Friday 19 March 2010

Post Script

I got back home on Saturday afternoon, I managed to last until Monday morning before I had to go out on the bike again (and you're right - that isn't High Wycombe in the picture).

On Wednesday I took the bike for an MOT test. Now obviously after more than 40,000 miles it didn't pass. So, having ridden for 11 months on bad roads, no roads, dirt, sand, mud, snow, corrugations, gravel, rocks, floods, landslides and river crossings what was the one thing it failed on? A deteriorated numberplate.

Saturday 13 March 2010

That's all folks

So if I was doing it all again what would I do differently? Well I'd take a universal sink plug with me. And that's about it. I'd try to carry less luggage but I don't know what I'd leave behind. Oh, and I wouldn't carry my water in two Fuller's London Pride water bottles. When you're riding across some of the hottest and driest places on the planet it doesn't half make you fancy a pint.

Not a good sign

Friday 12 March 2010

Thursday 11 March 2010

Alles In Ordnung

I thought that perhaps the procedure for getting the bike back in Germany might be a little more straightforward than it had been in previous countries but it still involved going to 5 different counters in 4 different buildings.
The process starts at Cargo City South Building 501. Where is Cargo City South Building 501? Between buildings 537 and 534 of course.

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Heading Home

Two days of train travel made a change, but everytime I saw a stretch of road out of the window I found myself looking at it longingly. So I decided to hire a car for the trip back to Frankfurt.
Its been a long, long time since I last drove a car and, even though it was only small, in comparison to what I´ve been used to for the last 11 months it felt like I was driving a bus.

With luck the bike and I will be reunited tomorrow morning and then I´ll start heading back to England. Which I suppose in a very roundabout way I´ve been doing ever since I left.

Monday 8 March 2010


When I left Buenos Aires the temperature was 30 degrees so minus 18 on top of Germany´s highest mountain came as a bit of a shock to the system.


The German Olympic team arrived in Garmisch last night. They´re sponsored by Milka, and now so am I.

Saturday 6 March 2010


I stayed in Nurnberg at the start of the trip and I´ve returned for 2 very good reasons:

Unfortunately all the beer drinking has left me with no time to visit the pigeon museum, the beer glass museum or the garden shed museum. All good reasons to return I´m sure.

Friday 5 March 2010


The bike was meant to fly from Buenos Aires on Wednesday night but due to a problem with the paperwork it wasn´t put on the plane. The shipping agent is blaming the airline, the airline blames the shipping agent. It now won´t arrive until the middle of next week so instead of hanging around in Frankfurt I´ve decided to see a bit of Germany by train.

Thursday 4 March 2010


Why Frankfurt? Well I could´ve flown straight back to England, but that seemed a little unimaginative. I chose Frankfurt because its a direct flight from Buenos Aires with Lufthansa Cargo, which has a good reputation for shipping bikes. But as it turned out it was cheaper for the bike to fly with Iberia via Madrid and more convenient for me to fly Alitalia via Rome.

Monday 1 March 2010

Praise You

We´ve come a long, long way together
Through the hard times and the good
I have to celebrate you baby
I have to praise you like I should...

More than 40,000 miles and apart from consumables the only parts I've had to replace are the speedo cable, one oil seal and the starter switch.

Sunday 28 February 2010

Buenos Aires (again)

I´m back in Buenos Aires, which unfortunately means my time in South America is almost at an end. Tomorrow I´m going to a shipping agent to organise the bike´s return home and once I´ve done that I can book my flight.
Then again, I left my tyre inflator behind in Russia so perhaps I should just retrace my steps and go and pick it up.

I´d forgotten that Argentinians like to eat late - at 8 o´clock at night I´m tucking in to my dinner, everybody else in the restaurant is having afternoon coffee.

