Tag Archives: dirt track

Ciudad Victoria to Ciudad Valles, Friday, 26 October 2012, Day 115

Got lost and ended on this dirt track that went on forever

True to my word I headed into the mountains in the direction of San Luis Potosi as this took me away from the coastal plains and into the mountains. I am not going south but the roads are more interesting and it is cooler the higher you get. A lovely ride checking all of the Petrol Stations that I pass and they all seem to be open for business and selling petrol weird I wonder why I could not get any petrol yesterday in the couple of places I tried need to keep an eye on this perhaps it was only a local issue and I am well passed it now. I fill up in a place called Tula then a change of direction to a town called Ciudad Valles which is South as I am trying to get past Mexico City on the West and I trying to do I straight line down to Guatemala where I plan to do some Spanish lessons as I think I am missing out on loads in not being able to speak the local lingo does anyone know or can anyone recommend any language schools in the Antigua area?

Heading into the hills!

Tootling along enjoying the ride in the country and the cooler weather when Mr GPS says turn right! No road only a dirt track. I decide to ignore this and hit the detour button and keep going on the tarmac road that I am on. 5 km later it is directing me onto a dirt track again so I check GPS to see if I have dirt track option disabled. Yes I do so what to do? do I have another fight with the GPS or just see where it will take me and hope its only a short bit off road.

I am in the middle of nowhere completely on my own some I have being riding the dirt track for a while and I am hoping it will turn back into Tarmac soon I could turn back but I have gone to far to consider this the track is doable but it does gets tricky in places so I am crawling along making very little progress as we all know my off road skills are non existent at the best of times and I had been riding for a while so I was already tired. I am regretting turning of the Tarmac and I really need to revisit my onward and forward motto as it seems to be getting me into a lot of trouble lately. I find a gorgeous stream so I stop for while to catch my breath and to build up my courage for what I hope is the final push towards tarmac and the civilised world I have seen nobody for what seems like ages.

Lost but who cares when its like this

Finally after about 15km I hit the Tarmac again and the easiest run into Ciudad Valles. I turn into the road for the Centro and see a nice Hotel Pine (Pineapple), which has a secure car park at the back and is cheap as chips and also has a reasonable decent restaurant attached to it so this is going to be my home for tonight.

It has been a good day in the saddle and I had some fun trying to feed myself first for breakfast at a roadside café chatting in pigeon Spanish with the 3 nice ladies working there I managed to order 3 quesadilla as I know what they are and also tried a gator with chorizo salsa which was also nice and for my dinner I managed to get a bifstek Mexican which was a nice stew so I am well fed today.

View from Hotel

I went for a wander around town then to my room to work on this and it is still not up to date! And I just realised its Friday night!

Quito to Macas, Monday, 24 December 2012, Day 174

Guess I am in the Amazon!

I had sort of arranged to meet Alex and Andrea, Joop and Fred for Christmas and the place was to be Cuenca. The problem was I had forgotten what day it was and thought I had an extra day to get there but nope it was going to be a one-day dash this should be doable especially with my navigations skills! I got out of Quito no problems thanks to my updated GPS maps that actually seem to work which was very strange for me as it has been a while since I had a clue to where I was 🙂

  

Nice run and the plan was to have a late breakfast early lunch in Riobamba as it is supposed to be a nice place. I did not like Riobamba that much so I drove straight through it and hit recalculate button on the GPS and I followed the instructions out of town through some little villages nice roads but I am not sure I am going in the right direction but I had new found faith in my GPS and surely it would not let me down and the road was great so I kept on going. Then it did it usual trick of turn left in 100 meters but there was no left turn! So kept going then it started telling me to do a U turn that I eventually I did and went back to the spot where the left turn was supposed to be. Yes there it was hidden behind the bushes was a dirt track leading into the mountains. Bugger if I am going down there check my Garmin settings to see if dirt track had been disabled and they had so Mr Garmin think this is a road. So I did what I always do in this situation I am not going to go back to Riobamba as I had done 50km already and so I just kept on going on this  road that was actually quite nice.

      

The signs where saying that this road was going to Macas and on my GPS it sort of looked like it was going in the right direction but I had forgotten that there are huge mountain ranges here with very few joining roads but onwards and forwards and at this point I had settled on the fact that I was no longer going to Cuenca but to Macas so lets have a look in the book and see where it is and if there is anywhere to stay.

