The Nazca Lines
The time in Lima was mostly spent within a block or two of the hostel. For some reason I had no desire to explore the city. Most of the moto travelers with us were relaxing and re-thinking as well. It was a chill time for all of us. Some other moto travelers staying at a different hostel had come to hang out with a couple of the guys, including Philippe from Switzerland. He'd been exploring South America and after knee surgery had given up his DR 650 and had just bought a 4WD diesel van. He'd bought it in Lima and was in process of getting it sorted for his explorations.
That evening I was contacted by Suzie and Kelvin (https://www.avvida.co.uk), whom I’d met with Michnus and Elsebie in Cuenca. They were still traveling together and currently in Cusco. Suzie asked if I was coming that direction, and if so could I bring a package from a friend in Lima. It turned out that their friend was Phillipe, and we both got a chuckle out of our chance meeting. I was intrigued how a guy from Switzerland had met them and now had a package of spares for a couple from England.
The next day while TT was disassembling the suspension, we visited a couple of moto shops. I was having a fantasy that I'd miraculously find a new jacket that was waterproof, something like a Rukka or BMW, and be on a clearance rack due to the fact that some buffoon had mis-ordered an XXL and it had been hanging on a rack for years... (Need I mention my fantasies might need improvement?)
One shop in particular, Motorrad Style and Tours, had an outstanding selection of gear, including Held jackets but thank God they had none in my size or I'd have been tempted to buy one and go further in debt. They also had Heidenau tires in the size I needed and at about $210 USD which wasn't too outrageous. Most of the gear in Peru is surprisingly close to US prices, only about 10% higher. I was tempted to buy the tire to replace the Motoz which I'd hoped would get me to Santiago. The sales guy suggested Touratech as an installer.
The shop had every color shield and accessory Schuberth makes - never seen so much Schuberth stuff in one room
Ward decided not to buy any rain gear and continue on in his blue balloon. One of the riders at the hostel had bought an inexpensive set of construction worker's rain gear and donated the new orange pants to Ward to help his cause.
Touratech contacted me the next day and said the main seal was leaking due to dirt contamination, considered normal wear and tear and would not cover it under warranty. Ivan said the shaft seal was always the fail point of wear from dirt, and I pointed out that the shock was not used heavily offroad and I'd put a MudSling protector on it from the day it was installed. I wasn't happy to hear that it wouldn't be covered under warranty since mileage was so low, but I was damn glad they could repair it and get me on the road. I find it surprising that shock companies have not made protecting the shaft and seal a priority, since designing a rubber boot to cover the shaft would be so simple.
Ivan had spotted the splits on my rear tire when I brought the bike in and recommended replacing it. I told him he had read my mind. They had the rear Heidenau in stock as well. Ivan said the Motoz Tractionator or Tractionator GPS tires they'd seen in the shop on adventure bikes always had splits and they commonly replaced them. When Michnus had seen my tire earlier, he'd informed me Kevin Chow had the same issue with splits very early on his Tractionators. Kevin had finally gotten a response, saying they would replace the tire in Colombia, however he was already much further south. My emails to them never got a response.
The bike would be ready the next morning, a Saturday, and I caught a cab from the hostel over to the shop. The bike had been cleaned and detailed, looking almost brand new. Good news as well, as he'd spoken with Touratech in Seattle and Germany and they did cover it as a warranty issue. The bike felt like new again, the suspension tight and stiff with my feet barely touching the ground since it had no luggage on board.
Sweet mama biscuits, she's clean and has new shoes!
Riding the bike back to the hotel felt good and the new Heidi's made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I looked forward to getting the luggage on and hitting the road again. Back at the hostel I again combed through my gear and deleted another few ounces. I decided to leave the brand-new Motoz front tire with Ernesto in case someone desperately needed one.
The next morning I loaded the bike with the cases, but the suspension sagged badly and was very soft. My first thought was the rebuild had failed and lost pressure. Trying to adjust preload had no effect on the sag. I'd had so many failures of gear on this trip, many unmentioned in the report, that my nerves were raw. I hoped it simply needed readjusting but visions of yet another delay and frustration swirled in my mind and mouth. So much worry, waiting and then disappointment. It seemed Ushuaia was slowly fading away in time. After getting packed we made our way over to TT and the technician tried to adjust but it made no difference. After all the BS and worry on the seal repair, the loss of the month and money spent, my blood pressure skyrocketed at the thought of waiting for additional parts or repairs or replacement in another expensive city.
