Dakar or Bust

I stayed the night in a place Called Mancora, it’s a little beach town in northern Peru. I didn’t get to see much of it though as I had an early start and a long days ride ahead of me. I pulled out the gate of the Hostel Complex at 8am sharp and headed south on the Pan-American highway, heading as far as I could possibly go. Today is the 12th and I want to be 1700km south by the end of the 13th.

The day started out alright, the roads were good and the traffic light enough. I was enjoying the ride until I was forced off the road and onto the hard shoulder by an oncoming bus overtaking a truck whilst travelling in my lane. Nothing unusual about that over here, the bigger vehicle makes the rules an all that. It was the frequency that it was happening at though that got annoying. It’s like you’re not even there, it’s nothing personal, it’s just that you have a smaller vehicle so get you’d better get the hell out of the way. Much like people force bicyclists off the road in western countries. It’s a lot more dangerous when you’re travelling at 110km and have to suddenly brake hard and pull onto the hard shoulder because someone wants to use your allotted space.

I rode on all day undeterred to cover at least 1000km, I think I was forced off the road completely 5 times during the day and once in the dark of night which was just mean, I couldn’t even see if there was a hard shoulder to pull on to. Luckily there was. About 10pm I rounded a corner on the main road to find a line of traffic. I quickly made my way to the front to see what was going on.The second I got there a cop came over screaming at me telling me I could go no further, and then he walked off.

After a minute or two a few friendlier cops came over and we got chatting. I asked them what happened but they were vague. There was a bus parked to my left and all the passengers had alighted. I thought the bus had hit someone at first. Then the original cop came over to discover me distracting his minions. He told me to carry on but to go slow and be careful. I was intrigued and moved on as told.

What I saw was horrific, the bus that had been parked on the side of the road had ploughed into a herd of goats, and I mean ploughed. There were body parts everywhere and the whole road was covered in blood and guts. Some of the 20 or so goats were still alive and moaning in agony. I had to meander my way through this for about 100 meters. I’m just glad it was dark and I couldn’t see the full fiasco. After that I decided to call it a night and found the next hotel along the way. I had to pile the furniture by the door in my room as there was no lock. Another fine evening had by all participating. Except the goats of course.

The next morning I found myself about 100km north of Lima, Peru’s capital containing about 11 million people. I had a total of 600km to ride to make the Dakar rally and meet up with some friends. No problem whatsoever, I could arrive in time for lunch with the lads, set up camp and have a nice leisurely day, or so I thought. My first obstacle was Lima itself. Traffic was chaotic. It took me 2 hours to get through it. My GPS went berserk right in the middle of the city to make things more exciting because the bike overheating and almost getting run over every two minutes wasn’t enough. Finally I made it through and back onto the Pan-American Highway and out of the city.

Peru’s a beautiful country with beautiful landscapes, deserts and beaches and it was finally looking like I could slow down and enjoy it all, so that’s what I did. I pulled over to the side of the road in the desert to stretch my legs and take some photos. After about 5 minutes of this I hopped back on the bike and turned the key. Nothing happened besides a warning light coming on that said EWS!. What the hell is EWS! suppose to mean I thought. I knew it was bad straight away though. While I was racking my brains trying to figure out what the hell was going on a car pulled up alongside me and out hopped a man named Roberto. He asked me what the problem was and we set about exploring options.

At first I thought it was the kickstand sensor so we took that all apart and joined the wires to see if that would work. No good, we tried by passing the ignition but the starter just turned and wouldn’t engage the engine. I pulled out the manual which said EWS! means the immobilizer has kicked in. Roberto who is a mechanic and all round great guy called his friend who confirmed it was an Immobilizer problem, the only way to fix it is to take it to BMW back in Lima 2 hours back the road and get them to reprogram the whole thing.

Next problem was how the hell I was going to get it there. Roberto who has a beach house nearby went home and got his trailer without knowing if the bike would even fit. He arrived back about half an hour later and reversed the trailer into a whole so we could push the bike on board. It was no good, it was too heavy and Roberto had already broken his back some years before in a beach buggy accident. Luckily another guy stopped and helped us load it up and strap it down. We then headed off towards Lima in Roberto’s car with the bike in tow.

Along the way Roberto asked me what it is about traveling I love so much and that made me think. I hope he believed me when I said for me travellings all about the people you meet along the way and the experiences you share with other’s because it really is. You could be in the world’s greatest dump but if the people are nice it will all be worth it. It’s about meeting people like you Roberto. I’d also just like to thank a woman whom I’ve never met, Roberto’s lovely wife Monica, who let her husband spend about 6 hours of his day helping a complete stranger when he was suppose to spend the day with her. Thank you very much Monica and Thank you Roberto, I don’t know what I would have done had you not come to my rescue. The kindness of strangers will never be forgotten.

We stopped for a sandwich on route before making Lima and the BMW garage for 5pm. They were open till six and started working on my bike straight away. I even thought at one stage I might get back on the road today but it was not to be. They have never come across this problem before, there is a relay sensor between the key and immobilizer that is gone but they think the whole mother computed might be screwed up as well. I had to leave it there over night but luckily they will work on it through Saturday morning for me. I just hope they can get it going early so I can catch the Dakar. It seems like the universe is trying to keep me away from it. I promise I won’t sign up for next year, I just want to see it. I’m now shacked up in a hotel down the road from the garage waiting anxiously.

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6 Responses to Dakar or Bust

  1. Geoff says:

    G’day Kev…it will be the ring antennae that goes round your key housing..BMW had a recall in OZ to replace these but may of missed these,might be worth contacting them to see if yours was done.Heaps of stuff about EWS failures on advrider in the beemer section.
    I have been watching the daily dakar hilights on SBS/Dakar….
    Cheers Geoff

  2. shane. says:

    U should have went on an 1150!!! Them 12’s are sh!t 🙂 Really enjoying ur blog, and hope u make the rally. Eurosport coverage is great but to be there would be unreal.

  3. Hey Kev,
    Nick, Ivanka and Glenn were telling us about your dilema, what a rotten piece of luck!
    I hope you are able to get it sorted soon.
    All the best,

  4. joe the celt says:

    “I said for me travellings all about the people you meet along the way and the experiences you share with other’s because it really is”
    Isnt that the truth, it all works out in the end…
    Good luck with the Dakar

    • KevOK says:

      How you keeping Joe. Happy new year an all. Hopefully all’s well with you.

      • joe the celt says:

        Aye all well, be out of London end of March… but cant do Oz, Aus$ too high
        so thinking of retracing your tyre tracks for a bit in Canada, USA et Central
        Americo….but i’ll be using a reliable moto me aul R1100Gs 🙂
        take care Kev
        lovin the blog

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