The Americas 2013

A Motorcycle Diary

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5 September 2013

05 Sep

You have probably been wondering what the delay in the last weeks worth of posting has been all about. Some may even have become concerned at the lack of update that caused people to send worried emails and sms’s querying our whereabouts! The simple fact is that the administration of finishing up the trip and making all the associated arrangements has resulted in the delay, and if the truth be told, I have been resisting writing this final post!!

The ride is complete!


New York city at the flag Plaza in New Jersey with the Statue of Liberty in the background…

Today was a short ride of only 330km from Boston to New York City. I had to keep reminding myself that today was the last days ride and the sight of New York eventually coming into sight was surreal as it has always been a distant destination that we spoke about, more than we actually anticipated the emotion of it coming into view from the seat of our bike!!

Days ride

Our days ride…

We have completed 50,000km’s, or to give one a sense of what this distance represents; 20% more, than the distance to circumnavigate the entire globe at the equator which is only 40,075km, alternatively, looking at this following picture also provides a great visual idea…

Our total 50,000km ride...

Our total 50,000km ride showing the foray to the tip of south America including the rides into the Arctic circle in Canada and Alaska. The different colours represent each leg we did before returning home for a couple of weeks each time.

We are excited with the fact that the ride is over. We are filled with a sense of accomplishment and a mixture of awe and disbelief with the events of the last 9 months; events that will more than likely take a few months, if not years to properly digest and understand the myriad of experiences and implications, personal and otherwise.


Arriving at the Four seasons in New York!!



Central Park from our hotel room..

When I stand back and consider what we have just completed and accomplished, much like the reaction of strangers that hear the story, I struggle to grasp the enormity of the undertaking and this produces an odd and unsettling sensation; a sensation that is mixed with an irrational ability to understand that we wont be climbing on the bike tomorrow to ride to another destination, we wont be discovering another road or a new place, we wont be packing the bike and we wont be writing another blog post to record our ride and the events of the day! Although we are excited to see family that we have both missed deeply, the sum of this is a combination of sadness, a pinch of depression and a big dose of confusion about what has become our daily reality which is about to change back into our normal every day lives, and the fact that it will probably take weeks, if not months, to get back into the rhythm and flow of home.


The New York skyline from New Jersey..


Brooklyn bridge from Brooklyn..

The original idea for this trip was born when riding from Cape Town to Cairo back in 2010. At the time I thought it would be a great idea to ride south America but as time progressed, South became South and Central, this then became South, Central and North and it eventually culminated in finishing up in New York because it’s a city I have often visited and the idea of completing this ride at such an iconic destination really cemented the totality of the ride.


Rockerfeller Plaza on 5th avenue.


The Guggenheim Museum on 5th Ave.

What was originally a ride that I had planned largely alone with Jacqui joining me on one or maybe two stretches, morphed over time into her joining me on the bulk of the ride. Of the total 50,000km’s between Buenos Aires and New York, Jax rode a total of half the mileage on the bike and spent a lot of the time whilst I was riding the rough roads waiting in cities I was heading towards so that I would pick her up and continue onwards. Considering that Jacqui had barely got on a motorcycle in her life before departing from Santiago, is a testimony to what an amazing woman she is! The last 9 months have been amazing, but primarily in retrospect. The daily reality of this trip is that it has been TOUGH! Mixed amongst the beautiful vistas, people, experiences and places were uncomfortable long stretches, cold, rain, scorching heat, insects, stomach bugs from dodgy food, exhaustion and many less than desirable places where we spent the night! Few woman would be able and willing to tackle a trip like this alongside their man! Even fewer that are beautiful , elegant and intelligent, but the truth is that with every mile, regardless of beauty or discomfort we only laughed more, grew closer and loved the journey and each other more and more. I am truly grateful for your companionship my love and am looking forward to many more miles, months, years and decades together!!


Empire State Building..


The Flatiron Building..

A common question is “what has been the most beautiful/impressive destination/place/thing that we have experienced?”! The short answer is that no one single destination, place or thing has ownership of that title! The world we live in is spectacular and it doesn’t matter where one turns, beauty surrounds us in a myriad of different forms; the driest of dead deserts when the sunrise touches it, the slums on the outskirts of a large city when laughing children play in the rain puddles, right across to the obvious and more commonly encountered beauty that graces the pages of glossy travel magazines. The greatest beauty however, was not a physical one, but the realisation that it is a human one. 98% of the people of this world are amazing, friendly, loving, welcoming, interesting, intelligent and have deep, warm and caring souls. This was evident in the manner in which we were embraced by strangers everywhere, regardless of their socio economic status and has given me a renewed belief in us as a species, regardless of the ever sensationalised, excessive reporting on the nefarious activities of the remaining 2% of us, which unfortunately taints our perspectives of each other, and us as a species as a whole!

