Sunday, July 31, 2011

Finally, an update! 1st RIDE Adventures tour is over, and back in the U.S.

Guilty as charged. I've slacked terribly on this blog.

What is clearly the longest time gap between blog posts exists for reason though. I'm constantly writing and blogging for my business,, answering emails, writing articles for magazines and soon to be launched eBooks, and obviously, this blog has been neglected. (Article will be printed in BMW's Owners News magazine later this year, and 1st eBook about motorcycle travel will be up on Amazon and the iTunes Store soon!)

My business, RIDE Adventures, is going absolutely great. The first 6 months have been tough to grind through at times, working so much and seeing such minimal results. But as of July, reservations for rentals and tours have really started to soar and a slew of new opportunities seems to be steadily coming in. The website is doing well statistically (thanks again and very clear examples of what I envisioned this company doing are starting to happen. Still just me working on it, but I think that will have to change within a year.

Speaking of work...

Back in April, I met up with RIDE Adventures' first tour group in Patagonia and took them through the best parts of Patagonia the weather would allow that time of year. Last minute cancellations from 3 of the riders left us with only 3, but Jeff, Ian, and Jeremy (from the U.S., Canada, and U.K.) all raved about their first Patagonia experience, and have actually referred me to other groups that appear to be booking tours soon for the 2012 season! Ahh, networking...

This trip in April almost didn't happen though, as Ian gave us the ultimate scare by crumbling to the ground on the very first morning while attempting to mount his motorcycle. The 3rd kick of his leg turned into a dislocated knee, howling pain I don't care to recall, and an ambulance trip to the nearby hospital. Fortunately, a bit of morphine and other factors eventually allowed his knee to relax and move back into position, just in time that day to make a late start and finish the entire tour according to schedule. It all happened on my April 7th birthday (I would tell the guys later) and in these years where birthdays don't seem to matter much, my 36th was one I'll never forget.

Here's some highlight photos from that tour:

(Above, just overlooking the Llao Llao Hotel & Resort outside of San Carlos de Bariloche in Argentina, "Che" the St. Bernard was glad to help with a photo. Below, even the gas station attendants can be cute in southern Chile. Jeff's dance moves were pretty impressive for that early in the morning.)

Above, our private cordero (lamb) barbeque with Jeff aside, and the drink of choice, "Pisco Sours" being enjoyed by all in the thermal baths at Puyuhaupi Lodge & Spa. Susi from Germany joined us for a late night dip at this fascinating and totally secluded resort, accessible only by boat. The guys likened our moments arriving to the movie "Shutter Island" and pretty much agreed it was a highlight of the trip. Something you just have to see...

Above, Ian deftly handles his first major river crossing on the BMW R1200GS with the skill of a pro, and below, a photo we agreed might have been the funniest from the trip. Jeremy merely offered a friendly ride to this traveling Israeli Army officer, but if that isn't a flash of love on her face, then I guess I just don't know what love is : )

After Jeff negotiated (with my translation) a good deal on some goat leggings from a roadside barbeque party, Ian gave us another scare by not making it across this bridge. The photo was snapped because we knew he was okay, but with a 500+ lb motorcycle, the chances for disaster certainly exist.

So I've been back in the U.S. since May, spending most of my time along the east coast and working plenty. Motorcycle events and rallies are pretty common this time of year in the U.S., and each presents a great opportunity for me to network with a crowd I enjoy very much.

I was out in New Jersey for about a month with my cousin Dave, who will be married in Texas this September. I've been asked to conduct the ceremony in this non-religious wedding, so from here on, folks can refer to me as "Reverend" with some degree of accuracy : )

My first tour back in Patagonia appears to be in line for October, so as I wished for, the "eternal summer" might be in line for this guy for a while! I'll try to write more before then...

Oh, enjoy the video from the April tour:

The latest video from RIDE Adventures is up on YouTube!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Best of the Best and Facts about my 2-Year Motorcycle Adventure

Time to finally post this summary about my 2 years riding through Latin America!

Took me a while to put this together, as so much of my time is dedicated to my work right now. While some of the facts and feelings are still fresh in my mind though, I want to go ahead and answer some of the questions I’ve been asked along the way….


My date of departure was Friday, June 13th, 2008

Days gone from my home in Atlanta: 944

Days outside of the U.S., in Latin America: 773

Number of Motorcycles ridden: 10 (In addition to my KTM, I had a fleet of 7 BMW motorcycles at my disposal when I worked for Moto Rider. Plus a few others I rode…)

Number of Countries ridden through: 15 – Canada, The U.S., Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina.

Greatest Number of Days in Same Underwear: 3.5 (That’s right. Hey, Peter and I had just gotten into a situation where we didn’t find camping with showers for a few days, and I didn’t have any freshies to wear. I must say, the Under Armour Boxer Briefs hold up extremely well through all that!

