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Photo by Igor Djokovic, camping above San Juan river, Arizona USA

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!

Photo by Igor Djokovic,
camping above San Juan river,
Arizona USA

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Old 23 Jan 2011
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Tales from the Saddle


Mennonites - Bolivia


31 Jan 2015

Or just read it on the webpage

Tales from the Saddle Website

Follow on facebook

Intro.....The story so far....

I left home alone on my Yamaha YBR 125 five years ago, and I still remember well the fears and anxieties of the long journey ahead, to Cape Town first. Having not ridden a motorcycle the thought of simply getting a puncture was terrifying. I've had 76 punctures now....My story is not the best, nor the most daring, but it is mine and I want to share it....

The photos too, are not the best but I hope they are honest and if any are spectacular it is just because of the greatness of the people and the places....and I've to be fair, I've had a LOT of practise!

This write up is just a copy of what began as a fairly standard blog. It has evolved a little to a story more for people who like to sit down and read. Whilst I love photography, I don't think that photos can tell the story (unless there is no story), Photos can certainly help though....at least, this is my opinion....I hope that you enjoy the write up....This below is what I wrote initially so long ago.....

got shot at in Turkey,

interrogated by the military on Christmas eve in Syria,

tailed and arrested in Egypt (who isn't though!),

crossed Ted Simons Atbara Desert in Sudan,

underwent surgery in Kenya,

accused of being a cow thief in Tanzania,

Crossed still-flooded flood plains in Zambia,

Enjoyed the delights of Namibia,

before finally reaching my goal after eleven months; Table Mountain, Cape Town.

All of this, alone, on a small budget, on a Yamaha YBR 125.

And its not over yet! Now I'm in the Americas, currently Mexico and heading south....you can read about it here (soon, when Ive written it!) but also see the website Tales from the Saddle - Solo Motorcycle Tour Around the World on a Yamaha YBR 125 where there are a myriad of photos, tasty tales and the ubiquitous map with a line on it.

You can also follow on facebook

I hope that some people find enjoyment in reading about it, and if not tell me why as Id like to improve my writing and photography too so please give me some pointers as Id really appreciate them!

Until later,

Last edited by klous-1; 31 Jan 2015 at 09:29.
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Old 23 Jan 2011
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and now....Mexico Part 2, Jan.22nd

I'll skip part one, on account of being lazy and having little internet time...so here's part deux....

It was time to leave the fabulous Colima. I loved this place, for it's complete lack of tourist garb, it's pleasant cafes, plazas and it's comfortable safety...and perhaps too for my fabulous hosts; Ernesto and Lea and other friendly people; those at Koki Moto and especially the great Sigi Pablo and his girlfriend Kaiko. But it was time to leave and, as always I find it hard to leave the comforts of 'regular' life.

"Don't stay too long in Michoacan." Lea said as I hopped back in to the saddle of a rejuvinated - after his work at Koki Moto - Rudolf. I didn't really know where Michoacan was, or if I was going there...I was off to some volcano as far as I knew and so didn't ask questions...perhaps I should have?

Soon enough I reach the volcano, it seemed nice enough here and wondered what Lea was talking about, the interesting mountain village of Angang the jumping off point to see what remains of the old village, now buried beneath a thick crust of lava. I deny the caberallo his offer of a horse wanting to stretch my legs out of the saddle, with a hike, peacefully through the forest and over the outer limits of lava glimpsing as I approach the church poking up half-buried in the black bubbled rubble, as if it's God against Nature.

Higher in to the mountains still I go, to view the Monarch Butterfly migration at over 3000m. Waking stiff and cold in the morning in a nearby forest, my heart is warmed by a young man, his son and their ever increasing number of rabid dogs, out together collecting tree sap, providing me with half their breakfast and despite my best efforts won't have a cup of my coffee! I don't say anything about them killing EVERY single tree for their sap.

The butterflies were a disappointment. Too few, in a dark patch of forest, nothing like I'd been told or imagined and I leave being hounded still by the horsemen and guides...perhaps the wrong time of the migration.

