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  #1  
Old 3 Jan 2011
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One day… you have to live your dream. Solo through South America

Just in time for Christmas I came home from an epic journey through South America. Riding my trusty DRZ400S through Argentina, Uruguay, a tiny bit of Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru and the whole length of Chile down to Tierra del Fuego, I covered 23,517 kilometres / 14,616 miles in four months.



This trip was everything and more I had ever dreamt of. In the weeks to come I am going to tell you all about it; here is just a little taster of my experiences:

I saw fascinating landscapes -

Cataratas del Iguazú, Argentina / Brazil


Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia


Torres del Paine, Chile


… and beautiful places –

Machu Picchu, Peru (no, I didn't ride my bike along this path)


Arequipa by night, Peru


Cerro Fitz Roy, Argentina


I rode awesome roads –



Ruta 26 between Cuzco and Nasca, Peru


Carretera Austral, Chile


Caught glimpses of history –

Brachiosaurus bones in the palaeontological museum MEF in Trelew, Argentina


7,000 year old mummies from the Chinchorro culture, San Miguel de Azapa, Chile


Ocotber 2010, Copiapó, Chile


Watched wonderful wildlife –

Vicuñas in the Lauca National Park, Chile


Pelicans on the Pacific coast, Iloca, Chile


Magellan Penguins, Patagonia, Argentina


Had a fair share of “Oops” and “Doh…!” moments –



Near Pucón, Los Lagos, Chile


“Should I have listened to the GPS?”


Learnt a lot about the mechanics of my bike –

In the workshop of Motoservi in Sucre, Bolivia


During regular maintenance days


What a neglected sparkplug looks like after 22,000 kilometres…


Tasted delicious food –

Llama steak, Uyuni, Bolivia


Trucha (trout), freshly caught from Lago Titikaka, Bolivia


Home cooked meals…


And, best of all, I met amazing people everywhere. Here are just a few –

Benita on the street market in La Paz, Bolivia


Oscar and Julia in San Fernando, Chile, who let me park the bike in their dining room


Jorge, Facundo and their friends in Otamendi, Buenos Aires Province, who introduced me to the pleasures of a proper Argentinean Asado (BBQ)


As English is not my first language, it will take me some time to write the report but I hope you will find it worth the wait…

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Old 3 Jan 2011
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Wow cracking pics. i,m not jealous honest. I look forward to reading more Pumpy are you going to do a presentation at Lumb Farm?
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Old 4 Jan 2011
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Tin Tin!
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Old 4 Jan 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jim lovell View Post
Wow cracking pics. i,m not jealous honest. I look forward to reading more Pumpy ... are you going to do a presentation at Lumb Farm?
Thanks, Jim. Yep, volunteered to present at the HU meeting on New Year's Eve and got a confirmation from Grant the next day.

See you in June then!
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Old 4 Jan 2011
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A few background details...

... for the ones who don't know me:

Pumpernickel is the name of a distinctive black German rye bread and that’s what my English friends call me, subtly hinting at my origin. I was born and raised in Berlin, moved to Hamburg after the Wall came down and then on to the United Kingdom after meeting my English partner in the middle of nowhere in the Spanish Pyrenees.



I have been riding motorcycles for over twenty years and although I have taken every single bike I owned off the tarmac, I only seriously started trail riding when I came to the British Isles. Well, this enjoyable activity should have prepared me for the mostly unpaved roads in South America – that’s what I was hoping for anyway…


Photo courtesy of Timpo


Why South America and why now?

It was in my revolutionary teenage years when I first heard of Chile: a nation that believed that socialism could be achieved through democracy and the sheer will of the people. I was fascinated and even the fact that a military coup ended Salvador Allende’s ambitious project three years later and led to almost two decades of one of the most brutal dictatorships of the twentieth century, could not deter my enthusiasm. There was so much more to Chile: its history, its people, its literature and above all its geography. Wedged between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean, never more than 240 kilometres (150 miles) wide, the country stretches over 4,300 km (2,670 m) and four climate zones from the Atacama Desert to Patagonia. One day, I wanted to travel the whole length of this amazing country.

