Friday, 30 November 2012

Day 146: Gobernador Gregores to El Calafate, Argentina

Hi folks
Well we expected today to be one of the toughest of the trip and it sure was. The combination of strong winds and 200kms of thick gravel give this section of Ruta 40 a bad reputation. To avoid the worst of the wind we were up early and on the road by 7.30am. The tree opposite our apartment gave a clue of what to expect.

We had a section of tarseal to begin with and then were back to heavy gravel riding alongside the new sealed road. It was funny in a way because at times when we went up onto the sealed road, it had road signs and speed limits so obviously what we were doing wasn't unusual. The only problem was you came across barriers in the road and had to go back into the gravel and look for an opportunity to get back on. It was great having Mark to help with this. With his lighter 800GS (and probably more experience) he was able to check out the possibilities for us.

D&D had a go at riding up this rocky sandy trail up onto the tarmac when Mella got hooked up on a rock and went over.

They both had a sprawl and roll down the road but were ok. Dick then had a go without Diana as pillion and got up onto the road.

It then be got to be pretty much of a slog. The wind made its presence felt but wasn't too bad. Not that much fun in gravel because if you get blown sideways you can wind up (no pun intended) in the loose and slippery stuff!

We liked this sign for accommodation. I didn't think anyone spoke Esperanto these days.

More gravel road with the new sealed road right next door.

We came to this section of water across the road. It was ok.

And stopped for some vistas.

Pretty amazing I thought.

Finally up on the sealed road and these fantastic signs.

We then came across this English woman mending her puncture at the side of the road. Kiwi checked her out. Seems ok.

She was part of a large group of cyclists heading to Ushuaia. They had Andy on a F650 as support rider. Kiwi checked out his super large fuel tank. Seems ok?

Just up the road we stopped at the hotel at La Leona for lunch. This is apparently the hotel where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid hid out after robbing some bank in Rio Gallegos. The wind was beginning to pick up but we didn't care. We were on a sealed road.

It was pretty much a straight blast after that all the way to El Calafate.

We'll be tourists tomorrow and go and look at the Perito Moreno Glacier.

Today's run: 340kms (200kms of gravel)
Cumulative: 37,340
Tipovers: 5

Location:El Calafate, Argentina

Day 145: Perito Moreno to Gobernador Gregores, Argentina

Hello everybody

We are now part way down the infamous Patagonia section of Ruta 40. It's been a good but tough day.

Breakfast was pretty low key in the pub but we ate it anyway because it was included. Hopefully Argentinian food will improve. First job was to get the girls out of their construction site park. Through here.

Mission accomplished.

Kiwi checked out the O in Perito Moreno. Seemed well attached.

Then we were off down the road for a glorious 100kms or so of fantastic sealed road. Woohoo! Off to the side, herds of cattle and flocks of sheep with wild vicuña roaming the road sides. And birds. Ostriches? Rhea?

Then all too soon we were diverted onto a gravel section. Which was crap! The annoying thing was we could see the new road right there. And we weren't on it! Kiwi wasn't impressed. He's writing to their president. And ours! John Key, you'd better watch it fulla!

It was hard work with patches of thick gravel and occasional sections of sand. You had to ride inside the track made by previous vehicles. At one point I decided that the track to my right was better than the one I was on and moved over. It was better but unfortunately had a ridge of loose gravel that I hit. I almost almost held it but Ebony and I drifted right into the huge ridge of loose gravel lining the road. We tried hard. The inevitable happened. Bugger!

It was quite a slow slide really and I slid too. Off. No harm done to bike or person so we were soon back upright and away again. It took us a while to clear the gravel out between the motor and the bash plate and between the motor and the side protection plates. The crash bars did a great job. So did my protective gear. More photos to come I hope. Or look on Diana's blog.

A bit further along the road we meet three Argentinian riders doing the circuit down the coast to Ushuaia and then back up along the border with Chile.

