Mission Accomplished!

Mission Accomplished!

In August 2011 a young Irishman named Sean Dillon shipped his 25-year-old 75-lb. Honda C90 Super Cub motorcycle from Dublin to Anchorage, Alaska. His goal: to ride his tiny 90cc bike from the Arctic Circle to the southernmost tip of South America.

Sean’s journey would take nearly a year and a half over some of the worst roads in the world. He traveled more than 27,000 miles and hit an altitude of 18,720 feet. His remarkable little Honda (which he named El Burrito while on the road) ran admirably, requiring little in the way of maintenance or upkeep. His biggest mechanical difficulty was flat tires, of which he had quite a few. Sean ran the severely overloaded El Burrito off the road a few times, but severe temperatures  (both hot and cold), rain, snow, and wind, and tumbles into ditches didn’t faze the venerable Cub. Riders of motorcycles with ten times the engine displacement of El Burrito and costing twenty times as much told Sean he was crazy for attempting such a journey on a 90 cc cycle, but the Burrito was more reliable than any of its bigger, more expensive cousins.  Its enclosed chain was a life-saver in foot-deep mud, and its 150-mile-per-gallon fuel consumption a godsend in places where gasoline was expensive and difficult to obtain.

That’s not to say there weren’t problems. A mechanic in Vancouver persuaded Sean to change to a synthetic oil and that set off a string of problems. New clutch plates turned out to be incorrect. In the end, Sean cleaned the old plates off and put them back in and El Burrito ran fine. Things got bent and snapped off because they were stressed to the breaking point—mirrors, for instance, which Sean adjusted by bending rather than by loosening and then re-tightening the bolts. The carburetor became clogged with gunk, no doubt because of bad fuel. But El Burrito ran at his 40 mph cruising speed day after day after day, never complaining.

Sean had El Burrito serviced on the rare occasions when he passed through a city. Often the service was free because the shop was following his blog. People would treat him to meals, buy tires and camping gear for him, and put him up in their homes, always without being asked. They read the blog and new Sean was on a budget. They wanted to see him succeed.

After all those thousands of miles of bad roads, heat, cold, insects, and unsuitable campgrounds, Sean reached Tierra del Fuego- literally the end of the earth—in Argentina. His post on March 27 confirmed it.

Now Sean will have to readjust, figure out what to do with the rest of his life. I hope he writes a book and goes on the lecture circuit. That would make for a nice transition.

I hope El Burrito finds his way to a museum.

To read Sean’s blog (I suggest you start at the first and work your way through to the present, click below.


Honda vs. the World

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