Tag Archives: motorcycle

Lost Dudebro in Mexico

 

American adventurer missing in Mexico

http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/world/2014/02/09/nr-pkg-field-missing-american-adventurer-in-mexico.cnn.html

“Harry Devert’s motorcycle journey from the United States to Latin America is somewhat reminiscent of “The Motorcycle Diaries,” which recount the South American travels of revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara on an old motorbike in search of his insurgent spirit.”

Of course after reading this I immediately, selfishly thought of myself. Am I an “American Adventurer” like the article headline says? Am I too, similar to Che Guevara? I must be.

Should I start day trading?

What would have happened if I went missing? Would I also have been on the front page of the news dailies? The story of the manchild on vacation with his parents videotaping the cinnamon bun going viral on Reuters? Pics of me and Jared getting thrown out of the Bellagio on the cover of the Post? The strange pilgrimage to the dinosaurs from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure blurbed in Le Monde?

I’ve no idea what happened to this dude, although judging from the circumstances you can’t really fault someone for thinking the worst. For what it’s worth, I totally dug ol’ Mexico and rode it from top to bottom with nary a hint of danger. And yet shit happens and there were places that I did not go. Poverty is a strange beast and the hardcore poverty that you run into south of the border does strange things to people. Desperate measures for desperate men and life becomes cheap. So lets hope that this dude gets home safe but who the fuck knows.

Viva la Revolucion and Hasta la Victoria, Siempre!

P1030307

“I’ve never ridden a motorcycle,” he wrote.

An American Wereboy in Sudamerica: Year end recap.

One year on the road. Un ano. An excellent adventure and bogus journey. The throttle was turned and old New York was spied in the mirror in June of 2011. Since then we’ve spent most of our time in Latin America, through Mexico, down Central America way, over the Darien and into Colombia, then Ecuador, and now Peru. Patagonia was always the goal, and it still is, but I never really actually thought I would make it this far en serio. And indeed it is far and a long way to come on an old moto and in stinky boots.

Sure, few great truths are revealing themselves, few insights.

But look, it was never that kind of trip.

A great DJ once asked me, “Subcommandante, after all this is over, how will you adjust back to civilian life?”

The truth is that I never really adjusted to it anyway. So it’ll be more or less the same.

I’m just living my life, one peso at a time.

…but never mind that.

We’re in Peru now where the death roads bring new life when you’re staring into the eyes of the beast and crazy, muddy, rocky dirt roads with vertiginous drops blow us away like we’re listening to an old-school Maxwell tape.


On speaking Spanish:
After 8 months in Latin America I can faithfully say that I am a beginner level Spanish speaker. You hear a lot of people throw out the platitude that they can speak Spanish well enough to order food. The truth is that ordering food is one of the harder things to do while speaking Spanish in Latin America. It’s a process that is entirely different than ordering up a cheeseburger in the states. Every country and every different region of each country has different names for everything and, like an imaginary linguistic wall is set up between them, no one knows the words that other places use for different foodstuffs. Menus only exist in upscale joints and sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to get. It’s cool though and I don’t mind. The set lunch is a common thing down here and it’s something that I think we used to have in the states but disappeared a long time ago. It’s like the menu of the day but it’s super cheap, between $1.50 and $4 for the most part wherever you go and it comes with a soup, main dish with meat, starch and vegetable, a glass of juice, and sometimes a little something for desert. It’s really a great deal and it’s enough food for two people. En serio, my spanish is not that bad. It should be better, but I’m lazy. I never study my notes from Xela and I’m a loner man, a rebel, and care little for small talk anyways. And yet, I get by. Here I am.

But hey c’mon man, you got your whole life riding around in that rubbermaid top-box. What if somebody looks in there!?

Relax Billy, they won’t even know what it is man, they won’t even know what it is.

Che Guevara. Who was Che Guevara?

I dunno, some dude I guess. Latins and hipsters and gente the world over love their romantic losers, killed on mountaintops and emblazoned on t-shirts the world over. Best to die, but better to die for a cause.

