We’d had a long day of trying to figure out why my bike was slowly deteriorating: overheating, lost rear brakes, broken rear suspension, and now Dave and I were sitting in the mother of all traffic jams in a city of 8.4 million people, four times the population of Greater Vancouver, B.C. Just to give some perspective, it took us just over 5 hours to ride 400 km from Huaraz to Lima. Then it took us another three hours to ride about 15 km through Lima to our hotel, which we arrived at around 9:30 p.m. By this time, Dave and I had both had minor mental breakdowns in the city’s clogged heat and bubbling diesel fumes. Dave got hit by a taxi. Not going fast but enough to give him a good jolt, almost coming off his bike. It caused the taxi to lose a headlight. The driver didn’t even get out, he just kept driving once Dave was out of the way. My bike was overheating again. We stopped and bumped it up onto a curb. With people walking around us, we stayed parked on the sidewalk for about 15 mins to let it cool down. During that time, we watched the traffic light turn from yellow to red to green a handful of times. The same red car we had been behind was only half a block ahead. We noticed a curious thing; even though one set of traffic might have had a green light, the traffic cops continued to frantically wave people through red lights with glowing sticks and whistles. The green-light people were going nowhere. This was ‘traffic control’ at rush hour in Lima.
Thinking it had enough time to cool down, I turned my bike on. Racing to try to get ahead of the traffic behind us that just received their green light, I came of the curb awkwardly and ended up dropping my bike. 600 lbs now half on, half off the road and a cacophony of beeping horns for motivation, Dave, myself and a random man hauled the bike back onto two wheels and we blasted off only to come to an immediate stop at a red light.
Many minutes later, we were on the expressway cursing along at a nice cooling speed for the bike. A cop passed Dave and was saying something. All I heard was “Cuanto cuesta?” Realizing he wanted to know how much Dave’s bike was I dismissed him and we rode on. Shortly after that another cop flagged us down on an off-ramp. I yelled for Dave to keep going and buzzed past him. We were both at the end of our ropes with the day and wanted a bed. We’d also passed many a cop on the road thus far who’d either smiled and gave us a thumbs-up or wanted to get a closer look at the bikes. I carried on until noticing the cop was riding right beside me gesturing wildly for me to pull over. Not a Thumbs-up cop. I pulled over by a gas station, Dave coming to a stop behind me. The cop came over and contained himself, even offering a, “Buenas noches,” as a start. He reeled off a bunch of Spanish and I tried to keep up. I understood Dave and I had an infraction but not what it was. After many, “No entiendo” statements, the guy gave up giving us a ticket but not before he asked me for ‘money’. Just like that in English. He had a weird smile on his face. I said no, he asked why, I said because it wasn’t right. He tried a few more times and then for some reason just took off. I think in the end he just got tired of dealing with us. It was true we’d done something illegal, which we found out later: you’re not allowed to ride motorcycles on the Expressway after dark. This would be the third time that night we’d caused a raucous on the roads of Lima. The fourth would come a few days later when, after picking up my bike from the BMW dealer after having some of its calamities fixed, my bike started to burn again. Looking down I noticed smoke but this time coming from all the pipes on the left. I saw my oil cap was open. Oil was bubbling down the side of the bike onto my jacket, jeans and shoes. They’d had to remove the fairing at BMW to access the radiator and had forgotten to screw the cap back on. I’d been following Dave, who was in a cab headed to Touratech, where his bike was having some work done. At a calm spot in the traffic, I pulled up to the passenger window and told Dave I had to pull over like now. Of course we were in the far left lane, so I had to navigate my smoking bike across five lanes of traffic to get to a shoulder.
We had been en route to Touratech, who were waiting for my bike to do the rest of the repairs. We trusted them more. They were, however, about to close at noon on Saturday. The cab driver called Touratech and told them the problem. Amazingly, they sent out a truck and trailer to come find us on the side of the road and hauled us back to the shop. We got there well after they’d closed but they smiled the whole time. Definite props to Touratech Peru, great service and nice folks for helping us out. Also to the kind cab driver who stayed with us for an hour and a half to make sure the Touratech truck found us, no doubt losing some fares and money during that wait time.
As for my bike, it’s at Touratech as we speak getting fixed up. As much as it seems to be trying to off itself, we keep feeding it love, hoping it’ll pull through.