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Operation S.A.-14; The deep south, as in TDF

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by PDX Alamo, Nov 20, 2014.

  1. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Pan De Azucar to La Serena

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    It was a nice ride along the coast although due to major construction it create lots of delays , closed roads, and traffic. This caused us to ride like hooligans past miles of cars and weave in and out of traffic making up for lost time. It was an odd change since Chile has rules and people follow them unlike the countries north of here.

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    We landed in La Serena at the Hibiscus Hostel and it was pretty good. The owner of the hostel manages the local motorcycle shop so he we grabbed some brake pads, oil, and oil filters from his store and he had no problem with us turning the courtyard into a motorcycle repair shop. The town was pretty big and had numerous moto dealers like BMW, KTM, Honda, Etc. It also had a nice fantastic beach front and could be worth a few days to recharge your batteries and grab some tires or parts. They had the only other bike I would have taken on this trip at the shop, the 660 Tenere. That is if they would sell in the USA , come on already Yamaha. Our doom room was a mess with moto gear explosion.

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    I took a day to ride to the Pisco Valley and check out the wine country and taking a tour of a Pisco factory. Although the tour was in Spanish so I didn't increase my Pisco knowledge very much.

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    It was a great ride there and back until my tire went to mush and I slide side to side. I pulled off onto a sidewalk and went to work on my first flat. I pulled a large metal wire out of the tire and then went to work. The tube was shredded so I put in a new one but being a rookie tire changer couldn't get the tire back on and in turn chewed up the sidewall pretty bad. ( other side wasn't in the groove) Luckily a guy on a pizza delivery bike stopped to help me along with his co worker. They couldn't get it on either so he strapped the wheel to his bike and left to find a pro shop. He returned about 20 minutes later and good as new. He told me that when the sun went down which was in an hour people would rob me so I am glad he helped me out. Nice folks have been everywhere on this trip. When I got back to the hostel MotoBiko was there and we joined forces once again.

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    TreasureState and SmilinJoe like this.
  2. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR

    Thanks man. I've typed up a few but been in Internet wasteland for a while waiting to upload pics. I'm in Puerto Arenas now waiting to sell my bike and have nothing to do so post a plenty coming.
  3. ducmons

    ducmons Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Phoenix
    Great pics & RR.
  4. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    La Serena to no mans land Argentina to Mendoza

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    We spent considerable time looking for insurance in Chile to go to Argentina since we were told they would refuse entry without it. Let me save you some time No one and I mean 6 insurance places at the office and others online would not sell to foreign plated motorcycles. We finally emailed a lady in Argentina who's name we got thankfully from jrzyguy, here is all you need to know in order to buy insurance for motorcycles in Argentina when your not in the country. Here is the link to helpful post. All of it is done by email and you western union her the money.

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?p=26007773

    Headed out to the Chilean Border ( Aguas Negras pass ) on a great road and after crossing were told that the Argentina border was over 150 miles of dirt away!!! This was bizarre to me and it was beautiful ride but very desolate and all dirt. Glad I didn't do the Santiago Mendoza route as it is a long long wait. The cops at the border were really cool, it looks like I'm in cuffs but I assure you I'm not.

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    We crossed the border at 15,000 plus feet and the other guys were ahead of me due to my excessive picture taking. Right after the pass I went down a hill and disaster, my rear tire was not only flat but the sidewall was toast with wires exposed and poking out. This was not a knock on the MT-21 but my eating it up the day before in my botched tire change. I was on the mountain at over 15,000 feet and it was cold, cold cold. I waited for the guys to come back but they never did. Turbotagteam had a spare rear tire so I thought that was the solution. I told all the cars that passed to tell my friends that it wasn't a flat but a bad tire. Eventually a family passed by and told me the border was closed and they were the last car. The asked if I had food and water and then gave me all the food and water they had. I tried to refuse some but they were not having it. I am very thankful for their generosity and then snow started so I set up camp on the road on the rocks. I got in my sleeping bag and hoped it wouldn't rain or have a massive wind storm since I couldn't stake out my tent. I knew this was a bad situation and thankful I had food, a good tent, and warm sleeping bag. If you ever tried to sleep at 15,000 feet just after you left sea level you feel like a 50lbs weight is on your chest so when you finally start to doze you wake up like your drowning. Awesome

