Ian Coates from Hebden Bridge,
riding round the world on a Honda

Ian Coates was well known to people in Hebden Bridge for many years as the mechanic at his garage near Whitelea Arches. He has been travelling around the world for the past few years, and keeps the Hebden Bridge Web informed from time to time. We've just received his latest.

For more recent updates,
see Hebden Bridge Web Feature

Riding round the world
on a Honda

Update: Sunday, 23 March 2008 - with thanks to Christine

Still riding his bike. Just left my home after six weeks with his wife. They are in Mobile Alabama at moment after leaving us all in Florida. On march 27th Judith his wife will be heading home to UK. Ian is off to Panama to pick up his bike that's been shipped there from Australia. From there, he will travel north through many US States to get to Alaska. He is just riding the wind and loves every minute of it. I am in Florida and had a great time with them for the past 6 weeks. We are all old friends. From Alaska, he will be on his way to Mongolia. Ian has already seen over 60 countries. Now aint that the life! All the best to Hebden Bridge and old friends there. Christine (Shoulder, Blackshawhead).

Update: Thursday, 9 August 2007

Just an update. Still in New Zealand riding round.    It is winter here but like a summer day in Blackshawhead. Now been hear 6 months. Running out of new roads to ride on. Been round north and south islands 4 times. I now hope to be leaving for Panama in about 8 weeks.  All the best, Ian Coates

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I left Trinidad on 25th April as the 2nd engineer on  SY  Jaguar, a 150 foot x 450 ton 3 mast tall sailing ship  sailing for New Zealand visiting Coracao, Aruba. Then through the Panama Canal and on to the Galapagos Islands, Easter Islands, Pitcairn, Tahiti, Society Island, Bora Bora, Cook Islands, Rarotonga, Palmerston, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu. Then to Bay of Islands in New Zealand. And end in Auckland,  New Zealand in November O6. I have just sailed through the Panama Canal and the Captain is leaving the ship so the owner and his wife are on the ship looking for a new captain.

Some crew have left and they are looking for someone to replace them as well. We are anchored just off Panama City.  I am doing work in the engine room that did not get done when they were refitting the ship in Grimsby, England before the left last year.  I was going to get off the ship in Panama and then ride my bike up to Alaska, but I might as well stay on the ship to New Zealand, then ship my bike back to Panama. I will fly back or if you know of any ships sailing from New Zealand to Panama that I can go on with my bike can you let me know. I will work as a engineer if they want. I can then ride up to Alaska.

My bike is having a good rest down inside the ship. It is nearly 3 years since I left New Zealand for South America. The countres I have ridden my motor bike round in South America in the last 3 years are Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brasil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and in the Carabean Trinidad and Tobago.

Monday, March 20, 2006

From Ian Coates

9th September 2005 – Crossed from Ecuador to Colombia, stayed the first night in a small motel at El Bordo. The next day I set for Bogota.

When I was about 200km (120miles) from Bogota I was stung in my face while I was riding my bike. My face swelled up like a balloon and my left eye closed up. As I was going over the mountains and it was getting dark I had to keep going because there are bandits on this road at night. Before long it was dark, the road had lots of bends and steep hills. Although it was very dark the road surface was good. I got to Bogota on 10th September late into the night and went to the first hotel I could find. I could tell it was a good hotel because it cost a lot of money! The breakfast was so small it would not have filled a mouse. It was very posh hotel and there was more staff than guests but they were ok.

The next day I found my friend Danny Scott-Lea; he is from England but lives now in Bogota where he works. I first met him in Mancora, Peru where I also met Dan Walsh who was riding a BMW and is a writer for an English motorbike magazine. I fitted new rear wheel bearings and repaired his rear brake master cylinder. Dan Walsh can drink more beer than a bus full of Irish Navies and still walk home. He is a good lad. Danny Scott-Lea took me back to his house then to the hospital. They were very good. I got an injection and some tablets to take and I had to go back the next day. Danny’s grandfather was a double Isle Man TT winner by default.  

