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Monday, December 30, 2013

New Friends | San Miguel de Allende

Date:  Dec 30th, 2013
Overview:  Two nights in San Miguel de Allende
Mileage since leaving Denver:  3,948

Well, I just had a beautiful and sunny ride from SMdA to Morelia where I'll spend the next three nights.  I'm a bit tired and not feeling very inspired to write so I'll cheat a little, keep this short, and just do a photo post this round...  

That's not to say that SMdA wasn't amazing.  The city is absolutely stunning with a vibrant culture, and lively feel in the air.  The historical buildings are stunning, as are the cobblestone streets that run throughout.  There is an art district that some say is one of the best in Mexico.  Also a vibrant nightlife and restaurant scene that keeps things bumping into the night.  

I stayed at Hostal Alcatraz and would HIGHLY recommend it.  It is cheap and the staff at the hotel are incredible.  Shout out to both Rosa and Claudia who treated me very well.  In addition to a nice room, they let me park my bike in their enclosed courtyard,  which was secure and very nice of them.  

First tastes of dirt en route to SMdA
An interesting thing about staying at a hostel is that you are forced into interacting with your roommates.  Turns out, the group of guys in my room were all awesome.  David G. was in med school and spoke fluent Spanish.  A fun loving guy who acted as our tour guide of sorts.  Davide was an Italian guy that has been traveling for some time and plans to end up in Buenos Aires eventually.  Gabriel is a Mexican comedian who is full of life and has one of the most infectious laughs I've ever heard.  Finally, Chinmay is originally from Bombay, but now lives in San Fran obtaining a graduate degree from a prestigious uni in something smart (applied science or something of the sort - can't remember).  Anyway, we all hung out throughout my time in SMdA and had a blast.  

Epic scenery and riding along the way to SMdA
Prior to our split, the five of us had breakfast and Gabriel shared something that really stood out.  He looked at me and said "par llegar a la rosa, hay que tocar las espinas".  That means 'to get to the rose, you must first go through the thorns'.  I'll always remember that and will remember gorgeous San Miguel de Allende and the new friends that I met.  

Update from Morelia soon...  ~ D

Just outside of Xilitla, riding through the clouds
Pulled into SMdA around 3pm and saw this vista of the city
Hostal Alcatraz - THE place to crash in SMdA
Typical street view in SMdA
Wedding ceremony at one of the three main churches

A night out with the boys - David, Gabriel, Chinmay, me, Davide

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Greetings From Xilitla!

***Note, this post written last night, but not published until today due to internet difficulties.  I made my way to San Miguel de Allende today and will report on the ride and city in a couple of days.***  

I woke up in Tampico Thursday morning to the sound of rain.   I thought to myself, "I'm in no rush, I'll go back to sleep and see if the rain subsides".  That in and of itself was a good feeling and something that is taking some time to get accustomed to.  Not having to be anywhere, at any given time.  Not having to report to anyone or check-in.  The delay also may have been caused by the number of MXP13 (USD$1) cervezas that I sipped the night before at the cantina next to the hotel.  It really was a seedy place, and after some later reading on Tampico, probably not somewhere I should have been.  I was less than a block away from my hotel, so I figured, if it 'hits the fan' I can just run and duck into my room.  Alas, like usual, nothing happened (except for incredible people watching, interesting conversation, a number of smiles, and several cute chicas meandering about).  Don't get me wrong, I am and will continue to be ultra vigilant, but I do feel the need to point out that the sensationalism about the dangers of Mexico has been, so far for me, unfounded at this point.

When I did finally decide to roll out of bed it was still raining and the forecast showed that not only would it continue throughout the day, but throughout the next three days.  I must say, I wasn't excited to ride the 170'ish miles to Xilitla in the rain, but figured I'd just take it slow and steady.  The ride ended up being absolutely exhilarating.  The rain added an element that I'm not used to and kept a chill in the air that allowed me to be alert throughout the ride.  I always loved road racing motorcycles in the rain, why would ADV travel be any different?  The main thoroughfare roads have been nice so far in Mexico (topes aside).  The first half of the trip to Xilitla had me traveling on two and four lane highway, but then eventually I ended up making my way up winding roads into the rainforest covered mountains.  I stopped for coffee a couple of times as this region is known for it, and it did NOT disappoint.  It was creamy, with an almost chocolate flavor.  The perfect warm travel companion to stop and savor from time to time.  

