We call this our Live!Journal. In reality, it's an "Almost Live!Journal"; the stories and photos were captured in real-time, in the field, as our riders make their way from departure to their final destination. Even though the 'web is virtually instantaneous, it takes time to edit photos, stories, email them to our "homedesk", then create and publish the update Dispatches (email newsletters), and the actual Live!Journal Chapter that you are viewing now. The content for this Chapter Three of the Seattle to Tierra del Fuego Live!journal was received over the period preceding the major earthquake epicentered in Chile. I'm sure we'll have stories and photos from Helge and the pre-run team in our next and final Chapter Four. They were sleeping, safe and sound in their rooms on the 20th story of their hotel in Santiago when the earthquake occurred.
This Chapter begins with a re-print of Helge's story about the earthquake, taken from the GlobeRiders' Dispatch #96. Those visiting this page via the Dispatch have seen this before. The re-print is provided below for those visiting this page directly. The stories below it precede the event. Our next and Final Chapter will include their thoughts and photos immediately after the earthquake, and everything that transpired after, to their final destination, Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego.
Re-Print from the GlobeRiders' Dispatch #96 (from Helge Pedersen - Sat 27 Feb 2010 - Santiago, Chile)
I woke up from the shaking of my bed and immediately realized that we were having an earthquake. All four of us were in single rooms on the 20th floor of the Crown Plaza Hotel in Santiago, Chile, when the earthquake hit.
Earlier in the day, I had been sitting by the huge window in my room overlooking Santiago, editing pictures for Chapter Three of our journal. I remember thinking about how they had built the windows leaning outwards, making me dizzy looking down 20 stories. People on the street looked like small toy figures.
As my bed rattled forth and back, I once again looked out the window, and that is when the fear struck me. First of all, the quake was not dissipating, but rather became more violent. Looking out the window, I could get a sense of how wildly the building around us were swaying.
I literally was hanging on for my life, trying not to get tossed out of my bed. It came to a point when the shaking and the noise where so overwhelming that I said my goodbyes to my wife Karen, and asked for it to be over as quickly as possible. In a neighboring room, Vincent had tried to stand up, but was knocked to the floor.
After 1-½ minutes of sheer terror, I still could not fathom why this 22-story tall concrete and steel building was still standing. Tiles in my bathroom had cracked to pieces and had made a mess on the floor. Walls had cracks, chandeliers had fallen to the floor and everywhere glass and concrete covered the floors.
We were of the lucky ones this day and our thoughts go out to all of Chile and its people for their suffering. My choice of donating is through the Red Cross, please help if you can, everything helps. Help those less fortunate, you can start by clicking the image below:
Seattle to Tierra del Fuego - Chapter Three
At the airport in Panama, we met a fellow rider traveling on his Kawasaki KLR 650 from America through South America. Having started with four others, he was the only one left still heading south when we met in Panama. As a result of going it solo, his wife had told him that he better avoid traveling to Colombia, so he skipped Colombia and flew the bike and himself to Ecuador.
What a pity for him! A few years back, Colombia might not have been the best place to visit, but as we found out first-hand, today, it is a wonderful country to visit and tour through. We had a special treat in having our own local hosts during the stay in Bogota. Luis Gabriel Mojica, and his lovely wife Anabella, made sure that we would have the best time possible, and we did!
Heading out of Bogota, Luis and Anabella led us on their BMW R1200GS to our destination of for day, a wonderful resort. The next day, we parted; they went back to Bogota, and we headed south towards Ecuador. The ride by itself was wonderful - impressive mountains and deep valleys, small villages and great asphalt roads.
On the border to Ecuador, we ran in to a group of four riders from Canada and the USA. They had divided their tour in to three phases, and would soon leave their bikes in Peru, then return to do the final ride to Tierra del Fuego in 2011.
Just as we said goodbye to these fellows, two more bikes arrived and we got to know a very nice German couple. He had been on the road for two years and after first having been a pillion passenger, his girlfriend now had her own bike. I am sure that had we stayed longer at this funnel of a border, we would have met even more bikers on the way south.
The wonderful vistas and good roads follow us in to Quito, Ecuador, where we spend two days. The highlight of our visit to Quito was a side trip to The Equator Village/monument. The funny deal is that the monument has been built on the wrong place! To prove this, I took a picture of Roger’s iPhone with the compass app open. But who cares, it was a fun experience regardless.