In the late nineties, I started to prepare my dream trip more seriously by learning Spanish and going on a sort of test ride to Spain and Portugal – six weeks with just my R80GS and a small tent. But life took a different course; in the Pyrenees I met an irresistible Englishman and moved to the UK two years later, trading one big adventure for a possibly even greater one of living as a stranger in a strange land.

Settling in went really well though, I grew fond of my new home country and its people, and even after nine years I still enjoy the difference. However, in the back of my head there was still this dream lingering and the thought of “one day, yes, one day I will go… ” I might have woken up one day and realised that I was too old, too ill or too comfortably established to embark on this trip. But then, in October 2009 a big reorganisation was announced at work including the expendability of 50 employees.

The months that followed were very unsettling; everyone had to apply for new jobs or, in my and my colleagues’ case, for their own jobs, which I found rather humiliating to say the least. Of course, I looked at the most interesting roles in the 'new' organisation, rewrote my CV, complied with all the required procedures but the risk of not making it through the selection process hung over my head day and night. “Don’t worry,” said the irresistible Englishman, “if you are made redundant then you can fulfil your dream and go to Chile.” Hey, that’s the right attitude – always see the opportunity in a difficult situation! It also helped that straight after this conversation I went to a meeting of motorcycle travellers who, naturally, all encouraged me to take the plunge.

After working for the company for over seven years, I was going to get a generous severance package that would help me to fund the trip without having to sell house and kids. So when the application deadline came, I thought: “Why should I wait for some manager to make the decision for me?” and opted straight for the redundancy. Still, it was not an easy decision for someone with a Prussian upbringing and hence a strong sense of duty, an orderly life and job security. There were quite a few nights when I lay awake and thought: “Oh my God, what have I done?”

My last day at work was the 28th of May 2010 and on the 31st I broke my foot whilst trail-riding... Still, I was determined to stick to the original schedule and fly out to Buenos Aires as planned on 17th August. A lot of things had to be squeezed into the time in between: surgery and bone healing, plenty of physio, preparing my bike and equipment, completing my qualification as a Business Analyst, getting CV and profile up to scratch, more vaccinations, and, and, and...



Since this was going to be the trip of a lifetime, I extended the route a bit so that my journey would take me not only to Chile but from Buenos Aires through Uruguay to the Iguazú Falls on the border between Argentina and Brazil, across to Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, from there into northern Chile, down to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, and then up to Buenos Aires again.

Before I set off I was not sure what I would do after returning to the UK; travelling changes your perception of the world and the priorities in your life. I thought that I might miss all my colleagues too much and go back to my old company if there was an interesting vacancy. Or – having been a Youth Worker for over twenty years of my life – I might want to do something more meaningful in future. Well, I’m still busy re-adjusting to Europe; the journey has certainly helped me to get a clearer idea of what I don’t want to do.

So at the moment I am living of my savings and looking what’s happening on the market. Seeing the conditions in which people survive in South America has put things right into perspective: I won't starve and I won't have to build a cardboard-shed on the outskirts of Oxford; there is work in this country and even if I need to do something below my qualification for a while, I am pretty confident that the right job for me is out there somewhere.

You see? Nothing to be afraid of...
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Old 4 Jan 2011
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What a brilliant write-up Pumpy, and the photos are amazing.

I must be twice your age and I keep thinking that I'd love to do a big trip, and what your story tells me is - why not?