Then, having visited the towns of Patzcuaro and Morelia where I'm requested to return most hastily to England, though not quite so formally by the locals, I find myself at a car accident, a bus, smouldering still....then another and another, still ablaze, a truck shot out and on the horizon more and more fires, the air thick with black smoke, the army and police all around. Something is afoot.

I ask someone what's going on, how can I make progress on the roads in my best Spanish, which I realise quickly isn't up to much, when he replies,

"I don't know what the f$%! you just said, why don't you talk English...you
do speak English....want some gear?"

"No thanks, just directions..."

I realise I'm actually in Michoacan and all starts to become clear - more so later when I read that one of the main druglords has been shot - and I try my best to leave the state, following other cars down little tracks and through fields doing the same...trying to get around the road blocks, trying to get out of Michoacan.

I have some time to spare before a meeting in Mexico City and so pop up to view the wonderful subterranean labyrinths of Guanajuato, a long detour but worth the trip and a visit with another kind farmer who lets me camp on his beautiful land near the city.

It's another cold night at altitude on my way to the big city, kept awake and then woken by a non-stop barrage of fireworks, commemorating or celebrating Saint Augustine or something....the road is quiet to Mexico City though as most everyone has driven off the road in a drunken stupor and I meet a chirpy Garry Dymond, whom I plan to stay with for four days before catching up with Adam for Christmas.

Two weeks later I leave, having realised that meeting Adam (
Short Way Round) is a bit beyond the realms of even Rudolf's quick feet and Christmas on his mind. Alas, I got to spend it with the fabulous Garry and his equally fabulous wife, Ivonne as well as fellow motorcyclists Rob and Duncan, of Motorcycle Menus | A culninary adventure on two wheels. Top chaps and great cooks both of them and Christmas dinner - served at midnight on Christmas eve.... well a little bit earlier; we were getting hungry - a gastronomic delight, but despite it's true excellence, twas not quite as good as my mum's!!!...there's just no pleasing some folk.

Staying with Garry was a true delight, staying in his house that once stood amongst pine trees on the edge of the city, has since been gobbled up by the growing millions of inhabitants and so gone is the dirt track and donkeys and instead is replaced by the 43 bus route and graffitti world....and a pretty good "panadaria."

"You live in the SLUM!" someone said...actually I think it was Garry...and actually it was fantastic...behind the safety of Garry's 'tagged' gate that is...

no really it was top! Garry is previously of the UK and so the food was tremendous....cottage pie, lasagne, apple pie, steak, chips....and toad in the hole and chocolate brownies made by yours truly (with no assistance from Aunt Bessie). I left weighing the 300lbs I started the trip on.

Soon though it's time again to leave those lovely comforts and hit the road though not before one last meal, a lunch of homemade gorditas - my Mexican favourite, made just for me by Ivonne!

I head off feeling extremely lucky to have met Garry and Ivonne...a meeting I am in great debt to the world for....and I consider that I have to earn some worldly brownie points soon, before something catastrophic happens.

Alas, it's too late, high up in the Sierra Gorda all movement ceases and Rudolf literally grinds to a halt....on closer inspection I discover that the bearings in the rear wheel have been sneakily replaced by pieces of tin foil.

Then my key snaps....

Standing waiting for a truck to help me out, a man in a VW Jetta - itself held together with string and wire - stops and is quick to tell me that unless I can get to Ciudad Valles myself, I'll be in for a very long wait, for there won't be any trucks this way.

So I strap the wheel together, completely without bearings

....and tot off a bit gingerly up the road with the VW shadowing me behind - even gingerlier - in his motorised ball of string.

Geoff (or whatever his name was) stops and tightens down the wire holding down his bonnet, signifying that we've made the first 15km to the main road, now for the fast stuff, 25km more to the city so he tells me and I give him an optimistic thumbs up, the wheel having only fallen apart once so far. But I lose Geoff in the obstacle course of "topes" (speed bumps), though I wait for him I assume he got bored and stopped for a cerveza and I carry on to Valles alone, where the wheel gives out again, though this time rather timely; outside the Suzuki garage. New bearings are made and only a few hours later I'm back on the road...I was expecting a lengthy stop in the city of days or weeks, waiting for parts! I start wondering if these very helpful people have just tipped the balance of debt I owe to the world irredeemably even further.....

