Posts tagged “Columbia

A special offroad experience

According to Google the ride from Medellin to Cali should take more than 8 hours. So we got up early at 6am and left Medellin. Actually we wanted to follow the Panamericana, but Carmen took the wrong turn and so we found a very beautiful, winding mountain road, the same road which we took with the truck at night to Medellin. This time however we were a little bit faster. 😉 We made a short break at our last hotel in Supia, in order to take care of our second set of parts which should arrive here from California. After some more kilometers on marvelous roads we arrived in the afternoon in Cali. We staid at hostel Casa Blanca, which is owned by an enthusiastic biker and has seen many motorcycle travelers in the last recent years. Here we also met Jesper, whom we got to know during our sailing trip crossing the Darien Gap. We spent the evening together with some nice chinese food and some good wine.

Since we spent more time than planned in Columbia, we wanted to continue to Ecuador as soon as possible. We just made one stop in Pasto before we continued to the border. On our way to the border we visited the Las Lajas church near Ipiales, which is built on a kind of bridge crossing a canyon.

After a few kilometers we arrived at the border. Immigration to Ecuador was pretty easy but took 2 hours because of the rush. With the stamp in our passport and the import papers in our hands we continued on the Panamericana, but only for a few kilometers. Then we chose a nice dirt road heading El Angel. Most of the road consisted of stones and dirt, but some parts were quite muddy as well. The ride was awesome, but the muddy parts were pretty difficult. Therefore each of us dropped his bike at least once. Carmen’s drops were quite unspectacular, but her right turn light and her tank bag were damaged.

Later Michael decided to park his bike in a moat and unfortunately he was not able to get it out again on his own. Unfortunately Carmen did not recognize Michael’s little accident and continued to ride. Later when she stopped for taking some pictures, she realized that somebody is missing and tried to turn back, but unfortunately she drop her bike while turning and was not able to pick it up again. In the meantime Michael was shouting for Carmen but without any success. So he started to walk into Carmen’s direction. Carmen herself also started to walk back and so both of us met somewhere in the middle. First we picked up Carmen’s bike and then Carmen drove and Michael walked back to his BMW.

We tried to get the bike back on the road just with our own muscle power, but without success. Then we tied Michael’s bike to Carmen’s bike using a rope, but the rope broke. In the third attempt we used the ‘Rock Straps’ and indeed we could pull half of Michael’s bike back on the road and then even the rock straps broke. Fortunately we now managed to pull the bike back on the road manually and we could continue our ride through the impressive landscape to El Angel.

From El Angel we took a turn to the Panamericana heading to Otavalo. Actually we planned to spend the night there, but since it was already quite late, we decided to stay in a hotel in Valle de Chota.

Posted by: michasifi and carmen.on.the.road

On the road again :-)

We spent already 1.5 weeks in Supia and got to know the complete team of the canadian mining company which is mining for gold here and living in the same hotel. The team was as bored and waiting as we were but not for parts but rather for the end of a small rebellion of the locals here who protested against the mining. Supia and the nearby village Marmato has got a huge amount of gold. There is even so much gold here that we got two pieces… for free! 😉

At last our parts arrived from Bogota on the next afternoon. We started to fix the bike right away. Fixing the actual water pump issue was pretty easy. However assembling the bike itself was way more difficult. After the third try we finally were able to mount the clutch cover, but the most difficult part was yet to come: It was almost impossible to mount the oil pipe again. After hours of trying we called it a day, because it was already getting dark.

We continued on the next morning. This time a local mechanic offered to help us and finally we succeeded to mount the pipe. Now it got exciting: We started the engine and kept it running until it got hot. Everything went fine and the engine did not overheat anymore. The repairing of the water pump was a success. However unfortunately another issue came up: While we were trying to start for a first test drive we found out that we could not change gears anymore although we pulled the clutch. We tried to adjust the clutch again and again, but we could not find any adjustment which worked. So we guessed that we somehow damaged the clutch during our repairing. There was only one solution: We had to bring the bike to a BMW garage.

