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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by porkandcorn, Jan 6, 2013.
This is great.
Thanks for the detailed account.
I love the Portland postcard you made. Micro cerveserias, Indeed
Great photos, and they're all with an iPhone 5! Incredible.
What is it about us midwesterners that draws us to the Tiger
thanks everyone for your enthusiasm! it's good to know others are along for the ride. to answer the question about my choice of the tiger, here's a post from my "Obsessive-Compulsive South America Trip Preparation" thread.
Triumph Tiger 800xc vs. the Competition
there is also a lot of info on the tiger and it's accessories in my Canada trip, which you'll find a link to in my signature.
i would make the same choice over the KTM 990 and the F800GS again in a heartbeat.
monday, february 25, 2013
i'm humbled by the kindness of the argentine people. i'm not sure if i'm lucky, or if there are just awesome people all over this country (or both) - but i like it. i didn't know what to think about argentina before i came here, hearing usually only bad news in the american media about the depressed economy, hated president, riots and strikes in the streets, the tanking currency and resulting black markets... now, having been in buenos aires, santa fe, rosario, córdoba, mendoza, and countless small towns in between - i'm officially a fan of this country and of it's people. there is such warmth, generosity, and passion for life that while sitting down for dinner tonight on one of the many crowded pedestrian streets, i myself became a little emotional thinking about everything that has happened to me here. i smiled as i watched people pass by, eating yet another enormous steak. even if something bad were to happen here, nothing could erase the kindness that i have experienced in this beautiful country.
i came into town yesterday, knowing that i would spend today changing my tires and oil. last night i went out for a simple dinner, and found a full-blown wine festival happening near the central square of mendoza. there was two blocks of wineries, a live band, and lots of people for a sunday night. the temperature had dropped, and that brought them out.
megadegustacion festival, mendoza, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
hey sexy!, mendoza, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
a mustached man was tormenting the festival at the main tent. he was some kind of honorary figure (from the countryside no doubt), but after a couple hours of pounding wine he got super hammered and was making a scene and generally entertaining and horrifying everyone. to his credit - he kissed, or slobbered on, almost every pretty girl in attendance. and due to his mystery status, there wasn't much anyone could do about it. i was taking pictures, and he threatened to fight me if i didn't take his. i agreed, of course. he stole this poor girl away from her boyfriend for the shot.
very drunk guy at the festival, mendoza, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
my quiet night out ended up with me dancing to more cumbia with the people that were involved in organizing the festival for the city of mendoza. they are doing a good job of branding mendoza maravillosa as the wine capital of the universe. you have to work pretty hard to find a bad glass of wine, or a bad party around here.
mendoza marivilosa girls, mendoza, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
the next day, with a slight headache, i met up with mathieu from mendoza motoaventura. he is french, but has lived in mendoza for over ten years. i could understand his spanish perfectly, because he is not a native speaker - funny how that works. i emailed him through his website, because i heard about him through ADVrider.com. he has never heard of ADVrider.com. i told him i needed a place to change my tires and oil, and he offered up his workshop in downtown mendoza. mathieu rents motos and organizes moto tours in the beautiful areas surrounding mendoza. give him your business if you decide to come here - he's a fantastic person and his operation is outstanding.
mathieu saved my ass, mendoza, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
as i was waiting for him to meet me, another guy came up to the triumph, curious about the bike and especially the shiny, new german-made heidenau k60s strapped to the bike. i told him what i was up to, and it turns out he's an ADV rider, with a BMW GS1200. i let him know that my old tires were going to be for sale after i swapped them out for the new ones. the heidenau's are such a high quality tire, the front still looked new after 10,000 kilometers, and the rear had only flattened out on the center of the tread by less than a centimeter - due to all the highway miles i put on the bike crossing to brazil and back. so i decided to only change out the rear.
pato y mathieu discussing my fate, mendoza, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
josé (who goes by "pato" - meaning "duck") offered up his BMW mechanic for the oil change and to sort out a fuel problem i was having this morning due to what i think was a bad tank of gas at the end of the ride yesterday. this was great, because while mathieu had a good space for the tire change, he didn't have a set-up for dealing with an oil change and the used oil. pato also was interested in the used tires, and eventually found a buyer for me earlier tonight - the son of a riding partner that he rode with through patagonia. what luck!
so mathieu and i zipped off to the BMW dealer. on the way, the fuel problem cleared up. must have been air, water, or some contaminants in the lines, but after some high RPMs on the way to the mechanic, it all disappeared completely. this is good, because that was stressing me out. the mechanic wasn't available until 6pm, which left me four hours to attempt a change of the rear tire in mathieu's workspace.
well, after fighting with the tire for an hour, i accepted defeat. i wanted to at least try. i later realized that when i practiced the tire change in oregon, i had 2x4s underneath both sides of the tire. this allowed me to stand on top of the tire, pushing the bottom side-wall toward the center of the rim, while using the spoons on the top sidewall. i forgot about this, and, there were no materials of a similar thickness that i could find in the workspace to keep the tire toward the center of the rim - essential for spooning on these monstrously stiff german tires. lesson learned.
