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Expedition to Tierra del Fuego 2010

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Chapter One Dispatch from Helge

The date was December 27th 2009 when I headed south from Seattle.  With all the warm clothes that I could collect from my closet, I had 3 layers of pants and 4 layers to protect the upper part of my body.


First stop at the end of my first day's Ride was to visit with good friends Vicki and Perry, who live in Roseburg.  You can see the Catch of the Day photos from when Perry and I went fishing:




To dodge the snow and ice, I took to the coast just south of Roseburg.  Got a few snowflakes and loads of rain that entire day.  In Norway we have a saying, “There are no bad weather, just bad clothing”. I was dressed well and had no reason to complain.


Next stop was to do a video interview with fellow world traveler Ted Simon for a DVD about the 30 years of BMW’s GS line. Ted lived in Northern California, hidden away from the rest of the world. My shortcut from the coast ended up being a big mistake as it was a dirt road leading me up to higher elevations that meant more snow and ice. The day after I left, Ted departed for New Zealand to do his own Ride. Hard to keep us world travelers in one place for too long <g>:




Just North of Los Angeles I settled in with GlobeRiders Shirlee and Frank for a couple of days at their lovely place at the foothills of the Sierras.  If I had a place like theirs, I would see no reason to travel anywhere.   A bobcat crossed right in front of my bike on the way up to their house, a home surrounded by wilderness.


In Los Angeles, I met my wife Karen and our good friends Becky and Brett. First day of our stay, we did Disneyland to celebrate Karen’s birthday. Next day, we had tickets to participate as audience at the Jay Leno Show. Lots of fun, good friends and more laughter. It was interesting to see the inside of a real TV studio, as taping was going on for that night's show.


On January 5th 2010, I met with Dan T. Moore, Roger Hansen and Vincent Cummings at our hotel in Los Angeles, just down the street from Irv Seaver BMW. My traveling mates had shipped their bikes to this BMW dealer, where the owner, Evan Bell, helped them get their bikes on a Monday afternoon (noted because the dealership is normally closed on Mondays).  Thanks so much for all of the generosity from Irv Seaver BMW. If you visit that fine dealership, make sure to ask Evan to show his most excellent collection of old BMW bikes.



The journey before us is a scouting trip for a commercial tour that will run at the same time next year.  Even before doing this pre-run, we have already received a lot of pre-bookings for our tour, which is broken up into 3 Stages. You can read more about the Alaska to Tierra del Fuego Adventure by clicking here.


With a rather ambitious itinerary in mind, we headed down the Baja Peninsula.  For the most part, we stayed on the main roads, but had a few “test” rides on some back roads.  Returning to Baja after having been gone for 22 years, I had forgotten how barren it is and how long the distances are between places.  I also noticed that the road is better than I had remembered.   We found ourselves doing 90 to 100 mph on the long stretches, and enjoying the great curves going up and down from and to the two sides of the peninsula.  We also very much appreciated our first two-day stay when we went whale watching in Guerrero Negro on the Pacific Coast.  A wonderful experience!




Leaving La Paz for the mainland was another surprise.  We had been warned about a terrible truckers' ferry, but found ourselves instead aboard the most pristine luxury ferry one could wish for.  It was an overnight run that had us offloading our bikes and heading for the hills early the next morning.




Devil's Backbone was a great ride up to Durango.  Go and ride it before it is too late, a new road is being constructed and will shorten the journey from 6-½ hours of incredible riding to a 2-½ hour super highway.  I got these numbers from billboard propaganda along our route.  As we kept climbing higher and higher, the vegetation changed with the temperature.  Riding does not get better than this!  Or does it?  It turns out it doesn't.  Just a few days later, I heard Roger say that day was the best riding he ever had done, ever!




But before we get there, we had a very nice visit with Dan’s sister in San Miguel de Allende. Harriet had built her own home here, where she stays in the winter months, while summers are spent in Cleveland, her and Dan’s hometown.



