Thursday, 26 August 2010


Upon arrival in La Paz it was already dark, despite some of the easiest customs so far on the trip. The Bolivians officers are obviously more interested in a good conversation none of the involved understands. I still don’t speak Spanish, and they still don’t understand English. I think we made great friends.

La Paz is fairly big, and systematic as a trash dump site. As most dump sites, it’s located in a steep slope, and I arrive on the top. Obviously center of town with the hostels has to be down, so I go down, but unfortunately too far. At the bottom I realize I had taken too much advantage of the gravity, and start to work my way up again.

Easier said than done, at 3600 meters above sea level there isn’t much left of the bottomless pit of torque and 22 horsepower. The hills are steep and I get quite a bit up before it’s a lost case.

I take off the air cleaner so the beast can breathe a bit more, and plan the junctions so I don’t have to stop. After a lot of attempts and zigzagging different roads I’m in the center again. To go down took me a half hour; to go back up took me two hours.

First and third gear starts to go on strike on the way up, and get noticeably worse the last hour. They’ve caught up the Bolivian culture, and the bike is more concerned about blocking the roads than getting me to bed that night. I do make it anyway, and get to bed mighty tired.

Well rested the next morning I’m trying to find a place with WIFI and breakfast, in vain. I get met by the Peruvian and Bolivian battle cry, “No hay”* everywhere. Further, the thought of the soon to die totally gearbox makes me further frustrated.

The plan is to do the Yungas Road, the next day. The so called death road goes down to Coroico, and involves a 3500 meter climb up to 4700 meters on the way back, not feasible without the first gear.

The frustration goes over to irritation. It seems to be no justice in the world, driving half way around the world and have to skip the Yungas does not make sense. If the gearbox had broken two days later it would have been ok.

Frustration goes over to idiocy. I decide to do the Yungas anyway. I will always get down, and to worry about the ascend is to take problems in advance.

Luck is on my side as always, next day my old friends Carlos and Elenize appear in town with their Honda Africa Twin. Carlos sends off Elenize on a bicycle down the death road, while he joins me. At least I’m not alone when the trouble sooner than later will show up.

The way down goes well, despite not being able to brake on first with the engine. The Nimbus brakes were designed in the thirties when the road was built so it matches well. The road proves fairly boring and not deadly at all so it’s quite a disappointment, though scenic.

At the bottom the first gear is completely picked up by the oh mighty Father in the gearbox heaven, I can’t even start the bike on first though I stand on the shifter. It’s the second that rules from now on.

It works ok up to 3500 meters. Then I have to take off the air cleaner again, and that takes me up to about 3800 meters. From there on it’s “No hay”, the bike didn’t say it, but if it could I knew it would.

Rescue is at bay and is called Carlos and Africa Twin, we got a strap and he’s got the power in his Honda. He hauls me to the top, and back to La Paz it’s only downhill. I made it both up and down the Death Road, thanks to Carlos, just a pity it’ll be “No hay” first and third gear the next 3000 kilometers to Brazil.

*No hay is the indigenous national slogan for Peru and Bolivia, and means something like “There isn’t”. No matter what you ask for the reply will normally be “No hay”, and the higher altitude the more “No hay” there is. “No hay” is recorded in the literature at least as early as the 1970íes by Ted Simon when he tried to buy meet in Peru, but is probably phenomenon centuries old.



Bolivia startet flott med den raskeste grenseovergangen så langt pa turen, vel å merke med unntak av i EU. Jeg burde skjønt at det var et dårlig tegn. Alt gikk for lett.

Ankomst I La Paz skjedde selvsagt etter det ble mørkt, og uten kart viste det seg enkelt å kjøre seg vill, til tross for at jeg ikke skulle noe spesielt sted I byen. Byen er bare tilfeldig kastet på plass i en bratt skråning, med en rekke flotte og bratte bakker. Dette straffer seg fort når en er på nesten 4000 meter over havet.

