An Aussie Abroad - (Taking Lucy Home, from Chile to the US)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Junipertravels, Jul 21, 2019.

  1. Junipertravels

    Junipertravels Adventurer

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    In the morning I am up early, I've been in touch with the Frenchies of Cafayate and they're on their way to Tilcara - it's about 5.5 hours ride away. I could shorten that with some back roads which will come out West of Salina Grandes but I don't know their condition. Some comments in the iOverlander app are that the road is washed out in parts, with warnings against using it... Anyway, a conservative decision, I decide to take the long way around through Salta (maybe I can pick up a spare helmet on the way), so I'm keen to leave early

    20190819_095312.jpg
    The car park in the morning, dominated by adv bikes​

    So up early, a quick breakfast and I'm one of the first to have the bike loaded. I try to start Lucy... Nada. The dreaded ch-ch-ch-cha-ch-ch-ch-cha... I feel her engine with my hand and she is icy cold :vardy Like painful to touch icy. It was -7C during the night and she's still in the shade. Should I have added some kind of anti-freeze to her radiator... Questions reel through my head about what I should've done differently. I wheel her into the sun hoping to get some warmth into her. I'm also at about 3,800m so maybe it's an altitude thing. Kind of hoping it's an altitude thing, though I don't recall Arjan having these issues with Lucy. This pretty much seals me into taking the long but conservative road through Salta - if I have a problem with Lucy I want to have it in Salta, the largest city in the region. The battery seems to have plenty of oomph, though admittedly I don't have a voltage meter. One of the lads - Ariel jumps on her and roll starts her with Carlos and I pushing. Once the engine's hot I turn her off and she restarts instantly... Okay, temperature and/or altitude might be the cause behind this. The German couple tell me they've had similar experiences when their bikes get cold over night and they just wait for the daylight to warm up, this gives me some reassurance

    (Side note, the German couple have a really good website full of info can be found here https://www.twoduro.com/ )

    Map:
    San Antonio A Tilcara.PNG

    So my Argentinian ADV rider gang and I get our last fuel stop together. The gang are heading in the opposite direction to Salta to see the famous Tren a las Nubes ("train to the clouds" is a historic bridge in North Argentina. The train line is the 5th highest in the world). I am keen to see this, but I also want to make Tilcara to see the Frenchies. And I decide I should stop in Salta to assess Lucy before I attempt going to Tilcara. So we part ways - to those of that group who are reading this, I can't thank you guys enough. It really was an amazing experience riding with you, I felt included and welcomed into the group instantly. Hopefully I am able to re-unite with these guys again at some stage later in my trip :beer

    Onwards to Salta I go, on a lovely bitumen road. After 300 kilometers on gravel and dirt, my cruising speed now feels slow... A little poem I made up as a rode along this stretch - okay my earphones are busted yet again and making up lyrics and practicing my Spanish vocab are the two ways I can pass the time

    The scenery is lovely, and the steady decline brings warmth to my limbs again. The 2 hours of riding brings over 2,600m in decline :jkam


    On the outskirts of Salta I find a slope to park Lucy on with a resto bar nearby. Despite my time-pressure to get to Tilcara before nightfall, I take a long lunch break to let Lucy cool down fully. After a half dozen empanadas I go for a walk and am able to find a moto shop that sells me a spare motorbike helmet, I also stock up on engine oil. When I get back to Lucy I check the engine with a bare hand, she feels about ambient air temp and it's been about an hour and a half. The moment comes when I need try to turn her over and, nice, she starts immediately :rayof Guess I will be catching up with the Frenchies tonight

    From Salta to Tilcara there are two roads - the highway which is longer and maybe faster, or the back road which is shorter and maybe slower, but looks fun. I elect for the fun road, though it will probably mean an arrival after dark. Glad I made this decision! The road winds past a series of reservoirs and follows the edge of a range - lots of twisty corners which I enjoy, and great views. It's amazing how varied the landscapes are in this part of the world. That morning I was in desert-like tundra plains, but this road reminds me of the hinterland of the Gold Coast, or perhaps Northern NSW back home. It has a sub-tropical feel with moist air, vines and epiphytic ferns.


    Once I reach Jujuy I get back to large dual carriage highways and I'm glad for it. It's been a long day and I enjoy zoning out. By nightfall I've added another 1,450m to my altitude (2,450m in total) and the temperature is dropping. I arrive in Tilcara just on sunset, the Frenchies have given me directions to their backpacker. A great place called Waira - it was also recommended to me by Gille and Sonia and it is excellent - a motorbike friendly accommodation. I'm able to park Lucy directly outside my room inside the hostel grounds. It's also on top of a slope in case I need to roll start her in the morning. Perfect. The girls are out, I do my moto checks and unload Lucy straight away. I'm famished when I finish and so head down into the streets of Tilcara seeking out some food

    20190820_074922.jpg

    Tilcara is an awesome little town, quite touristy compared to the previous few days. But hey, speedy internet and hot showers can be nice sometimes too. I grab a couple of street tortilla's and some Salta Cerveza, munching and drinking I wander down to the river to watch the final sunlight disappear

    What I wish I was eating:
    20190819_191708.jpg

    What I can afford to eat:
    20190819_192056.jpg

    The first of the two previous photos is Argentine Asado - a traditional very slow cooked Argentinian BBQ. I say BBQ but I'd likely get into some serious trouble if I made this comparison verbally in front of the wrong person! If I don't get an invite to someone's house for this soon I am just going to have to fork out the money for it! The meat is cooked from the smoke of the fire as much as from its heat, and will virtually fall off the bone when it's finished cooking

