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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Mountains, Friends, Crashes, & Kicking Taxi Mirrors in Peru...

Saturday, May 17th, 2014 | Ayacucho, Peru

Six months away from 'home' tomorrow...  

First off, a HUGE thanks to Ed S. from Denver.  He read over the entire blog in one sitting, and sent over a very generous donation this morning.  I don't fancy myself a good, or even decent writer by any means, but apparently I gave him some inspiration (a "kick in the ass" as he put it) to make some changes, and fuel to continue planning his own adventure beginning next year.  Anyway, thanks Ed!  That, and the few add'l donations from others (Tyler G, Peter E, etc) will keep me rolling for a few more days...  ;)  

Let me start off by saying that I have a LOT to cover since I last wrote.  I believe the last entry ended just after Cañon del Pato, which means that I've ridden through the following. Huaraz, Huanuco, Oxapampa, Huancayo, and Ayacucho.  The riding has been incredibly arduous, but now that I have my mate Sam here the days go by quickly with much laughter, fun, and antics.  

However, It's not all roses at the moment as I've developed some bike issues that require attention.  My rear tire is shot, which is interesting as I spooned it on in Bogota.  The first set of Heidenau K60s got me almost 10k miles.  This rear has lasted just over 2k and looks like $hit.  Granted, I've been riding like a maniac, and the roads in Peru have been mostly rocky dirt.  I think I'm running the pressures too high as well, which may not have helped matters.  I thought running around 38'ish in the rear would help the notorious K60 flattening.  Not only is it flatter than a tractor tire at this point, I think the higher pressure is hardening the carcass, which is wearing it out quicker.  Anyway, any recommendations for a new rear in Cuzco is much appreciated.  In addition, yesterday morning I woke up to a flat rear thanks to a HUGE nail.  Sam and I went to work and were able to get everything buttoned up rather quickly.  

The fuel pump (I think) issue continues to plague me.  There is no rhyme or reason to it (i.e. full/empty, low/high altitude, cold/hot temps, etc), but the bike is cutting out when stopped or at low revs on occasion.  I've swapped the air filter, reset the EFI, and checked for venting issues within the fuel cap assembly.  The only thing remaining to look at is the actual pump itself.  

Another issue that came up during the ride yesterday was that I now have a huge bend on the left side of my rear wheel.  I hopped a curb to get across a street, and the buttery soft, worthless stock Behr rim folded.  Apparently my f'ing F800GS ADVENTURE can't handle the exotic adventure of a small curb hop.  Awesome product BMW!!!

Finally, as we were riding yesterday I felt something 'off' with the front end/handling.  The bike was tracking unusually through turns, small bumps felt more severe, and at low speeds the front end wanted to wobble.  I pulled over, and as suspected, there was a problem.  The left fork seal had blown and was pissing oil.  I tried the fancy ole' insurance card trick to clean out any debris, which actually seemed to make it better, but after another severe dirt road the oil was dumping yet again.  So again, any recommendations of shops in Cuzco are VERY MUCH appreciated.  

As I've said before, Peru is equal parts pleasure and pain, beauty and ugliness, Heaven and Hell, etc.  It's amazing passing through dingy towns like Tarma, and then spending a few days in beautiful cities like Huaraz and Ayacucho filled with beauty, culture, cuisine, and character.  The roads are the same...  one minute you're stopped for hours at a landslide, fording a river like in Oregon Trail (hope I don't get dysentery!), spending hours to travel short distances over/through mountains, and dodging dogs, potholes, speed bumps, and crazy drivers.  Then you suddenly find yourself on pristine smooth gravel overlooking epic countryside or carving down a perfectly paved/clean valley road.  It's wild here!  Exhausting riding, but amazing.  And at the same time, a miserable journey at times.  Confusing for sure.  

Although the riding has been challenging, and has made for some very long days, the scenery has been diverse and amazing.  After Cañon del Pato, I didn't think roads could get much better.  However, with help from Toby (Around the Block Moto Adventures - Huanuco), I've been able to piece together some amazing routes.  For example, the road between Huaraz passing over Parque Nacional Huascaran was unreal.  Almost entirely dirt, before I knew it I was at 16k+ feet staring at wild horses, indigenous farmers living in grass huts, heavily snowcapped mountains, alpacas and other wildlife, and never-ending deep valley vistas.  The diversity is astounding as well.  Just days ago I was freezing cold, and yesterday Sam and I were riding through Arizona-style desert overlooking sage, cacti, and sweating our tits off.  The variety of everything here is full for sure.  