Saturday 27 February 2010

The Battery Saga

Yesterday the bike started with the help of a jump start. This morning that didn´t work - it needed a push start, and another one when I stopped for petrol. I tried three bike shops in Colon (where I stayed overnight) for a battery but it took another three attempts in Gualeguaychu before I finally struck lucky. The new battery didn´t solve the problem, however, and after a bit of hot-wiring the mechanic diagnosed the starter switch. Now, this being a back-street garage in rural Argentina they obviously didn´t have an original Yamaha replacement but they did have a universal switch. The only problem with that was that the connectors didn´t line-up and after half an hour of pulling wires apart he still couldn´t get it to work. Just as he was trying a second switch it struck me - "Starter switch!". I´m sure that was one of the spares I brought with me and after emptying out my pannier I found it. Now if I´d´ve been him I think at this point I would´ve been cursing the dumb Englishman who´d just produced the spare part that I´d needed 45 minutes ago but fortunately he just seemed pleased to have it. By this time there was no way of knowing how the wiring was originally and it took another 20 minutes of trial and error to work it out.
When I got the bill the battery was on there but my new Argentinian best friend wouldn´t accept anything for the hour and a half´s labour. Instead there was an exchange of gifts - I got an Argentinian sticker and he got a couple of Union Jack badges.

Friday 26 February 2010

I wonder...

I wonder if I'll still have my lunch at petrol stations when I get back to England?

How Ungrateful

I decided to give the bike a treat and wash it yesterday afternoon. How does it repay this act of kindness? With a flat battery this morning. It had a new battery before I left, it needed a new one in Panama City and now it needs a third meaning I'm only getting six months use out of each one.

Thursday 25 February 2010

Southern Brasil

Green fields, cows, a pleasant 22 degrees. I was just thinking this could be England. Then a flamingo flew overhead to remind me it

Sunday 21 February 2010

Back to Buenos Aires

I was hoping that from Rio it would be a short hop down to Sao Paulo in order to arrange the shipping of the bike back home. Unfortunately the shipping agent I´ve been in contact with has told me that the Brazilian customs procedure is a long-winded and expensive bureaucratic nightmare so I´ve decided to take a rather longer hop back to Buenos Aires and ship the bike from there instead.

Saturday 20 February 2010

Rio de Janeiro

I´ve missed the carnival by a few days but that was a conscious decision - a hotel room would´ve been 300 pounds a night and even to get a bed in a hostel dorm would´ve been 50 pounds but with a 7 night minimum stay.

Friday 19 February 2010

Monday 15 February 2010


I´d was hoping there´d be a money exchange at the Brazilian border so I could change the last of my Argentinian Pesos into Brazilian Reals. There wasn´t, so I headed off in search of a bank. Before I found a bank, however, I came to a toll booth. In most South American countries bikes don´t pay tolls but in Brazil they do. I had no Reals and they didn´t accept Pesos or credit cards. With the traffic building up behind me the supervisor came over and told me I´d have to go back to a town 30km away. Fotunately at that point a guy in the van behind took pity on me and changed some of my Pesos.
Thankfully I found a bank before I got to the next toll booth.

Sunday 14 February 2010

One picture, three countries

The foreground is Argentina, the riverbank on the left is Paraguay, on the right is Brazil.

Saturday 13 February 2010

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Leaving Montevideo

To check the oil on the Yamaha you have to have a warm engine so I normally do it when I stop for petrol. This morning I left Montevideo and after about 20km I decided to pull over to check it. When I got off the bike most of the oil was in a puddle on the ground under the sump. I hoped it might just've been that the sump plug had come loose but unfortunately it wasn't that simple. I started the engine and saw that the oil was dripping from somewhere higher up. Fortunately I'd bought a litre of spare oil in Buenos Aires (I don't normally carry that much) so I put that in and decided to limp back into Montevideo. I came to a petrol station after 16km so I put in another litre of oil and got directions to a bike shop about a mile away. Within about 20 minutes the culprit had been identified - a leaky seal behind the front sprocket. They managed to track down a replacement and within a couple of hours I was on my way again. If I hadn't have stopped to check my oil I probably wouldn't have known anything was wrong until the engine seized.
I'm glad to report the workshop, like all the others I've found myself in on this trip, conformed to the international blueprint for garages - one guy doing a bit of work and 3 or 4 others who stand around drinking tea.

