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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Ulyses, Oct 29, 2012.
Yeah man EFI is really nice up there.
Scott, you're the man! Thanks a ton for bringing that thing down to me at the last minute! It's paying off bigtime on these Chilean Autopistas! And about the dip, it's a good thing you didn't bring any of that. This trip has forced me to quit, which is a good thing, but if someone offered me a dip right now, I don't know if I would have had the willpower to resist! Thanks again man! I'll hit you up when I get back!
Nice, thanks for the advice! I need to get my butt in gear and get down there while the weather is still relatively warm!
It definitely doesn't miss you. I do though.
Day 113 (February 4, 2013)
Taltal, Chile to Huasco, Chile
Day's Ride: 329 Miles
After updating my ride report at the Internet Cafe in Taltal, I grabbed some supplies at the local mercado, then started backtracking north out of town to look for a camping spot. On the way out, I saw a couple of Mormon Missionairies walking down the street, and shouted a quick hello to them in English. That caught them off guard, so I pulled over and talked to them for a while. It's always nice to meet Americans in far off places and have a conversation in English every now and then.
About five miles north of town, I found a beautiful spot to camp right next to the ocean. There was only a small "sendero" (trail) leading to it, but the XR650L was built for such things, and I was able to ride to it with no issues. I don't think a BMW would have done well here....sorry Mike !
I set up camp and started cooking right as the sun was going down. Beautiful!
Now granted, this wasn't a very stealthy spot as it was in full view of the road; however, there were several families literally living on the beach a few hundred yards away, so I didn't think I would have any issues. There was plenty of trash laying around as well, which really was the only negative thing. For those of you that are reading along in preperation for doing this trip, here are the coordinates for where I stayed: -25.26898, -70.44061. Really, you could camp just about anywhere north of Taltal without issue.
I woke up the next morning around 8:00 PM and was surprised to find a man rolling bales of dried kelp up the beach a few feet away from my tent. We chatted for a minutes and I still wasn't able to figure out what he was doing with the kelp, but he complimented me on my bike and then went on his way. I imagine he was using the kelp for fuel for his fire or something.
In any event, I cooked my breakfast, packed up, and got ready to hit the road. I found a pretty cool bird skull lying in the sand and decided to add it to the front fender of my bike:
I've been looking for a good skull hood ornament since Mexico! After zipping birdy down, I found a slightly less harrowing path out of my campsite and back to the main road:
This was a little more managable, but there were still a few sections that I don't think a bigger bike could have made it through. Once again, I was extremely glad to be on a light and tall 650cc bike.
South of Taltal I headed inland for a National Park that a few Chileans had recomended to me when I was camping in San Pedro.
I was trying to avoid riding on the Panamerican Highway as much as possible and this seeemed like a good diversion. The road immediately switched to something that wasn't quite pavement, but not quite dirt. I looked in my handy little Chilean road map/book that I had picked up at a local Copec gas station and found that it was labled as "Establizado con Sal" or Salt Stabilized.
It was quite nice really, hard as contrete with very few pot holes. It was better by far than any road in Honduras...
Pan de Azucar ended up being really pretty and I stopped for lunch near some fisherman who had recently returned with a fresh catch. This guy cleaning the fish and feeding the scraps to some pelicans who were loitering a few feet behind him.
He would tease the pelicans and wave the fish guts back in forth in front of their faces; their heads would bob back and forth, their eyes following the fish guts like begging dogs waiting for a scrap from the master. It was great entertainment!
I continued south near the ocean, cutting back and forth on salt roads trying to stay off the Panamerican and as close to the water as possible.
I eventually came across a couple of dutch cyclists. We stopped and talked for a while; they were on their way north from Ushuaia and had started riding in October, so I was able to get some information on road conditions down south. Looks like im in store for a lot more gravel!
I've got lots of respect for people who do this trip on bicycles. I'm a cyclist back home, but I can't imagine carrying all of that gear on a bicycle for thousands of miles and years at a time! What a journey!
I spent the rest of the day linking up salt roads trying to stay near the ocean.
Eventually I made it to the town of Huasco where I bough supplies and fuel, then back tracked again out of town to find a campsite. Luckily, I found the mother of all stealth camping sites (-28.41573, -71.19815). It was so stealthy that some people pulled up in a truck twenty feet from me and didn't even realize that I was there. It was also quite beautiful and even had a little rock wall that someone had built around the sleeping area. However, it was full of trash. Luckily, someon had left an old rusty shovel lying around and I was able to clean things up quite nicely.
