Thursday, March 16, 2017

2 Dans at it again: Joshua Tree, Idlewild and mucho tequila

My sidekick and never complaining ride companion, Dan, wanted to do a camp/ride in Joshua Tree Nat'l Park. I was all in. Having knackered the KTM's front brakes, I decided to take the KLR.

We met in Escondido early on Sunday and headed for Borrego Springs right away. The desert wildflowers were in full bloom and the craziness was, too. I've never seen traffic like that on the Montezuma Grade. The number to number traffic started in Ranchita and didn't end until almost the airport. To give you an idea of how bad it was, there was over two miles of cars waiting to turn left at the Ranchita/79 junction.

Carlee's was to be our first stop but it was packed. We rode on to the airport for a quick drink, but it was closed. Dang! Onward to the stinky sea...

We stopped at a Mexican restaurant at the Salton Sea, then took Box Canyon to the I-10, crossing the freeway and straight into JT NP. It was a beautiful ride through the national park. The weather was perfect and the road was smooth. Lots of folks enjoying the day.

We arrived to the town of JT and headed for an old haunt, the JT Saloon, for beers, tequila, poke and hot wings: Total for 1 hour = $150 bar tab!

We headed for the Black Rock Canyon campground on the edge of the park and set up camp just before dark. It was brisk but not too cold. The last time we were here--almost 3 years ago--it was very windy and we were dusted with snow overnight. This time the temperature didn't drop below 50 at night.

Relaxing with more tequila, we talked about the day's highlights and plannned some upcoming rides. The smell of nearby campfires and the sight of a rising full moon over the snow-capped mountains was a great way to end the day.

The next morning I was able to use my new JetBoil it's some cool Trader Joe's coffee packs. Super handy. By 9:30 we were packed and headed for Idlewild...and what a beautiful ride that was. We saw lots of snow in the mountains and along the roadside at 5,500'.

After burgers and beers at the Lumber Mill, we made our way to the I-15 and hustled back to beat rush hour traffic. The odometer showed 460 miles, the GPS showed 15 fewer.

The KLR did great and my ankle felt fine the entire way, bundled up in the stiff Sidi Crossfires.

Always nice to get out and ride with my compadre, Danny. Good times...

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A quick Baja day ride (Tecate, Ensenada, Tijuana loop)

Update and photos: We met in Spring Valley @ 7:30 am and enjoyed a nice ride to Tecate on Hwy 94. We breezed through Mexican customs & immigration and made good time to Ensenada as there wasn't much traffic. There was a short stretch of dirt road where they were fixing Hwy 3 but that's all the construction we hit.

Ted and I stopped at Tacos Floresta at the corner of Juarez and each had a couple fish tacos and a Coke.

We then saddled up and took the Hwy 1 toll road back to Tijuana. There was such a dense marine layer along the coast that it felt like it was raining. It was foggy and wet for about 5 miles.

We hit the first two toll booths (about 75 cents each) but there were protesters at the final toll booth so we rode right through without having to pay. Cha-Ching! That's 10 pesos saved!

I know a trick to crossing back into the US by motorcycle and it was a total of 6 minutes. Easy peasy!

We were both on the US side by noon and headed home via separate routes.

It was overcast most of the day, but the sun came out as I arrived home.

That was a great day of riding.


My good friend Ted has been jonesing for a ride lately. We met for lunch in Little Italy recently to catch up on life and plan our next ride.

"Where do you want to ride, Ted?"
"Oh, I don't care. Anywhere. I just want to get out on the road."
"OK, a day ride, overnighter, multi-day ride?"
"Sure...that sounds good!"

So I put together a quick Baja loop...something he hadn't done. We'll leave early on Saturday and be back in the USA by 2pm or so.

The rough agenda is mainly:

Ride the Old 94 out to Tecate, CA and cross into Mexico.
Ride Mexico 3 through the Valle Guadalupe wine country to Ensenada.
Have some fish tacos at my favorite place.
Do the tourist thing/souvenir shopping if he wants to.
Head back to TJ on the Mexico 1 (very) scenic toll road.
Snake through the border traffic in record time.
High five each other as we head back home.

Stand by for photos and a ride report. And my Spot tracker map is there on my site.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Back on 2 wheels after 4 months!

As some might know, I had some ankle surgery in late August and took some time off work to recuperate.

Being away from work wasn't so bad...being away from my bikes was!

While incapacitated, I added another bike to the herd, a Gen 1 KLR 650; I'm a sucker for those bikes...

Anyhow, when the cast came off in December, I vowed to get back on 2 wheels as soon as I could. I began walking with a limp but no crutches. In early January I felt well enough to hobble over to my bike and said, "Well, I may as well try."

A friend wanted to join me for a "mostly" pavement ride, so off we went.

Here's a write-up of that half-day ride:

I should warn you that it's rated PG-17...

So, after 4 months of not riding, I was able to ride all the bikes in one weekend: The KTM 990 ADV, the big girl (my Triumph Rocket III) and my KLR.

As any of you who've been off your bikes for any amount of time will understand, it was a good feeling being being bars again!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Review of IMS ADV II footpegs for KLR650

First off, I'll start by saying that I'm a fan of IMS products. I've owned several sets of their footpegs on various motorcycles and I have one of their 6.6 gallon tanks on my Gen 1 KLR.

In 2014, I rode 10,000 miles from San Diego to Inuvik in Northwest Territories of Canada and back on my KTM 990 Adventure. While outfitting my bike for optimal comfort for that ride, I installed the IMS ADV I footpegs (see review here I found them to be perfect pegs for that ride: solid, well-made and very comfortable.

So when I heard that IMS developed a newer version of the footpegs for the venerable Kawasaki KLR 650, I had to give them a try. (I should note that I removed a set of very good --though smaller--IMS pegs to install the new ones.)

Right out of he box I could tell that these pegs were nicely crafted and just as pretty as the original ADV I pegs...with some slight modifications. They are beefier and larger--longer and wider--than any other footpegs on the market. The addition of a "foot" allows for more room for a rider's boots.

Installation was easy...just a matter of swapping out the old pegs by removing the post and spring. The entire process took less than 5 minutes.

The riding experience is solid and comfortable, allowing secure footing whether resting or standing. The larger platform on these footpegs would be perfect for riders with bigger feet and for those who want a more comfortable place to rest their boots on longer rides.

These pegs can be found in the $170-210 price range online and at most local motorcycle shops that carry quality gear. They're produced by a US company and backed by a lifetime warranty.

IMS Products, Riverside, CA

See photos of my KLR's current footpegs--and the ADV I pegs on my KTM--as compared to the new ADV II pegs.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Ultimate Road Trip: Riding to Ushuaia

"A challenge for those who go, a dream for those who stay behind." That's how I explained my dream--or plan, really--of riding from San Diego to Ushuaia on a motorcycle to some friends over drinks recently.

It'll be Baja and mainland Mexico through Central America via the Pan-American Highway to Panama, a short hop over the Darien Gap to Colombia, then down, down, down to Patagonia and the tip of South America.

Once that's completed, I'll decide whether to ride home via another route or sell my bike and fly home.

Easy peasy.

Or not.

And that's the gist of it, really.

The preliminary planning has begun. I just need to fill in a few gaps in the agenda: When and with whom.

As of today, the answers would be: Ushuaia by New Year's Day 2018/2019 per a very loose schedule and solo or with a good friend or two. Oh...then there was the matter of what to do about my current job and the financing of this adventure.

So I refilled their drinks and we stared at the rough map...

Pan-American Highway: The Ultimate Road Trip: Stuff to consider:

Research: Ride reports, recent experiences, weather, etc.
Bikes: All the same kind? (KLR, etc.)
Pre-ride (US, Canada) to shake down gear, bikes, personalities?
Route: Most direct or certain sites/cities along the way?
Final mechanical inspection: Bikes gone through thoroughly
Cost and finances: Daily/per country
Time: 3-6 months (each way)
Problem areas to be aware of:
Mechanic skills: Rider with repair abilities
Crucial bike parts: Tires, chains, sprockets, tubes, oil.
Tools: Tire changing, compressor.
Gear: Camping equipment, clothing, protective equipment.
Tracking: SPOT GPS, DeLorme InReach.
Givens: Not riding at night, flexibility.
Planned route vs. changes:
Lodging: Hotel, camping, couch surfing, hostels.
Major decisions en route: Injuries, mechanical difficulties calling it quits, return: sell bike/fly back or ride back different route.
Emergency situations: Robbery, injury, bike loss/damage, splitting up, getting lost.
Documents: Passport (validity, expiration), ID, "dummy" wallet, registration, insurance, title, copies.
Medical/evacuation insurance:
Vaccinations: Mandatory, recommended.
Info cards/ride logo decals:

Things to know about the Pan-American Highway:

1. The PanAm is the longest motorable road in the world.

2. It goes through Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Chile.

3. It ends in Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost point of South America.

4. There is just one point that is impassable by road: the 100-mile Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia (undeveloped swampland, impenetrable rainforest, Colombian guerrillas and all sorts of bad, bad people).

5. The two main ways to traverse this portion of the journey are air or sea (possible ferry and sailboat to ship bikes from Panama to Colombia) or a short flight.

6. The distance between San Diego, CA, USA and Ushuaia is approximately 10k miles. Riding an average of eight hours a day, it would take about 70 days to get to Argentina.

7. Crossing borders is an art and requires research and patience to do it right. The time it takes to cross a border can vary between 45 minutes and 8 hours.

8. Then, after reaching the tip of South America (Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia), there are options for returning: Riding the same route back, taking a different (northeasterly) route back or flying back (with our without shipping the some sell the bike in Ushuaia).

BONUS: Pan-American Highway: The Ultimate Road Trip

Encompassing some of the world’s most spectacular landscapes and almost 30,000 miles of open road across North, Central and South America, the legendary Pan-American Highway is the ultimate road trip. Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest motorable road in the world, the highway officially takes in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Chile. Although it does not officially include routes through the United States and Canada, many people begin in Alaska and drive or cycle all the way to Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost point of South America.

There is just one point that is impassable by road: the 80 to 100-mile Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia, which consists of undeveloped swampland and impenetrable rainforest inhabited by indigenous tribes, Colombian guerrillas and an array of exotic wildlife. This portion of the journey must be bypassed by air or sea, with ferries available to ship vehicles from Panama to Colombia and vice versa (more information available here:

While one of the most popular driving routes in the world, the Pan-American Highway is not just for those who move on four wheels. Every year many determined enthusiasts complete the journey by motorcycle. We recommend stopping off at the Mayan ruins of Palenque before crossing from Mexico into Guatemala.

Leave Normal Life Behind

If it’s escapism you’re after then what could be better than spending months on the open road with only a digitalized record collection, a copy of Jack Kerouac’s seminal beat novel On the Road and thousands of miles of amazing scenery for entertainment? From the snow-covered Alaskan tundra and the rugged peaks of the Rockies to the sun-baked deserts of northern Mexico and the tropical beachside jungles of Central America, the road just keeps on winding south through the towering Andes and Chile’s surrealist Atacama desert toward the penguin colonies of Patagonia. Aside from admiring natural beauty, a big part of traveling involves meeting new people and learning about foreign cultures, and there is an almost endless stream of stop-off points along the highway that allow for all kinds of interactions and new experiences with the diverse inhabitants of the Americas.

There are many different routes than you can choose to take through the United States but once you reach Mexico if you’re happy to diverge from the official route, we recommend avoiding the more lawless parts of the north by descending through the cactus-lined highways of Baja California and then catching the ferry from the charming seaside town of La Paz to the Pacific port of Mazatlan. From there you can stop off at big cities like Guadalajara and Mexico City before moving southeast to the culturally rich states of Oaxaca and Chiapas which are home to dozens of Mayan archaeological sites such as the stunning Palenque.

There are fewer route options in Central America where there are not as many roads going north to south, but upon reaching Panama’s Darien Gap we recommend chartering a boat to the colonial city of Cartagena where you can enjoy the best of Colombia’s lush Caribbean coastline. Moving down into Peru, few would pass up the opportunity to hike the legendary Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Further south, you can stop off at Lake Titicaca before taking in the unmissable salt flats that straddle Chile and Bolivia. If you have time for a detour then refuel with the continent’s finest steak and red wine in Buenos Aires before continuing south to the immense glaciers in the Tierra del Fuego region.

Driving an average of eight hours a day, it would take approximately three months to get from Alaska to Argentina, although most travelers take much longer (anywhere from six to 18 months) in order to make regular detours and stop-offs. Costs vary dramatically depending on your choices of accommodation, extra activities and how long you take to complete the journey, but one solo driver spent 22 months on the road for $27,300 US (see his budgeting info here: while another three-person team completed the journey in 20 months for a total of $88,000 US (see their breakdowns per country here:

When planning and executing your journey we recommend you heed the following advice:

* Don’t forget to bring any important travel documents, including your passport and driving license, and – depending on your nationality – make any necessary visa arrangements in advance.
* Consider any vaccinations you might need depending on your route. These may include shots or pills to prevent malaria, yellow fever, hepatitis A & B, typhoid fever, rabies, tetanus and diphtheria.
* Pack clothes for all climates as any trip across the Americas will mean braving both summer and winter and traveling from the icy extremes of Alaska to Patagonia via the sticky heat of the equator.
* Avoid driving at night and always seek out the U.S. State Department’s most recent travel advisories (available here) before entering a country in order to avoid any areas that are threatened by criminal elements or political unrest.
* For more recommendations on travel gear, vehicle modifications, medications, theft prevention, specific border crossing procedures, information on each country, and a full list of online resources, check out The Essential Guide to Driving North, Central and South America, available here:

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

My new KLR: Eagle Mike Special Edition KLR 685 (Gen 1)

Well, I'm back in the saddle again...the KLR saddle! Just bought a Super sweet Gen 1 with lots of history and even more goodies. This Bike was custom made for a very cool local San Diego guy named Tommy Gomes. If you know Tommy (BlueFin2na), you know he's a super cool guy. He now rides a custom KLR with a 705 kit.

The bottom line is, this bike is fully custom built from the frame up, fully built motor and is one sweet ride. I call it the Eagle Mike Special Edition. Here it is:

685 kit installed by EM
Carey Aspy Stage 2 Big Valve head (stainless valves, slightly oversized and ported for good flow)
EM custom built and powder coated front forks
Upgrade suspension
Custom Big Gun Exhaust
19" front wheel (Excel)
Super sized front brake disk (320 mm kit)
Stainless steel brake lines
Heated grips
EM front fork brace
EM Shark Fins on everything
6.6 gallon desert tank
Modulating front headlight
LED rear brake system
GIVI rear rack
Anit-Vibration mirror system
Seargent seat
EM choke system.
Assorted switches and other EM mods
And likely some other stuff I've forgotten.

The year is....get ready: 2001 frame, 2006 top end, 2004 lower end. All personally re-built 100% by Eagle Mike and his crew.

This bike has so many great things going for it, I'm a fortunate guy to get it.

I hope to be on this bike and out on the trails very soon.