Your tale is what HU was made for, well done you for completing it and thanks for being an inspiration to those of us still here.
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Old 4 Jan 2011
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Some wonderful photos there When I got to the one of you on your bike in the mud bath I suddenly realised that I had read about you before, which was again confirmed when I saw you in your cast. Then I realised that I had been reading your web site as you headed towards the end of your journey

That's another talk already on my list for Ripley
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Old 5 Jan 2011
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The Bike

BMW GS's are really capable and versatile motorcycles, I had several models as my main means of transport since 1994 and I really enjoy taking my 1150 everywhere - but it is a bit on the heavy side, especially when you think about loading it up with camping gear, luggage, tools and spares for a four-month trip.


Photo courtesy of Clive

So after quite a few people had pointed out that I might be better off with a vehicle that I could comfortably lift by myself should I drop it, the focus shifted to the little dual sports bike that I use for trail riding – a DRZ400S:


Photo courtesy of Louisdut

The majority of the modifications necessary to turn the DRZ into an adventure bike was carried out by my wonderful personal mechanic - so I let Steve tell you about his work himself.
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We’d already decided that a Suzuki DRZ 400 S would be the ideal bike for Ela’s trip to South America as it was reliable, had good aftermarket support and was relatively light (in comparison to her BMW R1150 GS anyway…), meaning that she could pick it up herself if for some reason the bike found itself on its side... Despite already owning a DRZ, we decided to buy another one specifically for this trip, one that was newer, in better condition and with fewer miles on the clocks. Another factor was that in November 2009, the chain had snapped on the old bike, holing the left-hand crankcase in process and dumping most of its oil on the road.

As the bike had covered the best part of 20,000 miles already, rather than strip it down to replace the case, I simply filed a piece of aluminium to shape that filled the 25mm x 5mm hole in the clutch arm housing and had a friend TiG weld over the top. Prior to this, I picked out all the debris I could and then changed the oil and filter twice before running the bike as normal. Not wanting the outcome of Ela’s trip decided by what could turn out to be an unreliable bike, starting afresh with another bike was the best option in our opinion. Ela eventually bought a tidy, low mileage (2,600 miles) 2004 DRZ 400 S from MadMikey near Bridgend, South Wales that had been advertised on UKGSer* ::::* For BMW GS Enthusiasts.



The bike was standard with the exception of a DEP silencer, decent bashplate and handguards. Ela had already bought a second-hand 16 litre Clarke fuel tank in blue whilst the newly purchased bike was yellow. Swapping the panels between the older blue bike and the newer yellow bike achieved two things, firstly, the tank was now the right colour and secondly, the blue panels were scuffed from trail riding and once the graphics were removed, it made the bike look less attractive to thieves but more importantly, it also looked less “flash”, important in poorer parts of the world.

I then drew up a list of modifications that were required to transform the bike from humble trailie to what could be termed an Adventure bike. I soon discovered that as soon as I crossed one item off the list, another idea or part cropped up and was added to the list, at times the list of things to do was growing faster than I could accomplish the tasks I’d set myself; what started out as base list of about 20 modifications ended up at just over 60 and that’s not including the little things that I did along the way that I never noted down.

Most of the ideas were a combination of common sense, experience from 26 years riding and spannering and also reading DRZ related threads on various online forums such as Advrider.com and Thumpertalk.com. As a former DRZ owner myself, I had a good grasp of the basics anyway. Having worked on and serviced all of our bikes for many years, owning a double length garage equipped with an old lathe, decent pillar drill, MiG welder, tyre changing equipment and a good selection of power tools meant I felt confident in tackling just about every task on the list.

For those tasks I knew I’d struggle with, I’m lucky enough to have a good friend in Simon Moore who I often run ideas past even when doing all of the work myself, just in case I was doing it the hard or the wrong way. Where I have what I term “hobby” equipment, Simon has industrial tooling to hand including a mill, lathe and all types of welding gear plus he’s into bikes big time, so could appreciate where I was coming from and what I was trying to achieve.

Luggage Racks

We bought a set of used tubular steel Givi pannier rails originally destined for an airhead GS. Once all brackets and mounts were removed, I was left with the hoops which are hardest part to manufacture yourself in my opinion.



