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Back into Argentina again for more amazing parks & lots of punctures

Written on: Tuesday March 11th, 2008

Way too much to type, so lets start with some videos ....
...Oh, and when I say advancing waterfall, I mean Glacier ; )
& Another one of me messin bout... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRKyQyc6KQ8
OK so...After I did that last video we left Bajo Caracoles and went to the cueva de las manos (cave of the hands: a UNESCO world heritage site) to see the 9000 year old hand paintings. Amazing to think they have been there that long and that one day 9000 years ago someone decided they were sick of the hunt, eat, sleep routine and decided to get all arty!
When we left there I was treated to my 3rd puncture in as many days. I was annoyed, but not too surprised as I was using the tube I had patched up with Superglue and another piece of tube as a patch held together with electrical tape... it had lasted for over 100k´s and I was quite proud of being able to get that far without the proper vulcanising glue and patches that are meant to be used.
I had the spare which had been re-glued earlier that day from the time the previous day when I had unsuccessfully glued it late at night after the very first puncture....
So with no puncture to patch up and spurred on by Dr Lektroluv on the Ipod I raced through the familiar procedure: All the bags and panniers off, bike on centre stand, tools out, chain guard off, axle loosened and removed, slide wheel out of disc brake, tyre iron off one side of the tyre, tube out, semi inflate new one, in it goes, tyre iron tyre back on, foot pump inflate, ....then all the above again in reverse... gear on and ready to go. and quiet quickly I might add.
Ok so, off I go ! ...for about 2k´s that is. Then came the quick realisation that the back of the bike wants to go sideways and its not cos your sliding at high speed, its cos you´ve got another flat, a horrible deep kind of feeling creeps all over you like an adrenaline rush but without the energy, just pure hopeless dread. You´d love to shout & scream and punch something and get angry then at least you could have some release but you cant, you just don't have the energy.... all the bags and panniers off, bike on centre stand... but no! No repair tonight, its getting dark. Just take a swig out of the nearest available bottle of alcohol and set up the tent there, where u stand in the road.
Peadar had gone on, I was to meet him near town 40ks down the road, but I really hoped he was gonna come back because tonight, just like last night he had the food bag. I mean, I had the Leg of lamb (given to us by Frenchie) and I had had some lunch late in the afternoon so I was ok. I had dined on PLAIN lamb late the previous night after puncture no.2 when it was all I had and I hadn't eaten since breakfast. Now!, when I say plain, I mean plain! Meat on dry frying pan, no salt, no oil, nothing (just a splash of water to stop it sticking). Can´t really complain though, it is food after all. A while later he came back and the lamb and the foodbag were reunited. It was all gourmet ste in the house again and a lovely pasta, soy, garlic, ginger lamb dish was had..
The next morning I patched up the tube and the rest ......and packed up my stuff again, Peadar had been waiting for me for ages now so he headed into to town to get breakfast, he was gonna come back If I didn't show up in town in 2 hrs or so. Which would undoubtedly mean another puncture... and guess what, after crawling along at a ridiculously slow speed for a somewhat successful 15ks, warble warble warbbbble, rolled the back tyre slightly to the side. Puncture No.5! All the bags and panniers off, bike on centre stand, tools out, you know the drill. This time I spent ages doing the patch, and was now 100% committed to my plan of waiting in town to have a new tyre sent on, tyre puncture anxiety is just too much to bear and makes driving on dirt roads a horrible experience. I had some help from a nice road worker called Carlos and as we talked he told me of his friend that trucker who could get me a tyre from Comodoro Rivadavia, I was going to meet him at 8 tonight to call his friend and arrange this.. Fabulous.
So Peadar came back again with food and water.. and chocolate, his 5th time up this road. Soon we were cruising along at driving miss daisy speeds.. Soon I´d be in town and I´d have a new tyre and it´d all be over : ) ....I felt happy to see the town in the distance, about 30ks covered so far this time. Looking good. This 46k road had taken some time to cross, only 2ks to go now..... warbble warrble warrble AGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH........ Puncture no.6: OK, F"*k this !!!!.....I don't care, I'm driving to town on the flat, Im not fixing another puncture today, not so close to town anyway, a car came past, we put all the bags in and Peadar went on with it. I warbbled my way into town at a very slow speed and parked in my new campsite prepared to wait a week if it was required.
Peadar headed off toward Chile and I was going to catch up with him in a week or two or however long it took. That night Carlos told me his friend had left Comodoro Rivadavia. I got talking to some Argentinians on BMWs who were staying in the Hotel in town, after mulling over various options, cable tying another tyre on the outside of mine (there was a 2nd hand moto tyre in the town but unfortunately the wrong size) or putting in an extra tube or blah blah blah and such Macgyver type stuff.... I decided it would be easier to just get the tyre myself. The next day I left for the east coast on a 1000k round trip for a new tyre ...in a bus... phlew!!... a Bus ; ) The bus trip was pretty bad, I had a stomach ache/food poisoning or something... and my arm was killing my, some sort of nerve pain,I thought maybe from sleeping on my side in a tent or something. I hadn´t thought I was going to see the Atlantic for quiet some time but there it was just laughing at me and saying weren't you heading for the Pacific and look at you now! That night I saw "The bucket list", they only had one movie in the cinema, There will be blood started tomor, I was planning to stay in town for that... Morgan Freeman, what a guy, I reckon Morgan Freeman could narrate the process of carbonating spring water and make it the sound like the most important thing you have ever heard. The next day I got my new Metzler Tourance tyre and got a few other things. I was looking for a physio for my arm and ended up in a Yoga place waiting for the yoga master guy to return from siesta. Estela worked there and I was fed lunch and allowed to use there Internet where I received an email from Peadar saying he was, BACK in Bajo Caracoles! He had gotten all the way to the border only to realise that he had my temporary import document and I had his, the wouldn't let him leave the country! Ouch... I said to Estela I cant wait for the Yoga guy... I