Resultatet var at jeg endte i bunnen, og kom ikke opp igjen. Siste utvei for å komme opp i sentrum igjen var å ta av luftfilteret, skru nåla til topps og løpe ved siden av sykkelen i de verste oppoverbakkene. Etter mye ralling kom jeg meg til sentrum igjen, og fant et dårlig hotell.

I strabasene hadde imidlertid både første- og tredjegiret begynnt å takke for seg, for fjerde gang på turen. Mine kalkulasjoner tilsa at dette skulle skje først I Afrika, så delen som er problemet hadde jeg lagt igjen Lima.

Fortvilelsen tok nesten overhand da dette egentlig satte en stopper for aa kjoere Yungas Road, den såkalte dødsveien som er utropt til verdens farligste vei. Fortvilelsen gikk over til irritasjon. Irritasjonen gikk over til idioti, så jeg bestemte meg for å kjøre den uansett. Ned kommer en alltids, og tenke på oppoverturen uten førstegir ville være å ta sorgene på forskudd.

Herren så som vanlig til sine, og min gamle Africa beTwinnede kamerat Carlos kom til byen og bestemte seg for å slå følge. Det var i grunnen ren skjær flaks, hvis ikke hadde jeg vært nedi der ennå.

Nedfarten gikk fint, jeg kunne ikke motorbremse på førstegir, men bremsene på Nimbusen var designet på tredvetallet, da veien ble bygd, og matchet derfor perfekt. Turen var fin den, men veien var en skuffelse. Det var lite trafikk og ikke spesielt smalt. Terasseveien i Pakistan er langt verre, så det hele fremsto i grunnen som en turistbløff.

Det gikk fra 4700 meter på det høyeste og ned til 1200. Vel fremme i bunnen var førstegiret fullstendig hentet hjem til Far, slik at jeg må ta i gang på andre gir. For ikke å dra strikken for langt bestemte vi oss derfor å kjøre den nye veien opp igjen, noe som viste seg lurt.

Da jeg kom opp til 3700 meter nyttet det ikke en gang å ta av luftfilteret lenger. Det var bom stopp, men Carlos skjønte noe var galt og kom tilbake etter meg. Vi satte I gang en av de større Nimbus-taueoperasjonene som noen sinne har blitt utført I Andesfjellene. Etter en times tid var vi på toppen, og kunne ta Nimbusen av kroken og trille pent ned igjen til La Paz, og alle var enige om at det hadde vært en fin tur.

First known picture of Nimbus beside Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest located lake

This is the ferry across one of the straights at Lake Titicaca. At least it was cheap.

I was somewhat skeptic, but if it was ok for a big lorry it should be ok for a bike too.

Shop with a lots of nice things Bolivians need, for instance dried llama fetus´

Lama fetus is said to bring good luck, and is obligatory to dig down under houses when being built. I wanted to try it on my transmission, but the odor made me re-evaluate the plan.

Indians stick to traditional food like pizza.

Centro La Paz

The San Francisco Plaza, La Paz

To Coroico it’s 76 kilometers, and almost 3500 meters down

There are still some Lorries and buses on the old road, but far from enough to make it interesting.

I got to this point, but not any further. A properly working gearbox in not overestimated in the Andes.

Carlos is the hero of the day, and towed me with his white Honda horse to the top.

“Pedersen Lastebil” is probably missing their truck. This truck used to run close to my hometown and was either stolen or sold to Bolivia. A quarter of the trucks here is coming from Scandinavia and still has the stickers from the first owners.

Sties Termotransport used to be the biggest logistics company in Norway for termo cargo. They obviously flagged out and moved to Bolivia.

Bolivias sister town of Raufoss, Norway. Raufoss is in Norway famous for being the asshole of the world, and is pretty much like this town, plus a roundabout and a light junction.

My good friends Carlos and Elenize

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Suffering from altitude sickness and freezing crown jewels off in the Andes

I finally left Lima leaving Klaus and the Infernal Machine alone to sort out their problems together, which meant Klaus wrapping the relic of a bike in a box, throwing on some holy water and shipping it to South Africa where his cracked engine block could be replaced.