Distances traveled: Grouped together in the most major “segments” of my travel, here’s the breakdown:

· Atlanta to Santa Rosa: 3,749 miles (motorcycle)

· Suntrek training: 1,719 miles (van)

· Suntrek - Pacific Coast Tour: 1,281 miles (van)

· Suntrek - Canadian Rockies: 1,870 miles (van)

· Suntrek - Flight to NYC: 2,911 miles (airplane)

· Suntrek - Trans-Canada: 4,257 miles (van)

· Suntrek - California Dreamin’: 1,996 miles (van)

· Suntrek - Western Sun: 1,868 miles (van)

· My West Coast Ride: 2,409 miles (motorcycle)

· Thru Arizona, Mexico, and Central America: 6,168 miles (motorcycle)

· Thru the Panama Canal to Chile: 7,300 miles (steamship)

· Random group rides in Chile/Argentina: 12,545 miles (motorcycle)

· Random work flights with Moto Rider: 1,400 miles (airplane)

· Bolivia Scouting Mission with Moto Rider: 3,764 miles (motorcycle)

· Random truck trips with Moto Rider: 6,562 miles (company truck)

· Random scouting trips with Moto Rider: 8,560 miles (motorcycle)

· Personal Moving trips with Moto Rider: 2,555 miles (bus)

· Patagonia/Ushuaia research mission: 6,696 miles (motorcycle)

· Santiago to Cartagena, Colombia: 7,855 miles (motorcycle)

· Flight back to Miami: 2,200 miles (airplane)


· Motorcycle – 49,337 miles (enough to ride around the earth’s equator 1.98 times)

· Driving Passenger Van – 12,991 miles

· Steamship – 7,300 miles

· Airplane – 6,511 miles

· Company Truck – 6,562 miles

· Public Bus – 2,555 miles

GRAND TOTAL: 85,256 miles (enough to travel 35% of the way to the moon – on its average elliptical distance from earth)

More Crucial Motorcycle Figures: (for the gearheads out there)

I averaged 3,800 rpms and about 40 mph across all my motorcycle riding, so that’s:

· 49,337 miles

· 1,233 hours of riding

· 74,000 minutes of riding

· 140,610,450 ignitions in the engines (all bikes ridden were 4-stroke, 2-cylinder engines)

· 281,220,900 revolutions of those engines

Blog posts written from Day 1 until I returned to the U.S.: 52

Pictures taken with digital cameras: Approximately 7,300

Sunglasses worn: 1 pair

Bribes paid to corrupt police: Zero - But wow, was it close a couple of times. I’ve honed my skills in dealing with these situations now. (Attempts by them to extort money only really only took place in Nicaragua, Panama, Bolivia, and Peru.)

Magazine articles written about me: 1 (nicely done, Hazzard)

THE "BEST of the BEST"

OKAY, enough with the numbers! Now let’s dive into the experiences that make travel so much fun. Which country was the most beautiful? Which had the prettiest girls? Read on…

Best Food: With some possibly surprising results, let’s keep in mind that most of the time I was traveling, I was doing so on a budget tight enough to allow my trip to continue. That being said, be it for “value or flavor,” the countries with the best food are:

1) *Peru

2) Mexico

3) Argentina

4) Guatemala

5) Panama

(Peru as the winner…..the competition is not even really close! Their creativity, effort, and value are absolutely fantastic. Anyone who appreciates the cuisine as being a major part of their vacation will love the experience of dining in Peru.)

Most beautiful countries: After 1st place, this is a very difficult ranking to give. Each of the countries I traveled in exhibited moments and scenery that are absolutely breathtaking, but of course, equal time and travel was not spent across all countries. Still though from 15 countries, here’s my Top 6:

1) Chile (southern, Patagonia)

2) Colombia

3) Bolivia

4) Argentina (northern, Andean)

5) Ecuador

6) Peru

(Notice, nothing from Central or North America made the Top 6?)

The 3 greatest 1-day rides I did: Be they “great” for their beauty, remoteness or variety, these 3 rides are simply unforgettable:

1) Patagonia, The Carretera Austral, and lapping around Lago General Carrera in Chile. This could be credited as the ride that changed my life forever. It's as if mother nature was throwing a party, and really wanted to make the world look its best before guests arrived.

2) Bolivia: Uyuni to Potosi, finishing as the sun is setting during the final 50 miles. Simply ridiculous how beautiful this is. Incredible variety through natural settings so perfect that they almost appear man made.

3) Cachi to San Antonio de Los Cobres, Argentina. I never thought the road would keep going up the mountains like that!

Friendliest People: Generally speaking, folks everywhere were very welcoming to a weary motorcycle traveler. But who stands out in my mind as the “sweetest of the sweethearts?”

