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Anchorage, Alaska - The build up days

Wednesday 1st June 2011 – 4th June

I was wide-awake at 4 in the morning. You know how some nights, no matter how hard you try, sleep always evades you. I began to understand the frustration America must have felt chasing Bin Ladin. The harder I tried and the more places I searched, the harder sleep worked to avoid capture. At one point I realised Stubbsie would be up and on his way to the airport, and I hadn’t even slept yet!

Normally this would have me in a foul mood, but not today. No way, not today. Today I was on my way. Today I fall head long into the best adventure I can imagine, riding my very own, brand new, bells and whistles BMW 1200 GS Adventure from the northern most part of Alaska to the southern tip of Argentina. Beyond Sth America awaits the ice of Antarctica, all the while raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Or more simply, as we prefer to call it, Circle to Circle – Miles for Wishes.

I met Stubbsie in Heathrow airport, easily passed thru customs / security and into the departure lounge. It was only 11am, but our first move was obvious. Beer. Obvious yes. Easy? No. Service? What bloody service? Fairdinkum, I’ve had better service on my mobile phone in the heart of Africa! We finally managed this amazingly difficult task, and with beer in hand, Circle to Circle was on its way!

I spose its not too unusual to find one in an international airport, but there was a massive world map on the wall. Perfect, a great way to introduce the ride. So this was our first official footage together, to the amusement of all patrons (they didn’t have any beer to drink, so we may as well amuse them!). Stubbsie stole a crutch off some poor kid with a broken leg (we figured he wouldn’t be able to catch us!) to use as a pointer, giving an outline of our intended route.

The first thing I noticed about this performance was that I find it really difficult to perform in front of the camera, especially in a crowd. I think that’s why the Long Way Down/Round series was so good to watch, they are both actors, and are relaxed, natural.

Then came 24 hours of flight on 3 planes and two countries over some of the most rugged and spectacular scenery featuring ice-capped mountains, glaciers and more snow than........more snow than........ "Hey Wade, I'm a bit stuck for ideas. I need something for - more snow than a - ".

"Sure mate, no worries. More snow than a roadside cafe in Columbia!"  (weird, but as we will be in Columbia in a few months I’m going to run with it anyway!) which landed the Bergalia boys in Anchorage, Alaska on the 1st June 2011. This in itself is quite a remarkable accomplishment. We set this date over 2 years ago.

The past few days have been very valuable giving us time to 'un-glitch a lot of small glitches. These BMW's have more electronics, video's and communication equipment than NASA's ever sent to the moon!

Yesterday was our first shake down ride together, which exposed 2 major aspects. These bikes are AWESOME, and the people of Alaska are amazing in their generosity and friendliness. Already we have been invited to a spectacular Boat House in Wasilla, then lunch and a few great Alaskan beers. Thanks very much John and Brandon!

This morning finds us nervous, excited and 100% full of expectation. Today is it. Today is DAY 1! You little beauty! So many questions to to be answered. Will everything fit on the bikes? Can we extract footage and a story that everyone will be interested in, not just our friends and family? Can people we meet along the way really match up to what we have already experienced? And finally, most important of all. Will Stubbsie fall off before me? I've 2 beers to say he does! Anyone for a piece of the action?

Its time to say our goodbye's to Tim and Ann of A Lakeside B&B and start the most amazing adventure of our lives. Thanks very much guys!

Sunday 5th June – Day 1

Anchorage to Seward – 170 Miles

This morning finds us nervous, excited and 100% full of expectation. Today is it. Today is DAY 1! You little beauty! So many questions to to be answered. Will everything fit on the bikes? Can we extract footage and a story that everyone will be interested in, not just our friends and family? Can people we meet along the way really match up to what we have already experienced? And finally, most important of all. Will Stubbsie fall off before me? I've 2 beers to say he does! Anyone for a piece of the action?

Its time to say our goodbye's to Tim and Ann of A Lakeside B&B and start the most amazing adventure of our lives. Thanks very much guys!

The bikes are finally packed. We are ready. It was time to leave, and in a way it was quite the anti-climax. There we were, the 2 of us, Casey (Wade’s girlfriend), Tim and Ann from Lakeside B&B. And that was it. We rode away. No farewell cake, no crowds of screaming fans, no cute young girls pushing their way thru a mass of heaving bodies, undies in hand trying to jam them into our pockets.

In a way it is appropriate. It fits our personalities. Neither of us makes a big fuss over anything. We just get it done. And here we are, getting it done. No fuss.

The first day was brilliant. Bring on the next 253 I say! 20 minutes out of Anchorage and all seems right in the world. Riding these bikes is like lying next to your girl. Everything is comfortable and warm, everything is in the right place and you have a real sense of belonging.

It was a lovely 170 mile trip down from Anchorage to Seward with a stop for hot chocolate in Hope. A mother Moose and her 2 young calves didn’t even seem so extraordinary. The scenery was such that you just expected it.

Philip reached out and touched his first glacier today.

Monday 6th June – Day 2


Today was magic. Kinda like going to a game park in Africa and seeing the Big 5 in your first safari. Honestly, by lunchtime we began to wonder that as we walked down the gangway to the boat whether we were zapped by the lazar from ‘Honey I shrank the Kids’, and rather than cruising the wilderness, we were being pushed round an aquarium in Seaworld. Let me see. There were Humpback whales, Killer whales, and not just one family but 3, including a new born. Then there were a verity of seals, some otters for good measure and bird life that would have even the most dedicated watcher twitching with envy.

Oh yeah. There were a few glaciers too. I reckon it’s a pretty fair measure of how great the wildlife show is when you can forget to mention the glacier. It was simply awesome. The noise as great sheets off ice broke off and crashed into the sea was incredible. If you could hold a concert there the acoustics would blow you away. Falling chunks of ice would probably wipe out the band and ruin the show, but before that it would be great!

Aialik (pronounced eye-all-ick) is an Eskimo word, translated meaning eerie or dangerous. The thunderous noise as a Volkswagen sized chunk off ice breaks off and smashes into the water makes the glacier aptly named.  As a result Philip christened his bike Aialik. “She’s not so dangerous as tough, but I love the thought that she’s named after somewhere I’ve been, somewhere I’ve experienced”.

Tuesday 7th June - Day 3

Seward to Coopers Crossing – 50 Miles

“I can’t believe it’s over so fast. 3 days, and not even 1000 miles on the clock. I feel as though I’ve let myself down. I lost the bet. I owe Wade beer. Argh crap!”

Before his mother gets too concerned, let me assure you it was off the road and going about 3 km/hr. What looked like hard packed ‘shoulder’ was actually not packed at all. Let me put it to you this way. If it were a packed lunch, the sandwiches would still be half made on the kitchen bench and the cling film safely away in the draw! There was nothing packed about that particular roadside shoulder, be assured of that!

It didn’t even put a scratch on the bike. Does that really count as a crash?

Heavy. Strewth are these things heavy! With the two of us heaving away for all we were worth, it was still a massive struggle to lift the beast. By yourself…… forget it!

The highlight of the day was seeing the start of the first salmon run for the year. There were no bears catching fish, so Philip had a crack. “Foolishly I actually thought it would be easy, I mean if a bear can do it…. Idiot! All that happened was I looked stupid and lost the feeling in my legs! I never even came close.”

Wednesday 8th June – Day 4

Coopers Crossing. Scenic river drift with Alaska River Company and late afternoon mountain climb.

A relaxed day, or so we thought! Drifting down river in a rubber boat absorbing postcard scenery. Beautiful. Unfortunately still no bears.

After a full day tour most people would be happy to go home, have dinner, relax and go to bed. But not us, no way! And definitely not in Alaska with over 20 hrs of light. The day is just getting started at 1700.

Anthony, our river guide invited us to climb the areas iconic mountain, Mt Cecil. In order to warm up we took advantage of the lodges batting cage. Unfortunately none of us are off to next years World Series (for American’s only), but it was cool fun. Batting practice for baseball…. Tick.

Climbing Cecil is what Circle to Circle - Miles for Wishes is all about. Local people showing off their own backyard, sharing an experience that can’t be found in any tourist brochure.

The hike up was tough, yet extremely rewarding. Spectacular views opened up as the world fell away beneath us. Anthony showed the way, spilling words of encouragement and entertaining us with stories. Satisfied, we rested and re-fueled our bodies on the summit with beef jerky, beer and a wee nip of Captain Morgan’s rum for good measure. With the hard work behind us it was time for some fun, local style!

A snow shoot ran half way down the mountain, and we about to be on it! Anthony instructed. Anthony demonstrated. Anthony disappeared! We all checked our safety gear. Good, sturdy boots?…. No. Padded waterproof pants?…..No. Jacket?…..No. Helmet?….. Are you crazy! Gloves?…. YES!! And with that one box ticked we strode forward, and promptly fell on our arse!

Game on! If there was a way to slide down a snowy mountain side, we did it. Head first, butt first, sideways, on your back or on your bellie. We even managed some shoe skiing. All of it hilarious, none of it graceful! Casey managed to combine everything as she spun, rolled and tumbled down, laughing all the way. It took us over 3 hours to hike from 400 ft to 4500ft, but only 10 minutes to go back down from 4500 ft to 2000 ft.

Cheers Anthony! A bloody great day!

Thursday 9th June – Day 5

Coopers Landing – Rest day.

We deserve it! And when else do you think we have time to post blogs and edit photos?

Friday 10th June – Day 6

Coopers Landing to Homer. 130 Miles

Pretty casual day today. Another short trip meaning we can literally ease our butt’s into the ride. So far so good! There were no ‘butt issues’ when sitting down on a hard chair for dinner! Stay tuned for our future feature article ‘The daily Butt report”, brought to you by the ‘hard asses’ of the Bergalia boys (well, if they aren’t hard asses yet they soon will be after another 10 000 miles or so!)

Saturday 11th June – Day 7

Scenic flight out of Homer (they tell us it would have been scenic if the cloud wasn’t creeping down to 500ft!) and bear viewing.

Topped from toe nails to eye balls full of anticipation for the day ahead, we rolled into the hanger owned by K Bay Air, Alaskan Bear Adventures. Not into it so much as past it for another photo shoot, this time with Michael and what seems to us like his most cherished possessions, two Cessna planes (apologies to Dee! I’m sure this isn’t 100% true).

7 years of guiding bears around people hasn’t dulled the blade of Michael’s enthusiasm in the slightest. He isn’t satisfied until you’ve seen bears closer than you’d feel comfortable being to your next door neighbours Chihuahua as it looks cross eyed at you thru the fence.

I should mention here that we never approached the bears. We waited in position, and the bears moved toward us.

One female bear in par icular was the star of the show, the Jenifer Aniston of the bear world. After 5 minutes of head nods she finally woke up enough for some ‘bear yoga’, stretching out and touching her toes. Oh, sooooo cute!  After a huge struggle to get up (“Quick, she needs coffee! Somebody help! Call Mc Café now!”) then a drink in a nearby stream and she is ready to go. The group crouched on the beach, the power of positive thinking confirmed as we willed the bear in our direction. Without a care in the world ‘Jenifer’ strolled along the beach. We were totally ignored, discarded like yesterdays news. Earlier someone asked “where do the bears walk?” Now we know. Anywhere they like!

Everybody piles into the plane for a very cool beach take-off back top Homer.

Sunday 12th June – Day 8

Halibut fishing from Homer

04:30 The alarm sounds. Arrrggghhhhhhhhh!!! It hurts! Turn it off. Please turn it off!

Its mighty early, but hey, at least it’s not dark! Time to catch Halibut. You little beauty! We met Captain Eric from North Country Fishing Tours and headed out to the fishing grounds. I wish I could fill pages with stories of 300 pound fish, one after another. But I can’t. Strewth, we couldn’t even ½ fill the esky (cool box for those of you uneducated to the Aussie slang) with fish, let alone pages of a blog site!

Eric tried everything in the book to catch us a big fish, and some things that were’t. It just wasn’t our day.

We did meet 3 great blokes from Seattle way. Ron, Steve and Gary, be great to catch up with you guys again!

Once again it’s time to pack the bikes and ride off into the sunset cloud and rain. Thanks very much to Maria and her very cool B&B, Majestic View. Her amazing hospitality and cooking will be hard to beat!

Monday 13th June – Day 9

Homer to Girdwood – 220 Miles

I think perhaps now is a good time for some house keeping. First, quite a few have mentioned the spot tracking may need to be calibrated, or accuracy checked as the two don’t always match. They are not always turned on together. Not to mention any names, not wanting to point fingers or prove that one of us is more ‘switched on’, more efficient and more dedicated to the purpose, but if I were you I’d follow Wades track!

Second, there have been some fantastic wildlife seeking adventures on boats and in planes, and we’ve (you could probably just substitute Wade and ‘we’ if you like) have tracked them all. So yes, when you looked recently and thought “strewth, this can’t be right! Look how fast they’re going. Hope they don’t see any police cause they’re flying.”  Well, yes we were.

More useless facts. The bike’s hold about 8.7 gallons, or 33 L of fuel giving a range of 300 - 330 Miles, or around 500 KM. Fuel in Alaska, the very state they not only pump it, they also refine it, is the most expensive in the States at around $4.50 a gallon. The bikes are cool, but I think I’ve already mentioned that! I’ve never had the pleasure of riding between snow-capped mountains before, never ridden in such cold conditions, yet never felt so warm. Thanks heated vest! Thanks heated handgrips! The water running thru the pipes is so cold, and the houses so warm that in some places the toilet bowl and cistern condenses and drips all over the floor.

Back to the diary. Another easy day in the saddle as we rode to Gary and Yvette’s house to stay the night. Friends of friends initially, after our stay in Alaskan River Company (which they own) they are now just friends. Before we made it to the house there was a game of junior baseba ll to watch. It was actually pretty interesting, and a lot more to it than wacking a ball as far as you can then jogging around a few pad looking things which are apparently called ‘bases’ until you make it home.  Who knew hey?

Having just mentioned that it was more interesting than expected, I should also mention the strange eating habits required by the ‘fans’ in order to get thru an entire game. You could just eat some sunflower seeds, but no. That’s too easy, too fast and provides no distraction from the game. So, in order to watch baseball you suck these little fella’s down, shell and all. Then you spend valuable time splitting the seed with you teeth, but not too hard or everything goes pear-shaped and you end up with a mouth full of smashed shell and seed. This is an impossible situation to recover from, so you spit the concoction out and start again. Still not a complete loss as valuable time has been ‘eaten up’.

Once you finally start to get the hang of the whole seed thing, the next challenge rises to the surface. Shell spitting. This is art, pure and simple. All sorts of games and challenges follow on from this. Aim for a can, aim for the lady in front of you. Heck, just aim for your buddy right next door. Its all a great laugh, and better still, a mighty distraction from what I always thought to be the main event, but isn’t, the actual game of baseball itself.

Tuesday 14th June – Day 10

Girdwood to Anchorage via Whittier – 80 Miles

A power producing breaky of porridge set us up for the final leg of Stage 1, the Kenai Peninsular. Don’t ask how many stages to come because I don’t know, but let me tell you, it’s a bloody lot!

There is absolutely nothing in Whittier. No reason to go there, no reason to even pass thru on your way to somewhere more exciting (and lets face it, anywhere is more exciting!) as the road runs into a lake. So why did we go? As with so many things, it’s not the destination, but rather the means by which you get there. Whittier is an old military base from the 2nd World War. To get supplies they cut a 2 ½ mile long tunnel under the mountains, making it the longest highway tunnel and longest combined railway tunnel in North America. It’s amazing! It is one way (changes every ½ hr), and takes everything from trains, to trucks, busses and of course the greatest motorbikes ever built, Aialik and Smokey (Wades bike has been named after his legendary pony which never failed to bring him home safely, and usually in first place which was very annoying for the rest of us!).

To celebrate the passing of Stage 1 we rocked on down to the local 10 Pin Bowling where Philip ruled the isle, breaking 200. You Little Beauty!!

Wednesday 15th June – Day 11


Time for a quick trip back to the Motorcycle Shop to get some new shoes for the bikes. There is a lot of dirt expected in the up-coming weeks so we have opted for a set of Continental knobbies. The bikes look even tougher, if that’s possible!

Sadly today was Casey’s last day with the Bergalia Boys. It was fantastic having you along for the ride. Enjoy the memories, and think of us toiling away on the bikes while you sun about the Mediterranean or New York on luxury yachts.

Thursday 16th June – Day 12

Anchorage to Fairbanks – 380 Miles (610 Km)

The first big day in the saddle. Which brings us to the next edition of the ‘Daily Butt Report’. “Hey Stubbsie, give us ya Butt Report”.

“Sure mate, no worries. The butt is all good. No welts, sore’s or chafing. In fact the biggest problem was being way too hot in the brilliant warmth and sunshine of Alaska. Tomorrow, well that might be a different story. 12 hours riding over rough dirt roads will sort the hard arses from the lard arses!”

Friday 17th June – Day 13

Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay – 496 Miles (798 Km)

Today was of major significance for the Bergalia Boys. Today we crossed the Arctic Circle. One Circle down, one to go! It was a great feeling, and tonight we sleep knowing we have achieved part of our dream.

We were told there is nothen to see on the way to Prudhoe, and nothen to see once you arrive. It’s as far north as you can go in America using wheels on roads, but that’s it, there’s no other reason to go. Strewth, I want to go travelling where these people have been! The trip up here, including the road, the pipeline and the amazing scenery are ‘nothen’ in the same sense that atomic weapons make tiny wee explosions, or that Tigre Woods had a minor impact on the world golf tour.

It felt so good to be back on the dirt. The motorcross goggles were dragged out of deep storage (to be honest, it wasn’t all that deep. I mean how could it be, we are on motorcycles after all. It was just in the top bag which I hadn’t opened for a few days) and away we went. There were some ‘puckering’ (and if you have to ask what that is…… your not old enough to know!) moments passing trucks. The on-coming ones were the worst as there were rocks flying up, bike shaking winds and dust that could swallow an entire truck, and often did. They frequently travel in pairs, but you rarely saw the second one until after the first rock hit you in the head, or you could just make out a set of yellow, beady ‘eyes’ as the headlights came screaming at you thru the dust.

8 hours riding time turned into a 12 hr day. Every bend reluctantly gave up something special. A beautiful view, a heard of Caribou or Muskox, which are a funny looking arctic version of a cross between a goat and a sheep. Confused? So am I. But to be honest, if you really want to know, stop being so bloody lazy and go look it up yourself! These were just rewards for us hanging onto the big BMW’s round another corner full of potholes and loose gravel.

Unfortunately you need a qualified guide to take you to the ocean, so Wade may not have the chance to swim naked in the Arctic Ocean after all. As disappointed as Stubbsie is about that, Philip is excited. More excited than a first year university student going to their first toga party. I shouldn’t have to tell you, that’s pretty damn excited! Who wants to go fighting polar bears and chipping away ice for a place on the beach? Crazy!

Saturday 18th June – Day 14

Prudhoe Bay to Fairbanks – 498 Miles (802 KM)

Wade didn’t get his swim. Oh bugger. Oh dear me. Oh how sad.

What does $250 per night per room get you in Prudhoe Bay…………. not bloody much in a physical sense! It gets you 2 single beds, a swivel chair with a torn seat that doesn’t actually swivel anymore, some oil rig guys bags under the bed and a dorm style dunny (toilet for you non-Aussie speakers) / shower down the corridor. All this wrapped up in a parcel of de-mountable buildings (honestly, they are still on trailers sporting massive truck wheels just waiting for the call to roll out of there, and not a single flat tyre amongst them) and a hastily slapped up “Hotel reception’ sign. Hastily slapped up perhaps, but worth every second of the 5 minutes of care that someone put into it because otherwise you’d never find the place. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it sure wasn’t this! It’s not like any hotel I’ve ever seen. We would have ridden straight passed except for ‘the sign’ from above (it was mounted quite high).

So, after saying all that, what do you really get for $250 once you allow yourself to step outside the physical boundaries? You ride away with an experience that’s worth every penny, and more. Almost all the hotel occupants are workers on the Alaskan Oil Field. Men and women who truly belong. Tourists account for about 1%. Although not employed in the field, having made the 500 mile run from Fairbanks on the bikes across what even the ‘locals’ describe as “some pretty hairy dirt roads” we felt we had earned our beds, and the right to shower ‘cheek to cheek’ with the miners.

The usual is a 3 week ‘swing’, meaning each person works a 12 hr shift, 7 days a week for 3 weeks. Its then a well disserved 3 weeks of recovery back with friends and family, or for those inflicted with ‘travel-bug-itis’ it’s a chance to further explore more unique parts of the world.

We left Prudhoe feeling on top of the world, and who wouldn’t pay $250 for that? Of course geographically we pretty much were. Its as far north as you can drive in America, 350 miles north of the Arctic Circle on a latitude of 70’ 26 N. To put that into perspective for all you Aussies, Launceston in Tasmania is 41’27 South, and for you northerners, Copenhagen, Denmark is on the 55th parallel. Yep, you got it. We rode a bloody long way north!

About 300 miles from home (actually Fairbanks. Home is a wee bit further than that!) we experienced our first mechanical hic-up. Aialik started to feel ‘a bit rough in the rear end’. We stopped and ran a vet check over lunch but gave her a clean bill of health as she was breathing normally and didn’t seem to be lame under a considerable workout. A while later we stopped again as she just wasn’t ‘BMW smooth’ anymore. Turns out the tyre wall had blown and a golf ball sized lump (kinda like what I had as a kid after loosing a very serious pillow fight with my brother…. Remember that one Akko?) was sticking out the side. She was nursed home, bravely limping into the hotel at 22:30. A mighty long day as we left the hotel at 08:00. “Thanks Aialik! A fearsome heart that one.

Sunday 19th June – Day 15


No riding today. Aialik’s massive blister is yet to heal, and you couldn’t expect anyone to ‘walk’ in that sort of condition. A rest / catch up day for all. Washed the bikes, which was a bit sad cause I like having an off-road bike looking like it has been off-road. Adds to the image I reckon. Still, no one could read the number plate, which incidentally I also liked as crickey (I knew I’d get that one in there somehow!), does the 50 MPH speed limit seem slow, and damn near impossible to stay on. Its like the world is moving in slow motion. The main reason for the wash was because there was so much dirt caked on you couldn’t see the break or indicator lights. Argh well, they still look tough even when they are clean!

The momentous occasion for today its our first camp and first BBQ / gas burner meal. You little ripper! The steak was perfect, the veg OK (they are only veg’s after all) and the beer ‘as good as it gets’.

Oh yeah, one more thing. $150 per night for a hotel, or $17 camping fees. Hhhmmmmmmmm. Gee, let me think about it for a bit!

Monday 20th June 2011 – Day 16

Fairbanks to McCarthy – 357 Miles

Rain on a tin roof can be one of the most satisfying and pleasant sounds one can experience, especially if it’s the breaking of the drought. However, the sound of rain on the fly of your tent is just crap! The check list begins automatically. Did I leave my helmet on the bike? Yes, Dammit! At least the visor is down, but the gloves are a right-off.  Are my boots far enough under the cover of the tent? Well, one is. I guess that’s better than expected.  Is my tank bag in the rain, and are my panniers really water proof? Note to self. Get more organised in the future, ya bloody idiot!

Job 1 is to fuel the machines. Nope, I don’t mean the bikes. Coffee helps to lubricate the reindeer sausage and 2 eggs. Argh, that’s better. Now we can focus on job 2, finding a new shoe for Aialik. There are some odd things in Alaska. It is a remote area, not too many people so it’s to be expected. Isolation seems to do that. One annoying oddity is the bike shops reduce their working hours in summer. I mean, how dumb is that! In winter, 23 hrs of darkness a day and we’ll open 6 days a week. But come summer, all day to ride and people in need of spares, what do they do? Shut down over the weekend, including Monday. Oh goodie. We resigned ourselves to a rainy day in Fairbanks.

By chance a bloke in the camera shop gave us some hope, saying he thought the Harley / BMW dealer down the road was open, even though their web site will argue otherwise. And bugger me if he wasn’t right. Cheers mate! A few hours later we are on the road again. McCarthy here we come!

It was a pretty long day, especially as we left after lunch. The ride down was OK, except for the last 60 miles of dirt, which was cool! We arrived at 21:30 and immediately went to the pub where Wade had a new experience. Deep fried steak. Yep, deep fried. Reckoned it was pretty damn good too! We had to ride over a foot bridge / time machine to get into town. I’m sure we arrived sometime around 1910. With great old style buildings and dirt roads I found myself thinking “Gee, it’s lucky we don’t need to fuel the bikes cause I reckon we’ll have to wait a good 50 or 60 years for technology to catch up”.

Tuesday 21st June 2011 – Day 17

McCarthy to Kennicott and back to McCarthy – 12 Miles

McCarthy. What a cool place! Wouldn’t want to live there, but a bloody great spot to have a look round. For the past few weeks everyone we spoke to asked have we been to McCarthy. No. Are you going? No. Well, maybe. Enough people ask the same thing, you really have to go and check it out. So we did.

It’s a very laid back place. We rode the 4 miles into Kennicott, an old copper mining town. We thought we’d ride round the renovated town, find a car park and ask a guide which walk is the best to do. There are 3 old mine sites and a glacier walk, all about 9 -10 miles return. As we were looking lost near the end of town this guy renovating the old power house told us to “just keep going”. So we did. The road became narrower, steeper, rockier and more rutted out. Now this is a bikers trail, and yeah baby, I’m in heaven! This is way too much fun for it to be legal for us to be riding here. As we rode past hikers of all nationalities up what has now become a single trail along a mountain ridge there was a spark in my eyes bright enough to start a bush fire. I was grinning like a 5 year old kid on Christmas morning, and that’s after unwrapping Optimus Prime, the greatest of all Transformers.

A couple of prospectors headed up the hill in 1901 to provide some pasture for their horses. Turns out the green colour wasn’t grass, but copper oozing out of the ground. It was mined until the mid 1930’s, profiting over $130 000 000. If I had internet I’d work that out in today’s money, but I don’t.  The main part of the mine is still standing. After 100 years the wood is as solid as the day it was built. It was an amazing view, a back drop of mountain ranges, glaciers and valleys. To all those who told us to ‘check out McCarthy’, Thanks!!

A major spin off from riding up to the mine is time. We had enough of it left to walk on the glacier. As Stubbsie said the other day “This extra sunlight is fantastic. We can live 2 years’ worth in the next 8 months!”

A major, major spin off to the spin off is that Wade finally drew blood. It was a snooty little track. Tractor (first) gear only. He was only going about 5km/hr, but it was backwards! And there certainly isn’t a reverse gear on these bikes. Score: One One. The best thing is the bike boots would have prevented the loss of blood, but we weren’t wearing them. I mean, why would we? We thought we were leaving the bikes in a car park, not riding the best terrain of the trip so far.

To finish off the great McCarthy adventure was a summer solstice party at the foot of another glacier, and how many people can say they’ve experienced that?  Problem is we had to ride home. New score: Wade 1 Philip 2. A lesson kiddies, don’t drink and ride! No bark off, but a scratch or two on Aialik.

Wednesday 22nd June – Day 18

McCarthy to the Canadian Border and back to Chicken – 420 Miles

9:00 am and the summer solstice party doesn’t seem like it was such a good idea anymore. Ouch! “Stubbsie, where’d you put those damn headache pills?”

The plan was to make it thru to Dawson in Canada. Have an easy day and build reserves for Dust to Dawson, a gathering of mainly BMW riders. The origin of the event comes from a few mates paying tribute to their buddy who had a heart attack and died during a ride in the area some years ago. Each year they come back to Dawson, each time bringing a few more mates. It’s all about having a great time, checking out the bikes lining the main street and telling stories of adventures past and future. Oh yeah, there could be a few beers thrown in there somewhere.

That was the plan. It didn’t work. We were told the border crossing into Canada closed at 2000, but a sign 100 miles out told a different story. It was 1800. We had 90 minutes to cover the distance. We looked at each other and said “No worries mate. We can do that!”

We couldn’t. It rained, but it didn’t have to fall very far cause we were already in the clouds. You couldn’t see sh $#@$#t, I mean much. It was tough, but we were still on track. Then came the dirt. 60 miles of it. Now it was rain, cloud, dirt, mud and puddles. Wade was is the zone and pulled away. He raced ahead (always in control of course!) riding brilliantly. It was only 4 minutes, but it may as well have been 12 hours. Tomorrow. Canada must wait til tomorrow. So it was back down the road 40 miles to Chicken and another night in the tent.

I imagine you’re sitting there thinking “Hmmm, Chicken. That’s a pretty weird name. Wonder how that came about?”

Well folks, I just happen to have the answer…….. but I’m not gonna tell you. Mean aren’t I.

Oh, OK then. It’s pretty simple. The locals were worse spellers than I am. The town was meant to be called ptarmigan (the bird which is Alaska’s state emblem) but they couldn’t agree on how it’s spelt, so they went the easy option, Chicken. That’s fairdinkum mate, no bull.


Last Updated on Monday, 10 October 2011 23:40


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Thursday 23rd June – Day 19

Chicken thru the Canadian Border to Dawson – 108 Miles

First border crossing. Sweet! No worries, passports stamped and we were thru. Hello Canada!

Crap day though! Couldn’t see a bloody thing. Spent the day in Dawson catching up on the washing, blogs and charging everything as we are in a hotel room for the first time in 5 nights. We can charge computers, camera’s, i-pods etc on the bike, but it isn’t as good a charge as thru mains power.

We thought we would arrive just in time for all the action. But no. Turns out we have the dates a wee bit wrong and we are a day early. Beauty! Normally we’d be a day late. Surely a sign that our trip is blessed by the motorcycling gods (they obviously ride BMW’s).

Friday 24th June – Day 20

Poker run for Dust to Dawson (D2D) – 60 Miles

We met a couple of good old Aussie blokes, Campbell and Jock at the bike shop in Fairbanks. Unfortunately from Victoria, but otherwise not bad lads. They are doing a very similar trip to us, just 4 months shorter. With about 200 bikes, D2D is pretty small so we knew we would run into them in the pub for sure. And we surely did. They were a bit scratchy on the pool table to start, so we made them aware of the ‘pants down’ rule. If you don’t sink a ball, you have to run round the table with your pants down. Not pretty. Clint (a mate from home) goes even further and calls for the Silver Tray. I’m going to leave that one up to your imagine, but needless to say its really not pretty! Thankfully for all involved, other patrons and bar tenders included, they managed to sink a ball and avoid a good ‘pantsing’

This adventure riding is a pretty sociable hobby. It’s still a relatively new side to the motorcycling world and everyone wants to share their experiences, knowledge and the ‘best bit of kit by far’ that they’ve just installed onto the bike. A quick “G’day mate, I’m Wade” was enough to get us talking with Jim, a fellow yachtie. We rode the poker run together, and honestly, you couldn’t find a more disease riddled hand on the biggest looser of the day in Las Vagas. All 3 of us had hands infected with leprosy and were a few finger nails short. Terrible!

Needless to say we didn’t win the poker run. Not even close. The other main attraction for the day is the bike games. People ride round obstacle courses testing balance, skills etc. Wade was too busy sucking on the Sour Toe and missed registration. After a few beers, Philip just didn’t want to do it. A poor showing for the Bergalia Boys.

I’m guessing you’re wondering what a Sour Toe is, and rightly so. It’s one of those bloody weird situations that makes you shake your head and wonder how on earth this came about, and is it even fairdinkum anyway. The story goes something like this. You’ll have to forgive me as it’s a bit flimsy in parts because the guy making the Sour Toe was pretty useless. So, here we go. The Sour Toe belongs to some guy (he didn’t know his name) who had his toe severed (he didn’t know how) sometime early last century (he didn’t know when). How the toe made it from wherever it landed after it was hacked off and into a shot glass, well, he didn’t know that either. But that’s pretty much the crux of it all. For longer than living memory (well, longer than this bloke’s anyway!), this toe, nail and all, has been used in shots. The aim is to let it touch your lips. Wade chewed it. Reckoned it was spongy, and tasted like crap. Well bugger me, an alcohol soaked century old toe was spongy and tasted bad. Get out of here!

In a nut shell, D2D is a very fun, very relaxed ‘gathering’ of adventure riders. Stick it on the calendar for next year!

Saturday 25th June – Day 21

Dawson to Eagle Plains – 267 Miles (429 Km)

We rode as far north as you can in America, so we thought we should do it again in Canada. Tomorrow we pass the Arctic Circle again and head for Inevik.

I think we are getting into the swing of things. Here’s why. It now takes about half the time to pack up and leave than 2 weeks ago (Yes Casey, we really are getting faster!! I know you don’t believe it), 450km seems like a small day, and the Butt Report has become very short. See below.

“Hey Philip, does your butt hurt?”

“Nope!” Awesome!

We saw our first bear today. Technically not the first, but it was the first without a guide. We weren’t too sure how close to ride up to the cute little fella. Apparently they can run 30 mph, and if they wake up on the wrong side of the tree can be pretty angry. We didn’t get very close, but it was cool anyway!

Speaking of bears, we were going to camp tonight but thought better of it. A girl we just met woke up to brilliant sunshine this morning. Not so odd you might think in the far north, 24 hrs of sunlight and all that. Well, it was a bit odd because the sun was shining thru a hole in the tent made by a bear while she slept. Hmmmm, I think I might take a room tonight thanks very much.

Eagle Plains to Inuvik and return to Eagle Plains – 467 Miles

We had to do it. Of course we did. We accomplished it in America, now we’ve ticked the box in Canada. To give up an opportunity to pass the Arctic Circle and ride once again to the end of the road at the top of the world would be like passing up a cold beer at the end of a hot days work, or a glass of water after walking the Aussie desert for 3 days without anything to drink. You just couldn’t say no! I wonder, will the Bergalia Boys do it again in Europe?

Did it feel good afterwards? Yes. Was it worth it? Yes. Was it fun, enjoyable and a great laugh? No, not really. For Philip, easily the worst day of riding. The scenery did not match that of Prudhoe, the road was worse and for the first and last 100km (as we returned to Eagle Plains) there was a horrid cross gale. Not to the same extent as we expect in South America, but pretty unpleasant all the same. There were times when the helmet was wrenched about as if Jack’s giant had climbed down the bean stalk, confused me for him and tried to shake the meat from my bones, helmet first. If the wind kept up there’s no doubt I would have had a neck like the front row of the Wallaby scrum.

Wade dead set reckoned he enjoyed it. “Yeah, it was fun. Gave you something to do.”

Yeah, right. Fun. Fun like unblocking an in-sinkerator with your fingers and forgetting to turn it off first. Or fun like removing that damn annoying piece of toast with the closest implement to hand, a butter knife, and not pulling the chord out of the wall plug. You know what else springs to mind? I’m sure you will all heave a sympathetic sigh with this one. As fun as doing the dishes post dinner party while everyone else goes for after dinner drinks cause it ‘gives you something to do’. Mmmmmm, yeah. We’re really having fun now!

The road to Eagle Plains was brilliant. Loved every turn, every rise and every great change in the scenery. Unfortunalely, like the cheaper fuel prices in Anchorage, this wasn’t to last. After the ‘slight breeze’ Philip loved so much there was a 100km stretch between the ferry at Fort McPherson  and Red Cardinal where the road had so much loose gravel it was like trying to ride a push bike across a frozen pond filled with marbles. Yeah, it was slippery! There were places where it actually knocked off 10km/hr and the engine dropped 100 rpm. And dust. Strewth, was it dusty. We thought Prudhoe was bad, but the road to Inuvik made the dust there about as impressive and with as much consequence as a dry fart outside in a 40 knot wind. Really, not too much to talk about.

At one point Wade had to stop and tip out the unwanted baggage from his riding attire after failing miserably to win a game of chicken with a massive truck. He was looking good to at least tie the game with only seconds to go before the full time hooter, but in the dying moments (no, he didn’t die! It’s just an expression. You can relax again Denise!) he lost. Images of Smokey and himself splattered on the grill of the truck, like the thousands of bugs (and one bird) on our wind shields, all arms, legs, wheels and handle bars mashed into one goupy mess changed his mind.

Wade will tell you the truck forced him off the road, but what really happened was in the total dust-out after the truck passed (“I couldn’t even see the speedo”) he turned too early for the next corner and ran off the road. Smokey, true to her name’s sake of 20 years past pinned her ears back, gritted her teeth and ploughed on through the soft gravel and loose rocks to once again bring Wade home. Not necessarily in first place, but still a big winner in this game.

We were very glad for the knobby tyres, and felt pretty nervous for the few guys we met on our way back who had only just set out to conquer the north on duel purpose tyres. I hope I don’t read about you in tomorrow’s paper!

The road condition changes daily and you might get lucky. The Aussie lads we met said they did it “bloody easily.” We had a few ‘moments’. Anyone can do it, take your time and grab a set of knobbies before you go. The few hundred that costs may just save a couple of grand in repairs, and more importantly those few weeks laid up with a broken collar bone are much better spend out there doing it, out there riding.

It was a great few nights in the Eagle Plain Hotel. Great food, free pool (2 – nil to Philip, which was a massive improvement on the floggings of the last 3 weeks!) and free shuttle board (3 – 2 Wade. Booo, Hiss, Hiss). If you are not American, or have not travelled America (or perhaps Canada for that matter as we are actually in that country) you probably have no idea what Shuttle Board is. Neither did I. It’s not important. Only the score matters.

27 June – Day 27

Eagle Plains to Moose Creek camp ground – 303 Miles

Pretty uneventful day. 460 km and it feels like a ½ day. Camping tonight. Cooked a great meal of pasta, pork chops and a fried egg. Bottle of wine (wow, how sophisticated we are!) to set the mood………. For writing you idiots! Remember, I am here with Wade, not my girlfriend Rieke.

Think. That’s what there was time for today. You know how you see something and your brain recognises it as weird, funny or out of place yet it doesn’t actually register at the time. I think for us on this particular occasion it was probably the 130 km/hr on loose gravel that peeled my attention away from the sign and onto more immediate goals, like staying ‘sunny side up’.

So, back to this sign. Basically it said to put your watches 1 hr forward. We’ve been travelling a lot, so a time chance isn’t too far-fetched, but something wasn’t right either. It clicked over breaky. “Hey Stubbsie”

“Yeah mate”

“:Did you see that sign yesterday?”

“Yeah, the bloody time change. What’s that all that about?”

For me it’s weird for 2 reasons. First, for 2 days we’ve done nothen but ride north. There’s 2 factors that affect time, and north isn’t one of them! There is east, and there is west. The other thing is, for a few months a year the sun doesn’t set, then too tired from all that effort, it’s not long before it doesn’t bother to get out of bed, ever. The in between times it changes so fast who knows what time it is anyway. I tell ya, Crocodile Dundee would be buggered! It must go something like this in summer…..”Hey mum, what time is sunset?”

“Surely you must know that Little Johnny. Why, its an hour later than never.”

Honestly, what difference is an hour going to make!

Wildlife. Didn’t see much. Saw a wolf on the way back from Prudhoe, and a grizzle the day before. However, on the way down we did manage to see quite a rare species for these parts. Normally found much further south, this particular mating pair were on quite the migration. Not bad for a flightless bird! We met Allan and Athalia a wonderful retried couple from New Zealand. Typically, they needed some Aussie help.

In preparation for the rough roads ahead Allen had new tyres fitted to the car, and asked the bloke to check the spare. On the way back south, a bit of poor luck reaches out and ankle taps them. Flat tyre. No worries, at least the spare is good. Wrong. The spare is also flat. Argh crap! Mutter curses to the tyre guy that did such a great job of checking the spare. A nice German fella stopped to help, but only had a hand pump. So, like a free beer keg to a group of first year uni students, Wade was there in a flash. It wasn’t long before he repaired not only the original tyre, but the spare as well. In return they made us the best road-side coffee in history. Thanks guys! If you ever read this, please send us an e-mail and say g’day!