changing the tiger's rear wheel, mendoza motoaventura, mendoza, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
so mathieu, ever patient, put my huge-ness and the very heavy tire on the back of his 250cc tornado, and tested his riding skills for the 5-mile drive across town the the gomeria (tire shop). not only did he have my 235lbs, but he had a 75lb wheel and tire hanging off to one side. i hung on for my life through the insane mendoza traffic with one hand, getting a gold's gym quality workout with my other arm holding the wheel for the ride. he is clearly a very skilled rider, as we arrived without any difficulty.
the guys at the gomeria had the tire on in 5 minutes, and we were off to put the wheel back on at the workspace. lesson: don't make life harder than it needs to be - there will be plenty of opportunities to be a hero when the need arrives.
gomeria narvaez, mendoza, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
spinning on the heidenau k60, gomeria, mendoza, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
again, today, the motorcycle family has grown. mathieu wouldn't let me pay him for the use of his space and for his time. pato found a buyer for my tires at a fair price, and waited with me for an hour until the purchase was complete. thank you, thank you, thank you. i'm speachless and, as i said in the beginning of this post, humbled...
pato y mathieu have a plan, mendoza, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
funny that in contrast, i got this note from the lady who runs the pousada where i am staying when i got home. she means well by it - she wants to protect me from possible harm - but at the possible expense of her neighbors. there is this constant dichotomy of trust vs. distrust around here - between people of the same countries and cultures, and between the people of one country or culture vs. another. it's complicated to understand the dynamics without being here to experience it yourself. again, my policy is to just keep to the center.
advice from pousada owner, mendoza, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
This RR is so inspiring; you are doing it right P&C. Saludos, Jim
wednesday, february 27, 2013
yesterday i traveled 10 hours through a variety of high mountain terrain. the valley that leads north out of mendoza, bordered on the right by the bulk of the andes, and on the left by the sierra de valle fértil.
route 40, north of jáchal, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
route 40, also north of jáchal, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
i began moving northeast after san jóse de jáchal, argentina. this led my toward huaco, argentina, where the terrain turned to beautiful reds, yellows, and oranges in the sierra de mogna, near huaco, argentina. after a primative tunnel through a mountain, i came out on the other side to a massive expanse of color, rugged mountains, and pass to continue further north.
route 40, west of huaco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
route 40 tunnel, west of huaco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
inside route 40 tunnel, west of huaco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
east of huaco pass tunnel, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
also east of huaco pass tunnel, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
continuing north, i rode along the east side of a high range, the sierra de la punila. the road was straight, but every 100-500 meters the road would dip down 5 or 10 feet for concrete drainage sections that allow the water to run off the mountain down into the valley below. there were hundreds of these in the 75 kilometer section between huaco and guandacol, argentina. it was a blast to ride, at time you can launch off the ground on the far side of the whoopties. good clean fun.
which way do i go george?, huaco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
mountain drainage reinforcement, south of guandacol, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
there were occassions where water ran across the run, muddy with reddish-brown silt and 1 or 2 feet deep.
drainage from mountain, south of guandacol, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
it was about 3:30 in the afternoon, and i decided to make a run south from villa unión, argentina to the famous parque provincial ischigualasto, also known as the valley de la luna (the valley of the moon.) we'll have to google what i missed, because after an hour ride off my path, the parque was closed for the day. i begged to be able to ride a portion, but to no avail. there was an interested section of the road on the way down that i had to find a way around...
maybe if i go fast enough?, route 76, north of talampaya, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
route 40, east of villa union, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
horses on the road, east of guandocal, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
Untitled by porkandcorn, on Flickr
it was getting late, and i headed back north. between pagancillo puero alegre, argentina, i decided to take a shortcut toward chilecito. this turned out to be 50 kilometers of very difficult dirt/sand road. it was dusty, soft, and at times ellusively deep. i almost went down several time when the front wheel dove into the deep stuff. i was very relieved when that was over, and very tired from fighting the burms of sand and gravel that were piled up periodically.
challeging soft dirt road, between pagancillo and puerto alegre, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
more soft dirt, between pagancillo and puerto alegre, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
very releived, between pagancillo and puerto alegre, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
finally it's over, between pagancillo and puerto alegre, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
sierra de famatina range, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
the final section as the sun was setting in the west was to cross the sierra de sanogasto and arrive at my overnight spot, chilecito, argentina. this high mountain pass twisted through the mountains, and the road was really one lane with steep drop offs at the turns. it was beautiful, but i was loosing sunlight, and limited my photo stops. it runs by the cuesta de miranda, which is a UNESCO world heritage site. it was a beautiful path through the mountains.
by the time i got down off the path, it was twilight. i don't like riding in the dark, but i had no choice. for about 30 minutes, i carefully proceeded to chilecito, with my all my lights on high power. i made for the town square, asked some locals for the best hotel in town, and within 5 minutes was parking and pulling the gear off the bike.
today, it's off to the termas de fiambala, argentina, a natural hot springs area where i'll sleep tonight. tomorrow, i'll cross the andes. me and the bike will be at 15,557 feet before we drop down into chile.