Dan had just passed his 70 year birth marker and Harriet arranged for a great party, well done!:





It has been inspirational to have a traveling mate at the mature age of 70 on the journey. But how long will this last? So far, the only problem has been that this Dan fellow is the only one who has had all kinds of problems with his bike. One cannot really blame the BMW HP2, since all that has gone wrong has been the result of modifications and poor mechanics. Here are a few samples: nuts falling of the custom fairing, side stand coming loose, wrong spring on the Ohlin's shock absorber, no venting through the front fender to the modified oil cooler, part of HPN's extended-range fuel tank kit, with the most serious problem so far when a wire to the fuel pump decided to come loose. It took us the better part of a day to find that problem. Other than, that the bike is going strong.


From Taxco we had the most incredible ride towards Oaxaca, only beaten by the following day's from Oaxaca to the coast. Both day's had long sweeping corners with great surfaces and good banking,  inviting some spirited riding. To say that we were on a riding high is an understatement.




Roger, Vincent and myself are all riding BMW R1200 GS Adventure bikes, while Dan is on the sole BMW HP2. All of the bikes are either brand-new or have very low mileage. As the journey progresses we will get into some details about our accessories and set-ups, and how they are performing.


For those of you that have gotten used to the weekly journal from any of our commercial tours, please be more patient on this journey. We are going at a much faster pace, and at the same time, trying do some filming for a documentary about the journey. In other words, it is hard to find the time to also create a journal. We will do our best so, stay tuned for new updates and enjoy the pictures from this, the first Chapter of the Expedition to Tierra del Fuego.




Helge Pedersen

Helge's Photo Gallery


Chapter One Dispatch from Roger

Ride to the End of the Earth


Day One


We started from Los Angeles on the 5th of January.  We all met at the Anabella Hotel in Anaheim, CA. We rode to the Mexican border and had to get our tourist cards, and the vehicle importation certificates for our bikes.  I had a problem because I brought the title for the wrong bike, and it took me another hour to get my paper work done.  I was sent back to the copier to get about four copies of every form about five times.  I eventually went to the Customs person, and he stamped my insurance certificate and that was enough to get my permit to bring my bike into Mexico.


After all that, we left the border about 3:00 PM and had another 200 miles to ride.  We rode until about 7:30 PM thru fog and some traffic to get to San Quentin.


Day Two and Three


We did not have much time to enjoy San Quentin, and we started early the next day for Guerrero Negro.  This town is named for the ship “Black Warrior”.  It sank on a reef near the entrance to the harbor.   This is a great whale watching town. We went to see the Grey Whales and followed a mother and her pup for about an hour.  The baby was probably born about two weeks before.




Day Four


After leaving Guerrero Negro we went across the peninsula to Loreto on the Sea of Cortez.  We stayed in a very new hotel here and had a good dinner.  The ride down from the mountains to the sea was a great ride with wonderful weather.  My bike is running well and I am trying to get my POV Camera working.  We stopped today in a cactus grove and messed around with all of our cameras, trying different things.


Day Five


Today we rode from Loreto to La Paz.  It was not a very interesting ride and we arrived at La Paz early for lunch, which we had at a very nice marina.  We then went and got our tickets for the ferry to Mazatlan on the mainland.  Once we got our tickets, we rode out to look for a place to camp over-night but found that the only place was too windy and not very nice, so we decided to stay at a hotel in town.  We are now sitting out on the veranda overlooking the main street and watching all the people cruise by in their cars with the radios as loud as they can be.  This in a nice town and the people are mostly Mexican with very few tourists. We think it is because the economy in the US is so bad.


I am finally getting into the  groove of being on a motorcycle, and in and out of a different hotel every night.  The riding has been fairly easy with no traffic and great weather.


I have found the people to be very friendly and don’t feel that there is any major drug problem in the Baja except for Tijuana.  I saw the in paper that there was a killing up there a few days ago.