I bought several metres each of 25mm x 6mm thick flat steel bar and 16mm diameter steel tube with a 2mm wall thickness. It was always our intention to incorporate a 5 litre fuel can in to the left hand pannier frame, an idea shamelessly stolen from Louisdut’s BMW HP2. The fuel container was in fact from a boat and measured only 70mm wide which made it ideal. I started by bending lengths of steel bar to shape to form the support for the fuel can before welding them to the pannier hoops. Once completed, I lined up the pannier hoops on each side of the bike via brackets I’d welded in place and through an existing 9mm hole on each side of the subframe that I drilled out to 10mm. Once happy with the location of each hoop, I started fabricating the necessary mounting hardware to hold it all in place.



I’d already decided to weld a 6mm thick steel plate to each side of the frame above the swingarm pivot point to which the pannier frames would be mounted via steel tubes. The idea (not my own) was that additional bracing to the bike’s frame itself would also help brace the DRZ’s aluminium subframe and help spread the load. In addition to the 10mm mounting in the subframe, I welded a bracket to each side of the DRZ rear rack to provide another mounting point via a welded on steel tube and another 10mm stainless Allen bolt. From there, mounts were fabricated to fasten the frames to the footpeg mounts on each side and to the previously mentioned lugs welded to the bike frame.

Finally, I added a removable crossbrace that ran across the rear of the bike, beneath the tailpiece and behind the rear wheel but positioned high enough so that rear wheel removal did not require removal of the crossbrace. This crossbrace would help strengthen the rear of the luggage racks. Extra lengths of flat bar were welded in place to protect the front leading edge of the fuel can in the event of a crash.



Whilst there, I incorporated a Tool Tube in to the left hand frame & tucked in tight to the bike to mimic the location of the right hand mounted silencer, this is to carry tools and tyre levers but was originally intended for a Tractor Operators manual and is a popular addition to this type of bike.



As Ela’s using Ortlieb soft panniers, I welded a steel hoop on to the top of each frame through which to pass mounting straps. All fasteners are 8mm and 10mm stainless steel Allen bolts retained with stainless washers and Nyloc nuts. Where fasteners screw directly in to the frame, longer bolts were utilised with stainless Nyloc nuts and washers on the back, locking the fastener in place to prevent it coming loose on the rougher sections of the trip.

The complete rear rack and pannier frames were powder-coated black at Oxford Industrial Finishers for £20 and weigh just over 5kg including fasteners but not the fuel can itself. The end result is a rack system in three parts, each of which can be removed from the bike independent of the other sections, making it easier to remove and fit to the bike.



Soft Luggage

As mentioned above, waterproof Ortlieb panniers will be mounted on the racks themselves with Wolfman Expedition Dry Tank Panniers up front. Across the back of the bike are two 30 litre waterproof sacks from Motorrad Louis in Germany. A Kriega US5 pouch is mounted on the front mudguard to carry two spare inner tubes. I extended the Velcro crossover straps on the Ortliebs with lengths of the necessary Velcro riveted on to the standard straps. Slots were cut in the rad shrouds through which the tank pannier straps passed, in addition to straps around the frame above the swingarm pivot.

Additional fuel capacity

The 5 litre fuel can was sourced from an online marine chandlers; it came with a cap but no spout. Trying to pour a full can into the bike fuel tank led to us losing at least 0.5 litres each time as the fuel dripped down the side of the can. To prevent fuel wastage, I cut a hole in the centre of a spare cap and using silicon sealant, stuck the plastic spout from a 5 litre oil can to the cap; Ela just screws it on as and when needed.

Chassis

To keep the bike manageable for Ela, I fitted Talon lowering links to the suspension linkage to lower the rear of the bike. To maintain a level bike and retain decent steering geometry, the front needed to be lowered also, this entailed pushing the forks through the yokes but the position of the handlebars prevented me from doing so, a problem resolved by fitting Talon handlebar risers which allowed us to push the forks through by 20mm.

