Sandy’s 2014 F800 developed a hard shifting problem when going from 4th to 3rd and 3rd to 2nd back in October while traveling through mainland Mexico. It had gotten progressively worse as we made our way south, and finally while in Colombia there were times it took 4 or 5 attempts to go from 3rd to 2nd. I ruled out “rider error” as it was giving me the same trouble on the rare occasion that I rode the bike on short errands etc. Knowing full well the bike is under warranty but not having time to go through the process of BMW diagnostics in Latin America I chose to visit a highly recommended independent mechanic in Quito Ecuador near Freedom Bike Rentals. The goal was to preserve the trip and not get caught up in semantics. I had done a lot of reading and research to what remedy others found with similar shifting issues. All was pointing to the selector shaft being bent.

After arriving at Freedom Bike Rentals and was introduced to Diego, who ran his repair shop at Freedom Bike Rentals facility. A short explanation with our resident translator Jack, and he was sure he could solve the problem. We didn’t have the parts in hand to change, but opted to open it up anyway and see what could be done.


Nervously awaiting what would be found


Finally exposing the selector shaft all looked pretty good. I could tell the shaft was a bit out of form but not near what I had seen elsewhere online.


There wasn’t as much to this disassembly as I thought but I was glad to be in good hands here.

More bits removed for further inspections




Initially we were unable to duplicate the problem in the shop while turning the rearwheel and shifting through the gears. Another mechanic Diego spoke to on the phone pointed to the clutch being bad of which I kept my disagreement to myself. Diego being a bit like me when solving a problem went back to the bike later in the evening to give the situation another look. I received a text message with news that he was finally able to replicate the problem and expose the cause. As it turned out one of the “pins” on the shift gear that the selector shaft engages with was also slightly bent and was causing hard downshifts. A bit of straightening of both pieces had the bike shifting as good as new. It was well worth the money to be able to convey the suspected problem and have it solved while I stood side by side with the mechanic. Our trip south will be much more enjoyable through the twisties.

Part numbers effected:

23007706750 Selector Shaft
23007712973 Shift Gear

I hope this helps any others with similar issues on the F800.


Dance of a Big Bike Girl


Sandy Dance Article Photo











 Dance of a Big Bike Girl
By Sandy Borden
March 15, 2015

There’s something about a girl who rides a big motorcycle.  She feels a sense of comfort when swinging a leg over, knowing she will be taken care of in the journey though not always knowing the destination. She enjoys the power of the ride though respects it enough to not be too careless.  There’s an ease as she rolls back the throttle and leans into the turns.  My bike is a 2014 BMW 800GS Adventure.  It’s huge.  It’s powerful.  It makes me feel like a badass.  We move as one in perfect synchronicity, swaying from side to side in a dance all our own.  My name is Sandy Borden, and welcome to my perfect ballet.

I’ve always been a big bike girl.  I learned to ride on a 2000 BMW 1150 GS at the age of 36.  A late start, I know, but my time as a pillion had come to an end. My first bike was a 2003 BMW F650GS and remains a part of the family.  When it came to choosing my next ride, I knew I wanted something a little more powerful and willing to carry a load.  You see, I travel with my 13 year old son, Jack, and husband of 21 years, Terry.  We’ve been a motorcycle travel family for over 7 years and as little man grows, so does our load.  Anything I ride must be in it for the long haul, on and off road.  But, that’s not the only criteria.  It must move me from the inside out.

Choosing a bike is very personal.  Though many might try and sway you with suggestions or advice, they won’t keep you from what you crave.  I knew my next bike the first time I saw it in print.  Something clicked.  I knew it could take me from tarmac to talc without hesitation, creating a new dance for our journeys.  Some scoffed at the idea of a female riding such a large machine, but I didn’t mind.  Why would I?  It’s not their first choice, and that’s okay.  We all look for the one that moves us, and this little number was it.

Our first off-road experience left me absolutely giddy as the 800 GSA tackled the dirt and gravel as if it were blacktop.  My new ride was unwavering to whatever the challenge.  I was really going to like this new 21” front wheel.  The extra fuel capacity meant I could enjoy the ride longer without the constant search and fret for fuel.  To look down and see this powerful machine carry me over the road made me regret ever having to put the kickstand down.  It was time to give her a final makeover.  With the last accessory attached and a final thumbs up, it was time to go the distance.  This is when we were going to dance.

Oh, and dance we did.  We journeyed many miles across highways and through cities, finding ourselves under the security of a redwood forest, touching the sands of the ocean in search of the perfect sunset.  Music sang in my helmet as I danced with my new partner.  We found our rhythm as I knew we would.  It was time to get her fully geared up.

She held the tools needed for our family travels with enough power to land us safely at our destination.  I could prepare and cook whatever meal my boys craved on this beautiful machine, never once hearing her complain about her role as the family gathering spot.  It really doesn’t matter the surroundings as everyone always ends up in the kitchen, right?  This bike had many roles to fill and she did each one with the perfect blend of style and good looks.   A few layers of earthy goodness were splashed on to remind us that sometimes the best paths are those less taken.

It wasn’t until I crossed international lines that I realized just how influential a girl on a bike could be.  It wasn’t until I received a standing ovation from a group of Mayan girls in Guatemala that I grasped the notion that a girl on a bike bigger than a 125cc may be a bit of an anomaly.  It wasn’t until I was gassing up in El Salvador and a mother insisted her two daughters have their picture taken with me that the whole idea of being a female “role model” for girls in other countries came to be.  It made me take in my surroundings that much more, noticing that there were no strong female role models for the young girls to follow.  As a girl on a big bike, you get to be that role model and watch the smiles on these young, aspiring faces as you roll by, arms waving in great hopefulness.  That is an image that will remain with me forever.

As a big bike girl, I am a bit of a different breed.  I tend to play with the boys though can easily land with the girls at the end of the day, wine glass in hand.  I like it like that.  Big bike girls like it like that.  How fortunate am I to be part of such a special group of riders?  Very.  To find your tribe is something quite special.  To find your dance, well, that’s something greater altogether.  And with that, I feel blessed.  Cheers.

February 20, 2015


We are now over 5 months into our journey to South America, and there’s one thing that has perplexed me for many months. No matter what little Mexican and Central American families own as far as material possessions, no matter how small their house or few dollars they earned, the vast majority is happy. Why is this when they have so little? Ah, but that’s the thing. Too many in North America (NA) feel that in order to be happy in life, you have to have more “stuff”. Whether it’s high-end clothing or that new car, plumped up kissers or a collection of Mont Blanc pens, we feel the need to accumulate. Through the magic of advertising, from birth we are programmed to believe that to have more “stuff” than the person next to you is to be happy. “You need this NEW and IMPROVED Twist Tie in order to be happy…until the NEWEST AND IMPROVIEST Twist Tie comes out next week.” Wait, are you sure about that? Because we’ve been traveling through some very, very poor areas of what some would consider Third World countries and these lovely people are not just happy, they want to share their happiness and homes with you. Most North Americans (NA’s) have more “stuff” than them, so why are we so, well, angry? Why is it that North America is considered the land of success and prosperity yet we seem to be so disgruntled and bitter for no particular reason? Let’s find out together. (NOTE: Though to date we have traveled through mainland Mexico and 5 countries in Central America, the values remain the same. Because of that, I’m going to focus on Guatemala as my Latin American example. Why? Guatemala is the country that really made us think…and, love…and, learn.)

Ladies Sorting Coffee Beans

We spent weeks living, talking with and observing many different cultures and lifestyles during our time in Mexico and Central America. And in that time we have come to this conclusion…They have it figured out when it comes to being happy. You know what they have that we don’t? Appreciation and respect for true simplicity in this life. Wherever we go, the same basic needs are always there. Food, water, shelter, family. That doesn’t change from country to country. But what they do embody is a genuine appreciation for all they have. Only packed down dirt for a floor? They sweep the leaves and pebbles off that floor every morning to make it look nice for the day. A freshly picked basket of garden veggies and some homemade tortillas? They’ll make sure you eat first as guests are considered family when in their home. They also have respect for their neighbors, their family and themselves. They have respect for their culture and what those who came before them created and achieved. Do you see where I’m going with this? Let me give you a much deeper example.

Terry Doing Dishes_1

We stayed for a week with a lovely Mayan family in San Juan la Laguna on Lake Atitlan. This was a home-stay that Terry found on Air B&B, the lure being that you are essentially coming to live with and be a part of this traditional Mayan family. When we swung open the front sheet metal gate, this is what we found: a perfectly swept dirt and rock path that led to 4 separate, small buildings that housed a husband and wife, their 3 year old son, their 20 day year old daughter, the grandmother, a sister and her husband, 4+ dogs and countless chickens. Oh, and one cat. Yes, you read that correctly. A newborn. Our Mayan family welcomed us with glasses of purified water, freshly sliced watermelon, and a charming room with 3 beds and a private bath. While the young family of 4 stayed in one room, we were given the ‘suite’ while the grandmother stayed in the smaller home in the back with easy access to feeding the chickens. I set up our camping chairs in front of our ‘home’ and chuckled as the grandma pronounced it her seat and settled right in for most of our stay. Our young hostess, Esmerelda, quietly nursed her daughter while standing at the stove making sure dinner was coming along nicely. Terry and Jack sat at the front of the yard with our host, Pedro, and his son, Pedro Antonio, as they attempted to fix a problem on Pedro’s 125cc motorcycle, the family’s only method of transportation. Esmerelda shared with us many traditional Mayan meals and special teas made from leaves grown in the region. The home was very clean, very small, but filled with something too many American homes have lost – pride. Not an arrogant pride that haunts many egos in our culture. But pride in what they have, not in what they have not. Pride in walking the streets of their small town and introducing us to their friends. A smile and “Buenos dias” was shared with every local farmer as they carried enormous sacks of coffee beans or sticks uphill to be weighed and purchased at the mill, the strap of the sack pressing tautly along his forehead as it beared the bulk of the weight, the hands free to carry a machete or sickle. No matter the circumstance, there was always time to smile and greet each other on the street. Always. This was appreciation for the new day you were given. This was respect for your neighbor and the family the next generation they were raising.

Working on Guatemalan motorycle



So, let’s highlight a few things and see if we can’t get out of our own way long enough to make a few changes to our daily lives:


  • Stop with the “stuff”. “Stuff” won’t kiss you goodnight nor will it be there for you when you’re ill. Besides, who wants to have more to dust or clean?
  • I don’t care how much it hurts, crack one open for the man sitting across from you on the train. Shoot a big grin to your kiddo when they least expect it. If they smile back, you all win. Spread the good instead of the toxic.
  • Don’t love your life? Do something about it, and please stop your whining.
  • Stop for a minute and do a history lesson. Did your great grandparents need 4 TV’s to stay entertained?
  • Slow down. Why are we in such a hurry? Maybe it’s time to lighten the calendar instead of cramming in more. Who cares if the family next door juggles careers, kids and an attempt to make it look like a darn good time! Which leads me to…
  • Spend more time with yourself. How are you going to know how to take care of you if you don’t even know who you are?
  • Surround yourself with family, blood or chosen. They make us laugh and are honest enough let us know when we’re doing things right or wrong. They know how to keep us “real”.
  • Finally, you get what you give.

Grandma in The Chair

Trust me, all that I have described are lessons that all 3 of us have had to learn along our journey. A choice to change means you have taken the time to listen to yourself instead of being driven by the actions and suggestions of others. Choosing a life with less “stuff” means a lightness that you’ve craved though never knew just how much until you took the chance. It’s been quite nice this 2-wheel classroom we’ve been rolling through these past several months. Who knows where we’ll be in another 5 months! Stay tuned. There’s a lot more to learn, and we’re ready for the challenge. Cheers.



I’m sitting this morning, sipping Guatemalan coffee on the couch of a friend’s house, just me and the cat wondering what the day will bring.  I know what we HAVE to accomplish this lovely Saturday, but there are too many things yet to do; finding Jack a new pair of shoes is one of them.  This is one of the first mornings I have been upright before 8AM.  It’s not because I’m lazy or on “vacation”.  The truth?  This family motorcycle travel thing is soooo much more than we ever expected.  It’s not just the time together, the lure of the road or showing Jack how to bargain for a fixed-blade knife.  No, there’s a whole other level of survival and exhaustion that comes with this kind of family travel.  It’s been an education in itself, taking several months to find a groove that translates from border to border.  Now that we have our groove, let’s just see how and why we had to relearn and readjust everything we thought we knew up until September 13th.  And here we were, thinking that we’re some kind of experts or something…..

