Published: November 21st 2009November 20th 2009
Which way does the wind blow?
Well here we are in Punta Arenas, much has happened since our last blog.
We have ridden our Moto’s to the end of the world to Fin del Mundo and some of us continued as far South East as you can go, to Ea. Moat, what a great ride that was.
Mike V has had his operation to repair and pin his broken leg and will be driven down to met up with us by his surgeon.
We are looking forward to him rejoining us.
We all went to Gerardo’s Estancia and enjoyed a great lunch, prepared by his wife, Marisol and son Kevin, a job well done and appreciated by us all.
We have had a change of tyres yesterday, everyone was running Conti TKC 80’s and because of different riding styles and moto’s, some got better mileage than others, we will take the used ones as spares for the next leg.
David V managed to also destroy a front tyre on the big beamer, still lots of tread, but a split in the side wall rendered it useless.
We are retiring the poor old green KLR here in Punta Arenas and Tom will continue on Mike’s blue
On our way to Ea. Moat
Keith found a nail here
Gerardo’s BMW Dakar is in the bike shop here as it has blown both front fork seals, and we have to fit new chain and sprockets, the engine oil leak seems to have stopped.
Much of what has happened is documented by David V and Bones below...
Fin del Mundo: The End of the World!
Well, we've achieved the first part of our goal: yesterday, we rode to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, and 30 kms beyond to Fin del Mundo in a National Park.
We had woken yesterday to quite heavy snow falling, snow all around. As we only had 100 kms or so to go, but over an alpine pass (Paso Garibaldi), we delayed our start to let the constant truck traffic clear the snow, then had a leisurely ride over the pass to Ushaia, found our hosteria (a modern boutique hotel, only 3 blocks from the main street).
South for 30 kms, for photos at Fin del Mundo, including a photo of Michael's riderless bike parked by the sign to show it had been there, and various promotional photos for Shoei, KiwiRider etc.
A BIG BBQ lamb lunch, in
Barry and GOM at Ea.Moat
a nearby restaurant, followed by ride back to hotel, clean up & siesta for most.
I had ripped my panniers in the morning, and after a half-hearted attempt to sew them up, decided to have the job done professionally. Good decision, job done overnight, only $15 (NZ $ equivalent).
Dinner, though it was hardly needed after our lunch, then an early nght.
Ushuaia is a port city, only established in the late 1800s. It has a multi-national background, with immigrants from Spain, Croatia, Britain, Italy etc. It is the home port for cruise and supply ships to Antarctica.
Strong military presence: navy, airforce and police.
The Falkland Islands ("Los Malvina") is still an issue, with occasional graffiti describing the English as "Pirates" and Los Malvina as Argentinian.
Today was a free day. Tom took a 4 hour boat cruise along the Canal Beagle (Beagle Channel) and around the nearby islands.
Keith and Barry went for a 30 minute scenic flight (dogs had to be chased off the airstrip before the plane could take off, but they were waiting to chase it on landing); Keith had the chance to fly the plane!
We're British You Know!!
Rosco making a claim for NZ
rest of us shopped, changed money, took a guided bus tour of the city etc.
We left Ushaia at 1 pm, with most of the team taking a 200 km of great gravel road to the southernmost accessible place, even further south than we had been yesterday. A real blast!
Richard and I decided to make the most of the excellent alpine road over the pass, with a good ride to Tolhuin for lunch in a little cafe; no language problems, with assistance. from other diners.
Then, a little back road to Hosteria Kaiken, the same hotel at the head of Lago Fagnano that we had stayed at two nights previously.
Everyone arrived by late afternoon, after another good day of varied activities and excellent riding. Just what we came for!
An expedition like this requires good gear. Rosco and Raewyn have a double-cab support ute carrying replacement tyres, oil, heavy tools etc, and the capability to carry a bike if necessary.
Each rider carries his own personal gear and tools, and we try to be as self-sufficient as possible. Being away for 5 weeks with very limited luggage capacity means that careful selection
Some of us at Ea.Moat
Keith, Rosco, Bones, Ian and Barry
of gear is critical.
I followed Rosco's recommendations for clothes (it seemed absolutely minimal at the time, but with diligent use of the sock-washing facilities, it seems to be working out well on the road).
Apart from my choice of bike and the decision to bring a GPS unit (commented on in previous entry), I am using:
* Shoei Hornet helmet, with tinted visor and "Pinlock" anti-fog insert. Very comfortable for long days' riding,
and the anti-fog is the best system I have ever used. I've tried all sorts of sprays, creams inserts etc, but this system really works, with no fogging even in extreme cold & snow.