Well it turns out its in the Amazon! So after driving through the Sangay National Park on a beautiful road cold and wet but very enjoyable it got down to 11 degrees at one stage so I had changed my gloves and put on a jumper for the first time since I am guessing Canada and there where a lot more trees and every so often huge lookout towers with great views when the clouds cleared. This is when I realised I was heading into the Amazon as there where huge signs saying Amazon. Well I was certainly was not planning on coming this way but its rather nice and Macas was going to my new destination for the night. About 25km out of Macas the perfect tarmac turned into a dirt track so it was off-road for the last hour or so and it started getting hot again as I descended into the Amazon cursing my GPS as I bounced down the mountain. I finally hit tarmac and Macas and I started looking for a Hotel the first one nice enough but no WI-FI next one had a swimming pool that I was never going to use but was reasonable enough so I settled in there and went for a wander now it is back up to 30 plus degrees so I had temperature variations of more than 20 degrees and my poor body has not got a clue what is going on 🙂

  

view from Macas

This evening entertainment is a pizza and watching the locals play volleyball I say volleyball but the net looks a lot higher and there are 3 on each team however its great to watch.

Back to the Hotel and a marathon update of this blog and I also found out that Fred and Joop did not make it to Cuenca because of bike trouble but Alex and Andrea had so plan to join them for Xmas. Yes it Christmas eve but it certainly does not feel like it.

Is it Xmas certainly does not feel like it!

Macas to Cuenca, Tuesday, 25 December 2012, Day 175

Merry Christmas from the Amazon!

looks like Philly is lost again 🙂

So I guess Santa does not deliver to the Amazon as there was nothing in my sock this morning except a bad smell. I did a Skype call to the folks to wish them a Merry Christmas and its back to the business of travelling to the point of South America. I was going to make a second attempt to get to Cuenca and meet up with Alex and Andrea. I had look at Google maps and there was no direct route I had to go South and double back however according to my GPS there was a more direct route through the mountains. Mmmm who do I believe I will make it up as I go along, as that is what I usually do 🙂

  

I grabbed some breakfast before I left town, as I did not want to be in the same position I was in yesterday hungry and nowhere for food. Gorgeous winding road through the foothills of the Andes and on the edge of the Amazon hot but okay as long as I kept moving this went on for about 100km I was really enjoying myself confident that its was going to be tarmac all the way to Cuenca. Then Mr Garmin GPS says turn right in 100 meter oh here we go again sharp U turn into a dirt track with a barrier that was open but a sign in Spanish saying Dangerous road enter at own risk. Mmmm another car pulled up next to me and the driver told me that yes this was the road to Cuenca. I ask what is it like his response was not bad and he points at his car saying he can do it in this so in other words I am wuz if I do not at least try. How far I ask is the road not bad response 60km so that 3 times further off road than I did yesterday and a good 2 hours hard slog. Oh well lets go for it, bouncy bounce Merry bloody Xmas of I set at between 20km and 30km an hour odd bits faster taking it easy as the surface was continually changing from hard compact mud to gravel to deep gravel to serious muddy mud up and down hills single track no track and everything in between. Biggest humiliation was being overtaken by the local bus but fortunately I had left my pride at the beginning of the track 🙂 Later on I saw the same bus in the distance and I was even slowly catching up with it and was keeping up with it for a while was I getting better at this off road malarkey nope the road was getting worse and worse yet my pace was not slowing so maybe I do have some talent for the dirt.

  

Trying to keep up with the local bus!

To add to my misery (Its not really that bad) I kept getting chased by dogs so here’s is me trying to keep the bike upright through whatever the terrain was kicking out and running along side me snapping at my legs are angry dogs. This is certainly a different way of spending Christmas. Later it got cool and even started to rain a bit making the road a tad more difficult and then after 2 hours plus of full on concentration I finally reached tarmac and an easy run into Cuenca to Hostel that Alex and Andrea where staying at and I was checked in bike parked in the hall and then I went for a quick wander round the town with Andrea before it got dark. That evening another Pizza (Its Xmas and that all that was open that’s my story and I am sticking to it :-)) and we watched a film called taken or kidnapped with Liam Neeson so finally a typical Xmas activity stuffed and watching a  film on the goggle box.

Xmas with Alex and Andrea 🙂

So that was my Xmas how was yours?

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

Villarrica to Futrono, Thursday, 24 January 2013, Day 205

Detour led me into this loverly Farmyard unfortunately my off road skills (lack off) meant I could not go much further!