Esmeralda's Mayan Kitchen1

 (Our hostess Esmerelda prepares another fabulous meal in her modest Mayan kitchen)

Coffee Beans 1

(After many hours spent meticulously picking coffee beans they are hauled to the organic processor)

Man Carrying Sticks With Donkey

(Some are able to be more efficient with the help of livestock)

Okay, we all know that basics of survival.  Food, water, shelter, warmth, we get it.  In Guatemala and many other poorer countries around the globe, daily survival is daily life.  Having spent a week with a traditional Mayan family, we were up close to the action and learned what it takes to raise a family during a traditional Mayan day.  Let me see if I can paint a better picture of the day in the life of a Mayan woman – wake up at sunrise, start breakfast, spouse off to work in the coffee fields/construction/forest, get kids dressed, clean up breakfast dishes, start laundry, head to the market for fresh ingredients, feed the animals, start lunch, feed kiddos again, hang laundry, clean lunch dishes, gather eggs, start dinner, fold laundry, spouse home from day of carrying bags of coffee/swinging a hammer/hauling bails of wood, feed family, bathe kiddos, get animals fed again, get ready for bed, fall into bed.  Aside from the daily search for water that occurs in most countries, this is a rough sketch of their every day.  It’s an arduous life though no one complains.  Everyone smiles throughout the day, and they even find time to take care of sick guests who can’t even get out of bed let alone help with the laundry.  Yes, yours truly.  Interestingly enough, we have found that this outline (aside from the chickens and other barnyard friends) has become more or less our daily life.  Crazy true.  Proper shelter, whether it be tent or a room PLUS secure parking for two BMW’s is the first constant.  As any rider knows, even if it’s the best of rooms or apartments, if there is no secure parking for the bikes, you move on.  Why?  These are our “homes”, our only mode of hauling our wears and getting all of us safely from country to country.  Fortunately for this family, we’ve been quite blessed with most of our accommodations.  Remind me later to tell you the story about our German host and his attempt to back his vehicle in the lake.  That was one of the more odd experiences.

Sandy and the Baby_1(Our Mayan hosts had a 3 week new addition to the family of which we enjoyed helping take care of)

Trio Disaster

(The contents of both bikes tend to explode once we hit the room)

Safe Bike Parking

(Secure parking is priority)

Jack and Terry by the Tents_1

(Camping with a view at Lake Atitlan)

Food.  Glorious food!  Solo travel means you can carry a can of tuna and a box of crackers and be somewhat satisfied most of the day.  Two-person travel gets you an extra can, spare crackers, and someone to unpack the gear while the other prepares the meal.  Two riders plus a teenager?  That gets you an argument as to why they have to unpack now, where’s lunch, a mom feeling guilty she hasn’t fed her family as of yet, and a dad that mediates all the madness.  Okay, this is not every day, but doesn’t it make the situation seem more ‘normal’?  I do what I can to provide lively entertainment.  Unlike Terry and I who can survive on a few granola bars and a lime, Jack requires more of a meal than a snack.  Jack’s least favorite days?  When we have to make up the miles with only a bag of chips and a Coke for lunch.  This kid wants a meal.  And, you know what?  Keeping the pillion happy means another 50 miles in our day.  What’s stopping at the roadside cart going to cost us really in the end?  Having mentioned that, there are many choices for street food in every country.  Guatemala seems to be big on pollo y papas (aka ‘fried chicken and fries’).  This smell emanates from most every town you roll through.  If you find yourself closer to the ocean, roadside ceviche is an excellent choice.  With so many culinary roadside options, we’ve narrowed down our list of “What it must have before we’ll stop” list.  One – Tablecloths.  Not joking.  This little added touch lets us know that they’ve taken the time to class up the joint thus attracting more hungry bellies.  Two – There must already be people sitting down eating.  No people equals no Borden’s.  A crowd does psyche one into thinking it must be good.  Three – No drunk customers, garbage lying around or pack of dogs.  Nuff said.  Four – If you try and flag me into your establishment, I’m moving on.  MAN!  That gets very annoying very quickly.  You may have one or two of your own to add, but this formula has worked out pretty well so far.

Roadside Ceviche

 (Some of our best and most interesting meals are roadside stands)

Typical Mayan Dinner

(Typical Mayan meal prepared by our host)

Grandma in The Chair

(The mother of our host was fascinated with the camp chairs. This is where we found her each time we returned from town)

Finding a balance between riding, writing and enjoying our surroundings has plagued us this entire journey.  You go into this thinking, “I’m going get so many pictures and have so much time to get the blog done!”  Wrong.  “I’m going to just hit the road every day and get to South America before Christmas!”  Wrong, again.  There is no right way to travel, but you do need to find YOUR right way to travel.  Charging headfirst and thinking we were going to accomplish all this work is just not happening as we had first thought.  We are now at the point that we’re setting aside work hours, WIFI pending (WIFI is a mere suggestion in Central America, not a guarantee).  We’ve claimed the mornings as our work time, watching the clock carefully as it’s very easy to let time slip away.  Jack does his online work as well as some reading and writing, Terry does trip planning and research, I sit at the computer and attempt to come up with something witty.  There’s also the chore of getting footage off of 4 different devices.  Because that never causes a squabble over cords and computers…  This, too, was a groove we had to allow to come into its own, letting it take shape with time and patience.

How To Carry Groceries

(Packing a few days worth of groceries to feed our crew)

Now, finding time alone has become a tricky little goal to attain.  Traveling within the confines of a very tight budget means a lot of time spent in a small hotel room with two double beds and just enough floor space to line our luggage, making nighttime trips to the bathroom just that much more exciting.  (Note:  Don’t get too excited when the ad says ‘king size bed’.  You’re going to open the door and find a full size bed.  Just deal with it.)  Terry and I are getting accustomed to sharing bed space whilst Jack gets his own to flail and kick as he pleases.  Trust me, it’s better to let the boy have his own space instead of becoming his Size 13’s newest kickball buddy.  We have the camping thing down with the whole two tents action, but sometimes you just need some time away to sit, read and let the farts fly without the threat of snickers from the Testosterone Twosome.  Brutal honesty here, folks!  We are adjusting to our room situations, absolutely enjoying any outdoor space that provides a little extra room to spread out.

