Close to the END:
I had spent 46,579 miles with Oscar, my trusty KLR685 that I adorned with all the best modifications, including gold chains and improved doohickeys, even though you wouldn’t know by looking at it. The time to pass the bike to another rider had arrived. Oscar had taken me all over north, central and south Americas, but this was his final journey with me.
Before leaving Los Angeles, I briefly thought about I would do with my motorcycle once I achieved the destination of Ushuaia. But to reveal the truth, I didn’t really know. I had heard some whispers of legality about selling the bike down in Tierra del Fuego but most were rumors about how to not get caught selling it under the table.
The opportunity to sell presented itself just days before reaching Ushuaia. I literally rode right past it. A friend was returning in the opposite direction at the San Sebastián border between Chile and Argentina. He stopped me to say hello and how he was on his way to help another friend sell his bike. A local rider was convincing all of his friends in Punta Arenas, Chile to buy motorcycles so they could form their own club and go on adventures. They had already bought three and happen to be looking for more bikes. So the other woman I was riding with and I said yes… we’ll meet you at the Backpackers’ Hostel (which we turned in to a motorcyclists’ hostel – thank you Roberto!) in a few days.
Some riders asked: how could you sell a bike you have been with for so many miles? The answer: logically. There wasn’t a lot of emotion attached to the bike. Ok, that is partially a lie. There was, but not in the way you might presume. There was a sentiment attached to the bike, but one I was happy to be rid of. I have had a love-hate relationship with my KLR. Every year since I have owned it, I would look at buying a new bike. But, when it came down to either dropping the money on two new wheels, or traveling with the ones I had… the decision to travel won easily.
Also, there was the matter of bank account numbers staring me in the face: they were dwindling each day I stayed on the road. I left with a budget, but didn’t adhere to it as strictly as maybe I should have. So I considered the all costs: I paid $2,100 for the bike in July 2009. I probably put another $2,400 into accessories not including maintenance over the years. I have ridden it for about 46.5k miles in the course of 4 years, averaging a cost of $.09/mi, which was well worth the amount of happiness it brought me. I had the opportunity to sell it LEGALLY for $1,800 and buy a plane ticket home or spend up to $2,000 on shipping from Buenos Aires, which was still an 1800-mile ride away. And then what do I do with it when I return to the US? Sell it for half of what I paid to ship it since it is a beat up old KLR with spray paint peeling off its sides and oil leaking out of its head? It just made sense. So I became a motorcyclist without a motorcycle… aka a backpacker… and not a very good one given the size of my bag I needed to carry all my gear and equipment I had fit on the bike.
On March 11, 2013 – yes only 3 days after reaching Ushuaia and 139 days after leaving Los Angeles – I sold my motorcycle LEGALLY in Puntas Arenas, Chile. The area is considered a free trade zone. The transaction was notarized and passed through customs to insure I could make it out of Chile without any penalties. [Even with all the proper papers, I almost wasn’t allowed to pass the border. I took a bus to Buenos Aires and when passing through the customs office before entering Argentina, the authorities noticed I entered with a vehicle, but was not leaving with one. After quite a bit of yelling over the phone at the Aduana in Puntas Arenas, they finally handed me my papers with the appropriate stamps and sent the bus on its way. Maybe flying would have been the easier option.]
So, as I handed over the keys and papers to Oscar, I wished the new rider not only luck with learning to ride, but luck with learning to ride a KLR that was taller than normal. I know the adventure will continue for both of them.
Just as I know my adventure will continue no matter which bike I hop onto next…