Young Aussie biting off way more than he can chew : LA -> TDF

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by clumsy_culhane, Jul 14, 2017.

  1. chudzikb

    chudzikb Been here awhile

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    Everyone thinks they are so bad ass, until they see someone doing a similar ride on a bicycle! Then the humble feeling returns.
  2. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

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    For sure!! You realise doing on a motorbike is positively luxurious. But they think we are missing out on seeing lots, and they would be right. I've done some touring on bicycles in Europe and it's awesome, but Latin America is something else!

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  3. gavo

    gavo Slacker

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    A word of warning, I shipped my DR 650 to S.E.Asia and rode around for 4 mths. $1100 to ship it back from KL then another 1200 to get it through customs and bio security in OZ. They charged $350 for cleaning which was done before crating it and it hadn't even been taken out of the crate. Over all it cost over twice as much to get it back into Australia thanks to Government charges. Beware of the hidden costs.
    clumsy_culhane and SkizzMan like this.
  4. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the heads up! Got another quote this morning that indicated $1200 in charges on the Australian side - ouch! Its not the best financial decision I'll make but it really woudl be cool to continue riding the pig after this trip is over.
  5. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

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    Arriving in San Pedro I met up with some of the people I met in Sucre. We headed out to Valle de la Luna on push bikes – who new that riding bikes in the desert was hard work!?

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    One of the girls was having a tough time so we didn’t see everything there was to see in the reserve but we still got to the sunset next to the biggest dune which was pretty epic!

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    Tomorrow I ride Sico Pass over to San Antonio de Los Cobres which is supposed to be a pretty epic ride.
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  6. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

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    Leaving Chile was made easy by a beautiful road and the most streamlined border crossing of the trip. However, Paso Sico was not epic, it was extraordinarily dull and had the worst washboard of the entire trip. Like seriously just horrendous, the KLR’s dash almost fell off which is a first. After wandering around the dusty, dead town of San Antonio I found a hospedaje for 150 pesos – almost $10 AUD for a place with no internet, no showers and a grumpy owner. Other places were asking 400 or even 500 for a dorm bed, and the places were empty!

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    Today was 450 pesos for a full tank of petrol + my jerrycan’s filled and I was on my way, expecting more washboard but pleasantly surprised to find Ruta 40 to be pretty quick. Another high pass up to 4900 m then descending into Cafayate was a long day – 360km of gravel including some sections of gravel that give Ruta 40 its infamy. It’s deceptive as it looks pretty flat, but if you move in your rut too much things get hairy very quickly. Again I was very grateful for the knobby front tyre, it’s wearing well but I think tomorrow onwards all the way to Mendoza is paved so we’ll see how it goes! I’m meeting friends in Mendoza/Santiago that I saw in Sucre and in San Pedro, they are going down the chile coast by bus so I have to move quickly!
  7. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

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    Side note - after Bolivia and Perú the nice streets of Argentinan towns are like a breath of fresh air! I know we're supposed to like the adventure and grit of developing countries but after almost 5 months in its certainly a nice change.

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  8. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

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    Arrived in San Juan today, so close to Mendoza now after a few days ride from San Pedro! Staying with Jorge, an awesome couchsurfing host in a suburb of San Juan. It’s great to be speaking Spanish with someone the whole time, it really improves when I don’t stay in hostels and have to speak Spanish for days a time, although the Argentine accent is a bit difficult sometimes. He rides a moto too (a little 125 of course)!

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    Before I loved motorbikes, I loved cars. Here’s a very tidy Fiat 125 (I think?) in the streets of San Juan.

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  9. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

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    I ended up staying only one night in Mendoza, the epicentre of wine in Argentina as I wanted to meet friends in Valparaíso. From Mendoza this meant a long day’s ride (400+km) with a border crossing high in the Andes.

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    Nothing too eventful to report really, just chilling out here for another night before heading to Santiago for a night or two.
    gavo, chudzikb and Dirt Road Cowboy like this.
  10. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

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    The last week flew past with not a lot of noteworthy locations or riding! I met some of my friends in Valparaíso, a port town on the west coast of Chile to hang out for a few days. It’s a super interesting town, full of Chilean hipsters, a university, lots of cafes and restaurants. For tourists, it’s famous for it’s street art, which saturates all the streets near the centre, up stairways and on shop fronts.