Bumpy Fuzzy Tuk Tuk Ride

(A quick Tuk Tuk selfie while bouncing down the cobblestone streets of Antigua Guatemala)


It’s amazing what you learn about yourself once you’re forced out of your comfort zone.  We chose this path, so we know we must ‘own’ any repercussions.  Knowing this trip could mean total Trio inhalation or love fest, we went for it anyway.  Many have claimed to be on a soul-searching journey, trying to “find themselves”.  Hell, I know where I’ve been for 40+ years.  I just want to have control over where I spend the next 40+.  This is part of what this journey is about, trying to figure out the next chapter of our life.  We’re still learning more about what makes each of us tick, but I must be frank when it comes to a couple of things.  Jack has by far been the easiest personality when it comes to change and just rolling with it.  Terry has learned to leave behind the 80-hour workweeks, and quite well I might add.  Myself?  I didn’t realize I was such a miserable coot most days.  I was so accustomed to GO! GO! GO! all the time that I was a bit hard to live with the first couple of months.  I can admit it now that I’ve owned up to this new realization, finding myself apologizing to my boys more than once for making their lives a tad hellish.  It’s tough pulling a Type A personality from a controlled world into a realm that cannot be put into a time slot on a calendar.  “Hi.  My name is Sandy, and I’m a control freak.”  All three of us will continue this change with each border crossing.

Boat Ride

(Jack grabbing a quick shot while trying not to rock the boat)

Armed Guards

(Police in San Juan ready to escort us around Volcan San Pedro where robberies are known to occur)

Okay, one more thing…  Sometimes, being the only female on this adventure can be, well, lonely.  As much as I claim to LOVE being with my boys, sporting a dirt mask and bragging about doing my own pedicures, a girl once in a while does need a little ‘girl time’.  Roll your eyes all you want, but this is a real fact when it comes to being a female in a male-dominated sport.  A while back our friends Simon and Lisa Thomas ( spent a fair amount of time with us at our home in Northern California.  They’ve been on their global tour around the globe for over 11 years.  You’d think they were in need of nothing.  But, what was Lisa’s biggest request once she landed at Chez Borden?  Getting out for some girl time.  Seriously, do Simon and Terry look like the luncheon and shopping type?  It takes a girlfriend to understand your need and fill it.  So, Lisa and I walked slowly through our little town, stopping at various shops, enjoying some time away from our constant companions.  As much as we love our boys, we still need our girls.  Along this journey, I’m finding myself craving this same girl time.  Fortunately, I’m discovering that much needed time away as we make our way south.  Trust me, it’s good for all parties involved if this member of the Trio gets out to play once in a while.

Girl Time With Mishka

(Some girl time with our new friend Mishka)

So, there it is.  Out in the open for all to read and judge.  I’m not joking when I say this is much harder than it looks.  Yes, we have many years of family motorcycle travel in the books.  But, long-term family travel is a learned art form especially when rolling on two wheels.  We know it’s not for everyone nor should it be.  But it’s us, it’s different, and it’s the way we like it.  Cheers.

Many have written asking us to share photos and stories from our experiences with the celebration in Mexico known as Dia de Los Muertos, known to many Americans as Day of The Dead.  What I previously thought as only a 1-2 day event celebrating the lives of those who had passed is actually a 4-5 day celebration of food, music, Halloween and personal memorials throughout the cemeteries and towns of Mexico.  My original intent was to capture these events on camera, thinking it was the best way to tell the story.  I came out with a much different feeling, one that made me take a step back, take off my tourist hat, and not be that stranger who only values the festivities for its photo opportunities.  Yes, there was tremendous beauty, but it was much more than that.  It was about respect for the living as well as those who had passed.  Unbeknownst to me, I was to share in the festivities with my own bit of history.

It wasn’t until about a week ago that I let Terry in on a little something.  During our travels, I carry a small picture of my mom and dad from their wedding day from too many years ago.  With it safely tucked away in my riding jacket, I was waiting for the proper moment to share its meaning with my family.  Having had a kiddo in a Spanish-immersion elementary school, our family had learned about Dia de los Muertos and the value the Mexican culture has placed on this holiday.  While most of America considers death a tragic sentence, this culture celebrates the dead, bringing their memories back to life in food, stories and song.  Somehow, I wanted to be a part of this celebration of life.

Terry, Jack and I have spent many weeks riding past many beautiful cemeteries, all the shrines adorned in pictures and wreaths of flowers.  This wasn’t just a day; it was a life event.  All I could think while rolling was, “I have to capture this on camera. What a brilliant pictorial!”  My thoughts would change as the end of October drew closer and the crowds grew larger.  Through even the smallest of towns, the streets outside the cemetery walls were lined with cars, families carrying trays of food to the family site, children trailing along holding flowers and trinkets.  Even the dogs were in on this as they followed along in procession.  “This is like a grand party,” I thought.  “When we land, I’m going to grab the camera and follow along to capture these moments.”  It was after this fleeting thought that I witnessed a single moment that changed my mind.  As we passed the rows of cars and locals directing traffic, I saw to my left two young girls, sitting alone beside a headstone.  They weren’t celebrating.  They weren’t laughing.  They were having a moment alone, heads bowed.  Though I didn’t know what they were saying, I could read what their body clearly.  They were mourning.  This is the moment that changed my course.

Even though I was told by a few that it was okay to walk the cemeteries and photograph the event, I felt otherwise.  I didn’t want to be an observer.  I wanted to be a participant.

It was the afternoon of November 2nd when on a short walk, a flower caught my eye.  A glowing crimson hibiscus bloomed over my shoulder, perfect in color and design.  It was time to celebrate my mom.  Some of you may know my mom passed when I was 19, too young really at any age.  I took out the wedding photo from my pocket and lay it next to the flower, silent in my private moment.  The memory of those two girls remained close by.  That night, we cooked a grand feast with friends, our dessert consisting of looking at maps and Google searches.  This was my celebration.