* Teknic Sprint jacket & pants, with body armour and thermal liners. Great: comfortable & warm (I have not needed thermal underwear).
Thanks to Keith at W. White Wholesale for Shoei & Teknic.
Probably the most critical choice, with both traction and durability being key
I am running Continental TKC 80s, thanks to String & the Bridge brothers at Darbi.
My front will easily last the nearly 11,000 kms; the rear is due to be replaced as I planned when we get
to Punta Arenas, when it will have covered about 6,000 kms.
For comparison purposes, I will replace it with a Metzeler Karoo.
Forma adventure boots. Comfortable, easy to walk in, not too rigid or inflexible, but give good support and protection.
Thanks to Malcolm at Forbes & Davies.
for Metzeler and Forma.
Oxford panniers & tankbag.
Good, strong soft luggage, able to be expanded if necessary. I've been using in the most compact form, to
I've damaged both tankbag and panniers, but have managed to effect repairs route.
I have been very pleased that Oxford's NZ agent and distributor has gone to extreme lengths to provide 24/7 international warranty support.
Thanks to Sean Barry Walsh at Northern Accessories.
Back into Chile tomorrow.
Hasta pronto! David V
A bit from Bones...
Day 16 - At breakfast, Zane was awarded the Medal for “taking a slight deviation in an off-road diversion, from which he made an excellent recovery” - well done Zane!
The morning was spent in various pursuits, some exploring Ushuaia, others flying above it, and Tom took a four hour boat trip to
Special Red wine from France
Rosco shares a special red wine with Pascal
view penguins, sealions and absorb some local knowledge. We regrouped at 1pm and rode out of town intent on riding to the furthers point South from Ushuaia. Some turned off the main highway, and we followed the ride for some 90 kms until the road ran out after Rio Moat. At the sign of the river crossing we took many photographs and the sign was duly “stickered” - we then headed back to Hosteria Kaiken well pleased with ourselves!
At the briefing this evening, Rosco was awarded the Medal for many transgressions, but mainly “just for being Rosco”! He also apologised for miscalculating the day’s kilometres by 17kms, but I reckon that the motos negotiated all the potholes the truck went through, and therefore the discrepancy was minimal!
The next morning we departed for Cerro Sombrero - a relatively short day - mostly on metal roads. Whilst backtracking to Rio Grande on a metal side road, we came across the most marvellous sight (for Rosco, Tom and me anyway!) - an expedition of approx. 15 Traction Citroens all around late 40’s, early 50’s era.
They had travelled down from Buenos Aires and were heading for Ushuaia - caked
Another type of Adventure
A lunch break absolutely No Where!
with mud, and driven by a group of slightly mad French enthusiasts (wouldn’t you have to be slightly mad to abuse a work of art?) But, they were having a wonderful time (just like us) and had stopped in the quiet countryside enjoying their sandwiches and wine (we had to sample a very drinkable rose’ that had been home brewed).
Thank goodness Tom was there to translate - you can imagine the excitement, especially by Rosco (his third love - next to me and motos….
is all things Citroen). Lots of photos and video taken - the Citroen expedition even had their own film crew!
The border crossing at San Sebastian was boring by comparison (apart from Richard having to re-import his imaginary KTM) and we headed for our next overnight stop back in Chile, by way of more metal roads, and can you imagine our faces when we were blown away for the second time that day when we came across a fork in the road, where a white truck was parked, the driver being helpful to what he thought was a group of lost motos - it was the chase truck from the last two High Andes
I noticed a familiar sticker on the side of the truck, and sure enough, out in the sticks, our two chase trucks together!
We have photos to prove it - Lance, Mad Max Murray and Gerry! Zane will verify also, as he spent lots of time in it as passenger on the first RRR Adventure, before being ‘bitten’ by the riding bug. Amazing co-incidence! (Makes one wonder what else we miss out there!)
Onwards to Cerro Sombrero, and the only hosteria in a small town, catering for construction (?) workers.
A modest hosteria which will be remembered for the creakiest floors every experienced, and a restaurant bigger than the accommodation, reached through the backyard, and obviously used to catering for hungry men, as we were served a sumptuous four course meal, starting with a king crab ensalda entrée, then sopa, followed by a huge steak, fritas and even vegetables, finished off with a huge piece of choc/caramel flan.
We all groaned our way to bed, nearly making as much noise as the floorboards……
As an aside, the medal was awarded to Ian, for repairing two punctures - starting the day with assisting Keith before we left Tolhuin,
These guys were not frightened to use their cars..
and then his own in a cold, squally shower which lasted precisely as long as the repair took to effect.
I am not ashamed to admit I took photos from the comfort of the truck.