When Ivan finally arrived at 2:30, he jumped in the shop and after about 30 minutes or so asked me to come try the bike. It was better but still sagged more than before the failure. He suspected the springs had sacked out and said they'd replace them except he had none in stock in the rating. The shock had been set up for my weight, plus a passenger with full luggage, so the current spring rate should have more than covered me and my gear alone. The fact that the springs were now weak and the shock had to be rebuilt so early in its lifespan for such a highly priced premium suspension was disappointing. I made the decision to keep going though the shock still wasn't 100%, but it was acceptable. Expressing my generalized frustrations on gear failures vs ridiculous money spent, it would be easy to mistake them for complaints, but Ivan and Touratech Peru were absolutely first class and I highly recommend them.
It was now 4 pm and Nazca was many hours away. The way south out of town wasn’t too bad, other than a couple of streets that appeared to have been bombed at some point, and we got onto the highway pretty easily. The sand and dunes continued and the landscape was desolate and ugly as we flew towards Nazca, ultimately riding through a legitimate late day sandstorm.
By the time we made Ica, it was getting late and Nazca was too far in the fading light. Ward spotted an old hacienda style hotel and we grabbed a room for the night. It was a really nice place with many outdoor areas and rustic architecture. It was a little oasis in the midst of a desert and sand coated town. The night’s meal and cervezas were outstandingly good.
The next morning Nazca and its famous lines were the destination for the day. The ride continued in dust and dunes and desolation, yet amazing to see.
So many miles and hours of this, the mind can't help but wonder... what if?
Dropping into a river valley broke the barren terrain
As the day wore down, in the drone zone of hours blasting across a huge plain, suddenly a lone road sign appeared "Lineas de Nazca". We hit the brakes hard and made the stop, rolling my bike in for a picture as Ward did the same. From nowhere a man appeared, as if he'd came out of a hole in the ground, as there was no hut or anything and we’d seen no one. It weirded us out. He was telling us not to put the bikes in front of the sign as we were actually in the archeological zone. It was shocking to realize we were actually riding through the lines and the highway cuts right through them.
I played stupid gringo and acted like I didn't understand long enough for Ward to hit the shutter, then backed the bike out. Ward rode his 800 up quickly and I got a shot of him as well to the frustration of the shape shifting attendant. I'd added a sticker to the collection on the sign, to which he shook his head in frustration... as if one more mattered.
A few meters down the road we stopped to climb the viewing tower and get a couple of pics, realizing how close the lines were to the edge of the highway. It was hard to imagine that these lines and drawings could last for such a long time, until I read that this desert never receives rain and now scientists are worried that with the climate change rains may come. Overhead the constant buzz of single engine aircraft called your eyes to watch, several dipping their wings from side to side in turns, likely to the nauseated half concentration of passengers.
I often wondered why the lines existed, until I realized if one lived here there wouldn't be much to do with your time except this sort of thing
We fired up and blew on down the road for Nazca. It was late afternoon and we needed some grub when rolling in, parking at a little streetside cafe. A DR650 putted past, taking no notice of the two bikes parked on the street.
The hostel wasn’t too far away, and as we loaded up, Ward noticed his license plate was missing. He’d taken it off the sidecase it was bolted to in Lima, so he could run around the city without luggage. He'd used wire to hang it from the top case, forgetting to bolt it back on when we left town. A single piece of wire hanging was evidence of the wind flexing the wire until it broke.
Ward decided he’d last seen it at the overlook and headed back to search the roadside while I went on to the hostel. The DR and rider we’d seen earlier was parked at the hostel but didn't speak. An hour or two later Ward appeared at the hotel having had no luck. I suggested getting a sign shop to make another out of metal and he agreed. Showing up at the Bolivian border with no plate, a mismatch of names on paperwork and passport probably wouldn't go over well...
A few days previous, Ken and Chip (I think) had mentioned insurance and I realized I’d forgotten to buy it after crossing into Peru. There was none sold at the crossing and once on the way into Peru and into the desert it got lost in trying to make the town for the night, never to be remembered again. Without Ward having a plate, it would be a great excuse to get pulled over by the well known Peruvian police. After thought and discussion, Cusco seemed to be a better place to have one made up than in Nazca.
The evening in the hostel was spent uploading images and editing on the generally terrible Peruvian internet.
Lima to Ica and Nazca