Really enjoying your RR .Very jelous.
Will try to catch up to you over this weekend
thanks everyone for joining the party!
wednesday, february 27, 2013
note: limited wifi access for the past few days
here comes 3 entries at once.
riding out of chilecito was a long, long, straight downgrade that took 3,000 feet of elevation away in about 5 minutes. at the bottom, the valley opened up and i started moving slightly toward the west toward the andes again. after some curves, i passed a trio of bicyclists. i came to a Y in the road, and checked the map for the two options i had in front of me.
let's go to famatima, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
road to famatima, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
the cyclists caught up, and they were a french family (young son, mother, father), taking 6 months to ride from ushuaia, argentina (the end of south america), to lake titicaca, on the peru/bolivia border. if you thought your family was hard-core, think again. they are riding 80 kilometers per day to keep their schedule. we exchanged some stories in our common language, spanish. i took the east road. they took the west road.
super gnarly family vacation, chilecito, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
famatima, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
my gamble was that the east road, which cut into the mountains, would be more interesting. it turned out to be fairly unimpressive, but sometimes that's how it goes. however, coming out and back to the main road, i found an old manor that had been converted into a winery. had a great lunch of local cheeses, meats, and desserts.
finca la sala, la puntilla, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
finca la sala goods, la puntilla, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
i continued north toward the fiambala hot springs (termas de fiambala), my destination for the night. the motorcycle guys from merlo a couple nights back recommended the hot springs to me.
grounds, termas de fiambala, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
i was told i could not camp near the pools by the park ranger, but a 30 pesos propina (tip/bribe) allowed me to put up my tent right next to the best one, and had a perfect size concrete pad for me, my moto, and my tent. it's well known that rules on this continent are flexible. i spent the evening in and out of the cascading pools. the pools at the top were about 105 degrees. the 10th pool at the bottom was about 90 degrees. i liked the hot ones best.
termas de fiambala, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
piscina caliente, termas de fiambala, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
i climbed an overlook to watch the sunset and capture a couple beautiful shots of the mountain-tips up above the terms. they were glowing from the sun setting on the other side of the valley - setting over the andes pass that i would cross the following day. i had about a one-minute window to capture these images - i think they are the best photos i've managed to catch this entire trip
sunset on termas de fiambala canyon, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
glowing canyon, termas de fiambala, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
glowing sunset canyon, termas de fiambala, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
the wind was howling all night, screaming down the gulch were i camped. and i'm not the kind of person who really sleeps at all while camping - too much neck pain. so not much sleep occurred.
i woke before the sunrise, soaked in the 105 degree pool for a while, and walked back up to the overlook. this time, i watched the sun light up the tips of the mountains on the west side of the valley. all this sun-setting and sun-rising makes you think. it's not the sun - the actual planet is a big ball and it is rotating. and these mountains and valleys and rivers and cities and people are all on the surface of that planet. pretty cool 8th grade science shit that comes to mind when you are up where you can see it all happening.
road to termas de fiambala, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
moonrise over termas de fiambala, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
thursday, february 28, 2013
disclaimer: the following blog posts contain large amounts of panoramic mountain photos, occasionally with a triumph motorcycle or a triumph motorcycle operator...
there was not a soul on the 200 kilometer stretch of pavement that wraps into the andes from fiambala, argentina to the paso de san francisco argentina/chile border. it's an epic ride, a bit ominous as the elevation begins to affect your brain and body. you feel a lightness, compounded by the speed and the passing of terrain on the motorcycle. this state can be dangerous, and you have to be very aware of your speed when curves appear.
my soundtrack for the ride up to the pass: artist: murcof, album: martes
route 60, west of fiambala, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
route 60, further west of fiambala, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
route 60, panorama, west of fiambala, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
route 60, rusted iron mountains, near chaschuil, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
the colors and smells were incredible: blue-black towering masses of rock that were wet and smelled moist as you passed, rusted iron red outcroppings that permeated the air with a strong smell of decaying metal, nuclear green and yellow algae fields that wreaked of sulfur from the geological activity under the volcano fields i was passing through. there were odd looking deer-like animals in the wetland areas.
dark mountains, near chaschuil, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
route 60, 10000 feet elevation, near cortaderas, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
route 60, south east of incahuasi volcano, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
glowing fields, south east of incahuasi volcano, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
panorama, south east of incahuasi volcano, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
i grew tired of getting off the bike to take photos, and as good as some of these photos are, there is nothing that can describe the immensity of the andes. they make you feel very small, very young, and very short on time. they are massive, old and ancient. they will be there long after i'm dust.
incahuasi volcano, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
golden grass, south east of incahuasi volcano, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
12,000 feet elevation, route 60, las peladas, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
eventually i reached the argentine migrations office at 12,500 feet. this is where my documents are checked so that i can be allowed to leave the country. delirious from the altitude, hungry, i was confronted with an interesting issue: i had no document showing that i had imported the bike into argentina when i crossed at uruguaiana nearly two weeks earlier. essentially, that means: you can't leave argentina with the bike.
