More than a month ago in northern Chile, the engine started overheating on crisp and cold days. So we took it in to the KTM workshop in Santiago where they fixed the water pump, changed out the coolant, and we figured our bike issues were behind us.
We continued our way south, trying to get to the beautiful mountains and glaciers of Chaltén and Torres del Paine National Park, but before we could reach them, Tim noticed that there were strange bubbles forming on the front tire. Though the tire was not yet ready to be changed, because of the bizarre bubbles, we knew the wise choice would be to change it as soon as possible. And unfortunately for us, the only place to do so was Punta Arenas, Chile, meaning we would have to bypass Chaltén and Torres del Paine. But no problem, we thought. We'll just hit up those destinations on the way back north.
Yet something great did happen because of that delay: we met a fellow motorcycle traveler from Australia named Luke (under the instagram handle lukegetslost), and so at least we had company to share in the misery of being stuck without a ferry. He was wonderful for a good laugh, always positive, and it turned out he worked in the same industry as Tim (as a hand model. No, just kidding. The reality of their jobs is too boring to explain here).
Once onto the island of Tierra del Fuego, we rode through the intense wind on an angle to a bay where a colony of King Penguins live year round. King Penguins are the world's second largest penguins, and they're the ones with the reddish-orange chests (Emperor Penguins are the largest. Monarchy-wise it kind of makes sense, right?). For me, this was a huge draw for coming to such a windy, cold, and distant place: to see penguins!
We were told to stay quiet, and to even turn off the beeping of our cameras. They said it's because this is a breeding colony and they're a fragile species, as studies from certain islands have shown a 90% decline in their population in recent years!
But Garibaldi pass felt like a whole other world as we made our way along the paved road that hugged the mountainsides with vistas of lakes and valleys all around.
“Well, it seems bad, but it's not like it's the end of the world for us," I told Tim. “We have tons of zip-ties. We'll just keep zip-tying it until we can get somewhere that can order us a new guard."
“It is the end of the world!" Tim said as he pointed at Ushuaia all around us. I guess in that sense, he was right.
But celebrate we did, as we met up with lots of other motorcycle travelers, who all managed to cheer us up tremendously. Yet the problem for us was that this motorcycle had become our entire life over the past year and a half of travel, and to watch it fall apart again and again was heartbreaking. It was emotionally draining. Each time we'd just try to put on that smile and say, “When we get this fixed, everything will be alright." But after over 50,000 miles of extremely tough riding (80,000 kilometers), we knew it would never be like it was when it was brand new.
That was wishful thinking.
That night we decided to check out a presentation by Ana Grechishkina (Ihaveadreamtravel.info), a solo female motorcycle traveler from Ukraine who has been traveling the world for the past 5 years and happened to be in the same town as us. Plus, she has a KTM 1190 too! We of course had to go, but on the way there, noticed that the back brakes were now pulsating on and off, as if they were affected by the ABS. Good thing we were at an event filled with motorcycle experts who all gathered around the bike, each making their own diagnosis, until someone noticed that the ABS sensor plate was bent and activating the ABS whenever the brakes were being applied. Back to KTM we'd have to go in the morning.
That was last night, and this morning we brought the bike back to the shop, only to find that our tire pressure on the new rear tire leaked down to 15 PSI overnight. Not good. So after fixing the ABS plate, we checked the tire, and found the leak on one of the spokes in the rim. The problems just never end! We were all packed to go, helmets on, gloves on, and then realized that we are going nowhere.
There are ways to quick-fix this spoke leak, but we decided to properly resolve it with the right OEM part. We just so desperately want a working bike that we don't have to worry about, and we're tired of things being “fixed" with zip-ties and duct tape. We want to be confident in our motorcycle once again so that we can do what we love: explore the world.
Fingers crossed, no new leaks will spring out of nowhere! Please send us your good luck vibes!
We'll keep you informed, and for our most up-to-the-minute news, check us out on facebook or instagram, and check out Tim's book Maiden Voyage on Amazon to see how it all started.