I finally arrived in Xilitla around 3pm and made my way to the Hotel Hostal del Cafe (after reading a recommendation from ADVrider).  The place looked amazing, with rooms trickling down the hillside.  After the wet ride, and my epiphany that I can take it slow, I decided I would stay two nights in Xilitla.  Hostal del Cafe only had a room for one night, so I ended up staying next door at Hotel Aurora.  A good second option for those traveling through (note - I did see some rustic cabins on the way up to Las Pozas that were super cheap and would have stayed there had I known).  After unloading the bike and showering, I decided to walk to the main plaza.  This is a sleepy little city and there weren't that many people out and about.  There is a nice bar/restaurant that I discovered called Casa Vieja that was a perfect place to eat and set up shop (I'd end up returning the second night as well).  I had read about Las Pozas, which is a surreal sculpture art garden that I had to see.  I went to sleep and decided I'd wake up early to check it out.  I also wanted to see the Cave of the Green Parrots, but didn't end up making it due to the rain.  

This morning I had four things on 'the list'.  Confirm the next two stops and accommodations, adjust/clean/lube my chain, replace the Touratech windscreen extension that fell off into my lap during the rain ride (lucky if fell that direction), and check out Las Pozas.  I booked Hostal Alcatraz in San Miguel de Allende for two nights, then Hotel Carmen in Morelia for three to take me into the new year.  After copious amounts of locally grown coffee, I performed the maintenance on the bike.  Then I set off to explore Las Pozas. 

I hadn't even heard of Las Pozas until I started researching Xilitla, but am really glad I found it.  Not only is the style of sculpture/art surreal by name, the entire thing is just that… surreal.  It is hard to explain.  Imagine tons of massive sculptures built up into the rainforest hillside, with beautiful vegetation and flowers all around.  To cap it off, there are several cascading waterfalls that are somehow incorporated into and around the garden itself.  It really is a must see if you find yourself in the area.  The water that flows through this region picks up mineral deposits along the way and creates an emerald color that is indescribable.  I'd also read that this place is best enjoyed sooner than later, as there is fear that this relatively undiscovered region and Las Pozas itself is starting to gain international fame drawing people (some say too many) from all over the map.  However, I only saw two other gringos and ended up chatting them up.  They were a nice newlywed couple from Latvia on a tour of Central America.  

When I started the bike and left from Tampico in the rain I had a feeling that I'd be trudging along and miserable by the time I arrived in Xilitla.  Turns out, somehow the opposite happened.  Something clicked during the ride and during my stay here.  I'm enjoying myself immensely and learning to go with the flow.  I feel like my journey has really begun and I can't wait to see what unfolds from here.

I'll leave you with a little something from Rolf Pitt's book Vagabonding.  I read it when I was in Africa earlier this year and it was one of the final 'kicks in the ass' that I needed to get this trip off the ground.  I randomly read this section again last night over dinner and it jumped out at me…  

Chapter 5 - Don't Set Limits
Buddhists believe that we live our everyday lives as if inside an eggshell.  Just as an unhatched chicken has few clues about what life is truly like most of us are only vaguely aware of the greater world that surround us.  "Excitement and depression, fortune and misfortune, pleasure and pain," wrote Dhammapada scholar Eknath Easwaran, "are storms in a tiny, private, shell-bound realm - which we take to be the whole of existence.  Yet we can break out of this shell and enter a new world."

Vagabonding is not Nirvana, of course, but the egg analogy can still apply.  In leaving behind the routines and assumptions of home - in taking that first step into the world - you'll find yourself entering a much larger and less constrictive paradigm.  