28th June – Day 24
Moose Creek to Whitehorse – 493 Miles 793 Km

There can only be one explanation. He’d lost control of all bodily functions during the night and crapped the bed! That was Wades first thought of the day. There just ain’t any other plausible reason as to how or why Philip could possibly be out of the tent before him and already drinking coffee. First time in a month. Could this possibly be the start of a bad day for Wade?

The goal for today was to arrive in Whitehorse where, fingers crossed, we would meet up with our old tyres. The originals had only done an easy 1400 miles, and are good for anything between 8 000 and 10 000. We posted them from Anchorage to Whitehorse when we changed to knobbies. Instead of the easy tar highway we decided to take the road less traveled. We are adventure riders after all. It was still marked as a highway mind you, but dirt. Which had me thinking, what’s the definition of a highway?

We were told by a few people that it’s a great ride through a beautiful mountain range. They were right! Unfortunately what they didn’t mention was how incredibly bloody slippery it becomes when it rains.

And rain it did. Bring it on! We didn’t spend all this money on awesome riding gear for nothen. What’s a little bit of rain to cool things off and settle the dust? Well, let me tell you what ‘a little rain’ is.

Philip was leading the way, and at a pretty reasonable clip. Narrowly passing a car coming the other way on a tight, greasy, off-camber, down hill corner soon changed that, which turned out to be a very good thing!  The way in which the road had quickly become a bush track made it easy to forget you were on a highway. Cresting a sweeping right hander, a steep bank on the right, an even steeper drop to the left, Philip felt a little 2 wheel slide. I would love to say drift because I think that implies I was in control, that it was deliberate. It wasn’t. “Strewth, that’s mighty slippery. I better get on the blower and let Stubbsie know.”

I look into the mirror as I begin the warning broadcast “Hey Stubbsie, you’d better watch………”

And that’s when his headlights started doing the funky chicken dance, moving all over the place. Then they were gone. It reminded me of a time back when I was a wee whipper snapper (a young kid) riding with Clint in the bush back home. He was a bit ahead (I must have crashed, again, as otherwise I cant think of how he would be in front) and somehow managed to slip and slide his way to safety on the other side of a mud hole after a blind corner. “This’ll be interesting” he thought, and pulled over to watch. Not warn me. Watch. And not one to disappoint, I headed straight into it, crossed up, tank slapped, slid out and crashed like the damn US dollar. All to Clint’s immense amusement. Good on ya Clippo! Great bloke.

But that’s getting side tracked. It’s so easy to do. I don’t know how, it just happens. I reckon its all the hours riding that allows so much time to think. See, there I go again. Side tracked.

OK, let me see. Where was i? Argh yes, that’s right. Wades crash. How could I forget! I know after posting the photo’s so long ago you are all waiting anxiously for the description. So here we go!

It was pretty funny. And because it was so soft and greasy you could back track along the wheel marks and establish the exact moment his front wheel had an argument with the back wheel and decided to file for divorce, separating from each other. You could literally mark an X perfectly on the spot Wade went from thinking “oh, this is a nice road, what a lovely corner, beautif……..OH S@$#$T!!!!!!!”

The inside 1m of the corner was clay. I hit the edge of it and was lucky. Wade rode a line 30cm in from mine, and was not. The back wheel, so sick and tyred (I know, i know. Im sorry. Its a terrible pun, but i couldn't help it) of following in the shadow of the front wheel headed off on its own. It was looking like a relatively slow, ‘low-side’ crash, which if your gonna crash is the one you want. That was until the road base changed, the back wheel gripped and propelled the bike head long into the bank, causing it to high-side, then ploughed along the drainage ditch for about 8m. They won’t have to clean out that particular part of the drain for a while!

A couple of broken mirrors were pretty much the extent of the damage. Oh, and the MSR fuel bottle for the camp stove. It had such a mighty dint that the lid didn’t fit anymore. We were impressed it didn’t puncture. Wade is fine.

29th June – Day 25 Whitehorse

The best-laid plans, all buggered! Bloody Canadian postal strike. We rock up to the tyre dealership early in the morning. Well, at least we left camp early. By the time Wade finished excavating the mud from his bike at the truck wash time was getting on a bit. Finally able to recognize Smokey for the beautiful beast she is, we set off in search of tyres.

“G’day mate, I’m Wade.”

“Oh, hello Wade. Sorry, but there’s nothen for you guys.”

“Crap! We sent that 2 weeks ago.”

Turns out the post office has been on strike for the past 10 days and they are stuck at customs in Vancouver. 5-6 working days the best estimate to get them here. Bugger. And our new helmet cameras are lost. Double bugger!

We visit the local Honda dealer, admittedly mainly to see if they have 2 mirrors that will fit a BMW, which they don’t. We do however ride away with a ‘new’ second hand duel purpose tyre on the back, and our good old worn out knobby on the front. Wade is still trying to sort out a meeting place for our tyres.

While at the shop we meet up with Canadian Darrell whom we first met in Dust to Dawson. He then arrives at our camp, joins us for beers and a fire, which he promptly made into a bonfire the likes of which Whitehorse campground has never seen before. He burns 7 holes in our brand new tarp. Argh….. the memories. Thanks Darrell!

Oh yeah, laundry day today. Clean jocks. You little beauty!

June 30th – Day 26

Whitehorse to Skagway – 260 Miles

We left Darrell after again thanking him for the holes in our tarp. At least it won’t fill up with water and tear under excessive weight.

Crossing the border we head back into America for what is a seriously beautiful ride into Haines. Well, Alaska really. I still can’t accept it’s part of America. It most definitely should be it’s own country. Haines is a great little town, and would have loved to stay the night, but there is only one ferry a day to Skagway, and it departs at 2200. We were on it.

Rode off the ferry at Skagway and into nothen. Midnight and no accommodation booked. We did the only sensible thing and joined the queue for the closest possible campsite, a mere 200m down the road. How convenient! Set up the tents and fell into a bloody marvelous sleep, still in our stinky riding gear (not the full on jackets and pants, but the under garments). Didn’t even bother to get the clothes bag off the bike.

1st July – 27 Skagway to BoyaLake – 358 Miles

Convenient the campground may have been, awesome it was not. Trucks started loading onto the ferry at 0500, and we heard every rev of the engine and every crunch of the gears. Not cool!

If the road into Haines was a magnificent, moist, dark chocolate cake with just a splash of rum, then the road out of Skagway to Carcross was the cream and strawberries on top. Just bloody lovely.

We wanted to stay and do the great train ride in Skagway. Established as a means of transport for the mines, it was cut into sheer mountain sides in the early 1930's as it follows an old river bed up into the hills. Sheer cliffs, and somehow the crazy buggers blast enough of a ledge to squeeze a railway track half way up. Amazing.

NOTE: I made up the reason for the railway line, although it seems reasonable to me. Also, I made up the date, but it looks pretty old!

At the beginning of the trip we promised ourselves not to rush, to take our time and see everything we wanted to. Already this has been broken. Compromise. The world and everything in it is a compromise. We heard the Calgary Stampede is on for 10 days starting the 8th July which sounds like a bloody good time. We both grew up riding horses, and Wades father was a bronc rider in his younger days so we decided to beat our way to Calgary and not see too much of Haines or Skagway. As good as we are, even we can’t do everything!

The plan was to put as many miles on the clock as possible so we could spend a few days in Jasper and BanffNational Park before heading into Calgary. We tried to grab a coffee and some energy food, like a Mars Bar (pretty damn tired after our crap night sleep. Thanks trucks!) at a road side café at the junction where we turn south. They closed as we pulled the key out of the ignition. Bugger! Not to worry, there’s a servo (petrol station) a mile back. That’ll do. As we take off the helmet, who should show up? Canadian Darrell ‘The Tarp’ Nieberding. Great!

Over a coffee and pie we agree to ride together for a few days. Buy some beers, but there’s no where for 100 miles to buy food. That’s cool, we have pasta and sauce, Darrell has some ‘smokeys’. Smokey’s are cheese filled sausages. Bloody good tucker!

We bust out another 150 km’s before making camp. I was doing the good old ‘head nods’ before the coffee break, but not anymore! Darrell has technology. Darrell has a R…R detector. You little beauty, now we’re having fun!!

Aialik and Smokey loved it! A chance to stretch the legs and show off what they can do. I have to say, the big Beamers are really very good on the road, even with the busted knobby on the front and 2nd hand duel purpose tyre on the back. Hanging of the side of the bike cornering was pretty interesting. I don’t think Casey Stoner would be too impressed, but it was great fun. The bikes are so fat, whoops, I mean challenged in the width department (they are ladies after all!) my arms are too short to get over the tank bag and outside the fuel tank!

A black bear wizzed by, but this was too much fun to stop. There will be another bear.

Tents were erected and a nice controlled cooking fire was underway. After a great dinner came Darrell. Darrell and the fire. Lookout! We He had logs feeding into the fire from all points of the compass, then we had a very angry site manager.

Darrell “ Hi. You coming down for that beer after all?”

“I most definitely am not! I am here to tell you this is absolutely not on!!! You just……. you can’t…. I mean this just isn’t on! You can’t go picking up wood off the ground and burning it. It’s habitat for bugs………. it’s ……… it’s dangerous. You just can’t!”

Habitat for bugs! Strewth, what about the 2 million acres of trees we just road through? That ought to be enough habitat for the little blighters. And what about the last 150 000 acres which was burnt by a naturally occurring (lightning strike) forest fire? Yep, our little effort will most definitely endanger a few species of bug, that’s for sure.

Darrell and fire. A volatile cocktail. Again, thanks Darrell!

2nd July – Day 28 Boya Lake to Stewart via Hyder – 394 Miles

The last 100 km’s into Stewart was the most scenic yet. You ride past Bear Glacier on the way, one of only 5 blue ice glaciers in the world accessible by road. It was then onto Fish Creek, which is apparently a very famous bear viewing place. Never heard of it myself. It was pretty, but we were 2 weeks too early for the salmon run. No salmon, no food. No food, no bears.

Next stop, Salmon Glacier. This was fantastic! One of those unexpected adventures (we only discovered the previous day thanks to Darrell) which really makes the trip special. You ride along the edge of a mountain, following the glacier for 10 miles or so before popping put at a great viewing platform. Gee, thanks Darrell, and this time I actually mean it!!

Another camp site. Another tent building exercise in the rain. A feed at the local pub and early to bed.

3rd July – Day 29 Stewart to McBride – 576 Miles

Underway at about 0800 for a breaky stop at Kitwanga, just a quick 200km down the road. We all thought it sounded pretty Aussie, so an appropriate place to stop.

We met 2 wonderful people over our pancakes and omelettes. The first, a lovely elderly lady who was born in Holland in 1934. She grew up in Columbia and hasn’t stopped travelling since. Even now she is driving all over Canada and the US by herself (her husband unfortunately passed away recently) visiting brother and sisters. After chatting for 5 minutes she offered us a comfortable bed and a hot shower at her home in Vancouver. 5 minutes talking to scruffy bikers and she is opening her home to us. Just a wonderful lady and a lovely, warming moment for us.

The other bloke. Well, not too sure what to tell you. He’s from Mississippi in the deep south. Riding the same bike as us, it was inevitable we start chatting. Eventually ‘the question’ pops up and he asks us where we are heading. “Antarctica mate” was Wades prompt reply.

Now, usually when you say that, even to a hardened Adventure Rider there is quite a response. “Wow, that’s brilliant” or something along those lines. This guy had nothen. After a while he says “Sorry, where did you say?”

Oh, OK. He just didn’t hear properly.

“Antarctica mate”

Another pause, this time a bit awkward.

“Yeah, where’s that?”

Bugger me! I turn to Wade, a look of disbelief crosses my face. Wade looks at me, stunned.

“You know, that big piece of ice down the bottom of the world.”

Still nothen. Darrell, who is also amazed, says “The south Pole”.

Then it happens.

“Wow, that’s brilliant! You guys have a long way to go!”

So do you buddy. So do you.

We said our goodbyes to ‘The Tarp’. Cheers mate, it was a great few days. He is heading to Prince Rupert and a trip on a ferry thru the inner passage. We were originally going there, but 300km in, then back out the same way was too much if we are to make it to Calgary. How nice could it be anyway? Pretty damn nice apparently! Later in the arvo we are told that it was voted Canada’s number 1 scenic drive. Bugger!!

To be honest, after a month we have nearly had enough of mountain views anyway. And how it could be better than the road into Stewart I don’t know. It was all medi-evil looking, and I kept expecting to see Gandolf and a few Hobits belting across the road, a fire breathing dragon hot on their heals.

After leaving Darrell we knuckled down and went to work, trying to get some serious distance done. It wasn’t long before we were peeling off 100km sections like dollar bills in a strip club.  Over 900 km for the day. Ass? Pretty damn good! Doesn’t mean we don’t move about on the bike. You know, slide your bum across so there’s one cheek on the seat, one off. Then the other way. Maybe stand up for a bit. Just keep the blood flowing and everything seems to work out alright. I still reckon that pretty damn good. I mean, even in my luxury vehicle at home (the mighty Nissan Patrol ute) you'd have to get up and wriggle a bit every now and again.

July 4th – Day 30 McBride to Jasper

A pretty easy day in the saddle. So we took it easy. Left the camp site around 1000 after a few coffee’s, some blog writing, photo editing and a bloody fantastic HOT shower.

We anticipated a lovely ride into Jasper, and weren’t disappointed. The sun burnt off the clouds presenting the best day of the summer season so far. A couple of people told us that if you only do one touristy thing in Jasper, do the ……… lake cruise. So we did.

Just in case you think we’ve been making all the cool stuff up (lets face it, it’s all been cool so far) it’s time to bitch a bit. I worked out that the cruise boat can cram 60 people on board in a row of seating that even Easyjet and Virgin would turn their noses up at. Its 3 seats deep and divided into two isles, looking out windows that only open for every second row. The poor bugger sitting 3 deep can’t even see the mosquitoes crawling up the glass, let alone the view. There is outside ‘standing’ on the aft deck (the blunt end for all you non boatie types), but only for 10 people otherwise the nose sticks up so much the guy at the wheel cant see.

60 passangers paying $55. That’s over $3000. Each boat can do 6 trips a day. They have 6 boats, and 7 days in the week. BUY SOME BLOODY DECENT BOATS YA CHEAP MONGRELS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Having said that, the lake and surrounding mountains were amazing, and worth the $50. There were several ‘vantage points’ we rode past on the way up to the lake that Wade wanted to stop at and photograph on the way home cause they were pretty spectacular. We didn’t. After the lake they were very average.



5th July – Day 31

Jasper – 79 Miles

Hike Sulphur Ridge

Another one of those superb days that started without a plan. Well, that’s not entirely correct. We did have a plan, just not a very detailed one. I’d been looking forward to a hike in Jasper for the previous 2 weeks, but I had no idea where to go. Wade asked a friendly Parks Canada guy who told us about Sulphur Ridge. Sweet! We now have a proper plan.

We hiked up the track, which was nice. It was pretty steep, and only 10 minutes into it I’d decided that a run afterwards wasn’t going to be necessary. The main point of interest for me was establishing the origins of a popular saying. Ever since I can remember, if someone bought something fancy, be it a new car, bike, camera etc, if it had all the latest gadgets you’d say “strewth mate, she’s pretty fancy. Has all the Bells and Whistles.”

I knew what it meant, but where did it come from? Turns out its origins were established by hikers in bear country. There we were, surrounded by all these ‘professional’ hikers. I assumed they were professional anyway because of all the gear they had. Flash new hiking boots, outdoor hiking pants, super duper breathable yet rain proof / wind stopper jackets, fancy new day packs and even walking poles. Compared to me and Stubbsie in our jeans, running shoes and t-shirts they sure looked professional! They had everything, including…….. wait for it…… all the bells and whistles (used to frighten off bears). Hence the saying that if it comes with everything, it has all the bells and whistles. Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

The view from the top was worth the hike up. The hike down was simply awesome. Wade saw a single track heading off in a different direction, but still towards the bikes. “What do ya reckon about that track mate? Should we give her a go?”

“Bloody oath. Can’t see why not. I mean, the last time we followed the road less travelled all that happened was you fell off. What could possibly go wrong? Its only bear country.”

Nothing went wrong. In fact, it all went right. We followed this goat trail along a ridge, across a mountain face of loose rock and landslides, then down thru the trees, across a creek and onto another track. The cool part was doing it by ourselves, with no one in sight. We could have been 1000 miles from the nearest person.

We established it was pretty much just a goats trail, and not the walking track because we saw a goat off in the distance, and there was goats poo on the trail. Yep, definitely a goat track. We were a bit stuck at one stage. It was bloody steep! At which point a manly goat came strutting round the corner. He was a bit surprised to see us, but after a moment of hesitation he kept on coming, making this deep guttural noise. We were’t too sure if it was a mating call or a warning. I couldn’t work out which would be worse cause the way he was looking at us (well, to be honest, I reckon he was checking out Wade, not me!) if it was a mating call it was going to be just as bad!

At least it’s a bit heroic when you can tell people the broken ribs came from a ferocious, head-butting mountain goat who saw you as a threat when you were hiking. There is nothing tough, heroic or manly about any injury sustained from an oversexed goat. Not ever.

About the time I wanted to stop filming, throw the camera over my shoulder and do what you should never do, run like crazy in a wild panic, the goat strutted on past to his calling point. He surveyed all he commanded, still calling. We left him to it. After a while we saw 4 girl sheep heading up the hill. Hmmmm, most definitely a mating call. And boy, did it work wonders! Which had me thinking, if only I could ……….

6th July – Day 32

Jasper to Banff – 215 Miles

The ride down was just lovely. Super scenery and a photo to take around every corner. Wade was in paradise! It felt like paradise too as the sun was really giving it some. The lining came out of the jackets for the first time. Yah!

We stopped at a few waterfalls and some lakes. The highlight was definitely Moraine Lake. Amazing colour and dramatic mountain backdrop. A post card picture for sure! The tropical colour is from the glacier melt. Rock flour (the fine powder that results from the ginormous pressure of the ice grinding away the rock) is so light it is suspended in the water, absorbing green light and reflecting blue. So there ya go. Learn something new everyday!

Made camp and once again a beautiful cooking fire. I knocked up a magnificent spag bol. It was massive and made a perfect breaky for the next day. 5 star cuisine round a campfire. Now this is living.

Made it into double figures for camping. 10 nights straight. You little beauty!

7th July – Day 33

Banff to Calgary – 93 Miles

We had planned to stay longer in Banff, but the service light on the bikes put an end to that! OK, so its not 20000 km services. Its 10 000. Bugger. Luckily Anderwerks, the BMW shop in Calgary are very ‘adventure rider’ friendly. They shuffled some bikes around to fit us in so we could keep going. We dropped the bikes of Thursday arvo so they would be cold for the guys to work on the next day. Thanks guys! Really appreciate it!

We did the Johnston Canyon walk in the morning before riding into Calgary. It was nice, but nothen special. It must be a major hotspot on the tourist route because by the time we were walking back along the path it was like a free-way of retired people shuffling along taking up all the road. I tell ya what, if you’re a young bloke looking for some ‘action’ you’d better leave this place off the map!

8th July – Day 34


Bit of a nothen day. Washing, writing, then a lot of walking round the city waiting for our bikes. It is a nice town, especially around Stampede time as all the girls show off their biggest boots, their smallest skirts and everything in between. Love ya work girls! Of course none of them had better legs than Casey or Rieke!

Back to camp and an early night. Wade found some work to keep him busy rescuing peoples tents from various bushes around the place.


9th July – Day 35

Calgary Stampede

Calvin phoned us yesterday to re-issue his earlier invite to stay with him. He’s a great bloke we first meet on the Demster heading up to Inuvik, then again around ‘The Tarps’ fire in Whitehorse. We packed the bikes and rode into town. Even though it has only been one day off the bikes, and we were only poking down the road a bit it still felt good to be geared up and riding.

After lunch and a bit of a chinwag (a good old chat) Wade and I charged off towards the Stampede. We tried. We tried really bloody hard. We failed miserably! Reckoned we could get an entire outfit, boots, hats and all for under $50 bucks. 6 shops later, turns out the shirts alone are nearly that much. Sadly we abandoned the idea, and settled for a cool, sexy terrible straw cowboy hat. Immediately there was a marked change. Now we were ready for Stampede, and by the looks of things Stampede was ready for us.

“Hey Stubbsie”

“Yeah Mate”

“You know the difference between you and me? I make this hat look good!”

Actually, that’s a horrible lie. I don’t know if women get beer goggles or not. I assume they do cause I’ve seen some pretty hot girls leaving the club with some bloody ugly blokes. Guys ugly enough that if Mick Jagger was just an ordinary guy, not some rock god, and happened to be sitting next to them in a bar, big flappy lips and all, he’d look like a cover model for GQ magazine.

Anyway, that’s off the track and into the scrub a little bit. What I wanted to say was that with these cowboy hats we are definitely a good 10 or so. Unfortunately I don’t mean 10 out of 10 and damn fine stud stock, but rather I reckon it’d take about 10 vodka tonics before chicks started to think “Gee, these guys are hot stuff……… reckon I might like to take them home!”

Wondered about the Stampede for a few hours, and was a bit disappointed to be honest. Beer tents had a line-up longer than the TAB (a place where Aussies can go to bet on anything from horses to dogs to footy and even chook races) a few hours after the doll checks / unemployment benefits (benefits, yeah right. The TAB and the local pub benefits, that’s for sure!) have cleared. So that was crap. Then we couldn’t find too much in the way of agricultural excitement. Just a tractor pull, and believe me, seen one, seen ‘em all. Seems like the only things on offer are bloody long queues and sideshow alley, neither of which impressed us too much.

The chuck races were pretty cool. We were in the stadium now, and things were looking up. Although at $7.80 a beer, we still weren’t looking too high! They are crazy buggers, that’s for sure. To start, 4 Chucks (the wagons), pulled by 4 horses each do a figure 8 around their own course in the main arena, then it’s a race to the track, often 3 or 4 deep heading into the first corner which is only half as wide. They do a lap of the racetrack, finishing in front of the crowd. There were no crashes this night, but often there is and it isn’t too hard to see why!

There was an after-chuck show, which was brilliant. Worth the admission fee alone. Singing, dancing, acrobats, trampoline tricks and more.

Saving ourselves for tomorrow we headed home after that. What good lads!

10th July – Day 36

Calgary Stampede

Calvin and his wife Coleen packed us into the car. Destination, one of the many Calgary Stampede breakfasts. Each day several businesses put on a free breakfast of eggs, sausage, pancakes and coffee, accepting donations rather than payment in order to raise money for various charities. There’s generally a live band and it’s basically a good fun time.

Fueled with plenty of good ‘soakage’ we donned the very attractive cowboy hats and once again mustered ourselves towards the stampede. We’d done a little homework and were now on a mission to uncover some fantastic stampede events. Success! WooHooo!!!! First we found where the camp draft was happening. And guess what, it starts ½ hr after the Rodeo finishes. Amazing! Normally, according to the laws of Murphy they would be on at the same time. Then, believe it or not, immediately after the camp draft, and even in the same stadium, sheepdog trials take centre stage.

Satisfied with the days schedule, it was off to the Rodeo. We had front row seats. Even better we had a concrete wall in front to use as a shelf, nicely keeping the beers handy, yet safely out of harms way. It also allowed us to set the tripods perfectly. The ultimate however was when we were able to lean over and say “2 more beers up here thanks Mate!” No need for us to queue, we were basically royalty now! Heaven must have a section like this.

There were some very impressive times. 6.3 seconds for the calf roping, and a tick over 3 for steer wrestling. Bucking horses put on a great show, but were ridden most of the time. The bulls are mighty beasts, and conquered man far more often than not. Seems to win the bucking broncs you need a whole lot of style and technique because most of the guys make the 8 seconds. The bulls however, doesn’t really matter how you get it done, just make the 8 and you’re in the cash!

We left the Rodeo satisfied. But wait, there’s more. The Cutting of the Calves was very impressive. 3 riders, 30 calves. 3 calves have the same number, making 10 groups of 3. The team are given a number, then have to cut out the 3 calves with that number, take them to the other end of the arena and into the pen. If more than 1 calf of the wrong number cross the half way point they are disqualified. The winning time was 32 seconds. Bloody amazing.

Sheep dog trials were equally as impressive, but not exciting! After watching a few we left them to it and somehow finished up in the main beer tent. Damn, now how did that happen? Live bands, dancing girls and beer. What a great day!

11th July – day 37

Calgary to Takkakawa Falls in Yoho National Park – 130 Miles (209 KM)

I must admit, it was a pretty slow morning. But a mighty fun day yesterday. Spose you have to take the good with the bad.

After a huge breaky of eggs, bacon and pancakes we said our farewells to Calvin and Coleen. It’s a favourite part of the trip for both of us………..... wait a minute, that didn’t really come out right. Neither of us want to say goodbye! What I mean is meeting people and staying with them really makes this traveling special. Its one thing to pass thru an area, but if you can stay with the locals you get so much more.

We camped at the base of Canada’s largest waterfall, Takkakawa Falls. 254m high. Very cool.

Met Shannon and Jen, an Aussie couple with a similar outlook on life to us. Work, save, travel. They’ve finished a 2 ½ year working stint in Canada, and now reaping the rewards. Cheers for a great night. Oh yeah, and the fresh milk for breaky!

12th July – day 38

Takkakawa Falls to Kelowna – 240 Miles (386 KM)

We have this hiking sorted out. Find the cutest park ranger and ask “if you only had one day, where would you go?”

This method again steered us in the right direction as we set out to conquer ‘The Ice Line’ trail. Oddly enough we hiked up to, and a wee bit beyond the snow line. Funny that, being called the ice line trail and all. This was cool until the mighty runners let me down. What do you man they aren’t water proof? Arrrrggghhhhhhh!!!!!!!! And to make matters worse, Stubbsies 20 Euro bargain basement ‘do anything’ shoes were still as dry as when your tongue sticks to the roof of your mouth as you wake up after a big night out. Nasty! Which pretty much buggers they saying ‘you get what you pay for’. Then again, the bloke who made that particular saying famous probably didn’t account for an idiot hiking through snow in shoes purpose built for running across deserts.

The slight issue was we thought it a loop trail. In a way it was, but 20km instead of 10. We had arranged to stay the night with Michael, another great guy we met in Dust2Dawson. It was a good 6 hr ride, so we needed to get going. 3 options. Go back, go forward, or go down. Neither of us want to go backwards, ever. Forward meant not seeing Mike. Looks like another day for the Bergalia Boys to go bush bashing off the trail in bear country. Oh Goodie!

It was bloody steep, that’s for sure! After a few false starts we managed to pick a path across creeks and down gullies. The problem with taking the easiest route? That is also the highway that bears and other crazy animals take. Again I had to do a mental tick-off for all our safety gear. Good boots? Obviously not. Decent clothing? Tick. Wow, one box we can tick. Beauty! We were actually OK for clothes. Not about to freeze to death. Flare to frighten away aggressive bears? No. Whistle? No. Weapon of any description? No. Bear gun (like a cap gun, only louder)? No. Right then, lets get off this hill pronto! So we did. Fortunately, if there were any bears or cougars we didn’t see them. My heart was beating pretty fast, and it wasn’t all to do with the steep terrain and frantic pace Wade had set.

It was a great ride through Glacier National Park, then down onto farming country (Hmmmmm, the smell of freshly cut hay. Lovely!) and finally along Okanagan Lake to Mike’s place. He had some friends visiting from Calgary, which meant the cars were rolled out of the garage and that was home for us for the night. At least it was dark!

We had a great night sitting out on his deck looking across the lake, drinking a nice vintage of red wine over dinner. A night cap of B&B (yeah, I thought it was accommodation too) to finish.

13th July – Day 39

Kelowna to Chilliwack, then to Agassiz– 264 Miles

Coleen cooked us a power providing breakfast of sausage, eggs and hash browns. Then it was that time again. Time to say “Thanks, that was awesome!” and move on.

Mike told us we had to stop in Bliss café, just 30 miles down the road. After discovering the morning coffee was de-caff I thought that a jolly good idea! Once again we were sitting quietly by ourselves when Pam the Peach from Peachland came up and asked about the bikes and the trip. Turns out she is an old biker herself, and was pretty much as excited about the trip as us.

I really feel like a rock star when we are cruising on the bikes. People stop us at lights, wave to us as we ride past and are always coming up and talking. Its great! Unless you really want to get somewhere, then it can really slow you down.

Arrived in Chilliwack around 1800. We are staying with Johnny, a mate of Wades from Sydney. Should be a great few days!

I’ve been waiting for a short day. Today was short. So, now its now time for:

Interesting facts that are probably incorrect and useless information.

  1. I bought a pack of knee high, one size fits all stockings the other day. A pack of four. For four dollars. Now, I’ve never bought stockings prior to this, but I reckon that’s a great price. Yesterday Wade asked to borrow a pair.
  2. Oh yeah, I also bought a packet of tampons. 18 for four bucks fifty. Also not too bad. And you think people looked at the elephant man in a strange way
  3. We have finally been re-united with our tyres and the camera gear. We broke both camera’s in about the first 2 weeks, and it’s taken until now to get the new ones.
  4. We have covered 12 500 Km. Only another 30 000 or so to go, give or take a few thousand.
  5. The first service, including new rear brake pads and a tyre change (not the tyre mind you, just the cost to fit one we already had) came to a massive $750. We have at least another 3 to go. Oh goodie.

Now, I could be wrong, but I reckon there’s a few people wondering what’s going on. Perhaps even wondering if Wade and I are batting for the wrong team, or maybe we’ve picked up a female hitch hiker with no legs, just the one arm she used to flag us down and therefore cant easily manage to shop for herself. I wish I could make up a really cool story like that, but I can’t. So here it is. The truth. The raw, naked truth.

Stockings. Our feet were getting pretty damn hot, and socks that were high enough to go above the bike boots made it worse. So we tried stockings. They are bloody fantastic, comfortable and cool. You girls are really onto something! I just hope Wade clips his nails and doesn’t give them back with a run!

Tampons. Now this is neat. An Aussie bloke put Stubbsie onto this, and it works a treat. I tell ya, you guys keep reading this blog and you’ll learn a thing or two. Basically, if its been raining all day, or you are lazy like us and cant be bothered to fetch little sticks to start the fire then you soak the tampon in fuel, place it on the bottom of the fire with the string trailing. Light the ‘fuse’, crack a beer then sit back and watch that fire go! It burns for ages. You Little Beauty!!

Until next time, goodbye for now.




14th July - Day 40

Agassiz – Repair and maintenance day

Johnny works in a tattoo shop Chilliwack where we first went to meet him, but lives in Agassiz, about 20km down the road.

Finally! A bit of a sleep in. This holiday stuff can wear a bloke out!

The main object for the day was to try and increase the range of our bike-to-bike communications by extending the aerial and mounting it by the handle bars. The unit is mounted under the fuel tank where the ABS normally is, which we think is reducing effective range. We opted not to have ABS fitted to the bikes because if something goes wrong you need the BMW computer to re-set them. Not cool in Central and South America where you could be a couple thousand km from a BMW dealer. This fitting of the new aerial is pretty technical. A job for Wade. The other, rather less ambitious goal was to clean the pre filter filter, and the pre filter filter filter. Yep, there’s more filtering going on here than for the internet in a computer room with a class full of year 10 students! Not a technical job. A job for Philip.

It was a very cruisie day, and quite pleasant. Even better, after about 3 weeks I’m finally up to date with the blog. Yah!

15th July – Day 41

Agassiz – More R & M (see above for definition)

Stubbsie finished off Aialik (the radio) and moved onto the helmet cameras, barely able to keep his excitement in check after waiting so long. My technical job for the day? Try and make our BMW enduro boots waterproof. I wasn’t too happy when my feet started swimming during the first rain. Soggy feet just aren’t cool!

Having said that the rest of the gear, which is all BMW is AMAZING! I’ve never been so brand coordinated. Top to toe in BMW. The winter gloves are especially good, and I’d even advise a Harley rider to go grab a pair cause the flack he gets from his mates will be worth the warm, dry hands ten fold, unless of course they chuck him out of the club, cut off his beard with blunt scissors and scratch the Harley badges off the bike. Then maybe not. Anyone riding a decent distance should go and buy the Rally 3 suits and the winter gloves. They are great. Get a different pair of boots.

Helmet cameras. Did I mention there were a few issues? Actually, it all started last year when Wade first set them up. Right out of the box one was broken, which he soldiered back into working condition. A week into the ride, Wades helmet fell off the bike as he was climbing on board Smokey, and the cable pulled out the back of the camera. One down. Bugger. A week after that my display screen starts to flicker, then says no signal. We plug my camera into Wades display / recording unit and guess what, still ‘no signal’. Two down. Bugger. Bugger.

Wade ordered 2 new cameras, but because of the rotten Canadian postal strike they didn’t arrive in time for us to collect them in Whitehorse. Then they were lost in customs. Finally, finally we meet up in Agassiz where Johnny lives. All excited, Stubbsie plugs the first camera into the display unit, and see if you can guess what comes next…….. no signal. Arrgghhhhhhh!!!!!! What do you mean no signal? He asks for mine, and when I hand it to him I notice the screen has cracked. A month of bouncing in the pannier over rough roads was just too much for it. I’m guessing it lost a fight with an angry, run-a-way frying pan, which was annoying to say the least. I’m sure my dear mother would have even gone so far as to say “Sugar!” Me. Well, I cant really print exactly what I said.

Wade used some parts from one unit to get the other working, and yep, you guessed it. My ‘broken’ camera works just fine. Now, what are the chances of both units crapping out at the same time? At least we have one up and running, and another unit on the way.

16th July – Day 42

Agassiz to a camp ground on the way to Whistler – 147 Miles (236 km)

Johnny loaded up his KTM 990 with some duel purpose tyres and off we went for a 2-day, scenic ride. It was great to ride for the sake of riding, and not just to get to the next town. Normally the KTM is a massive bike, but next to ours it looks like a miniature poodle squatting under a great dane.

First stop was Hope, a small town famous for the filming of Rambo - First Blood, and chainsaw sculptures. All I can say is the sculptures were good. The town needs to let go of Rambo and look for something cool. Or just let go of Rambo, it’d still be better. In this particular case, something is not better than nothen!

It was a fabulous road, one bend flowing into the next. Enjoying the riding so much, we buzzed past an Elvis café. Whoops! Screeeeccchhhhhhhhh! Elvis was of no interest, but coffee? Now that’s a different story. I had way too much blood in my coffee stream, so a top up was vital.

It was actually pretty cool, and worth a stop if you ever go to Hells Gate along the Fraser River, north east of Vancouver. 43 years of devotion to Elvis collectables. Crazy!

We camped right on the river, and for the first time ever we took some bear precautions. Washed up after dinner, then dumped the left overs for breaky 150m up the road. Bear smart. Look at us go!

17th July – Day 43

Back to Agassiz – 245 Miles

A great ride to day. Beautiful winding, flowing roads. Stopped in at Whistler where at least every second person was Aussie. Seems all Aussies overseas work in a bar in London, work on yachts or are in Whistler. Commonly all 3, although rarely at once!

It rained on the way back, and yes, my feet were still wet! Not like an Olympic swimming pool, more like a toddlers blow up pool, but still crap none the less. Any advice from anyone?

Back to Johnnies and re-pack the bike for an early start to cross the US border. A bit of a re-shuffle, with plenty more stuff into ‘deep storage’. No more heated vest, no more long undergarments, just shorts and t-shirts for the next 5 months. You little beauty! Love’n the extra room in my panniers. Not so keen on the extra weight in the yellow bags up high. See, as I said before. Life is nothen but a compromise.

Last Updated on Monday, 10 October 2011 23:30

America Part 1

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18th July – Day 44

Agassiz to Seattle – 180 miles

We pulled on our slightly damp, extremely smelly boots and we are on the road. Beauty! In the drizzle, again. Bugger! Honestly, I reckon ‘Agassiz’ must be native for ‘Always bloody raining!’

You know how sometimes it just doesn’t feel right, but you don’t know why. Normally it’s that horrible feeling you get as the plane takes off for a 14 hr flight and you begin to wonder if you really did turn off the stove after cooking bacon and eggs for breaky. Well, I had that feeling. But I don’t have a stove, so whats going on?

I concentrate. Focus my energy. Whats bloody missing! Then it slaps my face, a cold dead fish. My wallet, of course! “Stubbsie……… I gotta go back!”

The rest of the ride was a breeze, and we sped along under a full spiniker. The first marker buoy to round is Touratech, an after market company for everything BMW. These guys have been fantastic, right from the first phone call. Its obvious everyone there loves to ride, and knows what the long distance biker really needs.

Wade has been dealing with Kimmo for about 18 months, and he couldn’t have been more helpful. It was great for him to finally put a face to the name. We met Tom, the owner who couldn’t do enough to help us, even with something as abstract as manufacturing a plate for the video camera to stop it vibrating on the bike, then breaking free.

The finale for the day was the big bike weigh in. The tank was half full of fuel, but other wise fully loaded. The grand total was …………… actually, I’m not going to tell you yet. Have a think about it, and maybe later I’ll let you know.

It was then off to the American Hotel / hostel where we booked in for 3 nights. 3 nights! Wow. We are going to feel pretty much like a local by the time we leave!

19th July – Day 45

Seattle – Function with EXPIDITION TRIPS

We spent the morning doing odd jobs, like trying to remove some of our scruffyness before meeting the team from Expition Trips. Wade trimmed the beard, I finally cut my hair. We both showered. Fairdinkum. That’s how much effort we went to. Obviously a fair portion of the morning past us by as we had quite a bit of work to do getting ourselves up to scratch.

This is a company that every adventure traveler should check out, and even the not so adventurous. They organize trips all over the world, from the Arctic, thru Alaska, to the Galapagos, South America and our favorite, Antarctica. They cover most places in between.

Expedition Trips make it easy to get to the not so easy to get to places. Reading the profiles of the crew, as Ashton likes to refer to his staff, is bloody amazing, and enough to make you want to travel in a heartbeat. No one can truly say they have seen the world, but you combine the travels of the crew and you get mighty close! Their passion for travel flows like volcanic lava, unstoppable. A passion they pass onto their customers.

The function was to be outdoors, pretty brave Wade thought considering Seattle sunshine is about as rare as a red head with good tan. It was fantastic talking to Ashton, finding out where the energy, drive and experience came from to establish such a company as Expedition Trips. Every one of his crew is a traveler at heart, and after a few beers stories and experiences were shared, tips for border crossings in South America passed on like a secrete family recipe from one generation to another.

It was a bloody fantastic afternoon. Wade and I have been blown away with the entire experience, from the first contact to the last beer. Thank you guys so much, and we look forward to seeing you all again soon.

20th July – Day 46


After a morning stuck in 1st gear (well, at least I was, Wade was OK. Actually, totally useless is probably a better way to describe my condition) it was back to Touratech. They opened their workshop to us, and allowed us a full run of the place, including the coffee machine. Awesome!

I admit we went a little crazy on TOURATECH products. Their equipment is just so damned handy, clever and well thought out. The quality is excellent and whether your looking for protection during a crash, or more storage, then you really should do yourself a favour and look through the ‘bible’ of off-road, long distance riding – the Touratech catalogue. My only suggestion is to go the medium tank bag, not the small one. You’ll thank yourself later!

To Tom, Kimmo and the rest of the gang at Touratech, a massive thank you from the Bergalia boys. Keep riding, keep the passion and see you after our big adventure!

Manchester United played the local football (soccer) team, the Seattle Sounders. We tried to scalp tome tickets, but the 67 000 seat stadium was completely sold out, and no one wanted to sell their tickets. Bugger.

21st July – day 47

Seattle to Republic – 308 miles, 495 km

We did a final round of the Expedition Trips office and Touratech for some photos with everybody. Then it was off to finally pick up my car charger for the Mac……. Or so I thought. What a saga, and it continues. Do you have a minute? Cause if you do I’ll run you thru it. You do? Cool. Here goes……..

It started back in January or there abouts. I was in St Martin, the cruise ship / electronic capital of the Caribbean. I ask for a car charger for the Macbook, and I get one. Cool. One less thing to worry about. Or is it?

