The Wife takes on Chlamydia. A South American Retrospective

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ChrisUK, Mar 6, 2017.

  1. ChrisUK

    ChrisUK Been here awhile

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    Side trip down the now less than deadly Death Road

    In 2001 I rode down the dirt track into the Yungas region, part of the Amazon jungle (whose principle crop is coca leaves… processed into a white powder in Colombia...) from the heady heights of the pass above La Paz to the town of Coroico. In those days there was only one road, barely wide enough in places for two 4 wheeled vehicles to pass.

    Then and now the obligation is to drive on the left. On every other South American road, people drive on the right. The reason being is that the road hugs the right hand hill side on the way down and drivers of left hand drive vehicles on the down hill journey can see where their left wheels are in relation to the several hundred foot sheer drop-off. In those days some people did die. Indeed, I saw an older man on the side of the road on one corner with a flag, who apparently made it his life’s work to wave his flag to all cars/trucks/bikes to warn them. He had lost his entire family when their minibus rolled off the road!

    Today, however it is the most un-dangerous, un-deadly, average gravel track that can be found 100s of times throughout the Andes. Why: An alternative paved road to Coroico on the other side of the valley has been built. The old “Death Road” has been graded and crash barriers have been put in the corners. It’s still scenic if there’s no cloud or rain. Virtually the only traffic is now cycle tours and other detritus like me.

    The bicycle tours are still milking it, as can be seen from this backpacking “survivor” pictured below. He seemed surprised I was taking his picture in an ice-cream parlour in La Paz.

    I took the following video on the helmet mounted GoPro, in which I might well be taking the p!ss out of said survivors :-) If I’m honest, it was dangerous for me riding up the hill: meeting mainly female, mainly French, mainly heavy weight cyclists head-on who didn’t know their left from their right ;-) Sorry if any offense is caused. It is intentional! ;-)

    It’s probably the most boring 21 minutes of footage on the internet. (See 13.25 onwards ;-) ) A lot like the majority of unedited self-published helmet cam footage out there….

    2015 Tshirt. Ha ha

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    2001: Scary? Yes

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    2015: Not now







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    The sign says it. This picture was taken by an Israeli couple on their honeymoon. The man tried to convince me not to ride the road as it would be too dangerous for me. They had just ridden it up hill.

    It took my best smile and random polite platitudes to get through to him that I was going to flatly ignore everything he told me.



    2001 view from Coroico

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    It rained a lot in 2015



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    Gas station tourist attraction in 2015?



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    La Paz, when it’s cold isn’t so much fun. It’s a big and dirty metropolis. Taking this picture was the highlight of my stay
    #61
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  2. ChrisUK

    ChrisUK Been here awhile

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    The Ruta del Che


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    I found Bolivians in rural areas, away from the big towns and especially away from the usual gringo tourist centres, to be warm-hearted, inquisitive and friendly. Fuel for gringos at Bolivian gas stations is 3 times the price the locals pay. However, if you get it from a drum on the side of the road you get it for the same price the locals pay = 25% more than the regular government price… Often out in the boonies there isn’t a reliable gas station for many many miles, so local entrepreneurship wins the day.




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    Don't think any of these 3 chaps are/were ever on P=45, P-10' Christmas cards list. ¡Viva la revolucion!




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    I think I need my GPS to follow the route...





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    A map to give you an idea where the Ruta de Che is. It's essentially many different dirt roads that lead to the village La Higuera where Che Guevara was killed by the army in 1967 after he entered Bolivia in order to promote his ideals. The roads are all similarly deadly to the hyperbollox "Death Road" as covered in the previous post. Wide gravel/ dirt with marginally tricky bits once in a blue moon. If you ride/drive off the edge, death could possibly come to pass. If you don't, you're pretty much guaranteed to have no fatal mishaps.




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    La Higuera lives its infamy large




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    More largess




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    Y mas. There were a couple of restaurants in the village. They refused to serve me as I was alone and they couldn't be ar$ed to cook for one solo punter. Ended up asking the lady in the grocery store nicely if she could fry me a couple of the eggs she was selling, along with some bread and cola I bought from her.




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    3 of Che's disciples who were also killed at La Higuera




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    Pleasant views



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    Good memories



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    ¡Si!




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    Vilagrande. Carrying a 10 litre container with which to walk into gas stations in order to buy gas at the locals' price, having parked the bike around the corner. It developed a hole near the bottom shortly after I bought it ;-) The cell phone coverage in Bolivia is better than in England




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    Pretty big bridge




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    Over this...



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    I spent Christmas back with Mika and his mates in Samaipata, but lost most of the pictures from there as my phone didn't react so well to being dropped in the Atlantic Ocean off Brazil. Probably a good idea, as far too much alcohol was involved celebrating the birth of the Baby Jesus :-)

    I flew back to Sao Paulo and the Brazilian coast for New Year to meet with a dear friend, Simone. A pleasant way to see in 2016...
    #62
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  3. BikeBrother

    BikeBrother Motorisch gestoord

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    Thank god that we did the "death road" 20 years ago...Even without knowing it was the "death road".
    Udo
    #63
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  4. ChrisUK

    ChrisUK Been here awhile

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    Hey Udo
    The sheer bliss and ignorance of not knowing... :D And you never bought the t shirt either. :imaposer I'm sure you'll buy one and treasure it on your upcoming viaje... But get back to South America quickly. Everything is being paved.

