I only rode for a few hours after I left Gastons, but cutting through the everglades was cool, saw a few Alligators poking their heads up out of the waterways and some people doing tours on airboats, but no time to dilly dally. I had a long way to go and a short time to get there (as the song goes) nigh on 4000 kms in 3 and a bit days. Sammys chain was a concern, I had 4 notches of adjustment left and the last few notches always go quick as the chain gets even more stretched out. If I had to, I might be able to buy a new chain set (chain and sprockets) in El Paso.
I found a cheapish hotel and got breakfast included so I could hit the road early the next morning. Sammy had been running a little rough since the last day in Barranquilla, Id been putting a couple of litres of gas in him at a time, just enough to run around town and get to the airport on the last day and he had been running badly after that - it felt and sounded like Id got some bad fuel and some crap in the carburettor, but the last thing I did was the valves and the simplest explanation is normally correct, so I was concerned that I might have not cinched up a lock nut on a valve or something. I was up at stupid o'clock in the dark and outdside with a head torch, whipped the tank off and double checked the valves and plugs and put fresh dielectric grease over the plug leads, everything looked good, the plugs had done 6,000 kms and looked ok, everything was back together for sun rise, a quick brekkie and I hit the road. He was still not running perfectly, so I found a local motorcycle shop and bought some new plugs, chain lube and proper air filter oil - but I still needed to make some miles, so I rode all day, just over 1000 kms and left Florida, crossed Alabama before I found a place in Gulfport Mississipi. Another early morning start and I swopped the plugs out for new ones and more tinkering, still he was a little rough - but slightly better than he was though. A long day in the saddle from Mississipi, through Louisiana and into Texas.
Texas is always an eye opener - I ended up working my way through Houston traffic at rush hour, I lost count of all the huge Texan and USA flags flying - literally hundreds of them, combined with the ten lane Freeways and an Apache helicopter gunship flying along the freeway low above me it was fairly surreal after the modesty and poverty of South America. I fought my way out of Houston eventually and scooted North West out of San Antonio and by about 11 pm Id had enough. There were lots of deer around by the roadside and I ended up getting a deal on a room in Segovia Tx as it was so late - the lady in the hotel said it was a good idea not to ride on as there are lots of road accidents with deer locally.
The next morning was chilly, Sammys heated grips got some use and sure enough there were dead deer on the roads everywhere, well over a dozen within 60 miles, good job I parked up when I did.
I managed to pick up some fuel additive/carb cleaner from a NAPA store, everything else on the bike was good, valves and plugs ok, air filter clean and oiled, good 91 octane V-power gas, electrics all ok, which left one thing - dirt or buildup in the carb. I pulled the fuel/air mix screw and sure enough there was some grey powdery deposits on the needle, so in went the fuel additive/carb cleaner and straight away he was running better. I dont mind stripping down the carb and cleaning it at home, but I still had some miles to make first.
Stan was going to wait an extra day for me in Phoenix, that mean't I had to push out nearly 1400 kms on the last day of riding. The engine was running much sweeter, the next issue was the chain. Id made the last adjustment possible on the chain, I lubed it up to squeeze the last miles out of it and hit the road early. I was making good time and made it to El Paso in the early afternoon, the last 20-30miles into El Paso weren't so good, the chain was starting to slip on the sprockets. I was 430 miles from finishing - painfully close, I made the decision to look for a new chain set, I tried two Suzuki dealers and an independant motorcycle shop and no one had sprockets for a DR650 !!! one dealer said it would take two weeks to order sprockets in....Streuth.
It was now 3 pm and I had to hit the road and try and make it, I filled the tank and set off slowly and gently on the throttle - top speed of about 50 mph - it was looking like a late night, sure enough the chain got worse and it was slipping more and more, it got dark and chilly, I turned off the Interstate I-10 and took the back road on the 70, which was nice and quiet and a bit safer at my reduced speed and also slightly shorter distance than going through Tucson. I also had to climb up over 1300 metres for the final push into Phoenix, the chain was really screwed by now and going up hill it jumped off the sprockets and got caught up between the wheel and swingarm - pretty dodgy as it could potentially lock the rear wheel up as it jumps off the sprockets and cause the bike to skid. I was lucky this time, just lost drive but I wasn't in a good place, lots of fast traffic and pitch black. I levered the chain out with a screwdriver, got it back on again and reduced my speed even more, I limped into Phoenix at 45 mph - its a big city, over 40 miles from the outskirts to Paradise Valley where Stan was and the traffic was going 75 mph, so I didn't enjoy the ride much, the chain jumped off one more time, but I was able to make it to the shoulder OK and pop the chain straight on again. Id originally told Stan Id be arriving at about 1030pm, but hadn't updated my time after the chain issues, I eventually met up with him at 1130pm, after 1388 kms today and 3901 kms in just over 3 days.......