Camping for the first time in Alaska I flatten the battery, but not to worry. When we are riding tomorrow I’ll charge her up and she’ll be golden by the time we set camp that night. After riding all day I’m all smiles as I fire the old girl up, and nothen. Not even a flicker on the screen. If it were a bloke they wouldn’t even bother with the shock pads. DOA. Its about now I notice the little plane on the side of the charger, Hmmmm, maybe that has something to do with it.

I get to a Mac shop in Whitehorse and chat to the owner. He tells me I’m bloody lucky not to have blown the computer up using the wrong charger. Ok, well can I buy one. No.

“No? Why not.”

“They sell so fast I can’t stock enough.”

Well, stock more. Idiot! I throw out the charger.

About 3 electronic shops later, all without success I go to The Mac Store in Seattle where I’m told Mac do not do a car charger, but I can charge an external battery and do it that way. I need and aircraft charger to do it. Arrgghhhhhh!!!!! They don’t have the battery in stock, but they have the charger. The other store has the battery, but not the charger. I buy the plane charger, again.

Next day we ride well out of our way to go to this other store to pick up the battery. About 180 bucks for everything, but if it works it’s OK. I’m about to walk out of the shop, then stop. I decide to open the box. If I see it charging on the bike, then I’ll buy it. I don’t believe it, I think I’m getting older and wiser. Not old and wise, just older and a littler wiser.

It doesn’t work. Turns out you need a socket to charge the battery, and the plane charger to connect the battery to the computer. Useless! I throw away another plane charger. Turns out Amazon have one. If you give me a minute I’ll order it now and let you know how it turns out.

I know it doesn’t seem like it to you, but a good few minutes have passed. After 3 false starts (said there are no longer any chargers in stock and could not say if there ever will be) I’m done. I’ve actually managed to order a car charger for the Mac. 1 of only 2 left, so if you want one, you’d better get on it quick!

It rains pretty hard on the way to Republic. The boots are slightly damp, but not wet and actually comfortable enough. We are winning!! Beauty!! Another 3 coats of water proofing and we might be there.

There are about 150 people at the 39th Annual Washington State BMW Rally. We arrived late (thanks to Mac and their bloody non-existent charges!) and after some dinner in town we return to the campsite with beer and wood, one of the classic combinations. Like milk and cookies. It was dark. It was quiet. Too quiet.

In a barely whisper Wade asks “Hey Phip, what do ya reckon’s going on?”

“Don’t know mate, but its not looking good for the fire!”

I think its safe to say the majority of BMW riders have past their youth, although not necessarily past their prime.



22nd July – Day 48

Republic – Washington State BMW Rally

After a heavy night of rain we woke to a beautiful day. Time for some washing, then time for some riding!

We rode to Molson, a very cool little ghost town near the border of USA and Canada. Established as a result of prospecting, it boomed in 1900, and died in 1901. Just not much gold up in dem dere hills. Settlers moved in, and out, over the next 50 years until the land no longer supported them. The buildings remain, the farm equipment remains, the people do not.

The ride up was OK, but the bikes were unloaded, and feeling frisky! We needed some dirt for Smokey and Aialik to go play on. Wade typed in Shortest Route, taking us back along forestry trails. Wooooo Hoooooo! It’s unbelievable the GPS has these tracks, many of which were single lane logging trails. After some great footage of the big GS’s sideways under power out of corners we rolled into camp, unable to wipe the smile of our faces.

Determined to get some action tonight, we bought more wood and more beer. If a fire and the threat of free beer doesn’t get a few ‘past their teenage years’ BMW riders out of holes and into the open after 9pm, nothen will. Demonstrating the power of the tampon, on lookers were stunned into silence as a mighty fire roared to life. It worked, and finally we could meet a few people.

Actualy, speaking of getting some action, last night this older lady took a fancy to Wade, and all we were doing was having dinner! “Strewth mate, can’t wait to see how you get out of this one.”

“No worries, I’ll just tell her she has a good body………. for her age!”

Yep, that’ll do it!

The most interesting bloke was Philip Funnell. He’s been a sponsored adventure rider for 50 years, and at 75 still is. He’s not too sure, but reckons he’s done somewhere between 1.5 and 2 million km. That’s not a typo. The guy had a story for everything and every country. Our favorite? In the winter of 1979, or there abouts, Philip rode the Dempster, which at that time of year was an ice highway to Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, then on to Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic Ocean in the most bitter cold, requiring him to build a fire underneath the engine before it got warm enough to start. He said it was so cold it took over an hour to remove his full-face helmet because the padding had frozen solid and he needed to thaw the ice.

Now he rides to rally’s all over the States talking to people, sharing his experiences and showing off his 1974 BMW and pod, which he tows everywhere. His pod is amazing. Weighing only 40 pounds, or 18 kg’s, he sleeps fully clothed while on the road. Why? Because he can wake up and be riding in less than a minute. Perfect when setting distance records. It’s not for us, but an amazing guy. If anyone’s interested type Philip Funnell BMW rider as a search. It’s a good read!

23rd July – Day 49

Republic to Leavenworth – 341 miles, 555km

Clocked over 10 000 miles, or 16 093km on the odometer today. Yeah baby!

Another great day in the saddle. Once again the GPS proved invaluable as we rode dirt up the side of bloody steep hills dodging boulders all the way, through rickety barb-wire gates across some guys Ranch and single lane tracks into Winthrop. It was great riding, and even fully loaded the bikes were fun to ride.

It was late, so we made a beeline for Leavenworth, where we spend another 2 hours looking for a campground. Until now the occupancy rate was about 30% so we never book sites in advance. I think we might start.

Eventually we found a patch of grass to pitch a tent in the 59’er Dinner. A great little place with hot showers, a fire pit and the best of all….. somewhere to get my life support in the morning. Coffee.

24th July – Day 50

Leavenworth to Hood River – 312 Miles, 502 km

Coffee. My goodness! Talk about a bucket full of coffee! Honestly, this thing is so big it could be picked up with helicopters and used toextinguish bush fires, or use it as a swimming pool. In fact, if we had enough room on the bikes we could carry it to use as a bathtub. Yep, it is a serious cup of coffee!

By the time we swam round the coffee bucket and drank our way to safety it was getting on a bit. We belted along the main highway, which is pretty much against the Bergalia Boys religion, and a bit painful to start but we needed to burn some miles to get to Eric’s house.

Wade met Eric a few years earlier when he was the build engineer for a yacht out of Vancouver. This is a guy who burns through life, and Hood River is the perfect fan for the fire. You can do anything from kayaking, wind surfing, kite boarding, mountain biking, dirt bikes, road bikes, hiking, rock climbing and even ski and snow board all year round thanks to Mt Hood. Eric, well he does it all, and usually by lunch!

25th July – Day 51

Hood River – The playground! 93 Miles, 149 km. 5 hrs ride time.

Wow! What a night. Thunder, lightning and torrential rain. At least that’s what Wade told me. I slept through it all.

Eric saddled up his DR 650 and the ‘Trail Boss’ led the way thru fantastic bush roads. We’re getting pretty comfortable on the bikes now and can ‘hang’ the back end out a bit. Quite a sight on the big BMW. By the end of the day it was down to single track hiking trails with big wash outs, ruts, mud holes and creek crossings up to our knees. And yes, at that depth the boots definitely leaked!! Unfortunately for Wade I was quick enough to round the bend as he was lifting Smokey. 3 – 2. For the first time in nearly 8 weeks, Wade leads the way! No damage, and actually what is most surprising is that at the start of the day we each removed a mirror. And guess which side the bike went down? Nope, I don’t reckon you’re right. It actually fell on the side with out the mirror. A-bloody-mazing!

26th July – Day 52

Hood River – The playground. 10 Miles, 16km. Not on the bikes

Its time to re-introduce the Butt Report. 10 000 miles on the beamer and no worries. 10 miles on a mountain bike, fully suspended mind you, and neither of us can sit straight on a couch. Certainly a touch of tender-butt-itis, that’s for sure!

The riding here is sensational. I’ve been traveling one way or another overseas for about 6 years, and not until coming here have I ever thought, “Gee, I could live in a place like this.”

Wade feels the same.

Eric invited a few mates over, and although we didn’t cook any shrimp on the barby, we did do corn and steak. The main event for the evening was a slide show, riding thru Mexico. Three of the four guys on the trip watched it with us, and it was amazing to see their reaction and how excited they were. All talking a million miles an hour over the top of one another as each exciting memory came flooding back. That’s what I want to be able to do in 10 yrs time.

27th July – Day 53

Hood River – The play ground. 48 Miles, 77km

Pretty quiet, uneventful day. Eric couldn’t make another bike ride, so Wade and I tried to find some great single trails, snotty hills and gnarly creek crossings. We couldn’t! After 15 dead ends and crappy loose gravel in between we had the grumps and went home for a cold beer. At least we know we can do that in a somewhat professional manner!




28th July – Day 54

Hood River to Portland – 200???

Finally a send off with a few other bikes! You little beauty! One was a Harley, but in the interest of numbers we ran with it. I arranged a trailer from U-Haul to get the busted wreck home, but amazingly enough it wasn’t required. Although having said that Leroy did leave us a good 40 miles from home, so plenty of room for a break down there! Thanks Eric and Leroy, loved the ride! Look forward to seeing you both for speed week in Bonneville.

Wade couldn’t let me ride by Mt Hood without a visit. Snow all year round, it is impressive. But not as impressive as the vintage Horseless Carriage Car Club (pre 1916) cars that happened to have their 20 year rally for the area. Wade fell about drooling as car after car rolled by. I’d like to say sped by, but to be honest, they were bloody lucky to make it up the hill, let alone set a land speed record! That was evident when the guy organizing parking said to one driver in particular “Congrats mate, you’re not even boiling!”

Suddenly Wade froze, then crouched down and started sniffing the air. He was looking everywhere, taking it all in. He had become the warrior, and like the Masi Mari tribesman tracking the spur of a lion in the heart of Africa, he didn’t miss a thing. Me, well I was also looking round, but with a stupid look on my face wondering what on earth he was doing. Finally I realized what it was. A wounded vehicle had passed thru the area, leaving a trail of blood. The warrior dipped his finger into the oil drops left behind, breathed in until he could taste the aroma through his nostrils, then dabbed a little on his tongue. After a moment of silent concentration he started to move rapidly, still crouched. I could tell he was excited, close to his prey.

Without looking round he whispered to me over his shoulder “Mate, it’s a 1912……….. no, no wait. A 1911 Model T Ford and I reckon it’s just….. (a pause as he starts to round the corner)….. “Yep, there she is, and what a little beauty!! Now don’t get too close, these things can really have a nasty bite” he warns as a jet of steam from an angry, overheated engine races towards me. Strewth! Look out, these things really do have teeth!

After Wade ran out of drool we head west, dry mouth and all, to the Christianson Shipyard in Vancouver (USA, not Canada) to meet John and have a quick tour of the yard. John was the project manager when Wade was on the build of Lady Joy in 2007. I’d not seen fibre glass boats built, so a very cool day all round.

Stayed with John and Kelly for another great night. A few quiet beers and a great BBQ (Fairdinkum, John is almost Aussie he cooks so much on the barby).

29th July – Day 55

Portland to Lola – 630 Miles, 1015 km

A full on, dead set work day. After a sensational breaky (sadly not cooked on the bbq), and a quick golf lesson from John (its bloody great, but you’ll have to wait for the video! Wade and I play it back every day so we can memorize it!) we say good bye.

You’d reckon a 1000km day wouldn’t present much to write home about (or blog about for that matter!), but you’d be wrong. It’s the Bergalia Boys, of course something will happen.

And it does, in the form of flashing blue lights. We’d spoken about it, and reckoned we’d be safe doing 10 over the limit. Seems to work pretty damn good in the 75 zones, but not so cool in 45. Strange that. Wade’s in front, and the copper didn’t even have to flash his lights. Stubbsie knew by the look in his eyes. “Mate, we’ve been done.”

“What, us? Nah, musta been the guy in front.”

We pull over and wait. It wasn’t the guy in front!

The copper gets out, all guns and handcuff’s. Looks at our plates, and says “Florida hey, you boys are a long way from home.”

“Mate, we’re from a bit further than that!”

Its about then he notices the AUS sticker Wade has covering the Florida on the plate (we were hard up for Aussie flag stickers, and that was the best we could do for a bit. It just wasn’t cool having everyone think we were American. Aarrgghhhhh! Terrible!).

“Whats this?” he says, pointing to the sticker.

Now Wade is in a bit of a predicament, cause he can’t just say it has been a crap 4 weeks of his life having everyone think he was American to an American cop.

“Just an Aussie sticker. Have to fly the flag somehow.”

He shrugs, then says “I can’t believe they let you do that. There’s some highway patrol blokes up here won’t like it.”

I was pretty amazed, thinking “I can’t believe you think they let him do that.” I didn’t voice my opinion.

He asked to see our licenses, then laughed once we handed them over. “Of course” he said as he walked off shaking his head. He ran the plates then came back.

“OK boys, as you stopped and waited for me, I’m gonna let you off (Translation: I can’t be bothered with all that extra bloody paper work. Damn Aussies!!). Now, it’s a 50 speed limit thru here, and you are gonna be awful tempted to speed. Don’t. Its on the radio that I pulled you up. It won’t be so pretty for you if you are stopped again”.

We didn’t, and strewth it was boring!

Camped the night.

30th July – Day 56

Lola to Glacier National Park – 220 Miles / 354 km

A text from Jim, the yacht captain we met at Dust to Dawson zeroed us in on the campsite in Glacier N.P. where we were to once again meet.

Rode thru the park and then an easy stroll around a lake in preparation for our 18 km hike tomorrow. The best part of the day? Knowing that the tents are staying up for the next 3 nights! Whooooooo Hoooooooooo!

31st July – Day 57

Glacier National Park – 86 Miles / 138

I’m looking forward to today. How often do you get to drive along a road with such a cool name as Going to the Sun Highway? It has to be bloody good!!

And it is spectacular. However, as sensationally beautiful as it is, you can spit the views over your shoulder like chewed sunflower seeds at the local baseball game cause what’s really special about this road is you can leave your vehicle at the bottom of the mountain, catch a shuttle to the top and hike down the 18km Highline Trail. How good is that! Its like collecting eggs without having to feed the chickens, or having a huge night out, falling into bed, missing, then sleeping on the floor and waking up without a hangover. It really is the stuff of dreams.

Highline Trail is a must for anyone visiting Glacier. Some idiot died a few days before. It is steep, and in some places a slip means meeting the rocks 50m below, but as I say, you’d have to be an idiot!

The highlight for the day? My new hiking shoes! I was in heaven, or about as close as I’m gonna get way up there on the mountain. Dry feet. I even aimed for snow patches and puddles cause it felt so good.

1st August – Day 58

Glacier N.P. – 219 miles / 352 km

Yacht captains. You gotta love’em. Honestly, they couldn’t organize a decent hike if they were in a National Park without the chief stewardess making a few phone calls. Oh, wait a minute, Jim managed that yesterday! Unbelievable!

What he didn’t manage to do was take his passport with him on today’s ride. Kinda necessary as we are heading into Canada. Destination: Waterton and the iconic Prince of Whales Hotel. I mean, that’s the kind of thing I would forget. Hmmmmm, perhaps I will make a good captain at some stage!

During the past few days Ranger Jim was born. Jim was a bus driver here 23 yrs ago, and no matter the question we hurled at him, he knew it all. From what caused a red stain on the snow (had us tricked for a month now) to edible plants. Every few minutes it was “Hey, Ranger Jim. Is this a fossil in the rock here? Hey Ranger Jim, is that a mountain goat, or a mountain sheep. And why is it eating the rock? Hey Ranger Jim, can you eat this plant?”

“I’m actually very glad you asked. What you’ve found there is a prehistoric………..” and on and on he goes.

His best advice however was telling Stubbsie that if you pick a marmot up by the tail they aren’t strong enough to bend round and bite. Obviously Wade didn’t test this theory, as it would be illegal to harass the animals. But, on his 3rd attempt of not trying to grab the thing, he actually slipped and as he reached out for a hand hold there was this bloody marmot tail, right there where he placed his hand, which he accidently grabbed. In the end it was rather disappointing, as once again Jim was right. Thanks Ranger Jim!

2nd August – Day 59

Glacier N.P. to Red Lodge – 477 miles / 767 km

Another day in the office. Strapped into the big BMW it was all about trying to be somewhere else. After a luxurious few days staying in Glacier it was time to move on. We ain’t gonna reach Antarctica by staying in the one spot you know! I have to confess, this was over 2 weeks ago now and I’m struggling to remember too much about the day! A lot of hay making, which smelt delightful! Perhaps I’ve been sitting next to Wades boots for too long, but it was lovely to have my nostrils filled with the fresh odor of cut grass, and not cheesy slime from between the toes!

3rd August – Day 60

Red Lodge to Cody – 111 miles / 178 km

A-bloody-mazing! That’s all I can say. Anyone within a thousand miles of Red Lodge should make the effort to do Bear Tooth Pass. The road is like a silk cloth winding up your lovers leg. You just can’t wait to get to the next curve and see what is around the bend. And you are never disappointed, even when you reach the final destination.

Arrived into Ponderosa Campground in Cody mid afternoon. It was x-mas! One thing about traveling is it’s bloody hard to have anything posted to you. We booked Cody two weeks in advance, and for the next 14 days parcels rained down on their office! Go-Pro’s, chargers of all descriptions, RAM mounts for the video cameras and all manner of spares. It took me three trips to get it all from the office to the camp, but it was wonderful tearing into everything. Only question…… where on earth are we going to pack it all on the bikes!!

Dean called from the pub, telling us to get our asses down there. Dean’s a buddy of Wades, and he and 5 of his mates trucked their bikes to Sturgis, then rode to Cody. Amazingly enough, all bikes made the 400 mile trip. I say amazingly because 4 of the 6 are Harley’s, and the other 2 are beautiful custom bikes from Burgeot Motorcycles. Not amazingly, one had to be towed to the bike shop about an hour later when they tried to move it to clear the streets for the Famous (not!) Cody Shootout. A gun slinging re-enactment of the old Wild West. Fortunately it was nothing more than a loose ignition wire, and the bike is ready for tomorrows ride into Yellowstone.

Checked out the World Famous (yeah, I know. Another ‘world famous’ event that no one outside of America has ever heard of) Cody Night Rodeo. It was OK, but after Calgary Stamped it was a bit like watching your neighbours kids riding round on push bikes after being there to see Casey Stoner win yet another round of this years Moto GP. Some what of a let down.

4th August – Day 61

Day ride to Yellowstone N.P. – 253 miles / 407 km

These lads are keen, there’s no doubt about that! 0700 and the bikes are fired up. A head count reveals enough bikes, but looks like there’s a few ‘casualties’ as a result of “Hey Dan, do you wanna have just one more before bed….”

A quick call and the troops are mustered and inspected, which they only just scrape thru. Dan ‘I swear Dean, as you left last night you said we’d roll out an hr later’ Jackson and Ranger Jim were feeling about as rough as a pair of budge smugglers (guys swimmers) choca-block with sand after a good dumping shore break. Wade found it most amusing to ride past waving his ‘nipple’ from the water pack, as did the rest of us.

Two hours down and everything is magic! The lads from Florida are in heaven surrounded by mountains and roads with more twists and turns than a snake track in the desert sand. Lets face it, of course they are blown away. The most extreme ‘mountain’ in Florida is the 17th Street Bridge, and the biggest curve can be found on the pool table in the Village Well, a local bar.

Then extreme disaster! Dean’s wanna-be Batman Bike spits out teeth off the drive belt as if it’s the loosing fighter in UFC and forgot to put in a mouth guard. The guys get to work on the phone, and within 10 minutes there’s a tow truck on the way, a new belt is shipping overnight, which is one of only two in the country due to the custom nature of the bike. The bike shop in Cody is on red alert to get it running the next day and finally a rental bike is fueled up waiting for tomorrows ride.

In the meantime a few of us managed to watch the geyser Old Faithful blow off some steam. Actually, it looked very much like Dean a few minutes ago! I wanted to film the breakdown, but as I’d only met him the day before I felt it was a bit cheeky. I wish I had, cause his mates would have enjoyed it!

5th August – Day 62

Day ride thru Bear Tooth Pass – 247 miles / 397 km

Bear Tooth is so damn good we had to do it again!

0700 and Dean rolls up looking mighty fine on his poofy blue rented Harley. No one says anything. Its too early to give him stick. The wounds haven’t healed yet.

Wade and I unload the big GSA’s. No panniers, and Smokey and Aialik can barely be held back. We race ahead to take footage of the guys coming past, then fire up the Go-Pro’s and weave our way back thru the Harleys. For Wade it was like being back on the original Smokey doing the bending race, kicking everyone’s ass! Some great footage.

Finally found a restaurant serving buffalo steaks. It is a lean meat, and absolutely wonderful! If you ever get the chance, do yourself a favour and order a slab of buffalo steak.

Oh yeah, Happy Birthday Dan!

6th August – Day 63

Cody to Sturgis – 366 miles / 589 km

We kicked on for a while last night at the Silver Dollar, so I was pretty happy to hear Deans bike wasn’t going to be finished before 1000. Great, a sleep in!

While having the essential second cup of coffee we get a call to say the bike’s done. Don the gear cause the Batbike is coming to town! Or not. A second call to say it won’t start. Take off the gear, finish the coffee.

As I’m contemplating moving onto something a little stronger to take off the edge (the coffee just isn’t cutting the mustered this morning!) Dean rocks up with his bike, and a screw driver. “Hey Dean, what the $@!$# is the screw driver for?”

“Screw driver? This aint no screw driver. It’s a high tech starting key!”

In the latest development for Burgeot anti-theft devices the ignition key is now useless. A fake. A distraction. What you have to do is poke the screw driver thru a hole in the starter motor pushing the solenoid to make a connection. Brilliant! No thief will ever think of that!

Finally we are off to Sturgis, the biggest Harley rally in the world. This time I think it really is ‘the biggest in the world’, and not just America!

7th August – Day 64

Day trip from Sturgis to Mt Rushmore – 253 miles / 407 km

The usual 0700 start. It really is worth it here as by 1000 there are so many Harleys on the road they are like fleas on a dogs back. Except the fleas move pretty damn fast! Harley’s move about as fast as me when I’m hung-over, or 2nd gear if you happen to be on a GSA.

Mt Rushmore is bloody cool. I still don’t understand why it’s there, but it is and its certainly worth checking out. The other thing I could not for the life of me understand is why nobody was taking the classic photo. I’m sure you all know what it is. Yep, that’s right. The classic Nose Pick! Un-phased by everybody else’s lack of imagination I stood proudly on the wall, hand on my heart and went to town on the presidents nose, picking like I’ve never picked before! Captured for eternity by the soon to be famous photographer, the one and only Stubbsie.

The roads were amazing in the park. They even curved round trees rather than cut them down. The best were tunnels thru solid rock to come out into…… absolutely nothen! Wooden ramps had to be built and a full 360 corner takes you down a good 10m and underneath the road to get you back on solid ground.

Parked the bikes and walked round Sturgis at night. Didn’t care too much for the huge displays, custom bikes or all the stupid LED lighting idiots can put on their bikes. We wanted tits, and we wanted tats. In that order! Everyone we have chatted to in the last 10 weeks has asked if we are doing Sturgis, then proceeded to tell us how crazy it is. It has a lot to live up to. Can it do it?

We saw tits! We saw tats! It was scary. Turns out the average age of Harley riders is about 300, or at least that’s what I figure by the droop and the wrinkles of the boobs! Seriously, you could strap a brush onto each nipple and keep the streets clean at the same time as the girls walk the streets from bar to bar. And if that doesn’t give you the shivers, nothen will!

I had to laugh. Wade was sliding thru the crowd when he stopped abruptly to check out the semi-naked bar girl. Mistake. He coped a wack on the back of the leg for his troubles, and turning round to see what the story was he comes face to face with this old biker dude, the tats, leathers, long hair, beard. The works. About a hundred years old, he could still give Wade the beat down with his walking stick, then the stare down, forcing him into a humble apology. Honestly Stubbsie, what were you thinking, stopping to look at a hot chick. What did you think would happen!

8th August – Day 65

Day ride to Devils Tower – 205 miles / 330 km

“Arghhhh! I hate 0700!!!!”

Nope, that’s not me. That’s the first thought of the entire neighborhood when these guys fire up the bikes. To say its loud is like saying Sturgis is a small gathering of very normal people. Its not small. The people are not normal. There’s over 500 000 bikes and up towards 800 000 people (I made up the last figure, but I bet its pretty close!), and most of ‘em are a bit weird looking!

Ride to Devils Tower. Its pretty amazing. This massive pillar sticking up out of the ground. One could say it stands out like dogs nuts, but then that’s pretty rude and beneath the level of quality one would excpect from the Bergaliaboys.

Ranger Jim pulled thru again as he told the story of how the pillar was cared. Turns out a bear chased a pretty girl to the top where she was safe. The pillars were formed by the bears claws as it pawed the side of the tower trying to get up. No-one belived it. Not until we saw the painting in the visitors center with a bear climbing the tower. Good on ya Ranger Jim. Never again will we doubt!

On the way home we called into a few different pubs. When I say different, I don’t just mean a variety of pubs, but rather the pubs we went to were ‘different’ from the ordinary. Yep, Sturgis is crazy. It lives and breaths its reputation!

The Broken Spoke is cool. To park the bikes you ride past the live band and thru the bar. Then it’s a tricky choice. Pool bar? Main bar? Lingerie bar? Or just one of the other 6 or so around the place. And leaving a tip has never been so much fun! The girls pull out their pants (what little of them there are!) and let you shoot for goal. Or so I was told by a mate of a mate.

We managed to get on the bikes and check out the next bar. I should add these bars are out in the paddocks and hills of the surrounding farm land. They only open for Sturgis, but are absolutely huge. Think football stadium size and you won’t be far wrong.

Full throttle is perhaps even more crazy, with dwarf wrestling, bike burnouts in the middle of the crowd and a dress code that doesn’t leave a thing to the imagination.

9th August – Day 66

Day ride – Badlands 217 miles / 349 km

You roll over a hill, and land on the moon. Its pretty freaky! But Badlands isn’t the highlight of the day. That honor goes to Dave and his awesome effort in the ring. The Bare Knuckle bar in town has amateur UFC fighting, and Dave was ready!

I don’t know what makes a bloke want to get in the ring and try and beat the crap out of some other guy he’s never seen before, or in my case, to get the crap beaten out of me by some guy I’ve never seen before. I mean, Dave seems like a normal, cool guy. Obviously I’ve not seen him angry!

It was three tough rounds, but there was no doubt in the crowds mind. It was a unanimous decision. Dave was the better, harder, faster man and his record at Sturgis Bare Knuckle UFC stands at a very deserving two and zero. Good on ya Dave. Thanks for a bloody awesome show and a great night!!!!

10th August – Day 67

Sturgis to Cody – 345 miles

Not much to say today, except stupidity really does hurt! Not always physically painful, but it generally finds a way to inflict damage. This time it was the wallet after another brush with the law.

In a 75 mph zone you’d reckon 9 over would be fine. Not in Sturgis, and not 3 days after a copper had been shot dead. To say the Force are a bit touchie is somewhat of an understatement. And yes, we were stupid. It is Sturgis after all, and they imported over 700 cops for the 10 days.

The good news is the guy slapped Wade with the $100 dollar ticket, and me with the warning. Cheers buddy! I always knew you were a top bloke!

Oh yeah, forgot about the crazy biting thingy. We had ridden about 300 miles straight, non stop. Try that on ya Harley!! It was already a record for us, but we were keen to make it all the way into Cody. It was hot. Damn hot, which was weird cause 20 minutes earlier we rode over a pass and had to slow to 50km/hr due to the pain being inflicted by golf ball sized hail.

Anyway, cause it was bloody hot I had all the vents, zippers and Velcro straps undone, which leaves a great funnel right up to my arm pit, which is exactly where this little bugger bit me. And let me tell you, its pretty tender under there! It was a bit of a shock, but not wanting to let the team down I struggled on. Until it bit me again, but much lower this time. Now it didn’t hurt too much, but I was thinking there is some pretty precious cargo just a wee bit further south, and buggered if I wanted it biting me there!

I threw out all the anchors and came to a rapid stop, leaving a trail behind me as I throw off backpacks, helmets and gloves on the way. Stubbsie. Well he was bloody useless. Too busy grabbing the camera to help me with my terrible little beastie. Thanks mate! I told you I’d pay half the fine!

It was a concern cause I never found the mongrel. I was worried it was down my pants, but all turned out OK.

11th August – Day 68

Cody to Salt Lake City – 460 miles / 740 km

Pretty boring day trying to make the miles down to Bonneville Speed Week. Stayed at Gary and Anne, the parents of Kelly whom we met in Hood River. It was awesome. Rocked in all hot, sweaty and VERY stinky at 8pm. Straight to the shower and back outside to a sensational margarita. Some beautifully cooked salmon on the BBQ made it a great night. Thanks!!!

Last Updated on Monday, 10 October 2011 23:30

America Part 2

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12th August – Day 69

Salt Lake City to Bonnivelle – 123 miles / 198 km

First stop was the BMW dealer in town. I was down to 2 of 7 lights up front. Turns out there was a short in a connection for the park lights which effected the rest. The guys haven’t seen it before, just one of those freaky things. A quick fix, and back on the road. We both went for new Michelin Annakee back tyres.

The racing doesn’t start until tomorrow, so we had lunch in the village where winter Olympics were held before heading to the salt. Sweet!

Rolled onto the salt flats and found a place to camp away from everyone else.

13th August – Day 70

Race day, Bonneville Speed Week

Awesome. Unbelievable. Blow your mind. I know it seems extreme, but even these words don’t do Bonneville speed week justice.

The track opened at mid-day, and we were there to see the first cars test man and machine against the clock. The first thing you notice is how simple everything is. By that I mean there is no real road across the salt, just a few cones that give you a rough idea where to go. There is kind of a parking lot, but no one really cares where you drive or how you park. Then the waiting lanes for the cars to start the runs are completely open to the public. Footwear and safety clothing…. Who cares! If you get run over, or sun burnt that’s your own stupid fault! The drivers and pit crews are ridiculously friendly and can’t wait to tell you about their machines, how they built them and how fast they hope to go.

When it’s time for them to take off, the crowd is asked to step back about 5m. Again, there are no barriers, no massive dudes with torn sleeves doing security. Just one or two volunteer officials and all they have to say is “hey mate, can you guys just move back a meter or two.” And everybody does. Simply awesome.

I managed to chat to some of the guys from Got Salt racing before their run. It’s a 300mph plus car. Serious business. Yet you wouldn’t know it from the relaxed manner of the crew. Before I knew it we were invited into their pit, being offered footage from last year and generally tucked under the wing of this great racing team.

Again the pits were amazing. We rode thru all the teams looking for Got Salt, then pulled up right next to the car. The pit crew looked after us, and even let us strap our Go-Pros on their precious 300mph (480 km/hr) machine. How crazy is that!!

Feeling as though we are really part of Speed Week and not just spectators, we leave the salt full of anticipation and excitement for tomorrow.

14th August – Day 71

Bonneville to Salt Lake City – 130 miles / 209 km

It’s a great morning. The moon is still in the sky to the west, and the sun is rising in the east. It’s a fabulous day to be on the salt!

Riding up to the track we see Got Salt being pushed to the start line. The guys are feeling excited. The car is perfect, the salt is perfect. The weather is perfect. Today is the day. Today they will try for the world land speed record in their class. 316 mph or 508 km/hr. Bugger me, that’s fast! The GSA will never go that quick, even when she’s unloaded!

There was quite the crowd today, making it hard to film so I pulled the good old “we are filming a documentary, and they have our cameras on board the car. Is it OK to stay out here to film?”

“yeah, sure. Just this one time.”

“Thanks mate!”

The noise is incredible, to the point where my ears hurt. Then they’re gone. It must be quite the feeling to pass 300mph.

They didn’t. After 1 mile a sensor problem meant Frank had to stop the car. I was guttered! I really felt part of team, even though we were only looking over their shoulder.

Wanted to talk to Frank, but he was hard to find. Was going to ask what it’s like to drive 300mph, and is it better than sex? How do you become a 300mph driver? And why did you trade in normal racing for chasing speed in a straight line? Could you just not turn left too well?

We didn’t ask. Thought after a break down he might not see the funny side.

Stubbsie was desperate to meet a Rat Car owner and get an insight into this fascinating form of salt flat racing. Luck can run rich at times, and boy, are we on a winning streak! On the way out of Bonneville Wade was attracted like bees to a sun flower when he saw a rat car parked in the camp ground …….…. hang on, wait a minute. There’s something wrong. Bee’s to a flower?? Common, that’s pretty girlie and to be honest just ridiculous! It’s Wade. More as though he was attracted like dust to a freshly oiled air filter! Mmmmm, that’s better suited to a mechanical engineer! Now we have that sorted I feel we can move on.

“G’day mate, I’m Wade” was enough to lead into a few beers, a ride in one of their fully restored vintage auto’s and a lecture on Rat Cars, which are basically a cheap form of racing. They are a 1960’s style Hot Rod which can’t be painted, shouldn’t be panel beaten, and has to be fast! The Rat Rod came about due to the huge expense of Hot Rods and the destructive nature of the salt. Instead of ruining their beautiful cars, they built Rat Rods out of the spares, keeping the cost of racing down and have a bloody good time doing it!

Billy Devey and his father were very passionate, and aside from building Rat Mobil’s they fully restore vintage cars themselves to the point where they made an entire tray for a ute and even fabricate the front grills because nobody else could do either well enough. Was pretty funny cause they were showing us photos in hot rod magazines of the cars sporting the grills they had built and said “you know Eric Clapton, well, I built his grill.”

“Built his grill? I captained his yacht!”

It was a bloody interesting hour, but sadly it’s time to leave the flats and head back to Gary and Anne’s in Salt Lake City.

15th August – Day 72

Salt Lake City to Yosemite National Park – 642 miles / 1033 km

A bloody long day in the saddle. The ass made it thru in remarkable condition. Pretty happy with that!

16th August – Day 73

Yosemite to Sequoia National Park – 240 miles / 386 km

You know how sometimes when you are in that really deep sleep you incorporate what’s actually going on around you into a strange dream. Well that happened to me last night. I dreamt there was this crazy woman yelling at me, her crazy car idling away near my head with crazy head lights blazing. That was all a bit weird, but I could handle it. Then Wade entered. Right, that’s it! I’m definitely not going to start dreaming about Wade. Something’s going on!

Turns out this woman has rocked up at 01:30 and is trying to wake us because she reckons we are in her camp site and we have to go. I don’t want to be awake at 0130, and I certainly don’t want to be told where to go! After 1500 if you haven’t signed in, you lose your camp. Its that simple. She kept on at us, pretty rudely. Wade was about to give her what for, but we managed to talk some sense and we all camped the night, happily. Oh goody, I love a happy ending!

The road into Sequoia was awesome. Windy, steep with a great view. And the trees are very impressive. General Sherman, the world’s largest tree is worth a look. 87m high, 33 m circumference at the base, he’s a bloody beauty!

Wade pulled up next to one tree that had fallen down. Honestly, he looked like he was 5 yrs old on a Pee Wee 50 with a lunch box and pencil case strapped to his bike for luggage. That’s how big the tree is.

Camped in a sweet little place by the river, and headed to dinner. Wow, what an ordeal that was! After we each bought a round of beers at the bar cause we couldn’t wait any longer for the waitress Wade had to go ask for a menu. Then 20 minutes after we order she tells us they are out of the New York Steak. The meal finally arrives and it s way over cooked. We ask for the bill, and not only have they charged us for the beers we’ve already bought from the bar, they charge us for more beers than we had. This girl certainly aint gonna get a job on a yacht!

17th August – Day 74

Sequoia to Las Vegas thru Death Valley – 460 miles / 740

Hot. My goodness it’s hot!! I reckon I could roast a marshmallow in the exhaust flames of my brothers jet as he lights her up ready for take-off and be cooler than I am riding across Death Valley. Plus, as a nice added bonus I’d even have a tasty treat to eat.

Everyone we spoke to about riding Death Valley in August had this horrified look on their face and all said pretty much the same thing “You guys are bloody IDIOTS!!!”

And as I rode across the desert in 49 degree heat I thought “Yep, we’re bloody idiots!”

Then I looked at my black helmet, black jacket, black riding pants, black boots and black gloves. Hmmmmmm, I really am a bloody Idiot!

The Valley was great. If it wasn’t so hot we’d have loved to stay and ride some of the dirt trails. We tried, but after I bogged Aialik in a dry creek bed (well, it was dry until our sweat had the damn thing flowing again!) we decided it would be better to stick to the main roads and save the hard core dirt for further south.

Arrived in Vegas, but the last few days have been pretty huge and we both crashed out by 11pm. How crap are we!

18th August – Day 75

Las Vegas

This is only the 3rd day in 11 weeks we haven’t touched the bikes.

Spent most of the day writing, editing photos and up-loading onto the internet, then an hour by the pool. Argh, finally a moment of rest and relaxation! Yippiiiiiiieeeee!

Watched Elvis the musical, which was bloody good! I thought there was going to be some clown trying to impersonate The King, but they didn’t do that at all. Lots of dancing, acrobats etc. Lovely!

Had a few beers and enjoyed some of the Vegas night life. A good day all round!



19th August – Day 76

Las Vegas

Its time for some fun! And believe it or not it doesn’t involve bikes or hikes! We are signed up for a NASCAR ‘ride-a-long’ with Richard Petty. To be honest, it hasn’t been all that long since I stumbled home from the night club, and by crickies it’s hot. Damn hot and damn bright. Bugger the car, I feel as though I need my own pit crew to get me thru. Something along these lines….

“We need a Coke here stat! And you! Yeah you! Better get some ice water pronto, this guys about to overheat any second. FAN! Where’s the bloody fan! If we don’t get this temperature down he’s gonna blow! Come on guys, someone has to get those sunnies sitting properly. There’s sunlight leaking in everywhere! If we’re going to get this wreck out onto the track we have to do better than this!!”

Or at least that’s what I pictured happening in my head. It didn’t. Wade was no bloody use either. He was having a great time after an early night last night. Funny how my misery can make him so bloody happy!

Kitted up, and we are ready! The good news is Wade’s ass looks fatter in his body suit than mine! I think it’s only cause I’m taller, but right now I’ll take what I can get!

The ride was a blast. Instant hang-over cure. Well, at least for the 5 minutes I was in the car anyway. We only ran up to 155 mph, or 250 km/hr and stayed away from the wall, but it was quite the thrill, and well worth it next time you’re in Vegas.

Back to the hotel and a mighty celebration cause we have finally caught up on the photo’s, blog etc. Whhhhoooooooo Hoooooooo!!!!!!!!!

I’m ashamed to say after dinner I died a slow painful death and went to bed. Wade flew the flag for the BergaliaBoys and hit the tables. A few hours of Texas Hold’em was enough to make it feel as though he could tick the Vegas box.

20th August – Day 77

Las Vegas to St George (near Zion N.P.) – 173 miles / 278 km

While Wade was trying to have his scruffy looking beard tidied up a wee bit yesterday, the barber told him Valley of Fire State Park was a must see. With a name like that how could you not have a sneak peak?

As we entered we wondered if the name came from the fiery red rocks, or the shimmering which made everything look as though it was on fire. Nope, non of those. Its so bloody hot it feels like you are actually on fire, and that is where the name originated! Dead set, fairdinkum. Even Ranger Jim will tell you that!

It’s fascinating to see red rocks jump out at you as you come round a bend. The formation changes instantly. Wind and water erosion has left some sweet arches and animal look-a-like creations. At least they were meant to look like animals. Wade could see the elephant in elephant rock, but I thought it was rubbish! Whatever these jokers were drinking when they named it wasn’t mid strength beer let me tell you.