On the question of the Bike! You may recall that I was struggling with the decision of whether to continue northward using my KTM or my BMW which were both in Santiago after Enrico and I completed Patagonia. Well, although I started sceptical with the BMW, the truth is that I have loved every single aspect of this fat Girl and I would probably tackle any other big and versatile ride like this again with a BMW…regardless of terrain!! This is not to say that the KTM is not my first love, but it is to say that I have new admiration and respect for BMW as an all round adventure bike.

Although it was always the plan to bring the bike back to SA after the ride was complete, I have decided to leave it in New York and to return next July, ideally with my son Max, to ride the eastern and southern states of the US, thereafter, to probably leave it in Arizona before heading back into Central and South America in order to tackle the eastern side of South America in multiple short stages over the years to come, so in essence, the ride is not really over at all, just merely paused for a time! In this regard, I need to say a HUGE thank you to our wonderful friends Al and Roma Connable in Long Island, New York, who have very kindly offered to let the fat girl stay in a warm and vacant parking bay owned by them, in the basement of their very secure building!

I need to thank all the fantastic people and companies that have sponsored my charity drive to raise funds for Afrika Tikkun! Although I set a target of R500k and have only raised a little more than half of that to date, I am deeply grateful for your donations which have gone to such a fantastic cause! All this means, is that we are going to have to have a few charity dinners and other drives to close the gap and if you are reading this and have enjoyed following the ride in the last few months, perhaps you could visit the online donation page here and assist us in doing so!

I also need to thank my kids, work partners and colleagues that have displayed an enormous amount of patience with my absence whilst I undertook this incredible and soul enriching journey. I appreciate that it hasn’t always been easy coping with the long length of time and distance and having to carry what is usually a shared load alone. Thank you guys, I am grateful.

Finally, a common question has been “what next?”! Well, the seed for a trip that looks something like London, Beijing, Sydney is in my hand, and although attractive and not yet planted, it just may be the next challenge to think about once the callouses and discomfort of the current trip have faded, BUT, there is a lot that needs to happen in the foreseeable future before a trip like this can even be contemplated so stay tuned.

Thank you for joining us on our journey.

Rui and Jax,

New York, 5 September 2013.


Ps. I thought it would be good to to put a range of photos together, each of which is from a period during the trip and in a time sequence from beginning to end and supplies a great pictorial overview of how it all unfolded….

1 2 3

4 5 6.1

6 7 8

9 10.1


11 12 13



17 18 19


20 21 22

2324 25.1



26 27.1


28 29 30.1

30 31.1




34 35


37 38 39


41 42.1











49 50 51 52


54 55 56



58.2 58.4 59



62.1 62 63

64 65 66

67 68




70 71 72.1


73 74 75







82 83 84











94 95




99 100 101


3 and 4 September 2013

04 Sep

We have spent these two days resting and exploring Boston which is a city I never tire of. Although we have been, and are enjoying these last few days, we are a little like hungry horses sprinting for the stables and are anxious to get the ride over as we are now beyond exhausted and as a result, posts have become curt and to the point!






I promise to supply a better overview once we have taken a few days to digest the completion of the ride and will post the last days ride in a couple of weeks.


2 September 2013

02 Sep

Unlike many large cities in the US, like San Francisco and a few others where most restaurants close by 9:30pm and bars and clubs not too long thereafter, Montreal knows how to party!! The bars and restaurants on our street for the 3 nights that we have been here have been pumping until 3 and 4 am which is terrific, unless you have ideas of sleep and early departures!! So although we had great intentions of being on the road early, by the time we had breakfast, packed the bike and were ready to go, it was already after 10am and we had a long 550km ride to do today.  On the upside, its a public holiday called labour day today so there was almost no traffic leaving Montreal which was a bonus as it enabled us to exit the city quickly.

days ride

Our 550km Days ride to Boston…

Although it was threatening since we left Montreal, we were fortunate enough to not have encountered rain until we entered Massachusetts where it was coming down in buckets. This was coupled with bumper to bumper traffic for Miles heading back into Boston after the Labour day weekend which meant that we got soaked for the last 150km of our ride.



Our final crossing back into the USA from Canada!!

Needless to say, its always a treat to visit Boston so it didn’t matter if the conditions of the last few kilometres were uncomfortable. We are spending 3 nights here so we are looking forward to the time to explore and enjoy.


1 September 2013

01 Sep

Like any other Sunday the world over, Montreal starts off sleepy too and so we spent the day relaxing, catching up on the blog, walking around a little and just generally resting up. We had an early dinner at a fantastic restaurant and were lights out by 10pm because tomorrow we head for Boston and would like to be on the road before the rain is due to start at 10am!!


31 August 2013

31 Aug

After a leisurely breakfast in a Parisian like cafe, we spent the day walking around Vieux Montreal taking in the quaint and beautiful sights. It is almost exactly like Paris and one could be forgiven for thinking you were there right down to the Notre Dam Cathedral!












