Almost there…

Only 600km to Ushuia left! Spend the last few days in Rio Gallego. Pretty uneventful, but good to get things done in a decent sized town – like doing laundry, internet and a rock concert. The usual… The band that we will see tonight is called “La Renga” – apparently they are the Argentinean equivalent to the Rolling Stones or something. Lets see.

 

Tomorrow we will continue our trip south. Heard mixed things about Ushuia so far – it is supposed to be full of Germans and South Africans that just go there to say that they where there 😉 Cant wait!

 

Staying at a hotel tonight. really learnt to appreciate a bed after camping in the cold and damp for the last few nights. figured i should have bought a warmer sleeping bag and maybe a dawn jacket or something fluffy. Now I regret, silly gringo me…

 

Steep learning curve – got a good idea now what works and what not. Next time i will take less gear to keep the weight down and probably a different bike. the next few weeks will put the beemer to test with lots of gravel and dirt roads coming up… got into the habit to check my bike every night or morning for loose or missing bolts, screws and nuts or whatelse can vibrate off.

 

will keep on checking!

Dont cry for me Argentina!

Not that easy to get internet all the time, but this is what happened so far:

 we found a mechanic in Osorno that knows BMW F650s inside out so he wasnt surprised to hear that my waterpump had a leak (after just 20,000km by the way). Aparently it is all because of a design fault of the seal… anyway, we got it changed and all works well now…

 we continued our trip – but not straight south as initially planned through Chile, but we went east into Argentina. Absolutely amazing! The border crossing is in the middle of a National Park. Heaps of lakes here and big mountains all around. Got the feel of Taupo – just everything is so much bigger. Furtther east you can just drive and drive and drive and there is nothing! No houses, no other cars, no signs of civilisation… BUT there is WIND – a lot of it!!! Aparently it is the trade wind that is coming from the west, but when you ride your bike it is coming from all directions, or at least that is how it feels like. Wind speed is approximately 100 km/h – when it is blowing from the rear it is like riding in a big vacuum, you can even stand up and there is no wind knocking you around. if it comes from the side you ride your bike as if you would go through a hairpin corner and it is very tiring riding a bike in a lean all the time. we figured if you move your weight to the side of the wind you can keep the bike upright and you just hang there like a little monkey on it. it looks very funny, but fun it is not. but the worst is if you ride straight into it – take the 100km/h wind speed plus the speed of your bike (another 100km/h) so it feels like your are trying to beat Burt Monroes reckord with heaps of speed wobbles and your helmet gets beaten around all the time. Discovered muscles in my neck I thought they do not exist…

 Anyway, we made it all the way to the Atlantic Ocean – never saw it from this side… We stayed in Rada Tilly last night. Tried to leave early southwards, but Jeffs KTM had some trouble. Actually the whole clutch lever came off, so looks like we will stay here for a while to get a spare part.

 Being on the road is great. It feels like a slow transformation into something else… something very smelly by the way. Since we are camping all the time there is not always a shower at hand and you really lower your standards when it comes to bathrooms and stuff. Your nose kinda adjusts and in the end you are more concerned about getting some food and where to pitch your tent then anything else. Hmmm, and the Chilenean wine is just superb! Very nice Malbec… hmmmm… And they proof that you dont have to pay at least NZ$20 to get a decent bottle of wine. With 6 dollars you are already a happy camper!

 The sheepskin really works too… however, when doing more than 300km a day you can really feel your bottom. Wonder if I should have spend the extra money on a gel seat or something…

 All in all it is a very steep learning curve. You figure pretty quick what kind of gear works and what not. it is always good to compare notes and see what the other guys are using. one thing is for sure – i brought heaps too much stuff. the key would be to travel as light as possible. next time, if it doesnt fit into the dry bag i wont take it. also, having a givi top case is very nice in the city, but going on gravel roads and dirt i am now very worried that this thing will selfdestruct itself in a few more 1000 kms. lets see.

 By the way, I´ve done more than 3000km if South American roads by now. The rear tyre wears faster than I thought. Next time I will get a different rubber – maybe the Metzeler Enduro 3 or something like that… (if I can find one).

 The people over here are super nice and always helpful. Wish I had learned more Spanish though. Some things are quite different though. Nothing happens in a hurry (like Pacific Islands style), shops close for lunch between 1 and 4 pm (which is super annoying, because you can bet your money that you will allways arrive at the shop just after 1pm) and restaurants are empty until 10pm. then everything comes to life and people start going out from 2am onwards. Wonder when these folks sleep, or maybe they just dont go to work. Whatever.