I’m not going to tell you to go out and buy Che Guevara’s biography. I didn’t. I was going to, in a bookstore in Phoenix, but it was like 900 pages and weighed a metric ton. Couldn’t they have condensed it into a 200 page paperback? Louis L’Amour could’ve done it. I just wanted to know why those dreamy eyes are staring at me from a million t-shirts and car bumpers.

I read the wikipedia article and washed my hands of the whole thing. Fidel won his revolution, but there are no Fidel t-shirts and the reason is obvious. What if Guevara had won?

Che Guevara’s first name is Ernesto, but everyone called him Che because he used the word Che a lot. Che is like saying dude, or man, in American English. If Che Guevara grew up in Mexico instead of Argentina, everyone would have called him Guey Guevara. Because that’s what they say a lot in old Mexico.

I don’t care about dead revolutionaries and It’s not my fight anyway and so the mind drifts to other, more important things.


To go on forever, would be ideal.

The Salton and Camp Zero. One of the last great American wastelands which can never be forgotten.

Lusting for the sun on top of old Tajumulco down old Guatemala way, guey.

I was in Xela, Guatemala for nearly two months and everything revolved around the Miguel de Cervantes School of Spanish. They surprisingly had these neatly constructed ramps to get motorcycles up the two feet of steps and into the narrow hallway. I never fell but the thought of being pinned in the doorway with a hot exhaust pipe burning my leg to the bone was always there.

The Mexican experience summed up in this neat little sign, spied in San Cristobal.

Temascal, or Native American sweat lodge, had down in old Mazunte town.

Brain food baby. I miss Mexico…so long ago.

Free waffle breakfasts at the Roadrunner Hostel in Tucson taste alright to the desert drifter. Plans to dip south of the border materialized here. Who opens a hostel in Tucson?

Worlds tallest flag pole (it isn’t) in Calipatria, California. It was well over a hundred degrees that day and I was alright with that.

Saguaro cactus at the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Just south of Why, Arizona and bordering old Mexico, thousands of Saguaro reach and twist towards the sky in all sorts anthropomorphic shapes. I was camped out here, under a million stars, awakened by a Black Hawk border patrol helicopter hovering over my tent.

The Cabazon dinos and the end of the road for the great American adventure.

The Alvord desert. We had finally done it, reached the true West after the Alaskan adventure. A memory never fleeting, the Alvord will always reign supreme.

Dude, the Arctic Circle. Way up North. An incredible day really. I would do the Dempster in the rain and in the mud all the way up to Circle and back without pause. Over 500 miles and skies that stretch forever.

Hyder, Alaska. No small feat indeed. Hyder is this little thumb of America reachable by road that juts into British Colombia off the Cassiar Highway on the way to real Alaska. It felt good to be back on American soil, if only for an hour or so, and out of stinky ol’ Canada.

Ah, the melodious mambo beats of Captain Louis Prima. Who can forget lil’ Kevin and his homestead up in Northern Maine? I can’t, what with all his pianos and what not. This guy was a real surprise. An original.

It’s hard to beat Abi’s Adirondack cabin for a first night’s lodging’s. First day out was cold and wet and awful and my rain pants ripped to shreds, a harbinger of things to come.

This weird tomato from Morelia still makes me giggle and the memory of seeing a little girl that looked like French actor Jean Reno just minutes after purchase will forever be intertwined.

Ceiling of the LA Metro. Thousands of real reels line the ceiling for as far as the eye can see. I thought this was a nice touch. Each station has something different adorning the ceilings or walls.

Canyon of the Gods. No great American road trip can ever be complete without visiting the Grand Canyon. Check it off the list dog.

Teacup terrier shots are the thing to do on one’s 29th birthday in Los Angeles.

Why, Arizona. A great campsite under a great tree. The CB looks so cleeeeeean, a handsome ride.

