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Published: October 24th 2016
We left the hotel in Salta around 10.30 am and made our way south out of town with the fuel light on Julie's Sporty winking away, so our first stop was for fuel.
As we headed south, the French Harley's sorta joined our ride, so now we were a gang of around 11 Harley's thundering through the sleepy villages until we came to a road block as there was a protest that had blocked our way south.
We took a detour with Thomas, the French riders' leader, who was full of confidence, so we followed him for about 7kms until he sorta lost the way also.
We asked a couple of locals to help us and before long we were on our way back to the main road from which we had been diverted.
We arrived at our lunch spot to find the French had beaten us there and had ordered their lunch, so it was quite a while before we got ours, but it was worth the wait in the shade of the big trees.
After lunch we headed off to visit the Devil's Throat, then The Ampitheatre - where we lost Pete, as he had decided to go in
front to take some photos of us along the way.
As we headed towards Cafayate there was a place where we wanted a group photo, but we had no Pete, but just as we pulled in he arrived back to look for us, so now we could have our group shots after all.
We arrived at our hotel around 4.30 pm and after settling in and a walk around the plaza we all opted for Pizza on the Plaza for dinner.
After dinner, Raewyn and I went to see my friend from years ago that owns Baco Restaurant and Bar, sure enough there he was and we rekindled our relationship and met his friend, Cristian who owns a Harley softail cvo and also a hotel a few blocks away. We chatted away for an hour or so, then headed back for a well earned sleep.
The next day was a rest day, so Raewyn and I went to visit Cristian at his hotel and he told us of a great winery for lunch.
In the mean time, Pete and Julie had ridden back up the road we came down yesterday as Pete had missed the turnoff to the Ampitheare in
Radar and Nikki
The Honeymoon couple.
the rocks - they also had a paddle in the river to cool off before coming back to the hotel in time to join us for lunch.
Back at our hotel, we told the others of the plan and they were all receptive, so around 1.30 pm, two taxi's arrived and off we went to a fabulous lunch at the Piatelli Winery overlooking the city and valley below.
That night we had a Rocky Road Dinner at Baco Restaurant and Bar, where we caught up with Pilardo (baldy) and Cristian again.
This was another great meal that we had to loosen our belts around!!
After a good nights sleep, we were on the road soon after 10.00 am to visit the Pachamama museum at Amaicha del Valle where we all took our time and enjoyed the architecture and art work on display.
Our next step was to remove the belt guard on Julie's bike that had vibrated loose on the potholes and rumpty surface as we rode up the mountain on our way to lunch in the Tafi Valley.
The temperature had dropped to around 8.5 degrees as we reached the top of the pass.
After lunch, as we descended,
we ran into misty cloud sorta like rain? But by the time we had reach the bottom of the pass we were back into cloudy but fine weather all the way to Rio Hondo.
Termas de Rio Hondo is the home of Moto GP here in Argentina - unfortunately for us there was no racing during our visit but we were able to establish that a Rocky Road adventure to this event is a future option. Expressions of interest sought!
We went to the track and checked out the racing museum - let the photos tell the story as Gerardo, Radar and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Leaving the hotel around 9.30am, we made our way south east to Santiago de Estero, then headed west along flat extended cropping farm land until we reached Lavalle, where we had lunch behind the YPF.
After lunch we farewelled Gerardo as he headed off to check another route over the mountain to our hotel that night, while I led the Harley gang along the paved but longer route.
Our route took us up the most adrenaline pumping 17.5 km of switch back sealed road that climbed 1,700m in that distance.
Lucky for us, the
weather was clear and no wind.
Arriving at our hotel on top of Cuesta del Portezuelo, I was surprised to find that we had beaten Gerardo there!
After half an hour or more, I decided to head out to meet Gerardo, as there was only one way for him to reach the hotel from that direction.
The road from the hotel deteriorated very quickly to a rocky base with slick clay sections, then the cold misty cloud came in and the temperature dropped to around 4 degrees, so after about 15 kms, I found a nice sheltered spot to stop and wait for Gerardo as the mist was now so thick that I could only see a few metres in front and I was thinking that if Gerardo is riding in these conditions then it will be a long hard 'short cut'.
After about 35 mins, it started to get darker with more thick clouds coming in, so I made the decision to head back to the hotel for any news from Gerardo, on the way I stopped to take a photo and got a text from Raewyn to say he was safe at the hotel.
As conditions had deteriorated
for him as he started up the mountain, he decided to go back and take the paved route that we had taken, otherwise he would probably still be up there!
Meanwhile, Pistol Pete had taken up the challenge to get the hotel fire going as it was pretty cold up there, so after scavenging around, he found some wood, including some of the hotel exterior hand railing, a bit of huffing and puffing we were all happy to sit around it while we enjoyed a wine or two before dinner.
The following morning we were ready for first gear at 9.00 am, but the clouds were still as thick as pea soup, but we headed away anyway with caution, as we made our way down the zig zags. Lucky for us, we dropped out of the clouds and had a fabulous ride to the bottom where we regrouped for the rest of the ride to Chilecito for the night.
Leaving Chilecito we made a run for San Juan as Nikki was not feeling the best and Julie was fighting a tummy bug - this made it a longer day as we were originally going to sleep over at San Jose
The ride over the 'new' Cuesta Miranda pass was just amazing - even though they are still working on sections of it, although in hind sight, it has lost a lot of the charm and challenges of the old Ruta 40.....and is now just another highway.
It was a good decision to make the run to San Juan as it gave Nikki the time to recover and Julie bounced back by the next day and our hotel here is one of the best on this adventure.
We are looking forward to another Rocky Road dinner here tonight.
We will head off to Mendoza tomorrow.
Cheers for now, Rosco.
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