    After my tortillas I head back to the hostel and have a gloriously hot shower whilst finishing my beer. There is no better combo after a day riding than cold beer and a hot shower. When I get out of the shower, I'm reunited with the crazy frenchies of Cafayate - tonight they are cooking soupasta (or perhaps Pastoupa... it's pasta cooked in a packet cuppa soup). Excellent idea for a low ingredient meal which I file away for future camping. I trade some beer to acquire some. Without bowls or spoons at this backpacker we have to get creative in how to eat - Daphne was mortified when I took this photo, hope she doesn't mind me posting it on the internet :rofl

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    #41
  2. powderzone

    powderzone Been here awhile Supporter

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    That ruta 9 between Salta and S.S. de Jujuy is something else. I liked it so much that I retraced my route a few days later. Amazed that I didn’t end up going off a corner into the shit.
    #42
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  3. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    She doesn't much like it cold overnight and she really doesn't like altitude over about 3000m, combine the two and you're going to have a hard time starting her, just like I did in those conditions. Perfectly normal and no need to worry.

    There's a big thumb screw on the carb, once the bike is warm turn it so the idle is at about 1200 - 1400 rpm at whatever altitude you're at and that will help with starting in the morning.

    Parking inside helps with the cold nights, also once you've tried to start her for ages at full choke, try a few cranks at full throttle, then let her rest for 2 minutes and try again with full choke and no throttle - that can help.

    Looks like you're having a ball and I was right about Lucy being "ready made adventure" - good on ya mate.:beer
    #43
  4. Pete Pilot

    Pete Pilot Been here awhile

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    Been awhile since last post. Is everything OK? Fun reading along on your adventure. Take Care Merlin
    #44
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  5. Junipertravels

    Junipertravels Adventurer

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    Thanks for the prompt and for looking out for me Pete! I'm stuck in Salta at the moment, just waiting for some replacement parts. I'm well, Lucy is getting some love and well too. Will get another update in shortly!
    #45
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  6. Pete Pilot

    Pete Pilot Been here awhile

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    Good to hear from you J.T. and that alls well. I swapped my KLR last September for a DRZ 400(now 440). Found the KLR to have some pluses but the pluses of DRZ are more ENJOYABLE!!, Live big. Merlin
    #46
  7. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Waiting for parts? Oh no, anything serious?

    I made some really good friends in Salta who are part of a motorcycle club, let me know if you need some help and I will put you in touch with them.

    Good luck dude
    #47
  8. Junipertravels

    Junipertravels Adventurer

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    Okay guys, I have been a little quiet lately! I've been in the Province of Salta for a while now, giving Lucy some attention plus I have some complications with my bank cards. This has thrown out my routine and hence I've been a little lax on the updates here! Setting aside a day to update you all now

    :drink:type

    20191002_124859.jpg

    Map:
    Tilcara - Salta.png

    So, Tilcara and the French student-doctors

    received_2560496074014768.jpeg

    In the morning we all trekked up to Garganta Del Diablo - The Devil's Throat, a deep crevice formed by tectonic plate movement (yes, the rock anecdotes are never going to end). Some of the earliest aquatic fossils in the world can be found in this canyon (allegedly anyway, I couldn't find any fossils). On the whole GDD was a little underwhelming and touristy, and I preferred the scenic 6km trek up than the actual attraction

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    Loved the resourcefulness of these "glass" windows...
    20190820_110427 (1).jpg
    We walked back down into the town with the heat of the day already settled in, cervezas and freshly cooked street tortillas revived us. Lucy also started up fine, without needing the roll start (remembering that the day before I was at a much higher much colder region, Tilcara is only 2,450m. I was feeling confident my problems were behind me). The frenchies were travelling by car and I exchanged my luggage for pillion passenger Daphne before we made our way North to Humahuaca

    received_1281274282076432.jpeg

    Humahuaca is a lot less touristy, it has a more natural feel than Tilcara - our hostel was surrounded by fresh produce markets, the hustle and bustle of buses and school kid antics in the streets. Humahuaca is widely known for Cerro Hornocal AKA "The 14 coloured mountains," my well researched travel companions tell me it's more vibrant in the late afternoon sun. The drive is precarious for the rental car and with the daylight waning we commit to seeing the mountains the following evening. For the remainder of the day we trek up to another lookout to watch the sunset. Travel with the frenchies comes hand in hand with exercise, they seem determined to get me into shape or something! :knary

    received_373214596678670.jpeg

    Back at the hostel we met up with a local Buenas Aires lass, I didn't catch her name (she spoke at a million miles an hour) but I traded her a lift up to the 14 coloured mountains for a bracelet she made for me - I mean, I was happy to oblige without the bracelet.... So it was a good deal

    20190820_232626.jpg
    ...Continued in the next Post...
    #48
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  9. mrsdnf

    mrsdnf Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the update. I guess your not a geologist.
    #49
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  10. Junipertravels

    Junipertravels Adventurer

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    ...For the remainder of the night we all listened to Spanish Reggae, ate like Kings thanks to the Frenchies cooking and drank fernet branca and coca (despite it being made in Italy, it's nearly a cliche to have one of these drinks in Northern Argentina)

    Grocery shopping for our dinner:
    20190820_194954.jpg
    The following day Lucy and I take Hippie-Bracelet-Girl up to the lookout of the 14 coloured mountains - the road is steep and soft, with winding tight corners and a maximum altitude of 4,300m. The Frenchies take their rental car and we meet at the lookout - Mate and snacks packed into our backpacks