Left Valley of Fire in a pile of dust and a pool of sweat and headed to St George where we are to stay with…….. now let me make sure I get this right. We are staying with the sister-in-law of the guy for whom Wade was best man at his wedding. There, it’s actually pretty simple after all!

21st August – Day 78

Day trip to Zion National Park

Zion is a must see. Angles Landing is an awesome hike. Some Reverend bloke in 1920’ish named it after Angles cause he thought the way up so steep and foreboding that only an Angle could and should earn the right to stand on top. Well, I think we proved that to be incorrect today! I mean strewth, if Stubbsie can wing his way up there without suffering a bolt of lightning to the back of the head then the Angles have lost control. It’s the equivalent of a 5 star restaurant in Sydney Harbour dropping its dress code from suit and tie to boardies, thongs and t-shirt optional! Really, it seems the place has fallen to the dogs so to speak.

Back to stay with Mo and her son Ruger (she said people call her Mo when they can’t pronounce her name correctly. If I have trouble saying it, I sure can’t spell it!!).

22nd August – Day 79

St George to Bryce Canyon – 140 miles / 225 km

Bloody lovely! No air bed to deflate and roll, no tent to pack. It gets better. Scrambled eggs on toast. Coffee. Orange juice. Yep, life just don’t get no better than this!! Thanks Mouria! See, I can spell it (good on ya facebook!).

Funny. This is how our dinner / computer blog up-date conversation goes.

“Hey buddy, tell me again. How long has it been since you wanted to come here and photograph Bryce?”

“Bloody ages! Since I started planning and saw the awesome photos in all the books……….. but this isn’t the shot I wanted. It must be somewhere else!”

Don’t worry mate. It’s a bloody lovely spot anyway.


Now don’t get too excited cause this doesn’t mean there is gonna be a tip every day from now on. Just today. Perhaps another day too. We’ll have to see.

Ready? Here it is. Get off the main trails, get away from the ‘lazy ass park on the side of the road and feel like you’ve experienced the park in all its glory’ pull overs. Get out of the car, go for a walk. It might only be an extra 2 or 3 miles, but you will feel like you’re the only people in the entire world. Its amazing.


Bike weigh in:

I know all our 4 or so adoring fans have been eagerly awaiting the results of the World Famous only known about in a small part of America BMW Weigh In. So, without further ado……

Smokey tips the scales at a massive 748 pounds!

Aialik , looking super thin with a great ass and very much the super model barely nudging the scales and hardly bothering the judges with a very impressive 746 pounds!

748 pounds = 339kg. However, this was only half a tank of fuel, so the official corrected total weight is:

780 pounds or 353kg.


I lied a little earlier. Actually, that’s not entirely true about the lie. I just have new information.


8.7 US gallons / 32.8L (Well, this isn’t totally right either as you will see in a bit).


Wades best effort – Re-fueled at 430 miles / 692 km and the computer said 30 miles left

Philip’s worst – Re-fueled at 306 miles / 492 km. The computer said “Fuel now, idiot!!”

Philip’s ‘this could be bad’ moment – 380 miles. Fueled 4.6 extremely nervous, butt clenching miles after the computer said I would come to an embarrassing holt on the side of the highway. And believe me, there aint gonna be any pushing to the nearest servo!


We have ridden a bloody long way! I thought I’d give you a rough idea:

Sydney to is Perth 3990km shortest distance by road (google maps driving directions)

Sydney to Sydney via Brisbane, Darwin, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne on the #1 Highway – 20, 000km give or take a bit

As of 24rd August we covered 17 200 miles / 27 680 km, which incidentally is 3200 miles, or 5, 149 km more than half the expected final total, and we are only 1/3 of the way time wise.


We have loved every second of what is the equivalent of riding from Sydney to Perth 6 times, and would now be about Kalgoolie, only a few hundred km’s from Perth for the 7th time.

We would have cruised the entire coast of Australia from Sydney to Sydney and would now be somewhere between Darwin and Perth on the second lap!

23rd August – Day 80

Bryce Canyon to Halls Crossing (Lake Powell) – 343 miles / 552 km

Here I am, sitting at the camp site trying to think of something special to write. Something cool. And I couldn’t. Then wham bam thank you mam! It reached out and bit me in the arm pit like that bloody annoying insect the other day. How could I forget? It’d be like the Pope forgetting it was Sunday, or my father forgetting he was retired and working in the vet clinic 3 days a week. Oh, wait. I’m pretty sure that actually happened. And I think my memory is bad!

4 – 2. That may not mean too much to a lot of you, but that’s a mighty important number! We did the usual Bergalia Boys thing an instead of taking the nice, easy gentle tar road, we trekked across the desert on a dirt track. It was great, and the best was yet to come!

As I rounded a bend my eyes send fabulous images to my brain, which it accepted with glee. There was Stubbsie, standing tall. Standing proud. I’m not too sure why cause Smokey was lying buried in sand next to him. It was pretty unlucky as the road had been great, then round a blind corner turned to soft sand. And that was that. 4 -2.

Camped at Lake Powell and actually went for a swim. That’s more like it! Back to camp to drink the last of the 3% alcohol beers they sell in Utah. Bit of a non-event really.

Oh yeah. I nearly forgot. The bloody snake! Let me say this first. I’m just not a fan of snakes, and this Rattler rattled me a fair bit! On my way to the dunny to brush my teeth (it was about 10pm and very dark mind you, except for a week light coming from the toilet block trying its best to penetrate the darkness, but failing) and I hear this weird noise, unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. Then I see it. I zigg, and fortunately the snake zaggs. We both landed, staring at each other. I look at the snake, eye to eye as I back away. I know it wants to do the same, but hey, it’s a snake. It can’t. So instead it does some weird sideways slither which enables it to move away while keeping beady eyes on me at all times.

“Stubbsie! Get the bloody camera! It’s a damn rattler!”

I keep my head torch on it from quite a distance.

“Get closer ya big girl, the light isn’t strong enough to film it properly!”

“Bugger you, bugger the light and bugger the stupid snake! I’m outta here. You can film it as close as you like. I’m zipping the tent up, cable tying it and going to bed. Good night!”

24th August – Day 81

Halls Crossing (Lake Powell) to Grand Canyon – 349 miles / 561 km

Flat tyre. Now, those words have been magic to my ears for the last month as it’s quite the decent drop of beer. Enough flavor to really wrap your tongue round. Actually, it’s Fat Tyre, but if you say it fast enough it sounds the same, as in deed it does if you drink enough of them! Today. Well, today is different. Three times we stopped to re-plug Stubbsies rear tyre. At least every time we pull over the scenery improves to the point where we can go swimming in Lake Powell while the 3rd plug dries. It didn’t help as 10 miles down the road Wade has sweat flowing down his face like a dam on his head just burst while he takes the tyre off to insert a tube. 45 mins from wheel off to wheel on. Not bad, but I reckon he’ll do better next time!

Caught a glimpse of the Grandest canyon of them all on the way in. Looking forward to tomorrow!

25th August – Day 82

Grand Canyon Village to Kingmen (on US Route 66 baby! Yeah!) – 333 miles / 535 km

The canyon was OK, but shrunk into just a crack in the mud at the bottom of a sun beaten, dried swamp compared to what was to come. I don’t know if these GPS’s are just so damn amazing, or if it’s Stubbsie that’s bloody good. Both perhaps. As a result of their combined genius instead of the normal tourist route from Grand Canyon Village to the Skywalk at the western end we find ourselves on an amazing dirt track thru some guys ranch. It really was cool. After ½ hr I couldn’t stand it anymore. Brakes are slammed on and I come to a skidding stop in a mass of dust. Yeah baby! I love it!!!!

“Stubbsie, we have to film this!!”

“Bloody oath, it’s brilliant hey!”

And so it is that as Wade has that now all too familiar thought process, thank the motorcycling God’s his helmet camera is rolling…..

“Oh, what a lovely day, what an amazing road, what sensational scenery,….. what the #@#$@$% is all that dust!!! Arrgghhhhhhh!!!!!!!! I can’t see a bloody thing! Hang on Smokey old girl, this ain’t gonna end well!”

It doesn’t. As he’s lying there with his leg pinned under the footpeg there’s two thoughts repeating “Strewth, this hurts! And dammit, that’s 5 – 2! 5 -2 5-2”

As I rock up its pretty hard to tell whats what. All I see is a mass pile of dirt. Its only when he laughs (bit delirious) that I see his white teeth. “Oh, there you are buddy. Mate, I know its awesome footage, but honestly, sometimes you have to look after yourself first! But good on ya. I bet it looks good!”

Result. A strained knee and horribly strained ankle. 6 weeks before he is likely to be able to walk properly. Argh Crap!

Skywalk grand canyon – bit of a wank really. Can I say that? Of course I can, its my blog! Perhaps a bit strong, but that’s how I feel. I leave Wade to limp his way to the Docs and ride forth to film, photograph and absorb the Skywalk experience. It’s a mighty impressive part of the canyon, but for the full experience it’s over 90 bucks, which is steeper than the side of the canyon, and that’s a 1500m straight drop! Advice for the day. Forget the stupid skywalk, which is a semi-circle construction that hang’s about 10m or less over the canyon. Pay an extra $50 and seat your butt on a helicopter.

26th August – Day 84

Kingmen to Tombstone – 295 miles / 473 km

Tombstone is cool. Which is quite an achievement cause its HOT! If the temperature drops below 40 degrees Celsius it feels like stepping into a fridge. Its pretty amazing to walk thru the exact same saloon doors as such legends as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday. Obviously they wouldn’t have looked quite as tough as me. I mean, whats a big moustache, cigar, a shot gun and a few pistols compared to bike boots that leak, tight black riding shirt, scruffy helmet hair and suspenders?

We are pretty excited. Friday night in one of the toughest western towns in history. Bring it on! Well, Barbie and Ken would have been tougher than this crowd. And it was about as dead as old Wyatt himself. Needless to say, a pretty early night.

Saturday 27th August – Day 85

Tombstone to Phoenix via Tucson – 195 miles / 313 km

Shooting 6 shooters! Yeah baby, cowboy it up! They don’t have any kick, the bullets are fake and the targets paper, but hey, I still feel tough! I offer to shoot Wade (the bullets were filled with paint), thought it would make good footage but he wasn’t into it. I know, weird hey!

After another ‘gunfight’ which I hope to be my last we saddle up, whip the beasts and ride off into the million degree heat. Mmmmm, I love it when its so hot I have to use lip balm on my eye balls!

The flight museum in Tucson is the largest private one in the States. Seems all the guides have flown at least one of the birds in the place and can’t wait to tell you about it. At one stage I thought the camera battery was going to die and the memory storage shrink to such a critical level it’s actually well below mine and we wouldn’t be able to film any more. That’s how much these old blokes shared their experiences. It made the day.

Finish the day in a hotel in Phoenix. First of 5 nights. Wow, its gonna seem like we are locals!

Sunday 28th August – Day 86

Phoenix – Didn’t touch the bikes.

My first rest day! I managed to wake up in time to have lunch and watch Casey Stoner win the grand prix, then Mark Webber finish second in Formula 1. A quick afternoon nap that raged somewhat out of control before watching a movie in bed. Well, its been a big day. Nighty night Wade. Ah yeah, this is what a holiday is meant to be like!

Wade of course did the clothes washing, tidied up and downloaded footage.



Monday 29th August – Day 87

Phoenix – Make-A-Wish International

Another 500 business cards ordered. That’s only 1500 since we’ve started. To say we meet a few people on the odd occasion is somewhat the understatement.

Crossing the Arctic Circle was special for us, and I can’t wait until we celebrate with a bottle of champagne when we cross the Antarctic Circle. It’s the Circle To Circle part of the logo on the shirts and the geographical goal for the ride. Miles for Wishes is also on the shirts, and raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation has become a major component of the ride.

The headquarters of the International Make-A-Wish Foundation is in Phoenix, and this week we met with many of the people who work there, including Kelly, a Wish Kid herself. She has come the full circle and is now involved with making other children’s wishes come true. It was quite moving to hear her story, and how much Make-A-Wish helped her recovery during a really tough time. They are amazingly dedicated and passionate about their work, and each with their own special story of a wish they have been involved with and the tremendously positive impact this has on the entire family. It was great to see how the money we raise will be used and to know it really makes a huge difference to the families it goes to help.

This is a charity we have believed in for sometime, so it was important to meet the people behind the wishes. The main aspect for me was how important the wish becomes to the entire family, and in some cases the excitement and enjoyment spills over to neighbours, the street and even the entire village in some countries. The benefits of having a wish granted are so positive, so strong it cannot be measured in monetary terms.

Thanks to everyone at Make-A-Wish. You made a huge impact on us and we left feeling all the effort we have put into raising money is worth it a million times over!

Tonight is one of the Great American Experiences. Baseball! Accompanied by the essentials: beer, the most outrageous hotdogs I could buy and of course peanuts. The game was OK. Pretty boring actually! There are so many statistics on every aspect of the game which are then displayed on boards all around the ground. This tells me one thing. The game just interesting enough to sit and watch by itself.

Tuesday 30th August to Sunday 4th September – Phoenix

We left our babies at Victory BMW Motorcycles in Chandler, Phoenix for their 30 000 km service. Also fitting new Ohlins shocks. Very excited to try these out as they have a great reputation. All people can say is “I wish I had installed them sooner. They are that good!” Fingers crossed!

Smokey had some clutch and break issues, which meant we stayed in Phoenix a few days longer than anticipated. Both BMW America and Victory BMW were amazing. We have seriously tested these machines, and even though Smokey could have pressed on, BMW decided the hard terrain ahead, and the remoteness were enough to replace everything under warranty now rather than have any risk of us breaking down later. On an adventure like ours, after sales support means everything, and BMW America, MAX BMW and now Victory BMW have been brilliant.

The guys worked tirelessly to get us up and running as soon as possible, even to the point where they stole parts off their showroom bikes if they couldn’t have everything they needed shipped overnight.

To Charlie, Jesse, Russ and the rest of the guys and girls at Victory BMW, thanks so much! We really appreciate the effort you all went to and it would be great to keep in touch.

American Football. I’ve wanted to watch a game for years, and tonight is the night! Phoenix Cardinals play the Denver Broncos in what iss actually an exciting game. I thought I’d be bored somewhere close to death, and only the beer and pizza could save me now. Not the case. The cheer leaders were hot and entertaining, the massive crowd was hyped up creating a buzz in the stadium not unlike a few million bees, and the game itself was great to watch. The players are bloody huge, and with tackling allowed in the air there are some unbelievable bone crunching hits. A great night, and definitely something that anyone should do. And not just if you get the chance. Make the chance. You won’t regret it.

Monday 5th September – Day 94

Phoenix to El Centro - 244 miles / 392 km

Whooo Hoooooooo! Finally we are riding again! Pretty short hop today as we want to stay close to the Mexican border so we are there at the crossing first thing. This means we can get on and do a few hundred miles without stopping. Everyone we talk to has the same advice, “Get over the border and don’t stop for anything or anyone.” So we won’t.

This is pretty bloody exciting to be honest. So far it’s been the destination, not the getting there that has been the focus. Obviously we always tried to take the road less traveled, but it hasn’t been dangerous, or too rugged. We never found ourselves in a situation where we just had to keep going no matter what because there is no other way.

From here on most of the adventure will be the roads, the riding and the challenge of getting there and not so much the destination. However, having said that I have been dreaming of a corona, I mean several Corona’s on the beach, a plate of oysters and a bowl of shrimp big enough to beat up a decent lobster thrown in for good measure. Oh yeah baby!!! Bring it on!

Last Updated on Monday, 10 October 2011 23:29


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Tuesday 6th September – Day 95

El Centro, America to San Felipe, Mexico. 245 miles / 393 km

“Hey Stubbsie.”

“Yeah mate.”

“What do you wanna do today? “

“Don’t know. Maybe we should ride into Mexico. What do ya reckon? I mean, there’s nothen else to do!”

And so it was our day started. How cool! Not too many people get to say that before 7am. Actually, not many people get to say that regardless of the time of day!

The Border crossing. We’ve breezed across 3 border crossings so far on this trip, but this is our first ‘real’ one. Mexico. We didn’t know exactly what to expect. All we’ve been told is to rock up early (which I found a pretty difficult concept cause it’s open 24 hrs. How do you arrive early to something that never closes!), then bolt for at least 100 miles to get clear of the border and the concentration of drug lords it attracts.

With passports in hand, registration papers at the ready and proof of Mexican Insurance on top of the pile of documents, just in case, we cruise up to the barrier. We are ready for anything. I’m about to say to Wade “This could be interesting….” when we are called up by the customs bloke.

He doesn’t say a thing. Nothen. Nada. Bugger all. A few grunts and he waves his hand, not unlike the Queen out the window of her little horse drawn buggy, and that’s it. We are thru.

I’m looking round, thinking this was a preliminary check, but all the street signs are Spanish, the people look Mexican, and there’s actually a noticeable increase in rubbish.

“Stubbsie. Did we…. Was that the……. Are we in Mexico?”

In a way it was good. You know, easy is always good. Or is it? Now we have no stamp / entry in the passport and we still have the US Visa slip, which means as far as Customs are concerned we are in America. They’ll start looking for us in November. Not good. As for the next border crossing, who knows? We will have to wait and see.

Pete’s Ranch. A must see for the bike and rally enthusiasts as it’s a regular stop on the Baja 500 and 1000. It’s a great little place to call in, and really quite unexpected. After about 40km of dirt roads, desert and dry rocky hills you cross a creek (which was bloody amazing in it self. I mean, where did all the water come from? Where does it go?) and up to the ranch / hotel where you’re greeted by 3 friendly dogs, a swimming pool, BBQ area and best of all, green grass.

Sound too good to be true? Well, it isn’t. It really does exist. However, it is a bit pricy at $70 US each for the night, shared room. Maybe we didn’t cross the border after all. I thought Mexico was meant to be cheap!!

Before riding out I do a ‘ride-by’, Wade filming as I splash my way thru the creek. All good, until I turn round. “Gee, this looks pretty soft sand. It’d be dumb to loose the front wheel and fall over again as I turn.”

Yep, you guessed it. I am dumb, and poor Aialik paid the price. Angry at myself, I summoned super human strength and hoisted the bike up. This may not sound impressive. Believe me, it is! Giving her a gentle pat and promising not to do it again (for at least 3 minutes) I crossed back over the water.

Crashes. 5-3

We ask some workers what the thru road is like. The guy shakes his head, said it’s way too hard for those big heavy bikes and left us to it. With that kind of advice, obviously the decision had already been made for us.

So, I attacked the hill first. Well, the first part of the first hill anyway! Not one to give up too easily, I turned round and had another go. Faster this time. It’s getting a bit like the good old days where as kids momentum was your friend, and if you don’t crash you’re not trying hard enough! Hmmmmm, is this really a good idea?

No, it wasn’t. The road was actually pretty bloody tough, and really too much for these bikes. Then factor in Wades foot and it was stupid. 2 crashes later, and in a river of sweat we man-handle the bikes to turn around, then telling ourselves we won’t get into a situation like that again (a lie) we ride out the easy way and into Las Felipe. Found a bar and campsite on the beach. Argh…….. this is the Mexico I’ve been dreaming about!

Score. 7 - 3

As we sit round the bar enjoying a margarita a local tells us it’s actually a loop road out of Mikes Camp, and of course we tried to go the hard way! But as Wade says, it really would have pissed him off to ride such a difficult road just to loop back into Mikes Place. Given the circumstances of the day I’m sure we would have taken the wrong turn and done just that. Can you imagine!

Wednesday 7th September. Day 96

San Felipe to Isla Gonzaga – 143 miles / 230 km

Sweat! My goodness, I could bottle it and water the Botanical Gardens in Sydney for a week. And all I did was sit on the toilet for a minute or two sorting out my morning business! I can’t believe it. There was actually a stream running across the floor, and I swear blind I saw a few ants in board shorts with paddle pop (ice cream) sticks about to surf the drop off as it went under the door……….. or maybe that was as a result of those American sized super grande margarita’s we had last night still messing with my mind. Who knows!

Today was cool. Really cool. We arrived in Isla Gonzaga around midday and decided that was enough. Time to relax and enjoy ourselves. As I floated about in the Sea of Cortez like an albino fur seal (I know, I know. I should run more. But I really like riding my bike instead! I swear I’ll exercise next week. And it’s tough to get a tan in riding gear!) I rolled lazily onto my side and said “Hey Stubbsie. You know what’s brilliant about today.”

“Yeah, I didn’t fall off!”

“Well, that’s true, but it’s not what I meant. Today we woke up and rode somewhere exciting we’ve never been before. You know what’s even better? Tomorrow we get to do the same, and the next day. And the next for another 6 months. Can you believe it”?

If that’s isn’t a pinch yourself moment, nothen is. Sometimes I slap Wade in the face for no apparent reason.

“Hey, whats that for?”

“Buddy, I just don’t want you thinking it’s a dream!”

When I was on Flinders Island before leaving Aussie for the first time I would look up and see jet planes and think to myself “I don’t care what part of the world that plane lands, I wish I was on it (so long as it isn’t Australia!)”. Now? Well now I look up and see jets crossing paths all day long and think to myself “I don’t care where in the world those planes are destined, I am bloody happy I’m not on it”!

We are half way down the east coast of the Baja, Mexico. Its 21:25, dark and about 95 Fahrenheit / 33 Celsius. I’m sitting on the beach writing, trying to wipe away the sweat before it drops onto the keyboard. The moon is out, but like a great lead in a Broadway musical it doesn’t quite shine so bright as to hide the other stars. They are in perfect harmony.

My bed is rolled out underneath the stars, bathed in moonlight. There is no need for a tent tonight. A quick swim to wash away the sweaty reminder of the days heat and I’m sleeping like Beauty. Mind you, if Stubbsie tries any funny business to wake me in the wee small hours of the morning there’ll be trouble!

Good night to you all, and may you sleep like me!

Thursday 8th September – Day 97

Gonzaga to Santa Rosalia, Baja. 320 miles / 515 km

What an amazing feeling. To be able to roll over in bed and watch the sun rise over water is an experience everyone should do at least once in their lives. Just so bloody good to sleep on the beach, under the stars without a tent.

Crossed to the west coast today. As we rode over the last hill the excitement and anticipation of the surf to come was nearly too much. No more of the ripples like in the Golf of California. This is the Pacific baby! And what did we get? Bloody nothen! No decent beach, no waves and certainly no beach bar. So we crossed back to the east side in the hope of seeing some kite boards and wind surfers tomorrow. Fingers crossed!

Friday 9th September – Day 98

Santa Rosalia to a beach on the pacific side of the Baja – 337 miles / 542 km

We stayed in a hotel last night, which cost us 50 dollars. Not Paso’s, US dollars. Unhappy with ourselves for allowing it to get too late in the day to experience the real Mexico, we made the most of our American style lodging. Downloaded photo’s and video’s to hard drives, organized ferries to the main land, charged batteries, cold beer, blogs and even showered and shaved.

I also phoned the bank, cancelling my US credit card. I left it in an ATM 2 days ago. Did I mention earlier I was dumb? Yeah, I think I did! There was 450 pesos’s spent in a town we didn’t stop at, but to be honest, that’s a cheap lesson. The new card is in the mail, and in 2 weeks it’ll be as though it never happened.

Bergalia Boys tips for the day:

  1. Don’t leave your credit card in the ATM, that’s just stupid
  2. Always travel with more than one credit card, in separate locations. Stupid always hurts, but there are ways to reduce the pain. I should know. I have to plan for the amazingly stupid things I do everyday!
  3. Air-conditioning is wonderful. There’s nothen else to say, except we both had the best night sleep EVER!

Feeling better about our extravagant expenditure in Mexico, we set off for the day. Cruising down the Baja we decide to stay on the Pacific side, swim in the surf. If only I could add a sound track you’d hear the ocean as it thunders into the rocks, shouting to the world “I am nature, and nature is power”. Or perhaps it’s the ocean’s laughter, taunting me still. Once again I’ve been punished for stupid. Wade no longer has a bowl, and the cooking set is minus a ladle after a freak wave snatched them off my perfect almost perfect drying rock. Dam you nature! And bugger you too, Stupid. You aren’t helping at all! Leave me alone will ya!

Tonight we camp on a headland over looking the beach. It is amazing. I finally feel like we are on an adventure, not just a ride.

Saturday 10th September – day 99

A beach somewhere (still not sure where we were, but hey, does it really matter?) to Baja Joes El Sangento, Baja – 81 miles

Deer, deer, deer me. And no, for once I haven’t spelt it wrong! Wade reckons he’s bloody unlucky. I’m not so sure. Here’s why.

To tell the entire story we have to travel back to last night. A few minutes before dark I grab my head torch, and happen to notice I have a flat tyre. What the heck! This is meant to happen to Wade, not me. At least, that’s how it’s worked so far. Oh goodie, something to look forward to tomorrow. Either way, its unlucky.

I fix the flat. First stop, the local general store 10 clicks up the road for water. Fairdinkum, our water consumption now exceeds our fuel needs. Amazing! As we check my tyre for leaks, Wade notices a bloody great nail sticking out of his. He thinks “Bugger, that’s unlucky”! It’s still inflated, so we head on, aiming for the nearest tyre repair place. We carry new tyres, and its time to use them.

The sandy track we are on forks regularly, and each time I take a turn I wait till I see Smokey’s headlights, then go on. This time wades arms are waving like a windmill in a hurricane. “This can’t be good”.

“Mate, I just killed a deer”!

“You what? You just saw a deer? That’s bloody amazing. It’s so damn dry here I didn’t think anything could live, let alone a deer. I haven’t seen a bloody thing. It’s good to know there is at least one thing alive and kicking in this damn desert! You must be lucky to have seen it”.

“Nah mate, I didn’t just see it, I killed it”!

Oh, that sucks. I then look down at his very flat tyre. Oh, that sucks even more. He’s running a tube because the last puncture was too big to fix with plugs, which means the tyre has to come off. May as well swap it for the new one.

Strewth, kill a deer and have to fix a flats in one day. That’s bloody unlucky. Or is it?

It’s a sandy track in the middle of no-where. Wade’s cruising along at 80 km/hr and his peripheral vision RADAR indicates a target. Cleverly using the ground cover to avoid early detection, a blur streaks out of the cactus, obviously aiming to destroy the ill-fated fuel bottle for the camp stove. This is the second fuel bottle to be annihilated, and a seemingly weak point to attack.

The bottle is indeed ruined, but Wade hit an adult deer on a sandy track doing 80 km/hr and not only does he live to remember the extra load he’s carrying in his pants for the next 3 hrs, he doesn’t even crash. So, that’s two flats (both of which we manage to fix well enough to get us to the nearest repair shop) and a dead deer, all without falling off. But is it unlucky? Well, I’ll leave that for you to decide!



Sunday 11th September – Day 100

Baja Joes to Cabo San Lucas – 125 miles / 201 km

Joe really has built himself a great set-up over the years. Spectacular fishing, kite boarding, wind surfing and pretty much all the water sports under the sun. Wrapped up in the type of accommodation that immediately says “I’m on holiday, and loven it!” If only it was in season and we could have enjoyed some of what’s on offer.

Joe has been riding bikes across the Baja for 20 years and told us about a few trails we should take. It was perfect! Dirt roads, rutted out, big rocks, hills and an amazing view of the Sea of Cortez as we snaked our way south to Cabo. It really suited the big BMW’s as they gobbled up every rock, bump and corner.

Well, almost all of them. Wade had what can be best described as a ‘step off’. Smokey lost her front wheel into a rut, recovering nicely. But then the back wheel actually followed the front for once. Not so good as unfortunately it pointed the nose straight into a pile of rocks. By the time all this happened Smokey was basically at a stand still and all looked OK, but as Wade stuck out the big size 10’s, he lost his footing, and subsequently the bike. It was agonizingly slow and pathetically soft, but what do I care? 8 – 3!

I think in all this it’s important to remember a ‘normal’ sized dirt bike is a little over 100 kg’s / 250 pounds, making the rider weigh about 70% of the bikes weight. This means you have plenty of say in where the bike goes and what it does. We weigh about 75kg on a 350kg bike, which is closer to 20%.

Facts and figures. “Who cares?” I hear you scream. Well, what it means is we are nothen more than a passenger, and wherever that bike wants to go, it goes! All we can do is hold on for grim death, and give them a little pat and a word of encouragement if they pull us thru a hairy situation!

Had the option of camping in Cabo, but paid the extra $20 US for air-conditioning and power points! Best 20 we’ve spent so far as it really is too hot to sleep properly at night. We need all the energy we can get to ride these big girls all day!

Cabo is nothen but a rubbish tourist town. Fly in there if you must, but then rent a jeep and bugger off! Immediately!

Monday 12th September – Day 101

Cabo to La Paz – 133 miles / 214 km

A work day today. We left early for La Paz so we could organize the Temporary Importation Visa for the bikes (which we need for the ferry to the main land). It just so happened that the Hotel California (yes, supposedly the one straight out of The eagles song) happened to be on the way.

We stopped for some filming, and to bust out a few sensational, actually bloody terrible lines from the song. I hope that gets edited out of the video! Better yet, the Tequila Bar was right across the street. Mix that with a sunrise and you have another great Eagles song. So even though it was only 10:30am we felt obliged. The waiter told us they usually run on New York time, and up there it’s after lunch. So we are good to go!

Arrived at the ferry terminal full of hope and expectation for a quick easy procedure. Idiots!

‘We’d like a temporary importation visa please.”

“Si, you need passport (tick), registration papers (tick), Bill of Sale (Tick. Gee, this is gonna be easy. Sweet!) and a Tourist Visa (What? Arghhhh!!!).

“But on the internet it says Aussies don’t need one.”

“Everyone needs one. And you need photocopies of everything.”

Oh bugger.

So we are off to Immigration for the start of our Paper Trail. Wade manages to find the place, which is a bit of a mission in itself because the GPS is really only a rough guide here.

“Hola Senior. Touristico Visa por favor.”


“Buts it’s already 2pm, how much later do you want us to come back?” (he speaks OK English)

“Manana, manana.”

“Oh, tomorrow. Bugger!”

Un-phased, we head to the beach for a few Corona’s and a swim in water slightly warmer than you’d like after a game of rugby in the snow.

Tuesday 13th September – Day 102

La Paz. Paper trail!

First in line, and the day is looking up.

“Touristico Visa, por favor.”

“Si, no worries (or something to that effect).”

“It’s $26 US for the visa, and a $100 fine for not already having one.”

“What! But….but…. Ok” Says Wade as he hands over the cash.

“Oh no Senior, you can’t pay for that here. You have to go to the bank.”

Of course you do. I mean, why could you possibly pay for the visa at the very building they issue it. That would just be silly!

To the bank we go. Then back into line at Immigration.

“Do we have everything you need?”

“Si. Now it will be 20 minutes to process.”

In line again to get the documents after a cold drink. Then to Office Works for copies (some good to come from the Baja being a small extension of America) and we are on the way back to the ferry.

Things are looking promising, until the girl asks if we copied the back of the Tourist Visa. No. Bugger! Can’t you copy this one little page for us? No. Bugger.

Wade is off on a mission to get the copy done while I continue with my paper work. Amazingly, we both succeed at the same time.

Buy the ferry ticket, and we are done. You Little Beauty! Off to the beach for a late lunch, a couple of well deserved beers and a swim. What a great afternoon!

We meet up with Uwe for lunch, a great old bloke we first met in San Ignacio. He now lives in La Paz, and asked us to give him a call when we arrive. Turns out he’s a retired yacht captain. Bloody small world! Reckons he was kicked out of home in Germany at 16 and never looked back, never stopped travelling.

He really wanted to show us the local strip club. Buggered if I know why, but we went long with it. I mean, how often do you get to go to a strip club in Baja?

The first thing you notice is how dark it is. Strewth, I can barely see my hand in front of my face, let along a single girl way over there on stage. As I pass pretty close by on my way to the toilet I can finally see, and very soon realize that yes indeed, darkness is a true friend to these girls! And I get the impression there is no local gym either. Pretty sure I won’t be seeing too many of them on my next Russian charter!

Wednesday 14th September – Day 103

La Paz, Baja to Los Moiches, Mainland Mexico – 45 miles / 72 km

An easy morning drinking coffee, abusing the internet and generally keeping in touch with the world.

Boarded the ferry around midday, and as always I thought to myself how nice it was to be on a boat where I’m not actually working. A few beers to help lunch slide down, a thrashing for Stubbsie in Backgammon, a cat nap on the aft deck, and here we are in main land Mexico.

Due to the ferry schedule we are unable to avoid the most often repeated travel advice for Mexico. DON’T TRAVEL AT NIGHT! EVER! Sorry mum, nothen we can do about it.

Wade met Justin at Dust2Dawson. Justin met a bloke called Tito on the ferry from La Paz to Los Moiches a few years back, and Tito happened to be travelling with a guy named Federico, or Pancho to his mates. A spider’s web of e-mails later, and we are riding to Pancho’s place.

Immediately it’s obvious he’s a cool guy as he screams around the corner on a polished motorized pushie (bicycle for you non-Aussies) to meet us. If that wasn’t enough, after 5 minutes chatting he invites us to stay in his house. This guy is good! But wait, there’s more. He gives Tito a call, and even though it’s nearly 11pm on a Thursday, we are soon sitting in a great local pub, enjoying a couple of beers and telling stories like we’ve all been in the same bike gang for years and haven’t seen each other for a few months. Bloody marvelous!

Cheers for a great night. Shame Tito isn’t coming with us on our ride through Copper Canyon tomorrow. Next time I hope.

Thursday 15th September – Day 104

Los Mochis to Choix – 85 Miles / km

Pancho had to put in some hours at the office, so it was after lunch by the time we left. The plan was to ride into the hills on dirt roads for about 250km, then camp by an old church beside the river. It did not happen. Perhaps as I stumbled out of the pub last night the gods mistakenly thought I was performing a rain dance, because my goodness, did it come down!

We had to curb Pancho’s enthusiasm. Honestly, he was like a little kid wanting to go play in puddles when all his mother wanted him to do was have a warm shower and dress for dinner. I know he’s only a young bloke of 59, but I really didn’t expect him to love battling with nature so much. Managing to convince him it was a fabulous idea to turn back, we headed for the nearest hotel. However, not before all 3 of us were standing in the pouring rain enjoying a toast from a bottle of Tequila. I couldn’t stop smiling. Such a ridiculous thing to do, yet amazingly invigorating. I felt wet, I felt cold, but wow, did I feel alive!

The hotel was $11 dollars each, and dinner $6. You little bloody beauty! Finally my wallet has joined the rest of us in Mexico.

Friday 16th September – Day 105

Choix to Creel – 189 miles / 304 km

What a fantastic days riding! Bright sunshine and bugger all dust due to yesterdays rain. Perfect! See, always a silver lining to every cloud.

Any old adventure rider cruising thru Mexico can easily tick the box for Copper Canyon. I bet not many have seen it as we did. Pancho didn’t just show us some back roads, he showed us the back roads you have to take to get to the ‘way out back’ roads! We rode most of the day on dirt in the bottom of the canyon. How cool is that!

About 8 hrs riding for only 300km gives you some idea of the terrain. It was awesome. Cheers for a great day Pancho!

Saturday 17th September – Day 106

Creel to Parral – 276 miles / 444 km

Back to Copper Canyon for a cable car ride. Unfortunately it was closed by the time we pulled in yesterday, so we had to do what we hate doing and back track. I don’t think it’s as impressive as the Grand Canyon, but still cool.

The main attraction is one of the longest flying fox’s in the world. Make sure you book it early because we missed out.

After pulling into the car park about 20 blokes on four wheel bikes rocked up, most of whom are friends of Pancho’s. They were all standing around talking to us as we geared up to leave. One second I was thinking how embarrassing it would be to fall over in front of all these guys. The next second I was thinking “yep, that is actually quite embarrassing!” The only good thing to come of it was I had plenty of help lifting Aialik. None of it from Wade mind you. Bloody useless! Too busy laughing. Crashes 8 – 4, and I didn’t even manage to make one metre!

The afternoon was spent riding out thru the Canyon, this time on super smooth, super twisty highway. Once again I’m left amazed at how flexible the big GS’s are. Dirt one day, tar the next and bloody great fun on either.

Sunday 18th September – Day 107

Parrel to Torrens – 320 miles / 516 km

One of our best days riding yet! The highlight was crossing a desert as we passed thru the Silent Zone. The silent zone is the Mexican equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle, and its strange magnetic qualities have been blamed for an American space shuttle crashing in the area rather than landing safely in the Atlantic off Florida as planned. Apparently it can make compasses spin wildly and seriously effect navigation. At least that’s my story as to how we became just a wee bit lost, and I’m sticking to it!

At about 160 km across, its pretty small. Don’t judge a book by the cover, and don’t judge a desert by its size! There were no real roads, only tracks. And certainly no sign posts. All we had were some lat’s and long’s as way points in the GPS. At one stage we ran out of road, and rather than going back to try and find where we went wrong (again), Wade made his own path. Smokey had bits of cacti and thorn bush everywhere as she did an amazing job clearing the way. We even had to dismantle part of a fence to get thru, which I might add we put back better than before.

Pancho thought we were crazy. Or perhaps he was wondering if he were totally crazy to let himself fall into such a silly situation as to be blindly following a couple of idiotic Aussies across a desert where the only road lay on an electronic screen. Yep, I agree. I reckon he is the crazy one! Either way, it was the ride of his life and bloody great fun for us.

Even in the brightest sunshine there can be a patches of darkness. For 3 minutes there was no light at the end of my tunnel. There are two things the big GS’s don’t like. Sand and mud. I was on a sandy track that somehow managed to incorporate mud holes as a result of yesterdays rain. Oh goodie! What a treat! Riding in quite a deep wheel rut, I lost the front end and couldn’t keep Aialik sunny side up. Unfortunately my leg became stuck between the bank of the wheel rut and the pannier. As I said, it was a pretty deep wheel rut! That was it, I was utterly useless! My leg was twisted in such a way I couldn’t get off the bike. I couldn’t even budge Aialik enough to get my foot out. It didn’t hurt at all, but still, it was quite an eye opener, and the reason we always ride together. 8 – 5.

Excited to be back on the bike, I wanted to prove it was a one off, and that I can easily get thru the rest of the bog. Idiot! Sometimes over confidence can ankle tap you right when you think you’re going to score the World Cup winning try in overtime. Yep, you guess it. I didn’t even make 5m before doing exactly the same damn thing, except this time I didn’t trap my leg. Little consolation as I rapidly closed the gap on Wades impressive crash tally.

To rub salt into the wound, Stubbsie didn’t even ride thru the horrible crap. He bashed down a bush and rode beside it, all dry, relaxed and a smile from ear to ear. Crap!

“Way to catch up mate”!

“Bugger off! Go ride in some mud ya big girls blouse!!”

Oh yeah, I forgot. He crashed earlier in a mighty bog hole of a creek crossing. You can bet 360 days a year this is drier than a pair of Alpinestar Tech 10 motorbike boots, our next purchase in Guatemala by the way. But not today. It was so damn slippery I nearly fell over just walking over to help him retrieve Smokey from the gooey clutches of the creek bed.

Official Crash Tally: 9-6-1

Pancho, feeling horrendously left out, wanted to join in all the fun. I did a ‘Stubbsie’, and after 2 crashes was too much of a blouse myself to ride in the hard stuff. I was riding beside the road had the perfect view as Pancho struggles with the mud, then of his head sliding down the road, body following close behind after a classic front wheel washout. Thanks Pancho! We both feel a lot better about our crashes now!

Wow, this is a big day! So much to write about. Perhaps you’d better top up the wine glass, relax and get comfortable. There’s plenty more of today to come!

Feeling bloody great about having conquering the desert, we rolled into town. Life is good. No, wait. Life is bloody fantastic!!

Disasters. I find it’s not normally one horrendous event culminating in disaster, but rather a timeline of small incidences leading into the next, each one not more than a mere inconvenience. However, when added together the sum is far greater than the individual totals, resulting in a bad situation.

