This is the fifth post in a series that will follow Matt and Brayde Willson’s motorcycle journey from Seattle to Tierra del Fuego over 120 days.
While we don’t want to have too strict of a schedule and route for this trip, our usual “fast and loose” attitude to travel probably isn’t going to cut it on a huge trip with a set amount of time. Looking at maps and tracing routes happens to be one of my favorite pastimes, so I don’t mind doing a bit of research.
First thing we did is buy the biggest, most detailed, Mexico, Central, and South America maps we could find. We had them laminated, then dedicated a wall in our home office to trip planning. Using color coded stickers, we began to mark all the cities where we had friends, and all the sites we wanted to see along the way. Doing this alone, just about traces a route for you; simply connect the dots.
The rest of the route planning has involved talking to a lot of our friends and contacts that have done similar rides in the past. Our friends Hank and Alfonso who have ridden extensively in Mexico and Central America, gave us great tips on which roads to take, and which border crossings to avoid. Our friend Dan sat down with us one night in his map room and traced out all the roads he’s ridden during several trips to South America in the last few years.
While in Germany on a business trip, I was also able to connect with some friends and South American distributors for our company that gave me great advice and help planning the route. Ivan from Peru stayed up late with me one night, just looking at maps. The next night my friends Martin and Katja traced their route from their South America trip in 2008. Talking to people with first-hand experience has been instrumental in the planning of our trip.
Brayde purchased several helpful guidebooks including The Adventure Rider’s Handbook, and the Central America Handbook and South America Handbook by Footprints. The Footprints handbooks have been very helpful. They go into more detail than you can imagine, have a variety of city, region, AND country maps, and even go as far asto tell you which documents you need for each of the border crossings. We highly recommend these books.
At this point, I think we’ve put together all the pieces of the puzzle and a rough route has taken shape. This is by no means a set plan, and I’m sure we’ll deviate from the route often as we find new things to explore. Having a rough idea of where we’re going will be helpful in planning mileage, budget, bike maintenance, and other important details of the trip.
About the authors: Matt Willson is the product line manager at Touratech-USA. He’s been with the company for 5 years and has been riding motorcycles longer then he can remember. Matt’s wife, Brayde spent her life around motorcycles and the two have been riding together as long as they’ve been together. Brayde rides a 2007 BMW F650GS and Matt rides a 2006 BMW R1200GS