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Showing posts from June, 2011

Days 67-68: Fun with Lemons

In which Pete discovers he is stuck over a holiday weekend where everything is closed, manages to locate the only place with internet in town, makes new friends, explores the countryside by 4x4, and gets much needed attention for Red. Day 67 Location: San Jose de Jachal, San Juan, Argentina I was up and out the door shortly after 9:30AM, puttering around town on Red as we carefully looked for a mechanic and some spares. A quick drive down the main street showed something unexpected – everything was still closed! At first I thought the day was simply starting slow, a sort of hangover from Sunday, but as time passed and I continued to circulate the town looking for signs of life I began to get a bad feeling about things. Out near the highway I found the local gas station was open and it only took me a moment to confirm that sinking feeling: today was a holiday, and everything would be closed the entire day except for maybe the super markets which would open in the morning. It was frustr

Days 65-66: The Center Cannot Hold

In which Pete begins again on the fearsome Ruta 40, heading north into the mountains only to find continuous decay destroying poor little Red. (Missed days 63-64? Actually you didn’t – I spent those two days holed up in a hotel room in Mendoza mostly reading and snacking and napping, trying to crush what I hope is the tail end of a cold that has been dogging me for a month now) Day 65 Begin: Mendoza, Argentina @ 11:00AM End: San Jose de Jachal, San Juan, Argentina @ 8:15PM Distance: 331km (207mi) in ~7.5hrs (44kmh / 27mph), time lost to repairs It’s tough when you begin to lose confidence in a vehicle you expect to take you over some of the most brutal terrain on earth in a few days. Like those moments when you begin to wonder if the woman you’re seeing is as in to you as she was last week - a fleeting smirk at a joke she’d normally laugh at, a sudden drop in response rates to your texts, or the occasional restraining order. You’re no longer simply enjoying your time together, but

Days 61-62: The Little Engine that Could… Not?

In which Pete returns to Ruta 40 with a shiny new front wheel, struggles against mysterious engine problems, has an argument with a police officer in the dark, and survives a desert of prickly thorns only to get a flat at Walmart. Day 61 Begin: Santa Rosa, Las Pampas, Argentina @ 10:30AM End: Unknown Location, Ruta 143, Las Pampas, Argentina @ 6:15PM Distance: estimated 350km (218mi), no odometer and GPS datalogger failed I was pretty stoked this morning. Red was shiny and clean, his new front wheel was incredibly stable, swapping out the fat and loud MT40 in back for a normal road tire made him more quiet and docile, and all that ash and gunk was cleaned out of the intake system. The temperature was so warm (upper 50’sF) that I felt free and agile wearing less layers than normal and the wind was blowing straight south while I would be traveling mostly westward – incredible luck that I wouldn’t be traveling straight into the wind the entire day.

Days 56-60: Warmth and Wheels

The last four days have been a journey across far more than just terrain – I’ve traveled across climates and biomes, struggled through vicious wind, and dealt with massive continued problems with my front wheel. Emotionally I leveled out with calm confident enjoyment of the simple pleasure of the journey as temperatures creeping consistently out of freezing allowed me to finally relax and unclench the mental control required to maintain control in the deep cold. In spite of the problems with the wheel it’s been a good time overall, enough that I found myself disinterested in writing at the end of each day. As I look back at those four days, bits and pieces of each surface in my mind but there is no cohesive whole to any day. Without my log book and the very few photos I took I’m not sure if I’d be able to reconstruct an entire narrative, and even with these any attempt to do so would be lacking. Instead I have decided to detail a series of highlights over the last few days after sharin

Days 54-55: The Northward Struggle

In which Pete discovers a vicious headwind and horizontal rain to be a bit of a struggle and a cold wet weewee to be discomforting and misleading, then enjoys the balance of a tailwind against the need to rebuild the front wheel. Day 54 Begin: Piedrabuena, Patagonia, Argentina @ 10:30AM End: Puerto San Julian, Patagonia, Argentina @ 4:00PM Distance: approx. 133km (~83mi) in ~5.5 hours (~24KMH / ~15MPH average) Today wins the prize for the shortest distance traveled between destinations so far on this trip. I made a tough decision to stop early and rest up for a long day tomorrow after hours of struggling. It started when I woke up and went out to pack my moto only to find the sky covered in dismal gray clouds and the ground covered in water as more continued to fall. As a consolation, the temperature was well above freezing and nearly into the 40’sF, a countervailing omen for the day. Would it be warm and happy or wet and miserable? Only one way to find out: hit the road.

Days 51-53: Yet Another Beginning

In which Pete begins a new adventure on Red, heading north from the bottom of the world in a frenzy of snow, rain, ice, and brutally intense cold to seek warmth and longer days. Day 51 Begin: Ushuaia, southernmost city in the world @ 11:15AM End: San Sebastian, Chile, Tierra del Fuego @ 7:15PM Distance: approx. 312km (~195mi) in ~8 hours (~39KMH / ~24MPH average, +borders) Leaving Ushuaia was tough for a lot of reasons: subjecting myself to the physical torment of the weather after five nights in a nice hotel, breaking in what felt like an entirely new moto, mentally stabilizing myself for the long weeks of empty straight pavement, and feeling slightly aimless with a nebulous goal of “go north” for the first time on this trip to name a few. I had already put it off one day (the “missing” Day 50) by deciding to hang out in my hotel all day instead of leaving when Red was ready at 1PM… so it was time to man up.

Days 47-49: Rest and Repair in Ushuaia

The past few days in Ushuaia have been very different, a genuine rest and mental reset that hasn’t quite been matched since leaving Lima. In a nutshell, I probably spent 90% of my time just holed up in my hotel room, lying on my big comfy bed, and basically doing nothing. The rest of my time was spent grabbing groceries, eating the occasional meal outside, and organizing repairs to Red. The repairs, of course, were the most critical part of this stay – there was always a possibility, however minor, that I would be leaving here on wings instead of wheels. I’m happy to say that thanks to the amazing guys at Moto Pablo, that will not be the case.