Danny looked after me at his house in Bogota very well. When my face and eye was better I set off for Medellin on 21st October 2005. On the road from Bogota to Madellin I left the main road at a town called Honda and went on the country road to Medellin and over the mountains.

Just as I left Honda my clutch cable broke. It was the original cable and never been oiled. My bike is a 1992 and done about 100,000 miles from new when it broke. As I was not riding in traffic I could ride ok without any clutch and change gears. The only trouble was that when I had to stop at army checkpoints and there are a lot of them I had to get them to push me off so I could get the bike in gear with the engine running so it did not do any damage to the gearbox. Once I was going I could change gear ok.

Once or twice when I had to stop in villages and towns I had to get the locals to give me a push they all thought it was funny and had a good laugh; they were all very good and helpful. When I was about 20 miles from Medellin it started to go dark and rain very hard and a lot of traffic on now the busy main road. I had been given the address and telephone number of a motorbike sales garage and the owner is a long distance motorbiker as well. The name of the garage is Route 40. I gave them a call but they only sold bikes. They got another garage to give me a call. The other garage’s name is Moto Angel, the owners are Carlo Mesa (Engine Head) and Hector A. Angel. I told them that my clutch cable had broken on my 1992 Honda Africa Twin and told them where I was and about half an hour later two mechanics on a motorbike arrived with a new universal inner cable with a solderless nipple for the clutch arm end. It took them about half an hour to fit it then they said I had to follow them back to their garage in Medellin.

When I got there it was dark and raining very hard. They said I could leave my motorbike there and one of the men took me to guesthouse in Medellin called Casa Kiwi. The owner’s mother is from New Zealand. The owner is also a long distance motorbike rider and his motorbike was at the same garage as mine. It was being serviced and many other jobs were being done on it.

There were other long distance riders staying at the guesthouse. There was some round the world motorbikers' motorbikes in the same garage as mine being repaired, some with major engine and gearbox repairs. When I went back the next day they said they would put my spare genuine Honda clutch cable on and could take the universal one they fitted with me as a spare. I said that’s ok. As the broken clutch cable had lasted 14 years and about 100,000 miles if the new one lasted that long I am 62 now I would be 76 when the new one might break and another 100,00 miles and I would still have the temporary universal one.

So I left my bike with them for a few days. When they told me that my bike was ready I went back to there garage and they had serviced my bike, stripped my front brake callipers and cleaned them up and lots of other jobs. And at the weekend took me for long rides in the mountains and countryside, I went with Carlos Mesa (Engine Head).

As I am a mechanic on 4x4s, wagons and excavators I can tell when I watch another mechanic work if they are ok. Carlos Mesa and his partner Hector A. Angel and all the mechanics at Moto Angel are very good, the workshop and equipment are good also. It is one of the best motorbike bike garages I have seen. The other one was Mc Iver and Veitch’s in Dunedin, New Zealand. When I was in the workshop of Moto Angel I met Juan Carlos Posada who owns La Revista De Motos, it is a motorbike magazine in Medellin  Colombia. He said that he and one of his reporters whose name is Daniel would take me for a ride and show me around. He also took photos of me and wrote a story about me in his motor bike magazine. All the time I was in Colombia I had no trouble at all.

The Customs, Immigration, Army, Police and the people were all very good, helpful and kind. I enjoyed myself all the time I was there.

From Colombia I rode to Venezuela. I got there on 1st October and stayed at Merida, the main town in this part of Venezuela the first night and rode around there for 5 days. Then I rode up to Aricagua it is high in the mountains the road from Merida to Aricagua turns into a track after 1 hour as it goes zig-zang up and down the steep mountains and follows the river deep in the narrow valley bottom.

The track gets blocked with land slides or just gets swept away by the landslides down the steep mountain sides and this happens often in the rainy season and it was the rainy season when I was there in the rainy season, it can take from 4hours up to days to get from Merida to the small village of Aricagua although it is a small village it is the only one in this area for all the small farms that are spread all over this mountain region. When I was there it rained nearly everyday for about 4 hours mostly only lightly but sometime all day and very hard thunder storms and lots of lightening that’s when there was lots of landslides.