The offers for transporting the bikes to one of the nearest BMW garages were quite diverse: Transporting it to Bogota was about US$ 500, while a transport to Medellin (organized by the owner of our hotel) was just US$ 50. Therefore the decision was quite easy. 😉 They told us that the bike would be moved in the night from Thursday to Friday and that the bike would be picked up on Thursday afternoon. Then on Thursday afternoon… nobody came. After hours of waiting, it was already 11pm when the bike was finally tied down on the truck. Besides they now told us that there is no place anymore for Carmen to drive on the truck. So we needed to improvise a little bit and put all our luggage onto the truck, so that both of us could follow the truck on Michael’s bike.

After 3 hours of sleeping the odyssey started at 4am. To our surprise the truck arrived at 4am sharp at the meeting point near our hotel. The first hour went quite well, but then Carmen’s bike somehow infected the truck which now suddenly also started to overheat. 😉 The driver had to stop every 5km, in order to refill water and let the engine cool down. After some time he desperately decided to solve the issue and repair the fan. This took another 2.5 hours but at least we had the opportunity to get some breakfast and talk to the passengers in the truck. After the truck was repaired we continued. But after a few meters the truck was stopped by the police and they found out that the driver did not have the right papers. Somehow he was able to solve this problem and we could finally continue our voyage.

After 8 hours ( and 80 miles ) we arrived at the BMW garage in Medellin. The BMW mechanics started to work on the bike right away. In the afternoon we got the message, that indeed the clutch piston was damaged (most probably during our repairing). Of course they did not have a new one, but they were somehow able to repair the old one.

On Saturday noon we picked up the bike and also bought two new Metzeler Sahara 3 rear tires for 80 euros each, a good opportunity which we most probably won’t get again in the near future. Michael’s tire was mounted right away, while Carmen will mount her tire later, because here old one still has 4mm tire profile.

Since Sunday we are back on the road! At last…!

Posted by: michasifi and carmen.on.the.road

Stucked in Supia

On Tuesday morning Michael joined Carmen and the other bikers in Supia. Just right in time to search for the cause of the overheating issue of Carmen’s bike. Steve and Roy had done a few tests already and since we now had two identical bikes (with Michael’s), we could do some more tests. First we mounted the temperature sensor and the thermostat of Michael’s bike on Carmen’s BMW. Both however could not solve the overheating issue. Afterwards we actually wanted to change the radiator as well, but first we checked the water pump on both bikes. We realized that we could spin the water pump fan on Carmen’s bike with a little strength, but that was impossible on Michael’s bike. So we removed the clutch cover to take a look into the water pump itself. We saw that the two pinions driving the water pump were completely worn out.

The cause was found, now we had to organize the parts. The canadian Sean, who works here for a mining company, was very helpful in trying to find the parts. Unfortunately we found only a single pinion in whole Columbia, but we need two pinions. So the only possible solution was to order the parts in the US. Ben from California was so kind to help us with this. He ordered the parts in San Jose and send them to Columbia via UPS. Since Supia is a very tiny city in the mountains of Columbia, we were not sure whether UPS was able to send the parts in time to this region. So we let them send the parts to Pereira to Miguel’s mother. Miguel is a translator of the canadian gold mining company which operates in this area. Many thanks again to Ben and Miguel for their help!

According to UPS the shipping to Columbia should take 3 to 5 working days. However the shipment state in the tracking system has not changed since Friday. Therefore we were very happy as a couple of bicycle riders, who checked into our hotel yesterday, used their contacts to search for the parts in Columbia once more. Today we received a message, that BMW Bogota has got the required pinions as “training parts” and that they kindly offered to send them to us. If everything goes according to plan, we will get the parts tomorrow around noon. Until then we continue to enjoy our time here in Supia.

