November 04, 2006 GMT
Part I - Letters From The Road

...and so it began. An epic motorcycle odyssey that has been 9 years in the making. A father and his son careening through corners that will span over 9 countries and rougly 10,000 kilometers of road. On steel horses they will ride! would be enough to make Jon Bon Jovi smile. The mission quite simple - an homage to the sites and sounds of a trip my brother made when he travelled to the tip of South America and back in 1997 as a charity ride ( for the Cancer Foundation and Save The Children which was completed just one month before his passing. A fallen soldier who could ride like no other. Perhaps the only person who had the ability to hit a deer head-on at 100 miles per hour, splitting itin two equal parts and keeping the bike on two wheels all the while saving his own life and his girlfriend's who fearlessly clung on the back.

I plan to write some of my own motorcycle diaries on this adventure. It has been a dream trip of mine since I got to hear all about it from the man himself who rode from Costa Rica to Vancouver in a mere twelve days in April of '97.

I shipped out our bikes in late February where they were trucked to Montreal, trained to Miami and finally ocean freighted to San Jose, Costa Rica. We landed in Costa Rica on April 8th. Walking into the airport I immediately sensed something difficult to describe. I felt as though I was
going to run into someone I know. God knows, stranger things have certainly happened to me in my life. Within two minutes, I saw my cousin Dr. Jeff Hagel and his girlfriend Asia, lurking towards me without seeing me. I couldn't believe it, yet strangely I could. They were on their way out. We got some details of their trip and we then parted ways.

We didn't realize that the day we landed marked the start of Semana Santa (Saint's Week). The start of an incredibly long holiday for Costa Ricans - like 10 days long! This consequently makes buying insurance impossible during this time. In addition, our Bill of Lading for the motorbikes was inaccurate which further delayed the process of receiving our bikes. Now
there have been great feats of humanity in the area of Transportation & Logistics since the dawn of time. There was the invention of the wheel, we saw the arrival of the combustion engine, the evolution of flight which
led to space travel and walking on the moon (allegedly). None of these quite compare to the successful completion of a Temporary Importation of a Motor Vehicle into Costa Rica during Santa Semana!

We were forced to spend four days trapped in San Jose, not really a fun place. Talk to this guy, talk to that guy, tip him, tip her, upstairs, downstairs, upstairs, downstairs, cross town, copy this, get this number and that number, tip this guy and that guy. Had we not got the bikes when we did, we would've had to wait another six days due to the country literally shutting down for this holiday week. Seeing the bikes in
their crates was like looking at a loved one through the thick glass at a prison. When we finally opened them up, I embraced her with a big hug and told her that everything would be alright...ok there was some minor kissing too but it was closed-mouthed! Receiving these bikes without
proper insurance was a miracle in itself. Nonetheless, there they were ready to put on some distance. That final day in San Jose was like a bad drug addiction - a series of highs and lows. Just when we got our hopes up, they would come crumbling down and things looked grim again for some reason. Once we received the bikes this continued when we joyfully rode
to find our first gas station of the trip. We were elated with our
achievement and I was stoked to feel its raw power beneath me as it hummed along the busy San Jose streets. After gassing up, my excitement turned to concern as my BMW R1200GS turned into a Singer R10 - that's right, the sheer strength of grandma's old sewing machine. I figured that it must've
been the inferior quality of gas. I pulled over to see how my dad's was riding but his was fine. My concern grew deeper as I went from 0 to 60km/hour in just under a minute. As well, each passing kilometer was taking me farther from the local BMW dealership and we did not want to experience San Jose's wrath any longer. I almost turned around but just then I felt a hint of power and decided to push on in the slow lane! It
wasn't until I shut the bike off and turned it back on that its power became completely restored. The gas shocked its system so much that its highly-computerized system needed to re-calibrate for the lack of octane in the fuel. Just like that, she was back in full force.

Riding to Puntarenas was the longest 100 kilometers we have ever ridden. The entire city was heading to the coast for the holidays and it was bumper to bumper for about three hours - probably the worst moment of the year to do such a thing but things could certainly be worse. We arrived and celebrated over some cold cervezas as we made seeking out the coldest beer in Central America somewhat of a sub-mission.

What a day it had been of an adventure that had already begun...


Posted by Ryan Martin at November 04, 2006 10:04 PM GMT

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