Wednesday, February 24, 2016


In the zone between Chile and Argentina, Livermore stopped to appreciate crossing a high mountain pass. Livermore and Dr. G had been stamped out of Chile and their motorcycles officially exported from the country.  17 kilometers away from this photograph, at Immigration for Argentina, the pair and their motorcycles were government-wise refused entry, with three Argentine officials signing off on the refusal document.  The nice sunny day photographed here became a dark day for a few hours until a lady succumbed to the wily ways of sweet talking motorcyclist Dr. G.

Argentina Denied Entry, Americanized, Bidet Mouth Washer, Ozzy Osbourne Doppelganger in Buenos Aires

Two different approaches to the bureaucrats at the immigration offices to Argentina received two different results.  Livermore was told, to go away,  “Not my problem! You go back to Chile. Cannot enter Argentina!”

Meanwhile Dr. G’s immigration official answered his question about how big her husband was with a smile. While Livermore was flustering at his counter with several bureaucrats, fostering his papers, passport, credit cards and documents for his motorcycle, Dr. G was asking at his counter what kind of dancing the female official liked.

A major problem was Livermore had wrongly assumed a required document, called a Reciprocity Fee, could be purchased at the border, having failed to do so where he had Internet access over the previous months.  However, the fee could only be paid online and no Internet access or Wi-Fi connections were available to travelers at the border. The nearest was 25-30 kilometers back in Chile, so at least two days would be lost re-entering Chile, finding an internet connection and printer for Livermore to make the required credit card payments, securing a numerical verification and then printing proof and exiting Chile again and re-starting the Argentina immigration and temporary vehicle import process. It had been Livermore's responsibility to pay for the required Reciprocity Fees.

The problem was solved when Dr. G waved Livermore away from his “Not my problem!” Immigration window officials to Dr. G’s more friendly Immigration official’s window and was told to be tranquil, not to try to perplex the harried bureaucrats with his flustering, trying to circumvent a requirement he had screwed up and watch how some government workers could be friendly and helpful, not a hindrance. An hour later Dr. G's Immigration officer had provided a solution not required by her.  An unofficial Internet connection was found and unofficially used to pay for the fee and the printed Reciprocity Fee documents allowed the pair and their motorcycles to enter Argentina.
Rene Dhenin, pictured above on his Kawasaki KLR650, from Ridgway, Colorado, joined the “RTW Motorcycle Rally Adventure Team” in Bariloche, Argentina.   Celebratory fist bumping after having successfully reaching Ushuaia and the southernmost point on the continent of South America, Dhenin did not realize until the bill came for the celebration dinner that his joining the team meant as a newbie he was responsible for paying because he jumped the Start in Bogota, leaving before the Clancy banner waved off the entrants for the official beginning. It was a large bill that included some pricey Argentine squeezing of grapes ordered by Livermore.
Americanization could not easily be shaken off as the pair entered Spanish Argentina. One was lusting for farm style bacon and eggs for his breakfast, pooh-poohing the fruit, cereal, toast, pastries, juices and rich coffee offered each morning as part of their hotel charge.  Someone could almost imagine him including the words “Denny’s Grand Slam, Denny’s Grand Slam, Denny’s Grand Slam” during his evening ablutions and prayers, if not mumbled while dreaming.

Pictured is a typical breakfast offering at a moderately priced Argentine hotel.  While one of the pair prepared his own coffee in his hotel room with the portable hot water maker, cup and coffee he carried, the other took advantage of the large breakfast selection, powered up for the morning and before leaving made two sandwiches from the ham, cheese and fresh bread which he pocketed and snacked on during the day.
Another noted difference upon entering Argentina was the addition of a bidet in the bathrooms of hotels, motels and hostels.  A bidet was not a toilet appliance either had seen growing up in Indiana, Montana or when passing through Kansas.  Noting the unique fixture, Dr. G said to the Livermore at dinner one evening, “You see the bidet in your bathroom?”

“Bid what?” replied Livermore.

“That porcelain apparatus next to the toilet with the handles and drain, the one mounted on the floor.”

“Oh yeah, I used it last night and this morning. Kind of like what is next to the chair in the dentist’s office, only there you can’t adjust the water temperature or power flow. First time I used it I nearly blew off my glasses, gave my face a good washing. ”

A Frenchman at the next table, overhearing the American's conversation, leaned over and injected himself into the pair’s conversation by haughtily saying, “It’s pronounced “bit day” and is for washing your genital, perineal areas and inner buttocks.”

Oui,” said one of the Americanized pair, smiling at his worldly display of the French language and global hygienic knowledge.

The other, wanting not to appear too much from Kansas, said, “Just cuz I’ve been using it for washing my mouth out after brushing my teeth doesn’t mean I don’t know what perineal means, Mr. Pepe Le Pew.” 

This rather unique bidet/toilet combination is what gave the one of the farm grown Americans in Argentina grounds for liking it to the mouth wash mechanisms in his dentist’s office, and which nearly blew off his glasses when he first applied farm boy strength to adjusting the water flow and temperature, while bending over face down to see the knobs close up.
The most common motorcycles seen as Livermore and Dr. G entered Argentina’s famed Patagonia area were BMWs. Whether in a group on a fully supported and guided tour or roaming alone, one or two-up, the Bavarian motorcycles were seemingly the brand of choice.  Dr. G, a certified BMW mechanic and Adventure Editor-at-Large for Kawasaki’s ACCELERATE magazine, admitted to being an agnostic when asked which brand of motorcycle was his favorite for adventure touring or travel.  Livermore, a collector of Honda GL650s, admitted to his persuasion, and particularly so for the turbo charged 1983 models. Both would often engage in conversation with other motorcycle travelers regarding their choice of motorcycle and tires for the often difficult roads of Argentina.
An Argentine street dog sniffed around Dr. G’s and Livermore’s old (1983) Honda motorcycles while they were trading road stories and motorcycle preferences with a BMW owner.  Livermore said, “You meet the nicest people on a Honda.” A certain amount of German quality, and paid high price, was being proffered by the BMW owner, until the Spanish dog chose the Bavarian rear wheel to water as pictured here.  Dr. G said, as the dog wandered away, “Well, I guess that tells us what one inhabitant of Argentina thinks about what is expensively marketed as ‘the ultimate riding machine.’” 
With no schedule other than a due date for their next scheduled pit stop, Livermore and Dr. G were free to pursue routes and travel roads seldom taken by foreign motorcyclists through southern Argentina.  90% of the motorcyclists they met between Buenos Aires and Patagonia were either coming or going to Ushuaia.  Dr. G had been there twice before and recent reports of his scratched name and date still being visible on the back of a certain national park sign where he carved them in 1997 meant he needed not to make his mark again.  Livermore, after enduring several days of cold and Casper, Wyoming-like winds across the pampas of Patagonia, wanted to vector northward towards bikini wearing sun bathers, a suggestion that passed by a vote of 1-0.

A surprise below the Rio Negro in Patagonia was the lack of gasoline, resulting in several instances long lines.  While the Honda GL650s would run equally well on all octane levels of gas at the stations, Dr. G and Livermore sometimes had to wait for an hour or longer for their 4-5 gallons as jumping ahead in the line for motorcycles was not accepted.  A road rumor was that further south a crashed tanker truck had left several gas stations empty with cars and motorcycles waiting several days for a replacement tanker to arrive, waiting where there was no lodging, no restaurants, and no bikini wearing sun bathers. Dr. G said, "I'm for it, sounds like adventure."  Livermore said, "Nah, I'm for adventure in a Marriott or Hilton hotel in Buenos Aires."
The last travel bump in the road around Argentina was within a mile of the pair’s targeted hotel in Buenos Aires. Livermore had reserved rooms with safe motorcycle parking at a hotel that was, as he stated, "across the street from a Starbucks." Dr. G failed to make note of the hotel name or address and, as they approached a multi-level highway interchange, the reservation-maker, following behind his non-knowing pal, vectored off to the right while Dr. G went left. 

Two hours later the frustrated, tired, hot, and no-GPS or telephone carrying Dr. G finally found the right Starbucks.  He did so by riding in wider ranging circles through the lower bowels of Buenos Aires, asking taxi cab drivers and hoteliers where the nearest Starbucks was, while learning there were several of the Americanized coffee cafes in the greater area of 13,000,000 people in Buenos Aires. His moral to the afternoon of wandering urban adventure riding, looking for his Americanized coffee junkie riding pal was, “You can take some men out of America but you can’t take Americanization out of the man, or his addiction to Toasted White Chocolate Mocha With Soy Milk."

