Monday, 28 October 2013

Medellin To Mariquita

Time to take Maya in for a manicure moto style.

While in Medellin we had the rear shock re-checked, although they did their best we still have a knock between the compression and rebound strokes so now it can stay like that until it packs a sad or does what it does, they can’t find anything that is causing the noise within the shock.

The radiator was being rubbed by the safari tank because the safari tank is expanding with the heat here and rubbing hard against the radiator side tanks causing wear.

Calling on the Orange Crush lads of ADV rider I was given good advice that yes it WILL wear through if not attended to.

Confirming what I had thought we then put some ideas together, I told Andres from R2R what I wanted to achieve and he came up with a great plan of using double sided sticky tape to hold on the sacrificial angles we had formed to fit to the radiator.

This worked out really well as we didn’t really want to solder anything to the side tanks of the radiator.

Using the double sided sticky we utilized three strips per side and three strips on the back so cross fingers it will stay there. 



Maya also received new 15 - 50 fully synthetic Motorex blood which we overshot the change by mileage by 59 km .... don’t tell anyone.

Unfortunately our fuel pump died, the Dr Bean circuit board seems ok but our pump failed, we left R2R and only got a few km down the road before it completely died and Maya had to be taken back on a truck for diagnostics.

We discovered our pump was still pumping but soon as any load was applied it just died, R2R very kindly lent us a fuel pump to get us on our way.

That afternoon, although we were now 4 hours behind and still in Medellin another silver lining appeared with meeting Daniel and Lina, Daniel is famous for riding the indian made Bajaj branded bike from South America, up through South Africa, up and across to India to the factory where it was made.

This is on a 180 cc bike with two metal side cases and a top box, his ride was based on taking the bike from Colombia and riding it back to where it was born ... pretty bloody cool.

Daniel has made it to print in magazines and articles so a primo effort from a Colombian man following his passion, he also has an old skool BMWR80GS which I like too.

This on Daniel .....

"AROUND THE WORLD on a PULSAR “ Journey of a lifetime"
Daniel Velandia, a Colombian biker and a proud owner of the Bajaj Pulsar, has traveled around the world to 23 countries on his Pulsar180, and finally reached Pune in India, the hometown of the Pulsar.

Pune, June 2, 2009: Daniel Velandia, a biker from Colombia has just concluded a mammoth journey around the world on his Pulsar 180, traveling across 23 countries and covering about 30,000 miles from Columbia to Pune, India. This was a journey of a lifetime and of self-discovery for Daniel, experiencing the freedom and magic that can only be sensed onboard a motorcycle, to the commands of a Pulsar 180, which Daniel calls Elvira.

He was struck with the idea of combining his passion for Motorcycling and Traveling across the globe in the year 2007, giving birth to this adventure. His journey started from South America, through the African continent and concluded in Asia. Along the way he passed countries such as Columbia, Argentina, South Africa, riding country by country towards northern Africa, passing by the Suez Canal to the Middle East, and finally arriving in India. Daniel's motorcycle was equipped with some trimming protections to save him from any fall and was loaded with two cases for his limited luggage.

He rode on his Pulsar 180 showcasing to the world that his motorcycle can handle the 30000 miles, climbing snow clad mountains, crossing deserts and the African Steppe and finally arriving in India to reach Pune, where his very own Pulsar was born in Bajaj Auto's Chakan plant. He is overwhelmed by the performance of his Pulsar during this journey with special mention for its great autonomy, handling and amazing fuel economy.

Daniel says, "I am delighted on completing this journey on my Pulsar 180. My dream of traveling and riding across the World has become a reality. This has been an unforgettable adventure, filled with unparalleled experiences, surviving difficult times in which both human and machine strength were tested, but from which both came out proud.

He further added, "I really wanted to visit the place where this wonderful machine is being made and I thank Bajaj Auto India and Auteco Bajaj in Colombia and its people for fulfilling my wishes."

According to Mr. Ashok Saxena, General Manager-Marketing, International Business, Bajaj Auto Ltd " This is the kind of journey, which is a dream for every biker. We would like to congratulate Mr. Velandia on successfully completing this enormous adventure and wish him all the best for his future endeavors."