What impressed me the most about Ecuador was their road system. A lot of money had been spent on concrete roads, even up in the mountains on the way to Peru they were working on a fabulous road. At this point we had diverted from the Pan-American Highway to escape the lowland heat and to see some more of the Andes. After crossing in to Peru, we were forced back down to the coast and followed this until we had passed Lima and come to Nazca. Not the greatest ride, but a fast one on a good road, and Nazca was very interesting and world renown for the Nazca Lines and drawings in the desert. We did a flight to get the best view, very impressive!
Sitting here simply writing about the following days riding is so difficult to describe in words, but I will try. We went from sea level and in just a matter of a few hours we had reached 14,000 feet. Besides some initial road works, the road was brand-new and the best bike road you can imagine. We went over mountains and down valleys before climbing up again. We even had a little snow fall on us at one high pass. For the next week, we would stay up in the high altitude, and slowly our bodies got used to the lack of oxygen.
Unfortunately, Machu Picchu was closed due severe flooding and damage to the rail line, which is the only way to get to the Inca Ruins. I felt bad for Dan and Vincent as they never had seen this incredible place; hopefully another chance will come soon. Because of this, Cusco, normally a bustling tourist destination, was deserted. We felt sad for local businesses and residents who were suffering from the loss of tourism.
Having traveled in this region several times before, I especially enjoyed backtracking the Road of Death that goes from La Paz to the jungles of Bolivia. In 1987 I crossed from Venezuela through the Amazonas jungle and came up this road not knowing its reputation. For me it was just another road. Well . . . that was until I came face-to-face with a truck driver that would not let me through, on my bike, in what I though to be my lane on the right side of the road.
Because of the incredibly steep edge and drop-off, a local rule was that when a driver had the cliff's edge on his left side, he should stay on the left side. In other words, it was just too difficult and dangerous for a driver coming up the road to judge where the edge of the road was, so it made more sense that uphill and downhill traffic would stay on the left side of the road. Made perfect sense once this was explained to me.
Today, a new and much safer road has been built, but as we discovered, there is still a lot of local traffic - busses and trucks passing on this road that used to claim the lives of 200-300 people every year as vehicles went over the cliffs.
In my past travels, I had never visited Salar de Uyuni,the world's largest salt flat, and this was the chance I had been waiting for. We stayed in a hotel built from the very salt of the lake and we had an incredible view of the salt flat itself. The best experience though was when Toshi and his driver took the four of us out on the salt flats in their 4x4. We decided that taking the bikes out on the wet salt would be the end of the electrical system of our bikes. I know this first-hand after having spent one week on the Bonneville salt flats covering the speed races there. Our guides’ claimed that their salt flat is the largest flat spot on earth, incredible.
To sum up our last weeks of riding from Colombia through Bolivia, I think it is safe to say that The Ride does not get better than this. We had great high-speed asphalt roads, gravel, corrugation, sand and several water crossings. We met some of the kindest people along the way, never had a bad experience, and felt that we should have made much more time to explore. Roger told me, at least five times, starting in Colombia, that he never had better Riding anywhere, and he kept saying this as we road south.
So far none, of us has been seriously sick, and the bikes have held up perfectly, knock on wood.
The next and final chapter will be of our journey through Argentina and Chile.
Helge's Photo Gallery
Chapter Three Dispatch from Vince
The Ride from Columbia to Bolivia has gone fast! So much has happened that I have a hard time remembering what happened; the dates and places, it all starts to flow together as one giant awesome adventure. Everyday there is something amazing that happens: outstanding vistas, great riding, interesting places and people, memorable events of some sort always happen. We just never know what the day will be like as we load up our bikes in the morning for the day's travels, yet we know that something will unfold as we lay down the miles and explore yet another country on 2 Wheels.
I thought the riding through Central America was surprisingly good, but OMG !! - the riding in South America been was fantastic! We did some incredible mountain riding on and off-road, tight twisties and sweepers, some very well-engineered roads, light traffic, great weather and breath-taking scenery.
We shipped our bikes by plane from Panama to Bogota, Columbia; for the most part, there was a little messing around on both ends but at the end of the day we got our bikes on the road in Columbia with a minimal amount of hassle. We were picked up at the airport by Luis, a motorcycle enthusiast and long-time fan of Helge’s. It was great to see a copy of Helge’s book, 10 Years On Two Wheels, on Luis' coffee table when we walked in, and it was great to see Helge autographing Luis' copy of the book. It was fascinating to hear Luis tell his story for of how he first learned about Helge from a article Helge wrote for a motorcycle magazine twenty years ago.