Friends with Maps
Have I brought the room down too much?  Sorry.  I need to stop doing that!  I will tell you that we walked around Sayulita with our friends, Mike and Shannon, one night during this time, stopping at many of the private memorials setup along the sidewalks.  Okay, I took pictures of those.  Why?  They were such amazing displays of life for all to view with no one around to show us otherwise.  It was another lesson for this Trio – never let the memories of those who have passed fade into a headstone.  Keep them close and allow them to guide us through these tricky lives we lead.  Cheers.


By Sandy Borden


When crossing any border, you are immediately met with a whole new set of challenges. Where do I go? Where do I stay? Where do I eat? Why does it appear that there are no rules to passing or turning or even going straight?!? Your education begins now, class. Seasoned travelers know that when entering many countries, especially Mexico, you want to get over the border early, get your paperwork in order, and start heading south. You need to have AT LEAST your first night’s lodging planned as you’re going to be plain exhausted once you put down that kickstand. It’s a long day, but worth the mental gymnastics. So, having never been to mainland Mexico, we were expecting something like Baja with a splash of what we’ve been shown across every news and social media out there.   “You’re going to Mexico? Why?” is the question we were asked most often. The best question? “Are you bringing a gun?” Ah, hell no! That’s one we still chuckle about. It was a conscious choice to go through this unknown piece of property. It was time to come to our own conclusions, and, as always, we made sure every member of the Trio was on board. All were accounted for. It was time to venture south and learn about this country for ourselves. You may be surprised by what you read or it may just bring up more questions for later. If nothing else, I do hope you come out on the other end a wee bit wiser about our friends to the south. Enjoy.

TVIP permit


Jack and his passport

Everyone goes fast, but you don’t get anywhere fast.

Speed limits are merely suggestions on most every stretch of road. If you don’t plan on going at least 20 MPH faster than the posted speed limit, prepare to be passed. Don’t fret when that large truck puts on his blinker to go around; he’s done this plenty of times and will probably wave as he passes.

First food in Mexico


Left turn signals have a whole new role

Mexican drivers have it down! I have a new found appreciation for driving in Mexico. Most of the roads are only one lane each way and there really aren’t enough roads that take you from place to place. Well, at least safe roads. The rule for passing or being passed is turning on that left signal. Want to pass? The trucker or vehicle will turn on the left signal when it is safe for you to pass, and they will leave it on for the duration of the pass. Yes, it’s a wee bit scary on those narrow highways, but it’s the only way to get anywhere. Get used to it.


Slow truck


You’re always “ON” while riding

As a rider, your senses are naturally on high alert. Now, take that spidey sense and multiply it by 100. That’s how much you will need when it comes to making it safely to your destination. Why, you ask? Let me just give you a brief explanation of why – rocks, dogs, squished dogs, people, burros, slow trucks, stopped trucks, potholes, random road construction, chickens, horses, goats, cement topes, metal topes, dips, locked gates, water crossings, mud crossings, sand, gravel. You get the picture.


Dogs Donkeys

 Break time

120 miles is a looooong day on the road

See above.


Your senses are heightened

I’m not talking just about the need to pay attention to the road. I’m talking about the smell of mesquite burning, the ever-changing landscape, the aroma of fresh roadside tortillas, the pine forests and the always-present diesel exhaust. There so much to take in, no wonder you can’t move once you put the kickstand down!


You’re exhausted after a day of riding

Again, see above.


Lots and lots of buzzards

Never have we seen so many of these huge birds flapping about! Granted, there’s always something for them to dine upon on the side of the road, but WOW! And, here’s a little story you might enjoy. Terry and Jack were rolling in front of me on the ride to Hidalgo del Parral one fine morning when out of nowhere, a very large buzzard comes flying out of the right corner and swoops down on them, ready to carry them off for their next meal. Just as I started to freak out, buzzard No. 2 comes swooping over MY right shoulder, talons out and next to my helmet. NO JOKE! I rolled on the throttle as fast as I could, sca-reeming into the com as Jack’s head jerked around to see his mother almost get swept away. Seriously, talons…


And, butterflies…and, bees.

As I write this, I’m about an hour in from my first bee sting of the trip. Seems the little bugger got into my coat somewhere along the way to Durango and decided to nest near my left armpit. Can’t wait to swell with that one! I’ll have ‘fat old lady’ arm here in about 24 hours. Awesome. And, the butterflies are not afraid to fly right into your helmet. Visors closed, people!


Leave your ego and “It’s all about me attitude” at the border!

Those two things have no place in this country. Nobody cares about the new iWhatever you’re always staring at; no one cares what happened on the last episode of “The Real Honey Boo Boo Kardashians”. Whenever you cross the border, you immediately become an ambassador for your country. Remember that and act accordingly.


Is that bus coming right for me?!?

Yes, it is. But, not to worry as it will pull back into its own lane before you become a mark on the grill. Most all of the roads are very narrow, making it a bit hard at times for larger vehicles. Just stay calm and press on.


The people are very proud of their country

Mexicans are a very proud culture. Everyone claims to have the best homemade tortillas or salsa, that we will not find anything better in the next state or country. The cities are full of life and music and art. You have to be willing to settle into the culture and take it all in. Locals will tell you what you need to see or experience before you move onto the next town.



They are so excited to have Americans visiting!

They love us here! No, I’m not kidding. We’ve already experienced so many tales of how excited the locals are to have Americans visit their country. They want to know where you’re from, why you’re here and where you will be visiting next.

 Parade heroes

You will eventually find yourself eating a meal in someone’s personal kitchen

This is something you will come to enjoy once you get over the initial weird feeling of eating in a stranger’s house. Those little buildings may look closed, but, most likely, there are not. If the sign says “Abierto”, they are open for business. Also, you may run across a home with a small list next to the front screen announcing the meals offered for the day. You will see items like tacos, tortas and hamberguesas, all items carefully made right in the kitchen by what you are sure is your Mexican grandmother. It’s cheap, it’s good, and leaves you wanting more of those authentic moments.

 Abuleta at the stove in Creel

Smile and wave when you pass by locals

A genuine smile and a hearty wave go far in this country. This is especially true, as you must remember, they don’t see too many Americans rolling through some of these parts. It’s up to you to be an ambassador of your country and lead by example.

 Jack and David

If they don’t smile and wave back, you don’t stop!

