess kit, Garmin 62s GPS, ipad loaded with travel/guide books and moto-travel books.

Loaded up on a years worth of meds, OTC and prescriptions, bug sprays, sunscreen, two cameras and a video camera and an old laptop (chose it because it wouldn't be the end of the world if it didn't come home).

Ok....off we go.
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Old 06-24-2014, 06:24 PM   #4
JDowns
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Keep up the good work! I love South America. Especially Colombia. From the heat and history of Cartagena to the springlike cool Medellin and salsa of Cali, you and your boyfriend are in for some fun!

Look forward to your updates. My bike is parked in Uruguay. Will be heading back in 5months. Just working this summer in the states for more gas money. Hope to see you down the road!

P.S. I am typing this on an iPad mini. Mapswithme is a great free offline mapping app. Just download a country at a time and delete it when you hit the next country. Really handy with all the gas stations, mercados and banks with ATMs listed. I used to take screenshots with Google.maps last year in South America when heading offline, but with Mapswithme I just whip out the iPad and check out where the hell I am with no cell or wifi needed. Just a helpfull hint.

PPS. Just remembered. I met so many nice ADVriders in South America this year who contacted me through my live regularly updated ride report. Offers of great places to stay. Places to buy tires, great obscure roads to ride. You get the idea. Plus writing a ride report gets you out of yourself and forces you to slow down and whip around and take that killer sunset pic that you know your buddies back in South Dakota and folks like me would appreciate.

Can you tell I'm stoked about you and Brian's trip?

Kindest regards
John Downs ( Sturgis is just down the road)
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Old 06-24-2014, 06:35 PM   #5
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Thank you for sharing your trip report . I am also going to start looking through your blog. Last month I spent a week in South Dakota (the Pine Ridge reservation area) and it sure is beautiful. I wish you the best on your trip.
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Old 06-24-2014, 07:23 PM   #6
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South Dakota to the Trans-Labrador Highway

Not much to share for photos for the first 2,600 miles - largely because it was all asphalt. We were working under a deadline and headed east on bikes as quickly as we could to get to the TLH. I left western South Dakota and headed to Sioux Falls, down to Council Bluffs, IA and then east to Des Moines and on to Chicago and then Schenectady, NY and then north toward Ottawa, ON and then to Montreal and Quebec City, QC. It was beautiful, don't get me wrong, but not worth details here.

Once we rode east from Quebec City we stayed along the St. Lawrence riverway until Baie-Comeau.



At Baie-Comeau we camped before turning north toward the Manic 5 dam across the Manicouagan River about 120 miles up from Baie-Comeau. We stopped to see the dam and then headed out on the gravel road toward Relais-Gabriel.





The road is starting to get pretty desolate here. There are lots of trucks on the road, constantly leaving me in clouds of their dust as I meet them. S.O.S. phones are stationed about every 50-100 miles along the road, showing how desolate it is and how rugged the land can be, especially in winter.





The last gas station on the road up from Baie-Comeau is at Manic 5's work camp 120 miles north. Then there is fuel again at Relais-Gabriel, a relay on this haul road, another 65 miles into the dust. The smoke is crazy these days as fires burn in northern Quebec. It adds another plague to the mosquitoes and black flies and heat...



The road has a few stretches of pavement in it until we get to Labrador City, randomly parked in the middle of nowhere. We cross a lot of rivers and see a lot of skinny pines.





And finally we make it to Labrador!



The fires up north aren't the only ones in this part of the world. There are fires in Labrador as well and the road is closed from Labrador City east to Churchill Falls. So we stay the night and get in line for a possible convoy the next morning, and sit in the rain. Eventually we are allowed to follow the escort through the danger area and continue on toward Churchill Falls.






The TLH is famous as a rugged unpaved road for adventurers, but it's being paved as we speak and each year the amount of traffic increases. So we see lots of new blacktop in parts of the journey.



We cross over the Churchill River, which is now a trickle after the building of a hydro-electric plant which the river was diverted to.



We make it to Churchill Falls in the early afternoon and stop at the only fueling point in the last or future 150 miles or more and luckily get fuel. Just a few minutes after we fill up the station announces it's out of gas and they don't know when the next fuel truck will be able to make it in because the highway is closed in both directions from this town.



So we stay the night in Churchill Falls and are able to head east the next morning to reach Happy Valley-Goose Bay. There are lots of wrecks along the way, testimonials to the rugged road.





Miles and miles of either long flat and straight roads...





Or miles and miles of rolling, tree-covered slopes...





We picked up a free loaner satellite phone at Churchill Falls. The emergency service departments of the area provide them for free (you leave a credit card number as a deposit and will be charged if you don't turn it in at the other end of the road).



And finally, after nearly 700 miles since we left Baie-Comeau we arrive in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and get to food and fuel. I'm ready for a beer, a shower and a nap.