Since reading that magazine Luis always wanted to meet Helge and here, over twenty years later, Helge was his house guest and signing his treasured copy of 10 Years on 2 Wheels. Luis and his lovely wife did a great job of hosting us while in Bogota, taking care of us from the time we arrived at the airport in Bogota, to the time we left. They even escorted us on their BMW R1150GS on the day we left Bogota, staying overnight with us before heading back. Friendships were made and I know we all look forward to an opportunity to host this wonderful couple sometime in the near future; very special people that created some great memories for us.
We experienced great riding through Columbia and the people where welcoming and helpful to us throughout our travels there. We never felt any concern or worry about traveling or being in Columbia. Like they say, "The only risk in Columbia is the risk that you will want to stay!" I must admit the thought crossed my mind as we road those fantastic mountain roads.
Ecuador seemed like a quick blast, I think we were in and out of there in something like three days. I, of course, remember visiting the Monument at the Equator, and that it was packed with hundreds of people for a Herbal Life convention in town. The riding was for the most part quite good, and had great photops as we started seeing women in traditional dress.
Crossing the border into Peru was again like most border crossings. It took several hours and without knowing Spanish would have been a real hassle. As soon as we entered Peru, it immediately felt different, the whole socioeconomic picture really changed. We entered through the northern part of Peru via the Pan-American Highway. Long flat desert roads, with small towns along the way. Dusty, unpaved streets with the garbage dumped outside the towns along the side of the highways. During our first three days in Peru, we were all wondering why we came here. We then headed into the Lands of the Mountains! Even though this was still economically depressed, the stunning scenery completely changed the feel of The Ride, and this changed our view of Peru. We visited the Lines of Nazca - pretty wild, and the Cusco. Unfortunately, because of the severe rain several weeks earlier, Machu Picchu was closed and would be closed for the next couple of months. We were lucky though, because just recently, one of highways that had been washed-out by the flooding had just re-opened using a temporary road that was plowed alongside the washed-out main road; this allowed us to carry on our planned route and made for some interesting dirt riding.
If I had to pick my favorite part of this trip so far, I would have to say it was riding through Bolivia. Not only is the riding "very interesting" (we had some great off-road riding as well), but the people are very interesting, a place that time had kind of forgotten, a country very unique, very different, and I would say a must visit if you ever travel to South America. One observation was the peoples' reaction, or rather lack of reaction, to us and our motorcycles. In the other countries we had visited, people were interested in our bikes, what we were doing, where we were from, and where we were going.
Again, the riding, which included a lot of off-road, was spectacular. Of course, we had to ride the Road of Death (or as it is also referred to "The Most Dangerous Road in the World"). The ride to the Road of Death was fabulous mountain scenery along sweeping sealed highway. The Road of Death itself, is, of course, an unpaved, narrow, twisty road, carved into the side of the mountains, with huge drop-offs to the side a of couple thousand feet down, and of course, no guard rails! To add to it, and this is what I think makes the road so dangerous, trucks use this one-lane narrow road as well. Roger had a close encounter with a bus or truck that he met on this road in a corner. Fortunately, both stopped in time, so there was a foot or two between Roger's front wheel and the front of the vehicle. Roger, unshaken, had to back his bike up out of the corner, then get as far over to the side as possible to let the truck past.
Roger, being the quick-thinker that he is, figured out how to avoid this situation of meeting trucks in these blind corners on this narrow mountain road - he just signaled for me to go first and he would follow !!!
I’ve been very impressed with the performance of the BMW R1200 GS Adventure. It is quite impressive that you can take this huge bike and blast down rough dirt, mud or sandy roads, take on the bumps and stream crossings, then blast down a sealed highway, with plenty of passing power on tap to easily skirt past other vehicles, all while carrying a large payload. Of course, you have the add advantage of the large fuel capacity, something like a 700 kilometer range per tank. The bike takes the beating from riding off-road and has the comfort and performance for riding long distances at high speeds. It handles well off-road and handles great on twisty mountain roads as well.
