Oh my God, the gravel roads
Trip Start Oct 20, 2009
159Trip End Jun 23, 2010
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Where I stayed
We could tell Lou and Lynn were up, by the way the floor boards squeaked, they were in the room next to ours. But, who could get out of this delicious bed with the pure lama wool blankets, to hop on a motor bike in the freezing cold? Grudgingly we went down to breakfast, where the CD player was playing Men at Work's, 'I come from a land down under’, coincidence, I wonder.
We put on all our gear this morning as it was a chilly 8 degrees. Balaclavas, jumpers, face masks, 2 pairs of trousers under our riding pants, gortex liners and rain suits all made an appearance today. It can be a bit restrictive, but also cosy warm if the wind keeps out
Five kilometers down the road we met a grey, gravel roadway. Lynn motioned us to pass and we said we’d meet at the border control of Argentina, all going well. I thought it was going to be a small patch of gravel road like before, a couple of K’s or so, but as we motored along, me in the lead, we came upon a sign about 10kms in……San Sebastian 100kms. Oh God, surely not all on gravel road!
I had a couple of big scares, well, three actually, where the bike (and I) were fishtailing through the gravel which had mounted up at various points along the track, and I had to stand up on the foot pegs to regain some control of the bike, heart pounding.
At one stage a ute in front of me stopped on a rise to give a lift to a bloke with a push bike. It all nearly came to grief when the cyclist came out into the centre of the road to load his bike into the back of the ute. I couldn’t pull over very far as I could not see what was coming over the rise, and the gravel had mounded up in the centre of the road. It was a tight squeeze as I brushed past the cyclist and shouted "Watch out!", He couldn’t have heard me coming with the wind blowing and he got a hell of a fright, firstly from me and then as Des came whizzing by
Unfortunately Des got a shock, when he couldn’t spot me in his rear vision mirror. I had pulled off the road slightly just into a verge because I thought my front tyre (which was pretty bald by now) had gone down. Also my day-bag kept coming down onto my seat when I stood on the foot pegs and I had to shinney it up again with my bum to sit down. Des saw that the bike was still upright, thank God, and I motioned that I was OK.
The corrugated washboard of a road in the last 10 kms played merry hell with my wrist and I could envisage myself running for the anti-inflammatory when I arrived at my destination.
At the border of Chile, we did the carnet and passport thing, checked out of Chile, and rode 12kms down the (bitumen, ahhh) road to enter into Argentina, again. Such waste of time. One would think Chile and Argentina could come to some arrangement with this small section of land of about 200kms, which one has to cross into and out of Chile to get into Argentina again to go to Ushuaia
We passed many oil and gas derricks in Argentina, as we had before in the stretch going to Comodoro Rivadavia. The oil pumps were rhythmically bobbing their heads up and down like big black birds. The roads were sealed and good, and at one point extremely wide, like that section was used as a runway for aircraft, perhaps during the Maldives/Falklands war.
It was very picturesque in this area with smooth, green mountains on our right interrupted by the grey roadway and then continuing on the left with a bowl shape which supported cows and guanacos. The grass in the huge bowl area was short and lush looking, with some natural dams with water for the animals. A fox with a black ringed tail ran in front of my bike and I got a good look at the little fellow. The ride in this area was magnificent with these mountains and valleys.
Villa Hotel is where we settled down for the night in Rio Grande, Tierra del Fuego. It wasn’t easy to find a hotel here as the one Lou and Lynn had earmarked on the esplanade was closed down for renovation. The one we tried at in the centre of town, was way too expensive and the third one we tried was full
After unloading the gear from the bikes, we reported a water leak from the heater in our bathroom, which the manager came to fix. He stuffed about a bit for 20 minutes or so and was in and out of the room. Finally he said. “OK finished” and left. The solution, he found, was to put a bucket under the leak and let it drip into that all night! I got up three times during the night to empty the bucket.