Andy emailed this to me and I have to post this amazing story up! Talk about a trip of a life time! Enjoy!Originally Posted by Beemerandy
My trip to Panama,
My Brother and I left Vancouver early in the morning the day after Christmas. The streets were filled with slush. My Brother was riding his 05 1200gs and me on my trusty old 77 r100rs. We made it to southern Oregon the first day through some rain. Up early the next day, we were ready to attempt the dreaded Mount Shasta pass. As we approached we ran into a blizzard. The first pass in Oregon has the highest elevation and seems to get the most snow. Conditions went from ok to bad in a matter of yards. The first grade was covered in new wet snow and I was fish tailing on my bike, following a semi being pushed up the mountain by a special, chained up dept. of highways truck. A 4x4 pulled up beside me and informed me that my Brother had dumped his bike some where behind me. I pulled over and was getting ready to walk back when another truck drove by and said my Brother was all right and mobile again. At last I see a head light approaching through the snow flakes. I wave him on and I have another go at it. Well as I approach the top I see my Brother on the side of the road waving me through. By this point they had shut down the highway behind us for anybody with out chains. I tucked in behind a car that was doing about 10 miles an hour. It took most of the day to get to the other side of mountains and out of the snow but I made it down to a town called Red bluff for the night. I had stopped and waited for my brother a couple of times to no avail. I phoned home and discovered he had packed it in when he got to the town of weed.
The next couple of days were uneventful. I went through Vegas and my Brother went through Palm Springs. We had an appointment in Tucson on the second of January, for new tires, oil change,ect. By afternoon we were on our way to Mexico. At the boarder we drove through, no stopping and no guards? My kinda boarder! We drove south a ways and had to stop and get a permit for our bikes.
We stopped in Hermosillo that night and on to Los Mochis the next. Los Mochis has got to be the dirtiest city I have ever been in. As the sun went down the power plant revved up for the night and belched out black unburned I guess bunker fuel. Between that and every truck and bus spewing out black smoke. It made the air barely breathable. In the morning our bikes were covered in fly ash from the power plant. That morning we were on our way to Mazatlan. My volt meter indicated a problem with my charging system. In Mazatlan, my Brother had to push start me a couple of times to get the bike restarted. That night we managed to buy a multi meter from an auto zone store. The next morning we put the jumper cables on for a few minutes and gave the battery a boost. Puerto Vallarta was our destination for the day but my bike barely made it into Tepic. The battery had run down to almost nothing at this point. I pulled into the first garage I saw. Lucky there was a motor bike mechanic one block up the street we were directed to. After a lot of humming and hawing the mechanic called his buddy up and he came over. He confirmed that the rotor was not working. Its closing time and were hooped! The mechanic says he can go and see if he can find the guy in town that rewinds motors. Great! There is still a faint glimmer off hope. Off he goes. Two hours latter he comes back with my rotor rewound! Were good to go!
The next day. Puerto Vallarta for lunch and Manzanillo for the night. Manzanillo would be high on my list for places to visit in Mexico. The next day on to Zihuatanejo for the night, Acapulco the next and down to Puerto Escondido. Puerto Escondido is another place worth a visit. We made a small Mexican boarder town the next night. Mexico had taken it’s toll on my bike. The forks were leaking oil out of the top of the tubes. My RKA saddle bags had lost a side strap and completely ripped off one of the main straps. This was all caused by excessive speed. Mexico has more speed bumps than I have ever seen. I think a lot of them are illegal and installed by people to get you to slow down in front of there business. After Acapulco, there size increased. My oil pan bottomed out regularly.
Over the boarder to Guatemala. The boarders in Central America turned out to be the worst part off the trip. We averaged three hours per boarder. They are so bad and filled with red tape that you needed to hire a local guide to help you through the paper work. Lucky for me, my Brother speaks Spanish other wise I would likely still be trying to cross the fist boarder.
We stopped in Antigua the first night. Antigua is a very old city. Highly worth checking out. Unfortunately the streets are paved with rough stone in the city. One of my front brake callipers started leaking from all the pounding that it received. We pressed on to Honduras, through El Salvador and on to Nicaragua. After we entered Costa Ricca my front brake had gone from spongy to non existent. I had been hoping to make it down to Panama before I dealt with it. I have been running dot 5 in the brake system for the last 25 years or so. Great stuff but not that popular in Central America. Well dot 3 it is. So I topped up the master cylinder and bled the brakes. Apparently you can mix dot 5 and dot 3.
