Monday, 23 January 2012

la Sarena Chile- Cachi Argentina

South America update on blog 23rd January 2012

We left La Serena after I got my knew chain sprockets and rubber cushes for the rear wheel. It was more expensive than I had expected and I was unable to withdraw enough cash out of a Chilean ATM machine. You can only get $1000 pesos at a time out. The Pesos is currently about 3.3 pesos to a NZ dollar.

The mechanic I was dealing with Bob at Tonino Motos was very good. I now have to carry around a chain and sprocket tell the present ones are worn out enough to make it worth replacing. Not something I wanted to do because of the limited space we have in our luggage. I suspect we are not going to be able to purchase parts easily as we head into the more remote parts of northern Argentina and Bolivia in the coming weeks.

The ride north of La Serena on Ruta 3 (Pan American highway) was interesting in that we were now coming across many trucks lumbering along. The road switched back and forth as we climbed up and slightly away from the coast. The terrain got dry and arid again.
We stopped at a truck stop for lunch. The exterior of the premises didn't look great but all the trucks and pickups were an indicator that the food would be okay. We had a huge meal of fish rice salad all for about $10 NZ. Eating a big meal in the afternoon in the hottest part of the day just makes you sleepy. So I struggled after about an hour and started looking for a more comfortable position on the bike so I could relax. I had to stop and we found shade behind a shelter before I fell asleep.

This old guy glued my boots up in La Serena.

We rolled into Copiopo a mining town at about 5pm. They mine silver,lithium,cooper and probably lots of other stuff by the look of the number of side roads leading off into the desert. We called into a Honda motorcycle shop and were given directions to a cheap hostel. We eventually found it. The place was more like a cells at Nelson Police station with no where to park our bikes.

The bar next door was interesting the sign said it was a restaurant as well. So I looked in the door. There was an older women with half doesn't young ladies, not that attractive they wanted me to stop and have a beer.Not sure how it worked I guess the ladies were there to get you to spend money on beer. We couldn't come to any arrangement for parking the bikes.

An employee of a mining company called into check the hostel out also, suggested we follow him and we ended up at a hoseria a bit further away, which was more expensive but had parking . We had sandwiches for tea.

The start of the ride out of Copiopo was cool, we passed a lot local industry associated with the mining as we headed NE out of the city. Out of the city there are no homes at all. There was no water in the valleys as we headed up to the San Francisco Paso at 4700m.

We passed a couple of Guanaco (bit like a Llama) who chasing each other it went on for some time. They ran right across the road in front of us.
The border crossing to get back into Argentina was uneventful . Which was quite a change from the last few times. Mind you not many were crossing the Andes at this particular paso.

Having lunch at Chilean border.

The gravel was lose and patches of Sandy soft dust as we got close to the top which puts you on edge a bit. Neither of us were as effected by the altitude to the same degree this time. But we didn't hang around because of the cool wind.

Nearing the top of San Francisco Paso
From the the top of the pass the road was sealed. When we got down to the Argentine border control and a guy was receiving oxygen . We were told later that a guy had become unconscious and had rolled his car with his family inside a few days earlier.

We rolled on and rode into a thunder storm which then turned into shower of hail. We both had our one piece suits on. As we riding along lighting was flashing about us. I saw lighting strike hit the side of the hill about 400 m away and burst of bright red flames erupt.
We got down to the small oasis town Fiambala. A stage of the Dakar rally had started here. large sand dunes were on one side of the valley. The local cemetery was covered in sand.480km today.

Cementry at Fiambala

We found a small family owned and run campsite and cooked up some tea. Had late arrivals turn up at 10pm and preceded to make a noise. You also realise you are in rural town with all the people cruising around on small motorcycles with no helmets. We had a chat with a ex German national -Walter who was towing a 1984 BMW Dakar behind his 4wd. He gave us information on the conditions of the roads, fuel,camping which was helpful and just what we were looking for.

Our friendly family run motor camp Fiambala

We stopped at Tinogasta withdraw some more money,Joe cued for 20 minutes to get money, and ate our lunch in the Plaza area and watched the cars and motorcycles go around and around the plaza.

 We stopped in Belen for more fuel and then in San Fernando

 Donkeys all over the place as headed north.

We decided to take a side road and headed up into the Sierra Blanca area desert and very dry.The road actually goes all the way north up toward San Pedro De Atacama. But we were told the road has lots of sand on it and is very difficult. Plus you need fuel for 800km.

 The road tuned to gravel and got worse. We pulled into a workman's camp where a local man Antonia was the caretaker of the building. He let us set up our tents next to building. He offered to give us a room but we liked the cooler tents and no dust and heat from being inside his house. 2900m altitude so good for getting acclimatised to altitude. We had hail storm under the eves of the building while we cooked tea and two nosey chocks to deal with.

