Friday, March 25, 2011

Day 163 (461km): Taking the road well traveled

The wind was wild all night. I could here it blowing through the tops of the trees. We were well sheltered though. Still, lying listening to the wind made me dread riding in the morning. It was a slow start in the morning and even though we hit the road at 11am it felt really dark. The sun was hiding behind large dark clouds and it was so dark out it felt like 5pm. It was kind of a mind trip in that regard.

We'd been here before and we knew what to expect. Ruta 40 just leaving Tres Lagos is under construction so there is lots of gravel, not to mention the infamous pool of gravel. We got an email from DirtyBones stating that that same pool of gravel almost got him a few days ago so we knew it was still there. It was easier to spot coming from this direction so we both moved over to the edge where is was the least deep. The pool has grown though; it now goes all the way down the hill. Not fun to ride through but easier to spot if you are coming south. We traversed the pool of gravel with no incidents this time.

Alberto kicked a piece of gravel at me and I caught it. There is so much time to think about things while riding a bike I started to think about the gravel. Based on the sample I now had in my possession this gravel does not appear to be a crush product, which is what I would expect for road construction. This gravel looks like it was stolen from a river, which kind of bothers me. We saw a river in Peru being mined of it's rock (presumably for gravel purposes) and what I don't like about it is that it took these rocks a long time to get smooth and rounded. Using them for construction purposes seems wasteful. End of gravel discussion.

It was a windy day and it's starting to really annoy me. Riding in the wind is fine, for a day but riding in the wind day after day after day is really annoying. I found myself yelling at the wind from inside my helmet cause I was so angry at it. It ruins a potentially good riding experience. So we battled the wind most of the day. It really kicks you around and that is sometimes unwelcome on gravel.
Riding Ruta 40
We passed two Brazilians on Yamahas and two anniversary F8GSs passed us coming the opposite direction. We haven't seen many other F8GSs on the trip so we both think that's pretty cool. When we reached the paved section at the intersection for Gobernador Gregores we saw a KLR parked off down a hill a little bit. We stop and wave and Alberto says, I think that's Rodrigo. I look more closely, yeah I think you're right. So we ride down and interrupt Rodrigo, who we met when we arrived by ferry in Chaiten, making his lunch. We have a nice break talking about the things that bikers talk about and then say goodbye as he is on his way south.
Seeing Rodrigo again
I'm not really a big fan of Ruta 40. It's like walking a tightrope, trying to stay out of the deep strips of gravel and fighting the wind all at once. It involves intense focus and not much scenery gazing.

We continued north and realised with the intense winds we'd been fighting all day we wouldn't make it to Bajo Caracoles without putting in some more gas. I mentioned my new idea to Alberto a while ago but it comes into play now. He has a full 2 G Rotopax mounted to his cargo plate. Perfect, the only problem is it's a pain in the butt to get to and fill up. My new plan is to have two 1 G mounted to his cases like mine. Anyways back to the story. We use my Rotopax to top up the bikes. We keep riding and the town of Bajo Caracoles comes into view. We are probably 2 km from the gas station and Alberto runs out. So now he has to de-luggage to get to his Rotopax to top up the tank.

When we arrive at the gas station the attendant remembers us from when we stopped for gas on our way south. Alberto tells him that he ran out of gas just up the hill. The guy proceeds to tell us that he's out of gas and won't be getting anymore until tomorrow evening. Awww.... Bajo Caracoles is a bit of a hole and we didn't want to stay here. Only joking he says. That's not nice! So we fill up and while we are getting filled a French Canadian, Simon, on a bumble bee F8GS pulls up. Then the Brazilians, Cesar and Diso, pull up, and then some Argentinians, Fernando and Walter, pull up. It was pretty crazy. Soon the gas pumps are taken over by Adventure riders.
The bike meet at the gas pump
The Brazilians
Hey, I know you!
We hang around and chat for a while. The Argentinians, who were the last to show up, asked where we were going. Alberto told them that we were actually 3 different groups of riders and that we were all going in different directions. He had this look of surprise on his face. It was a really chance meet up and cool to be a part of. It was getting late though and no one really wanted to stay in Bajo Caracoles so we all parted ways.
A group shot
Getting some route advice from Simon
The last push to Perito Moreno is mostly paved so we made good time. The wind was killer though and my neck hated me by the time we made it to town. We had barely eaten all day and it took us longer than expected, cause of the biker stops, to make it to Perito Moreno. It took us a bit of effort to find a decent campground since we wrote off the one we ended up staying at cause it had a lame sign on the main road. The pricing structure for camping was retarded but we didn't care. We quickly put up the tent and got changed so we could walk into town for some food. We ate at a hotel and the food was nice but midway through my meal I completely crashed. I could barely stay awake. My neck pain was giving me a headache, and my face was wind burned. I barely made it through the rest of dinner and back to the tent I was so burned out.

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