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 www.rideadv.com 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:
(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)
4) Argentina (northern, Andean)
(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?”
3) Costa Rica
(*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.!)
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
9) Costa Rica
*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...... : )