Having some lunch after riding in the sand pit.
On the way back through Peno we came across the 2 day enduro event. There were about 35 bikes. They had a prologue and Joe rode the DR650 over some of the course. Not the type of terrain we are used to with stones over sand. Quite neat to see a local event and the terrain they ride on.

We rode later into the evening than we both like to and ended up in a small town called Santa Maria.The towns we passed as we came in were interesting with fords of muddy water pouring through . We couldn't find a hoseria or hostel and settled for a hotel that looked pretty nice, it was more expensive that we wanted. Thinking we would get a good sleep. But a 5 year birthday party was being celebrated in the conference room next to our bedroom. At 12:15 I saw red and went to the reception and tried to speak to the owner an elderly guy who couldn't speak English. I left him knowing what I thought of his hotel. Then went to the birthday party and told them to turn there stereo down.
The next morning the old guy hung around us looking sheepish as we packed up. I managed to get some back $30 pesos before I handed the key back.

22nd January.

Had a photo session with a nice Argentine family before we left

 We stopped off at a old Indian village that has been restored at Quilmes.

 Called into Cafayate(wine growing and tourism) and had a boil up in the Plaza. Met some young Argentine guys who were keen on our bikes and wanted to know all about our journey.

We then a 158 km ride on Ruta 40 mainly on gravel to a small town called Cachi (maybe 3000 pop). The ride in was long and winding and narrow and was more like a farm track in places. The scenery was stunning in places and we got some nice photos.

 Another band playing tell 3 in the morning some where down the road.

23rd January.
Rest day. Joe change his rear tyre its down to the canvas in a few places. I updated the blog. Internet connection is of dubious quality in this town so won't be able to post it.

Monday, 16 January 2012

San Luis to la Serena Chile

Friday 13th  January.

Abit slow to get going. We called into the middle of the city to get some money. Joe managed to navagate us out of San Luis with out any hiccups.
The country side north of San Luis was back to being dry and arid with adobe type houses and very poor agricultural land. We saw mules and lots of old vechicels. Stopped at a service station and the manager who owned three bikes was very helpful and gave us tips on fuel and access to the Valley of the Luna National Park.
We rode approx 450 km today and nded up at San Augustine -Fertile valley. We stayed in a campground which wouldn't make a top ten holiday park ie the swimming pool was green the toilets were a bit yucky and there were ants and large frogs every where.
At midnight a party started for a 15 year old girl. The music was cranking and went on tell 4:00am. I got and walked the three hundred metres to the party and let myself in. About 50 young people and a few adults were dancing. Not that much alcohol involved . A huge birthday cake was on the table.So if your in Argentina at motorcamp in the summer don't expect to get  lot of sleep.

The next day we left early and went to Ischigualasto NP which was about 80 km away. We had tto pay to get into park and then we had to follow the Park ranger around in convoy. The park is famous because it resembles the moon. Dinosurars remains were found there. Unfortnately the ranges whole presentation was in spanish. So we got hotter and hotter and couldn't ride out tell the end. Some nice scenery though.

El Submarine.

We tried to ride through the NP and take a short cut but got turned back after 11km. The rode was have power cables put into it and a guard would not let us through. So we had tto make a 150km detour. Shit.

A small Police station on the way to Valley Union.

 By 6:00pm we started looking for a camping spot and we found a creek near the base of a hill we followed the creek up for 400 metres and found an old hotel that was badly in need of lots of TLC. The property had a guy acting as a caretaker and he allowed us to stay for $7 NZ. The place had a few flies inside and was pretty dusty. The water was of dubious quality. I cooked what little food we had left while repaired his first puncture. A thorn in his worn rear tyre.
The cooker was an element which you poked a wire into the power point  to get electricity . Another hot night in a dusty room.

15th January.

We knew it was Sunday because the caretaker was listening to the Catholic radio station and the sermons and hymns were being played. Nice ride out and over the hill to San Jose de Jachal. Narrow pavement with some pretty good engineering skills to build the road.

 Topped up with just enough food for the day so we didn't have to throw any food away at the Chillain border where the SAD (MAF -NZ) check makes you through away food and meat etc. The store where we got our food also had the Catholic morning radio station on. Flies in the store and shelves weren't that well stocked and dirty. But lots of people in store so it must be okay ?

Our exit point from Argentina was at !700 metres and we only had to wait one hour. The border control staff were all seated at tables under the shade of trees. We had a climb to 4750 metres to get over the Agua Negro pass.

We got up the valley to what we though would be the pass, the road then doubled back and climbed another 1000 metre, the road narrowed and was wet in places from snow melt.We both felt drunk from the altitude..Took some photos and kept going.
We ran into a Swiss couple we met south Chile Chico 4 weeks ago. They were less mileage than us so we will probably run into again soon when cross back in to Argentina in a few days time.