Where’s the beef? The food in Mexico was amazing, inspirational even, the best in Latin America and the best I’ve seen yet in the world. I haven’t seen anything like it since, not even in Ecuador where they gobble down guinea pigs for breakfast. Sure, that’s different, but I don’t really want to eat guinea pigs. I just ate one because it’s the thing to do. But I could eat head tacos everyday. American food is boring, bland even, but the things we do we do well. New York pretzels and pizzas, a cheeseburger at any diner in America, a cheap fat steak, and a good beer are the things I miss most here in Latin America. They sell pizza in Latin America, but it’s universally terrible, and usually expensive because of the price of cheese. Most of it is sort of like Elios type stuff. The pizza place I used to work at on Long Island would cut the good cheese with the cheap to save money, the good sauce with the bad. I don’t want to know what they do here. Beef is expensive here too, and the hamburgers and cheeseburgers are always thin joints, all slathered in sauces and messy, salty, and disappointingly small. They use “super” a lot to describe the ones that come with cheese but they’re never super, and I always feel just a little bit sorry for my latino brethren because their super cheeseburgers aren’t super at all, but sad. Pitiful even. Maybe  as we inch closer to the pampas the beef situation will get better. No se che, vamos a ver.

But yea, I just miss the regular stuff about being an American in America. Bacon and eggs for breakfast, taking a shit in a clean bathroom, being comfortable and warm and snug, and even the law and order of it all I miss at times. Les extrano mis amigos and amigettes.

But I wouldn’t be here in Latin America if I didn’t want to be.

I’m going to miss Latin America wherever I go next. A lot. The people here might be xenophobic dicks sometimes(who isn’t?) but they are unpretentious and you can ride a motorcycle nearly anywhere. On the sidewalk, through buildings, or down one-way streets and no one cares. Motos are looked at here kind of like the way bicycles are in the states. And go ahead and climb a live volcano if you want to because no one will turn you away.

And when all this is said and done, I don’t know where I’ll end up. Probably America. There are no jobs down here in Latin America anyway. You can teach English and make $5 an hour and scrape by, or rent out your abs to washerwomen for less, but neither is a real option; maybe for a little while.

Just remember that wherever you go, people are going to be the same, no matter the tongue.

Predictable.

There are scant originals out there, though it’s been told that but a few hooligans still roam the roads, searching for something that they will never find.

strangers in a strange land

…with thoughts of the West continuously swirling inside their heads.

That’s it yo.

No regrets…well, maybe a few, but the trip isn’t over yet and they will be made up for.

The heat is on and it’s never been hotter.

See you in Patagonia putas.

Meet me across the sky.

Tuesdays with Abi and the Oaxacan Wunderkind

Ruta 175 down old Oaxacan way stretches through the mountains and into the clouds, bringing intrepid travellers just a little bit closer to God, before dropping off into the jungle and ending on the tepid shores of el Pacifico. 100 miles of curves.

Guey.

Waiting for the Sun

Alaska was never a real destination for me. It was a trophy. The real aim of this journey was to see America, to bathe in the sun of an endless desert, and weep at the feet of the Dinosaurs from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. I’ve been in the North for over a month and I’m coming home to the USA. I’m cold and wet and tired of being cold and wet. Alaska is not America, it’s Alaska. The Yukon isn’t Canada either. Both exist unto themselves and each has earned its rightful place upon my imaginary mantle, bathing in the heat of the internal eternal flame of the quixotic loner. I’ve conquered the North and I feel it is a better place now.

Dawson City, Yukon. A cool place no doubt with a beautiful vibration. Deadwood should take lessons here, although the only thing that prevents Dawson from becoming more of a tourist trap than it already is, is its isolation. People still mine here and the locals still drink. A great place to drink to get drunk and then drink in the history of the gold rush. There’s a hostel here, but be forewarned that it has no electricity or running water. There is a sauna however that is somewhat proper, in that it gets hot enough for my tastes, and a “prospectors bath” in which one heats up water to a boil in a wood furnace, then creates a lukewarm mixture with cool stream water, and finally douses himself to a sudsy cleanliness in a wet-room. Methinks Dieter, the German owner, is just a cheap fuck. A man of my own ilk really. I tip my hat to you sir.