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    It’s really nice riding to a city knowing you have friends waiting, so the last week has been cruisy with big cook ups at the hostels and sharing the planning load of choosing things to go, places to go and which hostel to book.

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    We spent a whole day just walking around taking everything in, the town is on a series of hills which means lots of tiny alleyways, winding staircases and shops hanging on to the side of the hills.

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    Leaving Valparaíso we headed to Santiago, Chile’s capital and largest city (5.15 million). It didn’t really enamour itself to any of us, seemingly just a big city from anywhere in the world. It was pretty clean, expensive and huge though!

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    Now we are in Pucón, which for the backpackers was an over night bus – for me it was two half-day’s ride, camping halfway between in my first experience of a proper organised camping spot. Fast wifi, hot showers and a sink for each campsite was a luxury! I had the place to myself, with my new doggo friend guarding my tent all night from the other dogs – this meant terrible sleep due tconstantonsant barking! He was one of the biggest dogs I’ve ever met, super friendly and very grateful for the canned tuna I had left over.

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    We are in Pucón for three nights, doing a few walks and enjoying the outdoors. Its a small touristy town next to a lake underneath a huge volcano, it’s going to be hard to leave!

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    I’m now roughly the same latitude as Melbourne, my home city in Australia which is exciting. I only have about 3400 km to go until I reach Ushuaia, the southernmost city in South America! I’ll be there before the end of the year which is a bit ahead of schedule, which will probably mean spending more than a week in Buenos Aires waiting for the flights home to come down in price, waiting a week drops the price by more than $1000.
    Pete_Tallahassee, jmcg, #1Fan and 7 others like this.
  11. Turkeycreek

    Turkeycreek Gringo Viejo

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    Great photos. That is one big dog, good he was on your side.
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  12. #1Fan

    #1Fan Been here awhile

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    I'm so tempted to do this very ride but in reverse. With all the cheap bikes for sale in Ushuaia, it may be worth it.
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  13. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

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    Do it!!!! If you're in Ushuaia around Jan I could offer you a sweet deal on a kitted out KLR.....
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  14. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

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    Today we walked (well I rode the motorbike most of the way, as I destroyed the end of my toe walking around barefoot yesterday….) to the waterfall at Salto del Claro, a little off the tourist track but most importantly its free! Highly recommended as a visit if you go to Pucón. It’s a five min walk from the carpark listed nearby the location on google maps, or a two-hour walk from town.
  15. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

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    Today I had to leave my friends behind and venture out alone into the cold, windy and somewhat wet Patagonia. Leaving Pucón I had a fairly easy day’s ride to Bariloche, a cute touristy town on the outskirts of what could be defined as Patagonia.

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    The only hiccup for the day was the migration official demanding my passport be replaced if I ever want to enter Argentina again, as it has a small tear in the binding of the photo page due it being waterlogged in Costa Rica. This presents a problem as the nearest Australian embassy is either in Buenos Aires or Santiago. As I have six (6!) more border crossings to go, this is a little stressful but I think I’ll just have to wing it. I might book my flight home to give them some peace of mind. If I make it to Ushuaia they’ll have to let me back into Chile/Argentina anyway to get to Buenos Aires!

    As an aside, here's my planned route for the end of trip, its crazy to think it's almost over!! I'm unsure how long I want to spend in Ushuaia as I here its not the most exciting place to be, but doing New Year's there would be fun rather than having it somewhere on the road between U and BA.

    <Date> <distance from previous stop> <Location>
    Dec-14 | 377 | San Carlos de Bariloche
    Dec-15 | 287 | Esquel
    Dec-16 | 263 | Puyuhuapi
    Dec 17, 18, 19 | 235| Coyhaique
    Dec-20 | 275 | Chile Chico Border
    Dec-21 | 307 | Gobernador Gregores
    Dec 22, 23 | 549 | El Calafate
    Dec 24, 25, 26, 27 | 565 | Punta Arenas (need new tyres, maybe buy them here??)
    Dec 28, 29, 30, 31 | 565 | Ushuaia
    Then just drive to Buenos Aires as quickly as possible, probably four or five days to cover 3000km of famously boring roads.
  16. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

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    Got my first taste of Patagonian winds today – god damn they are strong. I never thought I would complain about wind on a motorbike! After all my time pushing a bicycle into headwinds for hours on end, a motorbike always seems luxurious. Well, when you enter a lefthand corner still leaning right because the wind is blowing you left.. wow! It’s pretty tiring work fighting it.