argentine migraciones, paso de san francisco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
i knew i didn't loose the document - i put everything in my documents organizer and i'm an obsessively organized individual. 24-hour story made short, the argentine immigrations officials at the uruguaiana crossing neglected to give me the import document for my bike. i'm told that i would have an email authorizing a reprint of the missing import document in the morning. border crossings are fast-paced, stressful ordeals. shit happens. looking back, i neglected to remember to ask for it. and the agent at the time forgot to give it to me. 1+1=0.
triumph tiger didn't make a curve, argentine migraciones, paso de san francisco by porkandcorn, on Flickr
after the document ordeal, i spoke to some people coming from the other side of the pass, and they said there were 100 kilometers of terrible gravel roads waiting for me on the chile side of the pass. that much distance on bad, deep gravel, destroyed by big trucks could take 2, 3, 4 hours to pass. i accepted that i'd be camping at the office for the night. even better, there was a climbers refuge about 100 feet away. it's a base camp for extreme mountaineers that summit the 18,000+ ft peaks that surround the area. so i spent the night with about 10 of them.
climbers refuge, paso san francisco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
my headaches from the altitude continued into the evening as i fueled the bike and cleaned and lubed my chain, and once again fixed the stupid right-front turn signal that keeps breaking. i boiled some water, and made a tasty freeze dried camping meal of spaghetti with meat sauce. i had a big swig of the eagle rare bourbon whiskey that i stowed away in the bike to south america - to help thin the blood.
hay nafta aqui, paso de san francisco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
lubing the chain, refuge, paso de san francisco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
some brazilians were passing through to fuel, and were crazy enough to continue down the pass as the sun was setting.
motociclistas brasileiros, paso de san francisco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
brasileiros, migraciones, paso de san francisco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
so, a friend of a friend, kyle mccoy, is doing an extreme marathon across the atacama desert, the driest place on the planet. i'm on schedule to meet up with kyle in san pedro de atacama, the closest thing to civilization that exists in the area, on march 9. kyle is raising money for the USO northwest. take a moment to read the info that kyle sent me a while back, and if you feel the cause is worthy, donate a few dollars, pesos, reais, or whatever currency you prefer.
check it out: atacama crossing
if youd like to donate/learn more about this great organization, please do so here: www.usonw.org/mccoy
as a fellow "list nerd", i appreciate the following...
from kyle (who uses capital letters):
Below is a very detailed update on my progress (hopefully its entertaining, if nothing else):
Race Facts: basically its a suffer fest in the driest place on earth and you should question the judgment of anyone willing to do this - except me - Im 100% rational: http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/quick_facts
Communication: The blog I will maintain during the race (satellite shot occurs once daily from the desert to send/receive messages if you have time, Id love to hear from you during the race in early March): http://www.4deserts.com/blogs/ac_comptetior_blog.php?pid=MTg4MQ==&blog=121 *Note for now Im holding off on lots of detail on this blog as other competitors can read my comments. . . this may be a bit overly paranoid, but better to be the hunter than the hunted. :) I'll send an update a few days from race start to remind you of communications.
Gear: Im a bit of a gear geek. Ive spent LOTS of time researching and testing to pinpoint the lightest and strongest materials for a race of this nature (I did this for the Marathon des Sables in 2010 as well). I measure in ounces. Every single ounce carried serves a very specific purpose. My pack on the starting line (and in training) is ~20lbs, which is ~3lbs heavier than my race in the Sahara because it gets colder in this race. I hate being cold. I'm also bringing more (in absolute and diversity terms) food this time relative to my race in the Sahara. Most of the overall weight I'll carry is food (about 13 lbs) for the week, which will be approx 2200 calories/day. Ill have basically two comfort items: Ipod Shuffle with a Solio solar charger to recharge the ipod each day. Ive found that after running half the distance in silence each day in these types of races, cranking the music right as I reach rock bottom can increase morale. It's like a nice version of shock treatment. Toward the bottom of this message is more detail on my gear selection.
Medical: Im participating in a joint medical research project between Stanford University School of Medicine and University of Washingtons Medical Center on the effects of multi-day endurance events in extreme environments on the human body specifically: changes in sodium levels and weight fluctuations. Ill have my weight taken at check-in, and then again at the finish line of stages 1, 3 and 5 (the long day at ~50 miles). Ill also be given a finger-stick blood test at these times.
The purpose: Low levels of sodium can result in Exercise Associated Hyponatremia (EAH). Any endurance athlete is at risk of having low sodium during an event as the act of sweating rids the body of needed sodium. This can cause metabolic imbalances that can impair performance or lead to serious medical repercussions. The prevalence of EAH in multi-day ultramarathons is currently unknown with the medical research showing conflicting results of the correlation between body weight and sodium levels. There are multiple physicians on site during this race, given the otherwise lack of medical support in this region and the inherent stupidity of running in the desert.