From Dawson, the Top of the World Highway garners one entry into mainland Alaska. Here it is folks, the culmination of a long midsummer’s dream. Pick up that trophy polish in Boundary, population 4, and don’t forget to stop in Chicken, the next town over, and grab your visa to Alaska, the Land of Misfit Toys.

Alaskan Travel Tip: Remember, you can’t run away from yourself.

From Chicken to Tok and from Tok to Fairbanks and into the arms of kindhearted Ukrainian host-dolls Igor and Sveta. These real-life living dolls are an attraction unto themselves and they let me set up shop in their wall-tent for a few days, killing time and seeing the sights. It was here that I dined on boiled moose, feasted on Muktuk (whale’s blubber), supped on fried Chum Salmon, sampled Cloudberries from heaven, and munched on mushrooms. Delectable! An early morning hike even saw your author down on all fours culling wild blueberries like a real spirit bear.

Chena Hot Springs: 55 miles or so one way from the fair shores of Fairbanks. A nice diversion but I wouldn’t do it again and wouldn’t recommend it as a destination. Hot Springs should be held sacred and be as minimally developed as possible, if they are to be developed at all, which they shouldn’t. See: Liard Hotsprings. If moose is your thing, there’s a lot of them to see on the way.

 As noted previously, Alaska is the truly the Land of Misfit Toys, a giant lost and found bin of souls. Most people come up here to escape something, to run away, but remember people, you can’t run away from yourselves. About a third of the people who live up here really love it. Another third openly hate it. The last third hate it but delude themselves into believing they like it. It’s called cognitive dissonance. There’s a lot of insanity up here, a lot of drug use. The winters here are long, cold, brutal, and dark. Auroras flash the sky like psychedelic nighttime wallpaper. A perfect recipe for mental illness.

I expected grizzled bearded men, lumberjacks, and bawdy dames to make up the majority of Alaska’s population. Of course, I knew that wouldn’t be the case, or would it, but I was real curious to meet real Alaskans and check them out. To me that is the real wildlife. Like I said previously, there’s a lot of craziness in Alaska, but I expected that. I mean, just to make it up here and live takes some character and that sort of ambitious insanity will always be married to that. But I didn’t expect to find such a glorious, tremendous amount of white trash.

Fairbanks is a complete dump. It’s a city but it’s all spread out and there’s nothing there anyway. A ghost town. Another pseudo-city of the North. The most happening place is Wal-Mart and it’s rife with Melungeons. Same as anywhere else really. There’s a free museum in the old city hall and a decent coffee shop next door to that, that’s it really. I discovered pulltabs in Fairbanks. Pulltabs are advertised everywhere, in every store window and on every corner. There are even whole stores devoted to them entirely. Well, what are they? They’re like scratch off lottery tickets, but instead of scratching them you pull back a little cardboard tab to reveal whether you won or not. They are ubiquitous and everywhere. Alaskans are gaga over them.

 

Ah, Denali National Park. What can I say? Fuck you, I guess. Another clusterfuck of fools. Chock FULL of motorhomes and old codgers! DNP is the home of Mt. McKinley, the tallest mountain on the North American continent. If you want to see the mountain you don’t have to actually go to the park. You can see it from the road, if you’re lucky and it’s not ensconced in mist, for miles. It’s the biggest thing out there. It’s white and looks like a big ol’ scoop o’ ice cream plopped out on the horizon. You’re not allowed to drive within the park and if you want to go anywhere you need to take a bus. A bus trip to the base of Denali costs about $100.

Holed up on the side of the parks highway under picnic area enduring 16 hours of rain.