Other travelers told us early in the trip that if people don’t smile or wave back, DO NOT stop in that town. That is considered a place not to be trusted, therefore, continue on your journey to the next town.


Unless you plan to take toll roads the entire time, you’re guaranteed to be riding off-road at some point in your journey

If you’re dirt adverse, it’s time to get out there and prepare for a few dusty, muddy trails before you head south. Most every bike can easily handle the roads, but these shortcuts may last for up to 6 miles, and you need to be comfortable having rather large trucks and buses passing you by. It’s just the rules of the road. Scary at times? I’d be lying if I said no. But, with proper training and time off the road, you’ll be just fine.  Also, I highly recommend investing in a heavy-duty skid plate like the ones we run from Black Dog Cycle Works. It will save your under carriage!


Mexican road


The terrain can change almost immediately

Now is the time to erase your memories of the dry, desert dust bowl that has been represented in far too many movies. Our first couple of days found us climbing thousands of feet into the wonder that is the Sierra Madres. The twists and turns of this constant climb shows you not only the mandarin colored flowers that dotted the mountainsides, but you eventually found yourself at 8,000 feet, praying you’ll acclimate as soon as possible. At that elevation those first few days, if something had chased me, I’d be buzzard fodder.

 End of the road

Many people we talk to have lived in the states at one time or another

Oh, SO excited to share their American stories! Between our broken Spanish and their broken English, it’s just plain awesome. Many are former farm workers who now run their own ranch back home. We even had one woman follow us for several blocks until she stopped us and asked, “Do you speak English?” We chatted for several minutes about her years in Houston, how she loved her time in Texas, and now she was back to raise her family. She was lovely.


They love that Jack is fluent in Spanish

When this little (HUGE!) gringo opens his mouth and speaks perfect Spanish, there are jaws agape and questions as to why Terry and I are not also fluent. We’re getting there, I promise. They ask him about his immersion school, where we’re going, and why his parents’ had him learn Spanish. Well, it was important to us that Jack be fluent in at least one other language, Spanish being the first choice. The locals like that answer.


You swear you’re in Northern California

Yes, we were just as surprised. When we neared the ridge of the Sierra Madres, we were surrounded by pines, manzanita, and quaking aspens. It was fall in the Sierra’s, and we were getting to experience the season we thought we had left behind. The aspens were just beginning to turn to their golden hue, dancing in the breeze as if only for us. The smells, the sights…we were home once again. When we rolled into a small town for the night, Terry and I were on the com’s trying to pinpoint just what part of California this new area reminded us of. For those of you who know Fall River Mills, we’ve found its Mexican counterpart. Now, if the trout fishing is just as good…


Anything can fit into the back of a ’64 Chevy truck

I mean, ANYTHING! This includes boulders, hay bales 5 deep and 5 high, grandma, grandma’s wheelchair, every member of the family including the neighbor’s kids, roosters, goats, water tanks, you name it. You swear any number of the trucks you see creep by are about to give up and split in two. But nope, I’m sure they still have a good 50,000 miles left on them. They sure use them like they do!


Mexico is amazing!

The people. The landscape. The architecture. The food. And, back to the people. I‘ve lost count of how many Mexican grandmothers we have found over the course of only a few weeks. It’s a beautiful land of music and art, friendships and families. If we had left it up to the scare tactics of the media, we would’ve never left the country. Drugs! War! Disease! They’re out to get you! AHHHH!!! Terry admitted today that not once has he felt like he was threatened in any way. Of course, we know we stand out. We’d be silly to think we didn’t. Sometimes that makes others want to approach you even more, and not just for a peso. Just like in the states, you don’t go to certain places at night. That’s common sense. You don’t hang around border towns, you trust your gut, and you ultimately start to settle in. If you know Terry, you know that this is a major 180-degree from the usual.

Street kids

So, class, have we learned anything today? I do hope we have. Our family certainly has, and isn’t that why we’re here? Each day brings a new sensation, a new lesson and a new appreciation for Mexico. I’ll be honest, some days we just want to lay and bed with a movie and room service, as the exhaustion can sometimes take over. Riding a motorcycle for a 9-hour stretch is a physical and mental challenge, especially in this country. But, that’s okay. It was our choice, and we wouldn’t change a thing. Well, maybe the choice to not bring a blow dryer… Cheers.







By Sandy Borden

None of the members of the Trio really knew or could even grasp just how tricky it would be to leave the familiar. Wait, let me rephrase that… We didn’t know how hard it would be to say goodbye. It really wasn’t about saying goodbye to our home and our ‘stuff’, it was about our friends and family, particularly those who we’re not sure will be there when we get back. My 83-year-old dad and I especially had a hard time letting go. For Terry, it was our friend Mike from our little town of McCloud. Though many tears were shed with promises of prayers and safe travels, it didn’t make it any easier as we watched them become smaller and smaller in our rear views as we rolled down the road. Did you know it’s difficult to see through the visor when sobbing?

Jack and Mike

I could go on and on about what the past year has been like. I don’t think mass chaos and constant panic attacks quite cover the scope of this life event. Think about it – we CHOSE to end our “dream” suburban lifestyle and take to the road for 18 months! EGADS! Instead of going on and on about the entire spectacle, let me just give you a brief synopsis of life since November of 2013: sold a house, bought a house, moved 3 ½ hours away, new school for Jack, Terry gone 3 nights a week, trying to sell a business, soft remodel on new abode, attempting to plan said trip, laundry, homework, meals, rinse, repeat, wine. There. Done. It gives me a touch of anxiety just typing that little bit! Many people ask how we did this. The best advice I can give when making a decision to change your life trajectory? Make sure you have a solid understanding and commitment with your partner(s); learn to communicate; learn to argue; and, own up to sometimes being a bit difficult to live with. That last piece of advice is by far the hardest for this strong-willed female.

When we closed the garage door on our McCloud home Saturday, September 13th, it was more bittersweet than we imagined. We were leaving most everything behind for 18 months. Huh… But, we didn’t get very far that morning. We logged only a single mile to our favorite breakfast place to sit down and enjoy a meal with our McCloud family before we started our journey south. All of our friends showed up in their Adventure Trio t-shirts, curious as to how we felt, what was running through our minds, etc. There were hugs and tears as we said our final farewells, everyone waving as we were lead out with a sheriff’s escort down the freeway to the county line. Many thanks, Louis, for the rock star treatment.

Louie & Terry

The McCloud family

Jacks friends

Jack & Sara 2

Terry & Grant

Group shot

Off we go

Our first day out had to be memorable for all members of the Trio. But, where to land that night? At only 4 hours way, it made sense to stay at the home of the grandfather of adventure travel, Ted Simon. Ted has been a friend for several years and has invited us to stay over on many an occasion. Though he wasn’t home for this visit, Ted told us to come inside and make ourselves at home. So, we did. Thank you, Ted, once again for letting the Trio invade your abode.

The next stop on the tour was Healdsburg where my family eagerly awaited our 3-night stay. This stopover was not to be rushed. As my dad so fondly put it several months previous, “You’ll be gone 18 months? Well, I’ll be dead by then.” Priceless, dad. Again, no rush. All three nights were spent with family from all sides. Cousins played, aunties and uncles got in one last hug and kiss, and sisters took pictures with promises of another get-together upon our return.


Sandy and Dad

Sandwiched in that visit with dad and Arlene was a day trip to San Francisco to meet the newest Borden family member, month old Santiago, and Terry’s youngest sister, Stacy. We had a brief visit with our brother-in-law, Jorge, before he had to catch a plane. We were soon joined by their friends who also brought along their little one’s, the living area stuffed with new mom’s and babies of varying ages. You know it’s time to leave when the kiddos start to get tired, the crowd getting ugly, and the traffic beckons to trap you in its grasp. Santiago is going to be walking the next time we see him! This is when Skype comes in handy in helping to share in those milestones.

Santiago and Family

The night before our departure from Healdsburg, dad told us that if anything happened to him while we were gone, he didn’t want us to come home. He wants us to continue our journey. Sorry, dad, but I’m a big girl and can make that decision for myself. He knows we have travel money set aside in case of any sort of emergency, though we’d prefer to use it to return for a surprise visit and not a celebration of life.

When it was time for us to roll out from dads, I didn’t realize just how hard that moment would be. For as stoic this former Marine was on most occasions, our final hug and ‘I love you’ seemed to catch both of us by surprise. Dad and I could barely talk and preferred to keep the conversation short, both afraid of a complete breakdown. Jack gave his grandpa a big hug, even he finding it hard to say goodbye for now. I sobbed all the way to our next stop and for the next several hours, unsure if this was the last time I was to ever see my dad. Yes, this goodbye was by far the most difficult.

Dad and Jack


Kron Family Picture


Kickstands were down for one night in Santa Rosa at the home of one our best friends, Brooke. She confessed to not spreading the word of our arrival with the rest of the crew, admitting that she was being selfish with our time together. We were good with that. A night of pizza, wine and story swapping ensued, keeping us up later than we should have. We didn’t mind, really. Brooke gave us a beautiful night and a royal sendoff. There’s something about friends that you’ve known since childhood that make you feel like family.

Brooke & gang



Lyn Picture

Our old hometown of Davis was to be the place to land for the next 2 nights. We stayed with our friends, Allan and Claudia, who lived literally just around the corner from our former home of 15 years. Was it weird being back? Nah. We’d already moved on. But, it was weird to see that nothing had changed. What do I mean by that? The same frantic schedule mixed with the same need to be the busiest mommy with a splash of just plain nuts. None of us missed the usual routine. We did a short TV appearance on Good Day Sacramento, making a breakfast treat on air for our interviewer, Courtney, and sharing the story of our choice to change. Having done several interviews with this show in the past, it was yet another example of friends as family. We hung out for a while to make sure and see everyone before we were off to yet another event.


Claudia and Allan

Our last night in Davis was spent with friends and former neighbors from the old the hood at the park where Jack and all the other kiddos spent countless hours on the jungle gym and see saw. Jack caught up with old friends that he’d known since birth while the adults noshed on homemade goodies washed down with a mug of homemade brew. Yes, our friend, Dan, brought a full keg of hoppy goodness to our gathering. Now, THAT’S how you go out with a bang!

It was another quick departure from Claudia and Allan’s before one of us let loose on the waterworks. A few more of these moments were yet to come. The next difficult goodbye was after a few nights stay with our adopted parent’s/grandparents’, Dave and Judy. Terry, Jack and I never realized how hard this road of farewells was going to be, and all three of us needed this time to relax and be parented & loved. At just over 70, Dave still rides and followed us out for a few miles after finishing a ceremonial breakfast at their favorite breakfast spot in South Lake Tahoe. We were now off to meet up with our friend from McCloud, Mike, and ride to Mariposa for a weekend with our Horizons Unlimited family. It was at this event that we were to get a big sendoff and some much needed advice from our well-traveled crew.


Dave and Judy

It’s an amazing feeling knowing that you have people in your life that are more family than friends. For Terry especially, Mike is one of them. Mike wanted to ride and camp with us the week leading up to Horizons Unlimited (HU). It was a special time for stories and bonding, for Terry to get some advice and tips, and Jack to learn the basics of fly-fishing from a man who knew his way around a river. Though no fish were caught, it was a few days off the grid at Big Trees and time to tuck away some new memories. Upon our arrival at HU, we were immediately greeted with hugs and tears by our travel family, helping us find the proper spot to pitch our tent so as to remain close to our ‘unit’. Yes, tears already. It was when our friend, Danell, and I locked eyes that we just couldn’t keep it together. She, too, had been preparing for a yearlong journey, this one around the states. During the planning stage, we would text each other when feeling low or defeated, keeping each other moving forward and not feeling alone in our chaos. Jack found his friends of many years, Alana and Dmitri, their mom, Nicole, a very good friend and staunch supporter of our family from the beginning. Carla and Jonathan rolled in shortly after, Carla on a monster Indian that begged to be photographed by anyone with a camera. It was when Alison came rolling in with her 6 foot body on a little 225cc bike that all of us roared in laughter at this beautiful girl riding this little bike. “55MPH max!” she said. No kidding! She set up her tent next to Gina, a beautiful woman who lost her husband to cancer just one year previous. Though deaf, Gina doesn’t let anything keep her from achieving her goals. It was when Fonzie rolled in on his Aprillia that we new the party had officially begun. He was yet another member of our crazy family, and we like it that way.

