2016 -09-12 – Day 1 – Montreal to Louisville, KY (1486 km – 16:00 hrs)
2016-09-13 – Day 2 – Louisville, KY to Austin, TX (1640 km – 16:00 hrs)
2016-09-14 – Day 3 – Austin, TX
Finally, time to hit the road! After all these months (read: years) of preparation, the project is done with and now, the adventure has begun!
Before leaving, I was lucky to be surrounded by family and friends who came home Saturday night to celebrate my 50th birthday and my departure. It was touching not only to see all these people take time away from their lives, but it was a very emotional moment and also, an important step before my departure. Indeed, being able to physically and personally say goodby to my friends, and especially my mother and my girlfriend, was something that I needed to do.
I know that with social medias, friends are never too far away, but at the same time, internet creates a false sense of closeness. There is nothing more pleasant than picking up the phone and talk directly to our friends. Unfortunately, it is a gesture that is more and more rare.
Thank you again to everyone who came over!
Monday morning, I got up early even if the bike and my bags were 100% ready. There was a lot of nervousness and excitement. Leaving behind your girlfriend for six months is not something that you do a lot in a lifetime.
I must mention that I have to thank Nadine for her understanding and approval of this trip. The opposite would have simply put term to the project before it becomes it even began.
So the bike is ready. Shower and quick breakfast. My friends Geoffrey and his brother Peter offer to accompany me to the US border! Really classy from them!
We left around 7:30 AM. But I forgot to mention! I received a great gift Saturday. A beautiful little GoPro camera !!! So I tried to get a clip of my departure, but without much success. I will need to learn a bit more about this new toy.
The first challenge is daunting: to leave Montreal at rush hour! After a few detours and road closures, we take Highway 20 heading towards Ontario.
This day will be a series of firsts. First border, first night in a hotel, first meal on the road, first 1000 km… All these little things may seem insignificant, but I quickly realized that I will do them for the next 6 months! Ouf…
Geoffrey and Peter see me off just before crossing the Bridge of The Thousand Islands in Ontario. I realized at that moment that this is really happening, I really am my way south, for 6 months, never, I hope, looking back.
The first feelings are bizarre. On one hand, I’m excited and relieved to finally be on the bike, but on the other hand, I feel very small in this big world, with 30 000 km of tarmac in front of me. I immediately feel a great loneliness.
I wish my girlfriend could have joined me. I know how hard it is to see your boyfriend leave like I did. At the same time, I understand that this is not her project, she is in the middle of an incredible career.
This trip will allow me, among others things, to find myself, to discover new countries, new cities, but mostly, new faces. Ultimately, it’s not really the motorcycle ride or points on the maps that motivate me. It is the human aspects and the discovery of new horizons.
On Monday, I traveled over 1,500 km between Montreal and Louisville (KY) in 16 hours.
I made the decision to cross the United States quickly for 2 reasons. First, the costs of traveling in this country are high, and as a neighbor, the US are easily accessible any day. My goal here is to discover Latin America.
I gave myself a crazy goal. Ride 3200 km in 2 days, from Montreal to Austin (TX), where I will spend 2 nights in order to finalize the preparation of the bike (change of oils – motor, transmission, final drive).
On Tuesday I drove ta similar distance between Louisville (KY) and Austin (TX) in 15 hours.
The word that comes to mind to describe these 2 days: suffering!
Driving a motorcycle on a highway for 16 hours a day is no fun to me. Sore legs, arms, back, and you know what! Obviously, I could stop more often, but I want to make it to Austin ASAP.
Fortunately, I give myself 4 weeks to cross Mexico, the distance of the first 2 days of my trip!
First small mechanical problem. Four hours south of Louisville, the emergency red LED flashes … What ??? What is going on? I notice that the light for ABS brake is also on, indicating that it is not active. Also, my speed needle drops to zero 2 or 3 times.
Normally my direction signals turn off by themselves after 10 seconds. Now they don’t.
I immediately contacted my support team (!!!) in Montreal (Geoffrey Peter and Nadine) and the BMW dealer. Possible causes: ABS pump ($ 2,000 !!!!), speed sensor or bad connection to the battery.
So I decided to stop on the roadside and get a read on the error codes from the onboard computer. I have a laptop but more importantly, a GS911, which is a device that can perform certain computer functions on the bike, including reading error codes.
Good news, the error is related to the rear speed sensor! So I just saved $ 2,000! Now I have to repack all my luggage because the computer is kept in the middle of my clothes!
I hit the road and contact the BMW dealer in Austin, who can take a look at the bike tomorrow at 11:00.
When started driving again, the error message was no longer present. And even better, it does not reappear for the next 10 hours!!!
I will treat this as what is called a “glitch”!
I arrived a little late in Austin, but just in time for a (couple) cold beer and a good burger, in a small bar next to the hotel.
Wednesday is dedicated to changing the oils on the bike before entering Latin America, where I suspect, BMW dealers will be somewhat rare!
I started the day with 15 km run along the banks of the Colorado River. It was a pleasant surprise to find this well kept place, frequented by many athletes of all ages! the trails are mostly in the shade, which is very nice because it is very hot, even at 7:00 AM.
Then I go to the BMW dealership and talk with the service manager about my problem yesterday. He told me not to worry too much about it. It is relatively common and many things can cause this little “glitch”.
I go to the parts department to purchase oils. The manager is super friendly and asked me several questions about my trip. He is also totally jealous of my BMW helmet, because it is not available in the US! I also got a USB port, because the wire that feeds my GPS Spot tracker is no longer functional.
I returned to the hotel and settled down in a nice quiet spot in the shade to start work.
Changing the oils is not necessarily difficult, but on the road it is a bit more complicated. I went to the Dollar Store got a disposable frying pan to get rid of the oils.
The biggest challenge is not to get dirty! I have gloves but manage to get my hands dirty of course!
It’s always a little stressful for me to work on the bike. I know what I’m doing, I have done dozens of times, but I’m not a mechanic! Example, I had to remove the skid plate in order to access the filter and a screw was not coming out. I finally was able to pry it out, but I must admit that I had a cold sweat!!!
I proceeded with the engine oil, then the transmission (making a mess, as usual! BMW should think about putting the drain plug in a more accessible spot!) And finally the differential (final drive).
Horror! The oil that comes out is completely white! I even contacted my team in Montreal. Geoffrey did some research.
Possible water leak… To be checked on closely in the coming weeks, because there is no visible leakage and there is nothing I can do at the moment.
After 3 hours, the job is completed and I then spend a bit of time to wash my clothes, call my girlfriend and relax in the living room.
I then take a long walk in downtown Austin, which is typically American with its long boulevards. Congress Ave and 6 are the place if you want to find bars and restaurants.
I spend the evening at Irene’s, writing these lines and preparing my day tomorrow, because that is the great crossing into Mexico!
2016-09-15 - Day 4 - Austin, TX to Santiago, NL (690 km - 9:00 hrs) 2016-09-16 - Day 5 - Santiago, NL to Linares, NL (130 km - 2:45 hrs) Can you believe that I'm riding my motorcycle in Mexico! I left Austin around 6:00 AM Tuesday morning to avoid traffic. ... Read more
Only 3 days before the big start so I'll try to cover documentation, maps (paper and GPS), my itinerary and budget in one post. Let's start with documents. It is well known that the border crossings in Central America are saying, complex and several photocopies of documents such as passports, driving ... Read more