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    In the middle of the night I had to pee and when I jumped into the freezing air I saw the treat I didn't expect the most amazing sky ever. To bad it was so cold or I would have stared at it for hours. I realized this was a very bad situation and no one was coming to help me , I had three solutions, fill the tire with weeds and plants ( I was on the moon with nothing but rocks) , find a truck and haul it to the border, or tape the side wall with enough gorilla tape to keep the wire from shredding the tube. In the morning I got to work on the tape plan. While putting the tire back on I realized my Slime air pump was also broken but luckily I had a mountain bike pump as a backup. A guy stopped and helped me pump it up but he had a truck so if my tube shredded I hoped he would let me put it in the back. The bike pump only got me to 20 lbs then Motobiko arrived to the rescue with his air pump. We put it all back on and hoped for the best, it got me about 45 miles back to the border and civilization. After making the border we grabbed some gas and food but got taken for a ride.

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    Most of the time I cant understand anything anyone is saying so I just say carne and see what I get. Well this place had no menus and when the bill arrived for 3 of us it as over $80 US Dollars for a cut rate slab of meat. Welcome to Argentina

    We headed for Mendoza on the taped tire and after another 40 miles a giant bubble formed on the sidewall. We swapped out the old tire and I borrowed the K60 Turbotagteam luckily had to get to Mendoza. We couldn't set the bead and my tire looked like it was square rolling down the road.

    We pulled into Mendoza and I was hot and muggy something awful. We landed at a hostel with no AC, no windows, and basically a plywood bed. F'in miserable
    TreasureState likes this.
  5. Laphroig

    Laphroig n00b

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2014
    Oddometer:
    6
    Location:
    Oregon
    Hey Travis, sounds like you are nearing the finish of a great adventure! When you get back, I would like to meet for dinner and hear your stories / recommendations first hand. Tom
  6. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR

    Will do
  7. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Mendoza to Malargue

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    We spent a few days in Mendoza while I tried to find some tires and the Hostel owner was super helpful in locating me some. So much so we stayed another night in that sweat box room. A nearby Yamaha dealer wanted almost $167 for a Sirrac rear tire which was way more street than I like but I was able to locate a Metzler Sahara Enduro for $120 which I got. I incorrectly assumed it would be mainly pavement the rest of the way and I was very wrong, more of a 50/50 split. I hated this tire , good on the road and bad bad on ripio. It wore out crazy fast and by the time I was almost to El Chaten I replaced it with another less used Sahara 3 off motobikos dead KLR; I should have stayed with the MT-21.

    Mendoza is a cool town and they have a Xoom office there so you can wire your self money and pick it up at 11.75 Pesos to the dollar instead of the BS 8.69 to the dollar at the ATM's . Its a simple app on your iPhone and will save you some cash. I could have spent a few days here if it had not been so hot and muggy. Good deals on monkey also

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    All the streets are lined with trees and they have a great night life scene with restaurants and bars. It was odd seeing so many normal professional out late at night, I assume since you get your siesta in the afternoon you can stay out a bit later. I stayed an extra day to sleep and splurged for AC since it was unbearably hot there.

    We were riding in a group of four and two split to go to Santiago while me and Ivan headed south and hit our first bit of dirt on Routa 40. It was a lot off fun and I recommend not taking the paved route around it.

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    We eventually came to pavement and gas and figured we would eat the crappy gas station sandwiches and chips we had been living off of. The owner saw us looking at the crap in the fridge and directed us to cured Ham heaven. I had not had Jamon Crudo before but man o man this was a memorable meal. It was incredible!!!

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    A must stop on your way south. We landed in Malargue at a cool hostel on a farm called Eco Hostel. Nice rooms, a BBQ, and nice relaxing country feel. The whole place was built in that hippy mud stuff with glass bottles in the wall and what not.

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    The next day we burned down the dirt for a while then pavement the rest of the way. While the dirt had some scenery for while but the asphalt was a bunch of nothing and it was around a 100 degrees most of the day. We finally landed in Las Lajas at a campground we found on the iOverlander iPhone app. Not a bad little campground with some BBQ stations so we cooked us up some sausage and carrots using the Argentinean method of carbon an not charcoal. In the morning we cooked up some eggs inside bell peppers. Its a long time to wait for eggs but it works.