It proves easy to find the way out of Lima, mostly because I’m already on the south side of town and soon I’m back home on the Pan American Highway. I must admit it feels good to be alone, no matter how good friends you are it’s good to get a break after 50 000 kilometers and 16 months.

Peru offers some truly boring roads along the coast. Its desserts, which is fairly cold, and it doesn’t get better by extreme humidity and frequent fog you almost must cut through with a machete. Headwind also takes its toll on the speed, but all in all I am happy while driving along the Pacific.

At a gas station in the middle of nowhere there’s some tables and chairs outside. Two guys are sitting there drinking cheap rum and having a fiesta. After all it’s a Monday and no reason to not celebrate. They offer me a drink, and when I decline they generously offer me to buy them another bottle. I politely decline this too, it appears that they had more than enough already.

When it’s due to call it the day I end up in Ica. Ica seems to be a shithole, so I go a few kilometers off the Pan American to an oasis called Huacachina, thrown in between some obese sand dunes. A touristy place, but fairly spectacular and with a few cheap hostels.

As I walk into one of the cheap places I immediately spot three old Yamaha Teneres, it’s the Dutch Dangelberries. We’d spent a few days with them up in north Peru and thought they were around Lima now. When I caught them red handed at the bar they looked like they had seen a ghost, but as the shock left them they were able to pretend they were happy to see me again.

We hung out and moved on together down the coast. The last night before waving goodbye to the Pacific we stayed in Camana. It was a new record for the Dutch with hauling 400 kilometers in a day, which is not bad for traveling on old Japanese bikes.

From you leave the coast and towards the inlands the climbing starts, and goes on steadily. When you get some 1500 meters above sea level the temperature also rise and the humidity get less. The condition for riding improves.
Halfway to Arequipa we split up, they will hang out there for a fiesta while I’ll be pushing on to make miles. I got a ship to catch in Sao Paolo, Brazil, disgustingly soon.

I reach Arequipa about noon and stop to patch a couple of pinched inner tubes, as well as stocking up with water and food. It is fairly remote until I reach Juliaca, which I will for sure not reach that day. Bottom line is that it will be camping, most likely in a nature reserve full of vicunas, the somewhat retarded cousin of the llama.

Arequipa is at 2325 meters above sea level, which means I got 2200 more meters to climb the next 150 kilometers before I’m on the top. It leaves with a total of 4500 meters increase of altitude in a day, which I thought should be fine.

At about 3000 meters I start getting shorter on breath, which is normal at this altitude. At 3500 meters the driving gets tiring, and I feel the head works slower. Getting over 4000 I start feeling like a mix between drunk and hung-over, after how I’ve heard people describe those conditions.

However, I’ve never had altitude sickness, and as a super hero I should not be prone to it so I just face it with ignorance.

On the positive side the bike runs better than expected, I never have to go down to first gear. Before heading up I put in a new virgin jet and a new needle in the carburetor, as the old ones have 70 000 kilometers on it and some odd 5000 liter of dirty fuel in 40 different countries has passed through it. It obviously paid off with the new components.

Darkness is approaching and it’s time to find a place to camp. The temperature has been dropping steadily as the sun has been getting lower, but it’s still ok despite an altitude of 4500 meters. I take off the road, and find a place to hide beside some rocks.

While getting out the gear, rolling out the mattress and the sleeping bag I realize it’s actually getting a bit cold, I’m tired and freezing already. When I put on some water to boil and preparing food I realize it’s getting cold for real. The fingers are getting stiff and less cooperative.

I feel dizzy and have a headache, as I prepare for the night I sometimes loose balance and have to support myself on the bike. It occurs to me that it might not become a pleasant night. The last thing I do before hitting the sack is to boil up 2,5 liters of water, pour it into a bottle and throw it into the sleeping bag. I put on wool underwear and creep inside.

Normally it feels great after a few minutes when you get warm in the sleeping bag. This time it never happens. If I keep the head inside the bag it bearable, but then I can’t breathe as the air is too thin. Keeping the head outside I can breathe, but shakes from hypothermia.