Ian and I should actually claim the medal for our ordering skills (or lack of them!). At Hosteria Tunkelen at Cerro Sombrero, Ian ordered ‘one beer for Room 5’ and received 5 beers (which were snaffled up and consumed with no problem) and then I ordered ‘uno Pisco Sour for Room 9’ - even pointed to No. 9 on the office calculator - and ended up with NINE Pisco Sours!
No problemo there with the consumption either - lots of assistance offered! We were beginning to think it was a strategy by the hosteria to add value to la quienta…(the Bill)
Day 18 - Back across the ferry from Bahia Azul to the mainland (Tierra del Fuego is so big that it is easy to forget you’re on an island) and Gerardo led us to his estancia east of Punta Arenas, where we got to appreciate the size of the farms in South America.
Barry, and Ian went horse riding, as did
Tom (sort of) after the boys rode (and we followed as best we could!) the farm tracks, where tractor tyres served as directional arrows at intersections.
A very tasty, traditionally cooked lamb, along with chicken cooked on an inside parilla, with tasty ensaldas was provided for our lunch by Gerardo, Marisol and son Kevin.
Their hospitality was generous - I was not even allowed to help with the cleanup!
After relaxing, then walking off some of our lunch, we followed Gerardo into Punta Arenas, and after a stop in post siesta traffic to photograph a monument to the sheep farmers (which saw us briefly park in a hospital carpark - too close for comfort!) we made our way to a tyre shop where new tyres were fitted - all done in 1.5 hours (or two suduko puzzles), along with a water blast for the chase truck. Boys refused this service, wearing the mud and dust as a mark of their adventure thus far. A slight wiping of the Rego. Plate at border crossings is allowable, however……………………
Finding our hotel for the two night stopover was easy - the new 11 storey casino -
Hotel Dreams, complete with
Rosco'sRocky Road Truck
Spotted on a back road in Tierra del Fuego
underground carpark, is a Dream.
Huge beautifully appointed rooms - it seemed sacreligious to do one’s laundry even, without having riding gear strewn around………………There is a heated, indoor infinity swimming pool, sauna, gym, and damnit! a massage choice that reads like a menu and Tom got the last booking!!
And even a complimentary Pisco Sour on arrival.
I think the Medal was forgotten in the wind down period………………
We are looking forward to Michael rejoining us tonight, it will be a long day for him, travelling by car from Caleta Olivia. He will be glad to be back in the ‘real’ world, I’m sure.
Hasta Luego - Bones
More from David V...
Comments and observations.
* Richard vs guanaco.
A couple of days ago, Richard had an altercation with a guanaco, the llama-like animal native to this area. Richard was "just riding along" on a good gravel road when a guanaco seemed to leapt out of nowhere towards him.
Richard swerved, the guanaco followed; he swerved again, and the guanaco followed suit.
Animal met bike, there was a big wobble and cloud of dust and then the guanaco took off back where it had come
Another puncture for Ian
He picked up an old bent rusty nail about 6km from Cerro Sombrero
from, leaving blood and fur on Richard's boot and footpeg, with the bike leaving skid marks on the road.
Score: Richard 1, guanaco 1
With guanaco, horses, dogs, sheep, cattle and Nandu in the most unexpected places, vigilance is the watchword at all times.
There are dogs everywhere, in all cities, towns, villages and country areas. They seem to have the run of the place, and the local people have a relaxed, benign attitude to them. The dogs are mostly well socialised and behaved, and just lie in the street or trot along behind pedestrians, but occasionally one (or more) will decide to chase a vehicle, particularly our motos. Keith seems to have a real attraction for them.
A bit scary to be riding slowly through a town, to be suddenly chased by barking, at times snarling dogs.
Once again, caution at all times.
* Great gravel
All of the roads we've travelled have been good in their own way, from excllent sealed highways and alpine passes to well-made and constructed gravel and roads, but yesterday's diversion to get as far south as possible was probably the best so far.
Waiting for the ferry to take us back to the main land.
kms each way: the first part consisted of wide smooth gravel with sweeping turns (ie fast); the road then developed into a narrow winding road, similar to unsealed country
roads in NZ.
A great ride!
* Adventure riders
We've seen quite a few other adventure motorcyclists in the past few days, either individually or in groups, heading to or back from Ushuaia. Most of the guests in our hotel last night had arrived by bike!
Being on a bike seems to attract all sorts of attenton from locals and other tourists, many of whom want to take photos of the bikes, or have their photo taken with, or on, one of the bikes. We're certainly well received, and it's obvious that the local people appreciate the commercial benefits of adventure motorcyclists, amongst other tourists, making their pilgramages south to Ushuaia.
Hasta Luego, David V
There are more photos below