He further added," Bajaj has been in the forefront of developing products like Pulsar, which instills this passion in its rider and drives such levels of performance. This journey has once again shown that Pulsar is numero uno when it comes to performance biking. We will continue to make such dreams a reality for professional bikers, with our commitment to provide distinctly ahead products."

Profile of Mr. Daniel Velandia :-
Daniel Velandia is 34 years old and he has been riding motorcylces for the last 9 years. His first possession was a Plus (Chetak 150) model, year 93 and over the last 5 years,he has dedicated his life to motorcycles.He was a test rider at a local factory in colombia and then a test rider for the colombian magazine La Revista DEMOTOS where he had the opportunity to test some amazing motorcycles. During the course of this trip, he got the opportunity to pursue some riding courses, both off road and race road riding, in South Africa. He hopes in future to get some kind of a PhD for riding.

For more information,please visit his blog :-

About Bajaj- Pulsar
In 2001 when motorcycles were just an efficient mode of transport, Bajaj Auto Ltd. launched a performance motorcycle with distinct styling and muscular features. Eight successful years later, the Pulsar is today one of the icons of youthful, progressive and confident India.

The Bajaj Pulsar continues to set new benchmarks in technology, performance, and styling.The Pulsar's durability and its sustainability in the toughest condition has been worthwhile to address the needs of a growing segment of pro-bikers. Today, the Pulsar is not only India's best performance motorcycle it also is the category leader with nearly 50% market share in the 150cc plus segment. Pulsar has presence in global markets as well including Columbia and it has been well received the world over.

KTM, if you need someone to do that pick me, I have not been Austria yet (we almost did but ran out of time) I will happily ride a bike back to Austria .... and 1190R will do!!

So, back to reality, Daniel and Lina seeing our plight and learning we are RTW travellers kindly invited us back to their place up in the hills above Medellin, we accepted their offer and once Maya was going we followed them home.

A quick stop to buy some tea on the way and we arrived at their .... and what a cool home they have, close enough to Medellin but so tranquil in bush, perfecto!!!

Daniel And Lina ... not sure what his grin had in mind  

Groovy fire place

The stair case

Someone who looked like Daniel liked Maya too, he has good taste 

Chats over some wine and food, about travels, motos and experiences a great night unfolded, we saw some of Linas works as well, she has an arty touch I can only dream of and a singing voice that makes you sit up and listen.

The moon over Colombia from their home through the trees

Onya guys, a real pleasure to meet you and Lina ... see you in New Zealand?

The four of us

The following day was back to reality heading toward Bogota to get some shite sorted out, the not so good part or travelling, more or this under our Bogota report to come.

The road was meant to be blocked by protesters so we already had a Plan B put in place just in case, as usual when your are organised for it you don’t need it and we had an easy run through, we decided to stay in Mariquita that night so the next day would be shorter in Bogota and we could reach the US Embassy in time.

Getting into Manizales the clouds opened and we got a good wash, heading in to get petrol we geared up for what looked to be a very wet and cold 3800 pass but after fueling up, gearing up it had almost past us, we left the gear on anyway knowing it will be cold at the top which turned out to be a good move.

Up and over the pass was quite pleasant apart from one woman driver trying to overtake us into a blind corner locking it up and almost losing it ... dunno what the hell she was thinking and at that point she may have felt the same but she cut us off to save her arse nearly kicking us off the road only to sit in front of us in traffic ... total winner. 

Next day Bogota.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Puerto Boyaca To Medellin

No AC .... stinking hot, 280 meters above sea level, we were both dissolving in the heat but no complaints as we were heading back up to Medellin to the cooler temps at 1800 meters.

Check this out, easy cycling up hill, truck was only doing 45 - 50 k but this dude has skill (if he is still alive )

The day was an easy tarseal jaunt, we had been over that road but not toward Medellin, on top of that mum nature had been watering the place well with massive thunderstorms again illuminating the skies at night so that bought out the waterfalls and changed the perspective on the road.

All was going well until we pulled up behind some cars, then some trucks hmmmm.

So ok the left hand lane plus or minus was free so we rode on by km after km past trucks, buses are cars, nearly 5 km long then it was clear again for no reason so we larfed and carried on.

