My Christmas Motorcycle ride Part 1

122413-111I might be crazy.

I bought a motorcycle, and after having riden it for 600 Klms, I set out on a trip to visit my friend Geri on the coast of Ecuador.  Google said this trip would be 800 klms and 11 hours.  Yeah right.

I thought I had prepared for the trip… was I mistaken.

Issue 1.  How to keep my stuff on the bike.  My concern wasn’t that I would lose my bag, but that it would come losse, shift, and make me fall.  This caused me to stop every 75 to 100 klm to tighten and inspect my ropes.

Issue 2. Knowing where I was and where I was going. I am so used to road signs that tell you where you are and where to get where you are going.  Not so in Ecuador.  This, and the losing of my map, caused me to take a wrong turn that ended up adding many hours on to my trip… more on this later.

Issue 3 Asking for directions.  When I traveled with Ecuadorians, they had this infurating habit of stopping every few minutes to ask directions.  Now I understand why… after my first really wrong turn I started asking muiltiple times until I got a consensious of opiions as to the way to go.  My spanish really sucks, but everyone was extremely helpful…. sometimes really wrong, but always very helpful

Issue 4 Condition of the roads. 90 % of the roads I traveled were in very good to excellent condition… well built, smooth and just great to ride on.  The problem is that when the roads turned bad, they did so with little or no warning, and they were really really bad. One of the worst parts of the trip happened on the first day… I came up over a rise with a curve and the road disappeared… not to gravel but to rocks on a steep downhill.  I locked up my front brakes ( mistake) and slid and fell.  The good thing was I was in full rubber rain wear so there was no road rash, and no traffic… It was at least 15 minutes before the next vehicle… so no concerns that way.  There are some scratches on the bike, and I already had a banged up shoulder from moving some chairs at school the day before, so this didn’t help…they only serious damage was to my pride.

Issue 5 Ecuadorian Drivers When I first came here I thought the drivers were crazy… but a high percentage of the drivers here are very good… they just follow a different set of rules.  For example, my speed was about 60 to 70 on average. ( The bike can go faster, the rider isn’t comfortable above that)  This was in the middle range of what little traffic I encountered..some faster some slower.  My place on the road, as a motor bike, when there was traffic, was next to the shoulder, or if there was a clean hard shoulder, riding on it.   This allowed for drivers to pass..either me or in the other direction while giving space.    I also rode with my lights on all the time, which seemed to bother other drivers even in daylight.  The first couple of times I had two vehicles coming towards me was a little disconcerting, but I soon got used to it…feathered the throttle and had no problems.

The lights, and especially the horn are used to tell other drivers “I am here” so it is more of a greeting or friendly gesture… not like North America where the horn is “get out of my way.”  So when I heard a beep on the highway it was letting me know that they were passing…maybe in the other lane…maybe in our lane 

Issue 6 Weather I travelled along the edge of the rainforest, up, over and through the Andes, and along the coastal plains.  I did not encounter any Ice and Snow. I am too close to the equator for that, but everything else from hot, blazing sun to cold damp high altitude cloud/fog and torrential rain appeared.  All of these conditions could appear within an hour or two so  much time was spent packing and unpacking.. adding and removing layers of clothes.

And the wind.


Issue 7 Pictures and camera gear.  Actually this might be part of Issue 1.  Part of the reason for this trip was to take pictures, but, it was such a PITA to pull out my camera and then put it away that I didn’t bother very much.  What this means is parts of my journey will have to be revisited in order to capture the amazing beauty I saw and experienced on this journey.

So overall it was a worthwhile trip..I learned a lot about riding, Ecuador and most importantly about myself…I can be a stubborn idiot sometimes, but I can keep going when I need to and keep my cool.

I will add another post to this later…It was a 5 days trip so there is much more to add.

Christmas Motorcycle trip… The Orient

For the first time in many years, I am looking forward to Christmas!!!

Usually by this time I am so sick of all the music, and advertisements coupled with the dark and cold that I feel really down and depressed, I am hating the world… Here the season seems to have snuck up on me..  It might have to do with the lack of build up ..they just lite the tree in the town square last night … 1 week before the day.

As well I have planned an interesting trip.070812-213

Andes Moutains

Andes Moutains

I will be riding my bike up the eastern ( The Orient or Amazonian) side of the mountains, then cutting across the continental divide via Banos to the coast.  It is a 12 hour trip that I will spread over 3 or 4 days.  My bike, being chinese and indian, can only really run for 2 hours ( I have been told)  before it needs to cool down.  This will a nice leisurely trip with plenty of rest stops.  I am also taking the scenic route which should be safer for someone with my experience level.

Of course my rest stops will be places that I can wander with my camera.

I will then be staying with a friend on the coast… a former english teacher who has retired to live on the beach, where she can walk her dog for miles on the sand and watch the sunsets over the pacific… her days are as busy as she wants them to be…. a nice way to live.

Since I have until the new year off, but I need to get back to take care of Buster ( letting someone else take care of him for a week or so is OK… 2 weeks… asking a lot)  my return trip will also be leisurely, but my time in the sand will be short… just a couple of days.

Merry Christmas

Mancha and Motos


There is a dog, Mancha ( Spanish for spot ( there is some debate whether her name is Mancha ( spot ) or Manchas ( spots)) that lives at Tzanka, who has adopted me.  She and Buster don’t get along too well, but she likes to follow me everywhere I go around the city.

If I try and discourage her, she stays about 1/2 a block back…. if I ignore her she usually stays about 3 feet behind me…so even if I am not exactly sure where she is I am always careful how I cross around traffic.

You do not see people walking their dogs here, and I have never seen one tied up outside a store or someplace as an owner was inside.  I do get strange looks from people when I do take Buster for a walk on a lead.

When I go into a store or the bank Mancha sits outside…right at the edge of the door. There is nothing to keep her from coming into the buildings, the doors are always wide open or there are no doors, but she very rarely does.    People have commented…and it is easier to say that she is my dog than to try and explain that she has adopted me.

She has come into the school a couple of times, and surprisingly, no one seems to care, and of course the kids love it.  I decided that this is one place that would not be good so I have actively discouraged her here.  The looks of some of the kids when I have done this was enough to send daggers into anyones heart.

I decided a couple of months ago to try for a Motorcycle license…3 months ago actually.

Besides the paperwork needed and the visits to various offices around the city ( with a white dog with a big black spot as my shadow),  It has taken me this long because I had to learn enough spanish to try the test.

On my visit today, I was in the office for about 45 minutes ( and I got my license on the first try) When I came out of the office there was Mancha.  There is nothing to keep her from coming into the buildings, the doors are always wide open but she very rarely does.  As I was walking away I noticed 2 security guards looking and commenting on how happy this dog was, and the fact she had been waiting that long.

I just hope she doesn’t try to follow me when I ride my Moto…..