I keep on switching between head inside and outside. It’s too cold to fall to sleep, and if I did probably I would not wake up again. Laying and shaking for a couple of hours I realized I got a poncho in my sidecar. But to get it I have to get out of the sleeping bag which means even more freezing for a while. It takes some time to man up for the task.

During the operation I notice a bottle of water is already half frozen, it’s actually cold for real and not only in my mind. I wrap myself in the poncho, get back in the bag and throw the driving jacket over the sleeping bag. It helps; I stop shivering after a while and get some short moments of sleep occasionally during the night.

The last time I wake up is before sunrise. I don’t freeze as long as I stay in the sleeping bag. I enjoy the sunrise horizontally, and start the process of getting up. It takes me an hour and quite some aborted attempts. Another two hours passes by making myself coffee, waking up and packing the gear. Again I get reminded the llama climate, even the box of wine has frozen into a brick.

Everything is in slow motion and a pain to do. I feel less dizzy, but still more like a zombie than a human being but after some energy drink with coca leaves I’m somewhat good to go at 8 am. I’ve had enough camping this week.


Højdesygens genvordigheder/tæt på at fryse kronjuvelerne af

Jeg forlod omsider Lima og lod Klaus og The Infernal Machine (den røde Nimbus) klare deres indbyrdes problemer selv. Hvilket betød at Klaus skulle pakke vraget i en kasse, helle lidt vievand på den og sende det hele til Sydafrika, hvor den revnede motorblok skal udskiftes.

Det viser sig at være nemt at finde ud af Lima, med fordi jeg allerede er i byens sydlige del, og snart er jeg tilbage på The Pan-American Highway. Jeg må indrømme det føles godt at være alene, for uanset hvor gode venner man er, gør en pause godt efter 50.000 km og 16 måneder.

Peru byder på nogle virkeligt kedelige veje langs kysten. Det er ørken, ret koldt og en klam tåge, så tæt at man næsten kan hugge sig igennem den med en machete, gør det ikke bedre. Modvind tager også lidt af farten, men alt i alt er jeg glad mens jeg kører her ved Stillehavet.

På en benzintank i midten af ingenting er der nogle stole og borde udenfor. Der sidder to fyre og bæller tequila til deres egen lille fiesta. Men ok, det er mandag, og der er ingen grund til ikke at feste. De tilbyder mig en drink, og da jeg afslår tilbyder de generøst at jeg skal købe endu en flaske til dem. Det afslår jeg også høfligt, da de synes at have fået rigeligt allerede (oversætters note; når det kommer fra Tormod....)

Da det er på tide at slutte dagen af er jeg nået til Ica. Ica virker som et hul i jorden, så jeg kører et par km væk fra The Pan American, til en oase ved navn Huacachina, lagt mellem nogle rigtig store klitter. Det er et turiststed, men det ser godt ud og har et par billige hostels.

I et af de billige steder spotter jeg straks tre gamle Yamaha Tenere offroadere. Det er de hollandske 'Dangelberries'. Vi var sammen med dem et par dage oppe i det nordlige Peru, og jeg troede de var i Lima nu. Da jeg tog dem på fersk gerning inde ved baren så de ud som om de havde set et spøgelse, men efter chokket havde fortaget sig var de i stand til at lade som om de var glade for at se mig igen.

Vi blev sammen og bevægede os videre ned langs kysten. Den sidste nat inden vi vinkede farvel til Stillehavet blev vi i Camana. €00 km på en dag var ny personlig rekord for hollænderne, og ikke dårligt når man kører på gamle japanske maskiner.

Herfra forlod jeg kysten og stigningen ind i landet begyndte. Ved 1500 m over havet går temperaturen op, og luftfugtigheden ned. Det bliver bedre at køre. Halvvejs til Arequipa skiltes vi, de vil bliver der for en fiesta, og jeg vil prøve at få nogle km under dækkene. Der er et skib jeg skal nå i Sao Paolo, Brasilien, om afskyeligt kort tid.