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Patty fed me up really well, lots of yummy meals including arroz con leche - rice pudding, my favorite! and I hung out with Gaston as he was doing some other work, we managed to go to the local bikers meet held in a shopping centre car park, with several hundred bikes there - everything from Harley Davisons with flourescent lights illuminating the engine and wheels to tricked out sports bikes and BMW 1200GS adventure bikes. There was also a Triumph motorcycles semi trailer from Georgia, touring around with the latest offerings including the new Triumph Tiger 800 XC - which looked rather nice and sounded even better, I nearly had to prize Gaston off it !!!
|Gaston, Camille and Patty with Sammy|
|Gaston on his immaculate BMW|
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Now, there is no way to get the narcotics inspection done and the bike crated in under 2 hours, the Police are heading for lunch, as are the Tampa staff - watching the latest plan swiftly heading down the pan was not much fun....
Tampa Cargo's 30 minute lunch break turned into well over an hour, In the mean time the aircraft Sammy was supposed to catch that evening arrived and the pilots scooted for a quick lunch, they come back after 30 minutes and they ask me where the bike is going - I tell them that it should be on their aircraft, going to Miami that evening - but they are early, so we chat for a few minutes and I ask them when the next flight will be, they are in the dark too and say that Thursday is possible. They wish me good luck and I get to watch the Airbus taxi and take off without the bike on board.....Streuth.
|Sammy sealed in clingfilm|
Sunday, March 13, 2011
|Sammy Gets Fitted up for a Crate|
It was cheaper getting the crate sorted out in Canada, but the guys here made it up from scratch and its going to get delivered to the airport, so I cant complain.
Sunday morning I was up early and did some more jobs on the bike, I adjusted the valves, cleaned the spark plugs, put on the 15 tooth front sprocket so the bike cruises better on the US Freeways and did some more cleaning and general tinkering.
Lets see what Monday brings.......
Sunday, March 6, 2011
|Historic City and Commercial City|
If you need some work done on your bike in Cartagena go and see Dario - knows what he is doing and himself and his wife Claudia are genuinely lovely friendly people
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
|Another beating for Sammy...|
|Helpful Local Guys|
So the next morning I walk to the Suzuki shop to find it only opens from 2-6 pm!! - I quickly find another small shop with 2 young guys, David and Carlos who specialize on Suzukis and have the contract to service all the police DR650's locally.
They said that it will take at least 3 days to get a front brake hose - not what I want to hear, so I ask them if anyone can make one up, after some head scratching and phone calls,we jump in a taxi and head to another Suzuki dealer who is open - yep, 3 days minimum wait, so we head to see the guy in a small shop who says he can cut off the pipe fitting on each end of the broken hose and solder them onto a new pipe - the hose he has though is not very good quality, but better than 3 days + waiting, so an hour later I have a temporary brake line. I head back to the hotel and fit it, fill and bleed the brakes - It feels like someone holding 2 wet sponges onto the brake disc when I pull the brake lever - not good, too much flex in the hose.
I had been down to the Police station twice during all this to get a copy of the police report, but the cop at the accident was not around both times and I kept getting the old 'come back in 2 hours' routine. I heard from another cop that the guy who was driving the truck said he had no money to pay for the damage to the bike and that it would go before a judge in 3 to 6 months - or even maybe a year....... not good news, so rather unhappily I just split and headed out of town, I have the cops phone number so I may chase it up when Im back home, but Im not expecting anything.
I was going over the accident in my mind and I would not have taken a different line, what I did not do though it beep the horn - which I have been doing a lot in South America in situations like that - when someone nearly pulls out of a side road, also the thin layer of sand on the asphalt was super slippery to brake on, also I assumed the guy would actually bother to look both ways - wrong!
The front brake was pretty bad, with the lever pulled all the way it was not doing too much, so I rode to Cartagena very cautiously and as I suspected the front wheel is buckled from the truck driving onto it....anything over 80-85 kms and I can feel the vibration starting.
I got into Cartagena late afternoon and found a hotel, pizza and a beer later and a quick chat with Lisa on Skype. Her flights had all been delayed in Colombia, so she had missed her flight from Toronto to Edmonton and eventually got routed through Winnipeg!!!! So, 27 hours later she got back to Stan's place near Edmonton, the next day she drove home to Banff, with lots of snow and ice on the highway and its currently -30 C! There were accidents and delays..... but she is home.
|Semi truck and trailer blocking the main highway - icy roads covered in snow|