Helge, Dan, and Vince are great to travel with.  We seem to be getting along well and I think that it will work out for the next two months.  I am sure that we will have some bad times, but I also think that we are mature enough to "get over it".  One thing nice about traveling by motorcycle is that you are alone most of the day, concentrating on the riding, and by night you are too tired to do anything but sleep.


I also have to find a way to get rid of some stuff.  With all the camping equipment and warm to cold weather gear, I seem to have a lot of stuff.  I will sort it out when we get to Dan’s sister’s house in San Miguel de Allende.



Day Six


We spent the morning shopping for Helge’s birthday presents and looking around the town of La Paz.   On a quiet Sunday morning the shops were open, but here wasn't much shopping.  This little town has a Home Depot, Sears, and Walmart.  We then went out to a beach restaurant to have lunch and Helge interviewed me again because he thinks he forgot to push the record button on his video camera the last time.





We then went to the ferry terminal and loaded the bikes onto the ferry.  We had to tie them down in six places in case of rough weather.  It is an overnight ferry to Mazatlan and we should get in at 6:00AM tomorrow.  The ferry is very nice with a good looking restaurant.  It had a pool but it was closed.


I got a chance to talk to Edwina today.  She was able to call me on my iPhone. I am not sure what the charge is for either party but it was nice to talk to her.  She was in the Dallas airport going back to West Palm after Mia’s competition.  I understand that Mia did very well in the competition and she won a lot of awards.  I am very proud of her.  She is a very talented singer, actress, and dancer.



Day Seven


We departed the ferry in Mazatlan and proceeded up through the mountains to Durango.  This was probably the most beautiful motorcycle ride that I have ever taken.  They call it the Devil's Backbone and it truly is.  It is a road the goes right up a spine in the mountains and you can look down on either side of the road for thousands of feet.  My GPS said at the highest point we were over 9,000 feet above sea level.


After arriving in Durango we had to wait for Dan, who took another route, so we ate at a Burger King and he arrived about 90 minutes later.  The Burger King had Wi-Fi so we could use that while we waited.  Durango is a very busy city and hard to find your way around, but we made it.


We then went to Zacatecas where we arrived in the dark in time for a dinner of pizza in the hotel lobby. It was a long day but well worth it and we made about 350 miles.



Day Eight


I left the hotel expecting that the ride would be a little cold, but soon found myself freezing and we stopped to put on our heated gear.  What a godsend this heated gear is!  The lowest temperature that I noticed on my bike computer was 36 degrees.  We had no problem finding our way to San Miguel de Allende, but when we got into the city we had a little difficulty finding Dan’s sister’s house.  The streets are all cobblestone and hilly and very hard to ride on.  It was like off road riding in the middle of the city. I would not like to ride this surface in the rain!




Dan’s sister Harriet has a wonderful home in the middle of San Miguel with has five bedrooms, two kitchens, and about six decks where you have wonderful views of the city.  It is a U-shaped house that is built around another house, very unique.  Harriet is an artist and she put a tremendous amount of thought into this house.  After a tour of the property, we went for a walk around the city and then went out for a great dinner, compliments of Dan.  The discussion at the dinner table was very interesting with talk about travel, politics, religion, and early childhood experiences of Dan and Harriet when they lived in Istanbul, Turkey.



Day Nine


We spent the day walking around San Miguel and getting the history and the feel of the town from Harriet.  What a fantastic host!  She walked us up to the botanical garden and then we went into town and walked thru the markets.  While on the street, Harriet met a friend who had a mask gallery and he showed us the museum that he created.  It was incredible.


I found a spa later in the afternoon and had a massage.  I then went back to Harriet’s where she arranged a party of all her friends in San Miguel.  I met many very interesting people and had lively conversations with them. Harriet was the perfect host.