had to leave soon and get the bus today, not tomor. She told me her dad was a physio, after a quick call we jumped in her car and went to their family house and I waited in their kitchen for a bit, then was shown into the Physio room where he worked on my upper back. I tried to pay but it was gift to me, kindness of strangers astounds again. Then they drove me to the bus station and I headed back west. I got off the bus 5 hours later and Peadar was there with my helmet to give me a lift, quick garage sandwich and we were on the 120k dirt road back to good ´ol Bajo Caracoles! That was to be one unlucky bunny´s final night as Peadar, the maniac Bunny killer mowed down the helpless animal and then backed up over him.... naaaaa... There were loads of them running across the road every mile of the way, he slowed up many times and they were spared to go on hopping another day. Though this one was on a suicide mission he ran at us from the side and hit the middle of the bike. We went back to him to see if he might still be alive. Nope. 1st confirmed kill on this trip.
The main reason for the trouble with the tyre is mainly due to the hatred of "THE BACKTRACK" coupled with the "She´ll be right!!" outlook on possible problems one might encounter. I now know that some things are well worth backtracking for and if you notice your tyre getting unreasonable worn then your probably not going to make it multi hundred miles over dirt and stone roads to the next big town, which turned out to a good deal smaller than it let on to be in our preconcieved impression of it.. and a bit understocked with what one needs in a big town.
The next day I changed the tyre and left Bajo Caracoles, I can safely say, for the last time. Or can I?, I mean, I am hundreds of miles away, but you never know! I went the scenic route to Chile, Peadar had done this on his first visit to the Chilean border so he went the direct route. On the road again I felt like a man set free, It was such an absolute joy, a pleasure to ride along without puncture anxiety. I felt great, confident, in control, dare I say, invincible! ...but how long before road would remind me it could be unforgiving and remind me I didn't own the place I was merely passing through?
I was under time pressure I needed to get to first Chilean town in time for the 6 nations match and meet up with Peadar. The pass through to Chile was unrelenting in it´s delivery of beautiful scenery and on the other side of the Andies it was just a bit different, it was greener now, and as I passed through a reserve I saw an overwhelming amount of Guanaco´s, it reminded me of the masses of Springbok I had seen in South African safari parks. I made it to the town a bit late for the match but it was actually on much later than we thought so It was all good. We watched the match [ : ( ] and headed straight to bed, we saw a disco across the road but this was a fairly small town and ´the club´ wasn't up to much. The next day Peadar headed off first and I followed a little bit later, I´d see him in the next big town 300k´s away. We imagined I was going to be stopping for lots of photos and we were right. The scenery coming here to Coyhaique was stunning and it was great to be on meandering mountain roads again after the long straights of ruta 40.
Half way into the day as I briefly glanced away from the road ahead to the mountains across the calm lake my front tyre started to make a path for the middle mound of stones left by trucks. I had to steer a little hard and lean the bike a little to counter and move away from this. I was now heading toward the side of the road, so again I tried to counter that and a second later the bike was on its side digging in as it slid on the ground and I was hands out on the ground. I turned off the engine to kill the loud rev´s coming from the fallen bike and began to quickly remove the bags and inspect the damage as I lifted it up again. The pannier it had landed on was fairly badly smashed and I was a bit shaken too, but fine. There goes the road again, showing me who´s boss. I beat the pannier back into shape a bit and got it back on but the lid wouldn't go on, a trusty bungy cord should do the job for a bit.. Also the front indicator was smashed in but in tact and I had some scrapes on my previously perfect cool black visor. Peadar would later say that the scrapes add  ¨character¨. Character is something we talk about alot on this trip. When something is cracked, dirty, half broken, nearly falling off, we say "Well!, that adds character!" between the both of us we have a whole lot of character! We might have too much character. 
I´ll just take a minute to talk about the dirt of all my stuff. It´s all mostly dirty despite best efforts to keep things clean. my stuffs usually pretty clean, but its just impossible on this trip and I'm kinda starting to give up the loosing battle. You know when you have a nice T-shirt and you say right I´ll keep that one in good nick,Yeah? Impossible here, impossible! I said to Peadar the other day: Man if I make it to Alaska and everything I own is smashed to pieces and broken and covered in dust and motorbike grit and oil, Well I´ll be happy with that, just that! I mean I guess what this rant is really about is the fact that my camera now makes and funny clicking sound when the zoom moves out, I mean I take good care of it and keep it in the case but what can you do this is what happens...
And then of course of late Peadar has mentioned and clicking sound from his engine... ah well I'm sure its nothing ; )
There was some more pannier beating needed in town the next day and I needed to re-attach a bit of the lock that had broken away, but now its as good as n... well its good, they work again and they lock. Hundreds of Ks of dirt roads have a way of shaking any loose bits from your bike, I have a few bolts missing from my bike and so does Peadar. The fairing under Peadar´s radiator came loose on the way here, it was chewed up by his front tyre and smashed into a thousand pieces right in front of his eyes. The electrics on his bike are tempermental, but he is going to get a new ignition unit soon and that should sort that, and he got a new front tyre as well. Tick! Cross that off the LIST. We are always making headway with our ´lists´, this needs to be done, that needs to be done, but the list is an every changing growing entity always needing attention but also sometimes needing to be ignored for it is just too depressing at times. ´Best leave well alone´ is a new phrase which came out of the soldering of Peadar´s taped wires from his ignition switch that were working intermittently.. post soldering they are just a little bit worse, so best leave well alone was born!
Is it working OK?... No, no, no, Is it functioning? ... Ok then, LETS GO!
; )
So on we go .....heading north in Chile to Port Montt.
A bigger Big Town, where there is a BMW mechanic and parts,
time to do the fork seals, Ignition switch and few other bits....