Tuesday 9 February 2010


The Palacio Salvo in Montevideo was the tallest building in South America when it was built in 1925.

Random Uruguay fact: Uruguay, the second smallest country in South America (after Suriname), has twice won the FIFA World Cup.

Sunday 7 February 2010

Colonia del Sacramento

Colonia del Sacramento was founded by the Portuguese in 1680 in order to smuggle goods across the River Plate to Buenos Aires. The River Plate is the widest river in the world - 137 miles wide at its mouth.

Friday 5 February 2010

Frey Bentos, Uruguay

From Buenos Aires the closest border crossing into Uruguay is at the town of Frey Bentos. Before I left Buenos Aires this morning I was warned that due to a dispute between Argentina and Uruguay the local Argentinians had set up a roadblock to stop traffic getting to the border. When I stopped to ask for directions in a town about 30km before the border I was again told that I couldn't get through and that the road had been closed since 2006. As the alternative border crossing was about 100km away I decided to try my luck and head for the border anyway.
20km further on and there was the roadblock. I rode up to it and the guy manning the barrier told me I'd have to turn around. I told him I thought it was a pretty poor show and was just about to turn the bike around when he had a change of heart and let me through.
Fortunately, despite a complete lack of traffic, the border post is still manned and so I had what must be the quickest border crossing to date - out of Argentina and into Uruguay in 10 minutes.

Thursday 4 February 2010

Buenos Aires

Yesterday was spent treating the bike to an oil change and a new rear tyre, today was spent sight-seeing. The street in the picture above is claimed to be the widest in the world, the building below is the presidential palace.

Saturday 30 January 2010


Typical. After three days of temperatures in the high 30s I find a campsite with a swimming pool and the weather turns overcast and cool.
The receptionists at the campsite asked me about my trip. When I told them I'd riden here from England they went out and hoisted the Union Jack in my honour.

After countless nights in the tent I think I've finally found the key to a good night's sleep - Argentinian cabernet sauvignon.

Wednesday 27 January 2010

Puerto Piramides

Activity of the week: swimming with sea lions

Sunday 24 January 2010


Gaiman was founded in 1874 by Welsh settlers. I did my best to lower the tone in a smart teahouse by turning up in my biking gear for an all-you-can-eat Welsh tea. It was rather good but you can tell you're not really in Wales - its warm and sunny.

Yep, still windy

Today the wind succeeded in what its been trying to achieve for the last couple of weeks - gusting hard enough to blow me straight off the side of the road.

Tuesday 19 January 2010

The only way is up

Since landing in Canada I've been heading south for 20,493 miles. Now I've reached the end of the road there's only one thing to do - turn the bike around and start heading north.

Saturday 16 January 2010

Its the end of the world

Ushuaia is the southern-most city in the world. The road ends 28km further on at Bahia Lapataia. The only way of going further south would be to take a boat to Antarctica.

Thursday 14 January 2010

Tuesday 12 January 2010

Perito Moreno Glacier

I visited the glacier as a day trip from El Calafate which meant I could leave my luggage at the hotel. It was a lovely twisty road and the bike seemed to appreciate not being heavily loaded for once.

Sunday 10 January 2010


Two days of dirt roads, which generally weren't too bad - there was usually an obvious line to follow to avoid the worst of the gravel. The fun starts around midday when the wind picks-up and gusts strongly enough to blow the bike sideways into the gravel. I had two especially big wobbles - certainly as bad as my Mongolian moment. But I learned from Mongolia and managed to stay upright.

Wednesday 6 January 2010

Bariloche, Argentina

My two most loyal blog-followers have asked me to write something about these two pictures, so: one is of a big lake and the other is of my bike in front a yellow bush. Okay?

Saturday 2 January 2010


A day of looking after the bike today - a pair of new tyres and an oil change. Whilst out getting the tyres the sidestand snapped in two. Fortunately there was a welder just around the corner and within 45 minutes I was on my way again. I did consider posting a picture but I thought a photo of Chilean welding would probably only appeal to quite a niche audience so here's one of a local park instead.

Friday 1 January 2010


I'm in Santiago, but where's everybody else? The place is deserted.