When it rains hard the electricity goes off and can be off for 1 hour or up to 5 or 6 days, when it goes off for a long time there is no water in the village. The 4x4 that they all use in this region are Toyotas but they will not get to all the small farm so they use mules, donkeys and horses or just walk. A lot of the tracks are too bad for my bike so I had to do a lot of walking I went all over this region when I was there. I was in Aricagua for 53 days from 6th October to 27th November. I enjoyed all the time I was there. It was very wild and beautiful. All the people were very kind and helpful while I was staying there. I stayed in a small motel attached to the school and run by the school it was very basic but clean and the family who ran it were very good to me. From Aricagua I went back to Merida. It only took me 5hr as the track was not too bad only blocked a bit in one place and I could ride over it just.

On 2nd December, from Merida I rode south to find where the river Orinoco starts in Venezuela, I rode through Barinas then to the Pantinal which is 20 miles west of Mantecal it was swampy flat area with lots of snakes, birds, cats. Then on to San Fernando de Apure. Puerto Ayacucho then Venado which is on the border of Colombia and where the river Orianoco starts in Venezuela. I then followed the river Orianoco east to Caicara Del Orianco. Ciudad Boliva then to Pto Ordaz. I then rang the ferry office up at Guiria to find when the ferry leaves Guira Venezuela for Trinidad & Tobago and if it can take my motorbike and me. They said they could and it leaves every Wednesday and it was Wednesday today and I was 2 days from Guiria so instead of waiting in Guiria for the next ferry I rode south to the border of Brazil to Santa Elena de Vairen which is the last town in Venezuela.

 I did not go into Brazil I rode west along the boarder of Brazil over the mountains to a small village called El Pauji. There was lots of washed out bridges and the river crossing the track was very wet and muddy. I then rode around this area there are goldmines and they go panning for gold as well.

When I left el Pauji I rode back up to Pto Ordaz then stopped following the river Orinoco and rode north to Maturin and finally Guiria to get the ferry for Trinidad and Tobago.

I went to get the ferry to Trinidad and Tobago but my motorbike could not go on it. The captain said he only carries passengers. The ferry office said they had a cargo boat going to Trinidad and Tobago on Friday. My bike and I could go on it. I was told to be at the cargo boat in the industrial docks at 1 am but first at 9 pm. I was taken to the dock security gates by the captain of the boat and he told them that I will be on the motor bike and let me in at 1 am and then he took me and showed me where the boat was. He said that we were sailing for Trinidad and Tobago at 2.a.m. I got to the docks security gates at 12:30am and went straight to the boat just when I got there. There was a thunderstorm and a lot of rain, also lightening. Then all the lights in the docks and town went off. The crew of six started to arrive at the boat at 1:30am and the last one got there at 2:15am with the captain. I was still outside with my bike no shelter from the rain until 3:30am. When they started to load my bike on the boat I finished roping my bike on the deck at 4a.m. I had been in the rain for 3 and a half hours.

We set off at 4:15 am and I did not go to immigration to get my passport stamped out of Venezuela and my Carni De Passage for my motorbike. When I entered Venezuela they stamped my passport and my Carni De Passage at San Antonio on the 1/10/05 when I got there from Cucuta Colombia and been stopped by over 20 army checkpoints and just showed them my passport, my bike English registration document v5 and they let me ride on, but when I tried to get my Carni de Passage exit stamped in Guira the customs said I should have a permit to ride my motor bike in Venezuela so I asked them when did this law start, they said about 10th October. I told them I was already in the country. They did not know what to do. I was in their office for 3 days and they would not stamp my Carni de Passage for my motorbike to leave Venezuela so I left there having not been stamped out with my passport and my Carni de Passage.