Just behind the low rock wall on the bottom left of the picture is the little niche where I put up my tent. The spot where I parked my bike was hell to get into; once again, only a farily small bike with good clearance could make it in here. Event then, I wasn't quite sure if I would be able to get the bike back out in the morning...
Very cool! Make sure you wash off your undercarriage well after all those salt roads (the bike's too!).
And if you need logistics support or a place to crash while you're picking up your bikes in Seattle, let me know. Least I can do to return the favor after Mike stood in line stupid early to get those train tickets
Awesome! Now we just need to get Mike on board!
If he backs out, I have a couple of sailor friends that might be up for the adventure...
Day 114 (February 5, 2013)
Huasco, Chile to Los Villos, Chile
Day's Ride: 321 Miles
Getting out of my super stealthy campsite proved to be a bit of a challenge. I had to pivot my bike 180 degrees on the kickstand before clearing out my line and attempting to ride out.
Luckily I made it out without issue and was able to get back on the road. The salt roads were mostly played out by this point, so I stuck to the Panamerican Highway and cruised.
Chile is very modern and nice. It's like being in Europe or the States. They even have four lane divided highways, which is always nice when you just want to make some miles.
Another mark of modernity is the fact that they have Wal-Mart (called "Lider" down here for some reason).......
I actually went in to look for AAA Lithium batteries for my SPOT and was immediately overwhelmed by "the people of Wal-Mart". Seriously, Wal-Mart down here is no different than it is back in the states, complete with the odd and sometimes downright strange clientèle. Unfortunately, "Lider" didn't have my batteries, but after a little searching, I found a store nearby that carried them
These things are damn hard to find. I haven't seen any since I left Mexico. Granted, I haven't been looking overly hard, but still it seems like you should be able to just walk into a major store and grab a few packs, especially someplace modern like Panama City, Medellin, or Chile. Instead, I had to hector and badger multiple people until I finally found someone to lead me to a tiny, dusty display case tucked away behind the customer service desk. I ended up paying 20,000 pesos for 10 AAA batteries; that works out to about $42! If you're planning on doing this trip with a SPOT, save yourself some trouble (and money) and just buy 20 of these things before you leave the states.
After finally escaping the clutches of the Wal-Mart I hit the road again heading south. As I moved further out of the Atacama, the vegetation began to increase and I found myself thinking that I was back in Southern California on I-5 between Orange County and San Diego.
I kept my eyes peeled for a good place to pitch my tent, but realized that things were a little more populated and developed this far south. I eventually came across a campground and pulled in to see how much it would cost. The old man running the joint wanted 20,000 pesos ($42)! That was a little outrageous and I told him so. I told him that I could camp at a campground in the states for less than that (KOA) and it would have wifi, hot showers, and a swimming pool! He wasn't budging on the price, so I started to put my helmet back on to leave when a younger guy walked up and started talking to me in English.
Turns out that he was the owner's son and was willing to deal. He said I could camp for 15,000 pesos and I told him I would just take my chances on the beach for that much money. He finally asked me how much I was willing to pay and I told him 10,000 pesos. I should have gone a little lower, but I was tired and didn't really feel like arguing to much. He agreed to 10,000 and I was all set.
The campsite was nice, but for 10,000 pesos, I probably should have gotten a little more. Oh well, live and learn.
Day 115 (February 6, 2013)
Los Villos, Chile to Santiago, Chile
Day's Ride: 149 Miles
Nothing much to write about today. The last remaining vestigages of power in my camera finally died, so now I'm limited to my iPhone for pictures until I can find a new way to charge it. I rode the last few miles into Santiago on the Panam.
The second Hostel that I stopped up ended up being fairly cheap and having a massive side yard with parking for my bike, so I jumped on it.
The name of the Hostel is "Hosteling International", one of the chain of Hostels. It's only 8,000 pesos (cheaper than last night's camping) so I'll probably stay here for a few days and hunt for a new sprocket for my bike, a camera charger, and possibly some new tires.
Dang!!! Thats one heck of a trip and one I'm wanting to do. Subscribed!!
You might just try using rechargable batteries (2x) all around and forget the alkalines,find a chargers for all your needs.
I gonna need to start seeing some penguins soon.
Day 116 (February 7, 2013)
Day's Ride: 20 Miles
Today was spent running around Santiago with my head cut off trying to find motorcycle parts before I head into Patagonia and things become scarce.
