"Oh shit! It's too late now!" The ground cruelly disappears beneath the KTM and Í'm bloody airborne. The landing, some several feet below, arrives instantaneously with a wallop. I strike my face on the cockpit dash, whiplash back, then do a slow motion crash into la arena (sand). My aerobatics provide much amusement to my fellow Peruvian bikers, as they watch in surprise as the extranjero pops up like orange toast then disappears much the same way.
How was I to know racing the KTM 625 SXC up the front side of a lovely golden sand dune that the back side of the dune would be totally missing, sculpted out like a empty bowl. As I crest I can see the five pack of bright orange KTM's in the desert ahead, waiting for me. The next thing I see is the face of Mother Earth hurtling up to meet mine.
Diego Maranzana, leader of today's adventure, rides over to make sure I'm OK. After words of reassurance, his advice is sound, "Moo-ray, just follow my tracks and you'll be safe. The desierto can fool you if you don't know how to read it."
Luckily, mostly only my pride is hurt, and besides, it's just part of the day. I manage a few more "unplanned dismounts" during my day in playing in the arena (spanish for sand). We climb cerros that, as I watch the leader, seem straight up and impossible for me to climb, even riding this 53 HP Hollowe'en coloured stump puller. And on the flat (well, relatively speaking, flat) the arena is sometimes loose like quick sand, other times it is grey and fairly firm. The 625 snakes and skids around taking all my concentration to stay upright. Upon Diego's suggestion, but against all common sense, I accelerate up to third gear and as predicted the bike becomes almost normal. Except the world is going by at a horrifying rate. Ahead I watch five orange dots blasting across the tan and gold landscape, weaving this way and that, rooster tails of sand and dust smoking up behind them. All I have to do is keep up with those wild men. And avoid the random piedras (rocks) jutting out of the sand like tiny tombstones.
Having defied gravity and mastered the top of the hill, I shut off the engine and look around. The view in all directions looks bewilderingly the same. Garúa, the cold ocean fog, hangs over the coastal desert to the west. Other than that, I haven't a clue where we are from anywhere. So I look down at the ground. Stange, it is covered in sea shells and jagged sharp rock, clustered on edge like knives in a blender. This is good news. Our tires have 14 PSI for traction in the arena; piedra like this is murder on low pressure tires if hit too hard. No time to think much about that, hit the starter button and we're off again to plummet down this tilted real estate and tackle some other hill. Why? "Because it's there!", to quote some equally deranged and antique mountain climber way back when. Boys will be boys.
So let me explain how I got to Chilca, the setting in the desert about 60 kilometres south of Lima where all this foolishness takes place. I knew I would need a service done on Katie in South America and earlier internet research had turned up a great KTM dealer in Lima. Diego Maranzana of KTM Peru came with solid supportive comments from fellow travellers, including non-KTM riders.
And how right they are. Diego, in addition to being a high quality guy, spent some time in Ontario, Canada, and speaks fluent English. He is happy to take Katie in for a 22,000 km service. That evening, while having coffee at the fashionable Centro Comercial Larcomar with him and his very lovely girlfriend, Solange, he invites me for a Saturday ride in the desierto with him and four of his friends. There will be Gino Hoyos, Carli Forsellado, Pachin Arribas, Claudio Venegas, Diego and me. Diego generously offers to lend me a spare KTM 625 SXC, all I have to do is pay for the gas and bring my own gear. Wow! I can't think of anything I'd rather do! Diego, in addition to being a competent dealer, is one hell of a moto-crosser and as Saturday in the arena unfolds, he skillfully leads us all to ride at or above our normal comfort level. My confidence slowly rises as I manage the "impossible".
By the time Diego drops me back at my hotel about 8:30 PM, I am trashed. My arms feel like lead and my whole body aches. My riding gear is so covered in grey polvo they stand up by themselves. But God Damn, what a day! I buy a bottle of vino blanco and order arroz con mariscos (rice with seafood) to my room. I am almost too tired to eat it when it arrives 20 minutes later. But I do and I nearly scrape the design off the plate it is so good.
I stay a week in Lima. While I am waiting for Katie to be fixed, Diego's friend and taxi driver Nestor Cáceres, another quality guy, and I tour Lima. Nestor, jovial and knowledgeable, shows me all the stuff worth seeing. Lima, founded in 1535 by Francisco Pizarro and some of his conquistador boys, was the chief city of the Spanish American republics until early in the 19th century.
Getting the Readers Digest version of Lima's history suits me perfectly. The morning lesson works up a bit of a appetite, which Nestor suggests calls for some ceviche. Now, I have my own little history (almost as unpopular as the Spanish Inquisition, but not as long) with uncooked fish from a trip to Northern Manitoba some years back and I am a tiny bit reluctant. But Nestor reassures me ceviche is so popular in Lima many restaurants serve nothing but. I trust him and good thing I do, for the meal is second to none. The view from the restaurant balcony overlooking the broad Pacific below is equally brilliant.
The masters at work on Katie fix a bunch of little things. The engine oil leak turns out to be the oil pressure switch, the Scott Oiler gets working again, the rear tire is replaced and the valve clearances checked, in addition to the usual stuff, like oil and spark plug change. Skillful mechanics Vladimir Brzovic and Aberto Cadow bring Katie back to 100 percent.
There are two kinds of travelers. Some will sacrifice everything for the destination, and some will sacrifice everything, including the destination, to enjoy the journey.
Posted by Murray Castle at May 16, 2006 10:01 PM GMT
Our veteran travellers share their tips (and great stories) for staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure.
"A fantastic, informative and inspirational DVD."
"It's brilliant - thank you very much!"
Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'ONTHEROAD' on your order when you checkout.
Next HU Events
- Ireland: July 18-20
- Canada West: Aug 21-24
- USA North Carolina: Sept. 4-7
- France Mini: Sep 5-7
- Canada Ontario: Sept. 11-14
- NEW! UK - Haggs Bank: Sept. 19-21
- USA California: Sept. 25-28
- Aus Queensland: Oct 3-6
- Aus Perth: Oct 10-12
- Aus VIC: Oct 24-26
- NEW! Aus NSW: Oct 31-Nov 2
- NEW! South Africa: Nov 13-16
- NEW! HUMM Morocco: May 13-16, 2015
What others say about HU...
"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA
"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada
"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia
"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders
10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!
NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!
Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!
What turns you on to motorcycle travel?
Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!
New to Horizons Unlimited?
New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!
Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.Read more about Grant & Susan's story
Membership - help keep us going!
Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.
You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.
Books & DVDs
All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.
MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!
Story and photos copyright © All Rights Reserved.
Contact the author:
Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.
Hosted by: Horizons
Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!