It took 8hrs to get to Trinidad and Tobago and very rough crossing. I got there on 23rd December. I went to immigration and got my passport stamped into Trinidad and Tobago for 3 months ok but they would not stamp my Carni de Passage for my motorbike although Trinidad & Tobago are listed in the countries that I can use my Carni de Passage in. The customs would not let me take my bike out of the dock compound, so I put my tent up next to my bike in the compound. They said I have to go to the transport commissioner and get a permit and give it to them and pay them a bond of 300TT dollars which I would get back when I leave Trinidad and Tobago but as it was too late to go to the transport commissioner that day and it was the start of the Christmas holidays. I could not go till after the holidays.

When I when to the transport commissioner he was very helpful. He told me I had to get a temporary new number plate and he gave me the new number, also bike insurance then he would give me a permit. I did this and he gave me a 3 month permit. I took this back to the customs. When I gave it to the customs they said it could take them up to 3 months to process my paperwork, my permit was only for 3 months. But they said if I pay them 760TT dollars and import my motorbike into Trinidad and Tobago they would do the paperwork right away and I could ride my bike on the road and leave the dock compound, so I had to pay them 760TT dollars and they did the paperwork, there and then. Now I can take my bike out of the dock compound and use it on the road. I went straight back to the compound and packed my tent away and rode off on my bike.

I got to Trinidad and Tobago on 23rd December and got my documents from customs to ride my bike in Trinidad and Tobago on the 5th January this year. It had taken 15 days. Now I am in Tobago.

From Ian, August 2005

My wife came from England with spares for my motor bike to Ecuador. The last time I had seen hear was 3 years ago in New Zealand. When she got to Ecuador we went to Brazil for  2 months and when we came back to Ecuador they give me a 90 day visa. I was in Ecuador for 14 days then I went to Peru for 10 days on the bus  with my wife. When I returned to Ecuador the customs would not give me a entery stamp on my pasport and refused me entry. I told them I had still got 66 days left on my visa. They said I had been in Ecuador more than 6 months in one year. This is the first time they had said this to me. I have been in and out of Ecuador 5 times in the last year. I was in Brazil for 2 months, so I had to hide on the bus to get through the customs to get back into Ecuador as my wife was with me and she flies back to england from  Ecuador and my motor bike was there and I am on my way to Alaska. Now it will be difficult to leave as I am in Ecuador illegally. I am going to try to leave by boat from Coca down the River Napo to Iquitos in Peru then down the Amazon River to Manaus in Brazil. Well that's my plan but anything can happen.

From Ian, May 2004

I arrived in Buenos Aires Argentina 30 June 2003 from New Zealand. When my motor bike arrived I rode across Argentina over the Andies to Chile then back to the coast of Argentina. I kept doing this zig zaging my way to Tierra Del Fuego and to the southermost town in South America, Ushuaia. I then turned round and set off for Alaska. So far I have ridden through Argentina, Chile. Uruguay. Paraguay, Brasil and now going into Bolivia.

Previously on the Hebweb

June to October 2003 - after 15 months in New Zealand, Ian ships his bike to South America

From the Hebweb guestbook (June 2001, Alice Springs):

I have been looking at the Hebden Bridge website because we have a traveller staying with us at the moment from Hebden Bridge. His name is Ian Coates and he owns the Whitley Arches Garage. His son-in-law David Woodhead has the butcher shop. We are enjoying having Ian stay with us (even if he does talk funny - ha ha ha). Love the website - Hebden Bridge looks like a lovely place and we can't wait to visit one day. (very different to dry Alice Springs). Ian has been travelling around Australia on his motorbike (Africa Twin)and is enjoying himself immensely. He has been from Melbourne - Adelaide - across to Perth, up the West Coast to Darwin and now down to Alice Springs. His future plans involve a trip out to the Simpson Desert, Ayers Rock and then up to Cairns (Queensland) to travel back down the East Coast to Sydney. It is a delight to have Ian staying with us.
Samantha Higgins <samian@asiaonline.net.au>
Alice Springs, Nothern Territory Australia - Tuesday, June 26, 2001

For more recent updates,
see Hebden Bridge Web Feature

Riding round the world
on a Honda


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