We used the seat from the other DRZ which had already had about 20-25mm of seat foam removed by a local guy, reducing the seat height even further. The seat was topped off with a sheepskin Ela had given to me years ago but which I’d never used, so it was “appropriated” for the trip, cut to shape and held in place with Cordura straps.



Ela had always found it a bit fiddly to remove the DRZ front spindle as once it was pushed through from the left; there was only a short section of greased spindle to grab on the right. This was remedied by making a spindle puller for each bike. I started by cutting the hex spindle removal tool in half, drilling the centre out to 12mm to save weight and then drilling a 6mm hole near one end of each piece at right angles. Into this hole was inserted a 100mm length of 6mm round steel bar which was then welded in place before the whole thing was welded in to the end of the wheel spindle for ease of use and to save space in the toolkit.



Having experienced the trauma of a snapped chain, I doubled the thickness of the stock case saver to 6mm with the aid of a steel plate cut to shape and then welded to the standard part. Footpegs were also swapped between bikes as the older bike had significantly wider footpegs that offered greater support in the event of needing to stand on the ‘pegs for any length of time. I also cable tied every pair of spokes where they crossed over, hopefully preventing any broken spokes from catching in calipers and discs etc.



I also replaced the standard 5mm and 6mm screws that retained the headlight cowl as they were fiddly to use, especially the 5mm screw beneath the light that screwed in to the front of the top yoke. All three were replaced with long stainless Allen bolts with two Nyloc nuts screwed on to the thread and then tightened together before being fitted to the bike. These extended length fasteners made cowl removal and refitting a lot easier. One of the last things to be done on the chassis side was to weld a large diameter washer to the underside of the sidestand foot to increase its footprint, the idea being to prevent the stand sinking in sand or soft ground.



Consumables

Not wanting mechanical issues to delay or even ruin the trip, the chain, both sprockets, brake pads and wheel bearings were all replaced with new parts. The stock rubber brakes lines were replaced with plastic coated stainless lines with stainless fittings from HEL Ltd. I also replaced the seal that sits behind the front sprocket along with a stainless spacer instead of the stock mild steel part that corrodes and then chews up the up seal, causing the bike to dump its oil with the inevitable consequences, a known DRZ fault…
Replacement stainless rear wheel spacers were purchased online and fitted in due course. The matching front wheel spacer was no longer available, so Simon Moore kindly turned two up on his lathe, one for each of Ela’s DRZ’s.



Another weak point of the DRZ is the brake pad retaining pins that are hard to remove and prone to either rounding out or corroding in place (both if you’re really unlucky). Stainless hex headed versions were purchased from Leisure Trail in Nottingham and fitted when the calipers were overhauled and new pads fitted, money well spent in my opinion. These pad pins designed for the Honda CRM250 which uses the same calipers as the DRZ.

The bike came fitted with nearly new Michelin AC10 tyres, which although great for trailriding, were not ideal for the trip due to the limited mileage Ela would get from them; they were replaced with Pirelli MT21’s front and rear along with 4mm thick heavy duty tubes to hopefully limit punctures. I replaced the rear sprocket bolts with heavy duty plated steel items as the ones I’d bought from Talon were too short as they were intended for use with one of their billet hubs.

I also used two nuts on each number plastic number plate screw, locking them together to prevent them shaking loose. The stock mirrors are not that great and screw directly in to the clutch lever and front brake perches. Dropping the bike can tear the perch clamps off, rendering the bike unrideable. This potential issue was resolved by buying a set of Double Take mirrors from Adventurespec.com. Basically the mirror stem is connected to the bike by a set of GPS RAM mounts each side, the idea being that in the event of a crash, the mirrors are pushed out of the way on the ball mountings.

