Sunday, 26 August 2012

Cali, 25-08-12

Back on the road and months since my last blog post.  I've spent a long time camping on the roof of a Quito hostel and I've learned a lot about putting my bike back together.
Heading for Cartagena to find a shipping agent and then go home.  Disapointed not to get to North America but I'm running out of money and it's time to go and find a job.

Until next time.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Quito, the big split, 26-6-12

Successfully split the engine today, only really asking for help about what to do next and for assistance with some difficult nuts and bolts.  Surprisingly little damage inside, some pitting on one cog, a lot of carbon in the combustion chamber and a little wear on the oil pump rotors.
Going to take the cylinder head for a polish in a machine shop up the road tomorrow, they specialise in such things and will only charge about USD$20.  Beats spending an afternoon grinding valves in.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Quito, 25-6-12

Took the bike up to see Diego the mechanic this morning.  True to his word he let me do most of the work, only stepping in when there was something too complicated for me.  Such as getting the exhaust off.
A fair collection of bikes in the shop including an SP2 R1200GS.  Seriously impressive.
Got the engine out today, turning up at the crack of dawn tomorrow to split it and work out what parts it needs.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Quito, 19-6-12

Finally made it to Quito.  I need bike parts (some already acquired) sent from Blighty before I can continue and I'm ready for a long wait.  Ecuardorian customs can be a complete ball ache by all accounts.
There are worse places to  be stuck.  It's cheap, there are bars and restaurants and I've found an English speaking mechanic with a good reputation.
I now get to learn how to split the engine and strip down the clutch side.

Blogging will be somewhat sparse for the next couple of weeks.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Azogues, 16-6-12

I know it's a cliché but the thing about long distance motorcycling is the highs and the lows and the last few days have been somewhat of a rollercoaster. I crossed from Peru a couple of days ago, the scenery changed instantly from desert and the road changed from long straights to windy mountain roads.
Around this time I noticed my rear suspension bottoming out much more easily than before and the first low started. About 50km from Loja, the suspension was bottomed out and wouldn't come back up. I thought the spring had gone requiring more expense and no doubt an extended wait. I found a hotel that takes bikes and went out to find a beer and an internet cafe so I could mail a mechanic in Quito that had been recommended to me.
I mailed the mechanic with my sob story and went back to the hotel to unload the bike and that's when I noticed that one of the bolts holding my rack on had sheared leaving one of the panniers firmly wedged against the axle bolt, preventing the swingarm from moving.
I was going to find a local mechanic but was up early and took a walk around town looking for replacement bolts. It did take me an hour or two to locate them (not speaking Spanish doesn't help) but I was able to remove the sheared bolt with mole grips and was able to repair the rack myself. This is when the first high started.
I took the rest of the day off to wander around Loja, a somewhat picturesque little town that looks almost Alpine. Nice cafes, nice architecture, no feckin' bars.
The only bar I could find open during the day was in the Grand Hotel with the associated price. Still, I was pleased with myself and stayed for a few cocktails.
I had a 7am start to give myself plenty of time to get to Riobamba. The day started with a slow slog over a number of 3000+ metre mountain roads. It was cold (down to 3 degrees), misty and raining. The first 100km took me 2.5 hours and I had to stop to retrieve my winter gloves from my luggage as my fingers had gone numb.
I stopped for breakfast in Ona, just a cup of Nescafe and a sandwich but I was grateful for it and my hands warmed up enough to start to enjoy the ride.
I met an Ecuadorian guy on a KTM 950 in Cuenca (Hi Freddy if you're reading this) and was generally having a great time on the twisty roads when just outside Azogues the bike packed in. It would run, everything was fine until I put it into gear and then there was a grinding sound and nothing else. “Bollocks” I thought and moved onto the second low.
I was at the top of a hill so I pushed the bike back towards town. There was a workshop where they were doing paint jobs on cars and the guys there said I was OK to leave the bike while I looked for a mechanic, they gave me some directions which I hopelessly failed to follow and ended up traipsing aimlessly around town until I could find a taxi.
We tried every moto mechanic in town that the taxi driver knew, they were all busy and/or couldn't be bothered to come and look at my bike so as a last act of desperation we found an internet cafe, I got a number for the mechanic in Quito, phoned up and started making arrangements to truck the bike there.
We went back up to where I had left the bike and I was just about to leave to find a hotel for the evening when this guy (who turned out to just be a passer by who was into dirt bikes) offered to tow me down the road to see a mechanic he knew.
I let the taxi driver go with a large tip and we towed the bike to a workshop where they repair mostly trucks. This was my first time being towed properly and it's a scary experience but at the workshop, they took the front sprocket off to find that most of the splines on the drive shaft had sheared. They were able to bodge it, by making a spacer as the splines were not evenly worn.
They fitted the spacer and a new (ish) sprocket, claimed the repair would get me to Quito and refused to take any money for the job.
I bought a round of beers for the lads at the workshop while Juan, the boss who had spent an hour making me a spacer went off and found me a hotel. He has let me keep the bike and most of my luggage at his house and he's collecting me tomorrow morning so I don't need to get a cab.
Faith in humanity restored and another job to add to the list for Quito.