These bikes need to ‘tow’ the line.

T – This entry covers a few days as we had no wifi to upload with and to be honest we didnt do much other than ride ride ride.

T – From Calama we had only one choice of paved road south. There was a ton of sandy tracks that disappeared out over the desert, but our bikes HATE sand and we didn’t want to overheat their little clutches too much by bogging them down to the axles for hours on end. So we sat on the highway.

The scenery continued to be incredible. It really was just crazy how devoid a landscape could be of pretty well anything. Just massive mountains and sand everywhere with a ribbon of smooth tarmac cutting through it all.

After a while the kilometers seemed to tick by very slowly and both of us were moaning about how slow our bikes were. We rode and rode and rode. Camped and rode and rode and rode and still we were in the desert. On the plus side we were back to just camping wherever the hell we wanted too which was really nice! There’s definately a freedom about laying down in any old place we choose.

Each day we would rise with the sun, pack up and ride through more desert. At one point we decided to ride into the desert for something different to do. It was quite hard on top but if our skinny wheels broke through the ‘crust’ they bogged down.

C – Back to the lands of free camping! What joy! There is something really lovely about camping for free in the wilderness. The desert here is certainly an amazing place to camp – enough hills to find shelter from the wind and the highway and beautiful desert sunsets. On our second day in the desert, the PanAm wound its way to the coast and we witnessed first hand the strange, low lying cloud that forms on the coast of Peru and Chile. It was thick and really cold, and engulfed the whole coastal area – definitely a different kind of beauty.

T – We stopped for the obligatory ‘motorcycle in front of the hand sculpture’ shot and continued on. South bound.

The camps in the desert yielded some amazing night time views of the stars and it seemed we could almost pluck them from the sky. They were so bright and seemed so close.The bonuses of being where there is no towns to spoil the night!

We had made plans to get off this god forsaken PanAm Highway once we reached the town of La Serena. The constant grind of flogging along the highway was wearing our spirits down and our bikes hated sitting on 65km for hour after hour with very few stops each day.

C – Despite the beauty and rawness of the arid scenery, we were both getting very keen to get off the highway and see something different. We were counting down the kilometres to the town of La Serena, where we would have more road options, and had just packed up from a lunch stop. We knew would reach La Serena within an hour and a half, refill the food box, pick up a new camera for Todd and then get out of town to camp.

T – Obviously our complaining about the ride being a little boring made Rosie sit up, take notice, and decide to throw a spanner in the works. Chantelle was cruising along when all of a sudden Rosie spluttered and coughed and cut out. Almost as though she ran out of fuel. Chantelle switched over to reserve and we kicked and kicked and swore and kicked some more. But Rosie would not go.

We stripped her down to her bones trying to find the fault. She had fuel, she had air, but she had no spark. We swapped out spark plugs, CDI units and even pulled her wiring apart. Nothing worked. She still refused to go.

Finally we pulled her stator off and swapped it out with Mabels. And she started straight up while Mabel now sat there dead as a door nail. Damn these stators. This was number 4 that we had burnt out. Usually they just stop charging the battery but now there wasn’t any power produced at all. I tried swapping out the old pulse generator for a new one, but that made no difference either.

C – After four hours of investigating and swapping parts between the bikes, it was time to call it. We just could not fix this problem on the side of the road with what we had. Bugger! And so close to a big town too!

T – Only thing for it now was to tow. So we tied Mabel to the back of Rosie and set off for La Serena. 85 kms up the road. We knew it was a biggish town and figured we could either get the part we needed there or order one from the States if need be.

C – Neither of us have towed, or been towed, on a bike. It was the one thing I really hoped to avoid on this trip. Oh well, there was nothing for it but just to try. We decided Rosie had a better chance of towing Mabel than the other way round, and I figured it was probably easy to be the tow-er.

After just a few minutes, we figured out the gear changes and braking and it was not as bad as I thought it might be. My biggest concern though was the constant up and down hills we had been travelling. Sure enough, we had to climb quite a number of steep hills. Poor little Rosie worked her guts out dragging us and Mabel up those hills. Eventually though, we came down a long downhill, back to sea level and into the freezing cold, damp low lying cloud. I then realised we had to deal with traffic, uh oh.

T – As we approached the city the traffic got worse and worse. Usually we can sort of zip around and fit in but with one underpowered and overloaded bike towing another it was mayhem, and it felt very dangerous. We couldn’t easily swap lanes to get our exits due to the masses of traffic and ended up going through town to a spot where we could do a u-turn and head back. Cars flashed by us and beeped and swerved all around us. It sucked. Then we got stuck in our lane again and missed our turn again, which meant we ended up in a highly congested section of the main shopping area. It sucked.

Finally though we made it to where we needed to be. Poor Rosie was cooking hot, her clutch had started slipping and Chantelle and I were both frazzled to within an inch of our lives. We found a nice cheap hostal within walking distance to some bike parts stores and decided to stay for a few nights here.

C – We ended up right around the corner from the massive Mall Plaza and after the most amazing hot shower ever, we walked to the grocery store for a much needed bottle of wine and a cooked chook for dinner.

T – Tomorrow we hopefully will be able to find a new stator and we need to buy a camera as our 3 Sonys we had have all now failed. All three with the same lens issues. One day they work, the next they just don’t. No more Sony products for this black duck.

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10 thoughts on “These bikes need to ‘tow’ the line.

  1. Props to you for all the mechanical fixing along the way. I guess it’s somewhat easier with 2 bikes so you can swap parts but it seems like you’ve been busy fixing things the whole way down so far. I bought my Land Cruiser based on reliability/ durability and availability of parts but my blog’s been pretty boring mechanically: got another oil change, checked tires found 2 at 2 psi too low. I’m shipping to Cartagena on the 13th looking forward to South America.

    • tncpowell

      Its all part of the trip for us. Our bikes are underpowered and overloaded and work pretty hard. Both of them are getting a little tired these days! Hows it going up your way?

      • Chris

        It’s going quite well, currently in Boquete Panama across the road from the only Chicago sports bar in Central America. Chicago being my home town I’m finding it very comfortable hanging around watching Cubs and White Sox baseball with plenty of beer and burgers, even hot dogs. Have to put it all behind me this week and head to Panama City to put the Land Cruiser on a boat next week.

        • tncpowell

          Nice! We quite liked Boquete. A cool little town. Nearly finished with Central America! Woohoo! Colombia is awesome and you will love it there

  2. Dar

    Life on the road is not without challenges is it? Poor Rosie! Glad you guys made it through the tow.

    • tncpowell

      We like the challenges! Keeps us on our toes. Haha. It was a weird experience being towed on a bike. Hopefully its the first and last time we have to do it.

  3. Jax

    I have also gone thru 3 cameras recently… all Sonys. The stabiliser goes after 18 months – same problem in all three cameras. Lens starts to shudder and it won’t take a photo. Is that what you are experiencing too?

    • tncpowell

      Seems to be pretty much the same thing! First one wouldn’t focus at all, second one was our expensive one which ended up with all that muck inside the lens one day and then the lens just jammed up and wouldn’t work, third one was a point and shoot, lens wouldn’t extend and when it did it wouldn’t retract, it also wouldn’t focus or take photos.


    I was in my Black Yamaha 250 with you in the hand sculpture on Atacama desert, you talk about. I’m happy to ready this. I wish you a nice and happy life.

    • tncpowell

      Hello! We remember you! Thanks for stopping by. That was a great day wasn’t it?

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