What inspired you to quit your job and take off on a trans-Americas journey?
Over the past few years I've been reading international motorcycle travel literature. Individual blogs, posts on ADVRider.com, or Jupiter's Travels by Ted Simon. Then I came across Lois Pryce's book, Lois on the Loose. Her account of her travels throughout Latin America, combined with the practical knowledge on how to accomplish this kind of journey (Motorcycle Adventure Handbook and the wealth of knowledge on HorizonsUnlimited.com) set my sights on doing anything to make this journey possible.
What was the hardest thing so far?
The language barrier has been the most difficult for me. Luckily I have met English speakers here and there, but ultimately I needed to learn more Spanish. That is why I am staying in Guatemala for two weeks to study at a school, so that my conversations don't devolve to grunting and pointing.
Covering the miles and finding a place to sleep have been easier than expected. I camp a lot, and often I will camp off the side of the road in a secluded area. I like to call this, "stealth camping". I haven't had any problems. Just as in the states, the more rural areas are often the easier and safest places for me to camp.
Are you happy with your choice of motorcycle (KLR650?) and gear?
I love my 2001 Kawisaki KLR650. It is a great all around bike for the dirt, street, whatever. It is a bit top heavy, and it's pretty ugly in my opinion, but it has been incredibly reliable to tackle all kinds of terrain, and even started right back up after an accident at 80MPH where it received minor scratches and a broken highway peg.
I went with Pelican cases for my luggage, and although one was destroyed in my accident, for the price ($125 each) they are cheap to replace and overall easy to modify to whatever need you might have.
I've been happy with my Aerostich Roadcrafter motorcycle suit for years, and it's been great for this trip. It's incredibly comfortable for me, and allowed me to walk away from a dangerous accident with only a bruise on my hip.
Ignore those who think you're crazy or reckless. Prepare for the potential, like rain, flat tires and food/water for breakdowns, but don't over-prepare. You'll probably only know where the balance between these extremes are a couple months after you start. Your mixture of anxiety and excitement means you're on the right track. Set a date for departure, and just go!
What role did Overland Expo play in your decision and preparation?
My departure date was already set, and my preparation was under way before I attended the Overland Expo in 2009. The content of the seminars had reinforced the research I had already done and given me new ideas. Most importantly, I didn't feel like this journey was as crazy as it sounded anymore, because I met so many others that had traveled similar and more difficult routes. After the Overland Expo I felt like I wasn't alone anymore in my ambitions, and it went a long way psychologically for me to finally set off and hit the road.
I expect to arrive in Ushuaia at the end of February or middle of March. It will be the end of summer, and the potential for snow and closed roads is higher, but I don't want to arrive any earlier and make a mad rush through South America. Ultimately, even if I didn't make it to Ushuaia, and was enjoying traveling through northern and central South America I wouldn't perceived it as a failure. Ushuaia is an arbitrary destination to make for an eventful journey, which is what it's all about in the end.