Southern Cone

In my humble opinion there is far too much emphasis on my mishaps on the journey southward, they seem to come up in conversation with everyone we meet. While I am not ashamed of these incidents, well partly, I think at times the story becomes inflated enough that I should be proud of these misdemeanors. I take these constant reminders with a grain of salt and I certainly don’t recommend them,  I just hope I’ve had my full share!

We weren’t to know what would happen on our quick venture south. There have certainly been some tough and testing times but this has been contrasted by some magnificent moments.  Bike issues have certainly plagued us constantly and seem to be escalating in significance;  it is like a dark cloud that is consuming our valuable time. My bike has certainly spread this curse. It was the first to catch it and when it seems cured it has another cough. This has caused the majority of our human contact to be with a multitude of mechanics. Fortunately, they are relatively consistent with their friendly demeanor and tolerance for our lack of the language.

Early on when it was my bike  was responsible for consuming all the time. There was a constant dreaded feeling that you get when you hinder everyone in a close collective. This feeling sat stagnant in the bottom of my belly as I was forced to ignore the other persisting aches and pains and ask again if the boys would push start me in the wet.

While it is not helping the cause, it is a relief now that Nick’s and Mike’s bike have caught this curse. Not only balancing the brakes on our momentum but also allowing some time to catch up with the surroundings. With this chance to reflect, I find myself reminded why motorcyclists from around the world go through heartache and the hip-pocket to ride these ridiculous roads!

There have been mornings on the Carretera Austral between Chaiten and Cochrane when we would weave our way along a windy potholed track, cliff rising to the right and crystal clear lake to the left. The road is home to hundreds of ferns and moss like plants. When the sun is right, there is enough moisture in the air from the patchy rain and frequent waterfalls to create a constant rainbow to be riding through.

One day later, and we would be up on the Argentinean flat, rain pelting frozen darts piercing our armour, winds so strong that  stomach muscles would then ache for three days.

One memorable section was following the  crossing into Argentina for the first time, the headwind was so strong we would trail each other in an unsuccessful attempt to slip stream.  With  heads leant so far forward, the chin of my helmet would occasionally brush the top of my handlebars. The force of the head wind was strong enough to part the foam in my helmet, so my lips ended up pressed against the inside plastic of the mouthpiece.

During this experience I was counting down the kilometers by singing songs that inevitably turned solemn. Glancing to the upper right, the peaks of the Andes caught my attention. As I watched, they seemed to menacingly tear open the dark gray sky to reveal a forgotten shade of blue. While roadside the weather wasn’t changing, this blue patch offered hope to the end of  what honestly were horrific conditions!

Then, as if my deepest requests had been answered, the road that hadn’t had a turn since Christmas displayed a yellow diamond taking a form of a road sign. It would usually just send a subconscious signal that prompted a lean in the direction indicated but on this occasion it pointed to a perceived paradise of clear skies and sunlight.

Pushing forward with the power down the eventual sunlight, while not that warm, was the perfect excuse to dismount and hold frozen  hands millimeters from the steaming exhaust for a ten minute re-thaw process.

It is now two days ride from Ushuaia, our southern goal. We ride now as three amigos on two motorbikes, meanwhile hopefully bike  parts are express posted  from the US for the third bike to be repaired on our return north. In the meantime my hope it to obtain a new rear tire for my bike as I can almost see the air through its thin walls.

The learning curve of adventure motorcycling has steepened with the longitude degrees south!

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