Day Ten


We left Harriet’s after a great breakfast at about 8:30AM.  We rode on the cobblestone roads through San Miguel to get out of the city.  Those roads were very hilly and hard to ride.  It really was like off-road riding in the middle of the city.  After about an hour of riding, we ran into a horrible traffic jam on a two-lane road full of trucks.  We were able to sneak by on the opposite lane for about four miles and then take a detour to get around the jam-up.  I think those trucks are still there waiting.  Helge did a great job leading us around this mess.  We had lunch at a small restaurant on the way and then rode on to Taxco, which is an old silver mining town.  It is very quaint and we got a nice hotel in the middle of town right off the square.   We had dinner overlooking the square and the church.


I was able to call on Skype and talked to Jennifer and Jaden.  I also talked to Edwina and she sent me Mia’s song that she did in the competition in California.  I am starting to miss home and wish that Edwina was with me.


So far I have had no problem with the bike, but I am having a problem getting my title for it.  I had Tom from my office go down to my house in New Jersey and get it out of the safe, then ship it to Terry in Dan’s office in Cleveland.  She gave it to Dan’s wife who brought it to Harriet’s house in San Miguel and after all that, I forgot to get it from her!


They tried to call us on the road today but did not get us until lunch.  We worked out that they would send it to hotel in a town that we will be at in four days.  I need it to get across the border into Guatemala .  What a mess!  I guess when you get older you forget things.  I have tried not to be  a problem on this trip but this title is getting me in trouble.  Hope that I get it soon.


Dan has been losing bolts from his bike but it is still running. He always seems to have a way of getting things fixed.



Day Eleven


What a fantastic motorcycle ride we had today!  We rode great twisty roads for about 200 miles. If you like to ride motorcycles come to Mexico!  The weather was perfect, about 70 degrees all day.  We went thru very hilly regions from Taxco to Oaxaca.  The terrain didn’t change much all day until we got to Oaxaca, and here there are a lot of high mountains around the city.  We stopped for lunch at a nice little place and Dan had a chance to fix his bike and put all the parts back on that have left him since departure.  We are in a nice hotel but we have to park our bikes about two blocks away, and cannot do that until after 8:00PM.



Roger Hansen


Chapter One Dispatch from Vince

How has this motorcycle adventure been so far you ask? Well not "so good so far" . . . more like "absolutely incredible so far"!!! Here is a quick summary of the last week, no wait it’s been two weeks already - wow does time just flies when you're having so a great time!


As you might know, we all rendezvoused in Los Angeles on January 14th.   Dan, Roger and I shipped our bikes, but of course the Great One, Helge, rode his from Seattle to Los Angeles. Now remember, this was in January in from the Pacific Northwest!


We picked up our bikes the following day at Irv Seaver BMW.  Dan’s bike started out, or more correctly, DIDN't start at all - an issue with a vacuum lock in the after-market fuel tank.   Fortunately, Iver quickly diagnosed the problem and was able carry out an on-the-spot repair. Of course, this was just a hint of things to come with Dan’s modified HP2.


I bought a new bike for this trip.  I got it broken in, the accessories installed, and delivered to my house by the dealer, then basically shipped the bike to Los Angeles.   So, I didn't get a chance to ride the bike before the trip, which was not such a big deal as I had a similar bike before and had it set up the same.  That said, I didn’t get a chances to get all my loading arrangements figured out in advance.  No big deal, just took a few days of getting loading and repacking down to a standard routine so it was quick and easy.


Headed out the following day to cross into Mexico at the Tijuana crossing.   Busy place to say the least.  Getting ourselves and our bikes into Mexico went pretty easy.   Almost too easy. If you didn’t know in advance about all the documents you needed to get when entering the country, exiting the country could be a problem.  This was the case for two GS riders we saw a week later when we were getting on the ferry from the Baja peninsula to the Main land.  We purchased our ferry tickets the day before our sailing, and at that time, no one asked for any entry documents.   Not until we were just about to board the ferry, did all the officials demand the required entry documents before allowing us to board the ferry.  Because we were traveling with one of the world's most experienced motorcycle travelers, we had all of our documents in order.   The other GS riders we saw didn’t, and were stuck in Baja.  We never saw them on the ferry.


Anyway, going back a bit, after entering Mexico the ride down the Baja peninsula was great, good roads full of twisties, sweepers, spectacular vistas, and of course great weather.   For the most part things started out well.  Of course, it takes a few days to work out the loading of the bikes, and to settle into the experience mentally.


Arriving in Las Paz, we set out to make ferry arrangements that would take us the following afternoon on a overnight ferry ride from the Baja Peninsula to Mazatlan on the mainland.  The ferry loading was straightforward; we tied our bikes down and checked into our cabins.  The cabins were great, very clean, roomy, with bathrooms and hot showers.




On board that evening, we celebrated Helge’s birthday, with a few joke gifts, a lot of laughs, and another good meal.  Slept well that night and woke the following morning ready to disembark at 7:00AM and ride the road known as the Back Bone of the Devil.  It’s a twisty, steep mountain road with tight switch-backs and great vistas to add to the challenge of lots of big trucks going both ways, up and down the mountain road.  You had to be careful here because these trucks need almost both lanes to make it around some of these tight corners, but what a great ride!


We spent two days in San Miguel de Allende, where we were hosted by Dan’s sister, who has lived here for almost 20 years.  Not only did she give us a great place to stay, but played tour guide the following day, then threw a cocktail party where we meet many of her expat friends.  All were very interested in meeting these crazy guys that were riding motorcycles from LA to Tierra del Fuego.  San Miguel is a quaint Spanish colonial town with cobblestone streets and old colonial buildings.  If there is a "but" with this place, it’s that yes, it is Mexico, "but" it has for the most part been taken over by their Northern neighbors.


Back on the road, with each day's ride becoming more and more interesting, we headed out onto more mountain roads and getting more into the whole feel of Mexico.  Another interesting town we stayed in was Taxco, which was the silver capital of Mexico.  Built on the side of the mountain, interesting buildings and narrow, hilly. cobblestone streets.




We had a great night camping on the beach in Playa Vincente, where I had my first minor spill.  Leaving the beach the following morning, those darn GSA's are so heavy fully-loaded that I couldn’t get it picked up in time before the other guys came around the corner and found me standing beside my bike on its sides.  Being the good friends that they are, they both got off their bikes and took out cameras to document that I had screwed-up and dropped my bike, only then proceeding to help me get it back up.




Anyone who has ever done a GlobeRiders adventure tour knows it is so much more than the experience of the great rides, the interesting countries, or the people that you meet.  It is the experience of getting inside your head, of seeing your life in a different way than you did before you started out on the adventure.




Before we started this trip, Helge asked each one of us what would be our greatest challenge.  My answer was, to get into and stay in the present moment and not be robbing myself of fully experiencing each and every moment of this trip by not being here, by allowing myself to be pulled out of the present moment by continually processing the various business and personnel “stuff” from life back home.  This has definitely been the greatest challenge so far, and as a group, we have talked about this as we have all been on our cell phones and reading email several times a day, every day.  The comment was made that we are victims of technology.  We’ve taken that one step further and now are saying we are victims of technology by choice!  So now, we are trying to make better choices.  We have made a pact not to use our cell phones or check email during the day.  Of course, the Great One has kicked it up notch and suggested that we only use our cell phones and read our email once a week!!! This is proving to be quite the challenge, and we are failing so far.  However, we are starting to see what we really are, the choices we make, and how this all compromises the experience.


We have just now left Mexico and crossed into Guatemala.  For me it’s time to get with it and simply choose to let go, be here now, and remember, “It’s a great day to be a GlobeRider!"





Dan's Blog

Dan "The Professor" Moore is blogging the ride as well.  If you're interested in viewing his commentary and photos, please click on the image below:

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