    A tip: If a road is closed "temporarily", just ignore (in the politest possible way) the dude, or dudess with the flag and ride around their barrier. It's very likely there's fcuk all happening up ahead and if there is, it'll be 9 guys scratching their individual and collective ar$es, watching the 1 chap with a broom do his worst. If you ignore this advice, you might as well put your tent up as you won't be going anywhere for the rest of the day.
    #64
  5. BikeBrother

    BikeBrother Motorisch gestoord

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    Hi Chris,
    Thanks for the tip.
    What is the longest distance in km you have to cover with petrol, like on the Che route?
    We are thinking if we need an extra jerrycan for a few liter of extra fuel.


    #65
  6. ChrisUK

    ChrisUK Been here awhile

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    I found a range of 300 or 350km to be enough virtually everywhere. The longest stretch I had without a fuel stop (although there may have been street side drums, but I didn't look for them ) was across the altiplano from Uyuni in Bolivia to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. About 600km. I carried 27 litres in my gas tank and maybe 10 more in cola bottles tied on the bike.

    The last 80km were paved and downhill from 4000m to 2000m above sea level. I free wheeled with the motor off most of the way and arrived with about 1 litre left in the tank!

    Cola bottle holes are the same size as fuel pump nozzles. Always put 2 bottles into a plastic bag and knot the bag. Then put under a bungee strap.
    #66
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  7. ChrisUK

    ChrisUK Been here awhile

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    Chasing the 2016 Dakar Race: Intro and Overview

    Here's a bit of info about what the first half of 2016 would hold for me. Firstly to follow the Dakar for a (long) ways, then take a cruise to Antarctica before the minor case of riding all the way from Ushuaia to Cartagena.

    By way of an introduction, here's another screenshot from my gps tracklog

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    This part of the route takes me from Santa Cruz de las Sierra in Bolivia to the Altiplano at Uyuni and then chasing the 2016 Dakar race via NE Argentina (the prettiest and least commercialised part of the country, in my opinion) to the finishers' podium at Rosario. A bl00dy long way in not a long time. So many hours at 55mph, half of it with a very badly mangled left knee. Thank God for the highway pegs and front saddle bags so that I couple ride with my leg laying straight out on top of it.

    I'm going to divide this part of the report into multiple sections (pretty much by the day), as I have quite a few shiney pictures to show.


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    The official 2016 Dakar map. The web link is at Route: Dakar


    Please note this is the 2016 event won by Toby Price, not 2017, where Britain's Sam Sunderland showed the rest how it was done....

    A few taster pictures:



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    Drifting around a curve at the Salar de Uyuni



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    Hanging with the Bolivian police



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    Malle Moto, luxury style. Having tomorrow's road-book marked up for you, while you clean the airfilter. I had sneaked into the overnight bivouac at La Rioja




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    The Top 3 bikes at the podium at Rosario. I also bullsh!tted my way into the VIP area at the podium in order to be in the right place to take this and many other pictures :D
    #67
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  8. Zubb

    Zubb he went that-a-way...

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    Dang! This is a great report. Thanks for telling your story Chris. Keep it coming brother.
    #68
  9. blackSP

    blackSP 62 6c 61 63 6b 53 50

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    Nice write-up.
    That's not an iguana but a teju...
    #69
  10. ChrisUK

    ChrisUK Been here awhile

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    Thanks again for the positive words!
    #70
  11. ChrisUK

    ChrisUK Been here awhile

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    I'm very happy to stand corrected ☺ Will Google the name right away!
    #71
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  12. ChrisUK

    ChrisUK Been here awhile

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    As I've currently too much time on my hands, I downloaded some video editing software and cut together these 2.15 minutes from watching the '16 Dakar at the Salar de Uyuni, a place you can return to a thousand times, without it losing its mysticism. I'll post some still images tomorrow.

    #72
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  13. SkizzMan

    SkizzMan aka SkiddMark ;^)

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    Slow Guy looked like me taking the turn. :lol3
    #73
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  14. ChrisUK

    ChrisUK Been here awhile

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    Images from the '16 Dakar Race at the Salar de Uyuni on the Bolivian Altiplano

    Actually just a few pictures of me, Chlym, Nick and his bike on some salt

    I hooked up with Nick from the UK via Facebook. He was on his own trans South Am journey, but with a slightly different itinerary (did I actually have an itinerary?!... Looking at my tracklogs, I don't think so!), so we only rode together for a couple of days. A fun time and we were able to meet up again down at the Fin del Mundo in Ushuaia.