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  8. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Las Lajas to San Martin De Los Andes

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    The manager of the campground advised us not to take Ruta 40 unless we wanted to see more of nothing. He directed us to ride along the Chilean Border on RP23 to Junnin De Los Andes and man what a ride that was, welcome to Patagonia indeed. Absolutely Beautiful. My phone did fly off the bike and cracked the screen and display so pics were tricky after today.

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    We rolled into San Martin De Los Andes and the town had a Aspen Telluride feel to it, not really my kind of place. They do have a Xoom pickup location there so I wanted to grab some more money at a better rate. It was Sunday so the store was closed and we found a campground that would have been nice without thousands of people. Luckily it cleared out as night approached and wasn't so bad after all.

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    The next day we rolled through the lakes route and I think it is a must see for sure.

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    Ivan and I split off and I headed to stay with some friends of friends from Portland whom I have never met in San Carlos De Bariloche. What wonderful people they were and made me feel like family. They grilled up some Asado and it was a nice break from bum shacks and gas station grub. The house was amazing and surrounded by a National Park, the development had Polo Grounds if that gives you an idea of how swanky it was. I was here for a few days and finally washed my Kilm gear after too many miles. It had not been washed since Portland so it was nice and ripe. I did take a day to ride around the area which was nice to not have to cover some great distance or find a place to stay. I should have done more ride like this during my trip instead of racking up miles day after day.

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    TreasureState likes this.
  9. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    San Carlos De Bariloche to Futalefu Chile

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    Drove through few National parks on the way with some nice scenery but they charge you to enter but worth it. You pass Butch Cassidy house but I never saw a sign or anything so not sure if its still there. This was a way to jump on the Carretera Austral with out backtracking and not missing much. I landed at a campground in Futalefu which is a town known for famous white water rafting. Another missed opportunity I regret not taking a day off to check out the area, if I did this trip over I would take a lot more time to be a tourist instead of just riding the bike all the time.

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    Futalefu to the Carretera Austral ,

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    I had read and been told the Austral was desolate with no services or anything for miles, this is bullshit. Every town has gas, tourist, places to stay, busses are all over, and lots of traffic everywhere. Its pretty awesome so that part is true, on this day they were blasting so the road was closed from one to five, well I made it at 1:10 and set up camp. It started to rain so I used my handy tarp to make a shelter for myself and some Chilean teachers hiking the route. This is a handy piece of kit any ADV'er should carry along with them for any number of reasons.

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    When the road finally opened up I drove like a madman to Coyhaique . The route was amazing and in clearer skies I imagine jaw dropping.

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    Coyhaique is a decent size town and I set up in the Patagonia hostel as it was late and I was tired. They had parking and it was a nice place with a welcoming atmosphere. Apparently the firefighters in town run a restaurant so I headed to the station house for dinner. It was so so,

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  10. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Coyhaique to Puerto Rio Tranquilo

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    I was told today would be amazing and I was not disappointed.

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    The dust and road started to get to me so I shut it down early and checked out the marble caves. The only camping spot was more like a refugee camp than what I think of as camping. This is par for the course in the high season I think. The big attraction here is the Marble caves on the lake. They were worth your time if your around and the weather was luckily nice for us and the boat. Its like 10 bucks and pretty cool

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  11. AkYank77

    AkYank77 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2014
    Oddometer:
    113
    Location:
    Alaska
    Nice report, I saw your bike sitting in customs at the port in Punta Arenas I like your setup
  12. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR

    Yea that was an awesome bike and it hurt to let her go but it had to be. So you sold yours also I guess, is it in Aduana jail with yours


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  13. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Rio Tranquilo to Perito Moreno ( Not intentional)

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    I again attempted to locate breakfast before 10 AM and for the hundredth time found nothing. I headed back to tent city and packed it up. Luckily I found some empanadas for sale as I was leaving town and stocked up. Some beautiful views as I left the last bit of the Austral behind.

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    On the way to the Argentina border I passed by the National Park center being built by Tomkins (The guy who had owned North Face) and is also trying to keep a hydro electric company from damming up rivers and flooding lakes ruining the pristine Patagonia. There seems to be some debate on if he is being genuine but by all accounts it seems to be that he is trying to save this amazing place. The center was almost completely empty except for two other Oregon bikes there.