30 August 2013

30 Aug

We were only ready to leave Toronto by about midday because although we had fantastic intentions of being out of there earlier, we were unfortunately feeling lazy and lethargic and so it was a slow start to a long day.

days ride

Our 550km ride to Montreal…

The traffic getting out of Toronto was one of the craziest I have ever encountered. We had 550km to do to Montreal today and by the time we had done 100km, and were still in largely bumper to bumper traffic since Toronto, I had images of us getting to our hotel tonight after midnight!! In addition to midday heat, the problem with leaving so late is that the days feel so much longer and it is not unusual to start to get that late afternoon drowsy sensation that can only be cured by an IV fed gallon of espresso, or a hobo snooze on the side of the road! Guess which one we did!!


Packing the fat girl! Our daily 30 minute exercise!!


This was at km 75 outside Toronto. It didn’t really end for much of the ride to Montreal but it eased up considerably after about 100km.

We have always heard about the French influence in Canada but arriving into the province of Quebec makes you realise that the word “influence” is inadequate for the almost complete Francophone dominance in the area!! Street signs, billboards, traffic information and every other public literary display makes you question whether you are still in North America at all! Arriving into Montreal simply enforces this notion and coming into Vieux Montreal (The old city) brings the whole sensation home as you could effectively be driving in Paris, so beautiful and quaint is this place!!

We are spending the next 3 nights at a fantastic hotel called the Nelligan and upon check in we were advised that we had been upgraded to the Penthouse suite courtesy of the Hotel! BONUS!! Tomorrow we explore but tonight we eat and sleep!!


29 August 2013

29 Aug

We were feeling a lot more energetic today than we were yesterday so we took a long walk taking in the various beautiful sights of this interesting city. I mentioned yesterday that we are both really impressed with how the city of Toronto has managed to successfully preserve and blend in the older architecture of the city by retaining old buildings, mills, breweries and power plants that have been refurbished and incorporated into the new and ongoing development in a way that makes it stand out as interesting and complimentary, rather than as an old eyesore that should be torn down, as has been the case with so many other large international cities.




We got in the St Lawrence food market which has been rated as the finest food market in the world, where we got one of the famous Toronto Pea meal Bacon buns at the Carousel bakery for breakfast, (a must have when in Toronto) followed by the old distillery district which is a like a Live, work, play Melrose Arch built around a refurbished old distillery. The ride up the glass floor elevator in the CN tower makes for some interesting vertigo and the views from the top gives one the ability to truly appreciate the scale and impressiveness of this beautiful city.


The old distillery district


CN Tower..(photo courtesy of Wikipedia)


One of the views from the top of the CN Tower..

Because we were having such a fun filled day we thought we would end it with a bit of a bang so went to see Maroon 5 live in concert at the Molson Auditorium which was mind blowing. Personally I am not much of a concert goer because I struggle with the crowds but that said, Maroon 5 was Terrific. The band was exceptional and charismatic and was a treat that I will never forget.



28 August 2013

28 Aug

We have spent the day in Toronto at rest today. Over and above waking up with a wonderfully wine induced thick head (courtesy of Gail and Alex Muzzo!!), we are very grateful for not having to pack and get on the bike today because it has been a while since we have felt like we are able to just do nothing and get some proper rest. The cruise in Alaska didn’t count as “rest” because you would get a 7am rude awakening every morning equal to a bugle being blown in your ear by the hyper energetic crew of the Safari Endeavour, and the 3 nights in Edmonton don’t count either because of the amount of bike and admin related activities that kept us busy! In addition to this, both Jax and I have quite a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out) so whenever we are in a new city the idea of not going out and exploring every inch is considered a sin by us and the effective result is that we are now exhausted to the point that our bodies are beginning to protest loudly…granted, the extra wine of last night doesn’t help either!!


Entrepreneurial food cart in the city that drives around playing a jingle of “hava nagila”!!


Love the town planning in Toronto that has made a specific point of preserving the historic architecture amongst the new glass skyscrapers. The effect makes for a beautiful and interesting city that traverses the ages gracefully and with Pizzazz!


“Something of a building boom” would be an understatement!!

After a lazy morning we went over to a great Italian restaurant to meet an old friend of Jacqui’s who now lives in Toronto and after that is was a pretty slow day of walking around, an early dinner and evening.


27 August 2013

27 Aug

We rode from Bay City, Michigan back into Canada today and are staying in Toronto for the next few nights. The ride was beautiful but the traffic entering Toronto was Manic and made us realise that we hadn’t been in any large cities since San Francisco.

Days ride

Our days ride..

We are spending our time in Toronto at the Trump International hotel which is fantastic. We had a super dinner at the hotel that led to meeting a wonderful bunch of people that were eating at the next door table and this in turn resulted in a late but fun evening with new friends.





26 August 2013

26 Aug

Today was a wonderful ride from Marquette to Bay City. The day was fantastic because the weather was cool, the vistas through upper and northern Michigan were beautiful and we got to stop for dinner with friends Bob and Nancy that we met in Alaska a few weeks back.

days ride

Our days ride..


Dinner with Bob and Nancy and their friends Jan and Bruce.


Mackinac Bridge over lake Michigan…

Tomorrow we head for Toronto where we will spend 3 nights exploring before heading onto Montreal.