My quest to find the real Alaska led me to the Talkeetna Blues Festival. For the last 30 years, armies of Alaskan white trash have descended upon a gravel pit off the side of the Parks Highway each summer to listen to Bluegrass for 3 days. That is the theory of it really. It was a weird scene man and a sloppy, muddy rain soaked mess. No one was listening to the music. Tarps a plenty. Rap music blasted from shitty car stereos  in the muddy parking lot. People getting completely fucked up. The tar stink from the gravel pit mingling with people burning anything they could was pervasive. Fires constantly hissing out from the rain. A weird apocalyptic scene. I drank gallons of coffee and finished a bottle of cheap whiskey, picking up on the vibes and going crazy in my tent from the rain and the cold. Hating Alaska.

Anchorage: Most liberal Alaskan city and completely overrun with homosexuals. The San Francisco of the North and America’s new Gay Mecca. Stay away, or not, if that’s your thing.

 

Gakona, Alaska and HAARP: This is your future. High Altitude Auroral Research Program. Let me in!

 

I holed up in Tok for a couple days before striking for Haines and the ferry, my ticket out of this wasteland. Listen, next time your in Tok, Alaska don’t pass up a chance to visit Mukluk Land, home of earth planet’s biggest Mukluk, and say hello to George and Betty. A true slice of Americana in the separate nation of Alaska. Don’t forget to play skee-ball while you’re soaking wet.

Destruction Bay: Caviar wishes and Yukonian dreams. For the most part, the weather in the Yukon was always cooperative. It is like an imaginary wall is erected between Alaska and British Colombia and the sun always shines there, in the Yukon. When I got to Destruction Bay, it was the first time that I had seen the sun, and taken off my rain pants, in two weeks. Note that Yukon government campsites are pretty nice, and well stocked with free firewood, water, and covered shelters with wood stoves in them. No one, it seems, ever comes to check that you paid. So don’t. But also note that it is unnecessary to utilize the one on Destruction Bay, for ample bush camping opportunities abound. The setting was entirely picturesque, almost comically so, and the Beardar remained silent. I threw up the tarp in a mad dash, such is paranoia of the rain and the wet.  

Haines: Wildlife abounds in Haines, Alaska, a land of super natural beauty. Grizzlies munch on salmon and bald eagles swoop about. There are too many bears here. On my way into town I stopped at a river overlook to snack on some delicious nutritious sardines. I was watching a black bear cavort on the other side of the river when he looked up and spotted me. Our eyes met and he bore the expression of a curious dog! He jumped into the river and started swimming, coming to say hello! I jumped on the bike, furiously kicking it over until it finally started, the bear having scrambled up the bank.

I was able to snag a couchsurfing gig here, so grateful for an actual insulated walled structure with roof and to be out of the rain. Gina took me to see the bears, fed me delicious nutritious halibut and sourdough hotcakes, and clued me in to her soap making operation. One of the few fond memories of Alaska. Seriously, it rained everyday I was in Alaska and I didn’t see the sun for two weeks. Is it gay to want to fellate the sun when it comes out? The ancients, man they were on to something with that sun worshipping business. I’m tired. I’m going to Mexico.

 I’m on the ferry now, headed for America.

A pod of killer whales streaked past me this morning and dolphins playfully jump and twist in the air.

Fuck you Alaska.

The Great Alaskan Soap Company: Run by Gina St. Claire: Haines resident, Alaskan, and a St. Chrisopherette who protects solo adventurers from the storm and cleanses them with handmade soaps. Fisherman’s Friend, made with anise and smelling for all the world like fresh licorice is a personal favorite. Listen, by all means buy all you soap here! Made in Alaska by a real Alaskan.

 

Thompson’s Eagle Claw Motorcycle Park: Located in Tok, Alaska, Thompson’s Eagle Claw provides tent sites and various forms of enclosed shelters for bottom dollar. I spent the night in a kitted out ambulance to escape the rain. They also have a wall tent, cabin, and bunkhouse. Ah, and don’t forget the motorcycle workshop, free for all to use, and steamroom, which doesn’t quite get hot enough for this steamqueen, but is a welcome respite from the punishing Alaskan cold. Thoughtful host Vanessa provides all that one might ask for and more, except running water and electricity, which is fine because there is water in jugs that one can drink. Touch lights abound!