From flood on Mar 12th, 2008

jesus man , so jealous, great blog and by far the best pics yet. the ste doolittle one made me crack up! Also the zoolader pose for your window shot!!!!!! I can only imagine the rage after the sixth puncture!! Glacier looks amazing( and yes we get that its rather large ;) Have had all sorts of random people I know tell me that they are readin your article in the Sunday tribune so you will be a national hero's (if)when ya return. Check the chuck email i sent ya. Enjoy the life an will keep ya posted ( via email/text) about my plans for summer.

From Aine on Mar 13th, 2008

Brilliant Blog Ste. Amazing pics. Ya look like a pro on the horsie. My pictures of the glacier in NZ really dont compare. Hey,ya shudda tried 2 get some of the sheepskin from the ranch 4 ur seat 4 the bike or is ur other 1 still goin. Those berries-cant believe they have them in places other than Ireland!Talk soon x

From From Mam and Dad on Mar 17th, 2008

Great Blog and Vids, keep it up and I bet you won't let the tyres go that bad the next time. Happy Paddy's day to you both Mam and Dad

From Damo on Mar 18th, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Hangover Day day

From Des on Mar 19th, 2008

Its about feckin time.... happy Paddys Day to you I transfered money into your account for u and Peader to buy a pint. lovin your photos you will able to sumit them for Sky news photos of the year

From Gem on Mar 19th, 2008

Hey Ste! Awn's m8 Gem here-jus sittin in d apt having a gud nosey thru ur Blog...i hav 2 say its VERY impressive!! gud work! quite the photographer Mr! I'm sure u'll perfect ur "gallop" b4 d year is out!! :) Glacier foto's r crazy..thought i ws gr8 seeing the Franz Joseph but not a patch on that beauty! Stay away as long as u can cz aint nothin happenin' here only rain and work :( Njoy evry minute of it n keep us jealous ppl bak home updated on ur adventure :)