Mike Fly Fishing


Nicole Sandy Carla Gina

Jack & Alana Sandy & Carla

We finally finished putting together our Saturday afternoon presentation and were quite pleased with the turnout. Yes, I cried…again. Such a sap. A sense of relief came over us as we were now done with our commitments and ready to cut it and roll. It was time to really get this journey started, but that meant leaving our HU family. This, too, was bittersweet because as sad as we were to say farewell, our HU family was excited for our new venture. That definitely helped make the transition easier. Goodbye for now to our motorcycle family.

Sandy rolling out

Rolling out

But, this would be a long goodbye as some of our clan followed us out through the Yosemite forest with plans to camp for the night at a remote hot springs. The idea of soaking in the springs sounded lovely as we had spent the previous night curled up in the tent, avoiding the rain and thunder that roared overhead. Unfortunately, the hot springs would not see any of our crew. A massive storm was brewing, threatening to descend upon our route with several inches of rain and snow. Delightful. Rain we can handle, but snow and freezing temps can be a bit much, especially for Jack. Inclement weather is a lot to ask of little man. And, we had lost one of our riding crew to a broken throttle cable. We had to say goodbye to Gina as she and her bike waited with the park ranger for a tow truck to take her back over the mountain. Not the way we wanted to part ways but very grateful we got to spend the extra time together.


Tow Truck

The snow and freezing temperatures almost got the best of us. It was all we could do to keep our hands from becoming hypothermic and our visors free of snow. Every scrape of snow off the visor was immediately replaced with yet another layer. The snow became rain once we started to lose altitude. A couple of shared hotel rooms were going to have to suffice for the night, Mike and Danell in one, the Trio and Fonzie in the other. With our cores once again warm, we meandered down the way for dinner and stories of surviving “The Great Blizzard of 2014”.

It was the next morning and time for us to leave our friends and continue our journey south. The last of the long goodbyes was upon us. Danell was taking off for her year around the states, Fonzie was heading back to L.A. to work, and Mike was heading home to McCloud. It was a sweet embrace as neither Mike or Terry could keep a dry eye. We were leaving our McCloud friend and father, and he was leaving his kids. Safe travels to all of our families. You will be missed but, oh, the stories upon our return. PS to Mike: Your ‘To-Do’ list is waiting at home.


Mike Terry & Jack


Many have asked, “Do you have your route planned out? Where is your next stop?” Our answer? We’re headed south. No planned route. No true direction except, well, south. Along this journey, we are making new friends who quickly become new members of our family. It is the people we meet along the way that help mold us into new and different versions of who we once were. As I finish this rather long entry, the three of us are surrounded by the family that run the tiny hotel that we have called home these past few days. They are as curious about us as we are about them. I can’t even conceive how much all of us will learn about people and culture and history as we continue along this amazing ride. And, once again, we will have to say goodbye. We have to remind ourselves that it really isn’t a goodbye as long as you take a piece of everyone with you, letting the experience consume you as well as change even just a tiny piece of your being. Remember, change is a good thing as long as you learn from the experience. Now, I must bid you goodbye…for now. Cheers.

Adventure Trio Leaves the Usual and Rides to South America Starting September 2014

Terry, Sandy and Jack Borden (aka The Adventure Trio) have done what many in America may call unusual. In May of 2013, they made the decision to ride their 2 BMW GS motorcycles to South America, departing in September 2014, taking a year and a half to explore a new part of the world. In December 2013, they sold their home in a beautiful suburban neighborhood in their perfect little town, trading their life in the suburbs for a cabin in the mountains. It was time for this family to make a change and show 12-year-old Jack the world beyond maps and the media.

Having done several month-long motorcycle trips since Jack was 6, Terry and Sandy decided it was time to take it to the next level. And, Jack has been on board from the beginning. Leaving behind the baseball games and business meetings, the Borden’s found that they were, actually, much happier out of the suburbs. Why? “I don’t think we ever really fit in here,” says Sandy. Terry expanded, “We found ourselves leaving most every weekend, heading north to our little house in McCloud, California, a life away from the leaf blowers and what we’re told we’re ‘supposed’ to achieve.” Having done everything they were supposed to do, it’s now time for this family to do what they want, making this the best decision for their family. Is this for everyone? “Of course not. But, this is what’s best for our family”, they all answer, almost in unison.

Learning about the world beyond the media is very important to the Borden’s. Jack, having completed a Spanish-immersion elementary school in their former town of Davis, California, has spent most of his 7th grade year in the small K-8 grade school in McCloud. Beginning September 2014, Jack will be home-schooled, learning the history and the culture of every country he visits through Mexico, Central and South America. “Jack has already been exposed to so much beyond the classroom”, says Sandy. “Why not combine traditional schooling with being immersed in other cultures and languages. Can you imagine the how much all of us will have changed when we return?”

And, that’s the lure of the road on 2-wheels. When BMW Motorrad USA learned of their story, they came on-board as a full sponsor as well as many other U.S. and international companies including Touratech USA, Clearwater Lights, Hilleberg Tents and DeLorme Satellite Communicators. Also supporting the Trio on their journey are Schuberth Helmets, GS-911, Baker’s Bacon, Black Dog Cycle Works, Adventure Designs, Giant Loop Moto, Metzeler Tires and McCloud Outdoors.

The Borden’s will leave their home in McCloud in a mere 3 weeks with their ‘official’ 18-month journey beginning on September 28th from the Horizons Unlimited International Travelers meeting in Mariposa, California. They invite any and all fellow wanderers to follow them south to the Mexican border to help begin this next chapter in their lives.

Do the Borden’s see themselves as an inspiration to other families to ‘get up and go’? “I hope so. We only have so many years with our kiddos. Jack is already 12 and all too soon he will be off making his own memories. If we don’t do this now, then when?” answers Terry. Is it scary? “Of course it is! But, isn’t it scarier never having veered from the usual?” says Sandy. And, what’s Jack most excited about? “Just going.” Sometimes it’s as simple as that.

As the Borden family always says, “Don’t ask why, ask why not.” You can follow The Adventure Trio on their journey as well as read their stories on their website,, Facebook,, Instagram ADVENTURE_TRIO, and Twitter, AdventureTrio.

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