Argentina, Trelew and Valdes - Penguins in 20 degrees?

From Pico Truncado we headed further north through  few of ther larger towns with our goal of seeing the Penguins in our mind.  The routa 3 had a nice little break in which it streched along the shore of the atlantic ocean which had some pathways down to long barren beachs.  We figured this was a great oppourtunity to take to some sand antics to break up the sparse stretch of road.  We darted along the beach while swinging our the back tire lots and racing along the shore to give the KLRs some well needed fun time. 

We figured it was time to move on so we headed back onto the 3 and came into a small town which we werre counting on for gas.  Turns our the tanks were dry and we were 340 km into our tanks, and with the KLRs having 22L tanks, 400km is when you start getting worried.  The closest town was thankfully along our way but, 77km out.  Fully tucked and with derrick drafting we babied the throttle into the next town making it to the station.  Filling up and getting a snack we heading allong the dirt road to the Penguins.

The penguins were a sight to see.  The first few a saw, i though were stuffed, the they moved, as we progressed down the boardwalk the crowds grew denser of this 250,000 penguin colony.  During the season, this colony grows to the largest in SA at 1,000,000.  We could get right up to the penguins, but not touch unless you didnt want a finger.  After we had our fun, and it was getting dark, we needed to get into town.

The town we chose was Trelew.  Along with Gaimen they make up the Welsh villages in Argentina.  We chose the most interesting place to stay, Hotel Touring Club in which Butch Cassidy stayed at in the hayday.  Hundreds of old whiskey adorned the walls and old articles and knick knacks.

We had a relaxed morning while washing bikes, stocking up, oiling, and tuning, and then headed for Valdes.  Only being about200 km away it was a short day in which we browsed through the museum and lazed around the local resto bar.  The weather has really changed now, seeing in the low 20s duiring the day, and no rain in sight within a week.  We are developing quite a helmet tan, which is similar to a farmers tan, yet on the face.

Headed for camp on one of the nearby spits and set up.   We would have been seeing dozens of whales before us had it been the right season, but I guess a few penguins around the campsite will suffice.  Early to bed and dug deep into our books.

Meanwhile back in Valparaiso

While the 2 heroes are braving the elements and angering the flat tire gods , I am spending some time in Viña del Mar with family. I am enjoying some nice fall weather and some nice Chilean food and wine. I also visited my friend in Rancagua who owns a Rocket 3. Maybe I´ll trade my KLR and get home faster. There is also a picture of my replacement hand made licence plate by "el pintor de coyhaique" ( that was the guy name). It will make a treasured souvenir.

Argentina, Pico Truncado - Dirt Desert Road

Woke up to a dry tent, desite the downpour in the middle of the night.  We had a quick pack up and then attempted to make breakfast.  We have been saving this chocolate oatmeal and we decided to crack it open for our big day on the road.  It was very bitter.  After one taste we tossed it which was very hard for us since we almost never waste food.  We hightailed it to the next town to get some decent food into us. 

Pulling into San Julian we found the YPF, a gas station chain which we have also made a habbit of eating at.  Reading the history of the town we discovered this is where Magellan first landed to discover Patagonia.  When he landed, he noted the grand size of the people and named then patgons, which translates to big feet.  This then meant the land was Patagonia.  He held the first mass on the end of the main street where a cross now sits, right adjacent to a replica of Magellans ship which is also a sight to see.

From here we headed further north to our next destination of the day, the petrified forest.  Some 50 km off of Routa 3 the park is located.  In looking at the map, I can tell you there is nothing for a good 50 km in all directions. The park was quite interesting and these huge fossilized trees were scattered about which were up to 2 meters in diameter.  We did a little 2 km loop around the park in which we both sweat alot since we were both still dressed for the Tierra del Feugo weather. A quick stroll through the museo which gave many samples and a description of the process.

We decided to take a break from the strong winds situated on Routa 3 and head around on the dirt roads.  The temperature changed as much as the scenery.  The barren windswept plains turned into a desert enviroment.  We really got the feeling of being alone, along the 150 km stretcvh of road, we passed only 2 cars.  Wildlife was more present, the typical guanacos (llamas) and ostrichs which ran in every direction including in front of you as we passed, but also wild horses which would gallop along with you for a good time at around 50 kmph.  The road was longer than the tar but far more interesting and when the sun began to fall it made for some amazing sights which we attempted to capture in the photos.
Just as we could see our headlights on the road, we were pulling into what we thought was a small town, turns out its some sort of oil hub.  It isnt listed in our rough guide, so i believe we are safely off the gringo trail for the night.  Found a hotel on the main drag and diner in the attached reastaurant.  Time for some rest.  Our destination tommorrow is Penninsula Valdes where many of the whale shots from Planet Earth are shot and Punto Tombo where there is one of the largest penguin colonies in SA.  Keep you all updated on how far we make it.

Looks like the Spot has started to kick in again, we will click as often as we can and hope they all go through.
Eduardo is staying in Santiago for the time being, he has his plate and is ready to go. 

Heres a YPF tank here in Argentina for all you folks at CH2M Hill to analayze.

Argentina, Monte leon - Tire fiasco continues to haunt me

Rolled out of bed slowly and strolled outside. Big mistake. First it was cold enough that there was frost everywhere, secondly, Colin was standing beside my bike with it's tire off. Colin looks at me, I look at him. Yup another flat tire......  We are thinking it must be the rim or our patch failed. We look at the tube and the patch we used was still holding and we couldn't find any holes. Hmmmm. Run the tube under some soapy water and we discover the valve stem is leaking. The valve stem the guy gave us from that crummy shop. Every possible way you to get a flat I've come across. Threw in a brand new tube (hard to come by) and TIRE PROBELEMS SOLVED!  We were really hoping it was not the rim as finding a tire shop was hard enough to come by. We now have the Spanish words Gomeria(tire shop) and camara(tube) well memorized.

Felt really good to pass all the places where we had to stop to fix my tire , to see those piles of rocks in the ditch that held up my bike as we worked away in the rain and wind.  It also felt good to fill up my gas tank more times than taking off my rear tire.

Rode 590 kms today. We crossed two borders and took one ferry, not too bad For the beginning half of the journey we rode with Lenny who is on a KLR, was great company. We went our separate ways in the afternoon as he was going to Peurto Natales and we were off to Ruta 3.

We rode along Ruta 3 along the east coast of Argentina to a town near Montelon where we camped for the night. Ruta 3 is a very boring highway. It's straight, windy as hell, and nothing but desert scenery.  It is definitely getting warmer as we was north and is a welcoming feeling.

We have met quiet a few motorcyclists who are travelling as we are. It's funny that all of the ones we've met have met others we know. In such a large place the community still feels close which is a nice thing to have when travelling.

So the stats for this Tire story :
-15 flat tires in total. Mostly due to the warped bead, shotty patch jobs by us(need good glue) and by shops, faulty valve stem, a rock, and I can almost say with a gaurantee that we didn't pinch the tube for most of them.
-6 tubes of which one has 5 patches on it and 4 others have at least one.
-1 new rear tire

Lessons leanred:
-Buy proper patch kit with good glue
-Ensure the bead on your tire is seated correctly and in good shape.
-Don't trust dodgey shops with no tire repair equipment ( he cut a patch in half cause he didn't have enough)
-Don't be cheap and buy a center stand for your bike
-Stock up on parts when you can in south America. Hard to come by motorcycle shops
-Riding with was essential or else I would of been stranded
-Just laugh when you get passed 10 flats
-Lastly, I don't enjoy sleeping in ditches. 

Pictures are painfully slow to upload so when we find a faster compter more will come

Argentina, Rio Grande - A short day made long

Excited about the first day in a while when we would get some miles on, we woke up early and it only took derrick a mere 30 minutes to roll out of bed aside from the usual 45.  Had our quick breadfast, as some people call it since all it consists of sometimes is bread, and got down to the newly prepped and oild bikes.  Tire flat.  Again.  Went over to the moto shop and waited for it to open and got it fixed for the last time.

We planned to go out to the end of the world sign in the park that morning, and that also allowed us to do a little tire test before we started on our 520 km planned for that day.  We got the picture.  For some reason in the adventure moto world, this is a sought after picture to have in the album.

Breezing back into town, tire holding we broke for the open road.  100km out. pop.  Turns out that store that didnt look quite right, didnt know how to do patches quite right.  No worries, we have the extra tube that the same shop patched, but this one looks good.  In and go, 50 km, pop.  Getting our wits about us, we patch it as continue, it already being about 4 pm. we finally foound some lunch and then after a place to stay.

We still managed the min km today, 250, but no where near our 520.  All these flats, mostly caused by mis diagnosis, then faulty patches, then faulty glue, and faulty mechanics have made 14 and despite all of this I feel that this will make us strong for the km ahead.  Feeling doubtful of derricks tire we will ride on tomorrow with hopefully more luck on our patch which we literally kissed for good luck.

Also ran into a fellow KLR rider from the states, heading from Deadhorse, to Ushuaia and now headin home to the states.  Blog here:

This is the said shop with the mechanic that doesnt know how to patch.

And this is me with the new bikes we were thinking of investing in while praying for some solid tires.

Argentina, Ushuaia - Rear tire update

Yessss, found a store that sold me a used rear tire with about 85% of it's tread left for an ok price despite the holiday. Got the Metzler Endurance which I had my doubts that it would fit. But installed it on the klr and she fits perfectly. Changed the oil and cleaned the air filter today as well. She's like a new bike! Picked up some patches and some new glue as well for free.

As for some comments in the guestbook - We took the tire off the rim completely and looked thoroughly through both. Didn't find a single thing. The bead does have a crack in it. That tire is now out of my life. We are starting the trip north tomorrow finally.

Below are pictures of the warped bead.  Pain in the ....

KLR Rear Tire Fiasco..

Well the rear tire has cause us some great grief lately.  Colin and I first experience the flat when leaving Torres Del Paine and have had troubles with it all the way to Ushuaia which is approximately 700kms.  For the last three days we have a total of 11 flat rear tires which involved using 5 brand new tubes and patching countless holes.

Firstly, I installed  a brand new tube that I was carrying with me in the tire which got us out of Torres Del Paine and halfway to Peurto Natales where she blew from a rock.  Luckly those three motorcyclists stopped and patched it back up.  That then blew the next day 50kms in to the next town, Punto Arenas.  Colin and I then patched the tire a few more times to the next town where we pulled into a gas station just off the highway.  Colin lent me his bike to shop around Peurto Arenas for a new tube or a patch kit.  This town was very confusing to navigate let alone find a tire shop.  I went into 7 stores in total of some which I for sure would sell me a tube for a common motorcycle.  But! none of them had motorcycle tubes....Brigdestone, a Yamaha Dirtbike dealership, Perelli, the Lordco of Chile!, NADA....  One guy was kind enough to draw me a map since I was staring at him blankley when he was explaining.  Confused as can be and lost looking for this tire repair shop, I stopped on the bike at a residential intersection just trying to grasp my bearings.  Next thing I know I have a taxi driver rambling something to me in spanish waving his arms.  He pulls into the intersection blocking all traffic and runs up to me.  I stare at him blankley as I do when i have no idea as what is happening.  He then pulls out his cellphone and shows me a picture of him on his BMW 650 GS and it all becomes clear.  I show him the hand drawn map and he yells something at me along the lines of follow me.  He takes me directly to the ¨tire repair shop¨ which turns out to be a bicycle store that patches any tires you can think of.  I thank him dearly and get the tube patched up.  I left poor Colin at the gas station for 5 hours to fend for himself.

Next morning, we head towards the Argentine border thinking our problems are over.  Just after crossing the border the tire goes flat..... wow really.... yes really...  The sun is setting, wind is blowing, cold, and the next town is 30 kms away.  We literally pulled into the ditch pulled out the tent and camped...... in a ditch on the side of a highway.  Next morning begins to start pouring rain and we had to struggle and patch the tube.  That got us a few kms enough to find a very very small out of house business that patched up our tire.That patch got us to a town called Rio Grande where we found a store that sold us two brand new rear tubes.  Alas, our problems solved!.... not really....  another 100km´s down the road she goes flat again.  About to kick my bike over and light it on fire, Colin takes off the tire and replaces it with a brand new tube.  Another 50 kms and that tube blows.  Inspect the tire, inspect the rim nothing looks good... throw in the last new tube.  gets us 30 kms to Ushuaia goes flat as a pancake.  Take the tire off again and we are now defeated...Until a Argentine KLR ride saved us with a new tube that he gave to us!  well we managed to screw that tube Colin rode into Ushuaia with my rear tire.  He got a shop to patch the tube up and rode back to where my bike was.  Installed it and rode the bike until 6km´s outside of Ushuaia and she goes flat.  I hobble pass the Ushuaia entrance... not the way we imagined it... was pretty anticlamatic at that point.  Hobble about 5 km´s on a flat tire and I just couldnt handle riding a flat anymore. We take the tire off again throw our last ditch effort patched up tube in and get a total of maybe 100 meters out of it which got us close to a hostel.

Now today we walk around town looking for a tire and find out that it´s a Argentina Holiday for the next two days... all shops are closed...

Sorry for the long story but how else do you explain 11 flats.  We thought maybe we were pinching the tube when replacing it in the rim but it turns out we weren´t.  We had a total of 4 different people, some with mounting equipment some without, that installed the tire back on the rim.  We did discover that the bead on the tire is really warped and maybe pinching the tube when ridden.  So now we are stuck until a new tire is found!

end of rant.

Argentina, Ushuaia - The Long Road to the Start

Well we made it, derrick literally limping his bike the last 6 kms, me frozen, but with bright smiles as with saw the faithful "Most Southernly City in the World" sign approach.

I wont write to much on THE tire, I believe derrick has hammered that one through, but i will cover the other stuff from the remaining days.

The road out of Punta Arenas was smooth and less traveled, we made our way around the Striaght of Magellan to the cheap ferry.  On the way we ran accross an abondoned estancia which looked more with a thriving village at one time.  Really interesting style of building and also included a couple of shipwrecks which sat on the adjacent beach.  Made it to the ferry and chatted with some german friends we met in Torres del Paine, who believe it or not drove a ford taures from alaska, which knowing from experience is not the most reliable car.

We are now officially on Tierra del Feugo, we can taste the start line ahead.  Sensing our excitment for this, derrick tire decided to blow once we made our way into the Argentinian side of the island.  This was 40 km out of Rio Grandes and just going dark, we figured it was better to set up camp in a ditch rather than fumble around with a patch that may work and it dropped below zero.  A cold night was spent still with the layers from the day in that sleeping bag, but boy are we glad we have a emergency food, tent and bags for such an occasion.

Woke up early to the rain, yes rain and fixed the tire.  Wet and feeling better that we were moving, we got into town and started the seach for the motorcycle shop.  After buying 3 of the most expensive tubes, we were on our way.  50 km out, pop.  New tube, and go.  30 km, pop.  New tube, and go.  30 km from Ushuaia, pop.  See derricks post for the rest, but i will leave it at, derrick rode the last kms on a dead flat.  Rolled into town sort of and found a hostel.  But we are in Tierra del Fuego, at Cape Horn, in the most Southernly City in the World, it cant be so bad.

Spirits still high and loving the day off.  Saving our king crab celebration meal which is apparently THE meal in town.  Although a little on the pricy side, most running for about 20 loonies.

Other updates:

  • Blog has new sections: Pictures, Itinerary and Other Blogs
  • Eduardo has made it back to Santiago and is waiting for his plates there.
  • The SPOT should be working again in a week or so.
  • We are detained in Ushuaia until we can find an alternative tire.
  • Pictures still to come, as always, keep checking.

Chile, Punta Arenas - The Tube Game Continues

We started off the morning with confidence, got our new laundry, despite the huge hole in one of my shirts.  Had a nice breakfast with a couple from Washington who paddeled their kayaks into town from over 1300 km away.    Their blog is here if you want to take a look.

We were really getting out of the Patagonian Terrain now, the ferrocious mountains and the unpredictable stunning weather seems to be in our past.  We look out onto the cold, windy and dry flat lands.  It is an odd perspective since it looks as though it would be a mid summers warmth, although with my 5 layers on the bottom, 5 top layers, 2 pairs of socks, 2 neck warmers and gloves and the cold wind still manages to eat away.  Despite the cold ride ahead and the flat tires, we still do not hesitate to grab that extra throttle and persevere.

To continue, once Peurto Natalas was out of reach, the spitefuly tire decided to pop and leave us stranded.  Patched, and back in, lets continue.  Another 50 km, pop.  This time outside of a gas station.  I stayed behind and derrick drove around to get some professional help.  5 hours later, derrick emerged, still with smile with a round tire in hand.  Night had fallen so we quickly put the tire back on and found a hostal to dress the wounds of the day.  Watch gladiator that night, spanish subtitles, hoping we could learn something, and read and rest.

Chile, Peurto Natales - Flat tires and great people

Waking up from a terrible sleep partially from a small mouse scurrying around our tent all night, I began taking off the rear tire to replace the tube. New tube in, bags, tent and bike ready to go we set off. About 30 minutes into the ride my tire went flat again....figuring out a new way to prop the bike up we found a bench and lifted the klr onto it. The took the tire off and patched it up. The spot we stopped at had many tourists come and go. Many asking us to take pictures of them while we worked away on the tire. A father and daughter gave us their contact information and told us if we needed anything to get a hold of them which was cery nice of them to offer. Rear tire patched up and installed we were off again. Another 30 minutes into the ride the patch failed and we were stranded 20 kms from town. Colin decides to ride off into town to find a new tube while I try to figure out a plan. 30 seconds after Colin leaves three motorcyclists come around the corner. These three guys just met each other riding down from Alaska and decide to travel together. One was from Ireland, one from England, and newzealand. They helped me propy bikes up on some rocks and I worked away at taking the tire off. Already a veteran of taking the tire off from the previous two times it was off in a few minutes. They provided me with an appropriate patch for the hole and the tire was back on and ready just before Colin arrived. Since it's Sunday the shops were all closed. Thanks to these guys we were back on the road we headed to Peurto Natales where we found a hostel to bunker down for the night.

Tire Changing Methods

Today we have discovered a few ways to get the back tire off the ground to change it.  See below.

The rock tower: Push up onto kickstand and push rocks underneath. (No pictures, but you can imagine)

The dead lift: Find an object and lift the bike onto it.

and our new favorite, the public hanging.

Chile, Torres Del Paine - A Trek to Remember

Woke up in  the strangers house and quickly got packed up so they could once again reside in their own house.  We had a quick breakfast at the corner shop just inside the Chile Border and then left once the place was bombarded by the awful gringo buses.

We had to go in Peurto Natalas to get some gas and food and then off to Torres del Paine.  We did a short hike on the North side of the park, it goes up to a valley with a small camp.  This short taste of what resides in those mountains was almost cruel, but without proper overnight gear and the time, we couldnt go for it.  There are a few popular hikes in the mountins the W which is about a 4 day hike and a longer 7 day trek which almost encircles the park. 

After the hike the were going to make our way out of park and head back to Peurto Natalas, but only about 30 km out derrick got a flat.  We had luckly just oassed a campsite and decided to stay, but we were to hard done by the campsite had an amazing view of the torres and it had a restuarant, so we still got our steak for the night.  Then we had a nice surprise, a varierty of bugs and animals in our tent.  A mouse, spiders and and ticks.  Fun when your ready to get into your sleeping bag for the night.  Lets just hope we got them all before they got us.

This last picture is of the main mountain usually in the pictures, ours is a little better I think, notice the stars, it was taken at night.