A couple of days latter we were in Panama city. Very nice! Panama was our Favourite place. We met some local motor bikers in the city of David. They showed us around the Country side. Very nice people! My brother’s gs died on the side of the highway one day just out side David. Our new friends arranged a trailer ride back to a local bike shop. We contacted the bmw dealer in Panama City and they sent out an electrical part that mounts on top of the gas tank. It must be a commen problem because they knew what it was right away. Anyway the bike was on the road by 10:00 the next day. No charge for the trailer ride and no charge from the bike shop. I was a little disappointed in the bmw dealer. They did not honour my Brothers warranty so he ended up paying for the part. We left David headed across Panama for the Atlantic coast. This was our most memorable road. High through the Mountains and down in to lush jungle. The Atlantic side all the way up through Costa Rica is banana country. No traffic to speak of, just windy paved roads. We were warned of an old rail bridge that we would have to cross. It turned out there was two of them. They were built for a narrow gauge rail way to export the bananas. Long gone are the trains. They replaced them with trucks .The bridges have rough planks sort of nailed down to the railroad ties. Unfortunately they are warped and tended to bounce up as you rode over them. The first bridge we rode over with out a problem. The second was over a river dividing Panama and Costa Rica. We unloaded the bikes of extra gear and carried it the three hundred feet to the other side. One at a time, we crawled across the bridge on our bikes. All we herd about was stories after story about fallen bikers on the bridges. A trucker standing on the other side says he witnessed a guy from Canada crossing on a big bike. He fell and broke his arm and leg. Ouch!
We worked our way up through Costa rice and on to Nicaragua. We stayed for a couple of days on Lake Nicaragua. Very nice! Five bikers showed up from Panama. One of them we had already met. So off to the beach on the Pacific Ocean for lunch the next day. After lunch we decided to try another root back to the main road. What a mistake that was. After talking to more than one local who said we could get through no problem we were on our way for the ride of our life! The road just kept getting worse! After about three hours into this four wheel drive night mare we started crossing this river. Shallow at first and progressively deeper. We have no idea how much farther we must go as the sun starts to go down, but we know were getting close talking to the odd farmer. There are seven bikes on this expedition. A Kawi 650 enduro, four bmw gs’s, Honda Valkerie bagger and my old r100rs.we still can’t believe the guy on the Honda made it! There was lots off pushing involved. Most of the guys wiped out during the day. One guy six times on his gs. THE suns almost down and we round a corner only to find another river crossing. Unfortunately I know my bike will not make it. It’s much too deep. I take a run at it and make it about twenty-five feet before my motor dies! Unfortunately there was another ten feet to go! My motor is covered in water up to the exhaust pipes coming out of the heads. My Brother and I push it up the hill. I work by flash light taking the front cover off the motor so it will dry out. The carb bowls were full as well. The bike fires up and were off. It’s so dark and rough that were having a tough time making out the road. We finally made it out after another hour and a half and then another hour and a half or so back to our hotel for the night.
We worked our way up through Honduras. On our way through the mountains we came across a road that was closed. Turn around or take the dirt road? 15 kms of dirt road, why not. It turned out to be extremely rough, more stone than dirt. Some where I lost my front fender on that road. My bike was turning into a real rattle trap by this point. The map showed a good road on the other side of this town but we soon discovered that it was dirt as well and it went on for ever! By the end of the day we had covered very little ground due to the conditions. That night we stopped at the town we were planning on but all the hotels were full. 48kms in the dark down to the next town we went. We tried not to drive at night but some times you must. My bike hit a huge pot hole in the dark and I bent the crap out of my rims. They already had a couple of spots in them but this was bad.
The next day I really noticed my bike wandering and wobbling on the road. I tighten the steering head bearings. I go to do the swing arm and discover the lock nut has backed off! No wonder why it was wobbling! I fix that and discover my wheel bearings are toast!
We ran into two of our new Friends that we met In Nicaragua that night. One American from Panama and the other on his way home to the States. The next day we headed north with are new riding partner Ken and Paul headed back to Panama.
We stopped early that day so I could fix my wheel bearings. They must have gotten contaminated when I got bogged down in the river. I managed to get some new bearings and we were on the road again. In the middle of no where in Honduras I was riding up a hill when I felt my back tire fish tail like I had a flat. I pulled over and watched the last litre of oil spill out of the bottom of my bike! In Panama city, we had the bikes oil changed at the BMW dealer. Unfortunately the mechanic never tightened my drain plug properly. I found a good tree branch and carved out a new drain plug. A little silicone on it and we were good to go. This lasted for about three days until the silicone started to break down. I managed to find a drain plug designed for a truck that fit but it made it hard to get over speed bumps due to it’s size. We worked our way up through Guatemala checking out various sites. Unfortunately Ken had a mishap on the way out of Flores and broke his ankle. He was Back in the States getting fixed up a few days latter. On to Mexico. My licence plate went missing the first day after we crossed the Mexican boarder. On a rather bad stretch of a construction zone my Brother hit a rock hidden in some loss sand and lost control. Down he went! Luckily he was ok but his right saddle bag didn’t do so well. We headed over to the Atlantic side of Mexico and worked our way up the coast. We headed inland at Tampico. My brother and I split up at Durango. I wanted to head home and he wanted to head for Mazatlan and parts south for a while longer. My tires were getting long in the tooth by this point.
I head out of Durango and two hundred Kms latter my volt meter showed that my bike is not charging properly! So much for the Mexican rewind. I pin it and make it as far as Chihuahua for the night. I managed to find a battery charger at an auto zone store in town. The next day I make Tucson. I plug the charger in for the night and hit the Bmw dealer the next day. Thanks to the guys at Iron Horse BMW. I was on my way by closing time with a new rotor, tires, oil change ect . Four days latter I made it home. 23,000 kms in total.