Sunday, 31 January 2010

and back into Argentina

As I got closer to Ushuaia the views became more and more spectacular. Finally I began to recognise more and more though in the city itself they now have a casino and even a bingo hall.
I wandered down to the jetty from where I had sailed for Antarctica almost a year ago to the day. There were some people down there that recognised me and I was very tempted to take up an offer to fill a spare berth on one of the yachts for an upcoming trip.
Despite all of the development the local wildlife is still managing to find its niche within the city and I was sad enough to get an 'Ushuaia The Southern Most City in the World' stamp in my passport.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Back into Chile the land of poor service and astronomical prices!!

From El Calafate we headed SW on the Ruta 40 (this time sealed) to cross back into Chile at Rio Grande. Unfortunately we had chosen a Saturday when Argentinians head south to do the equivilent of the 'booze cruise' to France. They all go to Punta Arenas in Chile. Also the southern part of Argentina is totally isolated and cannot be accessed by land without going through Chile first. The result was total pandamonium at the border.
After all of that we had to catch a ferry across the Straits of Magallen. Riding motorbikes we were sent straight to the front of the queue and skipped about 50 cars. Hooray for 2 wheels!

Friday, 29 January 2010

Second time around but still stunning

Judy and Johannes from a week or so ago pitched up in El Calafate having dumped the bikes on the east coast and hired a car. So this morning with 4 of us in the car and Graham riding we headed for the Perito Moreno Glacier. I saw it for the first time about 8 years ago and there were far fewer tourists or facilities at the glacier. That said it was still an amazing sight and just as beautiful. It is one of the few glaciers in the world that is not retreating unlike those on the Antarctica Peninsular which are retreating at 10 metres per year.

Just a few more glacier pics.
The sign says that between 1968 and 1988 32 people were killed by flying ice thrown out by parts of the glacier collapsing.
and a quick video clip!!!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

The easy option!

Took the pickup with Maisie loaded in the back from Goberdino Gregores to El Calafate. Feel like a bit of a cheat since I only rode about half of 'rippio' (dirt) Ruta 40. Getting to be a habit since I only rode half of Mongolia. I have now seen all 4 members of the Llama family. Llama, alpaca, vicuna and finally guanaco. Came across some stunningly blue lakes.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Even though my riding skills at the time I fell off were nothing to write home about. In my defence the locals at the deserted house said that over the last couple of days the winds had been stronger than they had been for sometime and also where I fell off the land created a natural funneling effect. Twice over the last 9 months I have been given advice that I ignored. The first from a mate near Faslane who, before I started, said I should get rid of Maisie and buy a brand new bike. I wish I had listened. Also in Mongolia a French rider told me that of Maisie was too light on the front. Chris a motocross rider also told me that and when I tried to turn the front would not bite into the ground. An additional factor in falling off.
I will have to admit that I am feeling quite despondent at the moment. During the trip there have been about 7 instances where injury to me or Mazie has meant that I was in a position where I have had to change my schedule and spend a lot of money in order to continue.
I was given this pendant by somebody close to me and I will need to get more courage in order to follow my road to Ushuaia even though it is not a 'yellow brick' one.

This is the shot from my hotel in Goberdino Gregores. Remember this in town and therefore sheltered from the full force of the wind. Take a look at the trees.
Incredibly Claudio who is a Goberdino Gregores local has just come to the hotel and offered to take me to El Calafate for petrol money. What a great guy and has got me out of a hole. The team also put out some posters asking people to give me a lift. My faith in human nature has again been restored.

The TEAM. Me, Chris, Sue and Graham.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

So not only broken shock absorbers come in 3s!

Today started well and we made good time despite attrocious road conditions and the winds were only about 45/50 mph. It was all too good to last. As I came round a corner the full force of a Patagonian wind hit me broadside and threw me into soft sand. The rear wheel span out and I found myself sliding backwards down the road with my right leg tucked behind me. Not to worry I stood up and got back on. Problem is the damage had been done and I promptly fell off another 4 times as my knee continued to swell. The final time I was pinned under the bike and Graham had to help me from under it.
Maisie had bent panniers, bent handlebars and a variety of other ailments.