As I have mentioned earlier in this blog the problem with Chile is that there is only one main road through the heart of it called Route 5 everything is off this road but normally you have to turn off go to the place and come the same way back as the connecting routes are non existent or dirt roads. So I wanted to spend some more time whizzing around the lake district but I did not want to too keep heading back to Route 5 for each different lake so again Philly was going to be adventurous and go of road so that I could spend more time round the lakes than on the motorway.

So after a good breakfast at the hostel headed to Pucon another place I wanted to see and  I hit the road hoping that road I was going to take was doable but the first thing I needed to do was fill up and find that road which I did eventually. First part was flat and gravelly and dusty but doable I was past by a couple of cars kicking up a lot of dust making visibility difficult but I pressed on. Then the road was blocked and you where then diverted on to a grass track that took you through a farmyard. Also manageable but I thought I had better check with a group of people who had pukka Motocross bikes and ATVs that they where prepping about the state of the road ahead. The first response from a young lad in all the pukka motocross gear was yes it was easy with a smirk on his face so I thought I had better ask a grown up which I did and he looked at me looked at the bike and he had seen me come gingerly into the farmyard and he said I think the road will be to difficult for you and your bike. He looked like he might know what he was talking about and then he pulled out his iPhone and showed me pictures of the road and various ATV struggling through mud and the odd stream crossing that is when  my decision was made it looks like I will be breaking my cardinal rule of onward and forward and backtracking to Villarrica but it was gorgeous where I was so I decided to continue a bit further to the hot springs and turn around there. There was a sign saying 39km to the town I was heading for and it was 109km via the paved road and again back on route 5 bugger and dam my lack of off road talent but looking at that blokes pictures it makes me think that I made the right decision,

Pukka equipment may help with the off road stuff

So back the way I came and then to another lake I chose this one because it was not in any of the guidebooks so I thought it may be less touristy but as was in the lake district it would still have some touristy facilities and I was right and I found myself in a nice little town called Futrono I even liked the name and I found a great little affordable hotel the town that I think it had two hotels this one and one big posh one according to the nice ladies at the small tourist office so I settled in and went for a walk, At this lake a completely different vibe than Villarrica which was a tourist town this was a lot quieter and I liked it I walked to the lake and around the town and grabbed some dinner and then later sitting in the garden of the hotel working on this. It is a bit disappointed about my off road shortcomings but there is not much I can do about that and I am in a great little place so lets just enjoy that 🙂

Lago Ranco less touristy lake in Chiles Lake District which I prefer

Cerro Sombrero to Rio Grande, Sunday, 3 February 2013, Day 215

Phillys under arrest by the Argentinean Police and very relieved by that fact 🙂

Dirt roads bring them on after a good night sleep I am ready for anything well that’s what I thought and as you can see by the title of this post I failed to make it Ushuaia 😦

I had breakfast and then I tried to find the final short bit of tarmac south but I got lost but I was helped by a nice policeman who led me to the right road. 15km then a sign saying Fin Pavimento so its dirt roads for me for  the next couple of hours 😦

End of tarmac dirt for a while oh great joy!

Weather is dull and overcast wind is getting stronger but it is on my back so that is okay and the scenery is interesting. As for the road this is a mix of washboard corrugated iron surface which shakes Daisy and me to death and or rocky stony gravel which is a bit better as there is route left by car and lorry tyres that is a bit smoother. But then I hit a place where they are working on the road and they have had the huge road smoothers out and I hate it when they do this as in my view this makes the terrain harder and less manageable for motorbikes and the nice smooth track left by larger vehicle’s is gone so slow going. Then the universe thought lets really take the piss out of Philly and Daisy and there was a perfect concrete road running parallel to the crappy dirt track but it was not yet open and or not easily accessible. I was chatting to a bloke on the ferry and he told me some bikers where killed on this trying to get on the new road and every couple of km there where sections missing so I decided not to risk sneaking onto the new road. The dirt track had turned to soft sand and it had been raining heavily all night so this was the most difficult part so its down to a snails pace for this section.

Dirt roads mine and Daisy’s favourite NOT!

Finally I hit the Chilean border and by now the wind was getting stronger so had to try and find somewhere out of the wind to park Daisy or she would be blown over while I went and did the Border formalities.

Daisy sheltering from the wind at the border

Quick and simple and then 15km to the Argentinian side of more dirt roads also simple only problem was the wind was getting stronger and scarier.

So final push to Ushuaia back on tarmac road again heading to Rio Grande where I need a cashpoint and some petrol. Both are easily found the problem is the wind it is getting stronger and stronger and more and more unmanageable. Driving through town I keep getting hammered by strong gust of wind and I am having difficult in keeping Daisy upright whilst filling up with Petrol.

So I thought as long as I kept moving I was fine and out of town the wind would be more manageable and I determined to get to Ushuaia today. What a total arse I am!!! Gingerly I made my way out of town jumping the traffic lights as I did not want to stop just in case I got blown over and then at one stage I was blown over 2 lanes of traffic and I was no longer in control. I get out of town and I am struggling to keep Daisy in her lane and I am physically trying to pull her into the right lane using her weight my weight and all my muscle power that I process but I am failing miserably and I keep moving uncontrollably into the oncoming traffic and that’s when the penny dropped that I was no longer in control and shouldn’t be out there. DICKHEAD!!

So what do I do I was scared shitless fighting a losing battle and getting tired and more scared as I inched forward I did not dare to stop I did not dare to turn round as I would be on my arse in a blink of an eye all I could do was look for some shelter but as I had left town and was now in open country so there was no obvious place to stop. Heeeeeelp!

In the distance there was a police control post and two policeman so I managed to get there and stop there with these two guys making sure that Daisy and I did not fall over so it was taking 3 of us to keep Daisy upright due to the wind. One of the coppers says “I advice that you do not go any further as it dangerous”. Really officer! I had concluded that as well just recently and I was totally done in scared shitless and exhausted and it took 3 of us to manhandle Daisy out of the wind and returned to their little hut.

So this is where I met Alejandro and Harnen my two favourite policemen in the whole world and pretty high on the list of my favourite people at that moment they had rescued Daisy and me from the clutches of the wind which was going to seriously damage both of us if I was to continue.

It was about 3pm and the guys told me that the wind should drop at about 8pm that evening so I settled in for a long wait as I was going nowhere just happy to be alive Daisy was parked behind Alejandro car with a big metal bar holding her upright.

Sheltered behind Alejandro car and huge stick to stop her blowing over and she still moving which you can not see in the picture!

      

So I spent of the day chatting with my new friends drinking Mate first hot and later cold with orange juice learning the whole ritual about Mate which is local drink and custom http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mate_(beverage) and it is quite sociable.

The guys should have been checking the vehicles as they past but due to the wind they where having an easy day as it was pretty impossible to stand out in the wind and any documentation shown would be blown to Antarctica before you knew it.

So just chatting in Spanish Alejandro chatty Harnen very quite loads of questions about how much living in Europe cost, as Alejandro was only a policeman as a temporary measure and was studying mathematics and was going to be high school teacher once he had completed his studies so was fascinated by economics and numbers. Unfortunately Philly has no idea what anything cost or the price of milk so I was not much help but did my best in telling him in my bad Spanish about living in Europe.

We had a visit from the Desk Sergeant so I met him as well and then back to the Mate and the chatting.

During the day more Bikers came through and each time they would be advised about not travelling further because of the wind and it was amazing how many people ignored this advise and kept on going the arrogance or the ignorance amazed me. Others joined us in the hut so in the end there where 6 bikes.

Just to give you an idea how strong the wind was 2 Chilean bikers where stopped and given the advice and while talking a gust of wind picked one of them up and his bike and blew them completely over. They listened to the advice given 🙂

So very gezellig in the hut and before I knew it was 8pm and I been there 5 hours but the wind still showed no signs of abating. There was change of shift at 10pm so said goodbye and thank you to my new friends and hello to the next shift of police who where much more serious. At about 10.30pm me and 2 Columbian brothers Julian and Daniel Ruiz decide the wind has dropped enough for riding back to Rio Grande to try and find somewhere to sleep for the night its dark the wind is still gusting but you can ride and control your bike sort off!

First place closed second place bloody expensive and then we find Ruta 40 B & B and Willy which is reasonable so we have shelter for the night it 11.30pm Daniel has managed to get some Roast Chicken for dinner and we are safe and sound enjoying a meal together.

Late night as still buzzing from the day I had just had I did not make Ushuaia but I was just happy to be in one piece and I will try and will complete my goal tomorrow as the wind should have dropped by then (Oh god I hope so as I am so close!)

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