THE GREAT ESCAPE TO SOUTH AMERICA
"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather a slide in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body totally worn out and screaming “WOOHOO what a ride”.
Introduction:Name: Robert Thode
Home: Onalaska, Washington, USA
Occupation: Farming, Farm Service and Specialty Contracting
Previous travels, (by moto): Alaska, WA, OR, ID, MT, WY, AZ, NM, TX, Mexico, Canada, and New Zealand
Current trip: (I have a theory that if I don’t know where I am going, I can’t get lost, so plans are a little vague.) In general Martha (wife of 35 years) and I will leave for Florida on the 18th of Dec. to spend Christmas with our son Ryan and GF Kati. While there will barrow ’97 Softail Springer, HD, that I passed on to Ryan when he graduated from Collage. Hope to ride the roads of Florida for a few days.
On the 31st of Dec. I fly to Santiago Chile, (Martha is not going with me this time, I think she is sending me out first to see if I get mugged, murdered, robbed or raped. If I survive maybe she will accompany me on the next leg). Once in Chile I hope to catch a part of the Dakar race before heading south to the end of the world. Then I go north and hope to end in LaPas, Bolivia (mid Febuary) where I will store moto till next winter (here, summer there) and go another direction in South America. Third year I will ride moto back up through Central America and Mexico. That’s the grand plan, any more detailed and I could get lost.
Bike: ’08 Buell Ulysses, This selection was based on much thought and detailed study and which came down to the BMW 1200 GS, KTM 990 or Buell Uly. The BMW dealer ticked me off and the KTM 990 did not look like it would be well suited to two up if I talk Martha into coming with me next year. And I suppose the fact that I bought my first Harley when I was 18 and that is all I’ve had other than a couple old Indians (Buell is a subsidiary of Harley Davidson). Where I plan to store moto in SA and did not want to be without a ride here, shipping down my Electra Glide was not an option. Also we rode our Harleys into Mexico for New Years last year, but the topes (speed bumps, aka sleeping policemen) and cobble stone streets were a real pain and any big touring bike may tend to limit where you go, or at least how easy it is. I have no experience on other common travel bikes but the Buell Uly has a great suspension and I just like how it is designed. Very light 425 lb and 103 hp. Down side, would like more fuel capacity (17.4 L, boxes were made to strap on two 5 L cans), not a lot of after market accessories available, and limited tire availability.
Bought the Buell in May so I could put 5000 mile on it around here to break in and get use to it. Ended up putting over 8500 miles on it before putting it in a crate. Buell riders call it the “grin” factor, this bike is just plain fun to ride and will go almost anywhere.
Modifications: Seat was redone by Rick’s upholstery in Seattle, If you ever want a seat done right and to fit your connecting point, this is where you need to go. Put in HID lights (2x the light ˝ the amp draw). Added Garmin GPS unit. Build my own boxes, ok. me and some friends, as I am not that good at welding Aluminum. Boxes were built to keep weight low and close in, one has a drawer in the bottom for tools and spare parts. The other has a lower section that is open so I could carry longer stuff (tent poles etc.) with both these lower sections two inches wider to the inside. Each box has a two inch deep insert that goes into mount frame, one has tire repair kit, other first aid kit. Powder coated boxes yellow to improve being seen.
Shipping moto: Bike was delivered to warehouse on the 25th of November and is suppose to be in San Antonio, Chile on the 30th of Dec. Shipping by boat is slow and not as dependable as air freight but cost about 25% as much. Will update on how all this worked out.
Crated bike in a metal frame. Shipping agent said that if I used wood it had to be certified “heat treated” and I never got a good answer on if that just meant just kiln dried. So with some light weight 2 inch and 1inch tube left over from another project I made a pallet and frame (1/2 inch wrench to four bolts and top lifts off). The Buells are made in Wisconsin so unlike overseas produced bikes, it is economical to return shipping crates to factory ($250 deposit). With other brands check with dealer to see if you can get a metal crate, would be much easier.
Pre-Trip Function: I have wanted to learn Spanish for several years (have had Latino’s on my crew). This trip was the push I needed to work on it some. Spent two weeks in Guatemala studying Spanish the first of November. Was lots of fun, got out a couple of times. Climbed up an active volcano, roasted marshmallows over flowing lava and spent a weekend out and about.
With this travel log set up I am ready to ride, fly to Florida 12/18/08
(Will add pictures as soon as I find out how to do it right)
Have tried to upload pictures, will keep working on this.
Arrived at Ryan and Katy's place on the night of the 18th to warm tempatures and lots of sun. Left behind in Washington snow on the ground and a storm coming in. This morning we got word that the drifts were waist deep at the farm.
I think that if I had gone straight to Santiago I would have stressed out. With a twelve man crew, cattle and other last miniate stuff we both were up most of the night before heading to the airport in the snow. Suggestion for those planning similar adventures is to plan for a day or two at the start to do nothing at all. Also finding a few little items I forgot to pack
First impressions of Florida, it has great motorcycle weather but is too flat and needs more corners. Will take a run north to Orlando and then one south to the Keys to see if we can find some good roads. Ryan had just finished putting an oil pump in the 97 springer so we timed it by ear to get it running but it seems to be getting too hot so I will take it into Sunrise HD Monday and get it timed.
Sunday we rode to the beach in the morning then out for a look at the everglades in the afternoon. Went for the tour on the air boat, we did see lots of wildlife, alligators, turkey vultures, black head vultures and many other birds.
Martha, Ryan and Katy on the Beach.
Sunset on the Everglades
Martha and I rode down the Key West, one of those geographical extremes, Southern most point in the USA
Southern most point of the USA, '97 Springer
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