    20190821_162700-01.jpeg
    The coloured mountains are amazing, I haven't seen many coloured mountains and I know there are many more to come as I head North through Bolivia and Peru, but these are my first and they really blew me away. I'd always assumed the photos I'd seen of them had been modified with the saturation increased - not so, if anything the mountains are more colourful in person than in the photos. We spend the afternoon and evening here, drinking Mate and taking "jumping" photos

    20190821_163643_009_saved.jpg

    We go for a short walk down the far side of the lookout hill - the walk back up nearly kills me. I blame the high altitude haha. Lucy feels likewise and won't start, luckily I'd parked her atop a hill and roll start her. It seems that the altitude and cold is what's preventing her for starting...

    The following day the 5 of us (6 including Lucy) are to head South for Purmamarca. In the morning Lucy won't start - bugger. It had been cold the night before, and Humahuaca is over 3000m... I roll her out into a sunny patch of pavement and head back into the backpacker. Laptop comes out and I begin making a list of things I should try changing on the bike, as well as researching mechanics in the region. iOverlander shows all the mechanics in my area with poor reviews, but there is a couple back in Salta that look good

    I should at this point mention that I had limited spares with me - the story goes that Arjan, champion organiser that he is, sent me an extensive list of spares he recommended I buy. (:beer cheers mate!) Buying them online made sense given my living in a remote part of Australia before leaving - I used KLR650.com and despite my difficulties I still recommend them - they were very helpful and easy to deal with, even offered me a room and workshop space if I was coming through the US. Anyway, I had a large box of spares sent to Melbourne (my departing city) before I was to leave Aus. Unfortunately those spares were held up at Aus Customs for over a month and were literally received in Melbourne by my sister the day after I flew out. So I bought minimal spares - the new chain and sprockets I installed in Chile, and have been searching for a way to reunite with my box of bits.

    So jumping back to Humahuaca - I decided start with the easy things first, things that don't need parts I don't have - air filter and fuel filters. I removed and cleaned these - the fuel filter was fine but I noted the fuel hose deteriorating and made a note to replace this. The air filter was dirty but not overly so. Neither of which I think were really a problem. In the meantime however the motorbike has warmed up in the sun and thankfully she starts just before I push her up a hill for a roll start. I'm 50/50 about continuing with the Frenchies to Purmamarca or going back to Salta

    20190822_160845.jpg

    ...Bugger it though, the French girls have become like a second family and I'm not ready to part ways. They have a car as a backup and so long as I can park the bike at the top of a hill I should be able to get her started. Lucy is fine once she's got some heat into her engine, perhaps a fouled spark plug from all my high altitude riding (this problem first began the day after Abra Del Acay and her 4970m). So with another passenger (Manon) we set out for Purmamarca

    Purmamarca is another tourist town, similar to Tilcara in someways. We arrive late, well after the sunset, and the Frenchies negotiate a cheap room in a "homemade hotel" for 150P a night - hot showers not included. Suits us just fine as we plan on being up before dawn to climb the mountain opposing the town - watching the sunrise over the 7 coloured mountains is another venture researched and planned by my travel companions. Anyway, we don't need much of room and we don't get much for 150P. I'm not entirely sure what went down that evening but there was some heated conversations amongst the girls - without being able to speak French I'm guessing here, but we were all tired and we hadn't eaten. In the end Daphne and I wanted food over sleep, whilst the others elected to go to bed. Not much was open, and after wondering the streets it became clear we would need to go to an actual restaurant if we wanted food. We found one not far away - the sounds of live music drew us in and we took the last available table - directly in front of a 3 person band. This was Pena once again, but man these guys were great. The food too - Llama and Quinoa dishes in front of Pena... We couldn't pack more Argentina cliches into the restaurant. Was actually one of my favourite nights - tasty beer, hot food and a band that kept getting better as the night got older


    In the morning we awoke early, cleared out of the room and made for a lookout vantage to watch the sunrise - was icy cold once the wind picked up but the view was great. Watching a sunrise is always a good way to start the day, the 7 coloured mountains themselves were a little underwhelming to be honest, perhaps after seeing the 14 coloured mountains my expectations were too high

    20190822_082100.jpg


    After sunrise we tramped around the town seeking food and a new hotel room. We also spent time exploring the local market - colourful textiles and tourist souvenirs. Helped Manon choose a homespun Alpaca jumper - the extent of my shopping since I can't afford to carry souvenirs with me!

    20190822_104853-01.jpeg

    Had to include one of the Manon's Alpaca modelling shots! I ended up with dozens of these photos so she could see what each of them looked like
    20190822_114124.jpg

    Once we settled in to the new room I moved Lucy to a closer hill whilst the girls had showers. The late afternoon we decided to jog/walk another imposing mountain that overlooked the town - complete with rock scrambling and racing a setting sun

    received_451445952378736.jpeg

    [video of mountain walks]​

    After surviving our jog down the mountain we go out in search of Pena and drinks and find a band of out of tune musicians wandering the street. We follow for a time and ask about - apparently to commemorate the anniversary of the town they play music from sundown to sunup every night for a week ...Glad I'm not a light sleeper haha


    The next day we pack up and pile into the rental car - making for Salina Grandes (one of the Salt Flats in North Argentina). Every year the wet season fills the water table and the water level rises above the salt, making it dangerous to drive across. As the water evaporates the salt recrystalises in a pure white form which is effectively harvested. The salts this time of the year have a brown hue from the sourrounding dusty mountains, and so ponds are created to produce clean salt (photo below with the jumping chica). Each phase of the salt plain life cycle is interesting and I'm keen to see more of these flats in the different phases.

