Jump to content


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Grabowski last won the day on July 7 2015

Grabowski had the most liked content!

Community Reputation

38 Excellent

About Grabowski

  • Rank
    Advanced Member

Profile Information

  • Location
  1. Formal check-in, wrist bands, and unfortunately, assigned spaces.
  2. I've created a ride report but I put it in "articles." How do I edit it to move it over to "Ride reports? At the bottom of my article all I see is "report article" and I don't see an option to "edit." Thanks for the help. Grgeory
  3. Grabowski

    Bolivia 2016

    Trip Report - Riding Bolivia (Editorial note: Some text that follows was lifted from the published itinerary so attribution in advance to Phil Freeman (MotoQuest) and Cory Rowden (BoliviaMotors)) In early 2016 Phil Freeman at Motoquest invited a bunch of known riders on a scouting trip to Boliva in partnership with Cory Rowden of BoliviaMotors. Scouting trips are where a tour group has drafted a route and itinerary but hasn’t yet ridden the whole thing and wants to understand what a scheduled trip might be like in that area. Known “Plan-B” riders are invited to fill out the trip and manage the costs. Plan-B riders are all like “Well we have a flat tire, we’ve just ridden through a forest fire, and we’re lost – so let’s do Plan-b!” On a serious note, everyone on a scouting trip needs to be relaxed, self-reliant, and ready for any change in plans. On that note, let’s begin. What follows are my notes and observations, mixed in with the written itinerary provided by Motoquest/BoliviaMotors, so editorial attribution should also go to Phil Freeman and Cory Rowden. We were going to be riding Suzuki DR650s (with electric start) and BMW 800GSs. I know this is an XLADV forum but this story is about the route rather than the bikes and anything we rode was doable on a large KTM or BMW, unless notes. Getting the Bolivian Visa ahead of time involved sending my US Passport to the local consulate with the fee, a self-addressed return envelope, and a lot of patience. I’m told that tourist Visas are available upon arrival if you have the $160 cash in clean, crisp, undamaged US notes – some of the other riders who flew into Santa Maria did it that way. I flew from California into La Paz on Friday a couple days ahead of time to acclimate to the altitude. La Paz is the highest international airport in the world at 13,000 ft. www.motoquest.com www.boliviamotors.com I coordinated to meet a riding buddy of mine in La Paz, Craig from Missouri, and we tooled around the city for a couple days with some local FIFA contacts he had. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Alto_International_Airport On Sunday we flew from La Paz into Cochabamba and met the rest of the riders, guides, and mechanics. Day 1 – Sunday, November 6th, 2016 Arrival in the city of Cochabamba - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochabamba Phil picked us up in a very classy Hawaiian shirt from the airport and we met all the other riders and mechanics as they arrived at the hotel. Before dinner we also took cabs over to the BoliviaMotors compound, checked out the bikes, and went for a quick ride through the city and up to some spectacular viewpoints. Plan-B: One flat and one drop for the group. Day 2 – Monday, November 7th, 2016 Cochabamba – Comarapa (160 miles) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comarapa Day 3 – Tuesday, November 8th, 2016 Comarapa – La Higuera (105 miles) Lunch at Valle Grande. This is where the Che Guevara route starts and we visited the hospital laundry where his body was laid out to show the world he was truly dead. We also visited the location where his secret burial site was and the new mausoleum built to honor Che and his comrades killed by the Bolivian Army in 1967. Spent a rainy night in the tiny village of La Higuera. This is where Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara was held and later assassinated. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Higuera This is the location of the actual schoolhouse where he was held and executed. We dined and slept at the telegraph compound where Che’ supposedly sent his last telegrams, allowing the Bolivian Army to pinpoint his location for eventual capture. Placed my Mosko Moto 40L duffle here for a pic. This bag, a gift form my amazing wife, was indispensible for lugging gear through airports and up narrow stairs at 14,000 ft altitude. Just pull on the shoulder straps and walk – never taking a standard roller-bag again. http://mosko-moto.myshopify.com/products/backcountry-40-rear-duffle Day 4 – Wednesday, November 9th, 2016 La Higuera – Sucre (180 miles) Pretty amazing riding day on a road described by adventure riders as “one of the best adventure riding roads in the world”. Rode pretty good paved roads into Sucre – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Altitude 9,000 ft. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sucre Day 5 – Thursday, November 10th, 2016 We spent the day in Sucre and visited the oldest silver mine in the Americas, as well as the government museum. A great day to rest and relax. Day 6 – Friday, November 11th, 2016 Sucre – Potosi (100 miles) Wonderful paved roads into Potosi. Some of the group went and toured a working silver mines of Cerro Rico and they all regretted the experience of crawling, climbing, scrambling up and down sketchy underground pathways and being in the mine when dynamite was used further down. I don’t have pics of this but I’ll try to find some. Day 7 – 9 November 12th through 14th, 2016 (My timeline is a bit hazy here) Potosi – Uyuni – Oruro (Hundreds and hundreds of miles) So Uyuni was indeed a highight. This is on the Dakkar route and the Solar de Uyuni salt flats is one of the wonders of the world. We rode out onto the 4,000 square miles of ancient salt lake to some islsnds for lunch, then back for a dinner and overnight at a hotel made of salt. Must be seen to be believed. What follows was a combination of dirt roads, some awesome ascents, valleys, dry riverbed crossings, and finally a nice highway into the city of Oruro, which is considered to be Bolivia’s most indigenous city. Day 10 – Tuesday, November 15th, 2016 Oruro – Quime (105 miles) So now we ride up and over the Andes form the western alto-plano region east intot he Amazonian areas over a summit of 15680 ft. Day 11 – Wednesday, November 16th, 2016 Quime – Chulumani (100 + miles) A long and hot dirt slog day. After descending into the Amazon rainforest on winding, narrow dirt roads into the lowlands of Bolivia. This was a very long day up and over mountains, through valleys, dodging slash and burn agriculture that got out of hand, trying to pass trucks on silty dusty mountain roads, and then up and over the next mountain. And then the next one. Many flats and breakdowns (electrical) today but the Bolivian chase truck caught up to everyone of us. The video is a little glimpse of the exhaustion, heat, and elevation. We stayed overnight in Chulumani. Day 12 – Thursday, November 17th, 2016 Chulumani – Coroico (60 + miles) More upper reaches of the Amazon rainforest riding a little used dirt road between the two Yungas towns of Chulumani and Coroico. Lots of coca leaf cultivation. Day 13 – Friday, November 18th, 2016 Coroico – La Paz (40 epic miles) Road of Death in the rain and fog. Video should give a little insight into this spectacular day. A couple breakdowns today (chain sprocket on Angry-Ian’s bike, and a non-injury low-side in the rain by Happy-Ian) and very cold, but awesome and one of those life experiences that you'll remember for the rest of your life. So an epic trip and I probably didn’t do it justice here because I’m not a writer, but if you have any questions let me know and I’ll try to fill in the rough spots. Gregory Grabowski R1200GSA
  4. Thanks for posting this. Have less than 2,000 miles on my replacement GSA and was wondering what the differences were going to be from my old GS.
  5. Credit - Note: All images courtesy of 1. Gregory 2. Josh 3. Jon 4. Mark 5. Mark 6. Ron 7. Carter, or 8. Roger
  6. The weekend of April 24th, 2015, eight riders from various parts of southern California set out to explore a few places off the beaten track. Seven of us started out in Irvine, California at the appropriate Starbucks and headed up Interstate 15 towards Hesperia, Ca, where we stopped at the intersection of I-15 and I-395 for breakfast and met up with our 8th rider from Los Angeles, Roger. After breakfast we rode north along I-395 and then east on HWY 178 to Trona Pinnacles, which is about 20 miles due east of Ridgecrest, California. Trona Pinnacles is an amazing geologic formation of spires, cones, and towers from a long dead inland sea rising straight out of the desert, formed by calcium carbonate in springs billowing out of the ancient lake, perhaps as deep as 400 ft during certain ice ages. More here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trona_Pinnacles Day 1 Our route, more or less... The approach to Trona Roger, Jon, Mark B, Gregory, Josh, Ron, Carter, Mark S. Me with Trona's ancient spires in the background Carter, exploring some of shallow Trona caves Resting and rehydration time After Trona Pinnacles we rode north along Highway 178 through the town of Trona and arrived at Ballarat, in Death Valley. Ballarat is a small collection of trailers, old wood buildings, and rusted out trucks, one of which is rumored to have been used by Charles Manson. More here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballarat,_California Supposedly a truck used by Charles Manson... The Ballarat Trading Post. Cold soft drinks and nothing else. Pee around the back. There are a few trucks, pieces of mining equipment, and unknown objects to explore around Ballarat. Mind the snakes! The awesome approach to Ballarat across a well paved road bisecting salted flats. Make sure to take time to rest and re-hydrate. There's no need to rush things in Death Valley. After Ballarat we headed up 178 towards Panamint Springs, which due to its location has about the most expensive gasoline within a few hundred miles (regular unleaded only). We fueled up the bikes and our stomachs and rode west on Highway 190 over Father Crowley Pass, where you really should stop and enjoy the vistas, which are not to be missed. This is also a great spot for cell phone coverage so you can check in, as the Searles Valley to the west and Death Valley to the east are almost without coverage anywhere. A word about wind - We experienced a lot of wind going up and down this pass to the west and it is worth noting that between the peaks of this road the wind can shift radically. Committing to a lean angle in the twisties can be downright dangerous. Take it conservatively and be safe. We stopped at Father Crowley not for the view, but from fatigue fighting the wind up that hill. Continuing on Highway 190 west we turned right onto Highway 136 towards Owens Lake and the cutoff up to Cerro Gordo. The well maintained dirt road is a 9 mile switchback ascent up to 8,000 ft. The views are awesome, of