This is my second BMW R1200GS Adventure with the Electronic Adjustable Suspension, which allows changing the suspension and clearance with the touch of a button. You have five pre-load settings, including two for off-road, and each has three damping settings: Soft, Normal and Hard, that’s 15 total settings!!! Pre-loads are adjusted with the bike running in neutral, the damping can be changed on the fly. I usually ride in one of the off-road preloads and when cursing down a smooth highway switch the damping to soft for an easy plush ride to make it a little more comfortable. When I see some twisties coming up or am heading off-road I push the EAS button and bang up the damping to Hard to stiffen-up the suspension. I know the general rule for Adventure riding is Keep it Simple; less complicated equals less problems. That said, I have not had any problems with the EAS or the shocks on my last two Adventures, and would most defiantly order this great option again on my next bike.
We have just pasted the half-way point of the trip, and thoughts of the end are crossing our minds. We don’t want it to end, yet we know it has to, so we talk about either doing it again next year, or dream about where should we travel next. Nothing beats crossing borders with a good group of people on 2 Wheels: what a great way to travel, what a great experience! In some way, by doing these trips, we get an understanding of how Helge could ride his motorcycle around the world for 10 Years. It is such an incredible experience that every day, you realize anew, “It’s a Great Day to be a GlobeRider!”
Vincent's Photo Gallery
Chapter Three Dispatch from Roger
Thoughts on The Ride thru Columbia, Peru, and Bolivia
• Columbia is a beautiful country.
• I never felt unsafe in Columbia.
• Columbians are a very friendly and proud people.
• I enjoyed being with Luis Gabriel Mojica and his wife Anabella.
• The riding in Columbia is fantastic and so is Luis’ enthusiasm for Columbia and in riding BMW’s.
• Shipping the bikes by air from Panama to Bogota was not too hard and saved a lot of time.
• The restaurant that we went to with Luis and Anabella was unbelievable. It was able to seat 3,000 people. The name is Andres Carne de Res.
• We met Miss Columbia 1985???, I think.
• Columbian women are VERY good looking!
• Dan thinks the women have a butt fetish?
• Ecuador is a beautiful country with great riding.
• Quito surprised me in that it was such a big city.
• The local women dress in traditional dress.
• Northern Peru was very poor and the roadsides were trash dumps.
• We crossed the Equator outside of Quito and I did not realize it because I was looking for my GPS to go to zero latitude. It went from North to South in about one second and I did not notice it. The next day we took a taxi to the equator and took a lot it photos.
• Road from Ecuador to Nazca was hot and dry on the desert.
• The road to Huaras was not passable because of mud. I am sure we missed a great ride but my legs are still too short for mud on a BMW R1200GS Adventure!
• We went by Lima. I have been there before and we did not miss anything.
• Stayed overnight in Pisco and I did not drink another Pisco sour . . . .
• The ride from Nazca to Cusco was fantastic.
• The hotel we stayed at on the road to Cusco had a place for Vince and I to fish and catch dinner.
• We could not go to Machu Picchu because of the floods.
• Cusco was empty of tourists because of the floods.
• It was a wonderful early morning ride to Puno on Lake Titicaca, where we went out to the people who live on the floating islands.
• Rode around Lake Titicaca and took a ferry across to get to La Paz.
• La Paz is a big city where we had to ride thru a carnival and got bombed by balloons filled with water and shot with water pistols. Carnival lasted for almost a week and everywhere we went we got hit with water.
• I was nervous on the “Camino del la Muerte” but made it with no major problems. Almost came head on with a bus and had to back up to let it pass. The traffic on the road makes it dangerous. Beautiful scenery and a great ride on dirt.
• La Paz to Uyuni was a great ride on mostly dirt and we stayed at a hotel made out of salt.
• Toured the salt flats that had some water on them but we could drive a four-wheel truck out. Did not take the bikes because of the salt getting in the electrical systems.
• Uyuni to Potosi was another great ride with some rain and a little mud. Potosi was a gold and silver mining town that was typical Bolivian.
• Potosi to Tupiza, where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were killed by the Bolivian army. S aw some American and Canadian kids traveling thru Bolivia.
• Bolivia is very poor and has a very low economy. There are many dirt roads and dirt streets in most of the small towns.
• The altitude was a factor when we first arrived in Cusco, but after being in the high altitude for a few days we got used to it. The only problem is I had some trouble sleeping.
• Bolivia was one of the most interesting countries that we have traveled thru.
Roger's Photo Gallery
Link to Dan's Continuous Blog
Dan "The Professor" Moore is blogging the ride as well. If you're interested in viewing his commentary and photos, please click on the image below: