The Pan-American Double
Nick Sanders will create a new world record journey called ‘The Pan American Double. Never attempted before at speed, the route will start from Prudhoe Bay in the north of Alaska and go south, the full length of the mighty Americas to Ushuaia, the southernmost tip of Argentina...and then, back again....from Ushuaia to Prudhoe Bay. This will be a total distance of nearly 50 000 kms crossing 13 countries, TWICE.
Largely following the Pan American Highway the route is known as the world’s longest continuous highway (breaking only at the Darien Gap). There are no rest breaks in this ride other than a 90 minute flight between Panama and Bogota. This is widely regarded as the ultimate long distance record attempt.
Just arrived at the Prudhoe Bay Hotel, again. It’s getting familiar. I cannot believe how I recognise where to get gas, the start of the Dalton Highway and the hotel in such an obscure place. To world bikers Prudhoe, or more correctly, Deadhorse, is known as the northern start of the Pan Americas, the most northerly point accessible by road in North America. I nearly started the journey from Salt Lake City, ride north to Prudhoe then south to Ushuaia and finish in Salt Lake – same distance, same double and yet, not quite. The purists would say that not starting the journey at the top or the bottom is not acceptable. It’s as broad as it is long, but I don’t want anyone poking any holes into the credibility of this record ride.
Slept reasonably. The lack of darkness at night is disturbing. I a brimming with too much energy and don’t know how to switch off. I get my witness book signed at the reception desk. I a determined Guinness recognise this ride, on behalf of bikers so that they might have a go and break this record if I get it.
I set off. It’s blue skies and sunny but cold. The sea has frozen. I like Prudhoe because tourists don’t really get here, only travellers. Here we go. The ride to Coldfoot and over the Atigun Pass is spectacular. Wild, spacious, raw, inaccessible to most travellers for most of the year. The Ice Road Truckers truck all year, down Ice Cut, up and down Chicken Run, down Oil Spill Hill, up and down Chicken Run, up Beaver Slide. It is minus seventy degrees in the winter, a little over freezing in the summer. The lakes are still frozen and we are in the warming up period.
The journey is going to be hard, I know it. I still struggle with the relevance of it and so far wonder what else would I do with 38 days of my life. Of course it’s longer than that. I have been thinking of this route for years and the double has been in my head for many months. Hundreds of hours of planning in my head. Sponsors, family, partners, friends, children become the recipient of my self centredness. I am like Truman Burbank in the Jim Carry film ‘The Trueman Show’. I have created my own world and then invite a few people to share in it. My day includes blowing my horn at young moose as they ran alongside me. I ride at just the speed they dare not cross in front of me but not too fast to overtake and in this way I corralled them along the tundra. They gallop across the melting permafrost and into the shallow standing water, me blowing my horn when they dare veer off and for a mile or more we share this. It’s a moose joke.
The receptionist at the hotel, she’s called Berty. She was friendly, helpful and utterly not impressed with my adventure. ‘They all come up here’, she tells me, ‘all the nutters on the motorbikes’. She’s right, and going both ways is just twice the insanity. She hands me a key and go change. The food in the hotel was free and you can eat all that you want. It’s a nice twist of hospitality having travelled so far on a bike that has now clocked up 16 665 miles. What a bike! This Super Tenere seems capable of taking everything I throw at it. I cannot make it meek. The R1 had that naughty streak and whilst not that, this bike is cheeky with it’s movements. It handles every range of surface imaginable, and, without any loss of comfort. Surely something should have snapped or come loose by now, but nothing, not a washer. We still have a very long way to go.
I ride hard and quite well actually. Feel strong because the project has started. Stop at Yukon Services by the river and meet a charming couple who sell me a bear tooth as a keep sake. They live up the river a way, all year and boy are they delightful and eccentric. I promise to visit them on the way back.
Now I am in Fairbanks, in Starbucks using their free wifi to write and send this blog. 300 miles more to go to reach 800 miles, let’s see.
At 5.15 this morning, exactly 24 hours after leaving Prudhoe I had ridden 900 miles. The early section to the Atigun Pass was dirt with gravel then tarred until Coldfoot. After that it was dirt until 85 miles before Fairbanks. Ice Cut, Gobblers Knob, Oil Spill Hill, Chicken Run and Beaver Slide are all part of the historic legend of the Ice Road Truckers. It is very cold and the rain stings my face. The road is slippery and no trucks pass so I am alone. The lakes are still and the leaves of the tundra are still, but what gives me such an impression of being so far from anywhere is the silence. When I switch off the engine it is these quite moments that unnerve me. My head is full of the noise of the bike, of the noise of my thoughts, the schedules and plans, the seriousness of intent, the fear of failure. It is all of this cacophony of internal sound that pulses against the nothingness sounds of true silence.I exit the US and entry into Canada at Beaver Creek. Buckshot Betty’s restaurant is there, brightly painted and a handful of clapperboard building line the one street. A population of 80 with a small transient influx when the weather warms.
The bike is performing so well. I need this bike not to fail and oddly feel close to its workings and mechanics. It is smooth and forgiving and takes bends and gravel gently. It is tough yet friendly, not hard and quick like the R1. I ride on past Destruction Bay and then Haines Junction, turning left for Whitehorse and on towards the Northern Lodge at Munch Lake Park.
After Muncho the road climbed and fell, winding between steeply banked conifers on the right leading to high shafts of scree and the Stone Mountain itself. Further on Stone Mountain parodies itself. This is the stuff that creates legends. Obscure but credible adventurers come here to be apart, living in a caravan on the edge of Summit Lake I heard of one guy having walked across the USA now lives in a caravan. It is hugely isolated here. Either you need a love of yourself or a dislike of the proximity of people to be in such a raw environment. Yet, the sole highway, the Alcan passes through the place. Summit Café is derelict, symptomatic of the higher fuel prices that have decimated the desires of the driving public to journey such great distances. I remember a vibrant warm restaurant and pretty waitresses, now boarded windows. The disrepair gives a sad sense of neglect.
This is my favourite part of the 1500-mile Alaskan Highway. The road narrows and twists and climbs. In the failing half light, there is a blue glow. The last 50 miles are ridden very hard and quick. The road has dried and the lightness of the surface brightened in what is left of the flimsy daylight. It is 11pm but still there is a blue in the sky that has not gone black. Already there is a noticeable difference between Prudhoe Bay where at this time of year the sun never sets.
I ride to the first garage and check out the cheapest motel – Shannon Motel behind me. Steak and chips? Down the road to Boston Pizza for a 10oz New York strip. Within 15 minutes I have a place to sleep and am eating. 30 minutes later, writing then asleep. This is the end of day 2. 900 miles on day 1 through hard gravel and bitterly cold rain, 842 miles today. I am 150 miles down on my best schedule, a day up on last years run.
Location: Calgary to Salt Lake City
Distance: 880 miles
Super Tenere gets 20 000 Mile Service at Wrights of Salt Lake Location: I leave Pauls place south of Calgary at 5.30am after getting in at 1am. After about 3 hours sleep I wake up shaking. I wasnt nervous just sleep hormones confused. Paul has been a super support and I leave quickly and without fuss.
US border at Sweetgrass
There are nice names like Little Prickly Pear Creek and Pipe Dream Bridge that crosses the delightful Beaverhead River. The Montana Railroad follows the river and the yellow Union Pacific engines pull their loads from somewhere to somewhere. Always when I see such a powerful train I am reminded of the many motel rooms I have stayed in when I have heard it’s sound pass.
Lima, Montana; 19.12. Stopped for fuel off the I-15 and spot Jans Café. It is a small brown wooden building with the usual neon Open sign. I am not hungry but know because of the steady drip of adrenaline ambushing my body, I must remember still to eat. I have 300 miles yet to ride to get to Tims place at Salt Lake and food would stabilise my temporary high spirits. Id already emailed Tim from a Starbucks in Butte and suggested I arrive early morning on account of there being no way I can be ready to enter Mexico that night. It made sense to pace the trip and keep doing the right thing. This project is like eating an elephant and Im still dealing with the toes. He wanted me there by midnight. I was 20 minutes late.
Nick Enters Mexico
Location: Salt Lake City to Benson, Arizona
Distance: 880 miles
It’s like space travel, moving so quickly across America. I am in Dennys in Benson Arizona. A very pleasant man called Brandon, who moves carefully across the restaurant displays a number of bodily and facial tics. He appears normal, but maybe isn’t. Now he’s talking to himself quietly but in an involved way, answering a question he has just asked himself. I can’t hear everything but he doesn’t compress his words; every syllable is articulated precisely as he rubs his hands over and over, wringing his fingers. This is now but nineteen hours earlier I leave Wrights in Salt Lake. Tim’s team have worked through the night, replacing the fork seals, front brake pads, dropping the oil, changing the tyres and rather disasterously they clean the bike. I had hoped to take it into Mexico looking ten years old because with 20 000 miles on the clock, it’s done the mileage. Now it looks new.
It is getting light and I ride along State Street, left at the first set of lights and left onto the I-15 and then south. The bike feels solid with not a nut out of place, truly growing on me. It is becoming a remarkable machine. But I am still tired. I slept for two and a half hours in Salt Lake and the same the night before in Calgary, three hours before that in Fort Nelson and nothing before that since Prudhoe. I have completed five full days, each 24 hour period covering 900 miles. I wake up shaking and at the end of the day, when I step off the bike, when I eat and drink, I suddenly have minutes before I need to be in bed. It is 1.35 in the morning and I must leave for Douglas before six. I have allowed myself four full hours sleep before attempting to ride across Mexico in three days.
After 100 miles I see a quiet sandy side road and pull off the freeway, park the bike and lie beside it. I sleep for one hour. Five metres away there is a train track and the yellow Union Pacific Railroad hauls it’s load right by me sounding it’s horn. I barely look up. When I start again I ride 200 miles before fueling once again because that is all I do, ride and fuel. Sometimes I look around but it’s too quick to take in. I focus on the riding and not on the sideways glance. All day I ride along a prescribed route marked to the nearest inch. I never waver from where the bike needs to be. The tract of it’s wheels and tyres are controlled almost by intuition. The fast riding is not always on a conscious level. So much time is taken up riding this machine that it becomes like breathing, you don’t know that you are doing it.
I miss the highway 20 east turn-off for Pangulitch but come in further down on the 143 before Cedar City. The road winds quickly up to an altitude of 10 000 feet before dropping to the lake and then back onto the 89 south. I like this southern route to Flagstaff. The northern section is sweet, with country stores selling nothing that you need but some of the Americana memorablia that you want. There is a Norman Rockwell feel here that he as an artist captured 1950’s America so well. Further south it is poorer. Homesteads stick out all sorts of trash on badly made tables to sell. It goes from quaint to jumble to car boot along the same highway until at Kanab I stop for a quick coffee and half a sandwich. I am parked on the corner of a quiet junctions where the kerb is painted red; “move your bike now,” a policeman shouted at me as he drove around the corner. He is a rude bastard and up for a fight and I’d lose. I leave and ride to Flagstaff. Then I switch onto the I-40 west before turning south on the 17 and east onto the 10 once again for Tucson. It is 19 hours and 880 miles since I left Salt Lake. A good day and still on a flying schedule. How long can I keep this up?
Nick on 18 Day Schedule
Location: Carmargo to San Juan del Rio
Distance: 730 miles
Left Camargo at sunrise. Here it is a sudden change from dark to light in minutes. In the country the pace starts slow but in the cities it seems super charged at all times. Mexico’s economy is growing at 5% year on year, a remarkably steady rate and especially in view of its present security issues and it shows; Mexico has gone mad. The traffic at night is fast and oblivious to anyone not in a car or a truck. If you fell in the middle lane it would be difficult to estimate how many cars would drive over you until perhaps a small car with a small engine might get jammed with an arm or a leg and so cause a larger obstacle.
During the day it is just as fast but I ride hard with the rate of flow. The police have enough to deal with at trigger points so tend not to cruise looking to hand out tickets. For 14 hours I bob about between trucks and buses and quite a few cars and I only stop to fuel. Often today the autoroute discontinues so I ride on the untolled road. How the view changes. The autopista takes you away from habitations and such areas of congestion whilst the rural free highway hits every town and village and bit of junk that lies around and you start to see a life that belongs to shanty dirty buildings from where the tyre men wait for trucks to pull up with a puncture. The chicken men cook their animals skewered like a crucifixion, all stacked up and the rare daytime prostitute beckons from a doorway. I only catch a sideways glance but it is not beautiful this barrel shaped body squeezed into a lilac tube skirt.
Up the road the autopista starts once again and it is an excellently built highway. At the toll booths you have to look behind as well as in front in case someone rear-ends you. Maybe it is an old man who cannot see so well or a youth on coke. The traffic behaviour here is distinctly different to the relaxed American way. Here it is overtake, speed up, move over, turn off with nil benefit gain in distance traveled in the shortest time. In Mexico getting there fast is more important than how long it takes to arrive.
130 kilometres north of Fresnillo and I stop for a cold drink. Through the window I see people pick berries off what to me appears unforgiving scrub. Much is languid. Everyone friendly. The bike in its re-worked costume looks more muscular, bulking up the bike at the shoulders. It is less top heavy with the two spare rear tyres fastened along the side fairings. I stop again at 500 miles for an energy drink and some chocolate. It doesnt take much to keep me going. Feel in great form. Nothing hurts. Worked through my tiredness, carefully earlier. The land starts to become more productive than in Duragno province, the poverty of which is noticeable, but Mexico overall is getting richer.
At the superficial level I am travelling, I see only antipodal points of reference; very big cars and men who work in garbage, businessmen in fine suits and men who walk along the road many miles from habitation, carrying nothing only their own strange purpose. My own way of being here lies somewhere between the two.
Pan Am Double Delayed at Border for 8 Hours
DAY 9 Santo Domingo Zanetapec (Mexico) to El Carmen (Guatemala)
Location: Santo Domingo Zapataque, Mexico to El Carmen, Guatemala Border
Distance: 250 miles
A short distance from the Guatemalan border an army vehicle stops me and six soldiers get out, all ordered to search my bike and have me hand over my paperwork. Without saying anything they search the open pannier when the man I presume is in charge asks me if I am carrying drugs or guns. Do I have mariajna in my pocket, did I know that there are men around here with guns and masks and that it is dangerous to be here? They leave me alone and I ride on to the border.
Now I am waiting at the Guatemalan border post at Cuidad Hidalgo having exited Mexico. The guys are round me like flies, wanting money to help. Not that it’s a complicated process, but I know what I am doing and they are impossible to shake off. I have the Mexican stamp in my passport and retain the permission to return any number of times in the next six months. At the Guatemala side the aduana are telling me I cannot continue, that I must return to the border post from where I originally entered the country. This is a shock and I don’t understand but have to comply. So I ride the 30 kilometres back to Talisman on the Mexican side, exit Mexico once again and ride into the frontier area to start the process of entering Guatemala for a second time.
The answer is a straight no, I cannot enter Guatemala. I have to be calm. A junior manager called Pablo is introduced to me, he speaks some English and starts to explain that because my vehicle import document has expired it cannot be renewed until a 90 day moratorium matures, which prohibits the re-entry of the same vehicle in the same country until after this time. When I was last here only 2 weeks ago I did tell the aduana that I would be returning but did not specifically ask if I needed a full or temporary cancellation of my vehicle import document. It is not something I would have thought about as no other country has imposed this law upon me. Also, what is worrying, I have never needed to return so soon to the same country. Will this happen again? Every other country except for Guatemala allows you to return on a temporary basis as long as you agree to eventually export the vehicle with you as a personal possession.
I now wait in the same corridor I sat a few weeks ago having led my riders from Ushuaia to here. I suddenly face the prospect of riding east across the Yucatan Peninsula to Belize to try to get a boat to northern Nicaragua. I’m not sure there is a regular service and it would add two weeks to the record schedule. Or, I ride back to Salt Lake, fly home and start again in August.
I am suddenly exhausted and want to sleep. Central America is a corridor of paperwork and well-meaning people, one a titanic amount of forgettable copy, the other a bewildering struggle to make sense of a system that cannot easily change.
Minutes turn into portions of an hour, a thunderstorm bangs and rattles. I think back to the morning. I rose at 4am and left the hotel at 5am. The sun was up and the wind was cool. I think then about losing the pannier lid, ordinarily minor but it exposes my baggage to the weather and the box cannot be secured. On the top of the pannier lid was strapped my outer waterproof part of my Touratech Campanero suit. Losing the jacket means I am not waterproof.
I have had to become aspergic about the detail of the project. Everything must remain the same. I must touch my documents in order and then look at them again, ride a few hundred metres and do it all again. I stopped early last night, 140 miles short of Tapachula. A ridiculous sense of guilt does not address free-time well but as an emotion it has become essential if you want to move fast.
I didnt want to leave – more guilt - I wanted to talk to the banana man delivering his fruit. Then I wanted a long breakfast in the restaurant across the way. There, a young woman was hosing down the tiled floor as a little girl ran around her legs. I remember how the rumbling noise of occasional trucks was broken by birdsong and the pull of staying there became nearly to hard to break free.
I put 250mls of oil into the bike and set off. This bike is so tight. I never had reservations, just didnt know of what it was capable. It is more than tight; it is taut, like a piano string. It is a thoroughbred of a bike dressed in quiet clothing. It has a sense of understatement, as if to say, can I really do this? but my God it can. My understanding of what this machine can do has been up-ended by the experience it has given me. It is superb. It will be a world beater.
Up the road I stopped to gas up and enjoyed a coffee at the Italian Coffee Company. This is a rare but daily treat. I knew then that today is the day when I have many frontiers to cross and will arrive in Honduras at night. I therefore write for a few minutes before the day consumes me.
In that little hotel, that quiet sweet place with it’s sandy coloured façade edged in green, I was lonely, not for people, just a sense of gentleness that speed castrates. Life on the road has a rawness that traveling quickly magnifies. Perhaps in the way spilt petrol in a hot sun vapourises, moving fast could be considered like such an accelerant. Yesterday has already disappeared.
Creeping up on me is the gradual realisation that today is possibly the halfway mark of the journey south. I am on an 18 day schedule and wonder if this can be maintained?
Through the window the hills are hazy and the tips of nearby trees flutter in a warming breeze. I recognise that it is vital to get to the south with the record in the bag but the real greatness lies in the journey north. The ‘90 day rule’ is potentially disastrous for me, and has shaken my confidence. Leaving Guatemala will be the test. The officials there will have a clear view on the effectiveness of my applying for transit permits across Central America.
Still I wait and more paperwork shuffles about. I sign typed letters allowing me special permission to overcome the previous block on the system. It is now dark. I ask one of the customs girls which parts of my night route she considers safe. Guatemala has a ruthless reputation for those who dare to travel in the dark. I asked about bandits and she said that there was only a short section near Escuintla where the trees come down to a narrow section of road. Is it here where masked men force people like me off the road with guns?
It was a poorly conceived idea to suggest that I enjoy this. There is some perversity in challenging the elements and deciphering what looks like random traffic patterns, but riding down that corridor of trees would be like a mountaineer on a sheer face grabbing a handhold, knowing it will not hold his weight.
Outside, a curly haired man holds a broken coke bottle and a bag, which I think is full of rubbish. Beside him is a little fawn dog. He talks to me in a growling type if language spotted with barely recognizable English words. I hear him having lived in Manhatton and the Bronx and while he looks like his adventures go no further than the nearest bin, I could be misjudging him.
It is 19.30 and I have been here for six hours. My driving license is returned and all I wait for is the registration document of the bike, my passport and the transit support documents. I think I have lost a day. Perhaps as I ride across El Salvador it will become clear how to claw back this miserable waste of time.
As I sat waiting for the main manager to decide my fate I remembered the start of today. The birdsong made me almost giddy with calm. I couldnt see them warbling because they were small and probably hid on branches atthe top of the tree, but as a sound they competed beautifully with the other raging noises competing for our attention.
Here at the border, I am still waiting.
Slow Progress Across Central America
Blog 9 Day 10
El Carmen (Guatemala) to Costa Rica
I stand at the customs window in El Salvador. Suddenly I am asleep. My legs give way and that jolts me back awake. Its like having strings attached to you in the way marionettes are jerked to life. I look around and catch a few smirks. After 16 hours riding its possible to forget how to exist off a machine. It is like having a prosthetic attachment to your body. On the bike it is different, you never forget how to ride.
Because of the stop start nature of passing through so many countries so quickly, momentum is lost and exhaustion quickly sets in. I always enjoy riding across this small country and while it has hidden blacknesses in what looks like a cheery make-up, for me it is one big highway that winds through a jungle. I meet with David and his friend Tony, two passionate bikers who found me on face book and want to help. We ride from ???? to Somotillo and turn left onto the Pan American Highway and grab an ice cream. David tells me about the San Salvadorian gang culture and gives me hints about what to avoid. He tells me about big cars that drive up close behind and passengers that take to close an interest in what I am doing. This sort of advice has been prevelant across the region. On the outskirts of the capitol city San Jose they leave me and the last hour across Salvador is now dark and there are many trucks heaving up hills blocking the highway.
Because I am crossing Central America using a system called ‘transito’ the authorities are charging me a great deal more than what I paid journeying north a few weeks ago. The 90 day rule, of which I knew nothing, disallows you from re-entering one of the CA 4 pact countries – Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador - until this time has elapsed. It has left me no option to comply, but fortunately there is a remedy. By purchasing a transit permit allowing me 12 hours to cross each of these countries I am able to continue. Entering Honduras cost $186 plus tips to the guides and now, Louis my fixer here in Nicaragua, asks for $90 to pay for the main document called a manifest, $62 for insurance, $22 for a tourist visa and $40 for road tax. Itll be $400 for these two countries, which, looking at the rust buckets arriving at cockroach infested cafes such as the one in which I am eating, must surely be a sizeable contribution to the Honduran GNP. Coupled with my waking bad attitude, my view of Honduras dropped a few points to which the Hondurians, I am sure, dont care.
Nicaragua however is a very sweet country with the politest people. They are not up to speed yet with the needs progress inspires, and that is maybe why my spirits rise the instant I cross the border. The first gas station attendant is intelligent and able to share a joke and people stop to ask if I need help if they see me on the side of the road reading my map. Equally surprising is that the traffic is light and forgiving.
By midday I am on the quiet and almost cute peripherique that by passes Nicaraguas capitol Managua. It is raining hard and it is cold and I have two hours ride to the frontier post of Pena Blancas. All too soon I exit Nicaragua and enter Costa Rica and as it is still not dark on the border, there are more miles to be done.
Used tyres carried as spares are not allowed by the Ministry of Health Paperwork completed I head off in day light which deserts me before I reach the southern route from Punta Arenas. Costa Rica’s famed resorts line this corridor of pleasantness. At midnight I am still riding and pull up to one of the few gas stations open and ask permission to sleep beside the forecourt for an hour. One of the attendants who wears an Erryl Flynn moustache and a kind smile, beckons me to take my time and rest well. And that is where I rest.
Blog 10 Day 11
Costa Rica to Panama Airport
130kms before Pena Blancas (Costa Rica) to Panama Airport
The exit from Cost Rica is quick and easy. After getting passport stamped, The next office checks my motoring documentation whilst the adjacent room signs me off but with a suspended permission and so allowing me to return. Something the Guatemalien authorities failed to do. Sometimes I think mistakes are made deliberately to further stimulate the micro economy at these traffic points. On my permit allowing me to transit El Salvador, the Honduran officials pointed out to my guide how it directed my exit ad El Salvador and not Honduras. Normally such a mistake would cost me $200 - a months salary for people for something I didnt do. However all is sweet this morning and it needs to be if I am to get the bike on tomorrow mornings flight.
A man with a dapper moustache wearing spectacles that were almost suitable for a woman read through the succession of stamps indicating the previous progress of my permissions. Men like him sit in a state of control, not just in dealing with me, but himself. His laughs are curt and curl the corners of his lips rather than permit a smile. For me, this is a freakish inhibition which must seep through every aspect of his life and as I think this of him I wonder what he thinks of me?
I am beginning to realize that my social life is based almost solely on such meetings at the junctions where countries meet.
The chap at The Panamanian customs window is gay. You can catch the glance. Its subtle and coy, and a test, for him and me, to see if I am. Given that nothing has looked at me for weeks, not even a beggar woman, any sign that I exist other than a faceless peon at a window I suppose is better than nothing in as much he processed my documentation quickly enough. Presumably having had enough of smirking at me, Senior Panama Gay passes on my paperwork to his colleague, a large woman who looks like a pig. I quite like the way her body squeezes into clothes obviously too small for her and whilst I think she might be dynamic where it matters, she hands me the permission for the motorcycle and waves me on.
The first part is completed. I was 8 hours ahead of the record until 297 kms to go and the final frontier at the Argentine border San Sebastien on Tierra del Fuego, which closed at 22.00 and didnt reopen until 09.00 the next day. I lost the advantage and trailed in a few hours behind. Part of getting this right is working out a strategy that takes this into account. I am sorry if I have let anyone down. At 21 days 19 hours I am the second fastest rider to have completed the length of the Americas. The American Dick Fish is still several hours ahead at 21 days 2 hours.
The north bound route will be easier because borders up there are all 24 / 7. I am very confident of getting the record this time and the present holder has just been in touch and supports me. Compare 21 days to the Guinness record of 34 days....I have 100 of my clients who could do that - so I will make it a mission to have the American organisation IBF to authenticate it and select a European premier motoring organisation to recognise it on our side and will discuss also with Guinness. There is a story about why will Guinness not support a motorcycling record...
There is no reason to fail unless the bike goes down or I crash. The bike appears to be exceptionally reliable, a tremendous testiment to Yamaha reliability, I am really impressed with that. Early on a young scooterist drove into me in Ecuador and I narrowly missed being wiped in a head on. I managed to get away with his handlebars clipping my right side of the bars and sent me across the road with a tank slapper and how I got under control against prevailing traffic I will never know. It seems to have twisted the front end, hard to describe but Yamaha Santiago are servicing it for me on route so I might ask for a report. It is quite rideable but because of this balance problem it makes counter steering difficult and wants to take me to the left.
I arrived in Ushuaia at 4.30 this morning and hit 50 kms of snow over the mountains which took me 5 hours to complete. I head planted into the side of the road and broke a bone in my foot, cant walk on my left foot, but as Im on a bike it doesnt matter. Keep it in the boot and itll be fine. Big snow coming so I have found an amazing workshop and expert moto crosser and he is fitting snow tyres with studs for tommorow. Will cope with a foot of snow, should make good pictures for the Super Tenere.
I leave at noon Wednesday 29th June. There will be no more blogs until I complete the journey. I apologise for this but the record is too tight and I will require every moment riding or resting.
By the time you read this, Nick Sanders will be 10 days away from becoming the only person ever to complete three complete and consecutive transits of the total 15 000 mile length of the Americas thats the very top of Alaska to the very bottom of South America in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, three times non-stop, two of the legs in a world record time of around 46 days. This may never be repeated and for very good reason. Nick Sanders explains why..
"It was too hard, way too hard, much more so than I imagined and not just the riding but the complete lack of time off, he said, when you go around the world on say a Guinness Record, the clock actually stops while you put the bike on the plane as cargo between continents, so it gives you breathing space, but not this time. Theres only one flight leg from Bogota in Colombia to Panama City and the rules state that this is included."
Nick did not have a single day off unless you include arriving in Ushuaia, the southern tip of Argentina at the bottom of the second leg at 1.30 am; "it had been snowing because it was mid winter down there and it took me 5 hours to do the last 50 kms. I kept binning the bike head first in the side of the road but I crawled into the end of the leg recording 21 days 19 hours. To give you an idea of how quick that was, I think the Guinness Record for something similar is around 34 or 35 days, then I went and did it again going north in 23 days!
Because a strap got caught around the final drive, Nick blew an o ring so he got a mechanic to sort it out and put on metal studded snow tyres for the journey back, "wow, what a difference, I mean these guys race on ice so what they fitted turned a 5 hour ride into 2 so I just tore into the snow heading north.
"Nick is riding Yamahas new machine the Super Tenere, designed to go head to head with other duel purpose adventure bikes, was it up to scratch? Its difficult sounding totally credible when Im sponsored by Yamaha, but hand on heart, mothers life and all that, this is a phenomenal bike. It has done 50 000 miles in the hardest conditions on the planet, and fast with ordinary servicing, nothing special and nothing has gone wrong. I love my R1s but for reliability and for what it can do, the Super Tenere has blown me away. This bike is world class. It looks like three times up and down the longest and toughest road in the world says it all.
"Ive tried and tested Touratechs new Campanero double suit and it has been warm and cool just as I wanted it, basically an unusual concept that is definitely working. My Conti Trail Attack tyres wont wear out and Ive had brilliant support from everyone, first and foremost Carole Nash alongside my Held boots which have done 70 000 miles and Alf England over at Bedworth. You know, I just cant do this without them so a big thanks guys to you all!!! Lets get the final bit done."
Nick will be home in two weeks time if all goes to plan and right now enduring heavy rain in Managua, Nicaragua. Hell be through Honduras in the morning then El Salvador by early afternoon followed by Guatemala and just maybe into Mexico. The next three days will take him across Mexico before the final assault of North America and four and a half days to Deadhorse, Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.