Thru no particular fault of ours, the timeline of minor incidences was building. We are late to cross the desert as a result of the bloody hard riding and having to make our own road. Then the town we wanted to stay for the night doesn’t have a hotel. The two main warnings for Mexico. Don’t camp, and don’t ride at night. The next town with a hotel is 60km in the opposite direction to where we want to go. Our first mistake. We decide to push on to Torrens, 180km in the right direction. If all goes well, we should arrive just on dark.

It doesn’t go well. We still have 50km to go, and its pitch black, raining and the road is like a battlefield after a squadron of Bombers have droped their payload. Potholes everywhere, stray dogs, donkeys, horses and cattle. Then Pancho gets a flat tyre. The one piece of luck is that it happens outside a trye repair shop. Pancho chases the guy out of his house, and he does a fantastic job of repairing the puncture. Its now 9:30pm. No after hours fees here! 30 pesos (about $2.10 Aussie) and we are back on the road.

While re-fueling Wade chats to a taxi guy. He is surprised to see us. “What are you guys doing here at night? There’s a lot of people with pistols on this road, and they regularly use them. GET OFF THE ROAD, NOW!”

It’s a nervous 20 minutes for Wade (he didn’t tell us about the conversation until we were safely off the road). It’s a flash hotel, and the most expensive since Prudhoe Bay. We don’t care. We are off the road.

Monday 19th September – Day 108

Torrens to Concordia – 340 miles /

Disappointment. That’s what I felt today, and here’s why.

As we dropped out of the clouds and into the warmth of the coastal region there was a swarm of waspish bee’s, or beeish wasps (I’m not too sure which). As Wade closed his visor to stop unwanted guests in his helmet, one of the little buggers did the big Indiana Jones – Temple of Doom roll under the closing door and smacked him in the face. Not content with a brutal facial bashing, the bee looking thing buzzed round inside the now closed helmet, then stung him on the face.

Well, that’s not really disappointing, I hear you say. That’s just damn unlucky. And I couldn’t agree more. However, a few hours later you couldn’t even see where it had stung him. Now that is disappointing!! I thought there would be some great footage and a photo or two. But no, nothen. I was even going to find a bike shop and get him a kiddies helmet for the massive swollen lump where his eye use to be. Maybe make him a temporary Tasmanian with his two heads and all. So yeah, I have to admit I was disappointed!

Time to say farewell to Pancho. We had a marvelous time and some of the best riding of the trip so far.

Tuesday 20th September – Day 109

Concordia to Puerto Vallarta – 300 miles

Stayed with Roberto, a friend of Erics (whom we stayed with in Hood River all those weeks ago). Again, it’s the people we meet, and not necessarily the places we’ve seen that make this trip so bloody amazing.

Having never met the Bergaliaboys before, Roberto opened his house to us. “Whatever is mine is yours. Help yourselves. How long are you guys staying anyway? A few days, a week?”

Bloody amazing. Cheers Roberto, and look forward to staying with you again!

Wednesday 21st September – Day 110

Puerto Vallarta to Zamora – 337 miles

I wasn’t in the best mood this morning. Let me tell you about it.

At about 04:30 I was rudely awoken by my own backside. “Hey Phip, WAKE UP. WAKE UP NOW!”

‘Huh, what’s going on? It’s too early! Leave me alone”.

“Fine, see if I care. Do what ever you like. Yeah, it’s a great idea. Stay asleep. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

“Argh crap (literally)! I spose I better get up then”.

As I’m sitting on the toilet I try to feel better about the entire situation, and think to myself “At least I woke up before I had to go.”

Twice more to the dunny before I’ve even had coffee and I’m starting to get grumpy.

After breakfast, all dressed and ready to rock and roll. Finally feeling secure about leaving the toilet behind, I go to grab the helmet. Stubbsie is already there.

“Hey mate. I’d watch that if I were you. As I wiped the visor clean about a hundred million baby ants crawled out from everywhere”.

“Ya #$@$#@$#% what!!! Ants in my helmet. Are you kidding me!”

No. He wasn’t. I left my helmet under cover last night beside Roberto’s car to dry out. Bad idea. I didn’t want to spray it with insect spray. It seems to me like a bad idea to wear a chemical infested helmet all day. So I kept bashing it, and blowing the angry ants off as they crawl out of every nook and cranny, looking to bite the mongrel disturbing the peace in their new home. 20 mins later and I was satisfied I had an ant free zone in my helmet. Only one way to find out….. put the bloody thing on and hope for the best.

Strewth, what a day, and it’s only 8 o’clock! What else can possible go wrong?

Why! Why did I ask that! We stop for fuel and water about 5km out of town, and as I get back on the bike I notice a bloody great ants nest in the middle of Aialik. An ants nest? Really? This sux! So I made friends with the gardener / maintenance man and hosed the little buggers off. Take that ya brutes! Right, what’s next?

The i-pod. There is a faulty join in the wiring, and my music keeps cutting in and out. Aaaaarrrggghhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!

Aialik had to calm me down. “Don’t worry mate, you’re about to go for a great ride on a great bike, ie, me! You’ll be loving life in no time, just you wait and see”

As always, she was right. 5 minutes later the music came good, the road wound it’s way into some delightful hills, birds started to sing, the sun broke free of the clouds mighty grip and I could smell the fresh blossom of roses. Yes sir, all was right in my world after all!

Thursday 22nd September – Day 110

Zamora to Cuernavaca (just south of Mexico city) – 311 miles / 500 km

After 5 days of some of the best riding on the trip in and around Copper Canyon we are behind schedule and looking to make up time.

Against our religion, toll roads. They are bloody good if you need to get somewhere in a hurry. And we did. However, everything comes at a cost, and strewth, are these things costly! 680 pesos between us, and we only did 250km. Over a peso / km. Thieving bastards!!!

We were aiming for Puebla, but fell short. In America, 450km would take 4 ½ hrs, including a stop for lunch. In Mexico, about 8. Then it rained. A lot! Having learnt from our previous experience we don’t take the risk. Get a hotel, get a beer and a feed. Get a good nights sleep. Risk free and easy. Now that’s the way to do it!

Unfortunately it means missing two volcanoes Wade really wanted to see. There will be more.

Friday 23rd September – Day 111

Cuernavaca to Oaxaca – 280 miles – 450 km

An e-mail from Mark and Maggie (the cool couple we meet in Jasper, Canada who are riding round the world making their kids violently ill with envy) set events rolling for a meeting in Oaxaca.

It is the best Mexican city / town we have been in. Was great ‘people watching’ while enjoying Wade’s birthday beers in the main square. Met up with M&M, then Glen and Andrew. These guys are riding by themselves to Argentina and met M&M on the ferry from La Paz.

The hostel we are staying in had secure parking, and was cheap. That’s all the goodness you can say about it. 100 pesos, or about $7.50 Aussie each for a double room.

Instead of having a key lock, or a combination lock to the main gate so guests have access 24hrs, they have a bell. And to be honest, if that’s the limit of technology and the budget, well, what do I care if the owner has to get up at all hours of the night to let people in? As it turns out, I do care. Very much. The bloody bell was right outside our room! Every time someone came back to the hotel I thought it was 6am and the alarm was going off making me get up far an early start to the days riding. Horrible!! Put a keypad lock in ya cheap mongrels!!

Saturday 24th September – Day 112


Initially the plan was to meet Rieke, my girlfriend in Cancun. After being sidetracked by Copper Canyon it just wasn’t going to happen. A few apologetic kisses down the phone line and promises to ‘make it up’, Rieke booked flights from Cancun to Oaxaca. Amazingly enough everything worked out, the plane was on time, and we were enjoying a bottle of wine back at the hotel room before I could say “Welcome to Mexico! Welcome to Circle to Circle!”

Sunday 25th September – Day 113

Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido – 195 miles / 350 km

First ride with Rieke. About a million bends, mountains in the cloud, rain and its hard to believe I know, but more ‘sleeping policemen’ (speed bumps) than there are corners. Yep, she was a beaut road! Once moving I barely noticed the extra weight, and we didn’t crash either. All in all, not a bad way to start!

Stayed across the road from the beach, and even better than that, across the road from the beach bar. Awesome! Rieke was pretty happy as her home town in Germany is not too far away from the first snow of the year.

Slurping the last of our fish bowl sized margaritas after dinner Wade’s phone buzzed. A text from Kevin to say he saw the bikes, he’s in town and would we like a beer? Stupid question! A few ‘cold ones’ later, and we have a new riding partner for a few days. Kevin’s an Irish guy, been living in Sydney for 15 years and now on a 15 month round the world ride, starting with a warm up run from Alaska to Argentina (hmmmm, that sounds familiar!). BMW 1200 GSA of course!

Bergalia Boys tip of the day: Brought to you by Wade Stubbs

“Never trust a fart in Mexico. Ever. And always have at least 1 spare pair of riding under garments available at all times. That’s all I have to say about that”

Monday 26th September – Day 114

Puerto Escondido to a beach about 20km west of Salina Cruz, Pacific side – 135 miles / 217 km

We were talking to a bloke on the beach last night. He was selling rubbish trinkets, we wanted information. Asked him if Salina Cruz was nice. “Nope, its crap!”

OK, we wont go there! He recommended some nice beaches just west of Salina instead, so once we reached a certain point on the map we all agreed to take the next turn towards the beach.

It started off OK, big sign with a tent and a knife and fork. Sweet. I don’t need Spanish to work that one out! The road quickly went to dirt, then deteriorated further. We stopped on a beach deserted except for some local fishing boats pulled up on the sand, thinking this just isn’t going to work. Kevin busted out the maps and Lonely Planet to look for the next likely place to check out while Wade went for a look round the corner…… just in case.

He rode back looking cool (shows you how damn fine looking these bikes are if even Stubbsie can look cool!) and a big grin. At the end of the road was a BMW 1200. I mean, why wouldn’t there be? Nick and Ivanka have been here for a few days enjoying their own piece of paradise. I’d met them briefly as we rode onto the ferry in La Paz, and Kevin had been talking to them on the internet, although they were yet to meet. Again, small world.

They’ve been staying in a hammock under the shelter of the local restaurant while ‘doing it tough’ waiting for a package to arrive from the UK. Actually, restaurant is a pretty strong word for this place. It’s very quiet here, so instead of menu’s, table service and all that jazz we arrange a time for breakfast, lunch and dinner. She cooks whatever she has, which is always some traditional Mexican food. Bloody tasty! And charges us 15 pesos for a beer. Fantastic!

In the middle of nowhere (this place isn’t on the GPS or my extremely detailed map) we thought we were safe. But no. I hear some bikes, and bugger me if it’s not M&M and Andrew. Unbelievable! Turns out Nick had sent them an e-mail saying they were here for a few days. They didn’t really know where ‘here’ was, or how to give directions for them to follow in order to get ‘here’. Just check out our website and follow the spot tracker. It worked, and here we all are. Like a baby BMW convention. Except for Andrew and Berta, his 21 yr old Honda Africa Twin. Not that he feels the odd one out or anything.


# 14 loaded 5th Oct


Tuesday 27th September – Day 115

Beach. Rest. Relaxation. Oh, and a few beers.

Wow! Awesome! Bloody amazing! These words, and a few others I can’t mention here (I was pretty damn excited!) greet me as I wake at 8:45 this morning. And no, I’m hungover! The absolute luxury of staring bleary eyed at the alarm clock for 5 minutes waiting for it to come into focus, then not actually caring one little bit as to what the time is before rolling over and going back to sleep is difficult to put into words. Let me give it a go……..

To be honest, I’m kinda struggling! Guess I’m just not use to such luxury! I’ll have to move on and come back to it later. Maybe I can buy a good dose of inspiration as we pass thru the next town and hopefully come up with something decent.

The rest of the day passes in a blur of hammocks, swimming in the surf, walking on the beach, card games and fishing. Andrew even managed to catch a fish, which our private chef cooked over the coals for dinner. Mmmmmm, that’s tasty!

Looking back I realize today was actually a holiday. A real, genuine holiday, and strewth did Stubbsie and I enjoy it! We’ve been looking forward to today for four months!

I know, I know. I can hear it now. “Oh, the poor guys. Oh the pain, the heartache. It must be sooooo tough and soooo terrible having to ride from Alaska to Antarctica. I don’t know how they do it”.

Well, it is tough! So much so I think I might have a wee snooze and finish this later.

Wednesday 28th September – Day 116

The Beach to San Cristobal De Las Casas – 267 miles / 430 km

No option this morning but to stand Rieke on a desolate hill to film our mass departure. Four BMW’s and Berta rolling out in such precision it could have been a military exercise has to be recorded. Be rude not to. Once on the road I felt like a rock star (without the drugs!). Locals stopped what they were doing to watch us go by.

It was a beautiful ride up into the mountains, and definitely not to be missed. Villages materialize out of the mist as we climb higher and higher. As if to give the sun a helping hand as it struggles to penetrate thick fog, locals wear traditional clothing with such vibrant colours you can feel the warmth as you ride past.

A small lakeside town was so impressive we all instinctively pull over. Originally everyone thought it a mecca for the wealthy tourist with prime water front housing. No. Not at all. Turns out the lake has been in flood for over a year and many of the houses are literally in the lake. A boat is a must if you want to go to church. I watched people wading thru their back yards. I can’t imagine what it is like. Simple things we take for granted would be a daily battle, like sewage, fresh water, and mowing the lawn. Too much of one, not enough of the other and frankly, just impossible to do the third!

I didn’t want to put in the mowing the lawn bit cause the situation really is pretty sad, but then if you can’t laugh, no matter what your riches, you will be forever poor.

It makes you think, that’s for sure.

San Cristobal is a great town, and obviously quite wealthy. Streets are clean, buildings well maintained and a ‘vibrant atmosphere’ covers everything in a warm, secure blanket. Wow, that sounds way too much like a bloody Lonely Planet description. I promise never to do it again!

Thursday 29th September – Day 117

San Cristobal to Palenque – 146 miles / 235 km

Quite a bit happened today, but all was over shadowed by one little thing. Those damned speed bumps. As Kev said “Don’t reckon I’ll come back to Mexico just cause of the bloody speed bumps.” And he is right. They are fairdinkum that annoying.

The first thing to fade in the memory was actually pretty spectacular, and I think will demonstrate quite nicely what a pain in the arse the sleeping policemen really are. In fact, in my 30 odd years of driving (I don’t remember the first 3 or 4 years too well, and probably couldn’t see out of the baby seat anyway) I haven’t witnessed such an event.

I was following pretty close to Wade. Kev hot on my wheels, and as we approached a bend the entire road seems to fill with a red streak. This little sports car slid towards us, then into the bank, causing the car to flip onto the roof. I’m sure it had state of the art breaks, but when your wheels are pointing towards heaven, it doesn’t matter how good they are, you ain’t going to stop any time soon!

Smokey and Aialik pulled up so fast it was like we were on an aircraft carrier and hooked a wire. Fearing the worst, Wade and Kevin were already running towards the pile of twisted metal as the wreck came to rest on a crumpled roof across both lanes of traffic. They only had to run 20m. Wade managed to open the door and two bodies oozed onto the road, then staggered to their feet. Kev breaks into the other side and frees the remaining occupant.

We all had visions of trying to stop blood gushing from severed arteries, treating broken limbs and ways of enforcing immobilization for fear of neck injuries while trying to free bodies from a wreck that was about to burn. None of this happened. Instead all three walked away, a small cut above the knee the only visible damage. The crowd, which had now gathered, heaved the car off the road and that was that. Both lanes are now open and traffic moving freely. All in the space of 5 minutes. Not a policeman notified, nor an ambulance called. We really are in Mexico after all.

We check out Agua Azur, the largest waterfall in Mexico. Pretty crap really. Usually a brilliant blue, the water is now a rubbish brown. It is the peak of wet season after all. Worth a look, but don’t get too carried away, especially if it’s been raining.

Find a hotel and then check out the Mayan ruins at Palenque. These are pretty cool, and worth a look. Amazing the cities they built, and built to last. I bet the hotel I’m sitting in now doesn’t look as flash in 2000 years as these temples do now.

Back to the hotel, and bugger me if Glen isn’t already staying here. Adventure motorcycling, shrinking the world the world over!

Last Updated on Monday, 10 October 2011 23:29


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Friday 30th September – Day 118

Palenque, Mexico to Flores, Guatemala – 189 miles / 304 km

A new day, a new country. Nerves were on edge as we approached the Mexican border. Then it was all over before it started. Too easy in fact, which we were punished for later with a $100 fine because we didn’t purchase a tourist visa. So, how is it going to be crossing into Guatemala?

Absolutely amazing! That’s how it is to cross the border from Mexico to Guatemala. There are easier ways, but the shortest route was through customs in Frontera, Mexico and then Bethol, Guatemala. Unfortunately there is a river in the way. Not usually a problem, but in this case it is a problem as there isn’t a bridge, and no scheduled ferry service. Not to worry, we had met a couple in Chicken, Alaksa on the Top of the World Highway who had mentioned the crossing and said they hired a local skiff to take them across. Beauty!

It was very easy, and for those adventurous types a ‘must do’ border crossing. We met some boat drivers (and I use the term ‘boat’ very gently) as we entered the National Park (fee 15 pesos each……not too bad at $1.15 Australian). They sped off on their pushies, three BMW 1200’s in hot pursuit.

The boatmen guided us through customs, which again was super easy. For anyone riding through Mexcio, make sure you pay the tax. Its only 262 paseos and separate from the tourist visa and the temporary import tax. It’s automatically paid if you arrive by plane. This tax needs to be paid at the border, or in Palenque, a 3 hr ride back to where we started. Oh crap! Obviously we didn’t, and neither did Kev. In fact, none of us had even heard of it. Fortunately the customs officer was a lovely lady, and Big Kev has a lovely smile. At least I figure it must be, cause one flash of those pearly whites from Kev and she said “Don’t worry, pay me and I’ll sort it out from here”. Good on ya Kev!

Low on fuel, we top up with 10 litres from the local ‘service station’. By service station, what I really mean is about fifteen 20L drums and a siphon hose in some guys shed. How cool is that! Mind you, I wouldn’t want to fill the 100 L tank on my ute back home!

Next stop, the river. As I ride off the road and head for the bank (there is no car park, foot traffic only for these boats normally) disaster! My back wheel hits a rock, and at the super high speed of 2 km / hr instead of tracking over it, the bike stops, leans past the magic 5 degree angel, and that’s it. Down she goes! Aaarrgghhhhhh! Sorry Rieke.

Crashes 9 – 7. Look out Stubbsie, here I come! Gonna take the lead in no time!

Three skiffs were nosed up to the bank, engines still running to keep them together and in place against the strong current. We un-load all our gear, then Wade takes the plunge and rides down the muddy bank first. It takes 5 guys to man handle Smokey onto the boat. Half and hour later, Aialik and Kev’s bike are tied down. We are ready to go!

It doesn’t look right. It doesn’t feel right. The bike makes the boat look tiny, and how the centre of gravity is low enough to prevent capsizing neither Wade nor I have a clue.

Our little boats gingerly pull off the bank. Everyone, including the drivers hold their breath. They are looking pale, palms sweaty. I am happy to see Wades boat backing out first. As it floats off, everyone sucks in a long overdue lung full of air. We just might make it after all!

Un-loading is hard! Hot, humid, and a steep, slippery, muddy bank. The local Guatemalans jump in and help out. Brilliant! We don’t have to ask, we don’t have to wave cash. They helped because that’s what Guatemalans do. After the bikes were safely on the bank wade offered one guy 50 paseos. He was so happy you’d think stubbsie just handed him is first born son. He was proudly showing his mates the note that would buy at least the first two rounds at the bar tonight.

As soon as we left the heavens opened, in a big way! My goodness did it come down. Water everywhere. Welcome to Guatemala!

We easily floated thru Customs on a bit of driftwood we found on the stream flowing thru the building (well, not really, but it sounds better than simply saying ‘customs was easy’). Awesome! We are officially in Guatemala.

Now, the good news. It is free to enter Guatemala. No tourist visa required, no temporary import, no tax. Nothen. Whoooo Hoooooo! The guy even said it should be free to leave, and if a customs official asks for money don’t pay him. Argue the point. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like the best advice ever!

Saturday 1st October – Day 119

Flores – Bus to Tikal Ruins

We stayed in the Green World hotel on Isle Flores last night. About $7 Aussie each for two double rooms. Better still, off street parking in our own private garage. We gladly left all our bike gear in there to dry out. As we opened the door in the morning, holy #@!$@#!#$#!!!!!!!! I thought Saddam had actually managed to make his chemical weapons of mass destruction and hid them in the garage. One wiff of that would kill a stray dog! Fairdinkum, it was horrible!

It rains, a lot. We leave the bikes and wet gear behind and take a bus. For under $20 each we get our own mini bus there and back and a tour guide for four hours. The ruins are pretty cool. During the boom times of around 100 AD there were 2.5 million people in the city of Tekal. Mind blowing. Until deforestation caused drought and they either died or moved on. Perhaps even more amazing to those dedicated to the Jedi (star wars) the Tekal Temples were in the original film. I know, I know, you’re all going to have to watch the movie for the 20th time to see where and when.

Sunday 2nd October – Day 120

Flores to Coban – 174 miles / 280 km

Another one of those days. There is a main road from Flores to Guatemala city, however we didn’t take it. We choose the other way, then accidently found ourselves on the seriously other way road. As the tar broke up into dirt, then shrunk as two lanes washed away into one, Kev asked “Is this still the right road?”

“Yeah mate, the GPS is tracking perfectly”

What I didn’t say was that for the last ½ hr I couldn’t figure out where we were. This road didn’t seem to appear on my paper map. Argh well, who cares? It’s a bloody fantastic road, and seems to be going in the right direction!

As we wound our way further into the hills the terrain became steeper, the valleys deeper, the drop off closer to the edge of the road. The scenery which exposed itself periodically thru gaps in the cloud was worth every rock, bump, wet sock and ‘prune’ toe.

We wanted to get to Guatemala City where we planed to meet up with Juan, Ivan and Roberto. These guys saw a link to your website when ordering parts from MAX BMW and felt they had to ride with us. Sorry guys! Manana!

Monday 3rd October – day 121

Coban to Guatemala City – 174 miles / 280km

Leaving Coban at 0700 to meet the guys for breakfast 1 ¼ hours down the road. 2 hrs later and we pull in for coffee. Strewth, what a road! There’s been a lot of rain lately, leaving landslides everywhere. It isn’t unusual to come round a bend and look 5m down into a massive void. And I mean void. Void of everything, like road, dirt, rocks, land fill of any description, and most importantly, adequate warning signs. Then add in the rain, fog (couldn’t see more than 20m at times), the bald knobby tyres (we are going to change them in Guatemala City), and the odd beast (cow, pig, turkey, donkey – take your pick, it doesn’t matter). It was an interesting ride, that’s for sure. No way Rieke was falling asleep on the back today! Basically had to reduce speed to the point where you could stop dead in the distance you could see, which was bugger all.

Finally meet Juan and his buddies, all good blokes riding…… yep, you guessed it. BMW 1200’s and one BMW 1150. They are such nice guys, its ridiculous. Each faked a sickie to ride with us, then Juan spend the rest of the day organizing the work to be done at the bike shop and driving us round all day to various parts of the city to satisfy our every need.

And if that wasn’t enough, Juan and his wife picked us up from the hotel (which he organized incidentally), driving us to a private club (no, not that sort of club! A German club actually, which made Rieke happy!) for dinner with Ivan and his wife. Then bugger me if Ivan didn’t paid for it all. There were nearly fisty-cuffs (a fight for all you non Aussies) over the bill, but we couldn’t prevent him from paying. We plan to ride with them again over the weekend, so our shout this time lads!!

We can’t say enough about your hospitality. I can only hope that one day I can do the same for you, or if not for you, for some complete stranger that happens to be riding past my front door and is in need of a handy local guide. Thanks guys!!!

Tuesday 4th October – Day 122

Guatemala city to Antigua Guatemala – 30 miles 48 km

Late. And it’s only 0800. Bugger. The bikes were meant to be finished yesterday, but a mix up meant that they still aren’t done. We should have been in Antigua last night to start our intensive week of Spanish lessons now. At least I’m up to date with the blog now!!! Yippiieeeee!

Last Updated on Monday, 10 October 2011 23:30

The rest of central America

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Friday 14th October – Day 131

Antigua, Guatemala to La Libertad, El Salvadore – 179 miles / 287 km

I have to mention last night. Seems Antigua is one of those towns every man and his dog pass thru. Well, at least every dog anyway. I reckon there are more scruffy looking homeless mongrels here than bike munching pot holes in the road between Mexico and Panama, than rain drops falling in the last week, and believe it or not, even more stray dogs than those horrid ‘sleeping policemen’. Yeah, there’s a lot! Rieke reckons she saw one very good looking German Shepard (I think perhaps she is wee bit biased, being German and all), but the rest are really shaggy.

However, that wasn’t my point. Not really anyway. I mean, I have wanted to mention the vast number of dogs roaming the streets for a while, but not now. What I want to mention is the fourteen bikers we had beers with last night. Amazing! Most of whom are on their way from Alaska to Argentina. No one else is setting foot (and hopefully wheels!) in Antarctica. It was a great night, and plans have been made to meet for x-mas in Cusco, Peru. Seems I’m finally looking forward to the 25th Dec. Most of the last 7 have been on charter. Not so exciting!

Leaving Antigua at 0800 in the rain we aim for a new country, and hopefully new weather. Fingers crossed!

The border crossings are so far very easy. Allow about 2 hours to exit / enter. Welcome to El Salvadore. Yeh Hah!

Unfortunately it doesn’t stop raining ALL day. I can’t remember the last day without rain. No need to look out the window in the mornings to see what to wear. Actually makes the start of the day easy. All you need is:

  • Two plastic bags for each foot (one just ‘doesn’t cut the mustard’ – an Aussie expression for something that is crap and doesn’t work!) and leaks after about an hour. Two new bags last a day if you are lucky, and don’t walk too much.
  • Water proof lining for bike pants / jacket
  • Clean visor and three coatings of anti-fog.
  • Make sure panniers are closed properly!
  • Put it all on, wet of course from the previous days riding!

Advice from a local fella directed us to La Libertad on the coast. It’s a pretty cool little village, an easy mix of local life with a sprinkle of ‘white’ influence thrown in to cater for the wax heads (surfers). Our cheapest accommodation yet, $8US each for two rooms. Unfortunately no hot water, which after yet another 8 hrs riding in the rain hurts.

Saturday 15th October – Day 132

La Libertad, El Salvador to Choluteca, Honduras – 189 miles / 305km

Originally we were to stay another night in El Salvador. Plans change. The weather is so crap you can’t see anything, can’t even swim in the ocean because it’s like a thick soup due to so much mud being washed down the rivers and out to sea. It’s hard to simply walk down the street! So we decide to make up some time and push on, crossing into Honduras.

Again, a simple border crossing and we are in a new country. Nothen for it but to swim our way from the hotel to the nearest pub to celebrate. We pay $75 US for a double and a single room, which is actually quite a bit considering it’s very much a third world county (are you allowed to say 3rd world these days?). After seeing the security guard pass a revolver to the guy behind the desk in reception we are happy to pay. Sleep comes easier when your bike is locked up, and there is a guy with a shot gun standing by a chain stretching across the driveway. Of course, nothing says he isn’t going to steel your bike and rob you in the middle of the night. Life without trust would be no life at all.

The other little scene, which amuses me on the way to dinner, is a 2” hose pumping water across the street. “Hmmmmm, wonder what this is all about?”

Further investigation reveals one fella pumping water from his flooded yard into the neighbours place. There’s nothen for it but to give the guy the very first Bergalia Boys ‘Top Bloke of the Month’ award. Good on ya buddy! Hope the drainage is better over there.

Sunday 16th October – Day 133

Choluteca, Honduras to Leon, Nicaragua – 103 miles / 166km

Honduras is meant to be a wonderful, spectacularly beautiful place. We will never know! All I know is it rains a lot, and cloud cover can spread across the land like a gigantic picnic blanket, descending over us and destroying our view as if we are ants.

Finally, a corrupt police officer! This is actually pretty exciting. We were warned so often about Mexico, the dangers, the drug dealers, the shoot outs, and how devious the police are when it comes to making an extra buck on the side that we almost cut short our time and ‘Bee Lined it’ straight for Guatemala. Even broke $50 notes into $1 and $5 to pay bribes on the recommendation of at least a few hundred people.

It was a bit like your best mate telling you how many fish he caught the day before, and that they were the biggest brutes he’s ever landed. “There’s absolutely no-way you can go home today without hooking at least 3 record breaking fish”. Of course you catch sweet bugger all. Not even a bite. So it was with our friendly police in Mexico. Nicest blokes you could ever hope to meet, and bitterly disappointing after the extreme build up.

So you can see why I was so excited to finally have a decent cop story for the blog!

Once you wind up the big GSA’s, they don’t want to stop. Which is why I couldn’t talk Aialik out of overtaking yet another stinking, un-road worthy car spewing out fumes and creating a smoke bomb the likes of which James Bond would be proud of. We’ve overtaken on double lines a thousand times. It was, however, the fist time within sight of a police roadblock. The immaculately dressed officer smiles, and then waves me over. Oh bugger. This could be interesting. The car I overtook like an 18-year-old rev head in Western Sydney slowly cruises past.

He asks for my license. No worries, I’ve heard about this little gem before. Everyone knows they ask for the license, then say “You can’t get this back until tomorrow after you’ve been to the police station. Of course, there may be a way we can sort all this out right here, right now………… and my kids really need a new pair shoes.” Hint, hint. Wink, wink. Or words to that effect.

We have no time for such games, so having acted previously on earlier advice, I cheekily hand over a photocopy. See if I care if you confiscate it! If the price is too high, he can turn up tomorrow with my fake license if he likes, but I won’t be. I’ll be in a new country, original license tucked safely away in my pannier.

Immediately he gives it back and asks for the real one. Bugger. As Calvin said to us in Canada, “Just cause they don’t speak English doesn’t mean they are stupid!” How true Cal, how true.

Confusion reins for a while. Seems he actually wants me to go back 20km to the police station in town and report the fact that I over took a car on double lines and ask, if it isn’t too much trouble, can you please write me a ticket?

Pretty weird. As I grab my helmet, he changes tack. Starts talking about bottles. Argh, so his kids shoes aren’t quite so important after all. Unfortunately I still have to go to town. Then he weighs it up, and being the top bloke that he is, tells me there’s no need to go back. He has another way to save me some time and effort. $5 later, and amazingly enough, it seems I didn’t actually overtake on double lines after all.

Another easy border crossing and here we are. Nicaragua.

New country, same crap weather! All our clothes are damp, and starting to smell. Not so bad as the boots mind you, but a real nose turner none the less. We do the only sensible thing. Book a volcano ‘ash boarding’ trip for tomorrow and hand all our clothes, including the bag, to some other poor bugger to wash.

Monday 17th October - Day 134

Leon to Granada – 99 miles / 160 km

Cerro Negro. The only volcano in Central America that you can board or sleigh down. Cool. Bouncing around in the back of the troopy like super charged atomic particles trapped in a nuclear reactor, we are grinning like idiots. Why? Cause the sun is shining for the first time in over 10 days. Giddy-up!

This was not to last! After an hour drive, we throw the doors open and leap out into………. yep, you guessed it. Bloody rain. For the second time in as many weeks we climb an active volcano, and so see absolutely nothen. Not even a glimpse into the bottom of the crater.

Not to worry. It’s all about the boarding. Rieke looks scared, and so she should. This is the exact spot where the crazy Frenchman broke the world speed record on his pushie. 178 km / hr. Then he tried again on a radical new frame design, which snapped in half. As did he.

Strapping on the board at the top of a ridiculously steep, jet-black slope raises my heart rate. This certainly isn’t soft fluffy snow, that’s for sure. Skin eating sand more like it. Rieke’s can’t get any higher. This is gonna be great!

It wasn’t! Due to drenching rain, Rieke’s sleigh barely moves. Where on earth is Rudolf when you need him! Fairdinkum, I reckon this working one night a year caper has to stop. We paid good money for this experience, and sure could have done with his help getting this sleigh moving!

The boards were interesting. Wade’s was an old snow board, and useless. Mine a sand board, and useless to me. These other guys couldn’t get moving, and I couldn’t stop. Aaarrgghhhhhhhh!!!!! I don’t want to go this fast!! Where’s the brake? How do you turn? Oh yeah, that’s right. These boards don’t turn. Oh goodie!

As I take off, the guide offers some handy advice. “You can’t turn, so don’t bother trying. Just go straight. And don’t worry about stopping, cause you can’t. Besides, there’s a hill at the bottom. That’ll stop you for sure”.

“The bottom? But that’s 700m away! What am I spose to do til then?”

We ticked the volcano boarding box, and left. On the bright side, I did have a spectacular crash on the board, which Stubbsie captured brilliantly on film. Can’t wait for that to be on TV!

With clean dry clothes, we load the bikes and ride (in the rain) to Granada.

Once again the room was instantly transformed into what on initial inspection can only be considered a rubbish tip as everything is scattered in a vain attempt to dry it all out. Argh, the good old days. Reminds me of my room at home for the first twenty years of my life!

Put the last of our washing in at reception.

Tuesday 18th October – Day 135

Granada - Rest day

Granada is a lovely town, and well worth a look. Plenty of churches, but, if like me, you’re a smidgen over viewing another House of God there’s more than enough activities to keep you busy. Boat tours on the lake, Zip lining thru the trees, and other stuff it was just too wet to do.

Heading out the door for breaky I notice a woman doing laundry by hand. Then I notice the clothesline everywhere. Oh crap…….. do they really expect it to dry in this rain?

Stubbsie stumbled onto a great little activity, which he knew Rieke and I couldn’t miss out on. The Irish pub. As he says “Where ever you are in the world, if things are getting you down a bit (like rain!), you can always count on finding an Irish Bar with genuine Irish staff serving mighty fine beer and a decent meal”.

Wednesday 19th October – Day 136

Granada, Nicaragua to San Miguel, Costa Rica – 246 miles /

Pulling our very wet washing off the line (not even my board shorts are dry!) we load the bikes and ride off. Not into a magnificent sunrise with birds chirping, but torrential rain.

Passing Isla de Ometepe, a spectacular island with two volcanoes we sadly press on. Originally we were to catch the ferry over, but as we can’t even see it at a range of 20 miles it’s a better option to continue into Costa Rica where we are to meet Andre. I worked with Andre on Va Bene, the last yacht I crewed on.

It was the longest boarder crossing to date, about 2 ½ hours. Still pretty easy, just a lot of steps.

Stubbsie had a pretty rude introduction to Costa Rica. Andre was in front, me, then Wade bringing up the rear (as he is prone to do at times, if you know what I mean!Nah, just kidding! Butt for the record, we never share a tent, let along a bed!). Again we pass on double lines. Everyone does. But only Wade gets pulled over by a seriously ‘no nonsense’ cop. Andre and I didn’t even notice, and are waiting on the side of the road, wondering what on earth he’s taking a picture of now. It’s taking too long. We go back, and there’s Wade shaking his head. A fine of $23, 000 Colonies later (about $50) and we are moving again.

Thursday 20th October – Day 137

San Miguel, Costa Rica

In all the excitement my brain has failed me yet again. How could I forget? Yesterdays ride was even more interesting than Wade’s fine, although that was pretty much the highlight for me! As we rounded a particularly nasty bend, which just kept tightening up on itself like a boa constrictor wrapping around a cute rabbit that is soon to be dinner, there was Andre tumbling across the turf. He chooses an amazing corner to fall, as it was soft, cushioning grass. Every other corner has drop-off’s, guard rails, tree’s, and steep banks. Or a combination of all. A bit embarrassed he was up and away in no time. I thought it was a brilliant ‘ice breaker’, opening a flood gate of conversation later!

And the volcano. After climbing two for absolutely no result, this one was spectacular. Close your eyes and picture a volcano. If it’s picture perfect, then that’s the one we saw. Finally! You beauty!

Crashes: Wade 10, Philip 7, Andre 1

But that was yesterday. This is today……

Awake early, Stubbsie climbs the hill above Andres place to take some photo’s and enjoy the morning sunshine while it lasts (which it doesn’t!). Me, well I enjoy the comfort of home bedding for a few extra hours. On his way back he did the only sensible thing, and instead of taking the easy road home he decides to ‘bush bash’. After all, a short cut is better than back tracking any day! Nearly back home, he crashes down a steep, muddy slope. Gabbing for the only available handhold, he manages to save the fall, but now has a hand full of thorns. Costa Rica isn’t treating Wade too well!

Later we head off for a ride round the local attractions led by the Trail Boss, Andre. First stop was along a tricky dirt road. Nothen too bad, but the occasional loose bit that provided a few ‘clenching’ moments as we bump our way to an old volcano, now supporting a beautiful lake instead of flowing lave.

On the way to the next attraction Andre and myself once again find ourselves alone. Where is Stubbsie this time? “There’s no police on this road is there?” I jokingly ask.


Rounding a bend on our way back to find him, its pretty obvious what happened. It’s the why that’s a tad confusing. There’s Wade and Cherie (Andre’s sister), sitting on the ground. Smokey faces the wrong way, her tail between her legs. Wade turns round, and in the movies would be playing the tough guy hero down on his luck right before beating the baddies and blowing up several cars. Well, at least this is the scenario running thru my mind as I absorb the movie-set type scene opening before me, with volcano’s as a backdrop and blood flowingly freely down his face. Unfortunately this ain’t the movies, and instead of pulverizing villains, he’s off to San Jose (the capital) with Andre to buy new parts. Sad.

Crashing at a blistering speed of about 15 km/hr, she managed to bend the framework protecting the engine casing, break off the bracket designed to protect the valve cover and finally puncture the valve cover itself. Then it rained. Hard. About 2 L of oil drags rainbows from the sky, piggy-backing them along the drainage ditch on the side of the road and out of site round the bend. Amazing colours, yet failing in their attempt to smoother the darkness of today. It was the most pitiful site of the trip. Smokey on the back of a ute / pick-up.

BMW Motorrad Costa Rica has everything to repair the damage. Thanks guys!

Crashes: Wade 11, Philip 7, Andre 1

Friday 21st October – Day 138

San Miguel, Costa Rica

I know you’re not going to believe it, but it ‘s raining. Instead of riding in the clouds and falling water we decide to tour the local coffee plantation. Warm, dry and beautiful coffee. What a way to spend a day!

Tomorrow we leave for Panama. I have to say, it’s been nice not crossing borders for a few days, and absolutely fantastic to stay with Andre and his family. I’ve managed to wash the lining from my riding gear (first time in nearly 5 months!), my pants, jacket and riding shirt. AWESOME! Even dried out the tank bag and its various contents.

Aside from that, its bloody great to have home cooked meals, wake up to the wonderful aroma of freshly ground coffee beans and enjoy family life for a few days. When you’re away from home for so long, it’s the simple things that can really make you stay special.

Thanks for a superb few days. Would love to come back!

Saturday 22nd October – Day 139

San Miguel, Costa Rica to, Almirante Panama – 249 miles / 400 km

Very exciting morning. It’s not raining! Whoooo hoooooooo! But don’t worry, it does soon. And Costa Rica has one last surprise for Wade. Easily confused with so many zero’s he missed one earlier. The ticket wasn’t for 23, 000 colonies, but rather 230, 000 colonies. That’s closer to $500 US. He decides to decline this amazing opportunity to support the government, making a dash for the border.

There are two border crossings into Panama. The easy way, and the other way. Wanting to avoid the Pan American Highway (easy way) as much as possible, we cross at Changuinola. Turns out to be an amazingly relaxed border crossing, with a few perks thrown in for good measure. First, there’s no one harassing you, trying to exchange money, sell food or trinkets that are so crap you wouldn’t buy them even if they did fit it on the bike. And there’s no-one pushing and shoving, fighting their way to the front of the line shouting how easily they can help you cross the border, for a certain fee of course.