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Old 06-25-2014, 05:39 PM   #7
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Trans-Labrador Highway Blues

We leave Churchill Falls in the morning once the road has been opened. It had been closed because of fires and smoke. We head east on the Trans-Lab to Happy Valley-Goose Bay and stop for some lunch and to stock up on water before we head out on the next leg of the road, turning south toward Port Hope Simpson.



We cross over the bridge of the Churchill River and then head south on the 510 S south. No services, no fuel, no nothing for 240 miles until we get to Port Hope Simpson. It's a hot and dusty day on the road but it's still beautiful.



About 40-45 miles out I top a hill and as the weight shifts slightly to the front wheel on this downhill leg I can feel I have a flat front tire.



But at least it's a pretty place for one.



A guy pulls up and tells us he has just seen a bit black bear just around the corner so we pump the tire a little faster. Brian patches the tube for me and we decide to go back to HVGB to camp instead of staying out here as we had planned. It's nearing 4 and we are both hot and tired.





We try again the next day after getting stocked up. It's a windy and cooler day today, and there are lots of dark clouds sliding by quickly overhead. Back over the bridge out onto the highway.





We pass a grader at some point and have to maneuver over a one foot tall ridge of gravel to pass him and this road is wearing me down. The surface changes all the time. It's gusty today and that mixed with sometimes deep gravel and crushed rock makes for some squirrely sections. 107 miles in, I hit a patch of squirrely gravel and I'm not going that fast. But down I go.



I go to get up but when I do my left leg isn't working right and I know it's broken. And less than a minute after going down a man walks up behind me. He is RCMP and wants to help. Man, I'm a lucky girl. He calls for an ambulance and then a couple of minutes later, on this normally empty road, a cargo van pulls up coming from the other direction. The driver is an EMT. Did I say I'm a lucky girl? HE has room to haul the bike back to town and he and the officer move my bike to the side of the road. Brian comes back and two Fisheries and Oceans officers arrive and they all build a wind break around me. The wind is at least good fro one thing, it keeps the flies away.





I wait two hours for an ambulance to come out from HVGB and then ride two hours back. I have a broken left tib-fib and need surgery at the closest hospital which is 1000 miles by road away. So I stay overnight and wait for an air ambulance the next day.






A tibial nail made of titanium and some crews to hold it permanently in place in my ankle and knee and 5 days in the hospital and I'm ready to go.



Brian was amazing. He had to take care of my bike, pack additional gear of mine on his bike, and ride 1000 miles and catch the ferry to Newfoundland without knowing what kind of hot mess he was gonna find at the hospital.....

To be continued...
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Old 06-25-2014, 05:49 PM   #8
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Wow !!! Hope you're o.k....j.f.
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Old 06-25-2014, 06:06 PM   #9
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Heal Fast!

I hope you heal fast & can get back out on the road soon! I enjoyed the pics until the painful drop!
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Old 06-25-2014, 07:43 PM   #10
B50Paul
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Heal fast and enjoy the new adventure .
Kudo's to everyone for being so helpful. When you are in the middle of nowhere everyone helps
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Old 06-26-2014, 06:27 AM   #11
SturgisChick OP
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All better

Thanks so much guys....all better now and have been back on the road for a while...playing catch up with this ride report from last fall. Wishing you all safe and happy riding!
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Old 06-26-2014, 06:42 AM   #12
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Hi SturgisChick,

I met you about 1 year ago one Sunday morning in the Rapid City McDonald's parking lot, just before you left on your adventure. I was on my way back home from the Dakota Dual Sport rally. Glad to see your living your dream.

Sorry to hear about your mishap, hope you fully recovered by now.
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Old 06-26-2014, 07:04 AM   #13
Sleddog
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Great to be following along with a neighbor! I met the Aussies, Billy & Trish, you met in Mexico. They'll be stopping by here in a few weeks!

Safe travels
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Old 06-26-2014, 08:02 PM   #14
SturgisChick OP
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Great to hear from you! So did you go back out for the DDSR meeting again this year? I think it was just this past weekend in the Black Hills. I'm fully recovered and kept riding after my leg mended and am now in Columbia and headed toward Ushuaia this coming winter if all goes well. Hope to be home for next summer's Dakota Dual Sport Riders event. Wishing you well.

M



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Originally Posted by Hipster View Post
Hi SturgisChick,

I met you about 1 year ago one Sunday morning in the Rapid City McDonald's parking lot, just before you left on your adventure. I was on my way back home from the Dakota Dual Sport rally. Glad to see your living your dream.

Sorry to hear about your mishap, hope you fully recovered by now.
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Old 06-26-2014, 08:04 PM   #15
SturgisChick OP
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Awww! Yeah! They'll love it and I'm so happy they're coming through the Black Hills. I've been singing its praises all over Central America. Just wish I was home to buy them a beer. Have fun sharing stories and have a great summer of riding.

M


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Originally Posted by Sleddog View Post
Great to be following along with a neighbor! I met the Aussies, Billy & Trish, you met in Mexico. They'll be stopping by here in a few weeks!

Safe travels
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