Cain’s Cause: Father son duo travelling around on bikes to raise money for some cause. MS I think. Yes, it is MS. A worthy cause. But listen, I forgot to put on my Dad-repellant and met Steve, the Dad, on the Cassiar Highway in the “town” of Bell II, really more of just a super expensive soapstone fireplace equipped $200 per night lodge.  But, they have terrible, buggy campsites for $22 per night. Steve was all despondent because he’d been riding for four days in the rain and his son’s bike broke down in Portland, meaning that they would never be able to complete their dream goal of riding to the Arctic Circle and back. Happy endings would ensue when I ran into Steve weeks later in Fairbanks, reunited with adoring son and covered in mud, having just completed that fabled run to the Circle. Congratulations sir!

Kev and Lorraine Hatchet: BMW riding power couple form England met at Thompson’s Eagle Claw Motorcycle Park in Tok. They smoke, drink coffee, and drink beers. Lots of each. And they’ve been around the world, taking their time and seeing the sights at a snail’s pace, but in a good way man. They made me coffee.

An evening spent in French Canada…

 

I actually spent about a thousand miles in French Canada.

Kevin knew I had books. He called me a “literary guy.”
Maybe it’s because I have glasses.

 I have a few books with me. I’ve been reading Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck.  In it Steinbeck, at this point both an author of well-renown and old man, takes off across America with his dog Charley. He does it in a custom made pickup truck with a camper on the back. Look, Steinbeck did it the easy way, even coming across as bit of a tenderfoot at times (c’mon, French poodle?), but it’s been a great read thus far and I won’t begrudge him because of the fact that he was an old man when he did it. Plus he just kind of comes across as a really likeable dude.  I’m still reading it so don’t spoil it for me (Charley dies at the end?), but I’m finding that there’s a lot of similar thinking going on in there. Maybe the thoughts of the wanton traveller resonate across our select minority, ubiquitous to all those who stave off into the night, into the darkness, to seek out knowledge that has so far been unobtainium.

Well, regardless, Steinbeck talks about wanting to visit Fargo, ND on his trek across our nation. He wants to see it on a whim really, because for him it has always held a place in his mind as being a destination that was just so out there, so far away, so as to be become legend and attain a sort of mythrus status, similar to a Cathay or a Timbuktu, but of the mind really, and in America.

Chibougamau has held a similar bookmark in my brain for some time now, and that’s why I went there. Because it’s there. I saw it on a map years ago and I would take a look at it every once in a while. It’s on most maps, but some maps have roads going to it and some don’t. It’s out there, really it is. A truly isolated, desolate place. Nowheresville, man.

La Fin du Monde.

I left Quebec City Saturday morning, heading up Hwy 175 through the Reserve Faunique Des Laurentides and yet another desolate stretch of nothing. Natural beauty abounds in Northern Quebec. Countless dirt and gravel roads shoot off into the bush. Hundreds, thousands of lakes, pools, and rivers  stretch into infinitum, the earth blanketed in trees and rocks and water. There is not much out here. You reach Chicoutimi and find it, this seat of the Quebecois culture, to be unremarkable. Turn left here and head towards Lac St. Jean, which is remarkable in its immensity. Its waters stretch to the horizon and it is truly beautiful. Of course, it is ringed with RV Parks, asphalt campgrounds, miniature golf, and go-kart racing.

Travel Tip: Don’t drink the water in Quebec. Buy bottled water. This is known to me from previous occasions. It has been told and you have been warned.

Past Lac St. Jean, you come to La Dore, a small outpost and the last place to obtain gasoline before making the end run towards Chibougamau.

 

Good morning!

Travel Tip: If you arrive in La Dore with no kopeks and no place to spend the night, take the gravel road on the left ¼ mile past the market, follow it into the forest, and set up shop in the clearing of your choice. Hide your rig behind the largest rock you can find for maximum stealth. Strain your eyes for the Northern Lights and your patience may prevail.

