Another good day

Trip Start Mar 20, 2011
Trip End Jun 05, 2011

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Flag of Argentina  , Cuyo,
Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Today as per usual was another magnificent day on the roads of Argentina. Our hotel in Zapala was more like a old ghost set of cells from the 1920s. There was next to no lighting along the corridors and everything was simply painted black or in old wood, very ghostly indeed. The laundry room looked just like a museum with old spin dryers and mangles all painted in old green paint and still with brass makers plates listing them as being made in Sheffield in 1937. Our breakfast here was not even worth having as it consisted of tea/coffee and a cracker and some rusty old bread.

We finally got on our way and headed up the route 40 towards Chos Malal where we found roadwork's had closed the road and so there was a diversion. What a nightmare this was. As non of us could speak Spanish it was real hard work finding out where to go. I finally let the team onto a good road and we were off. All that worried me was that we were on the right road or not. I looked at the map and it kind of indicated we should be heading east. Looking at the sun that somehow looked correct so I carried on leading the team down this road. Sure enough it was the correct road.

This road was rather straight through the rolling hills just on the side of the Andes. But that did not last for long and soon we were on a fantastically winding road with more and more mountains by the mile.

We decided to stop for some lunch at ??????? and also fuel up. We drove around the town about 5 times before we could fid a petrol station. When we finally did find the petrol station they refused to serve us as they said we jumped the que. Then we realized that all the cars which appeared to be parked up the street were not actually parked but were standing in the queue for petrol.

At that I decided rather than wait a hour for petrol I would go and get something to drink as it was getting quite hot by now. I met the others in a nearby cafe and we sat having a chat for about a hour as well as a quick walk around the town. After that I filled the bikes tank and I left ahead of the others. Finding my way out of town and onto Route 40 was not easy. I finally made my way up this rather dusty and rough farm track and simply went through a field and simply joined the road from the side.

This section of Route 40 from Chos Malal to Bananban is simply biking heaven. On most roads the curves and bends last a few miles and end but on this road they simply go on forever. I raced ahead taking photos every ten minutes of every mountain and scenic place all along the route. At one point there was a stuffed pig at the side of the road where I stopped and parked the bike up beside it for a photo. This was to be a big mistake. After taking the photo I jumped back on my bike and went to head when the bike simply spun in the sand and over it went. It was simply far too heavy for me to pick up on my own and so I had to stop a passing car which are few and far between. Two very kind gentlemen came over and kindly gave me a hand getting the bike back onto its wheels. After that we stood there chatting and they each took photos of themselves on the bike. Within 5 minutes of getting the bike upright 5 others of the team went past on their bikes. I gave them the thumbs up to indicate I was ok. I then gave chase and flew along this wonderful road and passed the others then stopped at the top of a high mountain pass and caught the rest of them on camera on their bikes passing through the valley.

From then on the scenery along this route was just so magical that I was stopping every 5 minutes just to take photos.

But just like all good things come to an end so did the tarred road and soon we were onto good old rough bumpy Argentinean stony road again. The road might have been rough but the scenery was wonderful. The road followed a wonderful blue river much of the way with volcanic rocks everywhere you looked. I was loosing time like mad but simply did not care. The sun was now beating down and it was boiling somewhere in the region of about 34 Celsius. I stopped at a wonderful rocky area with the massive wide river below and simply went for a swim just to cool down.

After that I thought I better get moving on as the others and support vehicle were well ahead of me by now......or so I thought!! I was plodding along the road just looking at the scenery when the over a bridge was about 5 bikes and the lads. Andy's Harley had broken down. As I had an electrical tester I leant it to them and went off to view the scenery from the bridge. The river was about 100ft below in a wonderful natural cutting. It was just beautiful to say the least. I found a wonderful overhanging rock and sat on it with my back leaning against it. The rock was the best cooling aid available in the area. Unfortunately the river was simply impossible to get to from so high up otherwise I would be into that water.

Son Nick and Caroline arrived and joined in with the gang of bike mechanics on Andy’s Harley. It appears the main battery wire had snapped.

Nick and I went over to a small bridge which was at sometime a viewing bridge for the gorge. He was rather nervous at walking over it but finally got the courage to do it. Meanwhile I was still sitting on my overhanging rock and he like most folk told me I was MAD!!!..........Somehow I agree!!!

After taking more photos and a natter with the rest of the gang who were still working on Andy’s Harley I decided to go on towards our overnight destination of Malargue. Michele who was sitting in the shade across from us all said it was about another 60 km or so and that most of it was hard bumpy dirt road. However thank goodness she was wrong and about 250 meters further up the road it all changed to glorious tarmac. I could now fly along at about 80mph on this fantastically winding road. I was totally sweating by now and so again I stopped by the river and went for a dip. That water was just so wonderfully refreshing.

I raced onwards towards Malargue and thought I would be there in no wrong I was!!! The wonderful tarmac mysteriously turned back to rough bumpy stones and sand!! It was another hell road indeed!! There was a lot of construction work going on and it must have been shift change as van after van was just racing along this dirt road and covering me in dust and stones, it was just terrible indeed!!

However bad this road was I still stopped loads along the way and took photos of the wonderful scenery. There was goats and horses as well as donkeys all along the road so I had to be really careful not to hit one . At one point I stopped to photo some goats and got chatting with some tourists from Portugal. After that I headed on again only to have a small cow walk out in front of me. I hit the brakes but on this stone road brakes are just about non existent and I slammed into her at about 5mph. She stepped forward and moooooooed a few times then just walked away and no one got hurt.

I finally arrived into Malargue at about 19h30 and was not only boiled and soaked with sweat but I was also exhausted. Lucky for me I found Jim in the rescue truck just the other side of town  and so I followed him to the City Hotel where we were staying.................or at least some of us were!! This place was a hole and most chose to stay at the other hotel but so long as I got a shower and food and a bed I simply did not care. Lucky for me I got my own room and later we all went into town for dinner and then it was home to bed at about midnight. It had been a mighty long day but very enjoyable with scenery like you just cannot believe. As for my wee Honda, well she is going just magically. I never thought I would hammer any of my bikes over such roads in my life. Many of the other bikes have had problems but this wonderful Honda just keeps plodding along. She is also getting better by the day on fuel as she is getting run in. At one time she even managed 74mpg, not bad at all for any 700cc motorcycle.
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