Philly to Ushuaia - The Unknown Roads - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 13 Old 07-09-2015, 01:18 PM Thread Starter
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Philly to Ushuaia - The Unknown Roads

What's this all about?
We are The Unknown Roads. Three long-time best friends tackling an epic journey from The City of Brotherly Love to The Southernmost City in the world (Philly to Ushuaia for the laypeople). We set off on this adventure in just 72 days (September 20th departure) as of the time of this post. There's lots we still have to accomplish before we leave but we're determined.

Why's it called The Unknown Roads?
The trip needed a name for a number of reasons, but namely so we could be distinctive among all the other people doing incredibly amazing trips like ours. Matt and I (I'm Patrick by the way) sat down and brainstormed for a couple hours. We scoured the internet for motivation, we jotted things down, jokes were made, there was a process. Ultimately it was a song and a poem that we felt represented our thoughts well, wasn't taken, and had a good ring to it. To me Pennywise's song Unknown Road (inspired by Frost) is about that feeling most of us experience from time to time, "did I do enough with my life, did I live well?" The Unknown Roads is our attempt at making the most of the time we have.

So you're currently content with your surroundings
You possess a vague sense of accomplishment
Did you give all you had to give or did you
give conservative
Do you think that all the years that passed you
by we're all well spent
Pictures of everyday life spark memories
And certain things pull triggers in your mind
What would be different now if you were
there than here.
What passages, what fantasies lie just
beyond the unknown road
Do you know, the miracles that could
be found they're waiting down the
unknown road, so it goes
A few more cornerstones that could be yours
Ever get the thought you were mistaken?
-Pennywise-

Who's in this trio?







You mean you're not taking KLR's?
Nope, we're taking the other most boring bike around, the venerable DL650. The bike has proven its ability to us to endure any punishment thrown at it. We promise to thoroughly abuse them for the entire journey.

Prior to the trip we'll be sharing some of what we're doing to prepare for the trip, then we'll do our best to maintain an active online presence while on the trip, and at the end we intend to produce a short documentary.

We hope that you'll follow along, share your insights/criticisms with us, and maybe even meet/host us along the way!

You can find out more information at:

The Unknown Roads
www.facebook.com/theunknownroads
www.instagram.com/theunknownroads

Last edited by pjm204; 07-09-2015 at 01:27 PM.
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post #2 of 13 Old 07-13-2015, 12:04 PM
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Riding will be the easy part. Crossing multiple borders with visa and customs formalities (and inevitable complications) will be your greatest challenge, I predict. Anything you can do in advance is best done that way. And keep your cool...you'll need it. There's nothing a minor border official likes better than f#cking over a loud-mouth gringo.

Unless it's a GROUP of loud-mouth gringoes.

And shaking them down for a bribe.

2008 DL650A
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"All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure."
- Mark Twain, 1887
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post #3 of 13 Old 07-20-2015, 10:00 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeB View Post
Riding will be the easy part. Crossing multiple borders with visa and customs formalities (and inevitable complications) will be your greatest challenge, I predict. Anything you can do in advance is best done that way. And keep your cool...you'll need it. There's nothing a minor border official likes better than f#cking over a loud-mouth gringo.

Unless it's a GROUP of loud-mouth gringoes.

And shaking them down for a bribe.
haha thanks, we're definitely trying to mentally prepare for all of the border hassles.

Right now I'm trying to decide what maintenance to do on my strom before I leave and then what spare parts to bring with me.

My bike will have just about 73,000 miles on it when we depart. I'm thinking I will bring a spare fuel pump (cheap/small), brake pads, master link, fuses, fuel filter....

Maintenance:

1) last valve check I'll do
2) check CCT's
3) TBS and TPS
4) Air filter
5) oil/filter
6) Front wheel bearings (just did rear)
7) Coolant (wondering if I should rebuild the water pump?)
8) Rear shock rebuild (Nitron 3-way with ~35k on it)
9) New fuel filter
10) Brake pads
11) lube linkage/swingarm (considering replacing)
12) Fork seals/oil (Also swapping tubes for DR650)
13) Cush rubbers
14) lube steering stem bearings

Can anyone think of anything I'm missing there?
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post #4 of 13 Old 07-20-2015, 11:23 AM
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Well, good luck. I should explain that part of my concern regarding border issues stems from an incident many years ago when I spent a night in a Mexican jail in Nuevo Laredo on a phoney charge of being a contrabandista (smuggler) because of some alleged irregularities in my motorcycle import documentation. I was able to get out quickly because of good connections with more powerful officials in Mexico City -- one phone call did it -- but not every tourist is that lucky.

Study ride reports on ADVRider to see what others have done.

2008 DL650A
2016 KTM 390 Duke
"All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure."
- Mark Twain, 1887
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post #5 of 13 Old 07-20-2015, 02:17 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, I appreciate any and all advice. We're excited about the trip but definitely expect it to come with some difficulties along the way. Hopefully we can mitigate them as much as possible.
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post #6 of 13 Old 07-20-2015, 03:04 PM
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Have you looked into insurance? Most countries will require it, at least liability. You might want to see if there is a company that will write a policy that covers you everywhere.

2008 DL650A
2016 KTM 390 Duke
"All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure."
- Mark Twain, 1887
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post #7 of 13 Old 07-20-2015, 03:23 PM
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As another philly rider planning a long trip, I will be following your trip closely.
Can't provide much in the way of advice, but good luck!