We got down to the Chilean border and had a line of cars going around the corner to the entry point. Most of the people waiting were from Argentina. We expected a delay of 2 hours we were there for 7 1/2 hours A posy of people had words with the officials It was interesting to see how people dealt with the delay .Car horns were blasting in unison. We were told that the road had been closed the day before, so there was more traffic than normal. Some of Argentine people thought it was all political. Chile Vs Argentina. .It wasn't all bad we met some nice people.

Turquesa,Nazareno,Paula and Ramiro just before it got dark.

16th January,

We managed to find a camp site in the dark by the stream running out of the valley. Joe slept under the stars which were crystal clear. I wasn't so keen and put my tent up. We had peaches and oats for tea at midnight.

We had a fantastic choice of oats and jam for breakfast or oats and crackers with jam,  and ants if you needed protein.

Lots of vineyards clinging to some pretty infertile land as we headed down toward the ocean.

We are now in la Serena I'm waiting for some rubber cushes for my rear wheel which fingers crossed will be here tomorrow.


Thursday, 12 January 2012

Heading up the east coast of Argentina.

I'm going to cheat and add exerts of my dairy rather than rewrite every thing. For the last week or so we have put in some big days to try and get north and into the mountains north of Mendoza.. R

Simon: We haven't heard from Simon since the 2nd December. Had said he was going to try and make it. Were still waiting...

Day 31. 3rd January 2012.

We had breakfast with the staff. Rodrigo our English speaking friend and the health and safety officer for Geopark, made another call to the office in Puerto Arenas to see if the tyre had turned up. Had a conversation with Alexandra and Olna via Google translate which was fun. Updated our blog which was good. Tyre turned up at 12 o'clock gave one of the staff $210 US for tyre. Joe's got the same tyre and is getting good mileage out of it so even though it sounds expensive it will probably last twice as long as a cheap tyre. Thanks Salvar.

 We had lunch at Geopark and then left. Had photos with all the domestic staff.

 We held everybody up at the Argentine boarder with our motorcycle entry. The computer had broken down and she couldn't access the information. I ran out of petrol 25 km south of Rio Gallegos. Had to syphon off a couple of litres from Joe's tank. Located a Yamaha dealer as we came into Rio Gallegos and after nearly one hour( Using google translate ) I purchased a oil filter and rear brake pads.. Took us a while to locate a grocery store. Talked to some Police to get the location. While I got grocery's Joe managed to find a local that spoke English get a local map and locate a hostel.

 Nothing much between towns Just dry and scrubby low bush.. A bit warmer up in this part of the world and was sweating with all my gear on. The hostel was very clean and tidy. Sharing a room with an older French couple.

Day 32. 4th January 2012

Woken by our French roommates. The lady was snoring loudly. Nice people though. Gave me there address in France. They live on the NW coast. Said we could stay with them if we come to France. Our hostel was quite close to the motorway so we didn't have any major issues getting out of town. had a head wind as travelled west intaily then north when we got back onto Ruta 3. We then had a side tail wind,sunny all day, which was nice, didn't stop tell we got to Piedra Buena where we had a ice cream and made our selves some lunch 240 km. The hottest temperatures we have had since back in the northern lake district. The old Scottish guy on the BMW1200GS turned up and stayed with us tell Puerto San Julian funny guy he mumbles a lot, his wife has died, but you have to give him some credit hes 71 and not in good health. Joe nearly hit an ostrich and so did I standing in the middle of the road. I was looking to my left where there were about 50 of them and chicks.

I had stopped 100 km earlier and had a coke and felt much better, took my gloves off which helped cool me down.Constantly being flashed by motorist which was kinda nice.The Dakar rally is big news in Argentina and our bikes look a bit like  Dakar bikes. I also think people get a kick out of seeing touring adventure riders.  Rode onto Caleta Olivia a reasonably big town, oil pumping machines operating just to the south as we came into town.The southern side of town looked  rough half Finished homes. and 4-5 story apartment buildings. Nice beach front area and lots of young people walking along sea front
Total distance 720 km. Our biggest day yet .Not difficult riding on tar seal with a moderate SW wind. Scenery didn't change much all day, So it was good to put in a long day.
I stopped by a women getting into her car. Her daughter thought she could speak a bit of English. They offered to take us to a camp ground we went all round town then to a hotel. We got the message across and she took us back too the south side of town to a motor camp which we had seen by the dumb which I intially  thought was closed.180 pesos for a cabana. About $30 NZ. It was $100 pesos to camp on sand. Cooked up some dodgy salami tomatoes plus three potatoes some pasta ravolli with a small salad it was nice. All the butter we had , melted in my pannier.

Day 33. 5th January 2012.
Stopped at a bank as we rode through Caleta Olivia took a photo of a sculpture a man opening a oil valve. Quite windy out by the sea and I got blown onto the gravel. Riding beside the sea for a short while.

