Monday, February 8, 2010

Adv #7 Continued: What's my working life like in Chile?

(Photo above is quite out of order. My buddy Dan (on left) just came down to visit his son for a couple of weeks here in Chile, and fortunately had time to hang out with the baldest guy in Santiago...your's truly!)

So I have to explain: I've been slacking on writing this blog for a couple of reasons. Firstmost, is that I am extremely busy in Chile with work, and after a long day....I have to admit.....the blog just hasn't been a priority. Secondly, it's just been kind of weird to write this now, cause it's just about what I'm doing with my working life down here. When I started this thing, I was traveling constantly, from one end of the U.S. and Canada to the other, and eventually through country after country by motorcycle on my way here to South America. And that seemed worth writing about, right? Well now, I'm honestly a bit more "settled" into the working life again (had to after a while) so it just seems a bit strange to still keep the blog going. Well....I long as I'm outside the U.S. and having fun (which I am) maybe I can still squeeze out a blog post here and there. Hope you enjoy this one.

This posting will just be a summary of the kinds of things I've been doing since I started work with Moto Rider. As you saw in the last post, I was originally hired to be a tour guide by motorcycle, but the owner had recognized that I come from a strong background in marketing & sales, as well as a good sense for what it would take to make a motorcycle-tourism company successful.

So after my "scouting mission" through Bolivia, we thought I'd be down here in Santiago for about 3 weeks or so....then returning north with some motorcycles to start our renting business in Antofagasta. Well, 3 weeks here turned into 6, and then 12, and long story short: I'm still here in Santiago after 6 and a half months! (And that makes a total of about 1 year now that I've been in Chile!)

Jaime Roessler (the original manager of Moto Rider) ended up having to leave the company after my first month working, and the owner found another American, Rick Stephen to step in and fill Jaime's role as a manager for us. Rick is originally from Cedarburg, Wisconsin (what are the chances......about 30 miles from my hometown!) but he grew up much of his life in California and spent the last 17 years living in Chile with his wife and 4 kids. He has a long history of work in adventure tourism here in Chile, speaks fluent Spanish, and has been a lot of fun for me to work with.

ANYWAY, my job has been absolutely packed with a variety of things to accomplish since I started. What have I done? Well, imagine all that goes into starting a motorcycle touring & renting company, and that might help paint the picture. For example, (shown below) one of the first things I did after the Bolivia trip was to go through some training with the guys at BMW-Chile. That's Pedro Navarro along with me in the shop, walking me through some of the basics on the bikes that I might eventually have to fix while we're out on a tour. (Tough thing down here is that we don't have "Dealer Networks" or shipping infrastructures like back home in the U.S. or in Europe. If I'm on tour with customers in the middle-of-nowhere-Bolivia, and one of our motorcycles has a problem, we're pretty much on our own to fix it!)

Aside from working in the shop and trying to learn about these bikes, we also have lots of motorcycle races to go to in hopes of promoting our business around "the right" crowd. Enduro races here make for a great atmosphere I just love being around. It's like having the chance to tailgate every weekend!

And who was one of the racers I ran into? My buddy Roger, who I hadn't seen in about 6 months made a strong showing this day with his race partner, until the blew one of the engines and dropped out of that 2nd place finish they had locked up. Great to see you though Rodgie Boy!

Also shown here is a group shot of all my main buddies from BMW. Claudio on the right (congratulations on your engagement, pal!) has been a constant source of laughter since he so generously lets us make jokes about his sister at every occasion.

Remember Jose from other blog posts, too? One weekend we headed down to the SuperBike races in San Antonio, and the next weekend you'll see us below testing out two of Moto Rider's new F800GS's. Yep, that's a fun part of the job, too. Going to BMW to pickup two brand new bikes is a great experience, and I didn't exactly have to "beg" my buddies to help me put the first 1000 break-in kilometers on them!

More work is shown here in the pictures below as I went through BMW's "Rider Training Program" at their Enduro Park just outside of Santiago. Mauricio Vergara (on the right, in charge of the motorcycle operation here in Chile) has been through the same rider training that my buddy Peter Fischer does in Germany, and now BMW offers renditions of that training to their customers here in Chile. So a group of us all headed out of the city on Friday in the springtime (November here) and spent a day going through some basic riding training to enhance our skills. Obstacles, strange hill climbs, balance tests,'s an all-around riding challenge that helps any motorcycle be better an safer out there.

