Tag Archives: CGL 125

ADVrider Mini-Motorcycle Diaries: 20,000kms, from the tip to the top

 

With Tom’s departure came the arrival of Ashley, Justin and Adam, three incredible friends who coordinated and made the time to come see me northwards through Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. Arriving in Colombia marked 20,000kms from Santiago de Chile to Ushuaia, and then back north all the way to the Darien Gap, the gateway to Central America and home.

The last month has been a whirlwind of friends and adventure, with some moments I’ll never forget. Ashley and I off-roading in Canyon de Pato, Justin and I befriending a monkey in the woods, and Adam and I motorcycling with a local police squadron. The experiences are so diverse and overwhelming that I barely know where to start, so please enjoy these photos while I compile my thoughts, stories and photos.

A dunk in the river, and a friend to help me out. I didn’t know if I wanted Justin to come save me, or take a picture of me and bike half submerged.

Not very confidence inspiring…

Rice paddies in Peru

Snack time

A warm welcome to Ecuador!

Followed by a very muddy ride, one of the best of the whole trip

More soon.

Thanks for the fabulous pictures, Justin!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ADVrider Mini-Motorcycle Diaries: Uyuni Salt Flat

 

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A sea of white extended as far as the eye could see, pierced here and there with brown mountains far in the distance. Patterns like on a turtle’s back covered the salt crust and glimmered in the desert sun; The Uyuni Salt Flat was immense. We had been warned not to ride in too far because of the proven risk of becoming lost and never finding our way out, but it was tempting nonetheless. A plaque near the edge commemorated the various parties that had died in that vast empty space. Without a GPS, we wandered the periphery, keeping sight of cacti dotting the land.

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The ride through Bolivia started in Villazon, on the border with Argentina. From Tupiza we took a dirt road leading northwest to Uyuni, 200kms away, with the worst corrugation I’ve experienced so far. We were on the altiplano, and within the first 50kms I felt sick, dizzy and migrained. Tom was ahead and out of sight, but I pulled over and sat in the dirt anyway, cradling my head. He quickly noted my absence, returned and wrapped me in the tarp like a taco. I fell asleep in the shade and warmth of my plastic blanket. He woke me up later in the afternoon, and feeling much refreshed, we struggled on.

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We made it to the next town and had the option of two equally dumpy hotels, but at $3 bucks each, it was hard to complain – but not impossible. There was no heater, no shower, no flushing toilet, and no curtains. I covered the bare window with the scarf given to me by a student before my trip, and slept 14 hours beneath 50lbs of woolen blankets.

Bolivia is a land of women in brightly colored knee-length skirts and bowler hats; a custom picked up from the colonial days in Latin America. With shawls wrapped around their frames, they carry rainbow bundles tight to their backs. If you look closely, you’ll often see the sleeping face of a baby.P1030121

On our way to Potosi, via another 200km of winding mountain roads, my bike suffered the same altitude sickness as I, and could only crawl along at 40km/h. Riding until dark, we saw lighting clouds approaching and pulled into a rural village where a small store offered lodging. Our room had three beds, concrete floors and a poster of a half naked lady on the wall (this was even worse than the Barbie poster at the hotel in Villazon). It was a rough night, and was like sleeping on the corrugated road of a couple days before. The bed was hard as a rock, with lumps running the width of the “mattress” right at the shoulder, hip and knees.

Daybreak came too soon, and with it, a huge family party gathered in the patio outside our room. Children ran around shouting and screaming, catching bunnies and kittens that had suddenly appeared for Easter festivities, grandmas in funny hats cooked enormous quantities of rice, meats and corn in ceramic pots on an outside mud oven, someone slaughtered the goat Tom had seen munching the hay, and all around people were sitting and chatting. By the time I emerged, the goat carcass was hung up and bleeding over a couple kids’ bicycles.

And in the middle of it all, two gringos rubbed the sleep out of their eyes and wondered where they were.

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Honda CGL 125: South America Motorcycle Adventure Touring

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Walking down the clean streets of Santiago felt more like being in Europe than Latin America. The New Year’s Eve confetti and trash littering every inch of road and sidewalk had been removed by what must have been an army of nighttime cleaners. The streets and buildings sparkled in the morning sun. Every now and then I’d cross a neglected street carpeted with tiny pieces of colored paper, still strewn with bright banners, silly string, cardboard, firecrackers and the odd festive hat.

We continued on our mission until we came across a parade of Carabineros de Chile, the national police force, in full uniform atop tall sleek horses. Each mounted officer held a staff and flag, others on the ground blew trumpets or just stomped around in shiny black knee-high boots. A large stray dog lay sleeping amongst the noise and hooves, totally oblivious to the bustle.

Continuing on, we eventually found the Servicio de Impuestos Internos building where we succeeded in getting our RUT. This string of numbers allows foreigners to buy motorcycles registered to their name with semi-made up “residential” addresses. With the blessings of the RUT people and excitement building, we paid the $18 dollar taxi ride to Avenida Vitacura where we visited several motorcycle stores. On the shopping list were the Honda xr125 or similar Yamaha, a Chinese Euromot 200 motard, and a Honda CGL125. After some inspection (bouncing on the seat to check for comfort) and a lunch meeting to discuss our options, we decided on the CGL125, the very cheapest new bike we could find and a $1,000USD less than the others. This little beauty cost less than $1,300USD, with  a body style straight from the ’70s. Kath and I liked it purely based on aesthetic reasons, but Rob assured us the engine was just as good as the Honda xr or Yamaha. We’d just pay a greater discomfort price when off-roading with less suspension, but the savings (and the bright red color) were hopefully going to be worth it. We decided to pick them up the next day, cash in hand.

We returned to the Landay Hostel, jetlagged and sweaty from the 6 hour mission around the city, and tried desperately to stay awake for another few hours. Rob succumbed to a nap while Kath and I had coffee at a little round table near a large open window, the sounds of the city streaming in.

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It’s still strange being here. Just a few short weeks ago I was in Australia, planning a totally different adventure. The adjustment hasn’t been an easy one, but I am very glad for the company of these two friends. The reader may remember them from a previous blog post where I mention meeting them at a Horizons Unlimited event in Cavendish in October, 2013, and staying at their house a few weeks later while heading back to Canberra.

We’re all school teachers and rode the same motorcycles when we met (KL250 and a KLR650). Kath turns 30 tomorrow, I turn 30 in February, and Rob turns 30 in March. What better way to celebrate our new decade than with shiny new bikes at the foot of the Andes mountains? It is a bit daunting, but nevertheless off we go, three nearly 30 year olds on a serious adventure.

Welcome to 2014 and happy 30th birthday, Kath! We’re right behind you!

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