 Food is very yummy too. Its great looking at the menu and you have no idea what you order. Montezuma stayed at home so far, so I guess my stomach has adjusted well without bigger problems.

 Next time I will probably write from Ushuia at the bottom of the continent. If we get the spare parts for the KTM we will probably there in less than a week or so.

 Until next time…

Rally Dakar and back…

So we left Santiago on Thursday with a group of Chilenean motorbikers. The plan was to get to the Argentinean border before nightfall where the rally dakar participants would enter into Chile the next morning. So far so good – unfortunately, one of the bikes suffered a puncture and we lost more than 1.5hours fixing it, with the result that it got mighty by the time we reached the foot of the Andes. An amazing view! I had tears of joy in my eyes seeing this gigantic mountains almost raising vertically in front of us.

 Riding a motorbike is not much fun, particular in Chile! So we stopped 20km short of our planned destination for the day and stayed the night in an utility hangar that was used to store salt for the winter season. It was a pretty cold and windy night I tell you.

 Anyway, next mornign we went all the way up to the border. The Authorities even set up a separate border check-point for the Dakar. Good for us, so we had a very close look at the participants and all of them had to drive past us!

 We then followed the rally towards Valpairiso, but what we experienced was someting I couldnt have even imagined in my wildest dreams. Both sides of the road were lined with crounds of people – all yelling, singing and swinging Chilenian flags… When we came to Los Andes the traffic grinded to a halt so people came up to us to take pictures of us, tap us on the shoulder and cheering! Ok, I admit it was like cheating, because they thought that we were rally participants, too, but who cares. King for a day! The best rock star feeling ever.

 In Valpariso we stayed in the student flat of one of the bikers – they call him the Black Panther… Remember the toilet from ¨Trainspotting¨? That was exactly how the bathroom looked like!!! Serious! But hey, it was a night´s accomodation for free and I you are on the road that means you can spend your cash on other things – like Pisco Sour! Not sure what it is, but the Chilenians drink it like water. Yummy. Anyway, the town is amazing – a little bit like Wellington – just way much larger. Great seafood and cool architecture.

 Oh, for the wind team at Connell Wagner – I was very surprised that there are not any wind turbines around here! Super windy, nicely coming from the west. Not so much fun on the bike when you riding north or south though! Would make a nice site visit, too 😉

 Our next stop was Illapo – a pretty uneventful place frankly speaking and one of the local told us that the Dakar was the most exciting thing around here since 100 years or so… Hence people going mad and having the biggest fiesta!!! We got up at 5am just to be there in time to see the rally take off. These guys are just crazy! they drive and ride on dirt roads as if it would be a German Motorway. Incredible. Swallowed a lot of dust, but it was so worth it.

 Now I got the first South-American 1000km under my belt. Not as bad as I thought. Well, I am still alive! Only one near miss so far 😉 In comparison the American lady we were riding with came off her bike twice! Poor Anne. Luck that she didnt get hurt. Now lets how that my rear tyre lasts until Bunos Aires! At the moment I am back in Santiago and trying to plan the next step of my trip. I am hoping to stich together another group of riders to go down south with to Patagonia. There are a number of options – rinding with a Canadian, Chilenean or Israely. Will keep you posted…

  
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Quick update

in short: all ok, me in Illapo at the moment (3hrs north of Santiago)… rinding with 3 chileneans and one american lady…

 went to the Rally Dakar today… totally cool. these guys are incredible. they are riding on dirt as if it would be a German Autobahn.

 scenery is breathtaking… super dry. cacteens everywhere and other funny vegetation i´ve never seen before.

 bike is going well, no problems… the general idea now is to go south now towards Patagonia as planned.

 will write more and post pictures when there is propper internet somewhere…

  

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Santiago – Part 3

Went for a stroll through town today. Feels like being in Spain in a way – just everything looks a little tired. Nevertheless, I found some cool looking buildings. And you can actually get your shoes polished at every other corner – finding a supermarket to buy some water, however, is rather a mission!

 Tonight, we met up with some local motorbikers from Santiago. Very nice guys. I just wish my spanish would be a little bit better. But drinking beer seems to break the ice in every culture – even works in Chile. Tomorrow we start our trip. Can wait.
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