Sunday, December 30, 2012

XR Mayhem!

Day 73
Medellin, Colombia
Day's Ride: 137 Miles

I woke up this morning and changed my mind. I was going to leave Medellin. I packed up all of my gear, locked up the Pelican cases and began loading my stuff. That's when I realized that I still needed a ratchet strap. I walked over to Moto Shop to talk to Federico about finding one. He hooked me up right quick. That's when I decided that I needed to call Juan David from the XR club and tell him that I wouldn't be making it to the meeting that night.

When I told him the bad news, he told me to wait for him at the shop as he was already on his way over to see me. So I stuck around. He showed up a few minutes later and begged me to stay. He even gave me a Colombian flag balaclava and promised me stickers and free food if I came to the meeting! How could I resist?

That settled it. One more day. I said goodbye to Federico and he laughed at me and told me he would see me tomorrow. Yeah, probably.

Juan David asked if I wanted to go ride the "Vuelta a Oriente" and grab some lunch before the meeting. He promised to take me somewhere authentic. Why not? Juan David called up his buddy Daniel and we all jumped on the bikes and headed for the countryside. Juan David is on a smoking XR650R and Daniel is on a surprisingly fast XR250 (the real Japanese version, not the XR250 Tornado).

We went to a resteraunt near to where Albert and I had dropped off the Brits a few days before. I had Juan David and Daniel order for me to ensure that I got something that was really "typico".

I can't remember what it was called, but it was delicious! Beans and ham with a side of rice, shredded beef, avocado, and few things that I didn't really recognize.

As we were eating, another XR rider showed up. His name was Rafa and he was riding an XR650L like me.

After we finished, I tried to pay for my meal, but my new friends wouldn't hear of it. They told me that it would be paid for by the club. Well all right, I like where this is going!

After lunch we went out and snapped a few pics of the bikes.

And then it was time to ride!

Rafa got us off to a nice start by pulling some huge wheelies:

Which pretty much set the tone for the rest of the ride. We struck off on the "Vuelta a Oriente", a stunning windy path through the countryside east of Medellin. The road was pristine, the weather perfect, and the riders all equally crazy.

We rode the rest of the afternoon and even stopped for a little desert in a small town. I had some Tres Leches cake. We finished up the ride and I headed back to the Shamrock to get ready for the night.  At around 7:30 PM, Juan David showed up on his XR650R and led me to the gathering.

"Honda XR Antiochia" is a group of Paisas (Paisas: Colombians from the north western part of Colombia) that all own and ride Japanese made XR's. This is an important distinction as there are tons of Honda XR's in South America that are made in Brazil and are of substandard quality. The good XR's are all made in Japan and imported to Colombia. Earlier in the day I had asked how much a bike like mine would cost in Colombia. They replied that it would be around $8,000 - $9,000 used because of import fees! Considering that I bought my bike (2008 XR650L with 1,400 miles) for $3,800, that's a hefty markup!

I guess that goes to show why the imported XR's are so cherished. The XR Antiochia club consists of over 60 bikes; last night there were about 20 in attendance. They claim that they are the largest group of XR riders in Latin America and Europe. I'll admit, this is the largest gathering of big bikes (over 250cc) that I've seen since I left on the trip!

You'll have to forgive the substandard photography, my camera doesn't do too well after dark. All told, there were 6 XR650L's, 1 XR650R, a number or XR600R's, a few XR400's, and a single XR250. It was incredible! A few of the bikes had been converted into Super Motard variations. One guy had gone full black with acerbis plastic.

As soon as I hoped off my bike it was absolute mayhem! I had Colombianos swarming all over me and the XRL asking me questions and looking at the bike. I was quickly introduced to the leader of the pack, Andres, who presented me with the official club baseball hat, t-shirt, shoulder bag, and sticker! These guys were super generous!

We spent the next twenty minutes or so going around and talking about the bikes. I asked how they had found me at the Shamrock and they told me that one of their members had been surfing the internet and had come across my blog. After seeing that I was in Medellin and that I had visited Federico at Moto Shop, Juan David had gone and asked Federico where I was and then tracked me down at the Shamrock. What a crazy story! Apparently I'm a celebrity now.

After receiving so many gifts, I decided to return the generosity by handing out mustache stickers and having a tank signing party. Here's Juan David and Andres:

I eventually had the whole club sign my tank. A few minutes after handing out the mustaches, I started seeing them appear on bikes:

After the exchange of gifts we got a group shot......

......and it was time to ride! Almost all of the bikes present had aftermarket pipes and the roar of 20 thumpers soon filled the gas station parking lot where we were congregated. As soon as we pulled out into the road, all hell broke loose. There were guys riding over the medians, through lawns, and pulling wheelies with their girlfriends riding pillion. If you've ever done a group ride with a bunch of crazy guys on Jap bikes, through a Latin American city, at night, you'll know what I mean.

We busted out of Medellin and headed towards a town called Santa Fe in search of a roadside BBQ joint. We ended up blasting through this huge tunnel, must have been almost three miles long. I nearly suffocated on all of the fumes and lost my hearing due to the noise of twenty bikes.

We arrived at the BBQ place and I was introduced to some delicious Colombian beef and lemonade.

From what I understood, the beef was actually veal. For only 15,000 pesos a plate, it was quite a deal.

After dinner we all mounted up and rode back to town.

Had to make a brief stop at the toll gate before the tunnel and wait for the traffic to pass since the tunnel traffic is one way and switches directions every 15 minutes or so.

After we exited the tunnel, I waved goodbye to the majority of my new friends and Juan David led me back to the Shamrock. We made a brief stop to check out the Christmas Lights along the river.

And then it was back to the bar. We pulled up around midnight and I said my goodbyes to Juan David. What a great guy! Super generous and an awesome rider. I had a great time last night. The best thing about this trip so far has been meeting cool people and last night was the biggest meeting of cool people I have had so far. Me encanta Colombia!

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