In the planning stages of your travels, this notion might seem daunting.  But once you take the plunge and set out on the road, you'll quickly find yourself giddy at how easy and thrilling it all is.  Normal experiences (such as ordering food or taking a bus) will suddenly seem extraordinary and full of possibility.  All the details of daily life that you ignored back home - the taste of a soft drink, the sound of a radio, the smell of the air - will suddenly seem rich and exotic.  Food, fashions, and entertainment will prove delightfully quirky and shockingly cheap.  In spite of all your preparation, you will invariably find yourself wanting to know more about the histories and cultures that envelop you.  The subtle buzz of the unknown, initially a bit of a fright, will soon prove addictive:  Simple trips to the market or the toilet can turn into adventures: simple conversations can lead to charming friendships.  Life on the road, you'll soon discover, is far less complicated than what you knew back home - yet intriguingly more complex. 

"Travel in general, and vagabonding in particular produces and awesome density of experience," wrote Ed Buryn, "… a cramming together of incidents, impressions and life detail that is both stimulating and exhausting.  So much new and different happens to you so frequently, just when you're most sensitive to it…  You may be excited, bored, confused, desperate, and amazing all in the same happy day."

If there's one key concept to remember amid the excitement of your first days on the road, it's this:  Slow down.  Just to underscore the importance of the concept, I'll state it again:  SLOW… DOWN.  

For first-time vagabonders, this can be one of the hardest travel lessons to grasp, since it will seem that there are so many amazing sights and experiences to squeeze in.  You must keep in mind, however, that the whole point of long-term travel is having the time to move deliberately through the world.  Vagabonding is about not merely reallotting a portion of your life for travel but rediscovering the entire concept of time.  At home, you're conditioned to get to the point and get things done, to favor goals and efficiency over moment-by-moment distinction.  On the road, you learn to improvise your days, take a second look at everything you see, and not obsess over your schedule.  

Now, replace vagabonding for long-distance/long-term motorcycle travel, and I think it all applies.  For now, I'm going to slam this laptop shut and slow down for a bit.  A band just went on stage here at Casa Vieja and I'm going to enjoy the sights, smells, and sounds over a cerveza or two.  

Ciao for now, 

~ D

PS...  Here are a few add'l pics from Las Pozas

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Days 12 & 13 | Felíz Navidad Desdé Mexico!

Date:  Dec 23rd, 2013
Overview:  Brownsville, TX >> La Pesca y Tampico
Mileage:  395
Mileage since leaving Denver:  3,494

Total mileage on bike:  6,595

Roadside meal numero uno. Close to La Pesca
Well here it is, post number one from the LatAm portion of the trip.  I can't believe I'm actually here in Mexico writing this.  I woke up early yesterday (if you could even call it waking up - I could hardly sleep) to get through the border with plenty of time to spare for the ride south.  I wanted to pass the border town of Matamoros as quickly as possible and make it to La Pesca to find a place to set up camp.  I had heard you could just plop a tent anywhere on the beach, but also read that it fills up during the Christmas season.  

The crossing itself was relatively painless and I was in and out within 45 minutes.  I'm assuming there weren't that many people due to the holiday and my early arrival.  Both aduana (immigration) and the banjercito (TVIP - temporary vehicle import permit acquisition) are in the same building.  I crossed at the 'new' bridge, which is a straight shot via highway to the border.  I would highly recommend this outlet if you are doing a similar trip.  There are actually three ways to get across in/near Brownsville (four if you like to swim).  I entered the building and went right to the banjercito.  They checked my title, registration, and credit card (to ensure I had funds to cover the TVIP - temp vehicle import permit).  They did not check for Mexican vehicle insurance.  From there they sent me 20 feet across the lobby to aduana.  I chatted with the guy for a bit and he stamped me into Mexico for 30 days.  He sent me over to make copies of my paperwork, which cost $2 USD, and was then sent back to banjercito where I was processed and given all necessary documentation and vehicle stickers.  And that was that!  I promised I would be much more fluent the next time I came through and with a load of smiles and waves, they sent me on my way to enjoy their beautiful country.  

I left the border crossing with a huge feeling of satisfaction and relief.  Not only was I in Mexico, but my Garmin GPS was working like it should!  It had moved over to the 'other' map that was stored on my SD card and was routing me along my way perfectly.  I purchased the BiciMapas Mexico/Central America kit (link here).  So far so good.  I'll continue to review and post my thoughts on this product along the way.  I have really nice waterproof paper maps as backup, but I'm hoping I can rely on the Garmin as my main source of direction.  Directly across the border I stopped at an ATM and took out some cash, which was easy and painless, except being bent over by Wells Fargo for $5.  Then I pointed the nose of my bike south and headed for La Pesca.  

The secluded beach in La Pesca
Let me note two things that happened along the way briefly before continuing.  First, topes SUCK!!!  For those who don't know, topes are essentially speed bumps, but in Mexico and elsewhere in LatAm, they are more like parking blocks sitting in the middle of the road unannounced.  I had heard horror stories, but didn't expect them to be that bad, that frequent, or that hidden.  Second, about halfway to La Pesca as I was cruising down the road with great music blasting in my helmet, I felt a little something crawling on my neck.  As I went to remove it, I felt an incredible burning sensation building on my neck.  I smashed whatever was there and immediately pulled over on the side of a busy highway.  Cars are buzzing by as I'm stripping down on the side of the road (I did hear one lady whistle - $hit, I hope it was a lady!).  It turned out to be a bee...  a dead bee at that point.  I pulled the pulsating stinger out of my neck and examined the area.  It was red and slightly swollen, but I decided it was fine and didn't need any ointment or Benadryl.  The redness and swelling have both receded at this point, but damn does it itch!  I hope that doesn't happen again along the way.  

Campsite in La Pesca
I arrived to La Pesca and immediately drove through town to the beach.  The town and beach aren't paradise, but there was absolutely no one to be found.  A few locals scattered about in town as I passed through, but the beach was deserted.  I picked out an area to set up camp and did just that.  Oh, forgot to add that I dumped the bike for the first time in the loose sand.  I was so tired after getting everything unloaded and the bike back up that I forgot to take a picture of my first crash across the border.  Doh!  Anyway, after I got everything set up I headed back into town to grab some provisions for the evening and morning (i.e. cerveza, cans of tuna, and crackers - gourmet living!).  After my first debacle in the sand, I decided to use an abandoned baño/shower to park the bike in, which worked perfectly as a garage of sorts.  Not the best smelling, but worked just fine.  

Tent off in distance. Bike safely parked in the pisser
After all the work riding, then unloading, setting up, and preparing dinner, I was tired to say the least.  I decided to turn in fairly early.  As I was about to call it a night, a truck came storming up onto the beach from nowhere with four dudes in the back armed with machine guns.  I though to myself 'really, I'm gonna get kidnapped for ransom the first freaking night of my trip?!?!'  Well, it turned out to be some military guys from the local naval base just checking things out.  They were shocked that I was out there all alone and we all chatted and laughed for awhile.  They loved the motorcycle (it has been a celebrity of sorts along the way) and took a bunch of pictures on it.  I offered them the cerveza that I was too tired to drink and they politely declined.  I know, probably pretty dumb to offer booze to on-duty military.  Regardless, I guess they appreciated the gesture and told me they would patrol the area all night for me to make sure I wasn't bothered during my Christmas night on the beach.  After that I went to sleep under the stars for what felt like the first 'real' night of my adventure.

Roadside meal numero dos. Goodbye svelt frame!
This morning I thought I would wake up to rain due to the forecast.  Surprisingly, there was none.  With that, I decided to make some quick breakfast and then pack up for a ride to Tampico.  I was going to head to Xilitla, but figured that might be a bit too much riding.  After packing everything up I was sweating like a dog and thinking how difficult this whole experience actually is.  It has been epic, amazing, surreal, all-things-good, but at times it is really, really hard.  And I'm sure I haven't even gotten to the 'hard' parts yet.  I guess when you dream about doing this, you think about all of the grand parts of trip.  Things like visiting foreign lands and cultures, experiencing life as you've never before, enjoying a sense of freedom, etc.  However, there are parts not quite as grand.  Things like packing and unpacking your entire life out of a backpack and duffel every day, crashing, getting stung on the fukking neck by a fukking bee, etc, etc, etc...  Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is I've realized that this type of travel is equal parts insanity and bliss.  I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world at the moment, which is a great feeling.  :) 

The road between La Pesca and Tampico
I rode to Tampico today and really enjoyed the road.  It was overcast and cool, and for the most part the pavement was smooth and flowing.  The funny part was, the parts that were under construction I actually enjoyed moreas it gave me stretches of fun gravel and packed dirt for miles at a time.  I really enjoyed ripping along and throwing up a trail of dust in my wake.  I did get stopped twice at police roadblocks today and pestered, but everyone just keeps admiring the bike and asking me all kinds of questions (how much? how fast? where the hell are you going? solo??? are you crazy? can I come?).  I was sent off with waves and smiles both times.  Upon arrival in Tampico, I was surprised to see a sprawling city with roads that snaked into other roads.  Add to that a bunch of closures due to Christmas and it was annoying as all hell trying to find a hotel to stay at.  I finally did and they have great wifi, which is what I'm enjoying as we speak over a couple of Tecate cervezas.  I'm not sure if I'll luck out again tomorrow with the weather, but if so I'll try to head to Xilitla, which will begin the small colonial town portion of the trip here in Mexico.  

Until then...  enjoy a few pics of Tampico AND Feliz Navidad!  

~ D 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Days 8 - 11 | Estados Unidos Grand Finale

Florida >> Texas | The last of the U.S. of A.
Waiting patiently for the Mobile Bay Ferry

Date:  Dec 23rd, 2013
Overview:  Pensacola >> Brownsville
Mileage:  937
Mileage since leaving Denver:  3,099

Total mileage on bike:  6,101


I had an amazing time with Greg in Santa Rosa Island (Pensacola), but had to get on the road to New Orleans.  I left out fairly early and had a nice ride cruising along the coast and then over the Mobile Bay via ferry to Dauphin Island.  Two and four lane roads are definitely the way to go when traveling on motorbike (dirt would be even better, and I'll get my fair share of that down south).  I've found interstate highways to be absolutely soul crushing, and have tried to stay off them any chance I can.  Regardless of road choice, the Spotify playlists that a few friends have been creating for me have helped immensely.  You know who you are, thanks for those!  

Cruising across the Mobile Bay via ferry
The last few years I've been spoiled with nice hotels due to work travel and expense accounts.  A buddy reminded me that I'm going to be camping and staying in dumpy hotels, and need to switch ASAP to money saving mode since I'm unemployed.  That said, he recommended a hostel in New Orleans called India House.  I showed up and it actually looked pretty cool.  However, they lost my reservation somehow and wouldn't honor the e-mail and confirmation number that I had in my phone.  After I explained to 'bro' at the desk how absolutely lame that was, he suggested another hostel down the street called Marquette House.  I won't spend much time talking about it, but DO NOT stay there.  I am surprised there were NOT bed bugs.  The place was an incredible dump and was worse than ANY I've ever stayed (and I stayed in some absolute shitholes in Thailand).  Too add to it, it's overrun with local drunks using it as a cheap long term hotel of sorts.  Seriously, don't stay here... unless you want to cook up some meth in the kitchen, in which case you may like it.  

Checking out some live music in NOLA
Slum jungle hostel aside, I freaking loved New Orleans.  I'd only been there once before and wanted to spend some time checking it out further.  I met a really cool local named Christina. I had only gone out for a bite to eat that first night, but she offered to show me around to some great music joints, and then after hearing my hostel sob story let me crash at her place after a great night of partying NOLA style.  She even walked me to this creepy old lady for my first card reading.  I'll spare you the details, but Miss Cleo freaked me out when she wished me a grand adventure, and let me know that I'd end up with another girl who'd make me happy in the end (I hadn't told her anything at that point).  I ended up staying one more night after deciding that a day of rest was in order, so after two nights in The Big Easy, it was time to pack up and head to Houston to stay with fellow ADV'er jfink.  