The CB500T gas tank only holds about 3 gallons or so of gas with a tad bit more in the reserve tank. And remember, it’s been a bit of a drag as of late in the mpg department. Best to fill up the spare tank you got in Chicoutimi so as not to run out of that precious fluid and be left to kill, steal, plunder etc. on the road Mad Max style.

I’m just looking for safe passage through the wasteland.

But, aren’t we all?

At night your thoughts turn to the Quebecois. They are a different breed indeed. A cursory glance into the eyes of the Quebecois will return an icy stare. These are the descendants of frontiersmen, trappers, soldiers, desolate loners on the fringe, madmen, and whores. The great North of Quebec is a foreboding place. Desolate. Cold. Alone. It is not easy to make it here. It never was. The heart yearns for a friendly face that speaks the English tongue. And maybe for one of Larry Russell’s delicious peanut butter crackers.

The road to Chibougamau is long. 130 miles or so of nothing in between save for forest and the trees. This is the Ashuapmushuan Reserve and it is gargantuan. It will swallow you up. You have been warmed. Stop to slosh in the rest of you gas from the can you bought especially for this road because no one ever said that reaching Chibougamau was easy. There’s no romance without, right? While you’re there, at a picnic table at Lac Triolet, warm yourself up with some noodles, down some sardines, and spoon out some peanut butter. Because you only live once.  Listen to some tunes. It’s been a week and you’re out alone in the world, this strange and terrible place. Thoughts are with you always. Memories. Regrets. They’re all there.

Chibougamau is out there, somewhere, but apparently it has internet and it has young people. I was able to get a host for the night. I could have camped out off of a dirt road somewhere, and it did indeed turn out to be a beautiful night, but I wanted to meet a real life Chibougamauan. See how they live. Ask them why they are here. What are they doing in this outpost?

Chibougamau was not really what I expected, because I expected it to be a logging town. It wasn’t because it’s a mining town. Mining towns are a different breed up here, at least the one’s with the big mines. There’s money floating around. They’re clean and safe, with plenty of bars and even strip clubs. No one gives a shit about some Manboy passing through

A happy chain adjustment in Chibougamau

on an old bike with squeaky brakes and a cooler bolted to the back. Chibougamau’s a fun little town. But that’s probably for about 5 minutes and I wouldn’t want to live here. I imagine a whole different place come the incredibly harsh winter. Loneliness and lack of precious sunlight breeds desperation in most folk. And I’m sure there are few couchsurfers passing by in winter.

 

I grew tired of French Canada today. I miss America very much so. But I’ll take English speaking Canada as a sort of compromise. I’ve made it to Ontario, camped just within the border on Bear Lake Rd on a little pullout.  It was a long, hard ride today. But chin up young Turk, for now we head West again. Forever and always.

 

Ontario!

 

Best to Listen

Zero hour inches ever closer. Soon it shall come and soon it shall pass.

I’ve moved out of my apartment and have been living with my parents for the past week. As wonderful as that is, I am now ripe for departure. Many loose ends have been tied up and yet still many remain left untied, dangling and loose, a testament to my legacy. No worries really, for they’ll be here when I return.

Or will they?

Time will tell.

Or won’t it?

Bah, enough of that; on to more pressing concerns.

My cracked muffler collar has been welded up, thanks to nycvinmoto connections and one Seth Rosko, who welded me up at this little shop in Bushwick and also hooked me up with a set of cb450 headers. Dude did a really good job. Weld was perfect. Mr. Rosko makes custom bicycle and moto parts for a living and races old motos in his spare time. He’s good at it. We talked bikes for a while and discussed the influx of technology and social media into the pantheon of man, for it is ubiquitous and all encompassing. I left inspired to create a flickr account, and then was reminded once more why it is so important that I leave this place as I plodded through NYC traffic in the steamy marroon cauldron that is my Buick Park Avenue for an hour and a half on the way home, the incessant beeping of the parking brake warning chime that has been stuck on for the past four months driving me to the brink of madness.