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    The road out of here was beautiful but it sucked hard mainly due to the Metzler Sahara but also because it was a crappy road. The border crossing was one guy at a wooden desk with no computers and all forms were done by hand. My plan was to head to Bajo Caracoles for gas and jump onto pavement. Well I took a right when I should have taken a left and didn't realize until about 20 miles into it. This road was absolute crap with little ballbearings rocks and 800 turns, I was losing my mind sliding all over no matter how careful I was and was having a bit of a meltdown from the shitty roads this day. Then to learn I was going the wrong way didn't help much either. I met up with Motobiko and Turbotagteam later and learned they also had taken the wrong turn after the border as well and additionally they also hated the road just as much as I had.

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    After realizing I made a wrong turn I didn't have enough fuel to backtrack and the thought of riding that road again was enough to brake my spirit so I headed on to Los Antiguos for gas and the hope of sweet sweet pavement. I rolled into town and asphalt and couldn't have been more overjoyed at this beautiful blacktop. This road and the mud road I hit in Peru were the two worst days of riding the entire trip and I was toast when I hit town.

    Grabbed some food and gas then headed the 50km to Peirto Moreno where I camped at the municipal campground using one of the cabins there as a wind break since the wind was putting on a show as it does around these parts. I met two backpackers who were hitchhiking north who along with several others told me that Torres Del Paines was overcrowded and not worth it; advising me to spend my time in El Chalten instead. I was really looking forward to Torres Del Paine but everyone I met told me it was beautiful but a shit show.

    Peirto Moreno to Gobernador Gregores

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    In the morning I broke the first rule of Argentinian riding , get gas every time you see it. I thought its only 50 KM since my last fill up why waste my time. The very boring and unbelievably windy ride to Bajo Caracoles ended in a surprise when I pulled up for gas. I learned the electricity was out and had been since yesterday so the pumps wouldn't work which meant no gas. The next town Gobernador Gregores was just barley out of my limit of gas and with the wind as bad as it was I figured I only needed 5 liters of gas to make it there. Unfortunately there was no gas to be had, I even suggested we suck it out of the tank but the owner said it was to deep. I attempted to knock on a few doors in town looking for gas to buy with negative results. The good news here is if I had not taken my wrong turn I would have arrived here yesterday and been waiting this entire time.

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    I then started my wait hoping someone would come by and spare 5 liters for me or worst case scenario the generator was supposed to be fixed at 5 PM and It was currently 9:30 AM. Lots of people rolled through but none could spare any gas. A few hours later about 20 motos showed up also looking for gas and I though certainly these tour groups could spare a few liters but no luck that route either. This was Madmax and fuel was scarce.

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    After the bikes left the owner feeling bad for me looked into a giant green tank off to the side to find it empty. He then opened the top and found some gas had rolled into low spots and corners of the tank which maybe would amount to 5 liters. I hopped onto the tank to pull the fuel to the corners. The owner then started syphoning it with a garden hose but the hose was to big for the small amount of fuel left. He then gave up but I remembered I had a long piece of fuel line I brought which was just small enough to work. I then started the syphon again but it turned into a challenge to get it to work but eventually I hung on the top of the tank directing the hose to the fuel while weighing down the end of the tank to cause the gas to pool into one spot. The gas was full of leaves and dirt but I had no choice and eventually we barley pulled out 5 liters of the tank into an old vinegar jug. I was super stoked and I think the owner was as well. I put in a filter sock in the gas tank so the dirty gas wasn't much of an issue. Overjoyed I payed my 50 Pesos for gas and was on my way to Gobernador. All along the way were dead Vicuna impaled on fence post like they were jumping the fence but didn't make it, lots of wind and lots of nothing to see.

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    When I finally arrived at Gobernador I found Motobiko and Tubotagteam at the gas station with Motobiko's KLR in pieces. The bike broke down yesterday but they luckily found some one passing by who hauled the bike into town. They surmised it was some unfixable problem and as a last ditch effort filled it with a special blend of super thick oil hoping to create a cushion for some bearing to ride along. Well the bike made it two miles creating a giant smoke cloud as it spewed oil out of the exhaust before giving up the ghost and seizing up. After 55,000 miles his bike was dead. We had a moment of silence on the side of the road and towed it back using an exercise bungie setting up in the municipal campground. That night we ate at some restaurant called Canadon Leon with a crappy buffet but it was cheap. I thought they had chicken on the buffet but after piling my plate with the white stuff learned it was tripe, puke. I went back for a few more things and when I went to pay the owner he charged us each time we returned to the "Buffet". I don't know enough Spanish to argue my case but the guy was a dick about it anyhow.
    TreasureState likes this.
  14. Baroquenride

    Baroquenride Everyone dies, but not everyone truly lives.

