Here are some fun facts and interesting bits and pieces about the trip and my opinions on the practical side of the trip.
I posted 133 blog posts, (give or take).
I rode 50,508km or 1.25 times around the circumference of the earth.
The highest altitude I rode to was 4,560 meters at Pampus Galeras, Peru.
The longest days ride was 842km from Peurto San Julian to Puerto Madryn in Argentina.
I bordered one ship – the Starlratte.
I traveled on ferries five times.
The top speed of my bike is 160kph, as tested on the salt flats of Bolivia.
I dropped the bike more than a dozen times, all of them while stationary, the wind in Patagonia blew it over once.
I had one screw in the front tire in Ecuador, it did not deflate. I think this is incredible in 50,000km of riding through third world countries. There is definitely something to be said for tubeless tires.
I used three sets of tires.
I used one set of brake pads.
I replaced the chain and sprockets once (at 40,000km), but thanks to Derek’s chain oiler, I think the original set might have made the entire distance.
The oil got changed 5 times, in line with the regular service schedule.
BMW dealers charge about the same all over the Americas (and Australia).
While I did have a fairly extensive tool kit with me (five packets of tools and spares); here is what I actually used: Zip ties, Duct Tape, WD40, 17mm spanner, Small brush, Needle nosed plyers, Large and small flat blade screw driver, Torx Set – various sizes, Oil filter tool, Leatherman. When I return home, this is all I am going to carry.
You definitely want a bike with a larger front wheel, mine was 19 inch “dual sport” wheel and I would say that is the minimum. A 21” wheel might have been better. The dual sport style bike is a must, but I think most overland motorcyclist acknowledge this.
The Fuel pump – oh the fuel pump. The first 10 weeks of the trip I was cursing my fuel injected bike, I was having an “intermittent” issue and was unable to diagnose the problem. I decided that I was going to continue the trip regardless of the bike problem. At that time I swore I would never buy or take such a complicated fuel injected bike again.
When I reached the Andes and was riding from sea level to 4500 meters, I was so glad that I had a fuel injected bike.
Having now finished the trip, I would definitely take the F650GS/F700GS again (just include an extra fuel pump and the knowledge of how to replace it).
I visited 16 countries.
I completed 23 border crossings, that is 46 entries and exits. I could not believe that either, no wonder I was sick of them.
Easiest Border crossings were:
- Australia to Canada (Vancouver)
- Canada to USA (Chief Mountain)
- Argentina to Chile (Tierra del Fuego)
Most Difficult Border Crossings were:
- El Salvador to Honduras (El Amatillo – generally acknowledged as the most difficult border to cross in the Americas – I concur)
- Honduras to Nicaragua (Somotillo)
- Guatemala to El Salvador (La Hanchadura)
I initially started the trip, researching all I could about the border crossings, after crossing into South America I did not bother anymore, I just turned up. Everything still went fine.
The Police and Road Taxes
I may have paid some dodgy road taxes but I got a receipt every time, these were paid on entry to Belize, the exit of El Salvador and the exit of Peru.
I was tear-gassed in Bolivia.
I did not get sick on the trip. My top tips for avoiding food poisoning in Latin America are:
- Brush your teeth with the local water
- Drink bottled water
- Eat street food that is prepared in front of you or prepared by a female (preferably both)
- Canned food from the supermarket is safe (and usually cheap)
I had two bee stings. Both times, a bee flew up the left arm of my jacket, once in Mexico and once on the last day of riding in Argentina.
Items used from First Aid Kit: Ibuprofen, Doxycycline (anti malarial) and 4 Band aids
The best riding of the trip was in the Rocky Mountains (Canada) and the Andes (Ecuador and Peru). These two areas I will always remember as the best riding I have ever done.
Travelling alone on a motorcycle you have to like your own company. You spend so much time in your helmet. This was a really great thing for me, creating the space to think.
After spending 6 months riding the bike most every day in an environment where anything could happen and the consequences could be fairly drastic, I would say my riding skills and road craft have definitely improved.
I basically ignored speed limits, within reason. The only place I saw police with speed guns was in Panama on one day of riding between David and Panama City.
I have become an expert at overtaking maneuvers that would never fly at home. Overtaking on double yellows, overtaking on topes (you practically have to do that in most countries) and riding the wrong way up a one way street had become regular activities.
Most days started in the chaos of city traffic in South America. I would call this “Escape from La Paz” (substitute the appropriate city name).
Male Latin American drivers are something else. The top three most dangerous cities that I rode in on this trip were:
- La Paz, Bolivia
- Lima, Peru
- Guatemala City, Guatemala
You must always observe the 4pm rule. That is “if you don’t have accommodation for you and the bike by 4pm then stop and find it”. Ignore this at your peril.
I now truly believe that anything can bought or abandoned on the road. Don’t take anything you can’t leave behind – including your bike.
I applaud those people who travel and camp every day on an extended adventure. I found my limit and it was shorter than I thought it might have been. However staying in a hotel with a proper bed each night really did improve my trip.
I was worried that I did not speak Spanish, but the truth is with a few verbs and a bunch of nouns you can not only get by but really do well.
There is a definite difference between being inside the tourist bubble and outside of it. Inside the tourist bubble is how most people experience a country, everything is setup to make it easy for a visitor to that country. Outside of the tourist bubble, especially in Central America, things are quite different and often far more difficult for a foreigner.
I just want to say thank you to everyone who as kept up with the blog. It has been great for me to keep in touch with everyone and all the encouragement to keep posting has been great… thank you!