Back on the road, and looking out for black cats, ladders, tipping balances and gun-touting druglords, I head to Sir James' garden...a highly bizarre and interesting house he built while most likely off his rocker on drugs as it is most peculiar and then a visit to the SPECTACULAR waterfalls in the area, reached only by rowing boat, 4km, upstream in a boat made for 12 sturdy fellas. Though for me it's just myself and my ample guide Celestino. We slogged our way up to the falls, earning several blisters....but it was worth it...105m high of emerald waters, and truly special.

Sr James Edwards gaff.....

"Those boats are ginormous!" said David, "El Gringo" in his bike shop in Matlapa. Obviously looking worse for wear after the mighty effort, he buys me superb breakfast from a beautiful woman, wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in an earth oven...the breakfast...not the woman. David, thanks, you're a top chap!

On I go, out of the jungle, through the cloud forest - where I get to see the inner workings of a cloud close up! - and then into desert! what a landscape! Alas, there are no photos as the camera was soaked days previous exploring some caves....which, it turns out, were rubbish....and full of water.

I need more parts for Rudolf, and email my contact in Mexico City....then I spend all day lost in the city trying to find the place eventually doing so only to discover it is infact a completely different Yamaha store to that which I wrote to!....luckily they are top chaps too....at
Cuajimalpa and start taking apart a showroom bike to fix up Rudolf before they nip home for the weekend....Thanks GREATLY to them for helping me out at short notice and goign to such great lengths for me!

The balance is really tipping now and I ride along on tenderhooks....death must come soon, or maybe a sharp blow to my head....another cold night is all I get, and a still deflating thermarest, 22 punctures and counting - damn you cactus! - but a great visit to Volcan de Toluca and it's lakes, where Rudolf splutters at the altitude

....and then on down to the Pacific coast to revive him and me, north of Acapulco to collect a sleeping bag from Uri and Jackie, friends of Rob's whom I met in Mexico City.

Alng the way through the Sierras again,

in a tiny village I meet an old lady hosing the dirt and ask her where I can find tortillas....soon she returns with freshly made tortillas, and then offers me a coke....and then her nephew comes to chat too, Oscar....great chap, who "wants to give me something for the road" and gives me a cake and two packets of chips!!

Because of all the kindness goign around I'm getting anxious and seeing a boy and old lady with a puncture tire I stop to repair it....I get no thanks and feel a bit disappointed...peraps that's how it's supposed to be, perhaps it's more selfless this way, I shouldn't expect so much....

Then Ireach the beach and my new sleeping bag.....As I pack the new bag away on the bike Uri comes over...

"Nick, we all think it's best if you stay the night, have dinner with us, have breakfast....unless....that is...you have somewhere to be?"

"Are you serious!? Oh, that would be fantastic! I could hug you!!"
Uri mumbles and "OK" and so I hug him.

In the morning, after breakfast, Uri comes over again

"Nick, we think it's best if you stay today too, I mean if you want to and have nowhere to go?"
My reply was much blunter "Sounds good to me."

This was repeated, and repeated, and finally I have to leave for Oaxaca....where getting very worried about the tipping balance, I stop and help people, give them lifts, fix their punctures and try and be really nice....who knows what lurks....?

Now I must decide whether to race on south and skip the Yucatan, or obviously visit the Yucatan as I think I may have had my fix of Mexico, three months has perhaps been enough and I'm already thinking about exploring dirt roads in the Andes.

A special thanks to Uri and Jackie for letting me stay and bringign over a sleeping bag, Garry and Ivonne a very special thanks for letting me spend a wonderful Christmas with you, it really felt like home.
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Old 24 Jan 2011
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Thanks for the post!
I feel like more and more people are starting to travel on small motorbikes,
they do have some advantages.
Keep on going , and good luck!!
Freedom is all i need!
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Old 24 Jan 2011
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as usual excellent photos and interesting report, I have been following your trip via your website and email updates avidly as I also run a ybr 125.
'He who laughs last, was too slow to get the joke'
Never confuse the map with the journey.
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Old 26 Jan 2011
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Thanks guys!