Second is how smooth, and fast it is to clear out of the country. Why can’t it always be like this? Finally, it’s the rickety old railway bridge, missing planks and all, that both excites and scares you. Ride the wrong line, which is easy on the wet, slippery wood and you will drop a wheel thru the bridge. Bad result. Off balance and stick a foot down? Not good either as there’s several places you’ll be re-enacting the coyote out of Road Runner when he’s little feet are going like crazy in mid air, moving nowhere after hurtling off yet another cliff. Then plummeting straight down. And if all that isn’t enough to make you sweat, some little fella and his pushie couldn’t get out of the way quick enough (I was fairly moving as its easier to ride a straight line at speed!) and tangled in my pannier. Bugger! After politely kicking him away, I successfully dodge the rest of the pedestrians, making a safe crossing.

The Panama side was no worries, except it was slow and there was a time change. This meant we were a bit rushed before it closes at 6pm. Anyone attempting this border, which I 100% recommend, don’t forget to change your watch (one hr forward when coming from Costa Rica) and give yourself plenty of time.

Rode for half an hour in the dark, which really, really sucks! Decide to stay in the first hotel we find with secure parking. See mum, we are sensible sometimes!

Sunday 23rd October – Day 140

Almirante, Caribbean coast to Las Lajas, Pacific coast – 141 miles / 226 km

We ride an hour before settling in for breakfast by the seaside. How nice. Or not. Chirigui Grande. What a dump of a town. The only thing grand about this place was leaving it behind! We wanted to stay here yesterday, but didn’t make it because it was too dark to ride. Bloody lucky! Mind you, it was cheap.

A bit of misty rain coming over the mountain, but this evaporates into a superb day once we hit the Pacific Coast. We find ourselves at a lovely beach hotel, and taking advantage of the sunshine, stay the night. I check my panniers, and am disgusted to find 2” of water in the bottom of one, and the other two quite damp. Once again everything is emptied and spread out to dry. I construct an elaborate water proofing system on the lid of the panniers with nothen more than some extra wide electrical tape and cotton bud sticks (the ones with a bit of cotton on each end you normally use to clear your ears). Let me tell you, I don’t just look like MacGyver! It’s a bit rough looking, but I reckon it might work.

Monday 24th October – Day 141

Las Lajas to Panama City – 164 miles / 264

Booked into the hotel, then started on the chores. Rieke and I head off to the laundry (in the rain), and Stubbsie to the mall in search of more hard drives so we can send the latest footage to be edited.

Pretty much the first day where I really can’t think of anything interesting to write about. Wow, and it’s only taken 141 days! Oh, except it didn’t rain while we were riding. Now that is interesting!

Tuesday 25th October – Day 142

Panama City – Make-A-Wish Foundation Panama

It always amazes me when people show such an interest in what we are doing. A couple of kids from good old Bergalia, Australia. Who would have thought?

Make-A-Wish Panama organized a press conference for us at BMW Motorrad. It wasn’t the media frenzy you’d expect should David Beckham announce he is gay, (this is a completely fictional scenario with absolutely no element of truth, which I know of anyway! Don’t sue me!! Strewth, imagine the attention that’d get! A good way to illustrate my point I think), but there were about 15 people from various publication all brandishing cameras. To top it all off BMW Panama take us out to dinner. Mmmmmm, lovely. And we didn’t even spend a cent with them.

I’m not too sure what will come of it. Hopefully some cash for Make-A-Wish! Otherwise, perhaps we can inspire others to fulfill their dreams, be it on motorcycles, yachts, pushies or shanks pony (foot) or anything else for that matter. If each one raises a few dollars for a charity of their choice then I think we have done our little bit to make the world a better place.

Wednesday 26th October – Day 143

Panama Canal

After 5 months, Wade and I have gone our separate ways. We always knew this might happen……..but its not what your thinking!! Ha! Wade booked flights back to Fort Lauderdale in the States for a week where he is to meet up with friends, check out one of the world’s biggest boat shows and have a bit of a chat with his old captain. No rest for the wicked! As a result he spent the day organizing Smokey to be flown across the Darien Gap to Bogota, Columbia. Wow, Columbia. How awesome is that!

Rieke and I rode out (and not in the rain……unbelievable!) to the Miraflores Lock in Panama Canal. I was lucky enough to come thru the canal on Meduse about 5 years ago, which was amazing and something only a relative few people experience. So it was quite nice to view the full picture and see it from a spectator’s point of view. It truly is fantastic to pull up in the car park and look across at a 150m, 4000 capacity car carrier seemingly ‘driving up the road’ as it crosses the country.

A few interesting stats:

· Most transits in a year – 15 000 plus a few

· Transits in last few years – about 14000

· Max cost - $400 000 for a particular cruise ship (every time it passes thru)

· Min cost – 30 odd cents back in 1930 paid by some crazy guy who swam the locks (worked out by measuring his draft, length and width!).

· Av cost for the largest ships which fit – $230 000

· Cost for a 30 – 40 ft sailing yacht – about $4000

· The new, wider, deeper canal opens in 2014. A century after the first canal

· I find this cool. The lock doors are original from 1914.

· Bee’s love coffee! At least the ones at Miraflores do. After failing in my duty as a life guard, I fish 3 dead ones from my cappuccino and have to continually move the cup about in order to avoid a further tragic loss of life. I give up and throw it away. I think they need to change the colour of the cups from yellow and black strips to…… well, quite frankly to any other colour that doesn’t sexually activate these bee’s. It really was un-BEE-lievable! (sorry, I do apologise for such a terrible pun. But it was awfully tempting, and I just couldn’t resist!)

Thursday 27th October – Day 144

Panama City to Puerto Lindo – 70 miles / 113 km

Our hotel room should be the 8th wonder of the world. Looking around me for the next place to step, I try and make a dash for the door. Must - have – coffee – first. Then I can face the mammoth packing job ahead. The explosion of gear is daunting. There must have been an explosion, it’s the only explanation as to how and why all our belongings are scattered to all 11 corners of the room! Actually, normally we really aren’t that messy. It’s the only way to dry everything. I can’t wait for this rain to stop!

Spend the morning tidying up and doing odd jobs, like photocopies of passport, drivers license, bike title and registration. All the goodies you need for border crossings. Finally ready to go, and guess what. It rains.

“Coffee Rieke?”

“Of course!”

We manage to make it with in a ½ hour of Puerto Lindo before the heavens open. Flood gates I imagine to be at least twice the size of the Panama Canal release a torrent of water from above. Bugger! Time to test the new waterproof jacket! 50m down the road we see Jay, Mercedes and Eric (their son) doing the same. Joining forces we ride into Wunderbar, our hostel for the next 3 nights. Nice, simple rooms, cheap beer, great pizza and safe parking for the bikes. Perfect!

Friday 28th October – Day 145

Puerto Lindo

A day to rest and explore the area. We all grab a water taxi to Isla Grande, a cute little Island just off the coast. Very, very basic, and I imagine not to everyone’s taste. For example, a 21 year old backpacker burning with so much testosterone they could easily replace the lighthouse on the hill should it go out, might want to give this one a miss. There are no cars, no roads, no pumping bars, definitely no nightclubs and no other youngsters ‘looking for a good time’.

However, there are palm trees leaning over perfect sandy beaches, which sink below the caribbean coloured water of, well, of the Caribbean. I really don’t think there’s any other way to describe the water colour. You sure won’t see it on any paint chart. A simple blue or aqua can not possibly capture the depth or magnetism of the Caribbean Sea and the way it calls to you, demanding you shed your clothes and melt away the tension of the day as you float about. It’s like the beach was deliberately set up in order to capture that ‘perfect Caribbean picture’ for the postcards.

Unfortunately we are still in low season, and the beach bar is closed. With no choice but to move from this barren paradise in search of a more productive ‘grazing’ area, we trade beautiful sandy beaches for a rocky shore and an open bar / restaurant. Still able to swim, I think it a fair trade!

Time evaporates into thin air like water from a pot left too long on the stove. Before any of us are ready, the boat comes gliding round the corner in search of those damned annoying ‘Gringoes’ who are always bloody late! They are well versed in their search pattern, and obviously we are just the latest tourists in a long line that don’t want to leave this relaxed island paradise so soon.

Saturday 29th October – Day 146

Puerto Lindo

Reading, writing and checking out what to do and where to go in Columbia. Hmmmm, a perfect way to spend a rainy day! Quiet, relaxing.

Which leaves space for one of my favorite segments. The ‘How far have they travelled now?’ section of the show.

Without further ado:

As of today we have ridden 25 859 miles, or 41 616 km in normal language. Which, if you remember, means we have only to travel a further 2, 141 miles to surpass the original estimate from Alaska to Argentina. Here are some interesting comparisons:

Sydney to Perth – 10 times with a few kilometers to spare

Around Australia - twice

Around the world at the equator – once, and a few thousand km to spare

London to New York (the trip Ewan McGregor and Charlie Borman completed for the Long Way Round) – 1 1/3 times the distance

John O’Groats in Scotland to Cape Town, South Africa (Ewan McGregor, Charlie Borman in the Long Way Down) – 1 2/3 times the distance

For any American’s, New York to Seattle – 9 times

And for all the Kiwi’s out there, from Auckland to Wellington – About 861 times, if not more! It is a pretty tiny island in the middle of nowhere after all!

And now to something special……

Lost and Found



Canon camera battery charger

Youthful good looks

Sony video camera charger

Some quite a bit of colour from his beard

Sunnies – left in the bus on the way back from Tikal ruins in Guatamela

Gloves – somewhere in Antigua, Guatamela

Gloves – Not the same ones as above! The first pair were never seen again


Grey hairs in his beard, on his head and down…………… I think I’m going to leave that last one alone!

Canon charger. On the very same day he lost the video charger. Hmmm….. A coincidence? I think not

Sexy, distinguished looks of the mature man who knows what he wants!

Gloves – in the elevator of our hotel



Credit card

A second credit card. What an Idiot!

Wallet. Seriously, am I for real? What else can I loose? Plenty it seems!

The ability to wear my belt (damn beers!)



Sunshine….. but I know I’ll find that little fella again somewhere in South America!

Memory – I can’t remember loosing it, but I spose that’s how it is with memory. Makes we wonder what else I’ve lost, but just cant remember ever having it!


One credit card - right where I left it on top of the fuel bowser. I never found the second one.

Passport - at reception of the hotel in Vegas where I left it briefly after checking in.

Wallet - Remembered it not too long after leaving Johnies way back in Canada, thankfully before crossing the border into America.

Room for my belt in deep storage. I hope it will fit again by the end of the trip!

A bigger belt!

About a $45 US bill on my credit card from a Mexican town we didn’t stop in…….. my punishment for loosing the credit card. I never did find it, but I do remember the ATM where I generously left it behind for the next poor, starving guy to find who obviously needs it more than I do. I am just that nice a bloke, always helping others to help themselves!

Amazing hiding places for my two remaining credit cards!

A good pen and paper so I don’t have to remember things

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Sunday 30th October – Day 147

Puerto Lindo to Panama City – 70 miles / 110 km

We waited all day to watch the loading of the bikes. Nothen happened! They were still prepping the boat for the voyage in the morning, then a serious down poor in the afternoon meant no action today.

If we are to make it into Panama before dark its time to leave. Hope to see Jay, Mercedes and Eric on the ‘other side’. Cheers guys for a great few days.

As usual, 2 hours of riding in some very serious rain. Can’t wait to get my new front tyre, and a full body rain suit in Columbia!

Monday 31st October – Day 148

Panama City, Panama to Bogota, Columbia

Awake early to drop Aialik at Panama Soluciones Logisticas. These guys have been fantastic. If you are looking to cross the Darien Gap give Julio Sanchez at call on (507) 2238301.

I’m always anxious when I leave the bike for any length of time, let along saying goodbye to her in Panama and hoping to be reunited in a totally different country. Fingers crossed!

While we are waiting, Roger, a flammen Kiwi rocks up. He is sending his Triumph on the same flight. An interesting bloke, this is his second attempt to complete the ride to Argentina. His first effort was tragically cut short when he was hit from behind by a passing (well, almost passing!) car. He was knocked from the bike, which was parked on the side of the road at the time, and smashed his knee. A failed operation in Guatemala City meant no option but to fly home. Even while recovering in bed he vowed to finish the journey, starting exactly one year after the accident. And here he is, having started on the anniversary of his crash. Good on ya Roger!

Rieke and I flew into Bogota on schedule. A nervous wait until the morning when I will try and release Aialik from the clutches of Columbian Customs.


Last Updated on Monday, 12 December 2011 12:24

Columbia 1st Nov - 24th Nov

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Tuesday 1st November – Day 149


Met Roger at the airport and headed to customs. The paper trail was extensive, but after about 3 hours the gates are finally opened and we have access to the bikes. All three are in perfect condition (at least they are only as damaged as when we dropped them off. 40 000km can be rough on a bike, even if they are super tough BMW’s!).

Wade finally arrives from Ft Lauderdale, USA about 9pm. It hasn’t been that long a flight, especially compared to flying into Australia. He looks buggered! Like he’s flown to the moon and back. A week catching up with mates during the boat show and National Marine party will do that to a bloke!

Wednesday 2nd November – Day 150


Pretty sad day for me today. Rieke is on her way back to Germany. It’s been a fantastic 5 weeks, and it will be bloody good to see her again for the trip to Antarctica.

Moved hotel so we are closer to the center of town. The traffic can be horrendous, and following busses gives passive smoking a whole new meaning. It’s unbelievable! If buses blew smoke like this in Australia the driver would be thrown in jail. Do not pass go, do not collect $200! Seems ‘service’ is a dirty word here. There is no such thing as maintenance. Just fix it when it breaks.

Thursday 3rd November – Day 151

Bogota – Bike service

While the bikes are having a manicure, facial, pedicure and a general overhaul we head up the hill to Montserrat. There’s actually not much up here. A chapel and a few overpriced restaurants, however it is pretty high. You’ll find yourself huffing and puffing like Thomas the Tank Engine at 3250m. To try and transform meaningless numbers into a picture you can all visualise, and which makes sense (after all, a picture is worth a thousand words apparently) this is a massive 978 000 mm higher than Mt Kosciuszko (Australia’s highest mountain). Oh, hang on a sec….. I was trying to get away from numbers. Here, try this instead. If 10 football fields just happened to be standing end to end on top of Kosciusko (which I admit is unlikely, but hey, just trying to get the visual thing going!) and you managed to climb to the top, you’d not only be a legend, you’d be at the same height as Montserrat.

If you are bike less for a day, then certainly worth a look.

Friday 4th November – Day 152

Bogota to Tunja – 83 miles / 133 km

In a major adjustment to our riding gear we have thrown away the lining and replaced it with a full body rain suit from BMW which goes over the top of everything. Feeling confident that by spending more money on making ourselves water proof we’d never be rained on again, we get ready to set off. Parking at BMW is underground, so it wasn’t until Roger rides in soaking wet we realize that even though it’s a new country, rain is still chasing us round like a street seller offering cigarettes.

“Cigarettes… Cigarettes??”

“Look mate, this is the 4th time you’ve asked. We don’t want your smokes. Now bugger off!”

“Cocaine then?”

“Oh yeah, sure. I don’t want your stupid cancer sticks, but a bag of hard core drugs? Yes please! Idiot!”

Still, you have to hand it to them. They are persistent and can seriously ‘up-sell’ to the next level of product. Honestly, if these guys could move into the real-estate market they’d make a fortune. Young couples going in to buy a one bedroom unit and coming out with a 5 bedroom mansion sporting an Olympic sized swimming pool!

Anyway. Bloody happy to be on the move again, and not even the heavy traffic, the smoke belching busses or the rain can dampen the spirits. Until our first police check that is. Our spirits are now diluted with a lot of water! Yes, very damp indeed.

We were told by the agents we don’t need insurance for Columbia. Turns out you do! The police want us to leave the bikes were they are on the side of the road until we get insurance. Of course it’s about 3:30 on Friday afternoon, and of course the road block isn’t in town. Not even close to a town for that matter.

“No insurance. Moto immobilization.”

“What! Really? But how do we get to town, and where do go?”

“Sorry. No Comprehendo senor.”

Wade manages to keep talking in his rapidly improving Spanish, joking long enough for them to get sick of us. They were seriously eying up his sunnies, and even tried on his gloves while Wade worked desperately to distract them with every bit of Spanish he could muster. Stubbsie was thinking “Oh yeah, I know where this is going. Dammit! That’s a bloody expensive pair of sunnies, and I only bought them a week ago. Still, if it gets us out of here…..”

Then the strangest thing happens. We are allowed to go. No reaching for the wallet, no squinting due to the loss of sunnies, and no riding with bare hands because some police officer now has a big grin and a flash new pair of gloves. A-bloody-mazing. Good on ya Stubbsie!

Saturday 5th November – Day 153

Tunja to San Gil – 123 miles / 197 km

Two hours of running round and we are totally legal, insurance and all. How good’s that! And only 78 000 monopoly dollars, I mean pesos. A bargin! That’s $40 in normal money.

Had lunch in a great little town called Villa de Leyva. With cobbled streets, nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains it is quite the tourist paradise. More importantly they serve meat. Lots and lots of meat. Beauty! In the entrance to the restaurant there is a large fire pit with chunks of beef, lamb and some other meat previously unknown to western civilization slowly roasting away. Coals were thrown onto a nearby barbie (BBQ) to cook sausages and kebabs. It was absolutely delightful, and my belly was once again a seriously happy camper!

Heading out of town, and guess what? Yep, it rains! Oh goodie.

Sunday 6th November – Day 154

San Gil – Paragliding. Yeah Baby!!!

AMAZING! TOTALLY AMAZING! By now you may have guessed, but for those people out there who are a little slow on the up-take, it was a great day. And by slow, I mean about as slow as drinking a Maccas thick shake thru a conventional straw. You can suck all day, but until it melts you just ain’t gonna get it! Welcome to Columbia baby!

I have to admit, heights are not my specialty. Lonely Planet says going to San Gil and not paragliding is like diving the Great Barrier Reef and not leaving the boat, walking round Paris and not visiting the Eifel Tower, passing thru Vegas and not seeing ‘The Strip’, ordering steak in a seafood restaurant……. I think you get it (even you slow people!). Actually, Lonely Planet didn’t say that. I made it up, but they do reckon it’s pretty good! OK, so looks like I’m going paragliding then.

The reason I chose paragliding over other stupid activities like bungee jumping and skydiving is because it actually looks mighty peaceful. And the parachute thingy is already deployed and working, otherwise you ain’t going anywhere anyway! None of this jumping out of a plane only to find they guy who packed the bag was horribly hung over, which is Ok for him but actually pretty average for you, causing you to plummet to your death in a tangle of lines and a failed chute. A little dramatic perhaps, but its true!

Back to the paragliding. It was awesome. The scenery was amazing, and it was actually a gentle, peaceful ride with a slight garnishing of adrenalin. It was quite something to look down between your feet and see little ‘ant’ people 1000ft below. And then we descend, at which point my world turns upside down, literally!

“We’re gonna descend OK”

“Yeah OK, but why are you telling me…………. ARGH!!!!! SHI#@#$@$#TTT!!!!!!!!!!!! I hate you I hate you I hate you I hate you… I HAAATE YUOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!”

Strewth! I’ve never experienced anything like it! I look up to film the canopy / parachute thingy and all I can see is earth, sky, river, sky, earth, cloud, earth. What a rush! Probably not for my father, but anyone out there wondering if they should have a go, DO IT. NOW!

After the ‘leisurely’ descent I’m done. Problem is the pilot isn’t done! We glide around again and eventually my hands stop shaking enough to film some more. Then we climb. And climb. Into the clouds we go. “Strewth! I hope this thing is instrument rated cause I can’t see a damn thing!”

Then we descend, again. I think it’s worse this time cause I now know what to expect. Landing was OK. Lift your feet and that’s it. Land on your butt, kiss the ground, then try and walk away in a straight line with your head spinning like a Shane Warn leg break. Good luck!

Back to San Gil for a nerve calming beer. It’s early afternoon, but heck, I deserve it!

Oh yeah, Wade has one final treat in stall for us. Ants. And not in your pants, but rather in your gut! Horrible. I wasn’t keen, but after enough stick from Stubbsie I had to give it a go. It really didn’t taste of much, and reminded me of eating the burnt popcorn from the bottom of the bowl that no one else wants to eat because it tastes like crap!

Monday 7th November – Day 155

San Gil to Taganga, Caribbean coast – 396 miles / 638 km

We set ourselves a goal. Travel 630km for the day and be safely at our hostel on the shores of the Caribbean Sea before dark. This may not seem much compared to say, landing man on the moon for the first time, but it is! 450km is our biggest day since leaving America.

We start early, engines firing up at 6:40. It’s absolutely beautiful. This is how I pictured Columbia. Steep hills, lush vegetation and a road with more bends than pearl divers had in the early days (which may not mean much to non-divers. Tough!).

After about 8 hours my mind starts walking around. It’s had enough. I ask rather pleasantly for it to please come back, but it won’t. So I try and make it sit at the back of the classroom and face the wall like my teachers used to when I was all out of focus and mischievous. This seems to work. At least I have my mind back, but it’s not really listening, just singing this simple song over and over (I’m sure you’ll recognize the tune)…….

“Anything this car in front can do, I can do better…..

Anything this car can do, I can do……. SH$#$@#@TTTTTTTT!!!!” Lookout!

Anything except break it seems! I didn’t even see the speed bump, but I can see in explicit detail every tiny scratch in the paint work, and the driver’s big beady eyes in his rear vision mirror! Note to brain: Get back in your seat, face the front, stop singing idiotic songs and pay attention will ya!

It’s touch and go as to whether we make it before dark or not. Each 50km section of road is like taking a Chance card in monopoly. You always get excited when you land on it, even though you never know if it will be good or bad. For example, the first card said ‘Amazing views, race track like turns, smooth road with no pot holes, no police, no dogs, no pigs and no landslides - grab a massive grin as you pass GO and remove 14 minutes from your time. Bloody beauty! I love this game.

But then you roll the dice, and the next 50km Chance card says ‘Fallen power line. Stop bike and add on 6 minutes”. Then “Torrential rain. Pull over and put on fancy new rain suit. Add on 5 minutes.” And so it went until the final card which said “Straight roads, sunshine and no traffic. Minus 12 minutes and arrive before dark.”

Whooo hoooo! We made it!! Who said it couldn’t be done!

Tuesday 8th November – Day 156

Taganga – Fishing trip

I wish it was worth waking up at 5am. It wasn’t! We could have just as happily rocked up at 10 O’clock and caught as much ‘nothen’ as we did in the horribly wee small hours of the morning. It was a pleasant day, and quite enjoyable. Just not as pleasant or as enjoyable had we caught some fish!

That’s not entirely true. Wade managed to snag a small shark as it surfaced chasing the burley trail. Then, to the absolute astonishment of our fishing guru, he landed it in the neat, tangle-free pile of line spread across the bottom of the boat (we are using hand lines, not rods). The poor fellow didn’t have to say a thing, his eyes said it all. The line was no longer tangle free!

“I can’t believe the stupid gringo really is that stupid! What an idiot! Lucky I over charged them enough to put that down payment on the new boat I want to buy. Makes all this pain worthwhile!”

To give Stubbsie credit, he is a determined little bugger with more patients than the emergency ward after an all in brawl between Liverpool and Man United fans at a football match in England (I know, I know, it’s a different patience, but I reckon it’s a fair play on words and it does clearly illustrate just what he’s like). He spends the next 3 hours untangling the line. I couldn’t believe it, it actually did it.

Wednesday 9th November – Day 157

Taganga – Awesome ride into the hills

Here’s a mighty tough question. For a pick of the board, and a chance at $1000, what do the Bergalia Boys do for fun on a day off from riding? And no, as of yesterday it isn’t fishing!! That’s right. We go riding. When 42 000 Km just isn’t enough…….

So ride we did. Awesome, awesome, awesome. Just don’t ask Roger. He may tell a different story!

The plan was to ride into a small town in the hills, explore some waterfalls and go for a swim. We planned the ride, we didn’t ride the plan! We did manage to stop for a drink in the town, and then noticed an interesting looking trail disappearing into the hills and off the GPS.

“What do ya reckon lads? Shall we give ‘er a go?”

Wade had to hold Smokey back she was so keen (left the panniers behind, which is like feeding a racehorse straight oats). Roger, well, all I can say is that he didn’t say no. Perhaps he should have. 3 km and a broken clutch lever later, he definitely should have!

The next three hours were a blast! Massive bog holes (which at one point even had a landcruiser reaching for the shovel!), creek crossings, rutted out steep hills and slimy rocks. You don’t have to be Gordon Ramsey to roast a meal of supreme pleasure with those ingredients. Just mix, serve, sit back and watch the smile grow.

3 more crashes later and Roger’s absolutely chock-a-block full. Certainly no room for a chocolate mud cake for desert! His knee was bent back at joint threatening angles during his last ‘step-off’, at which point he said enough was enough.

“It just isn’t worth breaking a leg, again.”

I ride ahead to scout the road. It was bad. Roger started walking, Wade and I taking it in turns to ride his bike. In one particularly snotty downhill section, which I might add I have already ridden twice on my scouting mission, I slow right down to show the others the best line. I must say, I did a bloody good job! After I lost most of my front wheel in a BMW swallowing trench and crashed, I was able to walk over and point out the correct line. If a picture is a thousand words, I reckon I just wrote a book with that little visual display! Gee, I’m a great bloke sometimes! Needless to say Wade makes it safely down. Damn!!

It was the longest, most drawn out, boring crash yet. I think I actually fell asleep at one point! Already stopped but off-balance, I couldn’t get the bike up right. I was hauling with all my might, battling bravely against gravity. Wade even had time to park his bike, take off his helmet and gently place it on the mirror, then get off and casually stroll 20m towards me before gravity, with gnashing jaws and a ferocious scowl finally landed the winning blow and poor old Aialik toppled over. Bugger!

Crashes: Wade 11, Philip 8, Roger 7, Andre 1, Pancho 1, Kev 1

Thursday 10th November – Day 158

Taganga to Cartagena – 125 miles / 220 Km

Boring ride, so might take the chance to introduce a new section called My Say. This is where, as the name suggests, I rant on about something, spewing forth my ideas like a 15 year old girl after sneaking into her first Ladies Night and drinking too many free wines. It’s all probably wrong so don’t pay too much attention!

My Say:

Rubbish. Its everywhere. I was parked on the side of the road the other day and this guy next to me finishes his chocolate bar then throws the wrapper on the ground and easily as you’d swat a mozzie buzzing round your ear.

“Hey mate, pretty sure you dropped something!”

Nah, I didn’t say that. But I did think it. I know Columbia is a poor country, but how much does it cost to walk to the bin. Nothen. Sometimes people just need a little education, like in Aussie. Do the right thing, throw it in the bin. I know you remember that!

Then you look round at where you are and start to understand. There are no bins, and even if there were there wouldn’t be anyone to collect it, or anywhere to take it. Not so much the case in the cities, but certainly in the country. Rubbish is an expensive business. Just look at what a ute load costs in Aussie. These guys would have to take out a loan just to drop off the weeks rubbish. Litterally!

Initially to me it was a sad state of affairs. But you only have to look at how far the country has progressed in the last ten years. Talk to enough locals and they paint a grim picture. Drug gangs ruled the city streets, making it dangerous for even the locals to walk around. Small towns and villages were open to attack day or night. The only defense was to hope it was some other village, some other person’s turn to die tonight.

Columbia’s bounding forward. People are happy and feeling safe. The talk amongst back packers and adventure riders is no longer about the dangers of travelling thru Columbia, but rather the amazing experiences you will have and the friendly people you can’t help but meet. The two previous governments have done a superb job at cleaning up the living, breathing ‘garbage’. Give them time. I’m sure they will clean up the rest of the trash too.

Friday 11th November – Day 159

Cartagena - Festival

The festival is worth a visit. I wouldn’t plan my next trip to Cartagena around the festival, but it is good. Traditional dancers wearing traditional dress. And of course the crowing of Miss Columbia. Mmmmmm, Miss Columbia! The rain may not have stopped, but after Central America, the girls of Columbia have certainly added the silver lining.

Saturday 12th November – Day 160

Cartagena to Mompox – 153 miles

There is the easy route, and there is the Bergalia Boys route. Knowing which one we’d take, Roger left us in a cloud of dust, actually, as usual, just a rain cloud.

The first back road we tried was simply ridiculous. I’ve never experienced mud like it. Even the donkeys struggled! When animals are having difficulties in four-hoof-drive, it’s a dead giveaway that it most certainly is not a road you want to be doing on the big, fully loaded GSA. It wouldn’t be a case of if we crash, but how many times we crash.

I turned round as soon as I could, called Wade a big girls blouse for not even attempting the hill, and motored on to the next side road. Spending 4 hours melting up the tar and tearing thru 60 km of mud was sensational. A short ferry ride and we rolled into Mompos. A neat town, but the true beauty lies in the road leading you there.

Sunday 13th November – Day 161

Mompox to Yarumal – 300 Miles / 482 km

Today was open to anything. Fastest route, shortest route, avoid highways route. We wanted the off road route, but with nearly 500 km to travel we’d have to play it by ear. Start fast, finish rough and slow if we have time.

Fast start? Yeah right! We were away early, but after only 45 km the road ends. Bugger! There is a ferry coming. Yah! It doesn’t leave for another 4 hours. Bugger! We can take a canoe instead. Yah!

Another one of those magic moments on our adventure. Once again the panniers are removed and the bikes manhandled onto a small vessel of dubious seaworthiness. As Wade said, “Fan-bloody-tastic!”

Yep, couldn’t sum it up any better myself. And I thought I had a way with words!

Unloading was interesting. It was a bit of a thrill riding the bikes up the ramp and over the bow of the canoe. Due to the anorexic nature of the front of the boat there was a stretch of about 1m where you couldn’t put your feet down, and if the bike started to fall no-one could get into any sort of position to help you. Get it wrong, and ‘plop’, the big GSA is on the bottom of the river. Truly, a case of shut the eyes and ‘give it to her’!

Everything has a price, and we paid for our fun with chunks of time. At least the decision as to which route to take was easy. Only option left was the fastest route. Even then we didn’t make it to our destination. Stayed in a sweet town in the mountains instead. 16 000 Pasos, or about $8.50 for a double room, dunny and all. Beauty!

Monday 14th November – Day 162

Yaramul to Medellin – 83 miles / 134 km

Back roads to Santa Fe, then onto Medellin for new tyres. At least this was the plan. We rode off into the hills on dirt, and are immediately blown away by what we see, the most amazing dairy farms. We could be back in Aussie, gum trees and all, except it never gets this green at home. The farms couldn’t have looked better had they been managed by 4th generation farmers in Australia or New Zealand. Not a single bit of rubbish, not a single wire or fencepost out of line, and knee deep grass. Even the tops of the posts were painted. Simply beautiful.

Except we were lost. Well, not really lost. We knew how to get back to where we started, we just couldn’t get to where we were going. Annoying!! Wade asked 6 people for 6 different answers. Aaarrgghhhhhhhh!!!!!!!! At one stage we actually rode down a lane on some guys farm. But stranger than that, two blokes pulled a bullock loaded with 6 milk cans out of our way so we could pass. Buggered if I know where he thought we were going! Jolly decent of him to let us thru and ride around his farm. Lovely people the Columbians!

Bergalia Boys, riding GSA’s where no GSA has been before…….

Finally two people were in agreement that we had to go back to the last town and start again. So we did. Police have set up a road block. Finally, someone to ask who may actually have travelled further than the next valley and might actually know what they are talking about. They said the road is cut. Too much rain. Damn you rain! And damn you Santa Fe!

“Stubbsie, lets get out of here and head straight for Medellin. I’m way behind on this bloody blog. I could use a few spare hours!”

Even this simple task proves too difficult. As we round a bend there is a cool bar, an even cooler view, and hangliders. Like that poor little shark, Wade rides straight up this ‘burley trail’ of adrenalin and is hooked. I’ll leave it up to Stubbsie to tell the story. All I’ll say is that this time he didn’t scream like a little girl watching Robocop for the first time…….. oh wait, that was me. In my defense, it was a very frightening movie for an 8 year old back in its day. But enough of me, back to Wade. I reckon he was just too damn scared to scream!

Tuesday 15th November – Day 163

Medellin – Catch up day

Drop the bikes off to BMW. Mine needs new tyres, BADLY! They were to be replaced in Bogota, but a mix up meant there were no knobbies for us. My front tyre was buggered due to the extra breaking required when Rieke was on board. It’s been a very nervous time in the wet. It’s so bald now that I’ve completely worn the knobbies away, to the point where I’ve started eating into the surface of the tyre itself. Not good! I don’t want to sound as if I’m crying like a little school kid who had his lunch money stolen, but if I had a decent tyre (like Wade’s) for that last crash……. Nah, just kidding! No excuses. Just saying I don’t ever want to run a tyre into the ground so much as that.

You little ripper! Finally I am up to date!



Wednesday 16th November – Day 164


A few minor issues on the bikes means another day in Medellin. Even Aialik needed a little attention. Unbelievable! Nothen too serious. I couldn’t get the steering lock to work, then couldn’t get the key out. Stubbsie still has water leaking into his rear hub.

Routa 40, the BMW dealer in Medellin is fantastic. They attacked everything with glee and had us on the road in no time. Anybody needing work done, or new tires should give them a call. Contacts details below.

TEL... +57 4 4481840 EXT: 107

CEL... +57 3105081731

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


GPS co-ordinates: N 06° 13' 48.3 " W 075° 34' 11.0"

We stayed in Casa Kiwi, a fantastic little hostel. They are super bike friendly offering a lock-up garage, and even better than that, a 10% discount to bikers. They have a great social area, cheap beers, a pool table and mini theatre for TV/movies. Do yourself a favor, check it out! We met 9 other riders there, and had a great couple of days sharing stories and showing off ‘war wounds’ from the previous months of intensive travel.

Interestingly enough, one of the stories was about being robbed at gun point (one of which was a stick, but still looked very threatening!) and machetes on the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Turns out it was on the same day, and only about 25 km away from one of the roads we travelled on at about 10:30pm during our midnight mission back from the Mexican border. Sometimes it’s good to be lucky!

Thursday 17th November – Day 165

Medellin to a town way up in the hills deep inside coffee territory–130 miles / 210km

After a few days caged up in the city it’s time to get moving. Everyone we talked to had a different opinion of how to get to our destination town of Manizales. I reckon it’s great when this happens because it means whichever way we go, it’s gonna be fantastic! Flipping a coin, we ride east. The Heads / Tails gods were surely smiling down on us today because it was just so much damn fun!! I LOVE COLUMBIA!!!!

Immediately after leaving the city we are onto country roads, having a blast. It’s still bitumen, but no cars, no trucks, and only a few horse drawn carts to swerve round. Brilliant! After 2 towns we are still on track, still on the GPS. We then end up on a muddy dirt trail doing its best to impersonate a road, but failing. The scenery is stunning. There are times when no matter how good the riding, you simply have to stop and soak it all in. We are way off the beaten track, deep in the hills at about 3000m elevation in the heart of coffee country. It reminds me a little of Kenya and Uganda. The terrain is so steep it’s difficult to walk, yet the locals are working the ground by hand, producing some of the world’s most sought after coffee beans. Transportation to market is by any means available, from horse and cart, to motorbike, and for the really flash farmers, by truck. Simply amazing.

Enough of that scenery crap. If you really wanted to know how superb it is and what it looks like you would have already looked it up in a book, or on the internet if you are under 35 yrs old! So let’s talk about something really interesting. Crashes! She was pretty serious terrain today, and I know the GSA is a dual-purpose machine, but I don’t think the Germans had this road in mind when they engineered a 780 pound beast (fully loaded).

I wait on a bridge at the bottom of the valley, enjoying the fact that I actually made it down. It’s so quiet, so peaceful. Perfect. I love being in the bush. The dramas of the world do not even exist. Then I realize it’s a little too peaceful, a little too quiet. I can’t hear Smokey. Where is she? What’s Wade doing? Another photo I bet! I’m startled by the harshness of the intercom, then start laughing. Stubbsie had a fight with a rock protruding from the bank. And lost!

Not only did he damage the fuel bottle (the third he’s mangled! At least he can still use this one) but the pannier has a whopping great dent and the lid no longer fits. It gets funnier, I mean worse. The contact from the rock was so brutal Smokey flipped onto the other side and broke that pannier too! Not a bad effort Stubbsie. You just needed it to roll a bit more and you could have damaged the top box and claimed the trifecta! 12 – 8.

There is more to come. Trying to start on a horribly steep, rocky hill Wade fails to make the Magic 5. “Whats the Magic 5?” I hear you ask. Well, that’s the 5m it takes to get these bikes moving enough to put both feet on the pegs and be able to stand up and see over the windshield. Before that, anything can happen, and often does! Usually it’s bad. So it was for Wade today. Not enough momentum to track over the rocks, and down he went. I think he left a couple of testicles on the tank bag by the looks of things. He was certainly shortened up for a while!

“Hey Mate, that’s a pretty silly place to leave them. You never knew when they might come in handy!”

13 – 8.

I can’t let Wade have all the fun. I want a go too! Clawing up a pretty steep hill, I look to the next bend and see a bike parked across the road. “What a bloody stupid place to park. Why would anyone want……. Oh, I see.” There is a mudslide ahead, with a 4WD stuck in the middle of it. We stop the bikes, and park across the road.

After checking out the knee-deep mud and picking a path, Wade sets up the video camera while I get ready to plough thru. I decide to cross the first ‘easy’ bit, a stream of water flowing over the road, while waiting for Wade to come back and give me a hand over the rough stuff. I didn’t even get close to the Magic 5. In fact, I don’t think I even let the clutch all the way out before I topple over. Bloody lucky actually cause I stupidly left the tank bag open and my phone and canon camera tumble onto the road, about 1m shy of the water. Crap!

It’s been a long day, so I think a little re-cap is in order. At the start of the day we had:

  • Very clean bikes thanks to BMW Medellin
  • Astonishingly clean and sweet smelling riding gear thanks to Casa Kiwi
  • Straight panniers
  • Camp stove fuel bottles completely unharmed
  • 191 km to travel to Manizales.

At the end of the day we had:

  • 2 busted panniers
  • Filthy riding gear smelling like a fat Russian ladies underpants after waddling a ½ marathon in hot, moist, sweaty, tropical conditions. I think you get the picture
  • Damaged fuel bottle
  • 8 solid hours on the bikes, 215 km on the clock and still 60 km short of Manizales (I’ll explain how this happens later)
  • Exhaustion
  • Smiles from ear to ear and the best days riding you could dare dream of.
  • Crashes. We had a lot of crashes. Wade 13 – Philip 9!

Friday 18th November – Day 166

Unknown town in the hills to Manizales – 49 miles / 79 km

Bit of a recovery day. We need it! Roll into Manizales, sort accommodation and find a guy to fix Wade’s panniers.

I mentioned earlier that we covered a lot more ground than the GPS originally promises at the start of the day. The reason for this is twofold.

1. We get lost. It’s pretty hard not too when often times you’ll come to an intersection (on dirt roads we’re talking here) not marked on the GPS. Which way to go? Who knows! Then towns listed on the paper map aren’t the same as the towns on the GPS, and, if in the unlikely event there is a road sign at an intersection, well, the towns on the sign never seems to rate a mention anywhere! Bloody useless! If you ask 4 locals for directions you inevitably end up with 9 different answers! So we get lost sometimes. There are people out there who tell us they never fall off, never use a map and never get lost. Either they are uncontrollable liars, or never leave the safety of the main roads for some fun and excitement. You’re in a foreign country. Go live a little!

2. The GPS gets lost. Well, not really lost, but instead of recording every corner it takes a few points along the road, then connects the dots with straight lines. It’s pretty funny to see our trail weaving like a drunk all over the plotted road. This does however cause some problems to the novice traveller. For instance, today the GPS proudly announces its 50km to Manizales. We ride 80. That means in a 250 km day, you might travel an extra 125 km, and at an average speed of 30 – 40 km/hr, that can really mess up you plans! You need to allow plenty of time to get anywhere.