(Above, Mauricio helps Rick get over some tough rocks. There were alot of crashes that day on mostly brand-new BMW bikes!)
And of course, the end of our training is followed by what? In Chile, it's a catered barbeque of course. A long day's workout followed by a first-class barbeque like this one.....stories and laughs about "who fell" and which guys quit early cause of the heat. What a way to spend a Friday (group shot at the bottom of our riding class.)

SPEAKING of Peter Fischer.....he finally showed up again in Chile, about 9 months after we said goodbye at the end of our journey through Latin America together! It was absolutely great to see my buddy again as he was traveling through Peru and Chile with another group of tourists en route to Ushuaia. A couple of nights full of laughs and pulling out great memories from out trip was great to enjoy. (Sorry for the dark cell phone picture.)

More pictures below show life around the many weekend races we went to, again thinking of exposure for our company. Instead of showing all the motorcycles in action, here's just a few pictures of the characters I get to hang out with. Like Rick's 3 boys and Pedro and Claudio from BMW......(that's Rick's son Augustin jumping over the ditch, and Claudio doing an impression of himself passed out after too much to drink.)

Sometimes we have to move a few bikes around on our trailer, giving Augustin and his brother Mateus the chance to feel what it's like riding the R1200GS BMW (need a couple more years, guys : ) And the other picture below shows us at Oktoberfest at Club Manquehue later that night when Mateus is feeling confident enough to hustle down some beer while Mom isn't paying attention.

Picture of Rick and I below on the company truck.
What a great event those Red Bull Challenges are! Alfonso Araya (a buddy that works in our office building) and Cristian and I rode up into the Andes Mountains for this much anticipated Red Bull sponsored motorcycle race back in December. The "Red Bull Los Andes" was set at high altitudes in the mountains, drawing a world-wide pool of riders together, and ended up being a blast to watch. The very nature of the Red Bull racing series is that many portions of the 20 or so mile loop might be considered "impassable" by most racing standards. Not even 10 seconds into the race, we saw guys rolling head-over-tire down a hill, crashing and getting stuck and causing a bottleneck of bikes trying to get through.

The race was actually re-routed at one point because of a portion of hill that no rider could make it up. So the officials had them cut across this mud field, and look at how deep the mess was that every rider got stuck in! (Buried wheels completely.) We saw guys digging their bikes out for over 10 minutes in this extremely physically demanding race. The eventual winner, Cyril Despres from France has won the Dakar Rally in the past (and went on to do so as you'll see in coming blog posts this year.)The photo below is just a quick shot of one of those days in the office when Daniel, Rick, and I were grinding out everything we could think of to make Moto Rider a succcess. All the duties and work-related fun stuff I wrote about above is only one portion of why I like my work here so much. It's an absolutely great experience I'm getting also, learning the business side of not only a start-up company, but one that deals with motorcycles and toursim (thought for the future?)

And of course, after about 4 month separated, I finally got back up to Antofagasta to bring home my old pal Julius! That's right.....4 months just sitting there, and all I did was touch his start button quickly, and he jumped to life like it was any other day. Sure, these BMW's I'm working with are great bikes. But there's certainly something to be said about the machines KTM is making too.

The big news of the moment is that I leave for Ushuaia in 2 days. Yep, Daniel and I thought it would be a goode thing for me to get to know the south of Chile, Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego, and eventually Ushuaia. The routes, the scenery, and everything about it is a major portion of my adventure that is still missing. Shortly after I arrived in Chile last year (at this time) the weather turns so bad in the south that I missed my chance to see it.
So the idea is that I'm leaving this Thursday to plan a tour route that we'll be selling for the 2010/2011 summertime here. I'm taking one of the company BMW's down instead of Julius, which actually leaves me with some mixed feelings about how to finish my ride to "The End of the World." Part of me says for sure, I should finish it on the bike I started with. But another part of me can't pass up the opportunity to take a company bike and avoid the cost of using my own. Either way, I'll end up in Ushuaia in a few weeks, and will post pics of this journey soon! (It's about a 5-week trip, so hang tight.)

1 comment:

  1. Eric,

    Your KTM brought you this far, and now you are going to leave it behind?!?!

    It will never forgive you!

    Have fun and be safe.

    Jason Styron