The successful crossing by the Trans Darien Expedition in 1960 did little to diminish the infamous allure of the Darien Gap, and in 1974 Bob Webb and Ron Merrill endeavored to the be the first to cross the treacherous pass on motorcycles. Both men were employed in the construction of the Panama Canal and during their spare time enjoyed short excursions into the jungle. After building up some time off, they both decided to attempt the full 200 mile crossing – a journey that would take them deep into uncharted territory.
Using two-wheeled drive Rokon Trail Blazer motorcycles, the duo sloshed through the muck and mire, climbed over fallen trees, and trundled through the thick underbrush. Heavily laden with supplies, the motorcycles were difficult to control and falls were very common. Thankfully it was only 3 feet to the ground. Numerous river crossings were required, which varied from straight on fording to strapping the bikes together and rafting them across. Help from the local river-going tribes was also gladly accepted.
After three failed attempts, they found success on their fourth try. Making good use of the local river ways they made it across to Columbia, albeit completely exhausted and penniless. Once there, they were able to persuade a local pilot to fly them and their motorcycles back to Panama City, promising to pay him once they arrived. The 200 mile journey took them 22 grueling days.
A full account of their crossing can be downloaded at “Men, Mud, and Motorcycles” It is a fantastic account of extraordinary journey.
[All pictures and descriptions via Motivation Tools]