Only 1 km up the road we came across more trucks, buses and cars, this time they were parked all over the road and this time because of landslides and washouts from the previous night sky fireworks.

We managed to sneak our way around this lineup which was another 4 km long up to the front then it became apparent the extent of damage done by the downpour.

A landslide had come down claiming nearly 300 meters of road with a slurry of mud and rocks up to 1.5 meters deep, it had come down at 5 am hence the incredibly long lineup.

On investigating the damage they had two small diggers chipping away at it, they had been going about an hour when we got there and we were stuck there for 3.5 hours waiting, think of the poor guys how were there from 5.00am.

It was fookin hot and this was the ONLY day we left saying we will be there in two hours so don't worry about filling up with water, lesson learned never assume you will get trough without issue no matter how close you are, lucky we have a backpack and filter system.

They were not allowed to push the slurry over the edge into the gully as it would go in the river, the reckoned it would block it, I reckon it would not stand a chance of blocking it with the flow of the angry waters.

The diggers spent half their time backing up the road with a load of flowing muck, half of it falling out before getting to the drop point, and some of it flowing straight back down the road where it came from so a LOT of double handling going on.

On completion of the final slurry being removed there was huge cheers from the audiences at each end then a running race back to the motos to let the race begin.

As usual they let the traffic go in an orderly fashion ... which lasted 30 seconds before mayhem took over, we were surrounded by a swarm of small motos and the police inundated and powerless to stop the chaotic flow.

Per usual here you either dive in or get left behind so we made sure we were up the front knowing only a km out of the traffic jam we would be past them and home free.

In the slip midship

The traffic was 5 km long from the other side of the slip and with only one lane open it would be another couple of hours at least before they all got through.

Arriving “late” was no biggy as we said we would be there later afternoon anyway, again leaving our gear there in R2R Maya hit the bath tub again to wash off all the good times.

The mission was to resolve the shock knock, make some sacrificial slider for the radiator and change the oil.

To finish, here is the "unplugging" of the slip with everyone going through in an orderly fashion 


Tunja To Puerto Boyaca

Heading back to Medellin to get the rear shock checked, radiator protectors on and new Motorex blood for the engine we hit the tar seal to Barbosa.

Although we had come through this road prior it was from the opposite way and with the wetter conditions it bought out waterfalls etc so it seemed like an entirely new road and of course the view where opposite, it is amazing what you see looking back, this was not flowing last time 


This was new road (for a change) and again with mum nature feeding the land it made for great waterfalls.

Heading up and over the road from Barbosa we had already done however we had already covered most roads so ran out of options at that point . We did get to see more this time as the weather/fog was clearer 

During the night there had been massive thunder storms west of us, luckily the road up and over the top had missed most of it and was pretty dry as there is upwards of 50 km of ratty roadworks.

Getting back down onto the main drag we headed toward Puerto Boyaca to stay the night, along this road the amount of rain had become apparent but we were unaffected being on tar for a change.

Creeks were full and this was common sight along here. 

Not much more to say cos it was an easy open road ride ...... nice for a change 

Paz De Airporo To Tunja

After the big day it was a tarseal cowboy jaunt for a while, looking out east of the mountains towards Venezuela there is an empty expanse you could hide New Zealand in ... it is just huge.

Entering into Aguazul the road was blocked with hundreds of trucks and cars .... again so we pushed our way to the end of the line, a young Policeman was there and just flagged us through, the next Policeman at mid point said no you can’t go through ... WTF so we had a language barrier discussion in the middle of the street as he said we had to wait two hours for when the bike race was coming through.

We only needed to go about 50 meters and we were home free. We parked Maya and I walked over to “the other end” 50 meters away and in pig spinglish asked if we could come through to another young Policeman behind some cones ....he kinda indicated ok.

Raced casually back to Maya, Ellen and put our gear on quietly outa sight of Mr.Plod no 2 who wouldn't let us through then hit the button without looking back while aiming directly for the policeman with the cones at which point he shifted the cones and we carried on through ... too easy. WOH HOH ... there are merits in not quite understanding and looking very different  

Our intention was to get to the salt church and we took a short cut so we didn’t have to backtrack on a road we had done, we had a great time wondering around backroads that turned out to be anything other than a shortcut .. I shoulda learnt by now.