    As you saw in a previous post when I was at the Salar de Uyuni a month or 6 weeks before, there’s a big Dakar monument near the "original" Salt Hotel. The Bolivians and more to the point el Presidente Ivo Morales are utter bike and Dakar nuts. The Argentines are also hugely enthusiastic about this event. And most South American countries have the security apparatus and strength of governance to prevent the shenanigans that caused the event to be moved from north and west Africa in the mid-2000s.

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    Nick and I joining the locals for a photo.



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    Many found Chlym to be more fun to sit on for a picture ;-) They have that appreciation for the Japanese utterly shagged-out look, carburetor and growling loud pipe! Fuel injected Austrian shiney high tech just doesn’t create the appropriate image on their Facebook, or when showing the pictures to granny back in La Paz, Sucre or Cochabamba.

    Oh and the clouds looked ominous…




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    After a night camping on the Salar…. Turned out nice again! Time to intercept the race




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    Just one more portrait!



    …Race action pictures to follow mañana, honest!
    #74
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  15. ChrisUK

    ChrisUK Been here awhile

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    Hi JD

    I'm sure you're not doing yourself justice! :-)
    #75
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  16. NickW909

    NickW909 Been here awhile

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    Pretty sure I remember quite a few people sitting on my shiney Austrian machine...... ;-)

    Sent from my SM-G920F using Tapatalk
    #76
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  17. ChrisUK

    ChrisUK Been here awhile

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    No picture, it didn't happen! :pimp
    #77
  18. ChrisUK

    ChrisUK Been here awhile

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    Finally some race pictures from day 6, the second of a 2 day marathon stage at the Salar de Uyuni, the huge salt lake on the Bolivian Altiplano

    For information, there haven't been and won't be for the next chapters of this RR any BMW "Goaty" pictures and words because I never followed the race on said "Ex-wife" and in 2001 the Dakar race still finished in Senegal's capital city in West Africa.

    I did watch a day of the 2005 edition in the dunes at Merzouga in Morocco though. I was there on a clapped out Honda Transalp rat bike. Morocco TBSdotCom A couple of '05 pictures, where they still rode 650cc size bikes include:


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    Jean Azevedo of Brasil, my mate Geraldo Lima's rider (he of the spectacular crash picture in post 14). Every time I come to watch him race, he's a DNF! Maybe I should be paid to stay away!



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    Tragically Andy Caldicott of Australia was killed a couple of days later :-(



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    Francisco Pallas of Venezuela, 53rd




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    Marc Coma of Spain, Winner



    Back to 2016...

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    Amand Monleon of Spain, 10th in Rosario at the Podium




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    Laia Sanz of Spain, first woman finisher at Rosario




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    Ivan Cervantes of Spain, 16th




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    Paolo Ceci (ITA), towing his boss Joan Barreda of Spain, whose engine had expired. Honda, to put it politely, suffered from major "reliability issues" in 2016. This was the year Honda "had to win". Factory teams including HRC, Honda South America, Honda Brasil and Honda Portugal started. A lot didn't finish.

    And again, KTM got the top 3 finishers (3rd was a rebadged KTM = Husqvarna)




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    Adrien Metge of France, 11th




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    Patricio Cabrera of Chile dnf. Woohoo, the only Kawasaki in the race!!




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    Pedro Bianchi of Portugal 69th, failed to keep up with his girlfriend (Laia Sanz)... I like his style: MX boots are old and scuffed, rather than the shiney gear most of the riders were wearing.



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    Cristian Espana of Andorra, DNF. Those Suzukis! Hope the DNF wasn't because his bash plate eventually fell off!




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    Mr Scott Bright of the USA, 53rd. No relation! You can tell; he know how to ride properly! :-)



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    The local competitors got a particular welcome. Walter Nosiglia on the 6th quad home. He owns a Honda bike shop in La Paz and is a bit of a celebrity in Bolivia. Goaty did an oil change in his shop in 2001




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    David Wijnhoven of the Netherlands, 54th. Briefly chatted to him in Rosario. Great bloke




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    Chris Cork from the UK, DNF on day 10. On the night he was forced to sleep out in the desert, I had sneaked into the bivouac at La Rioja and his mechanic told me he was expected "later on". It was already 10.30pm! Good luck for your next attempt at the Dakar!




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    Another Suzuki, belonging to Sebastian Cavallero of Peru, an eventual DNF. They should really bolt those bash plates on properly! He'd clearly had a crash and the front of his bike was all messed up. I'd like to say my cable ties and Nick's piece of webbing got him to the finish of the stage. :-) We saw him again the next day at Turpiza where his bike had been fixed more proficiently!
    #78
  19. NickW909

    NickW909 Been here awhile

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    Bolivia's next up and coming Dakar racer.....
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    Sent from my SM-G920F using Tapatalk
    #79
  20. ChrisUK

    ChrisUK Been here awhile

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    OK Nick, I apologise and withdraw all aspersions cast! ☺ Nice trousers the lady on the left is wearing.
    #80