Thanks for reading guys....

I hope it's a little enjoyable, though I must admit there has been little in the way of off-roading in this latest installement, but that¿s just how it goes!

For Mexico PArt one, you canread my own blog, just follow the weblink, or alternatively look at Adam of shortwayround.co.uk own post on it at ADVrider...

Trails of North America...a photo journal - Page 9 - ADVrider
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Old 26 Jan 2011
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Hey Klous,

Good stuff - both words and pics. And a vote from me for little bikes. Love 'em especially when you've got to pick one up and there is nobody around to help you!
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Old 1 Feb 2011
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Belle.....Yep, picking up the small bike is easier....still not easy mind you! I'm sure it gets heavier too....

I've been keeping up with a KLR recently too on some terrible roads...probably the worst I've seen....so soon you can read about those and me picking up the bike repeatedly!

But I'm all for small bikes on these trips, easy to pick up, get parts, cheap to run, fuel economy, more manove4rable on the rough stuff or if you have to man handle it across obstacles, cheaper shipping, easy maintenance....1litre of oil....ummm....there are more.....but that's enough.

What do you ride? Are you on a long trip....or thinking about one?

SA for the blog, its okay...I don't get much time to do it so its all a bit rushed....the book will be better....but thanks for the kind words, I need encouragment on that front!
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Old 1 Feb 2011
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Great pics except the one of the outside of my house. Garryhostel has been very quiet so far this year but should get more visitors some time in the future. Leslie and Lloyd will put you up if you go through Playa del Carmen just send me a mail first so I can give you their contact info. What type of sleeping bag did you get and is it any good?
Safe travels

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Old 2 Feb 2011
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Fantastic, mate!

Thanks for sharing this awesome story with us!
Nick and his 2010 Yamaha XT1200Z Super Ténéré
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Old 2 Feb 2011
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Great travelogue - written with real style and truly thought-provoking for those of us with an XT sitting in the garage ready for that future 'big trip'...
Thinking back, I had a scream on my old GS...not one of those...a 1983 Suzuki GS125ES not a million miles removed from your YBR.

Keep doing those 'good deeds' and writing them up. Looking forward to the book!
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Old 6 Feb 2011
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Looks exciting love the Pictures keep it up!
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Old 7 Feb 2011
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this is fantastic man! Im off to your website. Thank you for posting!
Keep it up!
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Old 7 Feb 2011
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Absolutely fantastic. I am speechless. Kinda puts into perspective just how little you need to do this and what can be done on a small machine instead of a 1000 plus CC advert for acessory companies!

Have added your site to favourites....
2012 Kawasaki W800
1997 NX 650 Dominator
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Old 13 Feb 2011
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Thanks to the readers!

A little thank you to the readers.....
Knight of the holy graal, guzzibob, milkman672042000, Noah M, greenmanalishi....hope you continue to enjoy it and let me know if you have any pointers for improvements.....anything....

Garry!!! How are things!? Got a great sleeping bag, very hot and sweatysome down sleeping bag from Kelty, $130, the cheapest I could get....but worth it I think! Thansk for the offer at Lloyds, alas wont be heading that far east, I am in Chiapas now with Duncan....and from here will head to Guat....so any pointers on Chiapas are welcome! How are things back home...how are the yorkshire puddings...regular I hope! Been out on the bike?

Originally Posted by garrydymond View Post
Great pics except the one of the outside of my house. Garryhostel has been very quiet so far this year but should get more visitors some time in the future. Leslie and Lloyd will put you up if you go through Playa del Carmen just send me a mail first so I can give you their contact info. What type of sleeping bag did you get and is it any good?
Safe travels

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Old 14 Feb 2011
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Great RR !
PM me if you need any assistance in Guatemala .
Ride safe,
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