Training: Make no mistake - Im going to compete. Id like to finish in the top 10, though this is a lofty goal as competitors show up from around the world with significant experience in this type of racing. I would consider myself as being in a bit under personal marathon-shape for me as of the beginning of earnest training for this race (end of Dec). I was trained for the NY Marathon in November (unfortunately this was cancelled), and followed that with a bit of hibernation and holiday festivity. Last year I ran ~8 marathons (or greater), and 1 x 100 mile race (Cascade Crest 100). For this upcoming race, Ive focused on more of what Ill call quality miles, or those that are as specific as possible to the race (obviously ironic given the differences between Seattle and the driest place on earth). This generally means pack miles wearing the actual 20lb backpack Ill wear during the race with exactly what Ill carry, or running back-to-back long runs as my schedule allows. I've just begun my heat-acclimation training by sitting in a sauna for an ascending and extended period of time. I'll crest at around 45 min at 180deg.
As an aside, some interesting highlights to heat acclimatization:
One can become acclimatized to heat and cold at the same time. Even with training bouts being on the same day in the different environments.
Most of the improvements in heart rate, core and skin temperature, and sweat rate are acquired in just ONE week of heat exposure. Heart rate adaptations are seen in just 4-5 days. However increases in sweating and a feeling of ease of walking in a hot environment can take up to one month to occur.
More is gained from a 100 minute bout of heat exposure exercise than one 50 minute bout, but adding bouts beyond 100 minutes of exposure did not quicken adaptation.
Heat exposure adaptations have been studied to disappear as quickly as one week if the subject is not re-placed in the heat, but may last as long as 3 weeks in some individuals.
All facts taken from Human performance physiology and environmental medicine at terrestrial extremes Pandolf, Sawka, Gonzalez. ISBN: 1-884125-02-6
Mileage: (Note the weekly mileage isnt as significant as Ive done previously, but wearing a 20lb pack takes substantially longer to cover each mile - red denotes pack miles)
Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun Wk Total Cumul Total Days Run
Week 0 Dec 24-30 4 4 3 5 0 27 13 56 56 6
Week 1 Dec 31-Jan 6 5 4 5 5 0 13 10 42 98 6
Week 2 Jan 7-13 0 6 5 3 3 26 5 48 146 6
Week 3 Jan 14-20 5 5 6 0 4 20 18 58 204 6
Week 4 Jan 21-27 12 4 4 4 4 21 16 65 269 7
Week 5 Jan 28-Feb3 0 3 5 3 0 31 12 54 323 5
Week 6 Feb 4-10 9 9 9 5 5 9 CT 46 369 6
Week 7 Feb 11-17
Week 8 Feb 18-24
Week 9 Feb 25-Mar 3 RACE
RACE Mar 4-Mar 10 RACE RACE RACE RACE RAC RACE
29-Dec Loop the Lake Marathon = (3 hr 11 min) - very casual race
12-Jan Calico Run from the Angels Marathon = (3 hr 5 min) - near Las Vegas
2-Feb Orcas Island 50K = 5h35m (8400' climbing - very tough/leg-crushing race)
CT Denotes Cross Training (I'll do much more of this the last 3 weeks)
Denotes Sauna Training
Denotes "Pack miles" - carrying 15-20lbs to simulate race conditions
Backpack: Inov-8 Race Elite 25 (trimmed down of most straps and internal water pouch): http://www.racingtheplanet.com/store/inov-8-race-elite-25.html; Frontpack: Inov-8 Racepac 2 Chest Pouch; Water Bottle Holders: Inov-8 Bottle Holders (attached to front shoulder straps of backpack)
Sleeping bag: Western Mountaineering Highlight (under 1lb down-filled sleeping bag rated to 35F)
Headlamp: Petzl e+LITE Headlamp x 2 (backup) - the absolute lightest headlamp on the market, but less power
Compass: Silva 1 Explorer Compass
Safety Pins x 20
Knife/Multi-Tool: 4 Deserts SwissCard
Whistle: Jetscream safety whistle
Mirror: Coghlans Featherweight Mirror
Survival Blanket/Bivvy: Space Brand Emergency Blanket (trimmed to half size)
Sunscreen: Dermatone No-Touch Sunscreen
Lip Balm: Dermatone Spot Protection Stick
Blister Kit: Racing the planet blister kit (reduced to half size I typically dont have many feet issues, knock on wood)
Alcohol Gel: Purell Hand Sanitizer x 1 (2 fl oz)
Wet Wipes: Rough Country Tablet Towels (dehydrated add water) x 7 (1 per day)
Red Flashing Light: Flashing LED Safety Light
Compression Bandage: 1
Lightweight Jacket: Patagonia Houdini (with sewn on American flags and 4 deserts logos each sleeve, as required)
Shorts/Tights: 1 x Patagonia trail-running shorts and 1 x Montane Ultralight wind pants
T-Shirts/Long Sleeves: 1 x Icebreaker Bodyfit 150gm long sleeve crew and 1 x Icebreaker Quest 150gm Short Sleeve Crew (each with sewn on American flags and 4 deserts logos each sleeve, as required) NOTE: Merino wool, and specifically Icebreaker, are the best fabrics for this type of environment (hot during day, cold at night), and dont smell terrible after multiple days given merino wools antimicrobial nature.