The first order of business was a quick run to the Honda shop to have them check my front suspension. No issues there. Next stop was downtown at a place called iMoto, a huge parts warehouse where you literally take a number like at the DMV and wait your turn. After waiting for about 30 minutes I finally was called up and started talking to one of the helpers. I had a fun time explaining to him that I wanted a new rear sprocket, which is called a "catalina" down here. After lots of hunting through the warehouse and measuring sprockets with a micrometer, we eventually found one that would fit. Unfortunately, it's only a 42 tooth sprocket, unlike the 45 tooth one that is currently on there. It looks like I'll be going a little faster on the highways!
Next I stopped at a store called Moto Chile looking for tires. They didn't have tires, but the owner, Nader, saw that I was lacking a tank bag and immediately told me that he had a Giant Loop tank bag that would fit my bike. Normally I wouldn't be interested, but since I had lost my tank bag during the Lagunas adventure in Bolivia, I was slightly intrigued. After I told him that I was from Oregon (where Giant Loop is based) and that I had met Harold (one of the owner's of Giant Loop) in California, he was really keen on selling it to me. He pulled out a Giant Loop Buckin' Roll tank bag and slapped it on my tank and sure enough, it fit like a glove. I hemmed and hawed for a while as I don't really have the money to spend on something like that, but eventually he made me an offer that I couldn't refuse and I had to buy it.
We got some pictures together, I bough some oil from him, and all in all, I felt pretty good about the deal, despite my pocket book being a little lighter.
I spent the rest of the day hunting around for various other things. I think I've still got about 1,000 miles left on my current tires, but I reckoned that Santiago is probably the last place to buy decent tires for the next 3,000 miles or so. So, I decided that I would buy a new set and then just cart them around on the back of my bike until it was time to change. I ended up looking at either getting another set of Pirelli Scorpions, a set of Metzler Sahara's, or a set of ridiculously expensive Hydanaus. After I found out the that the Hydanaus would run me around $450 dollars and that they didn't have the Pirellis in my size, the Metzler's became the default option. This will be the third different set of tires that I've tried so far. Up until this point I think the Avon Distaznia's have been the best, but I'll have to wait and see how these Metzler's hold up.
Back at the Hostel I ended up meeting some American guys from Oregon (go figure). I was supposed to be hunting down a charger for my camera, but instead sat around drinking beer with them for a while. After a bit, I told them that I had to leave and go find a cable to charge my camera. One of them told me that he had the exact same camera as me and then just offered to straight up give me the cable to charge my camera! What a guy!
Once again, I think that the best part of a trip like this is the people that you meet and the awesome things that can happen when you do. What are the chances of meeting up with a bunch of guys from my home state, who actually know where my little obscure hometown is, and have the exact camera cable that I'm looking for? Seriously, this kind of stuff is awesome!
In summary, here is a list of what I got today:
- Tires (Metzler Sahara's) = 140,000 Pesos
- Brake Pads (Front and Rear) and Rear Sprocket (42 tooth) = 80,000 Pesos
- Giant Loop Tank Bag = 33,000 Pesos
- Disk Lock/Alarm = 29,000 Pesos
- Oil (2 liters of Motul 10W-40 Synthetic) = 13,800 Pesos
- Oil Filter = 4,000 Pesos
- Bottle Cage = 3,000 Pesos
- Camera charger cable = Free
All told, I think that adds up to somewhere around $640. Yikes. Riding a motorcycle down here can be expensive. I should have just bought an XR250 Tornado in Mexico, bought used engine oil from farmers, and ran re-treads on my wheels. Taking a big bike (even a Honda) through the land of import fees = $$$$.
In closing, I'll leave you with an interesting sight that I saw today. One of my other money absorbing hobbies back in the States is Cycling. I saw this on the window of the bicycle shop where I bought the bottle cage today. I think you could substitute motorcycles for bicycles and it would be just as true.....
Have you thought about anybody sending you care packages as you were traveling? I am planning a trip similar to yours and figured I could convince my Mom to do something like that, with all the parts purchased before leaving on the trip.
Hiya Ulyses, I've been enjoying your ride report since the beginning of December; every evening when I get home from work I pop open AdvRider to see what you've been up to for the day, where you were and where you have ended up, vicarious thrills 'doncha know'! I've donated a few pesos through paypal to help you get to your goal. From one former fellow Oregonian to another you ride fast and stay safe.
Really enjoy following along on your travels in my downtime. Keep up the good work!
And hey! I'm finally on the same continent as you are. Oh, and when you get old and poor like me, 250s with cheap little tires and 70mpg start looking better and better for third world travel.
Enjoy Patagonia amigo,
"Up until this point I think the Avon Distaznia's have been the best."
I would have to agree, we got 18,000 miles out of the last set and only changed them (like you) because they had about 1,000 miles left in them and the next leg of the trip was far longer.