A surprise visit from Sandra and Javier Kaper, motorcycle gurus and shipping experts based in Buenos Aires, was an enjoyable meeting for Dr. G.  He had met the pair 10 years earlier on his second journey through South America and been in contact with them, often through third parties, some even sending him photographs of motorcycle parts he had left in Buenos Aires at the motorcycle shop Javier then operated.  Dr. G autographed a copy of his latest best-selling book, DOWN AND OUT IN PATAGONIA, KAMCHATKA, AND TIMBUKTU and the trio caught up on ten years of their lives, road tales and traded or dispelled gossip.
Several times in Argentina Dr. G was misidentified as Ozzy Osbourne. Once was when an American tourist said, “Has anyone ever told you that you look like Ozzy Osbourne?”  A second time was when a passerby in their hotel pointed at Dr. G and said to her husband, “Look, there’s Ozzy Osbourne!” A third time, an attractive waitress in a restaurant asked Dr. G, “Are you a rock star? Ozzy Osbourne?” 

Dr. G, not one to pass on a compliment, especially from a pretty lady, rose to the bait and replied, “I’m no rock star, I’m Ozzy’s doppelganger. When Ozzy is sick, or too far out in space to go on stage, I take his place.  He’s the rock star; I’m just the back-up guy.”

The waitress said, “That’s soooo cool, and you’re so humble.  That’s very nice of you.  Would you give me your autograph?”

Dr. G, author of the book MOTORCYCLE SEX, thought for a few seconds, and said in the spirit of being Ozzy and the published authority on the topic of his book , “OK, but only if I can write the autograph on your ************.”

The waitress blushed, then said “OK,” and lifted up her tank top and supporting garment to bare skin where Dr. G wrote with a flourish, while using both hands, OZZY2.
Photo of Argentina Ozzy Osbourne doppelganger. So wrong, but soooo funny.
Both 33 year-old Honda motorcycles and young-at-heart drivers completed the second stage of The Great Around The World Motorcycle Adventure Rally in Argentina. Livermore, here displaying the banner from Ireland and carried on the The Clancy Centenary Ride, was already making a check-list of what he wanted to pack and carry for their next stage, Africa.  Dr. G, having been to Africa several times before, dryly said of the what Livermore could expect compared to South America, “I believe when Stanley finally found Livingstone in 1871, sitting on a commode, he not only said, ‘Dr. Livingstone, I presume?’ but added, ‘Is it true you carried that toilet and seat the entire way?’”   

Saturday, February 20, 2016


This rally prepared motorcycle pictured above was eventually exchanged for an older 1983 Honda GL650 when shipping costs were compared, purely a financial decision.  This rally prepped motorcycle may be used in the final stage of The Great Around The World Motorcycle Adventure Rally.


(First published in Motorcycle USA magazine, February 17, 2016, by Dr. Gregory Frazier, Adventure Editor-at-Large)

“A challenge for those who go. A dream for those who stay behind.” This is the motto attributed to Paris-Dakar founder Thierry Sabine. Whether referred to as the Paris-Dakar, Paris-Dakar Race, Paris Dakar Rally, or Dakar as in 2016, the event was originated by Sabine in a spirit of adventure after he got lost in a desert in Libya during a motorcycle rally in 1977.

Starting on January 2, the 2016 Dakar adventure enjoyed the flavor of South America, beginning in Buenos Aires, Argentina and winding through Bolivia before returning to Argentina. While some would call it the world’s most extreme motorcycling adventure racing or rally madness, few motorcyclists can afford the time or money, generate enough sponsor support, or possess the skills and endurance to go, opting to, as Sabine noted, “dream” and “stay behind.”
Because we will be unsupported by chase vehicles carrying spare parts and mechanics, we must carry everything we believe we will need for10,000 - 12,000 miles through countries that never imported the GL650.

My motorcycle riding pal and anointed Globe Rider (“Motorista Global” in Spanish on his new business cards), Richard C. Livermore and I conjured a South American motorcycle adventure that incorporated some of the elements of the Dakar, while also accommodating our limitations by folding a South American leg into The Great Around The World Motorcycle Adventure Rally. The mad design would let us taste South America, push our personal envelopes and not stay behind to be motorcycle adventure dreamers. It would also allow a bit of Sabine-like madness into our motorcycling lives.


A major part of our motorcycle adventure was planning. While the projected time for the South American stage of the global rally was targeted for two months, the time needed to plan eventually equaled 18 months.

In that time we had to prepare a budget and then find ways to meet the budgetary goals, which included the costs of the motorcycles, transporting them to our starting point in South America and then the hard costs of daily travel over roads, paved and unpaved, from start to finish.