We parted company with their good advice and soon we got back on the pavement. I was moved to emotion!

Along the road were these kilometre markers - presumably counting down the kms to Ushuaia. I had planned to stop at the 1000km mark for photos but some lowlife had stolen it. :-) So the 999kms marker had to do.



Dick. Dick suggested we unbolt the sign and turn it over so it read 666. We were tempted but good sense prevailed. :-)

Meanwhile Kiwi found this humongous beetle. He wasn't too sure about the taste though.

Back on the road again we came across these spots all over the road. At first I thought it was sheepshit and got ready to see a flock of sheep being driven down the road. When I realised that they moved I stopped for a closer look and realised they were locusts (playing crickets?). Some were either mating or giving each other piggy back rides and others appeared to be eating their recent cousins squashed by previous vehicles. No photos, sorry.

Now - for those of you who think we're crazy, met Richard from South Africa. He is pushing his pram from Ushuaia to Mendoza.

At last we got to the tarmac. There was a gnarly road to get onto the tarseal so we were a bit po when just down the road we found this fence across the road. Bother!

Back we went, along the divisio just a little further and then back onto the tarmac. 15kms later. That took us into Gobernador Gregores where we found a hotel with an apartment. It's good. I'm tired but I'm sure a beer or two or three or ...... will be fine will be fine.

My phone still doesn't work. I sent Telecom NZ a Facebook message to ask them why and incredibly they told me to ring a certain number. What? My phone won't roam, won't work and they want me to ring them? Tits on a bull!

Tough day again tomorrow. 200kms of gravel. 340kms total so I'll be needing my extra petrol.

Today's ride: 365kms
Cumulative: 37,000kms!!!
Tipovers: 5 (only mine now)

Location:Gobernador Gregores, Argentina

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Day 144: Puerto Guadal, Chile to Perito Moreno, Argentina

Hi everybody.
Our last country! Argentina. Although we have to zigzag back into Chile from time to time on our way south. Kiwi decided to celebrate his last night in Chile by getting on the turps. Oh dear.

A lovely sign at the hostel which we couldn't ignore.

Then off down the road. I am experimenting with the panorama setting on the camera. Not sure what I think yet.

We pootled on down this gravel road with huge canyons

And mountains.

Every now and again some opposing traffic.

And some dusty bits.

We stopped here by a grader working.

The entire road was buried in soft gravel that would have been 20cms thick. We had to ride up the drainage ditch at the side of the road. As I rode in, my back wheel slipped right down to the bottom so there was not much I could do but let the front wheel do the same. Mark was behind me and took some video.

It was very hard work but we all made it in the end. Kiwi tried to give mouth to mouth resuscitation!

He also had a discussion with Mark's mascots. Hmmmm .... Seem ok fullas. Not terribly talkative really.

Some wonderful copper sulphate lakes. Kiwi was more interested in the worms in the post.

Down by the coast there were these patches of farmland.

While on our right were these huge slopes. There is a road on this one. Somewhere! And a layer of copper ore.

There it is! The road I mean.

Finally we arrived in Chile Chico, had lunch and then headed for the border. The Chilean side was very simple. Passports wham bam, temporary import of motos cancelled, wham bam. We're out of here.

Here are the Argentinian offices, also very straightforward. Kiwi got so excited he fell off his cone. Silly boy.

We were done inside 30 minutes and on our way down a good paved road to Perito Moreno in Argentina. We refuelled and then found a hotel. After a few duds we ended up here at the El Americano. It seems ok and as Mark and I are sharing a room, it's not too expensive. We have now had our first Argentinian beef steak. Rather disappointing but because it was poorly cooked. France's or Hayden would have sent it back! :-). And that, dear readers, is that. For some great photos check out Diana's photos on

Today's ride: 180kms mostly gravel. (Phew!!)
Cumulative: 36,635 kms
Tip overs: 7

Location:Perito Moreno, Argentina