Posted by: michasifi and carmen.on.the.road

There are many ways from Cartagena to Supia

Due to the import and insurance issues which we encountered during our immigration to Columbia, we had to stay for one more day in Cartagena. So we had the opportunity to go sight-seeing once more. Together with Aron and Serafina we went up to the fortress San Felipe. When we arrived there, we realized that the entrance fee is quite expensive and besides that it was way too hot to visit the fortress. Instead we went into the old center of the city with it’s many restaurants and cafes.

In the evening we met with the other bikers to our last dinner in the center. There a group of columbian dancers was presenting their local dancing. We were very impressed about the speed with which the columbian girls could swing their hips.

On the next day our voyage continued. However we decided to take different routes. While Michael was riding to Bogota, Carmen joined the other bikers to go via Taganga and Medellin to Supia where we should meet again later.

Posted by: michasifi and carmen.on.the.road

South America: We are coming!

Since 90 km of road are missing between Panama and Columbia, the so-called Darien Gap, one has to find other ways to cross the gap to South America. We chose the ‘Stahlratte’, a more than 100 year old, german sail ship which is crossing the gap regularly and also ships motorbikes.

The preparations for our crossing of the Darien Gap started on October, 31st. We drove with 12 other bikers from Panama City to the bay of San Blas. From there the bikes should be loaded onto the Stahlratte. The ride was breathtaking. The road was going up and down like a roller coaster and sometimes the tarmac was completely missing and we had to drive on mud and rocks. Unfortunately Carmen’s rear brake broke on this very day. Therefore she had to drive the sharp curves very slowly. ( Nevertheless Michael had some problems to catch up with her on the straight parts 😉 ). Later we found out that the rear fender was broken and parts of it got into the break.

Ludwig, the captain of the Stahlratte was already waiting for us at the pier. We took all our luggage from our bikes which then was loaded onto the Stahlratte’s dingy and brought to the ship. The bikes themselves were loaded onto the Stahlratte via a crane.

We all spent the evening in a small indian village and slept in little bamboo huts right in the middle of the huts of the indians. Unfortunately our hut was not 100% water proof and a little bit of water dripped down when it was raining.

On the next day our sailing adventure started. First we were sailing to a couple of small caribbean islands. Although there were also some other boats, we still had some private islands for ourselves. During the day Carmen celebrated Halloween together with Aron and Serafina (the Hungry Riders) and in the evening we had a nice barbecue with all the other bikes on a little island until late at night.

We stayed the next day in the middle of these marvelous islands as well and spent some time with snorkeling, swimming or just relaxing. While Carmen really enjoyed snorkeling, Michael once more realized that water simply is not his favorite element. Later we went to a very tiny island, which consisted of nothing but sand, two palm trees and a beautiful riff – a real paradise for snorkeling. The highlight of the evening was a dinner with fish and lobster.

At 6am on the next morning the captain started the engine and we were heading to Cartagena. Although the sea was pretty calm, the ship was moving heavily. Some took pills against seasickness and for others even that did not help anymore.

26 hours later we arrived in Cartagena and were brought to the shore. The bikes had to stay on board, since we arrived on a Sunday. Unfortunately the Monday was a public holiday and therefore we had to wait until Tuesday to import our motorcycles. We spent the time with sightseeing and nice chats with the other riders.

Finally on Tuesday we could bring our bikes back to the land. However this time the Stahlratte had to stay far from the shore and therefore each bike had to be loaded into the dingy and from there the crew lifted it onto the pier with nothing but their muscles. Fortunately everything went pretty well. Just the right mirror of Roy’s BMW, a rider from Norway, broke during the procedure.

The actual importing of the bikes was not supposed to take longer than a few hours, but due to a kind of mini-strike and some computer issues at the insurance company, it took the whole day to import the bikes. Therefore we had to postpone the continuation of our voyage and stay one more day in Cartagena.

Posted by: michasifi and carmen.on.the.road