Saturday 19th November – Day 167

Manizales – Day ride round a volcano (yeah right!). 83 miles / 134 km

This is what we live for! Drop the panniers and let’s go riding! Having learnt from previous experience we always carry tire repair kits, pumps, even spare tubes, and of course enough camera equipment to film the 2012 Olympic Games from 15 different angles! With this piddely amount of gear it really feels like you’re floating! Honestly, with the Ohlins shocks finally dialed in these bikes could be compared to a Yamaha WR 250. Ok, Ok. You’re right. That’s rubbish! A WR 450 then.

I have to take a moment here to say how good the Ohlins shocks are (and no, they havent’t sponsored us……yet!). It took nearly 2 months and about 4 attempts to finally get the things working properly, but now the bike is simply sensational. Tuning shocks is a bit of a dark art, and pretty much impossible for the novice. Still, I can see Clint’s eyes rolling now.

“Mate, I’ve shown you how to tune a shock at least 5 times! It’s easy! If you twist this knob that way, then dial this one in like this, turn that knob 5 times anti-clockwise and then 3 full rotations clockwise before twisting that funny looking ring-nut to the left until this mark lines up with that screw….. and you’ll get the shock to work perfect. See, I told you it’s easy!”

“Yeah, righto Clint. No worries!”

What an awesome ride! This is the way to experience a foreign country! The dirt road reminds us of some of the tracks around home, and we could easily have been in the national park we call our backyard in Australia. Except we’ve passed 3000m already! Then we have to pull up for a land slide, again! 45 minutes of digging in the mud, pushing, pulling and heaving like it’s a section of the World’s Strongest Man contest, and we are thru. Let me tell you, the bikes no longer feel like a WR 250! More like a jumbo jet.

Unfortunately by the time we are rolling again the clouds have moved in. Determined, we push on. Bloody idiots! Climbing, climbing, climbing, we reach 4129m. That’s high. In fact, you’d need to place 25 Boeing 747-400’s end to end on top of Mt Kosciusko to make it to the same altitude. Or 514 Mini Cooper’s. However, you’d never know it cause we can’t see a thing, except its cold. Damn cold, and damn wet. Some locals tell us the road ahead is blocked by yet another landslide. Defeated, we turn round and head home, the easy way.

Or so we thought. Only 15km from a warm shower, we are once again defeated by a landslide blocking a major road. Traffic is backed up further than some poor bugger with 10 days worth of constipation, and after waiting 20 minutes we are told it’s going to be at least another 3 hours before they let some of the traffic thru. Crap! (not literally, and especially not for the poor fella with constipation!). Back up the hill into the clouds and the cold before heading home on the dirt. Super! It’ not all doom and gloom. There is some humor here. Wade’s left grip no longer has heating, and his winter gloves are safely back at the hostel. Fingers too cold to pull in the clutch. Now that’s funny!

Sunday 20th November – day 168

Manizales to Cali – 209 miles / 336 km

Wade has 2 almost straight panniers. And you won’t believe how expensive it was! 20 000 paso’s! Not bad at $10 Aussie. Labor is very cheap in Columbia.

Kitebording and windsurfing on Lago Calima. A day off the bike and a chance to break out the camping gear. Sounds fantastic right? Wrong! Bloody rain! Honestly, I’m a patient, easy going guy, but this is really starting to get annoying! In fact, it’s actually p#@@#$ing me off now! So we leave.

We did meet a bloke called Roberto who owns a kite boarding school on the lake. Turns out he also owns one in Ecuador. With promises of sun, warm weather and perfect boarding conditions we change plans and decide to meet him there in 10 days time. Common sunshine! You can do it!

Monday 21st November - Day 169

Cali to San Agustin – 169 miles / 272 km

In nearly 6 months and 45 000 km of amazing, mind blowing memories, today tops the lot. Finally, finally I have my waterproof socks! Talk about 4th time lucky! Chuck out the garbage bags, forget the wrinkled feet, forget the stinking wet socks that are so bad they even have dogs running for cover, and you can definitely forget the mushy cheese of soggy peeling skin between the toes. I had a dream. I had a dream of warm dry feet, and today I live that dream. Thanks BMW Cali! I will never forget you.

Oh yeah, they also hooked up the computer and checked wades heated grip.

“Sorry mate, it’s buggered. Ya need another one”

“What? But can’t it just be a loose wire?”

“Nope. This here computer says it knackered. And if the computer says its knackered, its knackered. Get it yet? You need a new one, which we don’t have.”

Technology hey. Sometimes it can be useful. A bigger spare parts department would be even more useful!

The road into Agustin was pretty painful actually. A dirt road full of potholes, puddles and mud. Oh yeah, its raining again! Awesome! Who ever is still doing the rain dance, you can stop now! We’ve had enough! Its one of the rare occasions we both watch the km’s run down, wishing we were already there.

On the up side, the hostel is fantastic. One of the nicest rooms on the entire trip, and with in walking distance of the Parque Arqueologico, which contains about 130 statues dating as far back as 3000 years. If you are passing thru, be sure to check out Gamcelat Cabanas. It’s out of town on a small farm, very quiet, super nice with great food and a lovely family running the place. It’s cheap. How much better does it get!

Actually, it does get better. After a days riding in the rain, my feet are dry! Yah!!!!

An interesting fact I’d like to drop in here. Today we rode thru 28 000 miles, or 45 000 km’s. If you remember, that was the original distance we expected the entire journey to take. Whoops! Guess we were a little wrong on that one. Anyone want to guess as to the final total?

Tuesday 22nd November – day 170

San Agustin to Mocoa – 98 miles / 158 km

The head statues, or the statues of the heads, which ever you prefer, are pretty cool. Not the most intricate artwork you will ever see. In fact, if they were a painting they would resemble the brilliant, yet simplistic ‘Garage doors’ I was once so fortunate to gaze upon in the National Gallery in Canberra. There’s no doubt my parents and my brother will remember that one! And in case you’re wondering, yes, it was crap! So, in a round about way, I’m saying the statues are very interesting, and most definitely worth a look if you are in the area. However, their real beauty lies in the passing of time. If I live to be 100, and I reckon I will, then my time on earth will be about 3% of that of the statues.

Put it like this, if you watched an artist chipping away at a rock to produce a similar statue now you’d walk away. You certainly wouldn’t kick the gnome off the front lawn and replace it with one of these! But to think people were living here, right here where I stand now 1000 years before Christ, well that makes it pretty special! Time may wait for no man, but it seems to be hanging round a bit for these statues!

No longer kidding ourselves, we don the rain suits and waterproof socks before we even leave. I don’t care that it’s not raining now. I know it will!

We are not disappointed! It rains. But not for long. We decide to stop for a quick drink and a bite to eat in Mocoa before pushing onto Pasto for the night.

Its not long before a few people gather to look at the sheer beauty of Wade and I, I mean the bikes. Then a few more. And some more. Soon the foot path is blocked, and with all the passing traffic stopping for a look the road in now down from 2 lanes to ½ a lane. It’s amazing! There are flashes going off every where, and a constant stream of people posing next to us, their friends capturing the moment that no doubt will become a lifelong memory, for at least a day or two anyway! At one point I even had to put down the book I was autographing to hold a tiny baby that was placed in my arms. People were climbing all over the bikes, and at one point a guy even bought us some coke (we are in Columbia after all!) – A – Cola.

All jokes aside, it was a special moment, and one I will remember for a very long time.

Some local knowledge meant we stayed in Mocoa for the night. At only 120 km away we thought Pasto would be an easy afternoon ride. Its not. We are told to allow at least 5 hours! 5 hours? Really? Are you sure? Then we are told the name of the road. Trampoline of Death! How cool is that! So OK, maybe it will take that long.

We stay in Hostel Casa Del Rio, a really cool place that should be on your hit list. There’s a beautiful river by the front door which is perfect to cool off in the afternoon heat, great accommodation and all the information you need to check out the local attractions. Perfect.

Wednesday 23rd November – Day 171

Macoa to Pasto via a road called Trampoline of Death – 93 miles / 150 km

What a night! What a hang over! Ouch! The last serious session was in Phoenix, so we were about due for a drink. A couple of locals wanted to show us a good time. Good beer, good wine, good food, good karaoke ……….. wait a minute! Good karaoke? That’s like saying a good crash, or a good break after you snap your arm. Good karaoke indeed. There’s no such thing! It was a great night, and pretty interesting considering they speak zero English. We managed to chat into the wee small hours with broken Spanish and a few short pauses while we flick thru the English / Spanish guide.

Not the preparation one would consider ideal for tackling the Trampoline of Death!

Stinking hot and sunny when we leave the hostel, its cold and raining about 20 minutes later. For the first time in my life I feel ‘bike sick’! Or maybe it’s the hang over. Either way, this isn’t going too well.

Now it gets really interesting. There’s a truck up ahead. Not a semi, but a big truck non-the-less. And it’s crossing what looks to be a bloody river, which would be OK, except there’s no bridge. Wade and I pull up near the edge, stop the bikes and look at each other. Seriously? Are we really going to do this? Is this really a good idea? Strong flowing water and very muddy, making it impossible to see the bottom and all the gnarly rocks lurking there waiting to trip up an unsuspecting BMW, hung over pilot and all.

Of course it’s a grand idea. What could possibly go wrong!

Wade takes the plunge, I hold my breath. I can barely watch as he bumps his way across. A nervous moment as he nearly stalls on a vicious rock, but then Smokey powers up, and he’s thru. He made it! In my condition, I’m not sure that’s a good thing as it means now I have to go. Its my turn.

An hour a go I struggled to put on my boots, now I’m crossing what looks like the top of Niagara Falls on a bike that weights 4 times what I do. Well, if Wade can do it…… so can I. Normally I would stand on the pegs and ride thru with a little speed, let momentum carry you over the rocks. Not today! My balance isn’t that good. I edge slowly into the raging torrent, feet firmly planted every step of the way. As I reach the middle I can feel the water pushing the bike over. Then my worst fears come true. Noooooooo!!!! This can’t be happening! But it is, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. Water is way over my boots, and as good as my new socks are, they can’t beat that. I don’t believe it. After only 3 days, my feet are once again wet!

Yippiieeee!!! I manage to sneak my way across Niagara Falls (the water takes a pretty decent drop as it races off the edge of the road). Phew! This could be a long day!

The road condition is actually very good. Views are amazing, and the drop-offs which would see your bike plummet a good 500m or more straight down, never to be seen again, leaves you breathless. Or perhaps that’s the lack of oxygen as we once again climb thru 3300m. Simply put, it’s a ‘must do’ road!

The mountain pass is only 75km. It takes us 3 ½ hours! There’s a couple of reasons for this. First, you have to stop so often to film and photograph. Every corner stunning, every water crossing leaving you feeling tingly all over. Then there’s the traffic. I didn’t think roads like this existed anymore. It’s most definitely a single track, with a sprinkling of wider sections to allow trucks and buses to trade paint as they pass. It’s truly something to watch a full size bus back up this narrow Trampoline of Death road round a blind corner, then hold hands and waltz with a truck as they maneuver like dance partners in order to pass. Wow!

Then there’s the crashes. I wish I could forget to mention this, but I can’t. Wade won’t let me! The first crash was plain unlucky, and over in an instant. I pulled over to let a truck pass, but a second look makes me think there isn’t enough room, so I ease forward and stop. Put my feet down, the bank gives way and that’s it. Down she goes! Bugger. 13 – 10.

Not more than 3 minutes later and I’m in the same situation, pulled over on the side of the road waiting for a truck to pass. Even now I reckon there was plenty of room, but then I was safely on the inside. He stops, refusing to move forward. There’s nowhere for me to go, except into the gutter. So in the gutter I go. No worries. Then I try and ride out. Worries! The front hops over the bank, but the back wheel slides along until the pannier hits the rock face. OK, not so good, but maybe this will help direct the rear end up and over. It doesn’t! Aialik is now leaning on quite the angle. I can’t go forward, I can’t go back. So I do the only sensible thing. Stop the engine and ease her down the rest of the way. I want to refer to the third umpire, but there isn’t one! It’s a tough world the Bergalia Boys live in.

Crashes: Wade 13 Philip 11

Another spectactular day. Fair dinkum, I’m gonna need to install an external hard drive to remember all the cool things we have done in the past 5 ½ months! Or write a few hundred pages!

Thursday 24th November – Day 172

Pasto, Columbia to Ibarra, Ecuador – 149 miles / 240 km

Way back in Bogota we saw a picture of a church on the wall of one of the hostels. To be honest, we are a bit over churches. This one looked so spectacular we had to go. And today we went.

In the mid 1800’s an image of the Virgin Mary appears in the rock face of a deep canyon. Obviously of serious religious importance, the decision is made to build a church enclosing the image. It is very impressive, and well worth a look. It’s called Santuario De Las Lajas and is only 10km from the border town of Ipiales.

The border crossing is easy. 10 countries down, 6 to go!


Ecuador and Peru 25th Nov - 27th Dec

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Friday 25th November – Day 173

Ibarra to Quito – 65 miles / 100 km

Today is pretty significant. Today we cross the Equator. Watching the GPS as it counts down to Latitude 00’00’000 is pretty exciting. Turns out it’s in the middle of nowhere, so we stop on the side of the road, take pictures of the GPS and some video. This is half way, sort of. Half way between the Arctic Circle and the Antarctic Circle.

We ride the back roads into San Antonio, the ‘middle of the world’ city (it’s the only city to be on the Equator), which was fantastic. A lovely dirt road winds its way down thru a steep gorge and back up the other side. But that’s not the highlight. No way. Not even close. The highlight is that IT’S SUNNY!!!! WOOO HOOOOO!!! Strewth, there might be some truth to Roberts tall tale of sunshine and warmth down on the coast after all. Bring it on!

La Mitad Del Mundo is quite the tourist attraction. It is the site where Charles Marie de La Condamine calculated the exact location of the equator in 1736, leading to the implementation of the metric system and revealing that the earth is not perfectly round, but in fact bulges at the Equator. We were expecting cheap water tricks, showing it spinning in opposite directions as it drains in each hemisphere. But no. Couldn’t even find an egg to balance! A bit disappointing. Even still, it is something you just have to do!

On leaving we meet a few crazy Canadians. They have ridden from Whitehorse to here in 5 weeks, and aim to be in Ushuaia by Christmas. Crickies, that’s moving! To give you some idea, 5 weeks ago we were in Nicuarguia, and we left Whitehorse on the 30th June.

Ride to Quito and check in to Secret Garden Hostel, run by an Aussie. It has to be good! And it is. A great roof top area to hang out and drink gallons of coffee while blogging, watching thunder storms. Wade, the poor bugger, is once again off to BMW to try and fix his leaking hub. It was originally replaced in Phoenix, then repaired in Bogota and Medellin. Somehow water keeps getting in, and this time the bearings have gone. It’s just one of those things. BMW have been fantastic, and continue to do all they can to help us out. A new hub is to be sent to Lima in Peru. We give these bikes a serious work out, really testing the limits. We’ve done over 45 000 very hard km, and it’s by no means a poor reflection on BMW. In fact it’s the opposite. The after sales service has been exceptional all the way down thru America, Central America and now here in South America. BMW certainly stand behind their bikes.

Saturday 26th November – Day 174


Sometimes you just have to do it, whether you really want to or not. And no, fortunately I’m not talking about work yet! Another 4 months before I have to worry about that. I’m talking Bullfights. I’ve travelled to Spain regularly over the past 6 years and am yet to witness this intensely traditional event. In Ecuador, today is the day.

The first thing you notice is the festive atmosphere. It feels like you are on your way to a football grand final. The second is the age and gender of the crowd. I have a mental picture of the stadium packed with males aged 15 to 40, all lusting for blood. Not so. It really is a family event, and everyone from young girls to grandparents are chanting, clapping and screaming ‘Oley’ whenever the Matador teases the bull into yet another charge.

When travelling thru countries you have to respect their traditions and try to understand. The only way to do this is to get involved. I doubt I will watch another Bullfight, and although it’s not something I can ever fully understand or totally agree with, it was an experience I will never forget. We live in a world where everyone feels they have a right to free speech, a right to voice their opinions. OK, fine. But I think you must first earn that right. Experience the world before you tell others how to live in it.

Sunday 27th November – Day 175


A sad day today. Wade has a thing for volcanoes. Somewhat of a fetish actually. It’s really quite disturbing. So when he found a picture on the internet of a guy riding the rim of a volcano in Ecuador 2 years ago, well, it was something that absolutely had to be done, no matter what. The entire trip to Quito revolves round it. So you can imagine his disappointment when we met Colorado, a local motorcycle guide in Ecuador and find out the guy in the picture is him, and that he had to request special permission for the photo shoot. It’s not possible to ride the rim. Arrghhhhhh!!!! Now that really tears a hole in your new set of strides!

Nothen else of note occurs…….. oh, wait a minute. That’s just not true. Today I had a haircut and paid $1.25. Wade reckons I was ripped-off! After looking in the mirror, I tend to agree. It’s simply unavoidable, you get what you pay for!

Monday 28th November – Day 176

Quito - Day Ride 225 miles / 363 km

Dropped the panniers and followed Colorado into the hills. It was the fastest we’ve pushed the bikes on dirt. Even after 6 months, I am still surprised at just how well they handle, and in true dirt bike fashion, the harder you thrash them, the better they perform. At one stage poor old Colorado thought he was under attack. Missiles were smacking into his bike, then the final straw, a cricket ball sized rock to the shoulder. That’s gonna leave a bruise tomorrow! In a slight twist to that annoying rhyme:

How much rock can a rock chucker chuck if a rock chucker can chuck rocks?

Answer: A bloody lot if that rock chucker happens to be a 1200cc GSA named Aialik! She now comes with a warning on the rear mud guard– Danger: Keep clear when on dirt roads! A wasted warning actually cause no one can get close enough to read it! Ha ha ha.

Over 300km of dirt and some magnificent scenery. What a day! Thanks Colorado!

Tuesday 29th November – Day 177

Quito to Quevedo – 200 miles / 322 km

If yesterday was magnificent, I have no words for today. Which is probably a good thing cause this blog really is too bloody long anyway! We rode down little country lanes towards the towering, snowcapped Cotopaxi Volcano. Simply breath taking. Unfortunately the Ranger wouldn’t let us into the park. Bugger! Another volcano ride flushed down the toilet. Hmmmmm, toilet. Crickies, I wish I could fit one on the back of the bike today! I don’t remember consuming any of their food, but strewth, the Mexican Farts are back in a big way today!

Quilotoa Loop. Brilliant! Of course we didn’t follow the common, easy loop. No, instead we made our own. And not so much a loop as a wagon wheel of back tracks as we ‘trial and error’ our way west. Not too many of these trails are on the GPS, and certainly none on the map. Stunning scenery and superb roads. If this were it, and from here on we had to leave the bikes behind and travel by bus, I would still be a very happy man.

We haven’t finished yet! Back onto a main road leading to the coast for a lovely roller-coaster ride to the lowlands. The big GSA’s don’t miss a beat as we move from dirt roads meandering over rolling hills in the back country to steep, twisty bitumen. The road has a gut wrenching drop in altitude from 4,000m to just 150m in about an hour’s ride.

Oh yeah, a momentous occasion. Noteworthy. Memorable. After nearly 3 months of living the hard life in Mexico, Central America and now South America, I have to hurriedly snatch the dunny paper from Wade, find a suitable tree to hide behind, take off the jacket in order to flick off the suspenders, kick off the boots and drop the strides. What a mighty effort it turns out to be, and all in record time. Boy, are these Mexican Farts savage!

I ran over a chook today. That hasn’t happened before! It survived, but not with all its feathers.

Wednesday 30th November – Day 178

Quevedo to Manta – 116 miles / 187 km

Finally! After 6 months and 46 000km I have crashed! The previous 11 were amateur, good for nothen but a notch on the crash score board. But not today! Today was 4th gear, 50 km/hr. Excellent! It has to be said, the road really is shitty! When there are just too many potholes to fill, they dig it up, leaving dirt. As I dropped off the tar and rounded a bend on loose gravel a two wheel drift turned into a two wheel slide, which turned into “Argh Crap! This is gonna hurt!”

Two things flashed thru my mind. I know most of you think I’m not capable of such rapid thought processes, but I am. The first was “I can’t believe this is happening. Not here, not now. After so much hard core riding, I have my first decent crash on a main road taking it easy. How stupid is that!”

The second thought was “Just hold onto the old girl and she’ll protect you!”, and Aialik did. Between the motor and the panniers lies a place of refuge. I was still sitting on the seat, feet on the pegs and gripping the handle bars when we came to rest on the side, facing in the opposite direction. Not so much as a scratch, a bruise or even a broken finger nail. Just a busted panniers.

Which brings us to the Bergalia Boys Tip of the Day (actually a serious one this time): Buy metal panniers, not plastic. Busted aluminium is nothen but a pain in the backside. Anyone can fix metal. Busted plastic is nothen but rubbish!

The rest of the day was boring. The road sucked, the coast was ugly, there was no wind, the kite boarding school was closed and we couldn’t call Roberto. The only reason to ride here was for a few days of windsurfing and kite boarding. Instead of having a great time in the surf and sun, we spend the rest of the day in Manta fixing our panniers and patching riding pants. Not a total waste I spose, but come 7am tomorrow we are out of here!! Stupid Manta and its stupid GSA bashing roads!

Crashes: Wade 13 Philip, a rapidly improving 12!!

Thursday 1st December – Day 179

Stupid Manta and its stupid roads to Cuenca – 241 miles / 388 km

Today is a milestone. 6 months on the road and 46 700 km. Unbelievable. That’s 12 times from Sydney to Perth! And quite the fitting day as two records tumble at the same time.

It’s a beautiful ride from the foothills, over the pass and down into Cuenca. Clouds hug the mountains like a baby Koala clinging to the mothers back. Temperature drops as rapidly as our altitude rises. It’s fun watching the meters tick over on the GPS. 3,400m, 3500…..4,000m. Common baby, you can do it! 4100m, 4110m… just another 19m. 4127, 4128, 4129……. 4130m Whooooo Hoooooo! A new height record.

How high can we go? So mesmerized am I by the GPS and our record breaking, I don’t really take much notice of the Alpacas / Lamas (what’s the difference?) on the side of the road at the top of the pass. Besides, they must be used to traffic, aren’t they? No, they are not! As I watch 4162m roll by, this dumb animal freaks out and jumps onto the road. Obviously, as a youth it trained as a metal worker, and wanted a close up inspection of the repair work done yesterday as it runs straight into my pannier. Boof! For once I’m bloody happy the bike weighs more than a cement truck as I continue merrily on my way. The first Alpaca I’ve ever hit! And I didn’t fall off. Awesome! It was a pretty gentle blow, but still a fitting record to mark the 6 month milestone.

Crashes one day, a fight with an Alpaca the next. You just never know what’s round the corner in South America.


Up- load 19 9th Dec

Friday 2nd December – Day 180

Cuenca, Ecuador to San Ignacio, Peru – 283 miles / 455 km

Amazing! We pull into Loja before 9am for breakfast. A lovely town in itself, but who cares! We covered the 200km in a little over 2 hrs. A new record for anything south of America. Wade tells me the scenery was spectacular. “Scenery? What scenery? How good was the road!”

The next 250 km of rough, crappy dirt takes 8 hrs. Lucky we had some fun first!

Its decision time. The clock is ticking. Will we make it across the border and safely into the next town before dark? Yeah, I reckon we will, so long as nothen goes wrong.

As always, when time is an issue, something goes wrong. Wade gets a flat, again! I should really keep score of that. I think its 5 – 1, Wade with a massive lead! He manages to fix it, and so long as it’s a quick dash across the border, we’ll be OK.

It isn’t. It is however, quite interesting. The main crossing on the Pan American Highway accounts for about 90% of traffic. The next, about 9.9%. Obviously we didn’t do either of these ‘easy’ options! Instead we cross at El Bazal. The customs guy has to phone our details in as there are no computers, and no internet. No worries, that’s fine. Then he asks for copies. Wade, the ever prepared engineer grins with pleasure. He’s so damned organized he even has a shadow board in his paper work folder! Out comes the ‘magic 3.” A combined copy of passport and driver’s license (the Aussie one. Not once have we been asked to produce an international license. And that’s with a combined 18 years abroad!), registration and title. Then out comes the spanner, and yep, you guessed it. The customs guy throws it in the ‘works’.

“I need a copy of the exit stamp in your passport. But our photocopy machine doesn’t work. You’ll have to go to Peru for that!”

So we go to Peru.

“Pardon Senor, De Donde esta fotocopia?”

Hey Mate, where’s the bloody photo copier? The useless buggers in Ecuador don’t have one that works! Or words to that effect.

“3 blocks up the hill.”

Bugger! Its roasting hot, and we are walking in full bike gear. Sweating, we make the top of the hill, only to find the shop closed. Of course it is, and of course they won’t be back for another 3 hrs, maybe!

A friendly passerby radiates beams of hope. “Yeah, there’s a copy machine down by the bridge.”

Argh!!! That’s where we’ve just come from! Back down the hill, only to find that one broken too. Strewth, not a single copier between Ecuador and Peru! We go back and explain to the customs guy the situation. He smiles, says no worries. We can go.

“What? Well, why didn’t you just let us go before! Actually, don’t answer, it’s a stupid question anyway. See ya! ” and with that we are gone before he can change his mind!

The process into Peru was stupidly easy, just very slow. After all is said and done, we roll into town 10 minutes after dark. Not too bad.

HOORAY! We are in Peru!

Saturday 3rd December – Day 181

San Ignacio to Chachapoya – 187 miles – 300 km

A slow start. A painful start! Money. We have no money, and that’s a horrible feeling. By the time we crossed the border yesterday the money exchange was closed. No problem, we’ll get money in San Ignacio. No, we won’t. There are no ATM’s and all the exchange places are closed for the day. Even so, we didn’t think it too much of a problem, it’s a border town after all. They must take $US (Ecuador uses American dollars). No, they do not! Pay by credit card? You must be joking!! So here we are, a pocket full of cash, and yet utterly broke! We needed accommodation, we needed food, and most important of all, after a long day riding in the dust, we NEEDED beer!

Wade manages to sweet talk a deal, and we can put everything on a tab. Wow, a real fairytale ending! Cool. So far, Peruvians are very nice people.

That was yesterday, this is today.

Insurance. We need insurance. At least, that’s what the guy at the border said. After chasing down a few options, we still do not have any. We do however have money. Yah! Great, let’s get out of here. We’ll deal with insurance later.

We waste another hour in the region’s main town chasing insurance. No one can provide any, and 2 ½ police tell us we don’t need it. We did actually ask 3 police, but the last guy really wasn’t all there! OK then, if that’s what you reckon. So, we have no insurance. Let’s see how that works out for us shall we.

Sunday 4th December – Day 182

Day trip to Cataratas Gocta – One of the world’s highest waterfalls at 774m

“A bus? What? Really? You want to travel with the common people? How absurd!”

So it is, the bikes are left in the shed, and we join forces with the ‘others’. Backpackers. Who’d have thought! Hope we don’t catch anything.

The falls are mighty impressive, and well worth hiking the 12 km round trip. It is two-tiered, but according to the Waterfall Geeks of the world it is one fall. This is hotly contested! Honestly, who grows up wanting to be a world expert on deciding if the ledge separating the two drops is small enough for it to be one fall, or too big, making it officially two water falls? So much pressure! Is it one, or is it two? One, two? One, two? Argh! I just don’t know!

I think the most remarkable thing about the falls is that it wasn’t discovered until 2002. I mean, the locals knew it was there, but didn’t tell anyone. I thought it must be a hidden secret, kept from the prying eyes of the white man by rainforest, or cloud. But no. It’s in full view for all to see. I think this gives you a pretty fair picture of the remoteness of the place.

Monday 5th December – Day 182

Chachapoya to Celendin via ruins at Kuelap – 185 miles / 298 km

The ruins of Kuelap are both spectacular, and disappointing. Located in a very remote area, it’s a good two days travelling over rough dirt roads to get there. They are very impressive and super quiet. I could hear Wade fart from 100 m away! Funny the things you do when you think you are alone!

At 10:30 there were only 3 other people and the place is so big we quickly lost them. Dating back to 900 AD, the defensive wall encircled over 400 houses and an estimated 3,500 people, as well as a few strange buildings, like an inverted cone. No-one has a clue as to why it was built. Suggestions are as weird and diverse as a torture chamber, burial site and water storage. I say weird cause there appears no entry (unless from the top) and the cone is filled with rock. The best explanation so far is an astrological calendar to determine the planting / harvesting season. To help paint a picture of the size, there are more stones in Kuelap than in the Great Pyramid of Giza. There, how’s that for some trivia I didn’t even make up!

Disappointing. There is very little information, so signs, and no English speaking guilds. So even though you feel like you’re standing amongst something special, you don’t really know what. Restoration work is minimal, to the point where Lemma’s roam freely.

That’s all very well and good, but the building blocks of my memory, built tough to last at least 50 years, is dug out of the road to Celendin. I think the best comparison can be made to Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Mmmmmmm, Julia Roberts! Just hang in there with me on this one OK! After you read it I think you’ll agree. The road started off quite nicely, but left me wanting more. It was pretty rough (hence Julia as a working class girl at the start of the movie. Still attractive but requiring some work, a bit of ‘spit and polish’ if you know what I mean), and the valley was pretty, but you just knew it had the potential to be ‘stop you in your tracks’ gorgeous. Beautiful. Stunning.

Climbing to 3700m we crest the ‘small’ hill, and ride into heaven! The full potential is unleashed. This is definitely Julia at her best after the transformation from working girl to classy girl, and the dreams of any hot blooded male off-road adventure rider. At times the sheer cliff reaching to motorcycle heaven on one side, and the drop into motorcycle hell on the other are so steep and imposing I was nervous riding the road. Breath. Just remember to breath!

It’s the kind of place you just don’t want to crash because the bike will either end up in a wall, or swallowed by the bottomless drop. So of course we crash! Wade drifts off line and into about 10-15 cm of soft gravel, and heads for the cliff edge in an uncontrollable slide. Smokey, even after all these years is still looking out for him, and miraculously steered the bike back into the middle of the road. A slightly bent pannier the only damage. Good on ya Smokey!

I am even more fortunate. Numbed by the sheer beauty of Julia R , I mean the mountains, I forgot I was riding a bike and crossed the built up gravel in the middle of the lane, ‘tank slapped’ for another 25m then dug chunks out of the road on my way to the wall. Unfortunately some of the chunks were dug with my boot.

As I was thinking “Crap, this is gonna hurt!” Aialik managed to pull up in time, and all went very quiet. My boot saved my ankle, and the bike is fine. Even the pannier escaped any damage. Oh Julia, you may be beautiful, but you can be downright nasty at times!

Crashes: A very fortunate 14 / 13. Wade with an infinitesimal lead about the size of one of our worn out rear knobbies!

Tuesday 6th December – Day 183

Celendin to Huanchaco – 277 miles / 446 km

Insurance. We still don’t have any. You can ask all the police in the bomb squad we saw after leaving Celendin (I’ll come to that in a sec), but until you’re stopped at a road block, asked to show papers and be waved merrily on your way, you really are pretty nervous about having no insurance. Maybe the police we asked earlier didn’t understand us, or more likely we didn’t understand them and we really do need insurance. Who knows!

Our fear comes to fruition as we are flagged down by the police, and yes, we are very nervous indeed! It’s the moment of truth. Do we need it, or don’t we? Do we, don’t we? Time will tell! We are asked for the usual, passport and temporary import papers. Phew! No worries, we have that! Then he askes for our seguro (insurance). Oh crap, here we go. This could get interesting to say the least! Wade came straight out and confidently told him we are tourists and therefore don’t need it. The guy said “Oh, OK. You can go then. Have a nice day!” So we went, as fast as we could!

Back to the bomb squad. For a few days we’ve been told various stories about Cajamarca. A huge mining operation was planned to open this week, and the locals are seriously up-set about it. Protests started out friendly enough, but in the same sense as you wouldn’t attempt to shoot down a terrorist plane with a .22 rifle and expect anything major to happen, so too the protesters needed more artillery than a few banners and clever slogans to be truly heard, to truly have a chance of ‘shooting down’ the mining operation. They have enforced road blocks, preventing supplies reaching town, and in some areas violence is erupting. The situation escalated to the point where yesterday it was declared a State of Emergency. Oh goodie!

We checked with bus companies earlier, and they have scheduled a route thru Cajamarca for today. OK then, if it’s safe enough for them, it must be safe enough for us, right? Let’s give it a go then! What could possibly go wrong for a few lads from Bergalia?

As it turns out, nothen goes wrong this time. Lucky. The only disturbances we noticed are police building tyre barricades in front of the station, and the previously mentioned bomb squad checking out a threat on the dam wall just out of town.

Seriously keen for some relaxation on the coast, we drop into Puerto Chicama. This beach is famous, known throughout the surfing community as the world’s longest left hand break, running 1.4 km down the beach. Strewth, you’d need a taxi back after catching one wave! But not today. Continuing the Bergalia Boys tradition of travelling out of season, fishing where there’s no fish, trying to kite board in areas renowned for kiting but having no wind for us, and riding under a constant rain cloud, we turn up to the best surf spot in the world on a day when there is absolutely no waves. I thought English beer was flat and a waste of time, but it’s nothen compared to how flat it is out there today. Let’s get out of here and stop wasting time!

We met Milan, a decent young bloke from Holland in Chachapoya. He said he had been volunteering, teaching English in Huanchaco and that it was a cool place to hang for a few days. He’s on his way back there now and can show us round. So here we are!

Wednesday 7th December – Day 184


Now I remember the other reason we are here. Beauty, I’m not that old and senile yet! It’s for the Caballitos de totora, which translated means reed horses. These boats were first used by the Moche culture 2,500 years ago. Some may say they resemble a kayak, but not me. To me they look more like a bloody great clog, that ingenious footwear found in Holland. Milan disagrees.

What I really love about these boats is that it’s the real deal. You can’t hire one in the morning because fishermen are using them to catch everything from crabs to large pelagic fish. This isn’t some tourist scam where you can rent a reed boat that may or may not resemble the type which may or may not have been used in these waters over 2000 years ago. Aside from packing them with foam and not the traditional chunks of coral for buoyancy, they are the same design as used by fisherman since the days before Noah floated the Arc for the first time, and they are still in use today. Simply awesome, and possibly the first craft ever to surf waves. We have to give this ago!

The locals make it look easy. We do not! We do however manage to paddle round in circles, and capsize surfing the attempting to surf the waves. Overall, a pretty pathetic performance, but good fun, and definitely a tick in the right box.

Reed boat Fact file

Weight: 80kg new. 120 kg when old, water logged and ready for retirement

Length: 12-14 ft

Max capacity: 1 fisherman plus gear and the catch for the day, or 2 people

Working life: 4-6 weeks

Build time: About 45 minutes for a pro to turn a pile of useless reeds into quite a seaworthy vessel.

Paddle: A stick of bamboo cut in half length ways. I don’t get it! I understand the boat. It’s very traditional, basically free, easy to make and after 2500 years I think it’s safe to say they have passed the test of time. The design works. Great, but get a decent paddle! The bamboo was horrible, painful and inefficient. It almost felt like I was back in the dark ages…. Oh, hang on a sec, I was!

Thursday 8th December – Day 185


Hang 10 dude! Is that still surfie slang? I don’t know, but it’ll have to do. As strange as it seems, after growing up on the golden beaches of Australia, neither Wade nor I can surf. So here we are, in Peru, learning to surf. Hopefully we can build on our new found talent in Lima with a few relaxing days just surfing and chill’en on the beach. Perhaps a beer or two. How good does that sound! Anyone out there jealous? Maybe just a little bit?

Friday 9th December – Day 186

Huancho to Caraz – 194 miles / 310 km

This is tough! After 186 days, most of which have been filled riding amazing bikes on amazing roads with amazing scenery, I’m running out of new, clever, interesting ways to describe it to you. Let me see what I can do.

Canyon del Plato. Duck Canyon. Buggered if I know why it’s called that, but it is. With more tunnels than a prison camp in WWII, this road rocks! Literally. With plenty of loose gravel and stones just waiting to trip up an unsuspecting BMW, I thought for sure Wade would extend his lead by at least one more crash. But no. He’s just not trying hard enough these days.

“Ya big blouse! Does your husband ride bikes too?”

I’ve read a few blogs, Wades seen a few movies (his motto: why read when you can watch?) and it seems this road is pretty popular with tour groups and private adventure riders alike. And for good reason. 33 tunnels, waterfalls, sheer drops into raging water and more curves than Pamela Anderson after ‘that’ operation, it rates as one of the top rides (as does Pamel….…….nah, I can’t say that! It is a kiddies show after all, and my supremely lovely mother is reading!). Let’s just say it’s a good ride shall we, and move right along.

A lot of what’s written about the road is a bit misleading I reckon. From the blogs you’d think it was special section of the Dakar rally, and not suitable for ‘normal’ people like me and you! While it pays to go easy on the loose stuff, for the most part it’s not a technical ride. Not easy mind you. That first beer at the end of the day is gonna taste mighty wonderful and you’ll feel very satisfied with the days work, but not too hard either. The rewards are worth chasing. The scenery is superb, and you’ll find it hard to keep your eyes on the road……..that is until the first ‘puckering’ moment when your front wheel slides across the built up gravel in the middle, and the truck coming the other way isn’t the only thing with a full load. You’ll find it pretty easy to focus on the road for the next ten minutes, that’s for sure!

Canyon del Plato. A great ride! Mark this one on the map.

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Saturday 10th December – Day 189

Caraz to Yungay via Largo Paron – A massive 53 miles! / 85 km

Phew! As I ride this superb road, my brain is in full overdrive trying to come up with a new, completely original, hilarious description for you all. But luckily, now I don’t have too because today is actually tomorrow, or if you prefer today really is yesterday. The best part about that? Well, the ride we do ‘tomorrow’ (which is actually today) is so much better! So, all I will say is if you are short of time, and find yourself in Caraz make sure you take the 3 hours or so for the return ride to Lake Paron before moving on for the day. It really is beautiful, the road perfect for the big BMW’s and touring bikes alike, and at 4200m a new height record for us. It doesn’t get much better than that. Oh, hang on a second. Yes it does. Tomorrow!

The existing town of Yungay isn’t the original Yungay. The first town is still there, as are 18 000 of it’s inhabitants. Forever. In 1970 a massive earthquake measuring 7.7 on the Richter Scale shook the entire country. Unleashing the full furry of Mother Nature, an avalanche left the summit of Mount Huascaran (6768m), 14 km away from Yungay. At speeds of over 300 km / hour house sized boulders, mud and ice bore down onto the town. With a little under 2 minutes, escape was impossible. Devastation total. Not a single building is left standing. The spire of the original church provided refuge to a lucky few as it too was picked up and carried away, but miraculously stayed in tacked. A bus, upside down and folded in half serves to demonstrate the power, the force of nature. 400 survivors were left to re-build the village they loved, only 2km away from the original site.

It was decided not to excavate anything. Instead it has become a wonderful memorial, and deeply moving. To walk above an entire town, to walk over 18 000 people is quite emotional. Live life now. You never what will come with the rising of the sun tomorrow.

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Sunday 11th December – Day 190

Yungay to Huara via mountain pass – 200 miles / 322 km

I’m at a loss for words. Even if we had done this ride 5 months ago it would be hard to describe! Simply put, I think it is one of the best days riding yet. Two supremely beautiful lakes with an aggressive back drop of sheer cliffs and stunning mountains sets the standard for the day. It gets better. Yesterday we could see snow, almost reach out and touch it. Last night I fell asleep, daring to dream that perhaps I’ll get a chance to ride thru snow before the trip ends. Today I do!

