You're here for a good time, not for a long time.

You're here for a good time, not a long time.

October 6, 2011

Hold on Tight!

Back in Cusco, Charlie and I are beating feet to get out of Peru.  We pulled in late yesterday, got our daily McDonald’s fix, then passed out early.  The ride over was a blur.  We blew past Nazca (home of the famous Nazca lines) for the second time in a week without stopping.  Something about hopping in a rickety Peruvian Cessna to see more deserts didn’t sound appealing.  The mountain pass was much easier on us this time around; we hit it mid-morning accompanied by sunlight and blue skies.  Regardless of how well we knew the road, all told it was still a very long ride. 

Today I woke up and got right to business.  First Charlie and I went down to the Ministry of Tourism to buy our Machu Picchu tickets.  They were $50 each including access to the nearby mountain Huana Picchu, which offers the view that you’ve all seen in post cards.  Next we bought the train tickets to get us up there.  MP is a good distance from Cusco, and it’s not directly accessible by motorcycle.  So for once, we’re going to put our feet up and let someone else do the driving.  With the roads, the drivers, and Alex’s most recent accident, I feel privileged for every mile I don’t have to ride around here.

Tomorrow we catch the train at 7:00am that leads to Agua Calientes.  There we spend the night and wake up even earlier to catch the park at sunrise.  I’m excited.  Machu Picchu seemed so distant for so much of this trip and now it’s 24 hours away.  We’ve come a long distance.  In the afternoon after touring the park we’ll come back to Cusco via the train and spend all of Sunday preparing to continue south. 

While out and about I also had my side rack fixed where it had rattled a hole through.  I had a cab take me to a welding shop and explained to the blacksmith what I needed done.  He nodded confidently and finished the job in twenty minutes.  The rack is stronger than it ever was.  The price: $3.  I gave him $6.  Then I went across the street and bought motorcycle oil for my second change in Peru.  I’m sitting right at 3,000 miles after all of our looping around.  I could wait it out a bit longer, but Charlie’s changing his so it’s an opportune time.

I also did a load of laundry and got a haircut, so I’m feeling pretty fresh at the moment (although my hands are still covered in grease like normal). 

I’ve decided to keep my side panniers for a while, at least until Santiago.  My suspension is better, but still not as stiff as I’d like.  I was considering dropping everything but the essentials from here on out; instead I’ll think it over a bit more.  I’ll be sending the important items home from Cusco.  Anything else I refuse to carry can be left in the ditch for all I care. 

Santiago is coming up on the horizon.  By the time we leave Cusco, it will be less than five weeks away.  Five weeks to cover all of Bolivia and half of Chile.  I’m still not even sure I want to see Bolivia.  I here it’s amazing, and I’m sure it is.  But this is vacation too; crossing another country that doesn’t sell my bike sounds harrowing.  In the end, I’m sure I’ll end up there, but I’ll be dragging my feet crossing that border instead of bolting straight for north Chile.

I consider Santiago to be a massive fork in the road.  It’s either a spot to batten down the hatches and double my adventure efforts, or wind down the trip and start the process of getting home.  Depending on how the first week of travel goes with my fixed suspension, I might have a new, stronger rear shock sent to my house for my mom to bring down.  If I end up putting a $700 unit into the bike, I’ll intend to get quite a few more miles out of it down here.  I could have a Suzuki dealership install it while they give the bike an oil bath and rejuvenate it.

Or I could pull in, drop the kickstand for the final time, and call it the end.  Santiago is said to be the best port south of Colombia for shipping bikes home.  Buenos Aires is apparently more expensive than normal right now due to elevated port fees.  I’m finally at the point where I need to keep an eye on my bank account.  I got time, but if it’s coming to a decision of ship the bike home and go home with a landing pad or go for broke down here and come home shirtless.  It’s hard to say; there’s a lot of times when I feel like the novelty has worn off.  I keep thinking about my next trip now (probably Alaska).  How I’ll build the bike better, plan better, pack better, and do it all with just a little more maturity.  It all makes me so excited that I really want to get home and start saving money all over again while tinkering on a whole new DR650 with all the right modifications. 

At the same time, there’s no need to jump the gun.  I am, after all, on a pretty cool DR flying towards Tierra del Fuego at age 24 at the moment.  Just like living in the Moontower, this is something no sum of money or planning could ever replicate.  When I’m out there gliding along above the tree line with the motor whining between my legs and the wind in my face, I can’t imagine getting off the bike until I’ve spent my last dollar on just one more tank of gas.  Time will tell.  I’m just excited for Machu Picchu right now.

And also, I received an email the other day from a reader who’s been unsatisfied with my reports as of late.  Here’s a portionof what he had to say:
‘…you’ve devoted an inordinate amount of press to things that displease you. We get it. Point made. We know shit exists now get-past-it. Leave the smelly third world if it’s so irritating. Find your dream job at a surf shop or in the mountains but please STOP BITCHING. It’s a dreadful habit.’

I’ll keep this short and to the point.  These are not fucking bedtime stories.  Reading the hard times is getting you down?  Try riding them.  If my realities are too harsh, then pick up a Lonely Planet, because this is an adventure.  I’ll write the good, the bad, and the beautiful.  So hold on tight!


  1. I like hearing both reminds us that this trip you're on isn't a fairy tale, but an ADVENTURE. Screw that guy. Keep up the good writing, man...including the bad stuff!

  2. I always looks forward to reading your blogs, largely because of the dose of reality in them. It's not a cakewalk, and your honesty is refreshing. I second eightangrybears: screw that guy.

    Remember to have $150 US cash on you for your Bolivian visa. One of the perks of being an American.

    Try to hit Copacabana on a Sunday and you can get your motorcycle blessed in true Inca-Catholic style.

    I'd say go to Bolivia for sure...but then again, I'm safely back home, so I can say things like that. Whatever you do, I'm sure it will be great! Have fun!

  3. What's the point of going through shit if you can't bitch about it? Get home safe dude the beer here is always cold

  4. I find it a bit refreshing to see someone write that some of their grand trip experiences sort of suck. Keep the non PC style going Tom!!

  5. Hey Tom!! It's YOUR ride and YOUR report. Write whatever you damn well please!! I think most of us subscribed to your report are perfectly happy with your story and your writing style. Keep up the good job and enjoy the ride. Take care!!
    GT George (ADVrider)

  6. Keep on keepin it real Tom ... love your report!

    thorzite (ADVrider)

  7. Hey Tom, You're probably in Bolivia by now, and it probably sucks. Find your way to Uyuni, take a 4X4 trip around the sights for three days, and then take the road back up to Potosi, and south from there. The road from Uyuni to Tupiza is a NIGHTMARE. 200kms of sand dunes across the road, rocks, and washboards you could fall into. We did it, but it took nine hours and I hated every second. I hope you don't turn around in Santiago, we're a couple of days from there and it would suck to not meet up with you guys again. Everything that sucks about Bolivia is repaid double in Argentina - it truly is the promised land...the food is amazing, people like Americans, and the women are much...taller, to say the least. Get through Bolivia and it's all gravy; I'm sort of wishing I had shipped my bike here and started in Argentina in the first place. Seriously. Say hi to Charlie, and take care!

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  9. As a reader who is " catching up" after reading Als' ADV thread, I say BRAVO TOM!
    You are a very inviting author and I enjoy the candid observations!
    I particularly enjoy the inclusion of your emotional/mental state while events unfold.

  10. One of the best road reports and stories I've read in a long time. Your writing reminds me a bit of Sam Manicom's books. Lots of detail of the places balanced with your state of mind in the saddle. Awesome in every way.