    Eventually, I settled on hanging off the side of the bike so I didn’t have to brace the bars as much. The downside being when the wind gusts you have to move quickly back up onto the seat! Off to Puyuhuapi tomorrow (crossing back into Chile), then down the famous Carretera Austral to Coyhaique where I’ll stay for three nights. I have a friend of a friend there that I’ll stay with, should be good fun!
  17. btrrtlwtr

    btrrtlwtr Adventurer

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    yes it sure is windy down there. just got back from a guided tour santiago to ushuaia. like you hung off the bike to beat the wind
  18. clumsy_culhane

    clumsy_culhane Been here awhile

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    Tough two days. I was supposed to stay in Puyuhuapi last night, but after crossing into Chile the town I needed to drive through was mostly washed away in a torrent of mud. I had arrived a few hours after the landslide, rescue personnel were just starting to arrive. Very sad scenes as firemen rushed to put out a fire and begin searching for survivors. Currently, there are five dead and fifteen or so missing (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-42382413).

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    It was going to take days to clear, as they can’t just bulldoze the road as there might have been bodies amongst the mud. I turned back to Argentina, chasing the remaining sunlight to return to civilisation to camp in a terrible town next to the highway. My $10 tent from Bolivia didn’t survive the 100 km/h+ winds so I got no sleep as it collapsed on me pretty early on. I ditched it the next morning in the bin and gave the sleeping bag to a homeless person, hopefully it serves them better than me!

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    Riding the next day I knew it was going to be a long day. I hadn’t really eaten lunch or dinner the day before and breakfast was a bottle of coke and a few pastries from the petrol station, so the body wasn’t feeling too crash hot either. The distance was to be about 560 km, with a good amount of dirt cutting off the Ruta 40 back into Chile. Progress was quick on the asphalt, leaning at almost comically extreme angles in the wind. I’ve ended up converging on a solution – ride the high side of the bike like you do on a sailboat listing in the wind. Seems a little more stable than hanging off the low side (preferable for cornering) as you can adjust more easily when the gusts stop!

    At a petrol station at Rio Mayo I met this Brazilian father-son duo riding a pair of Triumph Tigers. They are doing a short trip, I’m jealous of how little they carry! It was fun swapping stories in our second languages (the son did speak some English too which he wanted to practice!) and sharing food together in the middle of nowhere. I needed a pick me up and this was a highlight of the day.

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    Next came the pass into Chile, and with the ripio (Spanish for rubble/gravel, it’s really only found like this in Argentina and parts of Chile) it is a whole new ball game in the wind. Leaning that far over is hard, if not impossible without the bike slipping out from under you. Instead, I ended up pointing the bike into the wind, crabbing along slightly diagonally, varying the amount of throttle with the wind speed. This actually works pretty well, and gains you heaps of thumbs up from drivers coming the other way as you powerslide through the gravel! Note that I probably should have just pulled over but I was eager to arrive in Coyhaique…

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    A note on ripio : I had read other riders reports about this stuff and sort of scoffed thinking it can’t be too bad, it just looks like gravel! All the gravel I’ve ridden before, both back home and during this trip was no sweat so what were they complaining about? Turns out I’m not special, this stuff truly sucks. The deep stuff yesterday tugs at your wheel like sand, it’s dusty like dirt (getting into everything, eating the chain etc), and slippery as hell.

    Low pressure in the tyres, high pressure, no matter what you do there’s nothing. You just float about on marbles, and hope you don’t have to do any sudden changes of direction. It seems to work best at about 70 km/h, the downside being a crash at that speed won’t tickle! It’s probably my least favourite road surface, at least with sand you know what you’re getting into – with ripio its a crap shoot, you can be cruising no worries one second, fighting to remain in control the next. It is so deceptive!