THREE Ulster motorcycling enthusiasts have finished a gruelling 20,000-mile journey through the Americas, from Alaska to the world’s southernmost city.
Ballyclare man David Kyle, Peter Graham from Lisburn and Drew Wilson from Belfast set off along the Pan-American Highway from the north American state four months ago and have endured all manner of climatic conditions on the road to Patagonia.
As well as snow, ice and mud roads, the intrepid bikers faced the infamous wind storms on Argentina’s Ruta 40 gravel road and Chile’s Atacama desert — the driest place on Earth.
The trio also had to cope with the 4,900-metre altitude of the Andean Altiplano and a lack on fuel in some of the most remote places in the world.
Despite such hardships along the way, they say they were “humbled” by the generosity of people who had little or nothing by comparison.
Driving from Alaska to Arizona through the Rockies, the trio continued south to Mexico and into Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.
One of the most problematic areas of the entire journey is where the road breaks at a 90-mile stretch of jungle between Panama and Colombia.
The Darien Gap has been described as one of the most dangerous places on Earth — notorious for kidnappers and drug-traffickers as well as inhospitable jungle and swamps.
Erring on the side of caution, the three bikers chose to fly into Colombia and then drive southwards to the deserts of Peru and the High Andes.
However, it was the interaction with the people and their kindness which affected them most.
David Kyle described the abject poverty in some areas of Central America as heartbreaking, but said the generosity of the people everywhere they went was “the enduring memory” of the entire trip.
“From the extreme poverty in Guatemala and northern Peru, to the nouveau riche in Santiago, Chile, we experienced hospitality and friendliness which unfortunately is fast disappearing in society at home.
“People always had time to talk to us — the bikes and journey being a great focal point to start a conversation with our limited Spanish.
“We have been humbled by the friendliness and generosity of the people everywhere across the Americas.
“One notable example was in Patagonia where fuel availability is always a challenge due to the remoteness.
“Having found two fuel stations in a row with no petrol, we approached the police in a local village. They arranged with the local fire brigade to give us 30 litres which they siphoned from the fire engine.”
The trio reached the end of the road at Ushuaia in Argentina last Saturday. From there they will travel to Buenos Aires for a flight home in time for Christmas.