And alas, I’m sorry Seth, for I will not be using the headers. They require too much manipulation to fit and won’t seal up well enough to the exhaust port, with little puffs of exhaust belying leakage. It’s all well and good though as it will give me a chance to stop worrying and love the CB500T crossover box, which I have thus far so thoroughly maligned. I could try to fit them once more, but I won’t. It is too hot and I am not in the mood. I have come to realize that this is never a good state to work on your moto. Best to be cool and in the mood. Regardless, the CB has received enough attention and I’m already developing an unhealthy co-dependent relationship with it.  Look, this is just the way I am and I obsess over my machines. In the past week, I’ve spooned on a new rear tire, replaced all the wheel bearings, rebuilt the carbs, put in a new heavy duty front tube, and trued that front wheel. It’s as ready as it will ever be. I bought new coils for it, but I’m not going to put them in. I’ll throw them in the saddlebag in the event of failure and replace them on the road if need be. Fuck it, we’ll do it live. The CB will either make it or it won’t.  If you listen closely enough, the motorcycle Gods will whisper in your ear that if it isn’t broke, then don’t fix it.

Best to listen.

Present State

The CB500T presently sits, in all its glory , right outside my apartment window. I can just see the brown of its tank from where I sit typing this blog. Look, it just plain looks great sitting there reflecting the light from inside and I’m falling in love with this little beast all over again. I’ve been breaking her in again gently and my confidence in the vibrous monster grows with each passing day. She’s smoothing out and we’re gonna treat her to some more new parts. But first, lets do a bit of a rundown of what’s been done thus far:

  • new fuel filter
  • fork gaitors
  • starter clutch relegated to the dustbin of history
  • new sparky plugs
  • front break system flushed and gone through
  • wheels trued
  • new fork seals (well, 2009 new enough)
  • new (to me), more functional rear rack
  • LED voltmeter installed
  • new sprockets all around and chain
  • complete tune-up: valves, timing, points
  • carbs taken apart, cleaned, and gone through
  • new gel battery/bettery
  • all electric connections gone through and greased
  • modern rectifier
  • headlight kill switch
Yea, I think thats it. God will forgive me if I forgot anything. Moving on, we’ll need a few more things to shore the bitch up and take care of everything that needs to be taken care of before our rideabout. 
First and foremost, we’ll need to take care of that little muffler crack and get it all welded up. We don’t want that falling off between Yellowknife and Fort Simpson or wherever the hell I’m going. Ditch that crossover box, toss on a pair of CB450 headers and you’re golden.
Figure out that luggage boyo and figure it out soon. Keep that dorky rubbermaid plastic box that saw James Bay, or ditch it for something else? Stay with the army surplus green softbags, or figure something else out? And where to store the soccer ball and surplus gas tank? Decisions decisions.
Will time allow for the drilling of the front rotor? Only time will tell, and the clock ticks on. It waits for no man, nor manboy. There is only so much time left.
Regardless, time must allow for the ordering of some new parts, if only to please the machine Gods and give the CB its due diligence and every chance to make it to ends of the earth. We’ll need to secure:
  • carb rebuild kit(s)
  • new wheel bearings 
  • new tires and HD tubes
  • front break pads
Eh, I think that’s it really. I can figure the rest out on the road right?
I’ll do a little camping/personal gear rundown in due time, but as for tools/spares my basic kit will look a little something like this:
  • vice grips
  • tire irons, tube patches, etc.
  •  needle nose pliers
  • stock tool kit (will handle 99% of fix-its)
  • chain breaker/press
  • volt/ammeter 
  • extra bulbs
  • extra clutch ball bearings (real easy to lose)
  • assorted screws/nuts
  • fuses
  • spare cables
  • extra points/condenser
  • wire
  • duct/electrical tape
  • JB Weld/Epoxy
That’s pretty much it, I’m sure I’m forgetting something. But we will check and double check and rack our brains for anything that might be forgotten so that it will not be forgot before departure, such as extra valve caps.