September 30, 2006 GMT

Hi, firstly thank you Grant for setting up this blog. I am privileged in writing for fellow bikers. I am in my mid-seventies and riding from Cortes’ first house in Santa Cruz, Mexico, to Tierra del Fuego. Why? I want to encourage others of a mature age to quit the comfort zone of a chair in front of the TV. We are not too old. Our funds are sufficient. The world exists to be explored. Let us meet new people, make new friendships.

I am uncertain as to whether I rate as a true biker. Does a Honda 125 count? I warned, on the Thorn Tree web, of a rail bridge in Panama that was dangerous for bikers. A biker sneered at the 125: he wrote that he wouldn’t undertake my journey on anything less than a 750CC. My legs wouldn’t support a 750. They just about support a 125.

I have reached Cochabamba in Bolivia. The only down has been the sea trip from Colon, Panama, to Colombia: dangerous, very dangerous. Tuesday I navigated 25 kilometres of double-parked trucks and coaches blockaded by miners on the main road from La Paz. Later the road crossed a pass at 4700 meters, a record altitude for this trip and freezing. Today I sat in the sunshine at an outdoor café with the Cochabamba Classic Bike Club. The Honda looked a guinea pig amongst real Hogs. I had it serviced by the local Honda agency yesterday. Hand off the throttle, I kicked the starter once. The engine ticked over calmly. A Hog owner said the Cochabamba equivalent of Wow.

How do I travel? Patiently and with some care.
We oldies have our needs. We get up more often in the night. I travel on a European pensioner’s budget; I always book into a room with a private bath. I drink bottled water and fresh fruit juice. I avoid salads. I take my heart medication. I ride a sensible distance.

By profession I am a writer (see I have a writerly Blog of this trip (see A couple of bikers suggested I write a more technical Blog specifically for fellow bikers: costs, bike care, mileage, etc. This is it.

OK. The 125 is manufactured in Brazil and Mexico. Price in Mexico $2000 and change. Parts are available throughout Latin America. I bought mine new in Vera Cruz. I have the bike serviced regularly by a Honda agent and I watch the work done. The agent here charged $12 for a 3000 kilometer service that includes an oil change. These mechanics are expert. I have found them meticulous. Why do it myself? The mechanics get a kick out of an oldie making such a trip and a couple of agents have done the work free. I cruise at 80 Ks. I get 100 miles to a gallon. The bike uses no oil. I have replaced the rear tyre, nothing else. From now on I will log daily mileage and all costs. For those who read this, thank you for giving me your time. If you wish for specific information, please take a moment to ask.


Posted by Simon Gandolfi at 10:13 PM GMT

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