Some of these were estimates based on relatively easy numbers like new tires and batteries, license plate registrations, and accessories we wanted on the motorcycles. Other costs were far more slippery, like how much it would cost to drive or transport the motorcycles to our start point in South America from where they were, whether we purchased new motorcycles in our respective home states or near shipping points. The biggest question was what motorcycle to use; whether to purchase new ones and outfit them, use motorcycles that we had in our respective personal fleets or buy used ones.

My 1983 Honda GL650, number 9, ready for the South American stage of the Rally with new tires, battery and imagined pre-race thirst for the pursuit of adventure.

After looking at the prices of a wide range of adventure marketed motorcycles, costing from $6500 to $25,000 along with what it would cost to outfit them, we made the decision to use the motorcycles we had used on our North American stage, ones that were paid for and did everything we felt was needed, two 1983 Honda GL650s.

When we announced that our South American adventure motorcycles would be 33 year-old Hondas, and not off-road or enduro models, many adventure riding enthusiasts wanted to know, “Why not real adventure motorcycles like a BMW GS, Yamaha Tenere or KTM Adventure?” While the answers varied from explaining our frugal economics to a Zen-like response of, “It’s the adventure, not the motorcycle,” the joking answer I most often used was, “The answer is the same as why a dog can lick its nether parts…because it can.”

Another more personal element of our planning was finding the way to take time away from friends, family, business and routine responsibilities like home maintenance and monthly financial demands. Two months outside the United States is not the same as a two or three week vacation on a motorcycle tour, and took a serious amount of pre-payment, promises and possibly a bit of outright lying.

Preparing ourselves physically was another part of our planning. Sitting six to eight hours a day and managing our professional lives was physically far different from driving a 600 pound motorcycle over a wide variety of road surfaces for 10 to 12,000 miles through varied weather conditions. While not viewing ourselves as old, we both knew from looking at 70 years of age not far on the horizon that our nights of swilling until closing at discos, honky-tonks and juke joints was in the dark and distant past.

Livermore added long daily walks to his previously established physical training and managed diet. I chose to spend more time and miles driving motorcycles, both on and off-pavement.

A month before I quit my daily business and motorcycle driving routines I purchased a complete physical health check-up to see if my internals were working properly. I had noticed over the prior year or two more and louder aches and pains, as well as some foot soreness from a wide variety of shoes and boots.

At the start of the South American stage in Bogota, Colombia, the odometer shows the 33 year-old motorcycle has only 38,817 miles on it, which some Honda GL650 aficionados say is “just broken in.”

The visit to a doctor resulted in some ups and downs. On one up side, all my tests came back within acceptable ranges, except for weight. The doctor pointed at my height versus weight numbers on a chart and said she would like to see me back within the proper range, 20 pounds lighter.

My response was, “Goodbye hamburgers, french fries, pizza, cola and beer. Hello salads and water.”

She smiled and said, “Good boy.”

After her smiled response our conversation moved from what had been my dread to an entertaining few closing minutes.
The doctor wanted to know why I was subjecting myself to the full range of tests. I told her I was soon to leave for two months of motorcycling adventure on the continent of South America, starting in Colombia and ending in Argentina. She expressed her admiration for my wanting to travel under what she assumed would be extreme conditions, and then asked if I would like a supply of pain pills for my long list of infirmities. I told her I expected to be 20 pounds lighter when I started and would use beer to deal with evening pain, and then aspirin in the morning after to soften the start of each day.

She laughed, and then asked me, “Would you like some performance enhancing drug to take for where you are traveling?”

My thoughts went to what I might find useful as had bicyclist Lance Armstrong, baseball player Barry Bonds or other professional athletes, and asked, “What do you recommend I might need as an adventure seeking motorcyclist?”

The doctor smiled again, and said, “Viagra.”

Shocked at first, I then adjusted to her sense of humor and quipped, “No need, everything from my libido to motorcycle adventurer manly end is functioning well within acceptable range.”


Like the entrants in the Dakar, Livermore and I managed our planning well enough to organize the financial resources, time and support to find ourselves in South America by January 2. Instead of dealing with the mayhem of the Dakar in Buenos Aires, our official Start was to be from Bogota, Colombia, a city we expected to be much quieter after the New Year’s celebrations.

