Thursday, November 21, 2013

We are Bikers again.




Chile.
Distance ridden: 265 kms
Max speed: 148km/hr

Argentina:
Distance ridden: 4,800kms (approx)
Max speed: 160kms/hr (racing Lindsay)

Distance for my around the world trip: 86,828.6km

The boys bikes finally arrived. Enzo took us to the container Depot. Bikes assembled, both started first go. A good result seeing they had been in the crates for 10 weeks. Dale and Lindsay rode out in under 3 hours.

Finally, we all rode out of Valparaiso, 3 weeks late. The sun came out and the Garbo’s were back on the job. I can't say I had become fond of the place, probably more an acceptance. I still don't care if I ever go back.

Away by 1030, hoping to miss the traffic, no luck there. My GPS led us onto the highway, a not to exciting ride, which was good as it allowed us the acclimatise to riding on the right.

Our first taste of riding across the Andes. Fcuk me! Fantastic. Little traffic, great road surface and brilliant scenery. The first set of switchbacks had at least 100 hairpins. Lindsay said 45, Dale counted 37. Whatever, it was a tremendous ride. Several tunnels and many one sided land slide tunnels.

The pass into Argentina was 3,290 metres, the highest any on us had ridden. We were well above the snow line. My “Rooney” loved it. We were through the border in about an hour. Everyone was very helpful.Even the border guy, when I discovered a vital piece of paper had blown away. I think he just loved me!

Riding down the western side of the Andes was as good as going up. Hard to concentrate on riding fast and looking at the view at the same time. Argentina's road surfaces are the best.

Eventually found beds in a Youth Hostel in Mendoza. What a lovely, cosmopolitan city. Very European. Argentinian women are as beautiful as I remembered them from 15 years ago. Very nearly as beautiful as Sydney chicks.

The country has a bit of an economic problem at the moment. This is bad for the Argentinians, but great for us. Chile was as expensive as Australia or Europe to travel in. This joint is excellent value. Last time, 1 USD equalled 1 Argentinian Peso. Now it is 5.8 to the USD. Up to 9.6 if you have $US100 notes. Fortunately we did.

The ride south to San Carlos de Bariloche has been one of the best I have done. Fantastic roads, almost no traffic and scenery to die for. No Police either. Three days riding through the Andean foothills, snow capped peaks and the mountain range on our right. Rolling hills and plains to our left. Every morning around 10 or 11, gale force winds start from the west. This really is strong enough to blow a dog off it's chain. I am talking 30 or 40 knots, or more. It really becomes interesting when we have the bike leant over, powering through a corner and the wind hits. Either standing the bike up so it doesn't want to turn, or, laying her down so I nearly scrape the pegs. And my “Rooney” doesn't scrape her pegs, Ever.

We had about 60-70kms of gravel. It was a shitty surface with large river stones and big lumps of gravel. Some sand thrown in to make it more interesting. Not as bad as the Chita Road in Siberia, but up there. It takes me a while to get used to the bike moving around on a surface like this. In the end I really enjoyed it. Dale loved it immediately and took off like a cat shot in the arse.

At Malargue and Chos Malal we stayed in Hostels. All great value. Strolling down-town for dinner at about 7.30, had trouble finding restaurants open. Thought they had already shut. It took us a few days to realise the Argentinians eat late, about 9.30. The restaurants were all closed because we were to early. Pretty silly, eh?

We navigate and route plan by committee. Last night, over a couple of bottles of magnificent Mendozan Malbec (at $5.50/bottle) we worked out our route east and north from Bariloche.

I could stay in Bariloche for a week. It is surrounded by majestic snow capped mountains and is on the shore of Lake Nahuel Huapi which is over 400 metres deep and has the clearest fresh water I have ever seen.

Bariloche has a very strong German influence. Apparently many Germans moved here after WWII, the area supposedly sheltered Hitler and Eva Braun, Martin Bormann, Joseph Mengele and Adolf Eichman. You can even buy books on Adolf Hitler. Read into that what you like!

Today was the best road ride I have had for many, many years. About 460kms in a loop taking us around the lake to the Chilean border in the west, up north and back down to Bariloche. Amazing scenery, fantastic roads and almost no traffic.

Not one Highway Police Officer! My “Rooney Cycle” loved it. The Mitas E07 rear and Continental TKC80 front tyre have no right to hang on as well as they do. We rode way faster than we should have done in a developing country. Would do it all again! To me, this was about the best day ride in the world.

Then, great beer and and fantastic German food. Again.

Away from Bariloche relatively early, about 8.40, another lovely two day ride to Peninsular Valdez. The westerly winds were behind us most of the way. Good for fuel consumption and our comfort. Left the Andes behind and rode across a wide coastal plan, very much like the Nulabour Plain.

Lindsay pointed out I would have completed riding around the world when we reached the Atlantic Ocean, which we did at Peuerto Madryn. I had thought about this months ago, but totally forgotten it. No tears or screams like Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGregor, although we did have an extra bottle of Argentina's finest red that night.

My Garmin Zumo 550 decided to celebrate, by retiring from work. Back to navigating from paper, with help from Dale's “Tablet”. It snuffed it one kilometre from the end of my around the world trip. Weird or what?

We stayed on Peninsular Valdez for a couple of nights, a very large peninsular, a Unesco World Heritage site. We rode about 200kms around on magnificent gravel roads, rode much faster than we should of. Saw Sea Lions, Elephant Seals (about 200 at one beach), Whales, Lamas, and things that look like an Emu, only a little smaller. Nice, but a little underwhelming. Went to a private Magellan Penguin Sanctuary. I don't think there is anything like it in the world. We walked among many thousands of them. Saw mothers sitting on eggs and with babies only a couple of days old. Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

Had a couple of cold beers while watching the sun set over the ocean. This is about as good as it gets.

It was a boring, hard, hot, dull 3 day ride to Buenos Aires. Dangerous, as it turned out. First day was about 36 degrees, a big change from what we had become accustomed to. The wind blew its guts out from the west for nearly the whole ride. The air pressure wave from trucks coming the other way was like hitting a brick wall. Hundreds of times a day. We were very much at risk of being blown off the road all the time. Fortunately my “Rooney Cycle” has a new screen, which gives her superior aerodynamics.

We spent a night at Azul. Met Stella, an extremely attractive Argentinean lady, while we were looking for a Hotel. Met her kids, William & Christian, and her parents. All lovely. Next morning Dale went to the Azul University, as Christian's guest, as they were both studied the same scientific discipline. 

Dale had a near death experience. His closest ever. I was following him around a very large 2 laned roundabout, when a fcuking car came flying around the roundabout the wrong way, in Dale's lane. Dale swung left and missed him by about 400mm. He was completely in Dale's lane, so I was safe, only a little frightened.

Next day was my turn for my closest near death experience on a bike. I was leading. There was a line of trucks coming the other way. Some dropkick in a car pulled out to overtake. We were head on, both at about 100kms. He passed me in the breakdown lane, still flat strap. The prick nearly cleaned up the 3 of us. New undies all round. I was shit scared. Although some Argentinian car drivers leave a lot to be desired, their Truckies are the best.

This highway needed more bloody Cops! I thought I would never say that.

Eventually we made it to Buenos Aires. We got horribly lost. Several times. Cursed the bloody GPS. Many times. We pulled to the side of a toll way for a conference. A bike pulls up and asks where we are going. We pointed to an area to our right. Our Good Samaritan clenches his fist in a pistol shape, points it at me and pretends to pull the trigger. Tells us not to go to that area or we would probably get shot. He paid our tolls and led us to a safe area.

Somehow we lost Lindsay. I was the only one who new the name of our hotel. Dale and I eventually found the hotel and emailed Lindsay the address. He was already in a McDonalds waiting for our email. Smart, eh? Thought we had managed to give him the flick. No such luck.

Our new best mate Ed (from horizonsunlimited.com) had found us a great hotel and let us park our bikes in one of his garages. We went for a meal and beers with him and his friends Caroline and Jo. At the usual Argentinian time of 1030pm. Great night. Solved a few of the worlds problems.

I had forgotten how much I like Buenos Aires. The girls are almost as good looking as Sydney's. Unfortunately, people here have to be paranoid about security. With good reason. I parked my “Rooney” on the footpath outside our Hotel. I woman came to me, looking worried. I asked if my bike was in her way and said I would only be couple of minutes. Turns out she was worried about me leaving my “Rooney' unlocked, even for such a short time.. We travel on the underground train. Ed gives us our security instructions. Single file, him at the front, me at the rear. Hands in pockets and try and keep away from people. All part of the adventure. I love the place, but couldn't live like this.

Ed took us to the Garmin agent. Quite an adventure. I purchased a new Garmin Zumo 500 for about $1,100. Many hundreds more than at home. And for the old model. Navigation will be easy again.

Dale downloaded maps from the net. Damned things didn't work. Lucky he knows his way around a “google machine”. Many hours later he has loaded maps for the whole of South America. I emailed Brian at GPS OZ in Mona Vale (www.gpsoz.com.au), as usual he came through with good advice.

Ed took us into town to buy tickets for the ferry to Uruguay. We walked into the closest bar for a drink and a meal. Surprised to see so many attractive, provocatively dressed single girls. Turns out we had stumbled into a Hookers pick up bar! The only thing we bought was one drink each. Honest, not even any food.

Argentina has been great. Buenos Aires has been great. Even the Taxi Drivers are good blokes. Ed is the best.

Tomorrow a boat to Uruguay.

Chris.
 xx


The Boys get their bikes. Eventually.


 Was it 100, 45 or 37. Who cares!



 3,290 metres.


 Route planning by committee



My "Rooney Cycle"
















That would be the end of our Round the World Trip.

1 comment:

  1. Loving the post Jig. Congrats on 'closing the loop', well done. Looking forward to the next instalment. Cheers bloke.

    ReplyDelete