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    ...Continued in next post
    #50
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  11. Junipertravels

    Junipertravels Adventurer

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    ...The buildings in the salt flats are made from mud/salt bricks - readily accessible materials however they don't hold up to the rain too well

    20190823_114215-01.jpeg

    These salt flats in particular are beside a volcano, and so there are pockets where gases are still bubbling to the surface, preventing the formation of a stable crystal layer. This pool of clear blue water is created by these disruptive bubbles, the water was perfectly still and had a near perfect reflection (something to do with being saturated in salt perhaps?)

    20190823_232529.jpg
    More messing around on the salt flats:
    received_2091436704294151.jpeg

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    Once back in Purmamarca I try to start the Lucy - nada. Despite now being 2300m (relatively low) and >25C... I roll start her and leave her running whilst I load her with luggage - as I do I am stopped by a local older lad and his wife who want to know where I'm from and where I'm riding to. When we part ways he gives me his contact details and home address, offering me a bed and a hot meal if I'm ever heading down South to Catamarca. I've had a dozen such offers from locals here and it speaks to the generosity of Northern Argentinians

    I make my way down to Salta via the boring faster Ruta 34, arriving at Las Rejas Hostel in the centre of the city on dusk - the Frenchies already had a reservation here. There are no hills in central Salta so no hope of a roll start, but I'm within walking distance of two of the highly rated mechanics. Parking however is a problem in Salta, I keep getting told I will receive a fine for parking on the side walk (even though there are loads of other bikes parked here), and the street parking and off street parking both charge exorbitant amounts (triple the rate of my hostel). I end up completely unloading Lucy into the Hostel and then parking her on the street when the "street parking attendants" were away on their siesta (the street parking attendants are everyday-looking people with a high-vis vest, that spend the whole day on the street drinking Mate, helping you park your car and collecting your cash). I wedge Lucy's front tire into the gutter and lock the security cable around her back tire under tension so she can't be rolled backward. Here she will need to stay until I can replace that spark plug

    At the hostel I have my final dinner with the french girls. The frenchies were great to travel with, hopefully I'll catch them again in Lyon one day. Good luck studying to be doctors :beer

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    #51
  12. mrsdnf

    mrsdnf Been here awhile

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    Loving your story Junipertravels. I almost shed a tear when I read you were no longer travelling with the Frenchies. Hope you get the bike fixed soon.
    #52
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  13. Pete Pilot

    Pete Pilot Been here awhile

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    Must be extraordinarily difficult traveling bout S.A. with so many beautiful lady’s??? Such a hardship! I’m so lucky to have just one beautiful and may I add one perfect lady. Much less complicated with just one. Your a brave man, onward Amigo, all the best. Petepilot
    #53
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  14. Junipertravels

    Junipertravels Adventurer

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    Hahaha gracias amigos! Pete Pilot, the secret is to always have some spare food in your pack, preferably cheese and olives :dukegirl
    #54
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  15. Junipertravels

    Junipertravels Adventurer

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    So Salta, the cultural heart of Northern Argentina. A large city with the feel of a country town - people who walk the streets like I would wander a tropical beach - very very slowly. Being caught up in this city has been both relaxing and frustrating, I've had to adopt the relaxed approach, embrace my inner Argentinian as it were. Buy Mate and fuel the caffeine addiction with daily doses at the mechanic. I've been here for a month, so I'm going to break things into different components. First I'm going to tell the story of getting Lucy back on the road...

    I arrived in Salta on the weekend and had to wait for Monday before I could begin my first Moto parts shopping trip. My shopping list included a spark plug, spare hose for the deteriorating fuel line, brake fluid and new pads (my brakes were beginning to feel a little soft). There was a street not far from me which was lined with various mechanics and parts shops. Here I found an NGK spark plug (unfortunately not iridium), spare fuel hose, brake pads and fluid. In the afternoon I convinced the manager of my hostel to let me bring Lucy into the front door way. Here, armed with my mini toolkit and a Youtube tutorial I was able to replace the spark plug. To get to it on the KLR it's best to remove the fuel tank, so was a good time for me to replace the fuel hose. The old spark plug had a large gap and was covered in a hardened white substance. It was still firing when I tested it (very carefully so I didn't give myself a 25,000V zap!)

    Old and new spark plugs here:
    20190826_144838.jpg

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    My first workshop space in downtown Salta:
    20190826_144346.jpg

    Condition of the fuel line:
    20190826_142912.jpg
    Now I have next to no mechanical experience, scratch that I have zero mechanical experience - before I left Aus I'd asked an amigo to let me watch him change his oil, which really is the extent of my experience. So removing the faring, seat and fuel tank to replace the spark plug was a big moment for me (yes the KLR spark plugs are a little painful to replace). In Australia I'd always chickened out from servicing my bike, always feared I'd break something. I guess the lesson I've been learning here is that I had to be willing to risk breaking something in order to fix something else. It is totally possible that this is a lesson only for me and my un-co mechanical skills :hmmmmm

    Additional to my first hands on job on the bike, I also had to find the parts in a foreign country, one that has almost no KLRs, in a language I'm just getting my tongue around. ...I'm trying to justify the pretty damn victorious feeling I had standing there, next to my disassembled motorbike, in the doorway alcove of my Argentinian hostel, holding what was clearly a dodgy spark plug. The bane of my problems in the palm of my hand!

