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Alaska to Tierra del Fuego 2013 Stage 3

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Chapter One Dispatch from Helge



Colombia start of Stage 3


El Tapon or The Darien Gap forced us to find another way to travel from Panama to Colombia. Thick jungle and no roads connecting Central America to South America has always been a challenge for any traveler. The start of a new ferry connecting the two countries had been roomered for several moths, but unfortunately this has yet to happen so we opted to take to the air to move the group and bikes.

In Bogota we met new members to our tour, some new to GlobeRiders and some veterans. In so many ways this was a new start to the journey that now had lasted for one month since we left LA with two more months to go to Ushuaia.

Unfortunately clearing the bikes that came from Israel, Los Angeles, New Jersey and Panama took most of the three days we had dedicated to the capital city. The bureaucracy was as bad as it gets and for that reason some of us never really had the chance to experience Bogota. What a pity to waste time with red tape when one could have had a great time exploring the city, but that is some times the curse of traveling.

Fortunately I had the chance to have traveled in this great country in the past and it was good to be back to Colombia despite the circumstances. As much as the customs system was a terrible ambassador for Colombia my Colombian motorcycle friend Luis was the best ambassador for his country as you can find. Out of pure enthusiasm for our journey he spent literally days with us getting through customs, arranging service for the bikes, tire change and being a super host.

When Luis followed us out of Bogotá on his BMW R1100GS I am sure that he thought that his host services had been concluded. Well, it did not take long before we desperately needed his help once again. Dan, riding his aging BMW R1150GSA, ran in to an issue with his bike and got stranded in the mountains with what first looked like bad gasoline, but ended up being a dead fuel pump. A new miracle was pulled off when the next day, a Sunday mind you, a BMW service man reported to our modest hotel to replace Dan’s bikes fuel pump. Luis pulled off another huge favor and we will forever be grateful for your friendship, thanks so much amigo.


Having endured the grueling border crossings of Central America we thought it would get easier in South America. Well, if the border crossing between Colombia and Ecuador was any sign of what was to come it was not much better. The issue on this border was a new insurance sign up system that was based on an online system that had issue with the number of days in February and for that reason would not process our policies. We eventually made it to Quito, the capital, a very interesting city divided in to the new and old part, we stayed in the old part.

Ahead of arriving in Ecuador we had been warned that a new law would automatically put a driver that exceeded the speed limit with more than 15Km/h in prison for 3 days. For that reason we were all a little paranoid about our speed, but we never did see any radar traps as long as we traveled in Ecuador.

Leaving Quito we were now traveling in the southern hemisphere as we headed for Peru. Our tracks south lead us off the Pan-American Highway and high up in the mountains. We enjoyed the new concrete road that had recently been built following beautiful green mountains and deep valleys all the way to the border of Peru. That is where the change started, at the border; we left the mountains behind and entered the coastal desert of northern Peru.

The change from Colombia and Ecuador was striking and in so many ways disappointing. Litter and garbage along the road and large dumps of garbage all in the open outside of towns made for a rather unpleasant smell and sight. The road was good and invited to higher speeds. We were now back on the Pan American Highway where big busses have the right of way even when they are passing trucks and you happened to be in their paths coming in the opposite direction. But perhaps the worst traffic of the journey so far was as we entered Lima on the way to our hotel for two days.


As many of you know I have been associated with Touratech since the early 90’s so it was with great enthusiasm that I met up with the local Touratech representative for Peru. Ivan had started to import Touratech parts just a couple of year’s prior and now he is the official representative for Touratech in Peru. Full of enthusiasm for motorcycling and adventure touring I enjoyed Ivan and his wife’s hospitality very much as they proudly showed me their property with the Touratech shop. Plans for the future involves a larger shop, repair facilities and even a B&B for international bikers passing by.

If you ever find yourself stranded in Lima in need of help do not hesitate to call on Touratech and Ivan, he is a tremendous resource always willing to give a helping hand.

As it happened in Colombia when we had to call in another favor after leaving Bogota from our friend Luis, not long after leaving Lima we had to call on Ivan’s help. This time it was Kainan that were in need of a seal for his output sprocket on his KTM 990. As a miracle Ivan had the part on a airplane to Cusco before we even had made it half the way to Cusco. Thanks so much Ivan and best of luck with Touratech Peru.


As we entered South America our group increased to 10 bikes and 13 people with 4 nations represented. Best of all we now had a woman on the team, which I always see as a great plus for the dynamic of any groups. Shiree and her husband Kainan had come all the way from Israel to join the tour. Shiree would travel in the chase vehicle while her husband would be the only KTM rider in the group of BMW GS riders with his well-outfitted KTM 990.

In our new chase vehicle we had Adolfo from Chile join us in Bogota and he were to work with us until La Paz, Bolivia.

Enjoy the pictures from this chapter one of South America; they might give a little more insight to what there has not been time to be writing about in this story.





Helge Pedersen

Helge's Photo Gallery


Chapter One Dispatch from David Ow

Panama to Colombia:


As I boarded the plane in Panama City, I was worried that the Motos would be delayed. It is very common for a Moto to take a week or longer for the one hour flight. They were delayed a half a day and would have been longer if for Helge and his friend Luis. They put constant pressure on the shipping agents.