It’s a strange feeling to be only 9 degrees south of the equator, yet corkscrewing our way up a crazy road towards snow. 4200m comes and goes, and still we can’t see the top. Awesome, this record will take some beating! Finally, a cut in the rocks allows the road to pass over the mountains and begin to fall back to earth. I stop at the highest point, 4,713m above sea level. The tyres are covered in snow, as am I. I think it’s snowing harder than it’s been raining for the last 2 months, and it builds up on my jacket faster than our beer tab at the hostel!

4,713m. I love it! If you were to pick up Kosciusko, make a replica, then turn it up side down and put it end to end with the original, not only would you have a funny egg timer shaped mountain, but you still wouldn’t reach towards space as far as we rode today.

Which brings me to another point. The bikes run as sweetly at 4,700m as they do at sea level. I think that’s pretty damn cool. Thanks electronic injection!

Monday 12th December – day 191

Huaraz to Lima – 320 miles / 515 km

Its painful to write, but we have had enough of dirt for a few days and I am actually looking forward to a day of decent tar roads. That’s a bit like the Pope saying he’s gonna head out for a surf on Sunday morning instead of playing a fairly pivotal roll in the church service. Or New Zealand captain Richie McCaw saying he’s had enough of Rugby and would actually prefer to play soccer. Never gonna happen! Well, that’s what I thought about riding dirt, but today I need an easy day in the saddle, and some twisty bitumen roads as we drop the 4000m down to the coast will do just fine, thank you very much. It’s a first class road, and a nice change from the slow, technical off-roading we have been doing. It’s nice to mix things up a bit.

Originally we planed to stay on the coast north of Lima for a few days surfing, but it really is a dump of a place! Looking thru the guidebooks, we decide to pass thru Lima and go south for some action. Again, it’s well out of season, very, very quiet and frankly, just not appealing. Guess it’s off to Lima then!

We are staying in Kokopelli backpackers in Miraflores, Lima. A great place, and bike friendly. The roof top bar is fantastic. Look it up when passing thru.

Tuesday 13th December to Friday 16th December – Day 192 to 195


The bikes are in BMW for the 50 000 km service, new heated grips, and Wades new rear hub. It’s amazing. If something breaks on one bike, it inevitably happens on the other within a few days. Except for the hub. My hub is fine! Actually, I’m really only referring to headlights and the heated grips. Twice we have blown bulbs, and each time within 2 days the bulb has gone on the other bike. Then Wades heated grip stopped working. Which at 4000m in the rain is very, very amusing! Mine stopped working a few days later. Not funny! But then it started working again. Funny!

Lima is a fantastic city. Simply divine coffee shops, fabulous restaurants, a great backpackers and perfect conditions for learning to surf. Unfortunately the roof top bar is also perfect for drinking too many beers! Been some slow days, but fantastic to relax and take it easy for a while. I’ve even managed to finish reading a book! How good is that!

Saturday 17th December – Day 196

Lima to Nazca – 298 miles / 480 km

Another day, another record for the Bergaliaboys. Our first full day on the Pan American Highway. Yep, that’s right, an entire day of nothen but boring roads, crappy scenery, horrible trucks and stinking buses. Honestly, why would anyone do it to themselves!!!!

We had no choice. With Wades rear hub still procrastinating in Customs the only way we are going to see the Nazca Lines is to ride the 7 hours up today, and back to Lima tomorrow. On the stupid Pan American. Arrgghhhhhhhhh!!!!!

Oh yeah, one more thing. The stink. My goodness! Lucky we retired early last night because the slightest hint of a hangover and I would have been spew’en in my helmet for sure! And you know what, it would have been bloody wonderful cause the smell of my own vomit would be like fresh roses in the warm summer evening breeze compared to the ‘slap ya in the face’, terribly rude and offensive smell bashing threw the vents in my helmet and, against my strongest will, penetrating my ever so sensitive nostrils.

“Strewth Wade, I told ya to lay off the curry last night! If ya gonna keep that up ride behind me will ya!”

Actually, if it really were Wade, he’d be well dead to be stinking like that! It was some kind of seafood cannery, and next to it was a fertilizer company or some such. I tell ya what, when I’m having a really, really, really crappy day at work (Ha! Work. What’s that! I’m starting to know how my brother feels every time he goes off to ‘work’ flying his jets! Bloody lovely life style I have at the moment.)  I will think back to today and be absolutely certain, no matter how bad it is for me, it could be worse. I could live and work here in Pisco.

Unbelievably, we did have a bloody good seafood lunch in Pisco before we caught a wiff of ‘that’ smell. I nearly threw it back up.

Sunday 18th December – Day 197

Nazca Lines to Lima –

Do it. No matter what anyone tells you. Even Wade.

You can look at it two ways. Paying an extortionist rate ($80-100) for a ½ hour flight over a few faded lines in a desert crisscrossed with a million other meaningless tracks, including, believe it or not, the Pan American Highway! Yep, slap bang thru the middle of it. Good on ya, ya idiots! A waste of money. Or…

You can stare in wonder, and marvel at the Lines, which for two thousand years have been of better quality and straighter than any ‘lines’ on offer in Peru! Strangely enough Columbia had little or nothen to offer, but Peru. Wow! All you have to do is hire a surf board and wettie and you get offered, well, you get offered pretty much anything and everything you can think of!

Back to the real Lines. I thought it was fantastic, and would happily pay the money again. Wade wouldn’t! This is something you’ve heard about and read about since you were a kid. Unless you’ve only recently flown in from another planet there’s no way to avoid knowing something about the Nazca lines. In any case, if you’ve just turned up from another world you probably already know everything there is to know about the lines anyway! I’m sure, like everyone else on earth, no doubt at one time or another you wondered how and why they are here. After nearly a century of study, they are still a mystery. Who wouldn’t want to go and see what has baffled mankind for 100 years!

The ride back along the Pan American sucked!

Monday 19th December – Day 198


Dropped the bikes off early to BMW. Unfortunately Wade then had to spend 5 hours in various queues in Customs before he finally emerged triumphantly with the new parts. That’s 8 days they were held up, and then, can you believe it, they charge us $300 US for storage! Bastards! And all this could have been avoided had we known there was a $2000 limit on packages shipped into the country. The invoice had already been made-up, but without any knowledge of the limit, it was for $2115. Bugger!

It’s very nice to have both heated grips working.

Tuesday 20th December – Day 199

Lima to unknown very small town in the mountains on route to Cusco – 254 miles / 408 km

What a day! Google Maps very cheerfully informed us it was about 750 km and 13 hrs of ride time to Cusco. They are normally quite accurate, but not today! Strewth, I’d love a go on whatever vehicle they used to establish that time! It’d win the Dakar Rally no worries! We rode a solid 10 hours today, and half of it was on good tar roads. The rest was not! I wonder what tomorrow will bring.

As 5pm rolled past faster than we had managed to ride at any stage in the previous 6 hours, the end was most definitely not in sight! We ask for accommodation in the first town we come across. No luck. It’s not that the rooms are all booked, there just aren’t any! Yep, we are way up in the hills now.

Continuing on, we know where we are…… sort of. We are on a road next to a river, and there’s a road next to a river on the map. Beauty! We just don’t know where on the road we are, or what town we are in, or how much more of this bloody muddy road there is before the tar. There is, however, accommodation. Who cares what the town is called or where it is, we have a bed for the night!

And cheap! I think we have set a new record. 41 sol ($16 US) magically transformed into a private room (2 beds, shared bathroom), two course meal for dinner with a large beer, and breakfast. For both of us. That’s $8 US each. Not bad! I have to admit it wasn’t the Hilton, there is no hot water (which at 3000m after riding in rain most of the day sucked a bit!) , and they sure don’t have Gordon Ramsey back there in the kitchen but you get what you pay for. Actually, I reckon we paid a whole lot less than that!

Speaking of records, today we rode higher than ever before. It felt a bit hollow as we were on quite a nice bitumen road at the time. A bit like winning a grand final when the opposition has 2 men sent off. You’re happy to win, but you’d rather do it against a full strength team. It was still a blast watching icy snow fall onto the GPS at 4,822m (15,820 ft).

Incidentally, we crossed the highest railway line in the world. Not a bad day really!

Wednesday 21st December – Day 200 Woooooo Hoooooo!!! 200, yeah baby!

Unknown town to Andahmaylas – 245 miles / 394 km

200 days! Yah! It’s hard to believe. 200 days on the road , over 52 000 km and we haven’t even punched each other yet! Not bad hey!

What will today throw at us? The road could stay a dirty, muddy mess and take days, or it could turn into a beautiful bitumen road in the next 20km and have us rolling into Cusco before dark, ready for our horse ride tomorrow. That would be good!

It wasn’t good! Dirt nearly all day. Rain and mud. Awesome! And slippery, my goodness is it slippery. If you were to try and walk across a kiddies pool ankle deep in eel slime, you’d get an inkling of an idea of how slippery it is. At one stage I pull over to video Wade riding past, but it’s so slippery, without forward momentum I can’t keep the bike up right. I ride on before I have to chalk up another stupid zero speed crash!

Argh yes, crashes. It brings me no pleasure, no delight what so ever to inform you that Wade crashed again. Well, maybe just a little. It is getting a bit close after all! Actually, I have to say a drop is a more apt description, and it’s bloody harsh having it written in the record books for eternity as a crash. Still, as I’ve said before. It is a harsh world the Bergalia Boys live in!

It could have been pretty nasty actually. Wade filmed me ride past, then started off himself. The road was so damn spectacular, it had to be recorded. With all the rain the Go-Pro’s are on and off our helmets like a prostitues undies, that’s actually a bit rude. How bout I change it this: ‘on and off like me on the toilet the other day after eating some pretty ordinary ceviche’ (raw fish ‘cooked’ in lime juice). We were at 3,450m in the mountains far, far away from the sea. Idiots! A school boy error really, which we deservingly paid full price for.

Anyway, I’m a bit lost. Let me see. Crash, crash, crash……. Oh yeah, that’s it. Wades crash. Ha! He stopped to put the Go-Pro back onto his helmet, didn’t turn off the engine and therefore didn’t leave it in gear. Smokey pig rooted a bit (first time for everything!) and rolled down the hill. His foot slips before he can reach the brake, and bang! Smokey’s on the deck. Not too bad you’d think, and normally you’d be correct. Unfortunately this time he was so close to the edge after pulling over to film that the handle bars are actually over the cliff, next stop 100m straight down! It gets worse. Wade’s backpack gets stuck on the mesh of the pacsafe (wire netting we put the yellow bags in and lock to the bike, preventing mongrels running away with them. A bloody great invention - Pacsafe). He can’t move! Unstrapping the backpack, he manages to crawl over the bike and is one very relieved kiddy to have solid ground under his feet instead of 100m of solid bugger all! I’ve never seen anyone shaken after a 1km/hr fall, but after that one Stubbsie was like a James Bond martini.

Crashes: Wade 15       Philip 13

Thursday 22nd December – Day 201

Andahmaylas to Cusco – 202 miles / 325 km

I don’t believe it! We finally make it to Cusco. After only 29 hrs of hard off road riding and 1030 km. Hmmm, 30km / hr average. Yep, it was tough going! Nothen like the 13 hrs and 750km google maps promised.

Today I won an award. In fact, I have to make a new category to cater for this little gem. I’m actually nervous writing about it, it was so stupid. You’ll have to excuse the language, but after reading it I think you will agree. Today I award myself the ‘Absolute Dickhead Award’. And here’s why.

After cresting a hill we had to stop and film. A patchwork quilt of fields unfolds before our eyes, all different colours on a vast open plain. Very cool, and actually something different. So wade sets up the camera and I do the ‘ride-by’. Nothen stupid there. It’s the straightest bit of road in Peru, and I stop and wait for him after rounding a few bends well out of sight of the camrea.  I can’t pull over on the right, so I pull over to the left.

My mind empties itself of everything important as I switch off, playing with my i-pod, sunnies and GPS waiting for Smokey. I wait what feels like far too long for Wade to catch up. In the past I’ve twice had my leg pinned by the pannier after dropping the bike at walking speed and been unable to lift it off. It’s a wide tar road, so I decide to go back. I mean, even if we meet on a corner it’s just like passing any other vehicle right? What could possibly go wrong?

Stupid. That’s what goes wrong! Thinking nothen of it, as if it’s the most natural thing in the world, I turn round and head back up the opposite side of the road to what I was on. Like I have done for over 30 years in Australia. When you are so completely sure you are in the right, you never think to question it. Unfortunately I’m not in Australia, and haven’t been for most of the past 6 years! Even as I see Wade tearing towards me on the only blind corner between where we had both pulled up, my first thought was “Bloody hell, the idiots on the wrong side of the road!”

Neither of us can think in the next split second. We need to react quicker than that, or Circle to Circle becomes Circle to ……… I can’t bring myself to write what it would have become.

My intercom starts, but we are too far away and all I hear is static. I’m sure he wasn’t asking if I’m hungry and do I want to stop for lunch.

So simple, so stupid. I hope I never experience anything like that in the future. Ever. It was very scary.

Bergalia Boys tip for the day: If you ever have to go back for your mate, please, please follow these simple steps

  1. Ride back VERY slowly, as if you expect to run into them
  2. Stay as close to the outer edge of the lane / road as possible
  3. And for goodness sake REMEMBER WHICH SIDE OF THE BLOODY ROAD YOU SHOULD BE ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday 23rd December – Day 202

Cuzco to Aguas Calientes (base of Machu Picchu) – Train

Unfortunately the train doesn’t actually leave from Cuzco, but rather from Poroy, a half hour taxi ride away. It’s an early start, and it starts raining early. Great, more crap weather for us!

It’s a neat 3 hour train ride. But not as neat as the lovely sunshine we see in Aguas Calientes Yeah baby, bring it on! Making the most of the sun, we frolic about in the Hot Springs and drink beer. A bloody lovely afternoon!

Dinner is a ‘Circle to Circle’ special. In other words, a new experience for both of us as we tantalize the taste buds with Llama. Unfortunately not the hairy bugger that ran into me back in Columbia, but I felt satisfied none the less. Who says revenge isn’t sweet!

Not wanting to be too negative, but it tasted rubbish! Did I really get the last laugh I wonder?

Saturday 24th December – Day 202

Machu Picchu then train back to Cuzco

3:29am            It’s dark, it’s quiet, it’s warm. I’m asleep, and all is right in the world.

3:30am            Horrible, loud, piercing noise that hurts my head.

3:31am            Me. “Whoa! Crickies Stubbsie, what the hell is that! What’s going on? What’s that bloody noise!!”

Wade. “My alarm. Rise and shine buddy, it’s Machu Picchu time!”

Me. “Bugger off it is! You do what-ever you like, I’ll see ya later!”

3:35am            It’s dark, it’s quiet, it’s warm. I’m asleep, and all is right with the world!

After what feels like After what is a magnificent sleep in, I’m on the walking trail from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu by 5:30am, and at the top by 6:30 where I meet Wade. The sun is yet to crest the protective ring of mountains. Perfect timing or what!

I want to get serious for a moment. Don’t laugh! I mean it! A lot of people, us included, felt that to catch the train to Aguas Calientes , then the bus from there to Machu Picchu is cheating, and that to really appreciate the ruins archeological site, you need to put in some physical effort. ‘You only get out what you put in’ kind of situation. If you don’t have the time, money, or are simply ‘hikingly’ challenged (ie you can’t be arsed to trek 4 days when you can catch a train) and you skip the Inca Trail, then there is a chance you’ll want to walk to the ruins in order to feel good about yourself, to feel as though you deserve to meander amongst one of the world’s most famous remnants from a time almost forgotten.

DON’T! It doesn’t matter what your girlfriend / wife says. TAKE THE BUS! There’s about a billion stairs (I can’t tell you exactly how many cause as a result of shortness of  breath which leads to dizzy spells, I lost count after the first 93 million!), and the only break from climbing stairs is to go up some steps! The view seems OK at the time, but once you reach Machu Picchu, you realize that what you’ve been marveling at on the walk up is really the equivalent of riding a postie bike (actually, you can insert any bike you like here!) when you could be riding a BMW 1200 GSA, fully kitted out by Touratec, Ohlins suspension front and back, and an Aprovik straight-through exhaust system. I tell ya what, you’d have a mighty fine touring bike then!

Machu Picchu. What can I say? We had magnificent weather (for once!), and it’s absolutely bloody fantastic. In fact, it’s my favorite ‘touristy’ destination in the world so far, and I’ve been to a few! Make sure you climb Huayna Picchu (also known as Wayna Picchu). It’s not just the icing on the cake, or the strawberries and cream. It’s also the Chateauneuf du pape (Wade came up with this one! I can’t afford to drink that French wine!) which makes an already wonderful meal into the perfect gastronomical delight.

A word of caution. It used to be ‘first come, first served’, but now you have to buy a ticket to climb Huayna Picchu. You can buy it in Cusco or in Aguas Calientes. Not sure if you can get it on line. I’ve done my bit already, you go find out for yourself!

Back on the train, and can you believe it, it rains! How lucky are we!

Sunday 25th December – Day 203


Away from work (you little beauty!), and away from friends and family (ah crap!). There’s only one thing to do. Eat, drink (way too much!) and be merry. Had a great meal at a back packers of all places. Wild Rover put on a spectacular ‘doo’ for about 130 people. Ham, turkey and everything else in between. I’d love to tell you about the rest of the night, but what goes on in Cusco, stays in Cusco. Actually that’s a lie which I made up to make myself feel better.  I just don’t remember!

Ha! Plus, it’s a great excuse to shorten the blog. And I need all the excuses I can get. At 176 pages, this little baby is running wild!

Monday 26th December – Day 204

Cuzco to Puno on Lake Titikaka – 236 miles / 380km

I don’t believe it, my first bout of altitude sickness. These are the symptoms right? Headache, nausea, dizzy spells, shortness of breath and lack of energy. Tick, tick, tick, tick and tick. Obviously nothen to do with last nights x-mas bash! No way, definitely not! Even though we climbed higher to reach Lake Titikaka (3850m) the symptoms slowly abated during the day until I reached the point where, after that first beer I was feeling wonderful. Altitude sickness hey, she’s a strange phenomenon, that’s for sure!

It’s a great ride. Good scenery, easy road. Perfect for a hang-over day!

We ran into a couple of Canadian blokes we’d met earlier at Casa Kiwi in Medellin, Columbia. Strewth, are these guys unlucky! I’d love to ride with them for a few days cause they are such good blokes, but I don’t reckon I could for fear their luck might rub out on us! The worst thing to happen in 7 months of hard riding to us has been waiting a week for parts to clear customs. If you have a minute, let me tell you a little about these guys……

Nathan. Right from the start, he probably shouldn’t have. Started that is. A few weeks before ‘take-off’ he rounds a bend on his beloved KLR 650 to be confronted with one of life’s little decisions; do I take on the semi-trailer truck speeding towards me, or the 1000kg buck moose? Hmmmm, in a lose - lose situation, he takes out the moose. His bike’s a right-off, as is his collar bone. Unlucky. Unfortunately he had cancelled his insurance the week before cause he didn’t think he’d need it once travelling. About the same time his mate has his bike stolen. Also in the same boat with insurance, he can’t afford a new one and cancels the trip.  Not phased by these small setbacks, Nathan buys another bike, waits for his collar bone to mend, and starts again. I like the guy! After that, who wouldn’t.

This time he reaches Mexico before once again crashing, breaking the other collar bone. It gets worse. Instead of flying home to Canada to have it set properly, he crazily accepts an offer by a Mexican surgeon (who incidentally, has never performed this operation before!) to screw a plate into the shattered bone. It works, sort of. The bone isn’t straight, and the nuts and bolts stick a ridiculously long way out, stretching the skin so tightly you can tell he used Phillips Head screws! For $30 US, what can you expect? My favourtie saying once again springs to mind: you get what you pay for!

It doesn’t end there. Astoundingly, Nathan makes it to Bolivia, where it really goes wrong for the poor fella. Rounding a bend, this time he has the choice of taking on two trucks (one passing another on a blind corner), or the gutter. He takes the gutter. Amazingly, at 80km / hr, it seems he might hold on. A concrete culvert has other ideas, the only one for 5km. It swallows the front wheel, ripping it off. Snaps one fork, breaks the triple clamp, rips the bash plate and engine casing off. He breaks the ‘Franken-bone’(collar bone), again. The bike is a right-off, again. He happily accepts $600 US from the police for his bent wreck that was just minutes ago a beloved family member to help pay the flight home. This time his trip is done.

And that’s not even going into the spiked drinks and all the other shananagan’s. Honestly, how the guy can still smile amazes me!

Troy. He has managed to squeeze between two trucks as they overtake on blind corners coming towards him. Twice! Is that bloody lucky, or damned unlucky? Then the spiked drinks while out with Nathan. The worst? Robbed by a little old ‘beggar’ lady, an annoying kid, and a ‘drunk’. All three worked to distract him while the drunk stole his tank bag. Which had everything. Video camera, camera, passport, license, bike papers. The lot. Poor bugger! So now he is stuck in Peru for a month awaiting the arrival of his new passport.

And they can both still smile. Unbelievable!

This pathetic summary of events does not do their travels, or their trials and tribulations justice. They would have to write their own book for that!

Tuesday 27th December – Day 205

Overnight stay on Reed Island with the Uros people

Touristy. That is the best way to describe the reed beds. There’s more boats than maggots on a fly blown sheep mustering people out to the home of the Uros people. The locals all line up on the bank wearing Traditional clothes over their Nike tracksuits singing Row row row your boat…... You spend a few minutes learning the ways of the Uros people and how they make the islands. A quick look in the families ‘house’ which has so many holes in the roof they can’t possible live there. Or maybe they do, and just get wet all the time. Who knows. Then you are expected to buy one of their trinkets. I felt pretty bad, but there simply ain’t no room on the bikes for more rubbish that we’ll only throw out next week.

10 minutes later and it’s off to a larger island where there are restaurants, dunnies and accommodation. We stayed on the island, and once all the damn annoying tourists left our new home, it was actually pretty bloody good! There was also a French couple staying on the island who kept us entertained.

A great activity we were able to do which otherwise would be impossible had we not stayed on the island was to pirate one of the boats and row ourselves around the other islands. Yeah, that was cool. A ‘back stage’ pass if you will.

We were fortunate enough to be there when they laid a new bed of reeds. Its bloody hard work, and all done by women. The only bloke on the island stands in the middle yelling at everyone, telling them where and in which direction to lay the new reeds. Hmmmmm, I think we can learn a little something from this………


Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 January 2012 14:53

Bolivia 28th Dec - 6th Jan

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Wednesday 28th December – Day 206

Puno, Peru to Copocabana, Bolivia – 90 miles / 145km

We spend a pleasant morning on the reed island. You are treated as a friend when you stay on the island rather than just another annoying, yet vital source of money. One more faceless face in a flock of sheep as they are herded from island to island in less time than it actually takes to shear one.

Wade bashes into our room far too early for my liking. The bloody boat doesn’t even get here ‘til 11! In the dim light, after my first glance, I think he is wearing a girls traditional dress, dancing about merrily. But that’s silly. I wipe my eyes, shake my head. Fearful of what I will see, I peak round the pages of my book. Yep, Wade has definitely lost the plot, that’s for sure! That just burnt an image into my brain I know I will unfortunately never forget!

Before leaving we pull the nets we set last night. There are 5-6kg trout in the lake, and we were pretty excited about our chances after organising a fishing trip in a traditional boat guided by the locals. Beauty we thought, not many people get to do this! With tension mounting we jumped in the little boat (not traditional by any means!) and set off towards the distant horizon……… of the dingy dock. Crap! We set a net 5m from the dunny door, and that was it. Fishing done for the night! The next morning we are soooooo excited as we haul the net into the boat, a record catch of 5 tiny fish that could all fit into my pocket. Wow, there’s one and a third bowls of soup! Oh goodie. Fishing. Not one of the strong points of the trip so far!

Lake Titikaka was a bit crap to be honest. I wouldn’t go out of my way to see the place. If you do the reed beds, I’d recommend going out on the last boat, staying the night in your ‘traditional’ bed of reeds with a mattress under the ‘traditional’ roof consisting of corrugated iron between concealing layers of reeds. Its actually a pretty cool way to spend a night.

It’s a short 150 km dash to Copacabana. An easy ride, except there is a border in the way. Remember way back at the start of Peru when I said that after a huge effort on our part, and following numerous police officer’s advice, we in fact did not get any insurance. Would it come back to bite us I asked? Now my friends, I’m sure you know the answer to this one. YES!

We actually made it to the border without insurance. Phew, got away with that! Or so we thought. There is a police station at the border. Not too unusual. He asks for our papers. Crap, that’s unusual! So we go inside and hand over our documents.

“That’s all very well and good fella’s, but where’s your insurance?”

“We were told we don’t need it”

“Well, this little book here (he points at one line in particular on a very, very well worn page. Funny that!) says other wise. That will be a 432 paso’s, each! Or $145US.”

“What! That’s crazy. We know we don’t need it!”

“Yes you do. I just showed you the fine in the book for not having insurance.”

“OK, write the ticket. I just want to get out of here”

“No, no ticket.”

“Cool, so we can go then”

“No, you must pay the fine!”

“I’m confused (this entire conversation is in Spanish by the way). There’s no ticket, but we can’t go……..oh, I see. Well, if there is no ticket, we can’t afford so much money!”

We push and shove, our verbal combat resulting in a 200 paso fine for both indiscretions. We pay, and are allowed to leave.

The rest of the border crossing into Bolivia is easy. Except we have to pay another ‘non ticketable offence’ to the customs guy. Only $2.50 this time. I ask myself, is it really worth it for the guy to risk his job for that tiny amount? I look at the shambles all round me which is splashed in a bucketful of poverty and decide yes, it really is. $2.50 US goes along way here.

Thursday 29th December – Day 207

Copocabana to La Paz – 93 miles / 149km

An easy ride, and kinda boring. And then we hit the out skirts of La Paz. Holy $@$@$$% Batman! It’s not boring anymore! I’ve never seen traffic like it. The pedestrians merge with vehicles like milk and flower in a mixing bowl. Except the dough has some structure and order to it! Fortunately we have spent nearly 3 months in the training school of Central and South America for this moment, and lessons learnt as far back as Mexico as used for real as we dodge mother and child, kicking out at scavenging mongrel dogs while speeding up to slip between a smoke belching bus, a bicycle and a racing taxi. The only rule is there are no rules. Stop at a red light? Are you joking! You’d be run over quicker than a cane toad basking under the warmth of a street light in Qld.

You must be positive, you must be decisive and you must be aggressive. Then you will live.

Met up with Roger for dinner, that flammen Kiwi we rode with for a while in Columbia. He’s hanging round a few Pommy chaps. Great night, and damn nice to meet you guys! Hope to see Roger and the gang further south. Cheers lads!

Friday 30th December – Day 208

DEATH ROAD!! YEAH BABY!!!!!! – 143 Miles / 230 km

More like ‘Died a Death Road’. Big Kev said it way back in Guatemala as we battled a ferocious dirt road somewhere where we weren’t really meant to be. Not lost, just not the road we originally intended to take.

“Strewth, Death Road had better be something special or it’s going to be very disappointing after this!”

It is disappointing! You can only do about 45km of the original Death Road, and without the commercial traffic (the new road opened in 2007) it really is pretty tame. At one stage an average of 26 vehicles failed to complete the journey every year, and anywhere between 200 and 400 deaths annually was pretty common. The road still claims the most horrendous road crash ever in terms of human lives. A lorry carrying 100 people disappeared over the edge, all dead.

It is still a ‘must do’ road, although I reckon it’s better suited to a bunch of mates on mountain bikes. Now that would be fun! Otherwise, do yourself a favor and ride ‘The Whirlpool of Death’ from Macoa to Pasto in the south of Columbia. It’s a little ripper!

Saturday 31st December – Day 209

La Paz to Chochabamba –  / 367 km

What a horrible ride! Leaving La Paz behind in a salad bowl filled with traffic, topped using a familiar dressing of belching diesel smoke, we ride off into the sunset. Ha, yeah right. Don’t be ridiculous! Pouring rain and driving wind more like it!  This is our 11th straight day of rain, and one of the rare occasions I’m counting down the clock.

Arriving into town we pull out the trusty Lonely Planet looking for a place to stay. A local bloke comes over for a chat. Turns out he just traded his BMW 1200 GS for a BMW RT 1200. He offers to do anything he can to help, and guides us to a nice hostel, then hands over his phone number and tells us to call him. He’ll come and pick us up for a few New Year’s drinks if we want. Cool!

You don’t just purchase a BMW 1200 GSA, you purchase a worldwide family.

Sunday 1st January 2012 – Day 210

Chochabamba to Chochabamba – 325 km

2012. Oh goodie. Oh joy. Oh CRAP! 2012 is shit, literally. And here’s why!

We are getting old older, and Wade is becoming grey more distinguished. But that’s not the reason 2012 smells like the seafood market we walked past the other day, flies and all. We nearly tripped on a Dolphin Fish one fella dropped onto the footpath, which incidentally looks like the dogs use as their communal Bano (dunny).

“Geez, lookout mate, I nearly tripped on that. Better give it a mighty good wash”

“Whoops, I hate it when that happens. Argh well, she’ll be right. I’ll just pop it back on top so the flies can clean her up a bit…… no one will ever know!”

I’m hungry, but strewth, I’m not that hungry!

And I’m still not hungry, but I am way off the point as to why 2012 is flushing like a blocked sewer. This trip has been all about the riding, and very little partying. So it is we are in bed on New Year’s Eve at 10:30pm. Only to be rudely splashed awake with a hose full of Fireworks celebrating the end of 2011. I don’t know why everybody is so happy to see it go. I actually quite enjoyed 2011. I roll over and manage to climb back into some heavy duty sleep, until…….

Let me tell you about Bolivian Farts. Way back in Mexico Wade had a wee ‘incident’ with a Mexican Fart, resulting in the Bergalia Boys tip of the day: Never trust a fart in Mexico.

If a Mexican Fart is a slightly untrustworthy character, then a Bolivian Fart is a down right deceitful, back stabbing, slimy, double crossing little devil whom you really don’t want to meet down a dark alley at night with his best mates, Diarrhea, Bellyache and Nausea. As nasty a bunch of crooks as you’d ever want to meet.

Having set the scene, you may have guessed what happens next. I don’t want to share this experience with you, but its all part of the trip. A bit like marriage, for better and for worse yada yada yada……. and I’d like to think we have formed a bit of a matrimonial bond over the past 200 days thru these pages. Or not. Either way, this is what happened….

I woke in a panic just after 2am. I just knew something was wrong. Something terrible has happened, but what? Then I moved, and felt a horrible squishing between the cheeks. Oh s#@#@$t, so that’s what wrong!!!! Clenching, I rush for the toilet, which I barely make. Stunned, I look around at my new home for the next hour. Yep, this one is bad!

So that’s how 2012 starts, with me soiling my pants while still asleep. Brilliant. And it’s not much better for poor old Stubbsie. The door doesn’t shut properly, and more noise and other ‘air pollutants’ escape than a fertilizer manufacturing company using raw sewage located next to a rock crushing plant with a special section for testing explosives. Then the real kicker, you can’t close the door from the outside, so when the ‘job’ is all finally wrapped up and I’m back in bed, toxic waste is still oozing from the dump site, seriously contaminating the sleeping area. Thus proving the saying ‘there’s no point shutting the gate after the horse has bolted’ is a load of crap (again, literally) as Wade slowly gags to death. Sorry buddy!! Oh yeah, HAPPY NEW YEAR by the way! Bet you don’t forget this one!

2012 is not done with us yet. No way. We won’t get off that lightly. Wade has been in correspondence with the owners of an animal rehabilitation sanctuary in Bolivia for over 7 months. We wanted to give them a hand, and do some filming. He was told to ‘just turn up, no worries’.

After riding 450 km out of our way to get there (so a 900 km round trip just to stay at this place), we are told that no, we can’t film. We can’t even get in to see the animals, camera or no camera.

“We’re a bit short staffed at the moment. If you’d given us more notice……”

More bloody notice! How slow are you people! Fairdinkum, you make a sloth look like ballistic missile moving from tree to tree.

We meander back to the bikes to work out a new plan. Neither of us had much sleep last night to due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’ and the thought of more riding today is about as appealing as running a marathon in a pair of budge smugglers and one thong (flip-flops, jandels etc). It’s about now I notice all the oil on my rear disk and tyre which has leaked from the rear hub / final drive. Bugger! At least that solves the problem of what to do next. Ride back to Chochabamba, do an oil change first thing in the morning and organize some parts to fix it in either Argentina or Chile.

So we do. As I’m cruising along thinking “Man, 2012 sux! What next?” I see a huge smoke bomb explode on the appropriately named Smokey. Crap! Why did I have to ask! Wade pulls over, wondering what on earth happened. The Ohlins rear shock has shocked us. The cylinder is now in two parts. Not good! He can still ride on smooth roads (Hmmmmm, there’s so much of that in Bolivia!!), so we press on.

Finally we make it back to where 2012 all started, in a hostel in Chochabamba. Maybe we can leave our bad luck here.

Jumping off Aialik I am curious. Things seem to happen to both bikes at the same time.

“Hey Stubbsie, if your shock has gone, I wonder what mine is like?”

He checks it out.

“Mate, you’re stuffed! There’s a bloody great crack in the cylinder.”

Oh goodie. Oh joy. Oh 2012, how I love thee!

That’s one hub and two Ohlins rear shocks buggered. All on New Years Day. Only 364 days left. Bring on 2013 I say!

I knew we shouldn’t have had dinner with those damn Canadians!! Only 2 hours in their company and look what happens. Their bad luck spreads like the plague! I bet they are having the time of their lives now, wondering where their good fortune suddenly came from!

Monday 2nd January 2012 – Day 211

Chochamba to Potosi – 332 miles

It’s after lunch by the time we finally get moving after finding the correct oil for the rear hub and doing the change. It’s a long way, and definitely not the route we want to take, but due to the rear shock issue we have no choice other than to ride main roads. We wanted to check out Sucre as it’s meant to make the old town in Cartagena look like the bottom of a toxic waste dump. Now we can’t. Bugger! So we head to Potosi to check out the mines instead.

Tuesday 3rd January – Day 212

The Mines of Hell – Potosi.

This hill has been continuously mined for 500 years. During the 15 and 1600’s Potosi accounted for over half the world’s silver production. Now I think the tourist dollar supports the miners more than china props up America. It is still very impressive! The mines that is, not the American economy.

It is a tough life. Very tough. These men give their lives to the mines, and in return the mines give nothing. Well, that’s not entirely true. The mine gives a death sentence of 7 – 15 years before silicosis pneumonia infests the lungs, eating away the tissue until the miner can no longer breath, and ‘coughing up a lung’ isn’t just an expression. Once 50% of the lung capacity has been spat out in a mixture of blood, froth and chunks of flesh, no longer able to work, the miner is entitled to a $15 US monthly pension. $15. Nah, common. You really shouldn’t. $15 is way too much. You’re far too generous. My life isn’t worth that much!

$15. How ridiculous.

They are extremely proud of their work, and the dangers create a bond between the miners so strong it has a physical presence. Young men often leave the ‘tunnels of Hell’ in search of a better life, yet many return because here they not only have a job, they have family, they have friends. It’s the security blanket your mother wrapped you in after a nightmare. They have intense comradeship and a deep sense of belonging. They are home.

You shouldn’t stay in Potosi without a tour of the mines, unless you are claustrophobic. The tunnels are narrow, low and often muddy. You must move rapidly as carts weighing 1000 kg come hurtling down the hill. Powered by 3 men, they are unlikely to stop for a mere tourist. Actually, they couldn’t, even if they wanted to. At over 4000m, it’s a tough tour, and you’ll constantly be looking round, searching for some more air to fill your lungs. No matter how deep you breath, it’s just not quite enough. And you’re not even working. It gives a real appreciation for just how bloddy tough the miners job is.

Which is why the tour is so good. It’s not a museum, it’s not a demonstration, and it’s not a mock show of how the hill used to be mined.  It’s real. These men are dying trying to make a living, and you are allowed to be part of it. In return, a percentage of the tour fee goes towards their pension, and you are expected to bring gifts supplementing their meager salary. Gloves, machinery oil, juice and coco leaves are cherished above all else. They do not ask for money, they are too proud.

Wednesday 4th January – Day 213

Potosi to Uyuni – 129 miles / 208 km

Another wet ride. Yah, I love riding in the rain! Which is lucky, cause it rains a lot!

Searching for a place to stay, we see a weird looking piece of machinery. This Ural, a 1940’s military style bike and side car (without the gun) trundles along towards us. We’ve heard about this crazy guy and have been looking forward to meeting him (we knew our paths had to cross sooner or later).

We pull over and say G’day. Mary is travelling with him, an inspirational lady riding a BMW 650 solo from America to the bottom of the world. This is going to be a great few days.

It could have been better. Foiled again by the weather. Bugger! We’ve been pretty excited about camping as we cross the Salar de Unyuni for months. Unfortunately, it’s under 30cm of water, and not even the tour groups are venturing out onto the salt. We heard on the news a group of 10 people were trapped for 12 days. Not good!

It’s the world’s largest salt flats, and certainly worth checking out. The BMW is an amazing bike, but as good as she is, she just ain’t a boat. Next time. Maybe next time we’ll get to cross the salt.

Thursday 5th January – Day 214

Salt flats – Salar de Uyuni

One thing about having a screwed rear shock and not being able to go where we want is that we now have a little more time before crossing into Chile for the Dakar Rally. We decide to stay another day and give Tyler a hand to tune his carby. The combination of altitude and crappy fuel (only 80 Octane and still leaded, if you can believe that!) hasn’t been good to the Ural. To be honest, it hasn’t been too good for the BMW’s either. A lot of pinging from the engine and the bikes are very lazy, very under powered.

It’s a lovely relaxing morning. I change the oil in my rear hub (every time it rains it fills with water and should be changed. Hmmmmm, I can see me doing A LOT of oil changes in the next few weeks!) while Tyler tightens all the bolts on the ‘beast’ and adjusts the jetting. After lunch we head to the edge of the world’s largest salt flat inland sea. There’s some fantastic photo’s, and it was still a cool thing to see.

I know everyone asks this, but I couldn’t help myself.

“Mate, WHY?”

“There were two of us to start!! It made sense back then OK! My fiancée had to fly back to Australia and I kept going.”

“OK, I guess. But would you do it again?”

“Yes, no, Ummm…… Argh!!!!!”

Yep, I thought so!

We met a lovely German couple who are driving round most of the world. Uli is a mad keen biker, as is his wife Ulli but decided this time to live it up is style and luxury in 4WD comfort. We all had dinner together, twice, and once again I find myself thinking how wonderful this part of adventure travelling is. So bloody good to hang round with similar minded people, and even though the salt flats are a washout, Uyuni has still been golden. Thanks for a wonderful time guys, and hope to see you again!

On a little side note of some interest, we ate in a very local restrauanut. It was a superb meal, steak, sasuage, rice and a little salad. All washed down with a huge beer. The price? $3.75 Australian. Beauty!!

Friday 6th January – Day 215

Uyuni to Oruro – 313 miles / 503 km

Today sux. Really sux. I’m sure most of you out there think a trip like ours must be simply awesome (it really is!!), and that there could never be a bad day on such an adventure. Well, that’s no entirely true. Travelling is actually hard work, and there are the very odd few occasions where it simply isn’t fun anymore. Like today.

Today we back track 500 of the 700 km required, heading north on a road we have already ridden. It rains. Its over 4000 m. It’s cold. 10 km out of town my shock blows up. Oh crap! I have to say we were so damn impressed with the Ohlins shock, it was the best modification we did to the bikes. Its that  It was that good. Now we have an issue. One busted shock is unlucky. It can happen. Two busted shocks in exactly the same place at exactly the same time is a problem. Ours, and theirs! I’ve said in the past that on a trip like this mechanical issues are to be expected. It’s not necessarily a reflection on the company. How they deal with it is. Our shocks are only 3 months old. Lets see if Ohlins stand behind their product as well as BMW back theirs. Common Ohlins, you can do it!! It’s a superb shock, and I want to only write good things about the company.

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