Fasteners

As many as possible of the stock mild steel fasteners were replaced with stainless Allen bolts and Nyloc nuts where safe to do so. Stainless is strong but has a low sheer strength and is not ideal for mounting parts that are subject to high side loads such as brake calipers etc. Plenty of Copperslip was used as despite its low mileage, there were more than a few seized/corroded bolts on the bike, all of which took time and in some cases, brute force and power tools to remove. I also turned up a series of six aluminium top hat shaped spacers that were glued in place in to the rad shrouds, they help spread the load of the fasteners and the glue prevents them being lost if the shrouds are removed for any reason.

Electrics

Not wanting to overload the bike’s electrics or to complicate things for Ela, I limited the electrical modifications to relocating the fuse holder to beneath the seat for ease of access as the stock location near the battery would have meant stripping the left hand pannier frame from the bike to access it. I fitted a 12v cigarette lighter socket to a one-off steel bracket I’d made, mounted on the right of the headlight and fasted via the top yoke bolts.



Ela bought a Garmin Zumo 220 GPS system that was powered by an internal battery that could be charged up by plugging in to the 12v socket. Having an internal battery meant that when the Zumo was not being charged, the 12v socket could then be used for charging other electronic devices on the move.

Heated Grips from Oxford Products were fitted; these later versions are a massive improvement over the primitive items I fitted to Ela’s DR350 a few years ago although the mounting bracket supplied as part of the kit is next to useless. To remedy this, I turned up four aluminium spacers on the lathe to fill the recesses in the Talon ‘bar risers normally occupied by recessed heads of the Allen bolts used here and then mounted an aluminium plate across the riser mounts to which the heated grips switch was stuck on using the supplied adhesive pad. The control box was located beneath the seat with all wiring cable tied to the stock wiring harness.



We thought that replacing the rear bulb with an LED equivalent would be a good idea, in practice it was a waste of time as all of the LED’s faced rearwards with no light aimed at the reflector, resulting in a small dim glow instead of the high intensity light I’d expected, a full refund was soon obtained...

A cheap 12v compressor that plugs in to the 12v socket was stripped of its casing to save space and weight. All accessible electrical connectors were taken apart, cleaned and greased prior to reassembly to limit corrosion etc. The ignition switch bracket was disassembled, flipped through 180 degrees and mounted on the ‘bars using the original handlebar clamp tops that had been rendered surplus by the use of the Talon risers.

Crash protection

After rough jigsawing to shape, I turned up three round plates of differing sizes from 2.5mm thick sheet aluminium on the lathe and stuck them to the clutch, generator and starter motor covers with black automotive silicon sealant. As DRZ cases are not known for their strength, these will hopefully save them from being holed, similar parts on my KTM 950SE seem to have worked on more than one occasion...



Simon Moore then TiG welded an aluminium extension plate I’d made on to the bashplate, to protect the water pump and oil filter cover. A 1” cube of closed cell foam was then “siliconed” in place between the welded on plate and the oil filter cover for additional cushioning and to prevent the plate being pushed inwards in the event of a spill.



I was given a sheet of Perspex by Steve of UKGS’er from which a headlight guard was fabricated, held in place by two aluminium brackets and a few stainless Allen bolts and Nylocs.



Unabiker rad guards from the US were ordered and fitted, only requiring a minor mod with a die grinder to ensure a good fit. We’d originally ordered some UK made rad guards for the DRZ400E, thinking I could modify them to fit Ela’s 400S. Unfortunately there was no way they’d fit, they were then sold on to Timpo as he had a 400E only to find they didn’t fit his bike either? He thinks they’re intended for the very early 400E which is different to the later E versions and all 400S versions. An aluminium front fender brace was also fitted for protection and to provide a decent support for the Kriega US5. A Kriega Haul Loop was also fitted to the forks in case it was ever required.