Shoes: Brooks Pure Grit 2, with sewn on gators to keep sand out
Socks: 2 x Injinji Crew Toe socks arguably the most important piece of equipment these work incredibly well to reduce friction and blisters
Headgear: Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap - also incredibly important given the 100 deg heat
Warm Hat: Icebreaker Pocket 200
Gloves: Patagonia glove liners
Sunglasses: Native Dash XP
7 day food supply: Required 2000 cal / day - I'll comment more on this in my last message just prior to the race
Eating Utensil: Light my fire spork (cut in half)
Electrolyte / Salt Tablets: Endurolytes
Hydration System: 2 x Inov-8 bottle carriers and bottles
Optional Items (that I'm taking):
Sleeping Pad: Therma-Rest NeoAir Xlite 3/4 length - not required this race, but I need to stay warm at night (and sleeping on the earth does not work for me in terms of warmth)
Bag Liner: Sea-to-Summit Premium Silk Liner (adds up to 10 deg warmth) - undecided on this (will decide last night prior to race)
Ziploc bags x 10
Toothbrush + Toothpaste: Toob brush head with travel paste
Wristwatch: Garmin ForeRunner 610 GPS Watch with footpod (Note I'll use the footpod in lieu of the GPS so that the watch battery lasts the entire race)
Solar Portable Charger: Solio Solar Charger (basic)
Buff Headgear/Scarf (for wind/sandstorms)
That's it for this update. I'll send out a final check-in about 2.5 weeks from now. Thanks again for your support! Let me know if you have any feedback.
friday, march 1, 2013
all day i had no idea what day it was, but i'll remember the date march 1st, 2013 for a while. that was the date stamped on my argentine exit documents once they finally allowed me leave the barren, high altitude border crossing. it's also the day i watch the sun rise over the argentine andes at over 15,500 feet and watched it set over the chilean pacific ocean at 00,000 feet.
incahuasi volcano, paso san francisco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
14,000 feet, paso san francisco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
i barely slept at all the previous night. my altitude sickness symptoms from the day before had intensified during the night. i was struggling to breath, gulping for air in the pitch-blackness of the dormitory that i shared with 6 or 7 other guys. i drank about 2 liters of water, but my mouth was still bone dry, my lips chapped. somewhere in the night, i began shivering, sweating, feeling nauseous, and then the pounding, ice-pick headaches began.
i was tossing and turning underneath the primitive wool blanket that i was given. at one point, a mouse (i want to think it was a mouse, but it felt larger) jarred me from my delirium by attempting to share my bed. i jumped out of my bunk, and the rush to my head really got my head pounding. the pain made me more nauseous. i grabbed my iphone for some light, and dug in my first aid for the promethezine that i'd packed along for this scenario. after a half-hour, maybe around 4:30am, the drugs kicked in and the symptoms calmed a bit. at 6:30am, the headache was back strong enough to wake me out of the drug-induced coma.
i confided in some of the hikers that i was in bad shape, as they were preparing to leave for a summit of a nearby peak. they made me drink some mate tea, and pop a couple of caffeine pills. it seemed to work, because after i ate one of my freeze dried backpacker meals i'd prepared, the symptoms were going away. i think it helped just to be up and moving around, circulating the blood.
i walked over to the migrations office around 9am, and my document approval had arrived. it was confirmation that the uruguaiana border official entered the moto import document i needed into the computer system, but never actually printed, stamped, or gave it to me. thanks. anyway, it was probably for the best - had i crossed the mountain pass the day before, i would have been in a world of pain with 3,500 more feet in elevation gain and a setting sun to race against.
after i was officially processed out of argentina, i started up from 12,500 feet at the base camp, and climbed for a solid hour. i've never been up past 13,500 feet before - which was during a backpacking trip to the sawtooth mountains in wyoming. the elevation gain is a mixture of exciting and terrifying. there wasn't another soul on the road the entire climb. i had this strange new world all to myself. as i reached the top of the pass, i felt elated. half emotion, half physiology.
panorama at 14,000 feet, paso san francisco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
volcanic peaks, paso san francisco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
the climb was so intense, that when i reached a less steep section, i thought for sure i was going downhill. but a quick glance at the garmin showed that i was actually still gaining 3-6 feet per second. past 13,000, past 14,000, past 15,000 feet - that's at half the distance that commercial jets fly. and these are volcanic ranges - massive pyroclastic blast fields, towering and deadly behemoths, purveyors of great natural violence.
arrving at laguna verde, paso san francisco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
laguna verde, paso san francisco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
panorama at laguna verde, paso san francisco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
the scenery on the way up was mind-blowing, and i took some time for photos. but i was warned not to mess around too much at the top. "get up, and get back down." what i didn't realize was that i would be riding about 2 hours between 14,000 and 15,000 feet.
unknown peaks northwest of laguna verde, paso san francisco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
unknown peaks, paso san francisco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
rock formation, paso san francisco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
thermal springs, paso san francisco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
at the pass, the asphalt turned to gravel. i was on an altiplano (high plain) that stretched all the way from the pass, for about 60 kilometers of challenging roads until i arrived at the chile border processing facility.