Bogota is a very large city with dense traffic. It's major attraction for me was the gold museum. It houses thousands of magnificent Inca art pieces and I was so impressed with my short first visit that I returned for a second. Bogota BMW did a great service job on my GS and everyone noticed that all the female workers looked like high fashion models.


The ride out of the city had me a little nervous for warnings of robbery or worse - kidnapping. The ride was outstanding with curvy mountain roads and beautiful scenery. There were military check points and we would be waved though with a thumbs up. We took this to mean the road ahead was safe.


On to Ecuador and Peru:


Three more day of great riding and crossed into Eucador. Helge warned us that if you are speeding 15 km over the speed limit you go to jail for three days. That was warning enough for me.


Quito is a beautiful city with many old churches and plazas. Patricia our city guide was able to take us to restricted areas and even on the top of a church dome. It was the most exclusive tour I have ever taken.


Into Peru we descended to the coast. What a shock riding into one of the driest places in the world with no vegetation. Hundreds of miles of barren land. The sand dunes were huge. Lima was enjoyable as I got a haircut that included hair wash, scalp and neck massage, hair cut, hair wash, scalp and neck massage, hair styled and last a neck and shoulder massage. Cost $25 US. What a treat. The flight over the Nazca Lines was great. I wish my eyes worked better because some of the figures were hard for me to see quickly.


It may seem like the riding could not improve since I had ridden on some outstanding roads. But the riding into Cusco was one of the best. From the desert to 14,000ft passes into green fertile valleys was the best. Hundreds of miles going up and down canyons on roads that must of been designed by a Moto racer was the most fun ever. Now in Cusco I have seen Inca temples and ruins. Machu Picchu was amazing. I feel so lucky and fortunate to ride and experience these cultures of the world.








Chapter One Dispatch from Bill Shea

Part One:


The trip continues to be mind blowing! Which picture wasn't taken from the sidecar?







Part Two:


20 February and a Carnivale fiesta in Juliaca, Peru – terrific music, many libations and we were welcomed by all!




Chapter One Dispatch from Dan Townsley




Wow, what an ordeal to get our bikes out of Customs. The Freight Company is trying to extort more money from GlobeRiders and the whole Customs process takes two full days of waiting at the Freight/Customs Terminal. With a lot of perseverance from Helge and major assistance from his good friend Luis Mojica, we finally get our bikes released at 7pm on the second day. Now, a day late to get our bikes to the BMW shop we arrive before the doors open on Saturday morning. BMW Bogota has prioritized our bikes for service and they have all hand on deck to do the various work that we need done. The Service Manager, Mr. Gabriel Sanchez, has and will far surpass my expectations.


We finally head south from Bogota and the first day out my fuel pump gives out. I think this pump has been defective since the day it was installed in the bike but never the less here I am 38km from our Hotel and waiting for the chase truck to arrive. Bike on and we arrive at the hotel in good time. I remove the pump from my R1150GS Adventure's gas tank and make one final test to confirm the pump is bad - it is.


But now what. These pumps cannot be repaired and to make matters worse it's Saturday evening. Helge makes a call to friend Luis in Bogota and within a few hours, Mr. Sanchez (BMW Bogota) has arranged for a close-by BMW repair shop to remove a pump from a bike that is in for repair and for the local Service lead to bring the pump to our hotel - on Sunday morning!!!


Morning comes and Gilardo Piedrahita from the BMW shop in Pereira arrives with the extracted fuel pump. It's not the same part number as my pump and has different wire terminals and is physically smaller but I have some spade-lugs in my repair kit and we make it all work. Reassembled, I hit the start button and the bike comes to life. I am a very happy guy to say the least.


I will forever be indebted to Luis Mojica and the good folks at the BMW shops in Colombia - they saved my tour. Side note: my bike has never run better. No more stumbles or slow accelerations at speed. I should have replaced the fuel pump years ago!




What an amazing country. Mountains, rain forest, and hundreds of kilometers of twisty roads as we traverse the country. We were warned that certain areas were dangerous but we had no problems and the military seemed to be around every corner with a "thumbs-up" indicator that the road ahead was safe.




As we enter Peru we are transitioning from the Ecuadorian flatlands. After a short ride the landscape changes to sand, sand and more sand as far as the eye can see. The northern half of Peru is a very arid place. Their sand dunes are the equal of most any in the world.


We make our way to Lima and the traffic is horrendous on the north side of town. As we approach our hotel traffic thins out a bit. Lima is interesting but I need to do some work on the bike - nothing serious this time. I did manage to find my way down to the water front about seven blocks away where I not only find the beach but a Starbucks. A little bit of "home" can be a relaxing thing when you're traveling.


Nazca is our next stop and the arid landscape continues. The famous lines are really quite amazing when seen from the air. I can only imagine how many other figures have been erased from the land by water erosion over time.


Our next port of call is stopping point halfway to Cusco. But to get there we must climb in elevation from near sea level to almost 15,000ft - in less than 60 miles!


A few folks are showing signs of the effects of the altitude but these pass once we reach Cusco and have a few days to acclimate. In Cusco we become "mass-transit-tourists". Not a bad thing, just a bit strange traveling off-bike.


The Incas were some pretty amazing stone masons. It's a shame that the Spaniards had to pillage their cities and temples - in addition to introducing disease while destroying their culture in the name of Catholicism.


This has been an amazing ride so far and it just seems to get better and better as we make our way south.




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