Jeg når Arequipa omkring middagstid og stopper for at lappe et par hullede inderslanger, og proviantere med vand og mad. Der er rimeligt øde indtil jeg når Juliaca, hvilket jeg garanteret ikke når i dag. Så den står på campering, højst sandsynligt i et naturreservat fuldt af vicuana'er, en lettere retarderet fætter til llama'er.

Arequipa ligger 2325 meter over havet, hvilket betyder at jeg har yderligere 2200 meter at kravle op de næste 150 km før jeg når toppen. Det giver en opstigning på 4500 meter på en dag, hvilket jeg troede ville være ok.

Omkring 3000 m begynder jeg at blive stakåndet, hvilket er normalt ved denne højde. Ved 3500 m bliver det rigtig trættende at køre, og jeg kan mærke at hovedet arbejder langsommere. Over 4000 m begynder jeg at have det som med en blanding af fuldskab og tømmermænd, som andre har beskrevet det.

Men altså, jeg har aldrig haft højdesyge, og som superhelt skulle jeg heller ikke være i risikozonen for det, så jeg ignorerer tegnene.

Det positive er at maskinen synes at køre bedre end ventet, for jeg behøver end ikke at gå ned i første gear. Før jeg startede satte jeg en ny dyse og en ny nål i karburatoren, eftersom de gamle dele har kørt 70.000 km, og er skyllet 5000 liter beskidt benzin fra 40 lande gennem sig. At skifte til nye stumper var tydeligvis en god idé.

Mørket er på vej, så det er på tide at finde et sted at campere. Temperaturen er gået ned jævnt samtidig med solen, men det er stadig ok trods de 4500 m højde. Jeg kører fra vejen og finder et sted at gemme mig bag nogle store sten.

Mens jeg pakker tingene ud og gør luftmadras og sovepose klar, går det op for mig at her er koldt, at jeg er træt og at jeg allerede fryser. Da jeg sætter vand over og laver mad bliver jeg klar over at der virkelig er koldt her. Fingre bliver stive og ikke så samarbejdsvillige.

Jeg føler mig svimmel og har hovedpine, og mens jeg forbereder mig for natten mister jeg flere gange balancen og må støtte mig til motorcyklen. Det dæmrer for mig at det nok ikke bliver nogen behagelig nat. Det sidste jeg gør før jeg tørner ind er at koge 2½ liter vand, hælder det i en flaske og smider den i soveposen. Jeg tager det uldne undertøj på og kravler med ind.

Normalt føles det rigtig rat efter et par minutter når jeg er blevet varm nede i soveposen. Det sker ikke denne gang. Holder jeg hovedet indenfor er det tåleligt, men så kan jeg ikke få vejret i den tynde luft. Med hovedet udenfor får jeg luft, men ryster af kulde.

Jeg skifter mellem at have knolden inden- og udenfor. Det er for koldt til at jeg kan sove, og skulle jeg falde i søvn vil jeg næppe vågne op igen. Efter et par timer med at ligge og ryste, kommer jeg i tanke om at der er en poncho i sidevognen. Men for at få fat iden skal jeg ud af soveposen, og må fryse endnu mere for en stund. Det tager nogen tid at samle mod til det.

Jeg bemærker nu at flasken med varm vand er halvt frosset til, så det er ikke ren indbildning at der er koldt. Jeg pakker mig ind i poncho'en, kryber i soveposen igen og lægger min mc-jakke ovenpå. Det hjælper; snart holder jeg op med at ryste, og får nogle små øjeblikke med søvn natten igennem.

Sidste gang jeg vågner er før solopgang. Jeg fryser ikke så længe jeg bliver i soveposen. Jeg nyder solopgangen fra min horisontale position, og starter projektet med at stå op. Det tager en time inklusive flere forgæves forsøg. Der går et par timer med at få lavet kaffe, vågne op og pakke. Endu en gang bliver jeg mindet om llama-klimaet, for selv kartonen med vin er frosset til en mursten.

Alting foregår i slow motion og er træls at gøre. Jeg er knap så svimmel, men føler mig mere som en zombie end et menneske, men efter noget energidrik med coca blade er jeg nogenlunde i stand til at tage af sted kl. 8. Jeg har fået nok af camping i denne uge.