I thought I'd left the redneck sports back in Georgia! :)
I showed up around 2pm on Sunday and was greeted by Joe, his wife, and a few of his friends.  Seriously, the hospitality was astounding.  We chatted motorcycles for quite awhile over craft IPA.  Not to mention, his wife prepared some amazing chili for the shindig.  I was able to enjoy a room, shower, laundry facilities, and a garage for the bike.  I was even treated to an early Christmas gift as Joe had done a similar trip a couple years back and figured I could always use another small flashlight.  After blabbing about bikes for awhile, the guys treated me to a Texas tradition...  shooting guns.  I'm happy to say that I was able to hit close to the target and not embarrass myself too much. Joe seriously, thanks so much for the send off to the border.  I REALLY appreciate it and look forward to paying back the hospitality at some point in the future.  If I end up back in Colorado, I'll organize a BDR ride or something for you and the boys.

I woke up this morning and drove the almost 400 miles to Brownsville and am staying at the La Copa Inn in Brownsville.  I'm approximately 5 miles from the border, and about to turn the page into the next chapter on my adventure.  I plan to wake up super early to get across the border and down south with plenty of daylight.  The goal is to make it to La Pesca and possibly camp on the beach for a couple of nights.  Alternatively, if I can find a cheap spot to stay, I may do that.  Anyway, I can't believe that the LatAm portion of this trip is about to begin.  I'm scared, excited, anxious, happy, and essentially every other emotion in the book.  I had an epiphany today though during the ride that gave me some peace.  I passed a lottery billboard and was thinking about the two people who recently won the 'big one'.  I read that they'll each receive $130mil AFTER taxes!  I was thinking to myself, what in the heck would I do with that much money?  Then it dawned on me, I wouldn't change a damn thing.  Seriously!  I realized that I'm currently in the process of living a dream that has been on my 'list' for as long as I can remember.  It was quite a moment and brought out a huge smile.

I look forward to getting across the border and set up.  I'll write and share more then.  Until then...  vaya con Dios mis amigos!  

~ D 
Bonus shot of some live music in NOLA

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Days 6 & 7 | Trip Officially Back ON!!!

Mom's view as I headed out to explore the world...
Date:  Dec 18th, 2013
Overview:  Atlanta >> Santa Rosa Island
Mileage:  412
Mileage since leaving Denver:  2,163
Total mileage on bike:  5,164

So, I was able to accomplish what I needed to in Atlanta.  It was strange, I spent a little over a month there and while in retrospect it seemed to go by quickly, at the same time it felt like an eternity (possibly due to everything that happened while I was in town).  Tim's passing was very emotional and hard, but it definitely taught me some things.  

First, you should definitely grab life by the balls...  truly live!  You never know when your health and body may betray you.  Second, family and friends are ultimately the most important thing you can acquire and nurture.  Tim had hundreds of people come visit during the final days, and it was a testament to his character and the good-hearted man that he was.  I thought often about who would show up for me if I was in a similar situation, and unfortunately I don't think the number would be near as high.  Not that a man should be judged by how many people show up at his funeral, but it just made me realize that I need to strive to be a better person to people, and work hard on cultivating and improving the relationships that I have.  

Rolled up to Santa Rosa Island at sunset...  Perfect
My plan to get to the Mexico border is as follows.  First, I wanted to dive south to warm up.  It was 34.9 degrees when I left Atlanta at 8am.  My buddy Greg offered to put me up for a couple of nights in Pensacola, which was an offer I couldn't refuse.  Greg lives in a high rise resort/spa complex, so I feel like I'm on vacation while here.  It is incredibly nice with a stellar view of the ocean and my own guest room w/ shower.  THANKS GREG!!!  From here I'll head to New Orleans tomorrow and plan to either use Couchsurfing or stay in a hostel.  Following a night in New Orleans, I've been invited to stay with a fellow ADV Rider ( named Joe in Houston.  We've never met in person and he has offered his place with open arms and has even set up a send off of sorts w/ several of his riding buddies.  I look forward to picking his brain since he has done some similar travel and share a few beers w/ him and his crew.  It is amazing how tight this community can be, and can come together with stories and laughter simply by a shared passion for motorbikes.  After staying w/ Joe for a night in Houston, I'll make my way to the Brownsville/Matamoros border crossing and will pass through early the following morning.  

