3 April - KM's travelled – 35
Thirteen may be unlucky for some, but not this fine fellow. Today was the day that I was reunited with Idris. An 8:00 start with a Taxi to the airport to do the necessary under the expert eye of Sandra from Dakar Motos. It may be due to me being completely zonked when I arrived from the airport, but the long mad dash back this day has, at times, my heart in my mouth. And I am used to Spanish driving! Clearly I´d need to take great care on my return trip.
Aside from another heart stopping moment when the papers showing the bike had arrived could not be located (I could have almost kissed the bloke who popped his head round the door with another bundle of documents – well, perhaps not – but you know what I mean). Shuttling from one office to another, and waiting around, and before I knew it they were opening the crate, and there was Idris in tip top condition. While the extra week has been a bit frustrating, you have to give James Cargo their credit – they sure know how to pack a bike. A satisfying bark, backfire, and the thumper roared into life. Nice! A bit more paperwork, payment, and handshakes from the nice customs chap and I was on the road. As it turned out Sandra´s directions back were perfect, and the rush hour traffic had eased back to only major congestion, as opposed to manic gridlock. 35 minutes later i was back at Dakar Motos chatting to the guys and asking Javier if he could wield his much experience in Idris´ direction to finish off a few things I was unable to get to.
Andrew and Ben from Taz (and me)
While Javier rolled up his sleeves, I was back in the city centre sorting out the insurance for most of the South American counties I will be visiting (and some that I´m not – same price), getting to the bank, picking up a few last minute supplies, and making a call on the great people at the British Council in BA.
Then back at DM, it was time to pack and have a few beers with the guys, ready for the off the next morning.
Thought for the day
Today I have mainly been thinking about packing, the bike, and the route. To be honest I have not managed to process any other issues that may have sprung to mind. How very thoughtless of me!
4 April Kms travelled – 741
After packing the night before and saying goodbye to the guys at DM, I was ready for the off at 8:00 – but it was around 10:00 before I finally cleared the main city traffic, despite some nifty filtering, and having to give one car a slight kick just to remind the driver that I was not some phantom figure, but real flesh and blood. It was also hot! It also tried to rain, but not so much that would have a cooling effect, but just enough to add to the sticky humidity that surrounded the city that morning. I was mindful of the thunder that accompanied my departure from Barcelona. Does this mean that it is going to be hot and wet every time I encounter an unwilling exit – because despite its faults and the fact that I am not a fan of big cities as a rule, BA gets under your skin. If you ever get the chance, try it out, you might like it too!
Javier at DM furnished me with probably the best route south, for the first part where there are some options at least. The word is that the Ruta 3 south is pretty much one of the more boring rides around. I can understand that this would be a particular anticlimax for anyone coming to BA at the end of a great adventure. But for me the adventure is just beginning, so I viewed a few easy days in the saddle as a welcomed boost, to give me time to get in the groove, and iron out any bike or packing issues. Hmmm, easy days?
Passed the airport and it was on to Cañuelos (205) then to Saladillo (51) and Azul. Remembering to fill up at Olavarra (76) as there was pretty much nothing beyond that point until reaching the evening destination at Sierra de la Ventana, a pretty collection of hills that reminded me of Mid Wales, with some excellent camping. The word was to avoid Bahia Blanca.
My camp site was on the southern side of the range, at Asuara Camping – though despite the clear signs from the road, I still had to ask the locals how to find the entrance (which was tucked away on the other side of a dry river bed). A dinner of milanesa and papas awaited, alongside good wifi, for A$35.
Thought for the day
These hills and the good camping appeared in some way as a reward for a long day in the saddle. The 50kms or so of strong winds (by European standards) after Olaverra were a sign of what was ahead. It appears that the wind is not reserved to Patagonia. My planning, even after the first day, was in error. Any map belittles the scale of this country and your ability to make rapid progress. Though the hilly reward did allow me at least an hour of riding where I really started to feel one with the bike. Idris and I are off!
These blog entries are being reposted from Pat's website [link] in an effort to draw more attention to his fundraising efforts with UNICEF. You can help Pat reach his goal here [link] as he continues to ride throughout the Americas. Follow along daily for updates.