    So it was a little crushing to my spirit when I couldn't get Lucy to even cough upon reassembling. Putain de merde! (Still in French swearing mode thanks to a week with the doctor-students). Two steps forward, one step backward...

    Okay, I thought. Think this through before you run to the mechanic. What are the possible causes, it has to be fuel, oxygen or the ignition. The ignition is good, I'd checked the spark plug (without zapping myself) before installing, the air was unlikely - surely there's enough ambient air to get a cough from the engine. So I tried to drain the carburetor bowl - nada. Okay it's a fuel issue. I'd just removed the fuel tank, I probably haven't reinstalled it properly. A little reading on how the fuel system is fed into the carburattor (thank you again Arjan for the copy of the workshop manual!) and I trace the vacuum line (didn't even know there was a vacuum line on my bike). Sure enough, behind the petcock, the vacuum line is not properly connected. Boom! Fuel returns to the carb bowl. Victorious feeling returns, only momentarily though. I try to start Lucy... Well, she at least coughs now, and has the distinctive sound of a flat battery. It's possible that all my buggerising around has killed the battery

    :becca

    Now there are no hills in Salta. No easy way to get a roll start. Okay, I concede. Tomorrow I'll take Lucy to the mechanic

    I'd found one in particular - Dr Bike Di Bez, through the iOverlander app. These guys are super well regarded, many people posting they are the best mechanics in the whole continent, but that they are quite expensive. It is possible that all I have is a flat battery now, but I am also thinking it's time to get her looked at by a professional. On top of this, the rear brake caliper bleed nipple has been shredded and I need a ring spanner to remove and replace (another item added to my shopping list)

    So bright and early the next morning I begin the 1.5km walk along peak hour traffic streets to the mechanic. The day warms quickly, and I arrive sweating, by chance I'm also wearing an old faded T-shirt (have been putting off doing my washing). Basically I look like crap, pushing a dirty bike into the cleanest workshop I've ever seen. Bugger it, I think, maybe this can give credence when I plead the "please don't overcharge me, I have no money!" case

    There's a large group of guys standing around inside, drinking Mate, rock music blaring - Guns and Roses. Classic guys club. Luis, one of the mechanics, comes over and throws a leg over. On goes the ignition and, to my dismay, Lucy comes to life at his touch! Putain de merde! :umph At this point I fear he's going to turn me away, looking around I'm clearly not his usual client. My 650cc is normally the largest bike on any street, but this garage has nothing smaller than a 1000 inside. With some Spanglish charades I convince him I'm not mad, and that I'd like to check the charging voltage (this was the next item on my checklist). He gets out his multi-meter and does so...

    12.74v

    Thank the lord I'm not mad! The charging voltage should be above 13v at minimum, if not above 14v. (I also add a multi-meter to my shopping list)

    So an electrical fault. Luis does some more fiddling and tells me it's likely the regulator and shows me the exact part I need on Mercado Libre (the equivalent to Amazon.com in South America). I ask him if I can store the bike in his workshop, do the replacement myself and only use his time for checks and discussions, to reduce my bill. My sweaty poor appearance must have helped because he agrees! I have to do all the work myself, buy the parts myself, and I will only get charged when I use his help. With the new regulator on order I make a wish list of things I can do in the meantime

    - replace the rear caliper bleed nipple
    - replace the brake fluid / remove any air (the pads turned out to not need replacing yet)
    - replace the oil refill cap (the day after I rode to 4970m the oil cap would no longer tighten, is it possible the thread was damaged when the engine went into the low pressure high altitude?)
    - check the valve clearances

    20190828_113421.jpg

    20190903_100319.jpg
    I settle into a new routine as Salta becomes my new home, I need to embrace the relaxed attitudes of the locals or else perish in a fire ball of frustration. Every morning I wake up early - I'm in an 8 bedroom dorm with the only shower in the common room bathroom. Ie it's a rat race to get a hot shower, but the bed is only 350P per night. Being up this early means I can help out the hostel staff by setting up the breakfast. Side note, the breakfasts in the hostel are the best I've had! They bake fresh bread every night and have freshly squeezed orange juice! :jkam After breakfast I walk down to the mechanic with a Spanish Language audiobook playing in my earphones, on the way I grab some kind of biscuit-like bread the mechanics like. As I arrive so do a half dozen of the mechanics friends and we spend an hour chatting, drinking Mate and breaking bread together. After an hour we do about an hour or so of work, then it's tools down for the Siesta (12.30pm - 5pm). I muck around with the hostel staff, have a short nap, then back to the mechanic in the evening. On the walk home from the mechanic I grab a takeaway Milenesa Sub for 50P, which I'll eat after my evening run up to the local lookout

    Have a Mate before working on Lucy:
    20190910_101854.jpg

    What this routine means is I can get my base costs down to 400 Peso per day (about $9.5 AUD). I'm learning Spanish, learning how to maintain Lucy, exercising regularly after months of only occasional exercise... All in all life is pretty good here. In between all of this I'm also meeting really interesting travelers from abroad, as well as the locals. The guys in the mechanic (there's only two mechanics, the rest of the guys are just amigos who go there to drink Mate and chat every day) ride sport bikes, and they warmed up to me when I showed them snaps of my '848 back in Aus. The real turning point was when I showed them some videos my mate back home, who makes motorbike videos with his drone, everyone here should check his stuff out, youtube clip below


    So, back to the bike... Within a week I had the new regulator installed and... dadadummmm... Nada. It didn't fix my voltage problem...