course. Now Cerro Gordo is privately owned and you have to call ahead for permission to stay in the bunkhouse there. The caretaker, Robert, lives there with his wife about 9 months of the year and double rooms in the haunted bunkhouse cost about $50 a night. Bring your sleeping bag as no linens are provided. There is no running water for showers, but jugs are available to fill your camelbaks and for washing faces and hands. Outhouse facilities are glorious one-holers with a door and a great view of Owens Valley. The town has an old unoccupied hotel with a saloon with period photos, furniture, and even a card table next to a wall with bullet holes. The best thing about Cerro Gordo was the firepit (wood included with the nightly fee). We enjoyed it both that night and again the next morning. Arrived at Cerro Gordo. Every building you see is abandoned. The bunkhouse. Bring your own sleeping bag and don't listen to the ghost stories. Night falls on this amazing place. Great for a drink and a cigar, but be careful, the temperature drops quickly. Carter was the master firestarter. On the way down - 8 miles and 8,000 ft to Owens Lake. Spectacular views and drops. Mark S., and the Carro Gordo caretaker, Robert, who was a gracious and entertaining host! Day 2 Our route for the first part of Day 2 After coffee and passing the hat around for a tip for Robert and his hospitality, we rode back down to Owens Lake and headed up Hwy 136 towards Hwy 395 and into Big Pine, where we fueled up again, before heading west on Hwy 168 up to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Visitor Center, where it started to snow on us. These roads are paved but can be crumbly on the shoulders, with some gravel and small rocks in the turns, so again, ride conservatively and enjoy the views. http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/inyo/home/?cid=stelprdb5138621 The oldest single tree in the world is somewhere up in this area but the National Park Service wisely does not identify its location. After a few trail bars and hydration we debated the weather. In April the weather was sketchy and it was already snowing on us. We could go back the way we came and spend the night in Lone Pine or slug it out with the cold front to the east, for our ride through Titus Canyon, on the east side of Death Valley, starting on the Nevada side of the border. Let’s just say we made the wrong decision. We fought wind and rain for the rest of the day heading east to Beatty, Nevada, only to decide that Titus could be dangerous in placed with the heavy rains. We were all exhausted and this was the right decision for us at that time. I’ve been through Titus canyon a few times before, twice on my R1200GS. Based on the weather and the fatigue we were all feeling we collectively voted no and feel good about the call. Other riders might have made a different decision, but this was ours. Heading back to Lone Pine with 60 knot gusts of exhausting riding west across Death Valley again. So after fueling up the bikes and warming our hands in Beatty, we looped back across Death Valley again all the way to Lone Pine and the warm showers of the Dow Villa Motel. A half dozen of the guys jumped into the hot tub to relax and I’m told that a couple ladies came buy and yelled “Man Stew!” But I don’t believe that for a second. So Sunday morning we pack it up for Kelso Valley, riding up above the wind farm north Hwy 14, and exiting onto Hwy 14 at Jawbone Canyon. Then a straight shot home. No injuries, no breakdowns, and great memories. Home down through Kelso Valley for some scenic rides above the wind turbine farm. Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRy4GjR8HPk
  7. Excuse the typos on the original post. Don;'t know how to edit a post and I was well into my Courvoisier medicinal cognac when I posted!
  8. Soft tissue damage but nothing feels broken. Going to be on crutches for a few days at least. I think I hyper-extended it by tucking it under the foot brake, and my SIDI Armada's saved the ankle from flopping around with a break. Some swelling and lots of black and blue today. I honestly think that the 512 mile ride home in that boot caused me more pain because when I put the boot on in my tent I was able to zip it closed so the swelling was under control, but when I got home to California 9 hours later the foot was swelled inside the boot and I had trouble getting it off. I had blisters around the ankle and the lower shin that I didn't have in the morning and they had popped sometime on the ride, so needless to say, that was pretty painful. Now I'm on the RICE regimen (Thanks to Sharif Massoud at Overland for this acronym): Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Thanks for asking.
  9. So this is an 8 minute vid of the prep and ride up to Overland Expo West 2015 near Flagstaff, AZ. I ride up from Orange County, California with Eric Hall, Kim Krause, and Jessica Washburn. No pics of the snow, but I'm sure the other folks have some they'll contribute. Enjoy ...
  10. Narrative later but wanted to post this as soon as I had it roughed up.
  11. The next day we were on our way home and stopped by Trona Pinnacles to discover how to get lost form each-other within a quarter mile. We did a good job and wasted an hour trying to find each other. After all this adventure we were rewarded with rain and hail on our way home. Like I said, a very eventful weekend and one that makes you reflect on what we do and how we do it. Video later… thinking Rodrigo and Gabriella for the soundtrack. Stay tuned.
  • Create New...