John
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post #8 of 13 Old 07-20-2015, 09:30 PM
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not to down-play your plans, but this is not rocket science or even exotic anymore. 100's of riders go south and back every year. most don't post on sites such as advrider or the hubb, but some keep blogs and facebook pages.

border crossing is NOT difficult. have your docs in order, be prepared to wait RIDICULOUSLY long periods of time, and BE PATIENT. you wont be the first or last moto-gringos to pass through. central american borders are the worst. south american borders are cake in comparison. make sure your passports will have at least 6 months of validity by the END of your trip. imagine reaching mexico on the return only to be denied entry for a passport that only has 5 months left!

don't even think about riding at night no matter how awesome our vstrom headlights are. why? bandidos (not the kind in old westerns), vehicles with no lights or reflectors, a-holes walking in middle or crossing the road suddenly (cuz they're invincible!), dogs, sheep, cows, horses, donkeys, jackasses etc etc etc.

despite what you read, think twice about bribing la policia. while 98% of them will accept "payment of the fine" roadside, bribing a public official is far worse than the hassle of paying for a traffic ticket the right way.

beer and girls are cheap and both can be dangerous.

consider a washable air filter. the lifespan of air filters in the 3rd world is much shorter given the much higher dust content, not to mention diesel exhaust/dust which is far more prevalent.

bring several oil filters. if you start with a new chain and sprockets you should be fine. be forewarned though, 525 chains and vstrom sprockets are not easily found south of the border, and those chains you can find are crap chinese stuff that'll last 3000 miles.

tires can be found easily in guatemala, colombia and a few other countries, and with some greater degree of difficulty (and price!) almost everywhere else.

i could keep on going for days, but i won't.

i live part time in nicaragua so hit me up a bit before you arrive there and i'll treat you to a primo bbq and drinks at a fantastic lake.
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post #9 of 13 Old 07-21-2015, 11:19 AM
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"despite what you read, think twice about bribing la policia. while 98% of them will accept "payment of the fine" roadside, bribing a public official is far worse than the hassle of paying for a traffic ticket the right way."

You should maybe qualify that. OFFERING a bribe can get you in a a lot of trouble if by some miracle the official you are trying to bribe is honest. That's a very bad strategy.

But if ASKED for a bribe for a minor infraction paying up may be preferable...although everyone has to size up the situation for himself.

Also be aware that (at least in Mexico) both parties involved in an injury or property damage accident are held unless they have insurance to prove they can pay any subsequent claim if found culpable. I don't know about the rest of the Americas.

But I have seen the jail in Puno, Peru. You don't want to sojourn there even though it's on the shores of scenic Lake Titicaca...

2008 DL650A
2016 KTM 390 Duke
"All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure."
- Mark Twain, 1887
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post #10 of 13 Old 07-22-2015, 12:41 AM Thread Starter
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I appreciate your advice and will clarify that I am under no delusions that we are pioneers or that this trip is overly difficult to plan for. We're learning from others that have done it before us, just as it is likely that some will learn from our travels. That's what this community is all about.

I do think we'll have a unique experience even if 100's of others do the trip and I am excited as hell about it.

We do not intend to ride at night however based on the dozen other longer trips I have been on, it will happen eventually. I've got Rigids on my bike so lighting will not be an issue. As for all the other dangers, I can only mitigate them so much.

We expect to be taken advantage of by policia at some point, hopefully we can stay under the radar for the most part. I do not drink, do any drugs, nor purchase women which should keep me safer.

At any rate, keep the advice coming. It is appreciated and well received.

Quote:
Originally Posted by teevee View Post
not to down-play your plans, but this is not rocket science or even exotic anymore. 100's of riders go south and back every year. most don't post on sites such as advrider or the hubb, but some keep blogs and facebook pages.

border crossing is NOT difficult. have your docs in order, be prepared to wait RIDICULOUSLY long periods of time, and BE PATIENT. you wont be the first or last moto-gringos to pass through. central american borders are the worst. south american borders are cake in comparison. make sure your passports will have at least 6 months of validity by the END of your trip. imagine reaching mexico on the return only to be denied entry for a passport that only has 5 months left!

don't even think about riding at night no matter how awesome our vstrom headlights are. why? bandidos (not the kind in old westerns), vehicles with no lights or reflectors, a-holes walking in middle or crossing the road suddenly (cuz they're invincible!), dogs, sheep, cows, horses, donkeys, jackasses etc etc etc.

despite what you read, think twice about bribing la policia. while 98% of them will accept "payment of the fine" roadside, bribing a public official is far worse than the hassle of paying for a traffic ticket the right way.

beer and girls are cheap and both can be dangerous.

consider a washable air filter. the lifespan of air filters in the 3rd world is much shorter given the much higher dust content, not to mention diesel exhaust/dust which is far more prevalent.

bring several oil filters. if you start with a new chain and sprockets you should be fine. be forewarned though, 525 chains and vstrom sprockets are not easily found south of the border, and those chains you can find are crap chinese stuff that'll last 3000 miles.

tires can be found easily in guatemala, colombia and a few other countries, and with some greater degree of difficulty (and price!) almost everywhere else.

i could keep on going for days, but i won't.

i live part time in nicaragua so hit me up a bit before you arrive there and i'll treat you to a primo bbq and drinks at a fantastic lake.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeB View Post
"despite what you read, think twice about bribing la policia. while 98% of them will accept "payment of the fine" roadside, bribing a public official is far worse than the hassle of paying for a traffic ticket the right way."

You should maybe qualify that. OFFERING a bribe can get you in a a lot of trouble if by some miracle the official you are trying to bribe is honest. That's a very bad strategy.

But if ASKED for a bribe for a minor infraction paying up may be preferable...although everyone has to size up the situation for himself.

Also be aware that (at least in Mexico) both parties involved in an injury or property damage accident are held unless they have insurance to prove they can pay any subsequent claim if found culpable. I don't know about the rest of the Americas.

But I have seen the jail in Puno, Peru. You don't want to sojourn there even though it's on the shores of scenic Lake Titicaca...
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