    20190902_183054.jpg

    Back to Youtube combined with Spanglish conversations with Luis and we target the alternator. One of the 3 output voltages was a fair amount lower than the other two, though the continuity check between the cables indicated none of the windings were broken. Anyway, we removed the alternator all the same. Luis knew a specialist mechanic who could check it out and rewind it if needed. Whilst waiting for the regulator I'd been able to get stuck into the previously mentioned jobs, the valve adjustment being the biggest of them. Certainly a step up from my zero experience background. It was a kind of "baptism by fire / into the deep end" experience. Luis spent time showing me how to clean and then re-use the gaskets. I guess in a country where imports are wildly inflated, mechanics have become very good at re-using whatever they can. The valve adjustment was a good example of this, the valves were all a fair whack out, however instead of ordering new spaces Luis convinced me to let him grind down the original spaces - to me this sounded a little wild. Trying to shave off 10ths of millimetres with a grinding wheel and sand paper, to his credit he did an excellent job - I helped get the bulk of the grinding done and he would finish them off. I check the spaces myself once we had them re-installed and all the valve clearances were dead centre of the tolerances :rilla

    20190909_170701.jpg

    20190910_184254.jpg


    ...Continued on the next post...
    #55
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  16. Junipertravels

    Junipertravels Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2019
    Oddometer:
    53
    Location:
    Australia
    Next came getting the alternator off, however once I had this done, Luis fell sick and wasn't at work for 3 days. So whilst I was waiting on him (he wanted to be there when we took it to his guru), I kept tinkering with the bike. I found one of the 3 output wires from the alternator had been exposed - I wrapped this in electrical tape (is it possible I was losing some voltage if this wire was leaking to earth?). I also found a strange piece of metal floating around the inside of the alternator casing...

    20190905_102924.jpg

    It took a bit of head scratching but eventually realised this was part of the EagleMike Doohickey replacement torsion spring. Sure enough when I looked closely at the doohickey I could see the quad plate was completely skewed to the chains loosest setting. I ordered a new spring (everything I ordered was through Mercado Libre, such a great site!) and set to finding a bolt that would allow me to remove the flywheel. In the end I had to get Luis to help me source the bolt and I got to go for a spin in his grandfather's 1968 Jeep - was a beast of a truck and complete with machete and rifle behind the bench seat! :chace

    20190909_101420.jpg

    20190909_102909.jpg

    Once we found the right bolt we were able to remove the flywheel and could see the doohickey spring was busted, the chain had no tension. Luckily it was still on the sprockets and no damage visible! In some ways I was super fortunate to remove the alternator, otherwise I would never have found this problem and would've been riding around with a loose timing chain...

    The broken spring:
    20190909_121530.jpg

    20190910_174201.jpg

    The new spring installed and the chain tensioned:
    20190910_181137.jpg

    Whilst all this was happening I also took the battery to a specialist to check it out - I didn't want to replace it unnecessarily and Luis was confident with the guys I took the battery to. They confirmed the battery was fine, didn't charge me anything either!

    It took a few weeks but I eventually had the bike, fully reassembled, new oil and oil filter despite only doing 3,000km. The first time we started her she kicked to life instantly and showed a charging voltage of 13.8v. I never quite worked out what the root cause was, since the alternator was checked but not rewound, perhaps the exposed wire I taped up was the root cause. All I know is she is now running better than before - between the higher voltage, new spark plug and valve adjustment she is firing with noticeably more power than before! And most importantly she now fires up instantly!


    The following day I packed up my bedroom, loaded a locker full of gear and went for a decent test ride down to Cafayate. Gilles (from an earlier post) and I had caught up for lunch the previous week - he was passing through Salta with his 10 year old son, and he had invited me to come and stay with him. It was a sweltering hot day, above 40c and little to no wind. Lucy was great, as I said, she had more power than ever before. It was awesome to be back out on the bike again, and Ruta 68 to Cafayate is mind blowing! :ricky

    I'd become close with Ivana, one of the girls who worked at the hostel wasn't thrilled with me leaving...
    20190914_104343.jpg

    And then, nearly halfway there, Lucy started losing power - not a complete loss, just frequent intermittent losses. Honestly it felt like the clutch was slipping. If I throttled hard I would lose speed with the sudden higher revs. Throttle slowly and it wasn't an issue. But in my top gear cruising down a highway, the sudden little losses in power were super unnerving. I took her easy but pushed forward, I was meeting Gilles within 15 minutes and together we took it easy back to Cafayate... :doh

    The road to Cafayate is incredible. This is the Valle de los conchas - the road I took a bicycle down with the 4 frenchies. This time however I'm cruising the rode with Lucy, seeing the full length of the road. And it is incredible - photos don't do justice!

    Ruta 68, Valle de los conchas:
    20190916_111805.jpg

    I spend the night with Gilles and his family - super lovely generous people. Gilles is planning an epic trip up into the western Andes - through volcano country - Tolar Grandes and >5,000m on the bike. He invites me to join, and he's willing to wait for me to resolve my motorbike issues (Thanks GIlles!!!) There is no way I'm heading into these remote off road territories with a troublesome bike. I decide to pack up and head back to Salta early the next day, focus on getting the bike resolved ASAP

    Gilles' lounge, complete with motorbike parking (dream lounge room):
    20190915_225815.jpg

    We spend our night visiting some friends, and back to the bar we first met at some time ago. Gille and Enrique who run the bar rent out motorbikes to adventure travelers with less time on there hands. Check there out here --> www.motorentcafayate.com

    And if you're ever heading through Cafayate stop in to the Baco Resto Bar for a beer and cheers out their motorbike memorabilia

    The rental adv bikes out the back of Baco Bar:
    20190915_195044 (1).jpg

    ...Continued on the next post...
    #56
  17. Junipertravels

    Junipertravels Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2019
    Oddometer:
    53
    Location:
    Australia
    Frustratingly, the bike shows no signs of yesterdays problems when I get going! There is nothing more frustrating than a intermittent problem! When I get Lucy back to the mechanic I get the same "are you loco?" look from Luis when I try to describe a problem that is no longer being exhibited. I had checked the vacuum hose before coming back and the pressure seemed fine, the only other thought I had is maybe it's a carburattor issue - a partial blockage that has cleared itself up perhaps? I ask my braintrust amigos back home and they confirm that a clutch slipping problem doesn't just go away, so it's unlikely. On the KLR forum I read a post about clutches slipping when the oil gets to hot - perhaps I need to be in >40c weather to have this odd symptom? Sounds nuts I know, but I don't know much about clutches (at this point anyway) and I wanted to have an actual look at the clutch plates. I don't want to get into the western volcano countryside and have my clutch go... (Happy to hear any feedback on this problem - I still haven't worked out what was the cause)

    So I decide to inspect the clutch plates regardless - annndd... no sign of rubbing or damage to them. The springs however are just on the minimum length limit according to the workshop manual... I decide what the heck, I've already come this far, I'll buy a new clutch kit and replace the springs (buying the springs individually was nearly as much as a complete kit)

    In someways I think I became a little addicted to doing work to the bike - once I grew confident, a willingness to get it wrong and break something. Every day finding a new part to disassemble and check, whilst listening to rock music and drinking Mate. It was a good life

    Getting schooled on how to change a clutch:
    20190917_072848.jpg

    20190918_114539.jpg

    20190918_111117.jpg

    Whilst waiting for the clutch kit to arrive (I have to buy all my parts online FYI) I get stuck into the forums and asking my brain trust amigos and uncles back home for recommendations on what I can pull a part and inspect next. By the time my new clutch arrives I have disassembled, cleaned, packed with fresh grease and checked the bearings for the swing arm, steering fork and front and rear wheels. All the bearings move with perfect smoothness. I also disassemble the rear suspension linkage, it's a little light on for grease but the bearings are in good form

    20190917_103636.jpg

    I was also able to get some parts for my drone - you haven't seen any videos from it as the gimble has been playing up. I was finally able to order online and replace the ribbon cable for it whilst hanging out in Salta. But alas! Replacing the ribbon cable hasn't resolved my problem. :becca I suspect I'm going to lug it around for a little longer until I can find a proper repair place, perhaps in Buenas Aires. Stay tuned for some awesome aerial shots hopefully!

    20190923_132922.jpg

    Also good news from my second hand gaskets - there's no oil leakage which there was a little before I started all this. I also ordered a new aux charger on mercado libre since the old one is rusted out and no longer works

    When the clutch arrives... the springs in the box are the wrong length. The plates are all correct though. Bugger it, I'm no longer convinced I even had a clutch issue and am now thinking it was perhaps a carburator partial blockage that unblocked itself (again, question for the audience, is this a reasonable guess? It's bugging me that I had a problem that went away by itself!). Anyway, I reassemble and as I'm cleaning the water pump gasket I tear it... Bugger. Not to worry though - Luis whips out a sheet of blank gasket material and creates a new one for me in about 5 mins... It's moments like this that really gave me confidence... Basically no matter how much I bugger up my bike, I am backed by a mechanic that can fix it. Literally working on the other side of the room from me

    Luis schooling me on how to make my own gaskets:

    So, the bike came together once again, and for the second time I parted ways with the garage guys. This time I'm making my way South to Tucuman, and so far Lucy has been perfect, great power, instant ignition. And even if or when something goes wrong next, I've pretty much pulled apart every component now and I'm confident I can get her going again. Parts are not too difficult to find, no matter what happens I'm now more confident in myself. Embrace those difficulties optimism, enjoy the challenge when something goes wrong

    Last day with the lads:
    20190925_185713.jpg

    On a side note, I'm not needing to top up the oil at all now. Maybe the Speedo is out of whack since checking the front wheel bearing, or maybe the valve adjustment somehow helped (is this possible?), or maybe I was only losing oil through the minor leaks and I can actually ride a bit faster before burning oil... Either way, I'm super pleased to have spent this time getting Lucy into such a great state

    Now I haven't just been working on the bike all this time. My mornings and evenings yes, my afternoons and nights I've been having grand times with other travelers as well as some of the locals

    One evening the lads from the garage invited me out to Luis' birthday party - Indoor paddle (think squash) and Asado. Received some lessons from one of the guys who's a master BBQ'er. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to be build my own Parilla in my backyard when I eventually own one

    Gathering of the bikers:
    20190919_223735.jpg

    Asado and Paddle:
    20190920_004927.jpg

    Birthday Face-cake:
    20190920_012506.jpg

    In a lot of ways hanging out with these guys, with their pranks and antics, reminded me of my mates back in Queensland. My moto-mechanic and MotoGP vocabulary is now more complete than any other. Can't talk to normal people in Spanish, but I can with other moto riders

    ...Continued on the next post...
    #57
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  18. Junipertravels

    Junipertravels Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2019
    Oddometer:
    53
    Location:
    Australia
    Another local guy Sebastien, a regularly drinking mate, also invited me to his family home for his birthday. There were a lot of experiences like this throughout my month here and it's very different to hang out with the locals than with other tourists

    Seba's birthday - his daughter blowing out his candle:
    20190917_170710.jpg

    Seba and me tucking our bikes into bed after a night out playing pool:
    20190924_210622.jpg
    That being said there were plenty of fun times had with other tourists. I also became a pseudo employee and guide for the Las Rejas Hostel. As the other tourists came and went I would give them advice on where to get cheap food, the best Peña experiences (Casona Del Molinos was by far the best local restaurant I've been to in Salta) and how best to see the surrounding region (if you didn't have a motorbike)

    Casona Del Molinos was a favourite for my Friday nights - opening at 9pm there was often a queue down the street to get inside. The food delicious, and reasonably priced. It was a local jamming place, people would just set up instruments on any of the tables and start jamming their traditional folklore music. Often couples would get up and dance in between the tables. What surprised me about this was the restaurant still charged these guys full prices to be there! Often our touristy group would head out the Balcarce Street afterwards - the avenue with the most bars and clubs. When I was out with fellow travelers we'd go to Balcarce, however I preferred some of the smaller local bars scattered around the city, only found thanks to my good friend Sebastien

    ...The queue to get into Casona Del Molinos
    20190906_213558.jpg

    The food at Casona Del Molinos (so damn good!)
    20190906_230220.jpg

    The Music at Casona Del Molinos:


    Typical Friday night crowd (Before the wine and beer at the restaurant):
    20190913_010715.jpg

    And the typical crowd afterwards on Balcarce Street:
    20190913_024100.jpg
    On the weekends I would muck around with Ivana, a friend who worked at the backpacker. Baking bread with her turned into more eleborate cooking and soon I was putting on large scale pizza nights for the whole hostel (I used to be a pizza maker in my pre-uni days). We had some great nights there and I've made some great friends I will try and cross paths with later in my trip. It's interesting but most of the travelers I meet here in Salta are long-term travelers like me

    Pizza Night photos in order of appearance: fresh dough / homemade ingredients / the final products / Everyone giving me an ADVRider Salute:

    20190907_180701.jpg

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    20190914_210656.jpg

    20190907_220238.jpg
    We had some great nights at the hostel, tried to get everyone involved, share food, booze and travel anecdotes. Was a very social time after the solitude of being on the bike

    ...Continued on next Post...
    #58
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  19. mrsdnf

    mrsdnf Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2019
    Oddometer:
    327
    Location:
    Lost between the Dandenongs and Yarra Valley
    :clap :-)
    #59
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  20. Junipertravels

    Junipertravels Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2019
    Oddometer:
    53
    Location:
    Australia
    Other weekends I'd make homemade pasta, basically anything I could get ingredients for cheaply. Strawberries are about $1 AU per kilo here, so I ended up making jam, which led to making scones...

    Me trying to speak with Italian gesturing to improve the quality of the pasta (note the beer-bottle-rolling-pin):
    20190921_174200.jpg

    20190921_201130.jpg

    Scones to use up the homemade strawberry jam:
    20190914_153719.jpg

    Learning how to bake bread with Ivana:
    20190904_192019.jpg

    More Pizza ADV Salutes:
    20190914_211519.jpg

    One particular guy who was stranded in Las Rejas like me was Francois - French dude about the same age who had just bought a bicycle and was planning on riding to Ushuaia some 4,000km away - crazy bastard. He had tried to start in Chile but couldn't find pannier bags, so then came to Salta but couldn't decide on buying anything here. Basically trapped in his indecision he ended up staying in Salta for 2-3 weeks. Awesome for me to have a permanent drinking buddy; I also think he was the reason why the cooking became so elaborate; being French he assumed I couldn't cook as well as he and so a Master Chef cooking rivalry was born. Honestly the guy was a champion, though he made the most aweful Panna Cotta I've ever had...

    Apple crumble and a mystery dinner pot:
    20190831_200156.jpg

    20190831_202526.jpg
    I ended up helping him buy some panniers for his bike online and it was this action which led me to finding that someone was siphoning money out of my debit card account - lots of small amounts so it didn't attract my attention. It was fortunate that I noticed since my bank hadn't; I guess a little travel karma for helping out Francois. I started my trip with 2 travel cards and 1 normal card. The first card I had already cancelled after fraudulent transactions were found by my bank when I was in Sri Lanka. So with this next cancellation I was down to my last card - my expensive Aussie debit card. In some ways this led me to staying in Salta longer, I would use the extra time to try to reunite with my motorbike spare parts, new debit cards, and partially why I stayed here so long giving Lucy a make over

    Francois leaving on his mad adventure:
    20190909_084438.jpg

    On the whole I thoroughly enjoyed my time here. It really became my second home. My last night here I wandered the city, a little nostalgically, when I bumped into two locals I knew. Yep, I thought, definitely time to move onward. And with that, I packed my bags and jumped on a fully laden Lucy. Bound Southward for Tucuman - Allegedly Argentina's most dangerous city

    Will also leave you with a few photos of Salta Capital...

    My evening running track took me up to this look out, atop Cerro San Bernado. Perfect for sunset runs:
    20190923_193716.jpg
    One of the many cathedrals which are scattered across this relatively religious city:
    20190925_200015.jpg
    #60