As with everything else here, my moods and emotions have been rapidly changing.  I've shed tears of joy at times, and have been miserable and pissed off as well.  For example yesterday, after a flat, blown fork seal, engine issues, worn rear, bent rim, $hit drivers, and not much sleep/rest, I couldn't be bothered to chat with locals asking the same questions over and over (where are you from?  what type of bike is that?  how expensive is it?  how fast?).  Normally I'm very chatty, take pics with the young girls (Sam and I feel like a celebrity at times), hang around and chat, share some candy, and ask questions and take pics for myself.  Yesterday was a different story.  

Another interesting thing happened yesterday.  I'm hesitant to tell this story as some might judge it as hot-headed.  Anyway, as we're leaving Huancayo pulling through a large intersection, a taxi driver decided he had to turn right at the last minute from the far left lane.  Not only did he swerve and cut off a car, but he cut off Sam, and then just barely missed nailing me as he cut me off as well.  I honked and gave a one finger salute.  I was gonna brush it off, but he gave me a 'salute' back.  I was already hot and fuming after the flat, so I thought to myself, "I'm not letting this one go".  I kicked the bike down a gear, whipped it right, and fired myself down the road.  I pulled up next to him and gave him a piece of my mind in broken Spanglish.  That would have been enough, but he waved me off nonchalantly and then swerved over towards me!  Well, I'd had enough, so I rolled off the throttle, kicked my right leg up, rolled back on the throttle, and allowed my Sidi boot to clear right through his left side mirror.  As I made a U-turn and made my way back to Sam and the main road, I noticed a cop and several guys standing outside a tienda.  They had seen the entire thing and were laughing their asses off and giving me thumbs up.  Score one for the gringos I guess!?!?

We made our way to Ayacucho yesterday with the intention of staying one night.  However, we arrived at sunset and it took some time to find a hotel with parking, which was exhausting.  We are well over budget at Internazionale Hotel, but it has secure parking, really nice rooms, and we've decided to camp a couple of nights coming up to offset cost.  After hitting the town last night (read - metric $hit tons of Cusqueña cervezas, fun conversations and dancing with locals, and bar hopping all over town), we both woke up this morning and immediately decided to stay another night.  It's not a bad place to post up for a rest day as the city itself is beautiful.  It has a confident, but relaxed vibe, and the locals are all very chill and friendly.  Apparently, this was ground zero for Shining Path back in the 80's/90's, so tourism here still isn't at high levels.  In fact, we've only seen one other 'gringo' around town since we've been here, which is quite nice actually.  Then again, being stared at like an alien (or celebrity depending on your mood) can get a bit old.  I didn't do much research on Ayacucho before getting here, but after seeing the countless number of beautiful, grand churches, some of which were built in the mid 1500's, I've fallen in love.  In comparison to most other cities I've visited in Peru, I don't even feel like I'm in the same country.  Make this a stop if you find yourself traveling through Peru for sure.  

The next few days we plan to work our way east to Cuzco.  Most likely through the usual stops, which are Andahuaylas and Abancay.  Once in Cuzco we'll probably ride around a bit, explore the city, then ride north, park at the police station, and take the trek down the railroad tracks to hit Machu Picchu from the backside.  Hit it from the back!!!  (Sorry, I'm a bit delirious today after last night)...  Anyway, I think that's all for now.  We're gonna head out and grab almuerzo (lunch), and then do some exploring around town.  

Again, if anyone has recommendations for places to get the bike worked on in Cuzco or surrounding towns, please pass along here -  After exploring for a bit there, we'll be making a huge loop back southwest, west, then northwest, then north up the coast where we'll end in Lima.  From there Sam flies back Stateside, and I continue my trip south through Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina.  

Ciao for now amigos.  Keep the rubber side down, and always remember, you can't have the good without the bad!  

Stay fly, ~ D

1 comment:

  1. Love the adventure. Just watched a video about similar moto adventure and thought of you. Check it out: