Monday, 20 May 2013

To Ushuaia on a motorcycle!

So this is how my day started leaving the farm, Estancia el Chalet, and James behind on my ride down to Ushuaia.  Remember the one fuel station in town that I mentioned in the previous blog post? It has finally had a fuel delivery and EVERYBODY needs some! So I must wait in line. 


The line goes quick enough though, I have to say.  What I like about Argentinian stations is that they fill the tank for you and take your money on the spot.  No need to go into a building and walk thorough rows of potato chips, coke, tools, magazines, t-shirts, and fluffy toys just to get to the cashier to pay.  They run this a bit like an assembly line!  I wonder how long it will take to fill that lovely camper I'm behind..


The van says, "Argentina..  Busqueme, me encontraron, en el pais de la libertad" Hopefully I have this right, but I interpret it to say,  "I look, I find, in the country of freedom"

I'm freeeee.......!!!!!!!!!!!!


Only me and the road.. I am loving it!!

I can't get over my luck.  I am riding in warm weather free of wind. Zero wind, in one of the windiest places in the world!  I know I'm lucky today and I'm going to take advantage of this and ride as far as I can.  I bet the wind returns tomorrow. I rode 635 km the first day with only a small snack stop.  I just didn't want to stop!


The most perfect riding conditions 29C, hundreds of kilometers later, still no wind..!!  All I've ever heard from every soul I've spoken to about this ride is how difficult it is to ride in the cold horizontal wind.  I've certainly experienced it in prior days, so I'm expecting it any moment. I'm overdressed, warm and loving my day!



I met another solo rider on the way.  The poor dear ran out of gas.  He was funny. He flew over from Spain, purchased his bike in Alaska and is riding it to Ushuaia, with only $500 budget.  No wonder he ran out of gas! EVERYTHING is freakin' expensive down here!!


We are about 50 km to the next fuel stop and I am running on fumes as it is.  Nothing to spare, but regardless of the distance, I will go get him some gas and bring it back.  He said that would be great but another rider on a BMW had just stopped and offered the same.  It's a gamble as you don't know if as stranger will show up for a 100 km round trip, but I still said I would do the same.  It's better to have too much than not enough.  After all the help I've received, I can't just leave him there!


I found the BMW rider at the fuel station 50 km later. He had already purchased a big fuel container and had it strapped on to the back seat of his bike.  I talked to him just to confirm this fuel is for the guy stranded on the road (por el hombre de Espana) and he said yes.  I asked again, just to be sure, it's a red bike that he bought in Alaska (el moto rojo de Alaska).." Si, Si, Senorita!"  I feel confident with that, so I filled up my own tanks and went on my way.  I just wish I knew triple sure that he gets the fuel, but I'm trying not to be so over the top... ;-)

I was still belting down the road enjoying the ride and my lucky weather when I wondered what the hurry was.  I pulled over for a night in San Julian on the east coast early about 2 pm, set up camp on the ocean and took advantage of this wonderful weather! I decided to make myself a nice meal with the camp burner with a plan to enjoy the sunset.

 San Julian, Argentina

My tent was set up by about 2:20 and I went to the grocery. Hmm, I'm bored. Now what.  I asked the lady in the camp office and she suggested a dirt track to go see a colony of sea lions. OK!




It was only 26 km, but I rode all the way down there and not a single sea lion in sight.  Oh well, it was great to ride in the gravel.  A nice break from all the monotonous paved Ruta 3.

I spent the following night in Rio Gallegos, and got up early the next morning to ride to the Chilean border.  Once there I met a really nice man on a Suzuki V-Strom from Israel.  His name in Gabby and he suggested we ride together today. Sure!

 Following Gabby


Here you either turn right and head to Punta Arenas Chile, or continue south to Ushuaia, which requires crossing a river.  On the boat we met a couple more riders from Brazil.  This road is one big moto-adventure highway.  I was thinking it's a bit like being in the Scouts when we were kids (I was a Brownie and a Girl Scout!)  Once you complete a special project or task, you get a badge to wear on your uniform.  This is the same.  If you ride a motorcycle, it's important to go this far to get your sticker from Ushuaia to put on your motorcycle.  And it seems the most common journey of any rider I've ever met in the world does exactly this. Alaska to Ushuaia or vice versa. So I will hopefully get my own badge soon!



Another border crossing and we meet this guy. Ali.  He asks where I am from, and I say "Australia, where are you from?"  and he says Kuwait.  Gabby is just getting his helmet off and says, "Oh, you don't want to know where I'm from then.. Ali asks "Where?"  Gabby says, "Don't kill me, but I'm from Israel"..  Ali lit up, Gabriel lit up the laughed and hugged like they were long lost best friends from grade school!!!  I wish I had my camera going at that point, but I was just big-eyed and watching this great event!


Israel and Kuwait have been fighting for 40 years.  They both apologized for their countries politics and leaders.  Ali says, "We are one people."  We all agreed, I nearly had a tear...


One Shared Planet sticker on Kuawati motorcyle

Anyway, they are headed north, and we are riding south.  So nice to meet you!!! You don't get that sort of experience everyday!  Me, the Aussie/American is riding with Israel and we meet Kuwait on the border of Argentina and Chile.. there ya go!!!

Not long after the next border, the highway turns to gravel.


Gabby is a super nice man riding solo in his sixties.  I followed him on the pavement, but once we started the gravel, he slows right down.  He's on a heavy bike and not so comfortable with his tires either. I stuck with him for a bit, but it's simply easier for me to ride faster.  So I do what has always been done for me, I ride my pace then stop on occasion to see if the person behind me is ok and still moving.  When I see his headlight, I carry on.

On one of these stops I didn't see a headlight for quite a while.  I thought, uh oh.  So I turned around to check on Gabby. Sure enough he was off his bike.

Gabby, what's wrong? "Sherri, I don't know.. I really don't know, it just died!!"  He was so flustered..!! Bugger, really?  He says, " it will start, but when I put it in first gear it immediately dies."  He got on his bike to show me.  I told him, "I'm no mechanic, but I'd guess that's a sidestand sensor". 


I showed him where I think the sensor might be, only in comparison to my own bike and knowledge.  We found the sensor and saw a huge stone from the road lodged in there.  He took it out, and we hoped it was fixed. But unfortunately it still didn't work.  Gabby tells me he is so thankful I found the problem for him, but he doesn't know how to fix it and for me to go on to Ushuaia.  He will set up a tent and camp here.  I said, "No you're not, Gabby! It's still early enough in the day. We will find a solution to this, you wait and see."


Within minutes, like magic, two Argentinian guys traveling on bikes from the opposite direction pull over to see what's wrong.  I told them. They got off their bikes, and knew exactly how to fix the sensor problem (remove it, cut and tape the wires).  Bike started and went into first gear... done!


How amazing, and I can not tell you how many times angels from nowhere fly in to save the day on my trip. Absolute magic!


So Gabby's bike was a nice simple easy fix.  I wish it was always this way, I'm jealous!  I won't mention to him what I've been through lately...

After the last border crossing (Argentina into Chile, out of Chile into Argentina)... just to be clear, that's four offices and four immigration officers to stamp our passports and four customs officers to stamp in and out the bikes, meaning four slow lines to stand in one day.  That's my tiny little whinge out of the way!

Anyway, after the last border crossing, the road turns to pavement again, and we arrive the last large-ish town, Rio Grande.  Here Gabby wants to stay the night, however, I want to ride on down to Ushuaia another 212 km.  There's nothing to see or do in Rio and I know the weather is supposed to change tomorrow, so I'd rather ride.  I tell Gabby it was nice riding with him and he says, "Wait, I'm staying with you!"  I told him it's not necessary, but I'm not ready to stop for the day.  He insists he wants to keep riding.  I feel bad, as I knew this was his goal destination for the day, we've already ridden about 430 km.  However, his choice, so he followed me.

My first sighting of an Ushuaia sign.. ooooo getting closer!


HAD to stop at this sign.  INDIANA!!  I am born in Indiana, USA and there are no other places in the world called this that I'm aware of, until now!


The landscape is changing and only 94 km to Ushuaia....


76 kilometers to Ushuaia.


48 kilometers to Ushuaia.. Yep, this is taking soooo long because I keep looking at the gps with excitement.  If I'd ignore it, the ride would seem shorter.



I remember coming through here before and I wanted to pull over so Gabby could see the view.


Always a chuckle when you "borrow" some stranger to take a photo...


OK..23 kilometers to go!!  Am I driving you crazy yet?  I'm driving my own self crazy...  Almost there!!!!!!



There she is..... USHUAIA!!


Wel pull into town and since I've already been here, I give Gabby the accommodation options. I think I know every location and their prices.  I already know I'm heading to the campground Rio Pipos for $10/nt.  Great wifi and super kitchen.  Gabby is not keen to camp even though he owns a tent.  So I direct him to a few other places.  Minimum shared is about $40 USD, but most hostels and privates are closer to $80 and up per night.

Gabby still says he wants to stick with me.  So he came to the campground.  He told me how much he hates camping, but he'll do it.  I couldn't convince him otherwise to go and stay in town.

The next morning when I saw him, he was packing up his bike, really early.  He said that's it.. he can't stay here!  I'm in love with this campground, I am very happy to stay.  He said he called his wife on skype and told here that he met a crazy Aussie/American lady riding her motorcycle solo (she is afraid to ride, is why he is telling her) and that I made him ride 653 km in one day!  (He is joking of course).  He said he had never ridden that far in one day his entire trip from Florida to here!  I didn't feel it was that far. The day went fast due to all the border crossings, his breakdown for 1 hour, and we still arrived with plenty of daylight.  I said my goodbyes to Gabby from Israel, he was a pleasure to meet and ride with.

I do like it here. Most riders get their "badge", have their celebratory drinks, a photo, and leave.  I can't help to keep thinking that out of all the places in the world I get to call home for a while, twice!, it's at the very tippy bottom of the world, Ushuaia.

1 comment:

  1. The Spanish rider you met had been Fernando "El Buffalo" http://bufaloamerica.blogspot.mx/.
    Met him on the trip as well - crazy guy ;)
    Cheers
    Uli

    ReplyDelete