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Published: February 5th 2018
Ron and Marty had parked just off Ruta 40, and stood looking out over Lake Cardiel, an unusual feature in this flat dry land. All of a sudden with a roar and a wave of dust, and we were joined by a motorcycle tour. Four male riders of a certain (ie my) age, and a white pickup driven by a woman, who was somehow overseeing the Tour. They had subcontracted with Motoaventura (who had rented me my bike in Osorno) to provide them with BMW motorcycles and the follow vehicle. We greeted each other. They discovered we didn't speak German. We discovered they weren't much interested in speaking English, so we went back to talking to the group leader, Angela, who was fluent in both languages. The riders turned out to be Swiss and rich. Their bikes were light and fast. All their stuff and extra gas was in the follow truck. Eventually we all took off, 7 bikes and a truck spread out across the gravel road, roaring up and down the grades. Pretty soon I was overtaken by a speeding Swiss in an orange visibility jacket, who roared into the lead and stayed there. I passed a guy who
preferred to bumble along slowly on the edge of the road. Marty got in behind someone who was a little unstable in the gravel. When the loose stones got deeper, this fellow tried to change lanes and came crashing down in the dust. Luckily Marty was not too close. He also stopped, carefully, in the middle of the road, and walked up to see if the fallen rider had been hurt. Luckily all was well. He stood up, brushed himself off, and did nothing about his tossed bike. Up roared Angela in her pickup. Without a word, she jumped out, ran over to the downed bike, assumed "raise it up" position (back to the seat, knees bent, one hand on the handlebar, the other on the frame behind the seat) and with a grunt lifted it up. The Swiss rider got on the bike again -- not sure if he said 'thank you' to anyone -- and roared off. Angela jumped into her pickup and took off in pursuit. We just stood there in the middle of the road and shook our heads. "Lets take a rest" says Marty, "and let that mayhem get well ahead of us". Which we
did. As we went on we crossed quite a few groups of bikes, loaded up like ours, going North.
We had to do a total of 72 km of gravel on that section of Route 40. We were off it by mid morning. None of us fell. At one point we could see paved road 500 m ahead of us. But between here and there was a section deep in these rounded stones they like to load onto the road. It seemed like forever until we made it to the firm blacktop. The woman at the midday gas station at Tres Lagos said she had been pumping gas into motorcycles all day. Looks like cross-country riders are not such a novelty here any more.
El Calafate is a fast growing, low rise resort spread around the South shore of Lago Argentino. It hosts tourists going to see the Perito Moreno glacier and other features of the Glacier National Park during the summer, skiers in winter. Somehow the infrastructure hasn't kept pace with the population, and there were lines everywhere as people struggled to change enough money and load enough gas while in town. This was steak night for
our little group. We gathered at the Mako restaurant (reminded me of Restorán García in Carrasco) for a fabulous meal of Argentine steak, lomo and barbecued lamb with barbecued vegetables. I didn't sleep that night.
Tot: 2.97s; Tpl: 0.027s; cc: 12; qc: 27; dbt: 0.0192s; 2; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb