Tag Archives: dirt roads

Pichilemu to Chillan, Tuesday, 22 January 2013,Day 203

Lost Again!

I had deliberately headed for the coast as I knew that the only way out of here going south was on dirt roads and as we all know my mantra which is onward and forward and never go backwards on the same road so I was sort of forcing myself into a corner where I would have to do some dirt roads rather than double back. As we all know I am no great shakes at this off road malarkey so I thought lets get some practice in whilst I have options so that when I do not have any options I may have a vague idea on how to handle any terrain that may be thrown my way.

So I left my little castle and I was a bit sad as I loved this cool place would like to stay longer and perhaps learn how to surf but I will save that for another trip and time today it is off road practice day and I had picked a nice 60km long bit of dirt.

I went to fill up Daisy as I was heading into the middle of nowhere and I met an ex Chilean enduro champion and ask him about the roads and he gave me another alternative route a bit longer but according to him much nicer. I tell him I am complete pants at the off road business and he says I should be able to do it and that he is not sending me down a difficult road where I would end up hating him and Chile he wanted me to enjoy it and have a fond memory rather than a nightmare. So appreciated the thought and the sentiment and I was confident he was not sending me down some gruelling dirt track. He said not worry about the road but to focus on the other traffic on the road as that was far more dangerous and I new exactly what he meant as I had had my share of dodgy traffic on small back roads. His parting words there are are some parts with deep sand what! Deep sand one off my off motorcycling nemesis remember the last time Ho hum!

So Daisy is sorted route is sorted and I find a nice little café for breakfast and I am also sorted so I hit the road dull and it is overcast again also there is a sea fret so nice scenery only I cannot see much of it but I guess this means I can focus more on the road instead and be cool for my off road excursion.

I hit the dirt and its reasonable a bit rough but manageable but every now and again bits of deep sand which are very difficult. One of these bits was on a steep downhill section so I was picking up speed but I want to go slow down as thick soft sand my ABS is totally confused so in other words it is not working and I am gaining momentum and all I want to do is slow down as I speedup into deep sand and deep sand and me does not mix well. I have read somewhere in a situation like this the best thing to do is hit the kill switch which turns of  the ABS off and use the dead engine to slow and stop the bike and then turn the bike across the road to it slow down to a halt. That’s the theory and who can remember all that when it’s all going pear shape so I do what I usually do and I wrestle the bike to a stop somehow and try and stay upright. And then I pray to all the motorcycling gods to help me stay vertical. That’s another theory and today that worked so I managed to slow the bike to a speed I could manage the deep sand on an incline and sort of skidded my way down the hill bit by bit not pretty but it got me down and where I wanted to be.

No one around to ask Directions!

This was the worse bit a few others but not so scary. Glad no one else is around as coping with traffic and this would be even hairier but now I am lost GPS no good as I am totally off road and there are tracks heading all over the place as they are doing a lot of forestation going on around here but which ones is the actual road so that is when you want folks around to ask. I find some guys chopping down some trees blocking the road and they tell me I am going the wrong way which I had figured out already so U turn and back the way I had come. I went down another track with a huge steep hill but does not look right either so go back up the hill and try another track nope going no where back down the steep hill when I hear a tooting of a horn and huge forestry truck flying down the hill that I been up and down a couple of time he pulls over and tells me I am going the wrong way yep he right he try’s to explains how to get out of this but he can tell I have not got a clue what he is saying its that language thing again so he says he will lead me out so he tell me to go ahead of him and he will direct me to the way out. So up the steep hill again and back the way I had come but this time with a huge forestry truck up my chuff so I am going a lot faster than earlier and trying to pretend that I can really handle the dirt for the benefit of the audience stupid I know it must be a boy thing. We finally get to the crossroads where I had turned of as there was a sign saying lorries only so I thought that was logging roads and not the track I turned down. My new mate gives me some last minute instruction turns his huge truck round and heads of in the direction we had just come for. Cheers mate appreciate you showing me the way out I could still be riding around their now otherwise so Muchos Gracias Senor.

I finally hit the coast and Tarmac covered in brown dust so certainly look the part of a hard-core Moto crosser but deep down I know I am nothing of the sort and I  got through by pure luck no skill or judgement involved. It is still dull and overcast but a nice run along the coast and then onto route 5 to Chillan to get some miles under my belt. I find a hostel and yes they have parking which is round the back but turns out round the back is a block away at the owners daughter posher hotel so I ride round the front dump my gear and ride round the block again to park Daisy safe and sound for the night much to the amusement of the owner who told me to this in the first place but I did not understand her I must improve my Spanish language skills!

Other good news it that it is  opposite a Chinese restaurant so after last night failing I got my Chinese dinner tonight yummy. I went for a walk around town and I had to sit down at one point as I had not realised how tired I was as it had been a long hard tough day.

Back to the hotel working the blog and beddy byes shattered will I ever be any good at off-roading I survived today but I am riding my luck a bit to much for my liking.

Interesting Modern designed Church

San Carlos de Bariloche to Gobernator Costa, Saturday, 26 January 2013, Day 207

Tough life on the road you just need to lie down every now and again 🙂

I am riding with Alex and Andrea again which is nice but first I had to find them as they where couch surfing some where in Bariloche and I had arranged to go there and pick them up at about 9am. So I had my free breakfast, which always seems to take longer than planned and I got the bike out of the car park and pulled up the address on my GPS that Andrea had put into it yesterday. I got lost and was directed down some seriously steep dirt roads (Coffee still had not kicked in so that is all I needed) and then eventually I found the road they where staying on but I did not have the house number. You put the house number in when you put the address in the GPS and Garmin and Mr GPS are supposed to get you to the right end and correct side of the street that matches the number problem number one is with the maps I have in my GPS they are never even remotely close so normally on the wrong side of the street and miles away from the number you want to be at especially if it is a long street. Problem number 2 it tells you that you have arrived at the address but it never reveals the number, which of course you cannot remember, so in short yet another shortcoming of my GPS or is it that the  operator is an idiot and does not how to operate it you decide. So I am on the right street but I have no idea which house so the only thing to do is ride up and down and hopefully I will spot Alex’s bike. I do one length of the street no joy a lady stops me and ask’s me what I am doing and or what I am looking for I try to explain but it is  very strange that I do not know the house owners name and or the house number so she is rather suspicious of this strange hairy bloke on a bike with foreign plates riding up and down her street. I do another pass and Alex comes running out of a garden that I had driven by pass twice already so I had not spotted his bike but he had noticed me riding up and down so I had found the Romanian duo so its time to hit the road.

Nice hot day scenery interesting and all in all a nice day we are paranoid about petrol and there not been any so  we are stopping whenever we see a petrol station as we never no when the next one will be and if it will have any petrol so this slows progress slightly but it will slower if we run out.

ever changing scenery

where are we?

      

We have a great late lunch as we plan to do some wild camping tonight and when we arrive at our final petrol fill up in the small town of Gobernator Costa we find out there is a Municipal Campsite so we opt for that as it is supposed to be free its not but it is cheap as chips EUR1.50 so we set up camp out of the wind which has been blowing consistently all day. Its a nice spot and a pleasant evening before an early night back in the tent

Back under Canvas

Gobernator Costa to Pico Truncado, Sunday, 27 January 2013, Day 208

Dammed wind on Ruta 40!

Today both Alex and me are feeling very brave and we have decided rather then head over to Route 3, which is a Tarmac to the bottom of Argentina we are going off road on the infamous Route 40. I am not sure why we are feeling so brave and as you know my off road abilities are crap and Alex has Andrea on the back of his bike making off roading a tad more difficult but yet we had persuaded each other that we should not be wuzzes and had to the hit the dirt. We packed up breakfast at the petrol station and then to Rio Mayo where Route 40 turns from tarmac to dirt and is dirt for 30km and then new tarmac till Perito Moreno then loads more dirt to Tres Lagos but we still had an opt out clause at Perito Moreno to still head across to Route 3 if we did not like our little off road dirt experience.

  

      

We filled up both the bikes and ourselves in Rio Mayo huge piece’s of breaded meat with cheese ham and eggs on it for a late lunch as again we are planning on doing some wild camping tonight.

 

So we are stuffed to the gills as we gingerly make our way onto the dirt road and to help us with this endeavour the wind is really strong and gusting pushing us all over the place which is all you do not need when you trying to find the smoothest part of the dirt road so progress is slow. There is a choice between a dirt track and another dirt track that sort of being prepared for tarmacking and we swopped between the two finding out that the grass was always greener on the one that we were not on.

Choice crap dirt road on the right or crap dirt road on the left Alex takes this seriously so he and Andrea took a closer look no photos of this!

I was already regretting my decision and my rush of bravado to do off road stint as we crawled through the dust counting the kilometres off one by one until we reached tarmac again. On one of the cross overs from one dirt track to another there was the dreaded soft sand on hill which I skirted around but in my mirrors I watched Alex and Andrea hit the dirt and they where down. I pull up park the bike so that it will not get blown over by the wind and run back to help the guys up to there feet. Everyone is ok bike is ok adrenalin is pumping but all is well. The first thing Alex asks me if is did I take any pictures and to be honest as I was running to help them I did think about this being the  perfect photo opportunity but my caring Phill kicked in first and I helped them first and made sure all was alright before pulling the camera out after knowing that they where fine and it was only a low speed off I now wish that I had pulled the camera out earlier 🙂

  

So I was not happy on the dirt and I am guessing that A & A where not that thrilled with miles and miles of dirt so when we hit tarmac the decision was relatively easy to make we are hitting Route 3 down to Fitzroy as it has already taken us nearly 2 hours to do 33km so at that speed we would be in Ushuaia in 2014 so its longer distance by tarmac but this is definitely quicker for us.

Happy to be back on Tarmac

We stop on the Tarmac part of Route 40 to take some fun pictures with the wind and the signs. I had been teasing A & A when they where looking to buy a Route 40 sticker for there bike that they do not deserve it until they had completed the full length of it including the dirt parts as well however after today and as they had seen Route 40 from extremely close up I said that they had earned it 🙂 and they could buy and add the sticker to there collection.

Windy!

So the original plan was to head to Perito Moreno and camp there but as we were now heading to Route 3, which was about 200km we decided as we were back on our beloved tarmac that we would try and take a large chunk out of this bit tonight and we headed of for Las Heras where my GPS was telling there was a municipal camp site and fuel.

We got there at about 8.30pm and filled up and we then went to find the campsite which compared with last nights it was a hole and there were gangs of youths that had been drinking all day hanging around which was most off putting so we soon decided that we were heading to the next town even though it was getting late and the next place was nearly 80km away.

So off we headed on the right looking back there was one of the most glorious sunsets I had seen for while the light was amazing and in front of us was the moon a new full moon coming up over the horizon so I did not know whether to look forward or backwards as we where passing through an oil field with nodding donkeys all over the place and it was beautiful and I really did not care on reaching the next place by nightfall as I was enjoying the light so much. I was trying to take photos whilst driving which was not working for me as I kept getting my gloves in the way I eventually decided to pull over to get a shot of the moon over one of the nodding donkeys from a stationery position which sort of worked then in hot pursuit of A & A which involved over taking a police car we had stopped earlier to ask about camping possibilities and they had said there was a Municipal campsite in Pico Truncado. They where doing 90km and they had a sticker on the back saying 110km so a sailed past at 109km waving politely and when they where out of sight I nailed it to catch up with A&A.

Got to Pico Truncado just as the Sun had gone down still a gorgeous pink light show and there was an interesting sculpture of a dinosaur made of old oil drilling equipment that was dying to be photographed.

Interesting Sculpture but better still the light

Whilst we discussing what to do next another a biker pulled up and walked over to chat with us his front tyre had just blown and he was busy calling folks. Alex had an electrical pump so we tried that but his blown front tyre was not staying up. It turned out the chap name was Daniel and he had a car repair shop a couple of km away and if we liked we could sleep there the night. Wow cheers mate so we follow his mechanic who had turned up to help with the puncture and find ourselves in a huge hanger / workshop in the middle of no where and this is going to be home for the night. The office for A & A and the supply room for Philly and it even had a hot shower on the premises. So after chatting to Daniel and looking at his bike we found the reason for the puncture was that he had hit something really hard and dented and broken his wheel explaining why it was no longer holding air so he was lucky to stay upright but it shows how fragile perhaps V-strom rims are on Argentinean roads that both me and Alex had a quick look and check of ours after seeing the damage on Daniels. After offering us dinner we politely declined we where left on our own in this huge workshop talk about trusting and generous spirit this bloke has for letting total strangers sleep in his workshop.

Home for the night

It was quite late by now but I was buzzing at it had been a long eventual day so we had a cup of tea and sat in the office just chilling for while before pulling out the sleeping bags and mats. Earlier Alex was trying to figure out where he was going to put his tent up and I explained that there was no need as we sleeping in the office and store room I blame this brain freeze on the fall and the long day we had had today but it made me giggle.

Chilling after a long day in an office in a workshop in the middle of nowhere.

We finally hit the sack amongst the car spare parts and oil cans what a strange but great day.

Strange dreams about Police cars or was it a dream!

      

Rio Grande to Cerro Sombrero, Friday, 8 February 2013, Day 220

Bye Bye dirt roads and next to go the bloody wind but will be with me for a while me thinks!

Plan to day was a big mileage day 2 borders crossings and a ferry crossing and head to the free campsite at Puerto Santa Cruz so that is the plan.

Here is the reality did not really get away as early as I liked a leisurely as we know Phillys likes his leisurely breakfast I packed the bike I was a bit concerned about the chain as is making some horrible noises when pulling away there is a tight spot and then it goes slack so I am not sure how to adjust it so I am hoping today will stretch it out a bit more evenly and then I might go for the over tightening it if necessary for a short while to see if I get the tightness out if not slack running and try and to find a new chain ASAP.

Bye Willy of Ruta 40 B & B

Bye Doris she is heading South I am heading North

I got lost leaving town no idea how I do it but this is a reoccurring theme this time I cannot blame the GPS as I ignored it thinking I knew the way out and I ended up in some dead end housing estate being chased by all the local dogs not a nice way to start the day. I followed the GPS this time even though it took me round the houses in my view I finally got me on the right road 70km of tarmac and then back on the dirt for 130km oh my heart fills with joy or is that fear. Wind is not to bad but it’s a bit damp. I am thinking about taking a different route back more dirt but different dirt but in the end stick with the road I had done as I knew it was manageable except for the soft sand bits in the middle.

Never ending dirt roads!

I hit the Argentinian border at the same time as two large busses so queues at immigration take a while and then its on to the dirt 14km no mans land to the Chilean side of the border and its decided to rain. I am not sure if this is an advantage as I can see the cars tracks or the smoother part of the road clearer but as its wet it’s a bit muddier so slippery. Chilean formalities done the name on my temporary import papers is Phillip and Dean as my surname I have told them every time to change this to Beckwith in the system but falling on deaf ears and they say it not important try telling that to some jobs worth copper looking for some extra spending money next time I get stopped.

Cold wet bikers not a pretty sight 🙂

So it is wet so I settle in for 130km of dirt roads doing between 40km and 50km an hour so progress steady as she goes. Just before I hit the tricky bit I see a couple bikers at the side of the road so pull over for a chat in fact this is just a delaying tactic, as I really have no appetite for the sandy bit. I finally hit the road again and the tricky bit is not that tricky at all they must have flattened it or worked on the soft sand bit and before I knew it save for an accident where a car had a puncture and rolled over nobody hurt just shocked I was 15km away from Cerro Sombrero on hard road again and it was about 3.30pm.

I did some calculations and I was still a ferry and a border crossing short and 420km away from my original plan but who cares I am staying here at that nice hostel I stayed in last time and having the same dinner at the same place as last time. So via the fuel station I was checked in said hello to Jose and the friendly dog who lived outside and decided to have an afternoon nap as I cannot remember the last time I had one of these and I certainly needed it after todays off road excursions.

Cute dog and friendly as well!

Later I went for dinner a good feed again and back to the Hostel which was a bit fuller this time as its during the week so full of oil workers so not on my own some this time so first day of heading up north worked out well and it is time for bed again.

Nice Evening for a stroll

Cafayate to Salta, Thursday, 28 February 2013, Day 240

Loverly ride and great scenery!

Nice breakfast in the courtyard no hurry another short run this time to Salta and its already very hot. I hit the road and wow what a road it is even better than yesterday if that’s possible the scenery is stunning. It feels like I am driving through the Wild West gorgeous red rocks and canyons and a lovely twisty road following a river cutting through this wonderful landscape.

      

I am sure its my right of way try telling this lot that!

Arrived in Salta at about 3pm and I found a hotel and asked if they had any safe parking yes they did only problem is that I had to drive through the front door and lobby to access it no problem me as Daisy and I have done this many times before, so it is up the curb up another steep doorstep after removing the panniers to reduce my girth (if only it was that simple for me as well!) a sharp left in front of reception desk then a sharp right watch out for that mirror and Daisy is safe and sound for another night. Chatting to the guy at reception about routes to the Salt flats and he highly recommends the Ruta 40 which is about 150km of ripio (dirt) and I tell him me no gusto ripio (I do not like dirt roads) and he replies quite rightly welcome to South America get used to it which is a great response and he is right I am probably missing loads due to my aversion of dirt roads so I am sort of considering giving the Route 40 another bash.

  

Today is laundry day and whilst this is being done go for a long walk around Salta taking in all of the sights. Another pleasant city and walk and another great day on the bike makes me think on keeping going but deep down I know its time to call it a day as I know not all days will be like today and I will not have the energy to deal with the bad ones so in my head I have set a date of the second week of April and Philly and Daisy are coming home back to real the world and I need to find a job!

Before all of the serious stuff and after collecting my laundry back to the hotel working on this and then out to the main square for an ice cream and another short walk I am enjoying what is left of my trip 🙂

Laguna to Urubici, Tuesday, 26 March 2013, Day 266

Nice run through the escarpment.

I am heading inland today and I am heading in the direction of Lages on the Ruta138 Serra do Rio do Rastro. Jake in Sao Paulo told me about this road and I had read about it on some others folk’s blogs so I was looking forward to an interesting run. So a slow breakfast quick ride along the coast and then a right turn heading for the hills. Its been a while since my GPS and Mr Garmin sent me into the unknown today it decided that Phillys needed to do some dirt roads even though we have had this discussion on numerous occasion that Phillys and Daisy prefer tarmac and has disabled off roads in his choices menu and yet I still keep finding myself in the middle of nowhere on a dirt road and today was no different. A good day in the saddle even with the addition of the odd off road excursions lovely countryside and a run on a gorgeous road through and up and over the escarpment that runs along the coast of Brazil.

I stopped and tried to get some information about Lages at a tourist info place but my Portuguese is non existent and the lady there only spoke Portuguese so with my bad Spanish I managed to get a new destination of Urubici as it got a thumbs up from the lady which I took as a sign that it may be nice. I rolled into Urubici at about 3pm looking for somewhere to stay but all the places I had a look at were very expensive. One I thought had potential and I thought the guy said 30 Real’s which was around my budget he spoke Portuguese only with a speech impediment making the dialog a tad difficult! It turned out it was 300 Real’s not 30 Real’s you are taking the piss mate it’s a Pousada not the bleeding Hilton. Obrigado mate and ciao. I found a nice Pousada, which was within my budget just as it was starting to chuck it down. It rained for a while so I worked on this and the sun came out again so I went for a walk trying to find something nice for my dinner.

I walked for miles again and I found an Italian restaurant just as I was going to resort back to the standard fare so a nice Spaghetti tonight which is just what the doctor ordered. Back to the Pousada chatting to the owner who gives me some top tips and pointers for my route back to the coast tomorrow and I had found another route on Advrider and he added some extras to it and showed me some pictures of this so I am really looking forward to tomorrows ride.

Wild life not so wild!

  

  

Urubici to Torres, Wednesday, 27 March 2013, Day 267

Drop dead gorgeous the scenery not the fella blocking the view in this piccie.

What a glorious day I was driving along and I found myself shouting and screaming at the top of my voice was he angry and pissed off with some local driver again nope it was just pure happiness I was also giggling like a school girl as I was riding along. Why this sudden show of emotion well its the scenery I was riding through which was drop dead gorgeous and stunning and simply breath taking and the sun was shining not to hot and I was whizzing along a road that I knew was a dead end but hey what a dead end 🙂

Morro Da Igreja Pedra Furada

So I had yet another leisurely breakfast I seem to be doing this a lot lately in my real life I never really bothered with breakfast just a coffee and a current bun on the run well me thinks I going to start implementing leisurely breakfast on a daily basis as I am enjoying them. Mandatory photo shoot, as lady at the pousada wants a picture of Daisy and me (Life of a minor celebrity is a tough one I can tell you :-))

Mandatory photo shot for the owners of Pousada Prof Verde

I hit the road and as I already mentioned the sun was shining but it was only 19 degrees C, which is a nice temperature, I filled up Daisy as I was heading into uncharted territory with few fuel stations and first port of call was to a nice little waterfall and shrine called Gruta N.S De Lourdes which was pleasant then onto the dead end road to Morro Da Igreja Pedra Furada which as I mentioned earlier was pretty special. I spent some time here just soaking up the wonderful scenery and wow was it spectacular.

  

I hit the road again heading to Serra Do Corvo Branco which was a canyon that cut through the rock and a sharp descent on a dirt road down the through the escarpment I have mentioned before. Yes yet another Dirt road but this time I knew it was coming and it was planned for not a surprise like previous days.

  

Another splendid run and wonderful scenery the only blot on the landscape was as I was riding along I felt something hit me in the face just below my eye because as usual I was riding with my helmet open enjoying the wind in me face. So this is an usual occurrence being hit in the face by flies but this was different it was bigger and hurt like hell and just to rub salt in the wound it stung me I guess it was a bee that I had just head butted and in retaliation it had stung me. Ouch that hurts I have been stung about 4 or 5 times by bees on this trip usually on my arms as they fly up my sleeves and cannot get them out so they end up stinging me on the arms this time on the cheek bone and boy did it hurt it felt like someone had just punched me in the face.

So the lesson here is to ride with helmet closed and the visor down. Bollocks to that I love riding with my mush in the open so I am going to continue doing this and suffer the consequences, 20 minutes later get hit right in the eye by a fly 🙂

So lots of dirt roads today so I am not making much progress but who cares when the scenery is like this heading back to the coast to a place called Torres again as is much of the planning at the moment based on no real knowledge of the places I am going only that I like the name and the sound of the place.

After another tougher unplanned off road stint I rolled into town and straight to the tourist info place to find a cheap place for the night and I was directed to a nice Pousada round the corner run by a nice elderly couple I have a laugh with them whilst checking in and then for my mandatory wander around the town looking for something for my dinner and again the scarcity of viable options and I end up with a chicken crepe on a stick!

Back to the Pousada working on the thankless task that is phillysbigtrip.wordpress.com I will be happy when I no longer am obliged to do this, as it is becoming quite a chore. So some last minute feedback and appreciation of my efforts here would be nice even if it is just a smiley face and or thumbs up. Daisy needs some love 🙂