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Published: March 17th 2013
Howard's cracked head
Barry and Scratch looking for the problem
Tongoy to Copiapo was basically just a run up the Pan Pacific Highway and dicing with the many trucks that ply this route. A couple of the riders missed the gas stop at Vallenar, but as I had extra fuel on board for them, we all made it. Radar made the distance on his trusty KLR.
Howard picks up the story from here......
We were sort of on time away this morning, after pumping up the tyres and paying for extras for the rooms, it was overcast and a bit cold, but didn't have the liners in the jacket and pants.
First off went to a Cathedral on top of a hill at Coquimbo, which was built as the 2000th year since Christ. Quite impressive. I did a bit of a faux pas in taking picutres inside the Cathedral until told not to by one of the many attendants there, they were nice about it though.
We then headed then north through the traffic following Tiny and Jack, doing some sneaky manoevures in and out of the cars to get way ahead of the others. Quite straight roads which were good surface, probably the best we'd encountered on
Ah Hah there it is
Stress cracks on top of the rocker cover.
the trip. We had 400 kms to do today so that wasn't too bad wih the good roads.Still cold until about 11.30 am, when it heated up again.One part I was with Gerardo going up a long windy hill or mountain really, and saw that his front tyre must have slipped on the wet tar so a bit of care was needed.Then across the Atacama Desert which is apparently the driest in the world, with 10 cms of rain every about 3 to 4 years. Just went on and on, and got quite boring actually.
Speed meant nothing and I was thinking what it would be like to own a supercar, and there would be the place to try it out alright.I was steaming along alright on Bumble behind Gerardo when we came to the turn off for Vallenar where there was a Copec service station that we were supposed to meet for lunch and refuel. The next one was in Copiapo where we were going to stay, but that was 150 kms away and we woud have done about 350 already, so if the others didn't stop they would run out. Someone saw some of the others zoom
Thanks to Nead it!
All cleaned up and ready to go!
past, so Rosco, who was then with us, was going to go after them to refuel them if and when they ran out.
About 23 kms from Copiapo we came upon Rodrigo who was out of gas on the V strom, and Rosco bowled up to refill him then we were all sort of together coming into Copiapo to the Copec there to refuel for tomorrow's early start. I got off the bike and saw that oil was fair dripping out of the top of the motor. Bad news that. I told Rosco who said for me to make a decision, to put the bike on the ute or go to the bike shop (Yamaha) across the road which I did. That was at 4.10 Pm. I asked a mechanic who said the oil was out of the top of the motor, and he couldn't fix it, he told me to take it to the Suzuki workshop. But it was closed until Monday
! I told Rosco to put it on the truck. He said for me to ride it the 4 blockes to the hotel if there was enough oil in it, which there was.
It must have blown
Don out there
No trees to shelter under here!
a seal or something from the time that we stopped for Rodrigo, becuse it wasn't like that then or I would have noticed it, because of the amount of oil coming out of it. So here I was a week into a 6 week riding trip, with the prospect of the soonest to fix it and ride again at Salta, some days away. Not only that, but Rosco didn't particularly want my company for that time so he said (what did I do to deserve Howard in the truck with me?? Rosco).
So got to the hotel where the word quickly spread what happened. Well, then things swung into action. Barry and Scratch started telling me they had to do this and that, taking the seat and tank off to assess the situation. They thought there was a leak coming from the top bolt, so Scratch had some sealant he produced from his box of tricks.They did that and put the bike together again, and told me to test ride it to the service station to refuel would be good. Down I went but the indirect route as it was a silly one way road system, to the Copec
Nearly at the top of San Francisco Pass
station and put another 5 litres in the side tank (about 12 litres all up by my reckoning) and toped up the main tank which I had filled in Vallenar not long before. I tried to get back to the hotel but kept going along the one way streets the wrong way back, finally made it. Further inspection and it wasn't fixed, then off with everything again. By this time Terry had arrived with refreshments and most of the guys were around giving advice along with partaking of beverages. The verdict was a crack in the top of the rocker cover head, which was part of the top engine mounting place. Futher that the engine blolts all around were loose, which had put streess on the top one. So they were tightened. Then a decision to use some compound that was very toxic, to mix up and apply to the fracture from this 'Need it' stuff that Scratch produced from his box of tricks. Terry put that on after Sccratch had roughed the surfaces with his Swiss Army knife thing to the satisfaction of them and Barry who assyred me everything would be alright and I can keep going, but
Who on earth is this?
Under all this is Barry Sproule
perhaps not as fast as previously !!
What a great team they are! No problemo to these guys.With a sense of a job well done it was off to dinner in a fine restaurant just down the road where Rodrigo and I shared a parrilla para dos (hopefully I have spelt it right from his writing). That was a heated grill of meats like steak, pork, sweetbreads, black pudding etc.
Tomorrow is a big day through the Paso San Francisco to Tinogusta, of 520 kms with 100ks of that ripio (metal) without a fuel stop or refresehments which we have to take with us.Time for sleep. Hasta pronto. Howard.
Now a catch up from Rosco...
We got away from Copiapo pretty much on time, as this is a big day. Radar and I had a toasted cheese and ham sandwich for breakfast, but he had to visit the loo before we left, I was feeling a bit off also at this stage. Well that only got worse as we started climbing over the San Francisco Pass.
By the time we reached the Chilean outpost, I made a dash for the loos, only to fine one
Not looking his best here at over 4,000m
vacant as the other three were occupied with other riders, so I guess the ham was OFF? We were all processed without any bother and proceeded over the mountain. As we got higher the altitude just made things werse. Many of the riders were having difficulties with both these conditions.
We finally stopped for 'lunch' at Laguna Verde, but the cold wind was relentless and we all just found shelter where we could. We all made to the Argintena Border Control, only to be presented with a bloody grumpy and intolerant ADUANA Officer. It took over An hour and a half to process us, and I guess he was missing a football match on TV or something. After refuelling everyone headed off, then I was held up with a young Military Police officer, but all he wanted was a lift back down to Tinagasta, so I made room for him and off we went. We cought up with a group of riders that had stopped on the side of the road for a small nap, as they couldn't keep their eyes open.
We got to Tinagasta around six pm and the altitude sure took its toll on everyone
Enjoying the altitude (not)
this time. We found a place for dinner, and I sure had room for it, and it didn't take any rocking that night.........happy dreams......Rosco
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