1) *Mexico

2) Colombia

3) Costa Rica

4) Panama

5) Chile

(*Having been maybe the greatest surprise of my trip, the Mexican people won my heart over in a way I can’t explain. I’m urging Americans (everyone really) to ignore the crap you see on T.V., the news stories…the movies, etc., and please understand that there are many many fantastic and sweet-hearted people just across the border from us in the U.S.!)

Prettiest Girls:

Yes, it was quite a difficult trip for me: A guy who’s always been a bit “partial” toward dark-eyed, dark-haired beautiful girls just spent 2 years riding through Latin America. I was living on a planet full of my type! Being such an important category, I’m extending the list to reach 10 places.

1) * ** Mexico

2) ____________

3) ____________

4) ____________

5) Colombia

6) Panama

7) Argentina

8) Chile

9) Costa Rica

10) Nicaragua

*It seems inappropriate to even list Mexico amongst such amateurs; therefore, ample space surrounding them is given out of respect.

**Led by Lorena Vasquez of Durango, the nation of Mexico will control this category for years to come.

“Missed the Most” about home: No doubt, there were moments I didn’t want to be traveling. Not by motorcycle. Not out of my home country. Not in the nasty weather and wicked conditions I sometimes had to deal with. So what were the most recurring homesickness thoughts that raced through my mind when it was getting dark, pouring rain and freezing cold, miles from civilization, and all I could think about was how badly I wished I was at home?

· Breakfast and German Pancakes with my family. In some of the great old German restaurants we had in Milwaukee, I just wanted pancakes and family…and to be done with this stupid motorcycle trip!

· Sitting around a fireplace….Brandy Old Fashioned in-hand with my best of friends. (Thinking Pioneer Inn in Oshkosh.) But really, any fireplace…..any of my friends……just get me off this motorcycle and into some warmth.

· The thought of having a great girl curled up on the couch next to me, head on my shoulder, settling into a movie. Maybe there’s a pooch with his head on my lap, and the fireplace is lit. That'll do.

Okay...that's a long blog post. My first tour for RIDE Adventures starts in two days, so back to work I go...... : )

Sunday, March 27, 2011

What's going on now that I'm in the U.S....I mean "Chile?"

The duration between these blog posts might suggest nothing is going on or that life has been boring. Just to clarify: That certainly isn’t the case. Since I arrived back in the U.S. I went from Miami to Atlanta, New York, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Chicago, Indianapolis…..the list goes on. My RIDE Adventures, LLC project is running strong, I’m busy traveling, seeing people I want to see, and having fun (almost) all the time it seems. (And I finally got to see my parents and grandmothers after 2 years of not doing so!)

I’m back here in Chile staying with old roommates and friends for a week. Running into old friends and faces I said goodbye to half a year ago……seeing the neighborhood pooches that run the streets in this section of town (a few of them recognize and remember me) and getting ready to run my first tour with my own company.

That’s right! I just got back here to Santiago this week to start preparing for a 10-day tour with a private group in Patagonia. Getting to ride again in my favorite riding area of the world….and saying it’s “my career” and “my company” allowing me to do so!

We’ll be renting motorcycles from some partners of mine in the south of Chile, and spending 10 days riding through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. April should bring some pretty ferocious weather that far south, so I expect this trip to be quite an adventure in every way. This group has elected to stay in some of the “finer” accommodations available, and I’m excited to also see some of these fantastic hotels I had scouted out once again (I was last there a year ago.)

Updates about the progress of this tour will be tough, but I’ll post about it when I can. For now though, I’ll just come right out and say it: “Life is so damn good...!!!”

Next post will be a fun one: The “Best Of” and some numbers with regards to my 2-year adventure through Latin America. It’s going to be fun finally writing this!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Adventure #7 is over.....back in the U.S.!

After 13 countries, about 60,000 miles and countless sites and we are in the U.S., having saved our favorite country for last!

The final battle through customs and immigration has been won, this photo above showing my motorcycle and I safely in Miami about 25 months after we crossed from Arizona into Mexico. I'm actually posting this quite a bit after I arrived, as I didn't think it was appropriate to say I'm "completely" back in the U.S. until my motorcycle was safely here as well. (Call me sentimental about my motorcycle...I can't deny it.)

Since arriving, life has been quite busy, as I try to combine visits with friends and family along with the business plans I have in place. After visiting with my brother and his family in Miami for a week or so and somehow not taking any pictures, I headed up to Tampa Bay and had a quick visit with The Stair Family. Always great to see Ralph, Lila, (pic below) and their daughter Leslie as they are dear old friends of our family. Marking the start of my blog, Ralph was shown in the very first post I made in June of 2008 during our visit in Colorado on my way to California.

(Picture above: Back in front of my house in Atlanta, finally! I couldn't even drive around back to the garage and re-take the first photo from this blog because there was so much winter-ice on the streets in my neighborhood.)

My plan is to write a summary of what I saw and did....some of the "numbers" involved with all my travels on Adventure #7 and a list of favorites along the way. Just have to find the time to write that up!!!