Engine

The valves were checked, with one exhaust and one inlet valve found to be tight by 0.05mm. Once shims of the correct size were fitted and the head reassembled, the spark plug, oil, oil filter and air filter were replaced plus an inline fuel filter was fitted in case Ela ended up buying dirty fuel at any point. The filter was sleeved in a block of closed cell foam to protect it. Although the DEP silencer was significantly lighter than the heavy steel Suzuki item, it was also significantly noisier. To resolve this, a length of 25mm OD stainless tube was cut to length with one end crushed in the 3-jaw chuck on Simon’s lathe to close the end up and hopefully reduce the noise level. Simon then TiG welded it in place, resulting in a quieter bike.



Spares

Spare tubes, levers, selection of fasteners and fuses, brake pads front and rear, spare throttle cables, lubed spare clutch cable with sealed ends cable tied in place for quick renewal.

Tools

Shortened Buzzetti style tyre levers, chain tool and 24mm spanner/ tyre lever combo from Motion-Pro, spoke key milled from 6mm flat steel bar courtesy of Simon Moore, a selection of spanners, Allen keys and 3/8” drive sockets plus an extension bar. The Motion-Pro spanner/tyre lever came with a hex insert that featured a 3/8” drive tool in lieu of carrying a ratchet or T-bar. Other items in the toolkit include stainless lockwire, emery paper, small Molegrips, various screwdrivers plus Ela’s Leatherman, tow straps and spark plug spanner in addition to small tubs of Copperslip and grease plus a small refillable plastic can of oil for lubing the chain.

The Adventure Bike



A very happy adventuress


... and her personal mechanic
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Brilliant pics, great mech write up. Fantastic, and looking forward to the rest of the report!
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Small world i suppose. I'm still at the farm where we met and still awaiting my new engine from the US. I hope that life is going good in London. It was very nice to meet you.

Chris Sorbi

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Old 6 Jan 2011
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Originally Posted by T.H.E View Post
Small world i suppose. I'm still at the farm where we met and still awaiting my new engine from the US. I hope that life is going good in London. It was very nice to meet you.
O no, Chris, you are still in Otamendi?!

Hope you will get your engine, a new bike or a donkey sorted soon so that you can continue your journey - fingers crossed!

Please say hello to Jorge and Facundo (and could you please explain to them how an X-ring chain works? I'm still embarrassed that I couldn't... ).

Here's another photo for you:
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Old 6 Jan 2011
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Originally Posted by Norfolkguy View Post
What a brilliant write-up Pumpy, and the photos are amazing.

I must be twice your age and I keep thinking that I'd love to do a big trip, and what your story tells me is - why not?

Your tale is what HU was made for, well done you for completing it and thanks for being an inspiration to those of us still here.
Thanks for your kind words, Norfolkguy, but I doubt it very much that you are twice my age: that would make you 96!

Just do it - no one has ever said on their deathbed: "I should have travelled less and spent more time in the office..."
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Old 6 Jan 2011
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Originally Posted by deenewcastle View Post
Some wonderful photos there When I got to the one of you on your bike in the mud bath I suddenly realised that I had read about you before, which was again confirmed when I saw you in your cast. Then I realised that I had been reading your web site as you headed towards the end of your journey
That's another talk already on my list for Ripley
Thank you for your interest, Deenewcastle - see you at Lumb Farm then!
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Old 7 Jan 2011
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The journey begins…

The weeks before departure were quite emotional and that’s not only because I was incredibly excited about the journey.

First there was my unfortunate off on ‘Dark Lane’ (how appropriate…) on the May bank holiday. I can still hear Possu suggesting just a few days earlier that I should take it easy in the run-up to August and maybe refrain from trail riding in the meantime. I also remember getting quite puffed-up about this patronising remark and replying that “I won’t put my life on hold just for this trip!” Famous last words…



Three screws had to be inserted into my navicular bone… My sister came over from Germany to provide moral support.


Steve was not particularly happy about this set-back which meant that he had to look after a handicapped person and do the majority of the house work and the bike preparation himself. He had intended to train me as much as possible on maintenance of the bike - but have you ever tried to change tyres with only one available limb?