summit at 15,505 feet, paso san francisco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
thin air at 15,505 feet, paso san francisco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
portland trailblazers tribute at 15,505 feet, paso san francisco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
gravel road, paso san francisco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
past chilean immigrations, i opted for a dirt road that shaved 150 kilometers off my path to the ocean. i made sure that the road was not going to suck, and asked again, and then again with someone else. that's the way you do it down here.
chile border, 60 km west of paso san francisco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
the ride back down into chile was a moon-scape. i felt like i was on mars, or some other distant world yet discovered. the colors were intense, and the scale of the mountains shocking. there were a few truckers on the road, but i don't think there were more than five other vehicles on the entire 2 hour ride down from 15,500 to about 6,000 feet.
climbing to paso san francisco, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr
field of animals, san andres pass, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
descent in san andres pass, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
the long road down, san andres pass, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
descent panorama, san andres pass, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
intense sunblasted minerals, san andres pass, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
triumph taking a break, san andres pass, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
the dirt road i was traveling from 6,000 feet down was the nicest dirt road in the history of dirt roads. i think they sprayed oil on a fine dirt gravel mix. it was so nice, that at 100 kph, i had to repeat to myself "you are on a dirt road", "you are on a dirt road", so that i didn't get too confident and go too fast. going fast is easy. stopping is not so easy.
looking back up, san andres pass, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
at 6,000 feet, near puquois, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
i probably equalized my inner ear 10 times during the day.
finally in copiapó, chile i made the final 60km run to the coast, trying to catch the sun as it set over the pacific. a couple of weeks earlier, i was swimming in the brazlian atlantic, in praia do rosa. crazy to think i'd crossed a continent, and crested the andes again.
west of copiapó, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
the sun warmed my face, through my mirrored helmet shield. i rolled back the throttle down the straight-aways that were flanked on both sides by sand dunes, and barren coastal mountains. i reached bahia inglesa, and rode to a parking lot on the coast as the sun was setting behind the hills that made the south end of the bay.
i asked a kid passing by to take this picture. i was in such a rush to not miss the sunset that i parked the bike on a slanted surface. 2 seconds after this shot, the bike fell over on it's right side as the sun slipped behind the hill. a small scuff on the throttle guard, and a small scuff on the panniers plastic bumper. a large dent in the ego, after fighting a half a continent's worth of roads without a single tip-over. oh well! screw it!
sunset at bahia inglesa, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
saturday, march 2, 2013
not much to say. i've been uploading photos on the planet's worst wifi network ever for the last 3 hours, staring at the ocean and drinking pisco & coca colas. dangerous combination. i decided to stay here an extra day, to get caught up on the blog, and wash the horrible funk out of the clothes that suffered through the last week. i gave the bike a once over today too - torqued the bolts, looked into every nook and cranny. she's a happy camper, despite some temporary fuel issues resulting from the brief tip-over. motos don't like laying down and taking naps. (thank you damon rust for teaching me to get the bike back up quick and to wait 5-10 minutes before starting up after a tip-over).
coral, bahia inglesa, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
bahia inglesa is a nice place. although the summer season is over, there are plenty of people here for the weekend from copiapó, the nearest big city inland.
morning run along the bahia, bahia inglesa, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
north bahia, bahia inglesa, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
it's a pretty small town. but it's good to chill for a bit. i had several intense days recently, and i need a bit of time to process everything. reading my blog to make sure it's accurate, i'm thinking… "shit, this guy is having the experience of a lifetime… what i am that guy!"
pedras at south bahia, bahia inglesa, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
beach from pedras, bahia inglesa, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
my clothes should be back from the lavanderia in a couple hours. i'm going to try the ceviche at another place tonight. it's a rough life.
motociclista en la playa, bahia inglesa, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
rooftop of coral de bahia hotel, bahia inglesa, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
coral de bahia hotel, bahia inglesa, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
sunday, march 3, 2013
it was a short 2 hour ride north to the parque nacional pan de azúcar. i stopped for gas, water, and some snacks south of the park, as i knew i'd be camping.
i arrived at the park, and continued to caleta pan de azúcar, chile - a small 2-restaurant village, surrounded by simple cabañas and camping areas.
map of pan de azúcar national park, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
north entrance to pan de azúcar national park, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
as i pulled up, a backpacker was getting out of a taxi. we started talking, and decided to camp together, as we were both traveling alone. david is a 31 year-old lumberjack from switzerland, near the border with liechtenstein. it's winter there, so in his off-season, he is spending a few months backpacking around south america.
david, pan de azúcar national park, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
david went on a short boat tour to the nearby island, while i had lunch and drove back south to the other side of the point to reserve a camping spot. the south side had no restaurants, only camping, and was a lot cleaner and more 'tranquilo'. i dropped off my duffle bag and spare gas tank at the campsite, so i'd have a passenger seat to drive david over after he got off the boat.
caleta pan de azúcar for lunch, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
we grabbed some empanadas, and a large pile of beer for the night.
the campsite was outstanding. we organized camp, and started cracking the beers. i was envious of david's lightweight backpack, hammock, and much simpler existence. david was envious of my transportation and several technological comforts. the grass is alway greener on the other side.
