Hi folks. I am actually back from this trip now, the bike should be back in a couple of days. My initial plan was to do a ride report on here during the trip. However, friends and family wanted me to keep them updated, so I did a blog on Facebook. I found it was taking me over an hour each night, so I decided to postpone this RR until I got home. I didn't take a laptop with me, and ended up going through three phones on the trip....reasons will become apparent later... This RR is based on my blog, though edited, with added juicy bits. With less than one week to go before I set off for Buenos Aires, I find I am getting nervous. It's getting real. The bike is packed and shipped, it's New Years Eve, and hopefully I've finished all the preparation. The last few months have been spent getting the bike ready. Hours of swearing as I lose spanners I have just used, or skin my knuckles on the frame, or find I have a left over bolt after assembling something. I am not a great mechanic, and I am certainly not an efficient one, but my bumbling ways have allowed me to keep three Harleys running for the last six years. No Harley this time. I have bought a second-hand Royal Enfield Himalayan, from a guy who evidently didn't ever clean the chain, and lots of stuff on the internet says it will fall to bits. I am 59 years old, unfit, overweight, and I haven't ridden on dirt for 30 years. I am about to set off to try and ride the length or Ruta Nacional 40 in Argentina, and I'm not really sure I have any idea what I am doing. What could possibly go wrong? So why a Himalayan? I took one for a test ride a few months ago. I liked it. It's basic. It's not fast, it's not pretty, but it will do the job. I am not too tall, and it has a lower seat height than most adventure bikes. I want a bike I can pick up, if I drop it or come off. I want a bike that's easy to work on, and, if I can't fix it myself, that a mechanic in a village can understand. I want simple. I have fitted heated grips, a USB port, pannier racks, engine guards, spotlights, tool tube, fender raisers, and a switch for the ABS, wired through the fuse box. I also installed an INNOV 2 Power Hub. The bike has been serviced, courtesy of Bolton Motorcycles (thanks guys!) new tyres, heavy duty chain and sprockets, and I've got probably far too many spares packed on the bike. Luggage is all from Lomo, a Scottish company better known for wetsuits, but now making a very reasonably priced range of motorcycle luggage. They gave me a free bag, so thanks to them too. As mentioned, the bike is second hand. I bought it from a Polish builder in London, for a very good price. Patryck was heading back to Poland after suffering a stroke, and wanted to sell the bike before he left. Poor guy was in tears when I picked it up. The bike was in reasonable condition, though I noticed the chain was very dirty (when I changed the chain and sprockets, I found the front sprocket cover completely rammed full of crud). A few minor dings and scratches showed the bike had been dropped at some point, but there was nothing to stop me deciding to buy it. On the way home on the bike, I got a puncture. I also found out that the bike is very comfortable, the 200 odd miles from London producing no sore arse or bad back. The plan is to ride Ruta 40 in Argentina, north to south, and then see how much time I have left for the Carreterra Austral in Chile. Why Ruta 40? Initially, I wanted to ride to Mongolia and Magadan this summer, but, faced with having to leave a very good job to do so, instead I took the company's offer of two months off at half pay in the winter instead. Then I needed a destination; initially, I was gong to Peru, but the idea of riding around aimlessly in the mountains for two months somehow didn't get me excited. I wanted a journey. So where else can you ride in the southern hemisphere during their summer? Africa, been there, done that (I grew up in Botswana) Oz is too hot. South America seemed to tick the right boxes, so Ruta 40 it is. A quick introduction for anyone who doesn't know me..... I'm an old fart of 59, not ridden dirt bikes for three decades (I had an XR500 in Botswana, where I grew up, for many years) My travels in the last few years have been mainly on a Harley Davidson Softail Slim, which I bought while working in Qatar, along with Jackie's Sportster and Heritage. Neither of us had ridden for 20 years, and buying Harleys seemed a good way to alleviate the mind-numbing reality of living in the Middle East. Apart from rides around Qatar, I toured Jordan with Jackie and members of our club (Wataweet MC), which was a really great trip, apart from Harley Qatar nearly killing Jackie by not tightening the bolts on her front brake caliper in a service just before we left). Jordan was great riding, including a mad 400km ride through a sandstorm. Since getting back to the UK, I've ridden the UK north to south on B roads, and done several week-long trips to Scotland. Jackie and me have been to many bike rallies in the last three years, and last year we had two fantastic weeks touring around and camping, the first week in the Lake District, the second one in the Peak District (a bit of a wet week, but great fun nonetheless). I've also toured Italy on a Harley Road Glide with members of our club from Qatar. I commute year round on the Slim, though lately have been using the Himalayan. The last few years, I have been thinking of a bigger trip. When I left Botswana, my plan was to ride the XR 500 to the UK, but events conspired to scupper that, but it's remained an itch , getting more annoying with time, to the point that I now need to scratch while I can still reach it. A few people have asked me why I'm shipping a bike there and back for two months of riding. Well, rental worked out about the same, and this way, I get to ride the bike I want, set it up how I want, and keep it afterwards. Buying wasn't a practical solution, as the paperwork would have eaten into my available time. The plan is to camp a much as possible, stopping at a hostel or hotel when I need a shower, clean clothes, and beer. I'll update the ride report as and when I can; I'm not taking a computer, so everything will be done on my phone. Gonna miss Jackie like crazy, but glad she understands why I'm going. . A few people have asked whether Itchy Boots was an inspiration for the trip. I hadn't actually heard of her before I started planning this trip, and only came across her after buying a Himalayan. Her videos are very good, and I have been watching her trip from Patagonia to Alaska. Not much of her trip is on Ruta 40, however, though I am hoping to follow a very similar route back to San Carlos de Bariloche through Chile. In fact, if anyone was an inspiration for this trip, it was Oisin Hughes, whose book Not Dead Yet includes his trip down Ruta 40. For anyone who hasn't read it, I thoroughly recommend it. A slight change of plan: Jackie has now been persuaded to join me in Bariloche for 12 days. I am really glad that she will be joining me, and it's going to great to see her after 6 weeks on my own. Although this makes the schedule a bit tighter, it also means that I will just blast through the Lakes area and the hippie town of El Bolson rather than spending several days there on the way down. I will explore this area with Jackie on my way back, then ride straight back to Buenos Aires from Bariloche at the end of the trip. I am flying out tomorrow: next update should be from Buenos Aires.