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2011
    Oddometer:
    4,447
    Location:
    Clark Co, Wa
    So did those two Husqvarna's ride down also? They look like the newer Husqvarna Terra's.
  15. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Yup they started from Portland , cool guys. They are selling them in Chile when they are finished. They have an ad on here and Horizons I think
  16. Baroquenride

    Baroquenride Everyone dies, but not everyone truly lives.

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2011
    Oddometer:
    4,447
    Location:
    Clark Co, Wa
    It seemed like you met quite a few people from the states doing motorcycle journeys. Was that planned or just by coincidence or are there really quite a few folks doing these travels?
  17. 2 Dogs

    2 Dogs 2 Dogs Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2011
    Oddometer:
    593
    Location:
    Dirty South- ATL
    Awesome pics on these last legs! Nice work with the Iphone..
  18. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR

    It was by coincidence really. Some riders met more than others but I wouldn't say there is a lot of folks doing it. Its not rare to see other riders from the states but not common either, I only met the 4 from the US and then we met up at various points. I honestly thought I would have met more than I did.
  19. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR

    Thanks man, I busted the phone screen at the end so picture taking got very tricky at the end. The Iphone 6 takes pretty awesome pictures but the photos on here are uploaded using tapatalk so they are compressed pretty bad resulting in quality that isn't that hot.
  20. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Gobernador Gregores to El Chalten

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    Its been said before but man the wind here is unrelenting, all through the night my tent was in a washing machine. The municipal campground here is free and had super hot showers also. With Motobiko's KLR in ruins we picked the caracas of the bike clean. Turbotagteam bought the panniers, seat, and other stuff. I bought the less worn than mine Metzler Sahara 3 for $20 since mine was toast in hardly any miles at all. It was a tough decision to leave but I wasn't sure what else I could do for Motobiko since two up was not an option, he was going to have to bus it, and I didn't have much to offer. After swapping out the tires I said my good byes and wished him luck.

    The road to El Chalten is under construction and is a clay muddy mess if its raining so be advised. Lots of people in cars and on bikes warned us that if it was raining to not attempt it. One rider from Venezuela described it as "The road of the devil" and described cars in ditches and bikes going sideways. Sounded awful so I was hoping it was dry when I arrived, well it was and I maintained a speed of around 60mph the entire length of the rippio, easy as pie. The wind was no joke though as it was pushing the bike sideways but you get used to it and just deal with it.

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    I arrived in El Chalten and found a great hostel called Pionero Del Valle with some of the best showers of the trip, super clean, and something I had not experienced the entire trip.....heat. Yes they had a heater in the room. It was about $16 a night and they had giant lockers that took all my moto gear and bags. This place was great, wifi sucked but the dorm I was in #1 only had 4 beds and its own shower and bathroom. They don't have secure parking but you can park it in the back of the place and it seems pretty securish.

    I went out for a nice steak dinner with a penguino of wine ( 1/2 a bottle). Great dinner after my tripe buffet the night before.

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    This is a great little town and I stayed 3 nights here and could have easily stayed longer, they even had a breakfast place that opened at 8 am..I was living the life.

    The next morning I went on a few little hikes around the area, they give you a map and everything is close enough for in and out day hikes. This place is one of my highlights for sure.

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    Later in the day I saw Turbotagteam rolling through town and he said he almost quit due to the wind as it had gotten even worse than it was the day before. He grabbed a room at the same hostel and the next day we decided to hike to the Fitz Roy Mirador then after seeing that decided to go all the way to Tres Lagos and a glacier. The hike was around 15 miles round trip and the hike up to Tres Lagos is no joke. We didn't plan on such a day but the weather was so nice we figured why not but both wish we had brought some food. Luckily we ran into a Canadian rider we had met probably 5 -6 times at various spots and he kindly donated peanuts and chocolate bars to us which gave us enough gas to get to the top. Holy Cow it was amazing, it didn't look real and Turbo compared it to the Truman show where just beyond Fitz Roy was the dome and this was all fake. It's that impressive.

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    The hike back down was rough and at the end of the day I could barley walk, it was going to be an ibuprofen kind of night.
    TreasureState and SmilinJoe like this.