camping, pan de azúcar national park, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
setting camp, pan de azúcar national park, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
david and hammock, pan de azúcar national park, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
home sweet home, pan de azúcar national park, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
etherial campsite, pan de azúcar national park, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
we spent the night sharing what luxuries we had to offer each other in the way of food and drink, sharing stories of our travels, and enjoying some company. we spoke and odd mixture of spanish and english, that comes as habit when you encounter other english speaking people.
in the morning, we shook hands, and parted ways. david is making his way to the atacama desert as well, but i'll be arriving much faster on the tiger.
the fortress, pan de azúcar national park, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
the beach, pan de azúcar national park, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
monday, march 4, 2013
i felt inspired to do some dirt roads along the coast between pan de azúcar and antofagasta, chile. i had no idea what i was getting myself into...
north of taltal, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
i had to head out of the park and catch the panamerica highway for a short distance north. after about 80km, i took a dirt road that led through a canyon and out of the coast again - to a city called taltal, chile. the roads were outstanding for the first 10 km, more of that smooth packed dirt coated with oil/tar to hold it together - we'll call it "dirtcrete".
further north of taltal, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
path north of bahia de nuestra señora, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
i stopped at a gas storage depot on the north end of town and asked a security guard if the road was like this all the way to antofagasta. of course he said, yes! - it's perfect for motorcycling. this is where you learn to be more specific - i don't mind terrible roads, but i like to know if i'm going to be on them or not to plan out the days ride and how much time i'll need to arrive wherever i'm going.
questions like: "is the road smooth, coated with oil like this?", "does the road have deep sand?", are there large, pointy, tire killing rocks everywhere?", "will i regret leaving the pavement and curse your name for saying it's a good road all the way to the next city?".
anyway, about 5km north from my vague friend, the road turned to absolute dog-shit - sharp rocks lodged in the dirt, sections of very deep, treacherous sand pits, sections entirely of sand - ok for the overweight tiger, but not what i have scheduled for the day.
yes - i agree, near el medano, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
sand trap, near el medano, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
coast "road" with sand, near el medano, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
but i was committed and saw that there was only about 60km until a road led out through a canyon and back to the panamerican. it was stunningly beautiful, and i didn't see another car the entire day. the coast was spotted with fishing shacks, which i assume were permanent residences. the mountains rise up directly from the coast, like the coast of northern california, oregon, and washington states in some places.
the riding was very difficult. i was hyper-aware all day, watching out for the sand pits that almost took me down on several occassions. you get very efficient at spotting changes in the texture of the road from a distance, motivated by avoiding the pain of a crash.
cactus, near el medano, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
man, puntas dos reyes, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
at times, the sand was so deep that if i didn't carry enough speed, i would get stuck and have to walk/throttle the bike through to the other side without my weight burdoning the bike.
i was in for a surprize when i got to the "exit" road from the coast, which was shown both on my map and on the gps. you see clearly where the road is supposed to be, but i can assure you no such road exists any more. you could see remnants of it carving off into the hills, but it has long since been abandoned - consumed by the relentless attack of the mountains and sea to reclaim it for their own. nature vs. that road = nature wins.
theoretical road, blanco encalada, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
but alas - no road exists, blanco encalada, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
so i continued north, hoping that even thought there was a gap in the road on the map just before antofagasta, that i would find a coastal road all the way there like the nice, but misinformed, man told me i would.
a strange place to sit, caleta el cobre, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
i reached the end of the road, looked north, and saw nothing - impassable deep ravines rising quickly up from the shore. no road could be built under those conditions. so i backtracked to an unmarked canyon pass that i saw about 10km back.
returning to the last road, caleta el cobre, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
it looked pretty rough, but i could see it carving through the canyon and up into the hills. someone put a lot of work into it, and i was hoping it actually went over and through to the panamerican. it was getting late, about 5 or 6pm, and i had 2 options: find a spot to camp on the beach, and figure it out tomorrow... or, power though and see if i got lucky - worst case scenario, camping somewhere up in the pass. i had supplies and fuel either way.
i decided to go for it. this added another 50km of challenging high mountain pass roads to my day, and i was already exhausted from fighting the sand for 4 hours. i took a short break, got my head gathered, and pushed up into the pass. it was also beautiful, the setting sun laying long, deep shadows across the terrain. going up was ok - mostly hard packed dirt. like the coastal section, i had to carefully survey my path as not to hit the pointy rocks sticking up everywhere. (i had encountered a motorcyclist earlier in the day on the panamerica who hit a pothole and destroyed his rim - extra motivation.)
mountain pass southeast of caleta el cobre, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
5,000 feet, mountain pass southeast of caleta el cobre, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
6,000 feet, mountain pass southeast of caleta el cobre, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
the last section coming down was 20km of horrible soft dirt, in limited light as the sun was setting. i proceeded cautiously, and finally made it to pavement. in 40 minutes, i was searching for hotels in antofagasta, chile.
precious pavement, south of antofagasta, chile by porkandcorn, on Flickr
Seems exhausting just reading about it.
Amazing Adventure! :eek1