So having fallen off Maisie so started a day of coincidences, near misses and stuff worthy of being blogged.
Just after I had fallen off, for the last time, a white pick up full of Chilians pitched up. They offered to give me a lift to the next town that Graham's GPS said was 6.5 km down the road. So I jumped in and the guys agreed to park up Maisie until we figured out how to collect her. After 10km there was no sign of a town and we were back on tarmac. As we passed a deserted looking building I asked them to stop otherwise the rest of the team would not know where I was. The building was in the process of being converted into a hotel and the owner was there overseeing the work.
Here is a photo of the guys at the 'hotel to be' that helped me. I went inside and said my hellos and then went outside to make sure the others did not ride past. After 1 1/2 hours there was no sign of them so the owner offered to take me back to Maisie. 30km back up the road there was no sign of the team or Maisie. We flagged down a car and asked them if they had seen Maisie. They had not so we tuirned round and headed back. We stopped a car going north and they said that they had seen the team and Maisie down off the side of the road. I assumed that this was recently but on reflection I remember passing the car stopped so they had probably seen the guys at least an hour before. Found Maisie hidden and no team. Unloaded Maisie and returned to the hotel. The team must have ridden by when I was inside the building saying me hellos and since it looked deserted they had continued.
Next a car from the south reported they had seen 2 bikes parked by the road 50km short of Goverdino Gregores the next town but off the Ruta 40. 45 minutes later I saw 2 bikes riding north so thinking it was the team I flagged them down. No team but 2 Argentinians. They agreed to go with the hotel owner's pick up and collect Maisie. Which they did. Three hours later another pick up pulls in and though there was no room for Maisie he agreed to take me to Goverdino Gregores where I thought that the team would be. He drove me the 180km with a wheel bearing close to failure so we went slowly and the journey took more than 2 hours. In the town we spent an hour visiting every hotel and an internet cafe so I could send an e-mail to the team. Eventually found them in the nicest hotel on our second visit to it. Sue said that the guys had gone with a recovery truck back to Maisie. Of course she was no longer there. Fortunately they found it at the house and we were reunited.
Thing is I will not be able to ride her until I am at least partly healed so I am trying to arrange a truck to El Calafate and it has been put on local radio to help me in doing so.

Monday, 25 January 2010

The infamous RUTA 40

Today we said goodbye to 2 of our travelling companions and Graham, Sue, Chris and I headed south on Ruta 40. This road is known for its attrocious road conditions and unbelievably strong crosswinds. That said today was easy going and we made great time to reach Bajo Caricoles where we spent the night.
It was a strange sight to see this Hereford bull guarding the road miles from anywhere.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

and so to sea

We all fancied a different mode of transportation so it was a ferry across Lago General Carrera. We had to convince tha captain to let us on since all tickets had been sold. The road there was fun as well!!

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Is it true that they come in 3s

Another stunning days riding but the road was half way between bad and atrocious. As a result I have yet more shock absorber problems. It is barely functioning and I am limping towards Ushuaia but have had to modify the route to include as many sealed roads as possible. Watch this space for more shock absorber updates.

Friday, 22 January 2010

1st day of dirt

Today was a day of dirt roads and it turned out to be really good for a dirt road and the views continued to impress.

The hotel was nice as well.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Anyone for lamb

We were invited by a local motorcyclist to lamb roast at his parent's place. It was a beautiful farm and we were looked after really well.
When the photograph of the view from the farm is turned on its side it looks just like a face.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Another great road

Took the road from Angostura south towards Trevalin which has a very strong Welsh ancestry. There are quite a number of Welsh tea shops in the town. They make a good attempt but the tea is still not quite the same as at home. What I would do for a good cup of tea.
The road was awesome great bends and stunning scenery. I was wishing that Maisie could morph herself into a Fireblade or something similar. For those of you who are on the dark non-motorcycling side of life, a Fireblade is a sportsbike :-))

The only place to have decent Wi-Fi was in a hotel down the road. With a bit of smooth talking I was able to get them to invite me in. I was a tad disappointed since they did not offer me a cup of tea or a free room for the night.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Expensive but value for money

Yesterday it was an easy ride to the Argentinian border through very familiar landscape. I could just as easily have been on the shores of Loch Lomond. The border crossing was quick and painless and the 45km to Villa La Angostura was stunning.
Stayed in a decent hotel in this ski resort and had a rest day here.

The town is sat between two lakes which are linked by the Rio Correntoso. One of the shortest rivers in the world. I am stood on a bridge at one end of the river and where the trees disappear is the other end. This part of Argentina is called lakeland and you can see why.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

A dull couple of days riding

.......that said one thing that I have noticed is that the barren beauty of the desert has given way to lush green forest and even some agriculture. Tonight's lodgings in Orsono are somewhat basic, unclean and very noisy. There again in this land of 'not a lot for a lot of money' I would expect it to cost in excess of $20 and I would be right. The election results have been announced. It sounds like every car this side of Nagasaki is having its horn blown. I went out for a strole and you would think that Chile had just won the World Cup. That said it is their first right government since Pinochet lost power about 30 years ago. Pinera won by the way but only by 10% or so. Oh and the picture is not blurred it is using my special 'make the eyes work' button.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

SD card US

Left Santiago and rode the 500ish km to Los Angeles. I seem to spend a lot of time in LA. Apologies for the lack of pictures but there is something wrong with my SD card. Tried buying another one tonight but it is the presidential elections tomorrow and for some reason the shops closed early which means tomorrow they will also be closed and after that it will be quite a few days before I get to somewhere where they will have them.

Friday, 15 January 2010

How much!

Collected Maisie today only to discover that she was going to cost me $800. Maybe I will take her back to the UK after all. She is now back in the hotel behind a curtain in the dining room.

Did some cultural stuff this afternoon and wandered around the city. Bloomin hot but at least the kids had found a way to cool down. Thinking about loosing my head and joining them.