This is common sight, the militars giving the thumbs up, it is not that they like our bike it means you are ok and safe to pass, great job you guys!!!! .... and I always thought they all liked KTM 950 Super Enduros  

We did however get to ride through beautiful gorges and mostly on tarseal that point

Lake Tota was on the list to go back past then turn off into the unknown which it really did turn out to be.

There are bits of civilisation dotted around here and their

Later in the afternoon at 3800 meters and a road ending by a small lake that looked like a picture from Dr Seuss we opted to take the road down to Tunja.

We had at that point spent all afternoon skunking around in the back yard again on shingle etc .... hmmm we am not very good at staying on tar. 

We knew the road would go to Tunja as we had run out of other roads so by process of elimination it worked.

Tunja sits at 3000 meters so we didn’t pull out the speedos, alway a bonus to sleep at that height tho with cooler temps.

We made the most of the cooler temps as the next day we were heading back down to the lowlands ..... note slightly warm 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Mongui To Paz De Airporo

The loop we did so it all makes sense

We decided to stay two nights at Mongui as we had done some reasonably big back road days consisting of 90% plus shingle, rocks and mud so Mongui turned into a rest spot.

Monguis big specialty is the beautiful church in the main plaza

And a neat wee stream with trout in it

Upon leaving we had visions of heading to Sacama then up to El Cocuy, it was a “red” road on the map and all previous “red” roads had tarmac of varying quality so doable, leaving Mongui was sealed for about 10 km then that was it.

We past a horse and cowboy mob celebrating the Colombian soccer win, these guys were into it.

Heading deeper into the mountains we uncleverly past our last fuel stop thinking there was one further up (the station we went past was packed) but with 30 L tank and still a healthy volume it wasn’t an issue until we really started to climb and climb for miles.

We stopped at a gasolinera and found out that where we were heading was no more gas until Sacama and quite some climb yet, also the road getting rougher meant lower gears so more fuel usage.

In order to play safe and not get stuck at nearly 4000 meters we put in 2 gallons and set off into the distance climbing and climbing.

Reaching the top of the valley we rode many km on top of the world in a stunning moonscape tortured by mum nature due to the elevation and pretty much having the entire place to ourselves.

Back to our visions, well, that didn’t quite pan out as the road roughened and got muddier with some repairs done to the pot holes, a smoothe section with attempted fixes.

There were small tarns dotted around the landscape with small waterfalls

The road then got muddy ....and stayed like that for a considerable distance.

Then came the mind torture, Mrs.Garmin was happy then said do a U turn and drive 60 km ... WTF .... then continue 60 km straight ahead, then do a U turn, then drive 44 km ahead, U turn, 20 km ahead, U turn, 44 km ahead.

Starting to wonder what was going on we stopped at a house and asked ...she said si senor todo derecho (yes sir straight ahead).

Back to not sure whether to trust the GPS we did continue, human intervention payed off with the basics of well there was no road to turn off and no other way around it so it must be right, trust your own gut instinct.

Mrs.Garmin kept telling lies, then went from 60 km, down to 40 km, down to 20 km down to 4.4 km in the space of 2 km, we spotted a place of worship of significant size and the road got very good very quick like within 100 meters from mush and mud to this in the pic... ah ha civilization, sure enough just after that we spotted Sacama with some relief of not having an epic backtrack.

Sacama was a late afternoon lunch then we hit it to get out to Hato Corozal, the police said two hours .... for 61 km .... WTF way man we are on a big bike, he was right, rough as a river bed in places then were saw the smooth stuff in the distance .... you beauty .... erh wrong that was sandpit and lots of it so yeap a false friend in the distance kinda like a mirage in a desert. 

Rough road and mum nature decided we were too smelly 

The dreaded smooth bits and the welcomed lumps beside it, this was our road for some 20 km.

Then this, huge straights, very wide

A quick 180 of the scene, the big black baddies is where we came from, click on the pic to play


Making it into Hato Corozal there was a huge festival .... NOT a sausage of accom anywhere, thankfully it was only 20 minute blast down real tarmac that was actually almost smooth down to Paz De Aiporo so we laid our bones down to rest for the night there, certainly no tourist town but excellent food.

Another accidental big day .... almost like work.