They have all kinds of bikes at BMW Pensacola
The ride itself yesterday was fairly uneventful.  I meandered two lane for pretty much the entire route.  I was able to listen to great music and ponder life.  Although a long ride, the 400 miles ticked off relatively quickly and before I knew it I had arrived.  I'm drawn to the ocean, and at first chance I parked the bike (almost got stuck in deep sand - but that's another story) and walked over to splash some Atlantic water through my hair and on my face.  It was cold and refreshing.  As I looked up, the sun was setting and at that moment I had a real sense that I've actually set off on my grand adventure.  It was an amazing moment that I'll cherish forever.  For some reason the trip hasn't really had a chance to sink in.  However, at that moment it all started to come together and I realized that I'm really making this happen.  I'm guessing when I cross into Mexico it will also sink in real fast. 

Dave getting me all fixed up @ BMW Moto Pensacola
I had a bit of vibration from the front end of the bike at low speeds during the ride.  I changed the oil and spooned on new rubber prior to departure (Heidenau K60's) and was concerned that maybe I bent the buttery soft garbage stock rims with one of my tire irons or something.  I peered over the front end and side of the bike while riding and it seemed to me that the rim was straight, but that the tire itself was a bit wonky.  This morning I randomly rode over and showed up at BMW Motorcycles Pensacola to see if maybe they could check to see if the wheel was out of round.  I pulled up and was greeted outside of the service center by David.  We chatted for a bit and he agreed to help me out.  He was intrigued by my upcoming trip, and wanted to help any way he could.  He pulled off the front wheel, and after ensuring that the bearings were good and the spokes were all tight, put it on the balancer.  Turns out the wheel wasn't 100% true, but decent enough.  My suspicions were confirmed though and the carcass of the Heidenau itself is a bit 'off'.  Dave balanced the tire/wheel with a bit of weight, which helped out on the ride back.  He also noticed that we needed to retorque the steering head...  something I wouldn't have even thought to check, and for that I'm very grateful as well.  I had some great conversations with Richard and Tod as well in the shop.  Everyone there is incredibly friendly, knowledgeable, and true motorcycle enthusiasts.  In fact, Jim was the first person to notice the Isle of Man stickers on my bike.  

Long story short, if you are in the area and need a fantastic shop for bikes, parts, accessories, and/or service, head over.  These guys are great!!!

That's it for now...  I look forward to more riding to/through Mississippi and Louisiana tomorrow, as well as an evening listening to some live jazz and sampling the cuisine and best that New Orleans has to offer.  

See everyone soon, 

~ D
Tod, Mr. Happy, Jason, Richard, and Dave from BMW Pensacola

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pre-Trip Road Trip | Barber Motorsports Moto Museum

I've always wanted to see this museum, but never got the chance... until today! My mom and I loaded up in the car this morning and headed out for a road trip to spend some time together and enjoy the day. 

We left the Atlanta area around 9am and drove the almost 3 hours to Birmingham, AL. Upon arrival I knew this place was special. First off, it is MASSIVE! Second, the grounds and facilities around the track and museum are top notch, incredibly clean, and very impressive. The museum is open from 10am - 5pm Mon - Sat (12 - 5 Sun). I'd recommend checking the site to ensure it is open prior to heading out - Barber website.

I've been to many, many motorcycle museums around the world, but the Barber Motorsports Moto Museum is really in a class of its own. There are over 1,300 motorcycles, all in pristine condition, and hundreds of beautiful cars. The collection all together must be absolutely priceless. 

I won't bore you with any more words. I'll just post some pictures and let them do the talking. Seriously though, if you are a fan of motorcycles (or motorsport in general) this is an absolute must-see.  

Enjoy the pics...  

~ D

One bike stood out in particular. As I was looking over Jim Roger's steed from his 1990 round-the-world trip (as documented in the book Investment Biker), I noticed that the route on his pannier map looked eerily similar to the trip that I'm about to depart on. I got chills and it really gave me a shot of confidence knowing that if he did it, I certainly can! Too cool...