However, as the Dakar entrants were flagged off for their first stage, Livermore and I sat looking at the deserted Customs offices in Bogota, Colombia, our motorcycles not expected to arrive until late that afternoon.
The cost of the air freight is determined by a formula that measures the weight and the outside dimensions of the crate and charging for which is the greater, so we made the motorcycles small by removing the windscreens and pulling the handlebars downward. Removing the wheels could have made the crates smaller, but then the weight factor would have been used to determine the cost, being more than the dimension cost.

After all of our planning, budgeting, training and travel we had, within what we thought to be acceptable ranges, gotten ourselves and the two motorcycles to Miami for flights to Bogota. We had arrived in Florida on December 15, with what we thought was the time needed to prep and fly the motorcycles to Bogota. At the first step of our shipping procedure the motorcycles were drained of fuel, batteries disconnected, and then crated and handed over to professional shipping handlers and authorities days later.

Within the same time period copies of our passports, motorcycle titles, and driving licenses were transmitted along with notarized Powers of Attorney. Next was a deposit of the needed funds for preparing a Dangerous Goods form for each motorcycle, UN Fees, Customs Validation, AES filing and handling fees, and included the cost of building the enclosed crates for the motorcycles and physical delivery to the air cargo shipper’s office. Payments also accounted for weight and dimension measurements for computing the air cargo fee and one other physical truck delivery to the US Customs warehouse and then back to the air cargo airlines.

At the US Customs location the boxed motorcycles were required to remain embargoed for three days while US Customs officials made sure Livermore and I were the true owners of the vehicles by checking Vehicle Identification Numbers and Title Numbers. A final transport was needed from the US Customs location back to the air cargo terminal where an Air Waybill was filled out by the handler, shipping fees paid, original titles transferred to accompany the crated motorcycles and it was then all handed over to the air cargo officials.

And then Saint Nichols scheduled an appearance and our motorcycle paperwork adventure in what I called the Adventure Quiet Zone began. Not unreasonably, no government officials or business employees wanted to miss Christmas Day, nor possibly going home a bit early on Christmas Eve. And then there was December 26, Saturday, the day after Christmas, another non-work day, as was December 27, Sunday.

Prior to crating for air cargo shipping the gas tanks had to be drained and the batteries disconnected. Here Livermore is shown siphoning out the last droplets of gasoline out of his GL650.

During the Adventure Quiet Days another rule popped up on our schedule, a technical one. Like Day 1 of the Dakar, a technical riding day for the entrants, we too had a test, that being to meet a government or cargo requirement in Bogota that Livermore and I physically arrive and be stamped “in” to Colombia before the crated motorcycles arrived.

Santa Claus had left Miami and the holiday workers returned to their offices December 28, but thousands of air travelers were still filling seats on airlines out of Miami, limiting the number going to Bogota. To add some more risk and stress to Livermore and my adventure management ranges was New Year’s Day, January 1, and a few more million travelers and workers welcoming in 2016 New Year’s Eve on December 31, but our 18 months of planning and some technical schmoozing had taken this test into consideration.

Livermore looked at me on December 31 and said, “We’re OK, we have seats for an 8:00 AM flight on January 1. The crated motorcycles are not scheduled to depart Miami until later that day. We will arrive before them.”

“Happy New Year,” I said to Livermore as we arrived at the Miami airport to check-in at 6:00 AM. The Happy went to “**** happens,” after a yellow light flashed on the electronic departure screen saying our flight was delayed until 5:00 PM.

I wanted to throw my motorcycle helmet at the departure screen, or one of my boots. Livermore’s stress meter had not yet reached his red zone, and he read me an e-mail he had received from Bogota saying that due to a possible paperwork glitch in Miami, our crated motorcycles might not leave Miami until much later, maybe days later, so our arrival in Bogota before the boxes might not be a rule problem. This was good and bad, or maybe both.

As I watched the Start of the Dakar on a TV screen in Bogota on January 2, my motorcycle riding gear still packed in my luggage, I decided that I could be stuck, without my motorcycle, in far worse places on the planet. Dwelling on that possibility, I reflected to the many times I had been stuck in worse places due to paperwork, government bureaucracy, poor timing, inclement weather, mechanical breakdowns, or just bad joss. Bogota, Colombia was good. The bad was we world start our rally a bit later than planned.

Livermore was in a celebratory New Year’s mood, so I joined him, perking myself up by knowing I was in my rally mode and off my diet. “Richard, while we’re adventure riding but technically stilled, we’re not going to stay behind and dream, this is merely a challenge for us to go in the spirit of Thierry Sabine’s designed madness. In the meantime, let’s consider this a rally pit stop, some time to chill and swill.”