Still on crutches I went to the Horizons Unlimited Meeting in June. I am still indebted to Dr JM who abstained from a nice bike ride up to Lumb Farm, gave me a lift in her car instead and even pitched my tent for me – thus enabling me to gather the last tips and tricks for solo travel in foreign continents and survival in the wilderness.



In Ripley I also stocked up on equipment and made the final decision who I would entrust with shipping my bike to the other side of the world.



At the end of July the plaster came off and I was officially discharged. I was still hobbling about with a Samson boot – but down to one crutch and doing loads of physio – and could finally focus on the important things in life.

I had a wonderful send-off on 6th August at The Chequers with friends coming from all over the country – from as far as Benson (400 yards - Strobingred) to the Wirral (180 miles - Timpo).



During the remaining ten days before I set off to Buenos Aires, friends and relatives kept calling, sending lovely messages, commenting on my blog and visiting me in Oxford - it was very humbling and I am very lucky to have such wonderful people in my life. They probably all thought they would never see me again…

Bert and his kids drove up all the way from Belgium


Emma came from Herefordshire


... and Forry from (back then) North Wales


One day Chris JK called me and just asked if I had thought about getting a SPOT messenger (SPOT SATELLITE MESSENGER :: HOME PAGE) that would let my friends and family know that I was ok and still moving.

Knowing that Tiffany uses such a device for keeping in touch during her travels, I had briefly contemplated the acquisition but then dropped the idea when I saw the price. Well, Chris insisted on giving me one as a present and I, my family and friends will be forever grateful for his generosity – we all could sleep better in the months that followed.

Chris and his wife Mary


On 10th August we delivered the bike to James Cargo to be crated and shipped to Argentina.

Giles and Steve


Raring to take off


Then I spent a few days with Steve's side of the family in Kent for good wishes and big hugs. I promised that I wouldn't be doing anything (too) silly...

The last week was pretty hectic with still a thousand things to do. Dr JM helped me sorting out my medical supplies but didn’t want to be photographed - so it’s just Berin looking nice for the camera here although he didn’t do anything, really…



And then on 17th August I finally followed the DRZ to Buenos Aires!

Sharing the last cake with Possu at Gatwick...


Leaving the British summer behind - ¡hasta luego, Inglaterra!


There was a three-hour stop-over at Madrid where I was lucky enough to snatch the last sandwich before the Bistro closed. The Duty-free shops were open the whole night though – priorities, priorities...

Although I had booked a window-seat four months in advance, they gave me a seat right in the middle at the rear of the aircraft on the day - no Madrid by night, no brightly lit Canary Islands, no Amazonian rainforest nor the Iguazú Falls from the air, boohoo! But, crowded as that flight was, I should probably count myself lucky that they took me to South America at all. A brief glimpse out of the crew compartment showed that I hadn't missed a lot anyway:

South America from the air...


Going south, very, very south


After 13 hours we finally touched ground at Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires. The sky looked similar to the English one but it was a lot warmer! Expecting the equivalent of February in the northern hemisphere in Argentina, I was accordingly dressed and too hot already whilst queuing for immigration. However, it didn't cross my mind for a second to complain...

Welcome to Buenos Aires...


The journey with the excellent Manuel Tienda León Shuttle Bus and the subsequent transfer to the hotel (5 Argentinean Pesos extra - less than a pound!), gave me a great introduction to the local traffic conditions - even the cars are "filtering" here and "lane-splitting" means that up to five cars/trucks/buses/motorcycles share three lanes between them. I was already looking forward to joining this chaos on my own bike the next day…

An interesting mixture of architecture can be seen next to the motorway into the city centre.


I could only hope that the slip roads were sign-posted correctly…


Eventually arriving at my hotel in San Telmo, I was looking forward to meeting my friend John “The Bede” Tremayne from the UK who is currently residing in Buenos Aires.

Let the sight-seeing begin...
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