Security guard money machine being restocked.

 Rode out of Riveria and kept going for about 160 km tell we came to a service station where we had a boil up and made some sandwiches . Very dry arid country traffic building up.  Bought a Argentina map as our Chilean map is now no good.34 degrees Celsius. Joe completely saturating his shirt in water to keep cool it works for a while.

. Went to a motorcycle shop I bought 3 litres of synthetic oil and Joe bought a rear tyre for his bike. Got the oil for $111US cash,expensive .But I only need an oil change every 10,000km.
 We rode onto the beach sea side town of Playa Union . We went to the first motor camp we could find. Lots a Argentine families on vacation. Sandy base to camp on. I changed my front tyre, ended up putting it on the wrong way, don't think it matters.  Party of some sort going on when we went to bed.  As soon as that stopped the wind picked up. Had to get up and put more pegs in. some packed up and left. Joe got up and shifted his tent also.Travelled about 470 km today.

Playa Union beach front.

Day 34 . 6th January.
I must have left my tent slightly open because I had grit and dust inside tent. Toilets blocked .Rode out to the beach front. Nice beach but windy and cool. Took a couple of photos. Rode 60km up Ruta 3 to Puerto Madryn terrain the same again, baron arid and dry. Dropped down to the city. Cruise ship in the port. Nice city. Reminds me of the seaside places in Queensland . Warm and people on bathing on the beach. Found a hostel quite quickly which was really nice $70 pesos .Booked in here for two days Parked our motos right by front door. Washed our riding gear .My trousers were nearly standing up by themselves. 

Joe and Gaston before the tide came in and the massive crowd arrived.

Day 35. 7th January 2012.
Went out to the Valdez Peninsular today as we left town I was nearly hit by another motorcyclist on a Honda 250cc chopper type bike. Claimed his leather tassel's had caught the wing mirror of a car that he was trying to squeeze through way too fast. . His helmet wasn't done up. Wearing sandals. Very lucky I wasn't taken out  according to Joe.

Went into the NP park and had to pay. Valdez Peninsular is famous for the Orca whales that beach themselves on full tide in February/March and crab baby seals.  Joe and I had lunch outside a cafe. Lots of tourists. Dusty from sand being blown around. Town was Puerto Priamides. Decided to go just to the place where you could see penguins.a distance one way of 170km. The start of the gravel road was dodgy. Loose and difficult to see the contrast and texture of sand/gravel.

Penguins Valdez Peninsular

Memorial to the soldier killed on Malvinas Islands. (Falklands)

. Stopped and spoke to two Argentine young men on Zepella road bikes an Argentine make. Not sure how they are going to get in with overloaded under powered bikes.

 Laden down. Heat wave as we came back into Puerto Madryn I estimate it was 38-40 degrees Celsius.
Day 36. 8th January 2012
Planning day. Dusty. 38-40 degrees Celsius ?. Planned out the next month. Which was good. Sleeping bag dried pretty quickly apart from one bit. But was covered in dust from the sand storm/heat wave.

Day 38. 9th January.

We got going by about 9:50 We were the first ones down for breakfast. Corn flakes coffee and toasted mini mini bread rolls. Hot like a blast furnace as we came into Las Grutas. We stopped by an ice cream shop and used there outside seating to make our sandwiches. Popular holiday spot. people on the beach. I bought some sunglasses for $35 pesos hopefully I won't lose these ones. Hard to pull ourselves away from all the people enjoying themselves at the beach.

 We stopped in San Antonio Oeste for fuel. Had to cue for 35 minutes in the heat maybe more. Then found other service stations just up the road on Ruta 3. Left Ruta 3 here and started heading directly north. We both saturated our shirts with water b4 we started off again. Stopped by the river again at Gral Conesa and wet our shirts. About 30 minutes later it became quite dark and and then lighting started going off toward the north east which was quite neat. Both of us a little worried we might be struck by lighting. Only rained on us for 5-10 minutes.

 Fuelled up again when we arrived in Rio Colardo. Then found a camp site by the Rio Salada o Curaco. 530km today. Some thunder going off as we went to bed. The thunder and lighting was pretty cool. Didn't get much rain out of it though.

Day 39. 10th January 2012.

Not a great sleep. insects bit me. Hot and a group of young people not far away playing music. We were stopped at a Police check point and asked for our documents. Handed over our international d/l. I'm not sure if he knew what it was. Also temporary vehicle import permit. Didn't  stop tell we got to Santa Rosa. The pamper had started. More grass than scrub. We stopped outside a supermarket. Lots of people on scooters getting about with out helmets on. Amused Joe and I. Not sure what the Police do here.  We went onto and eventually decided to stay in a Hospedaje in Huinca Renanco for $210 pesos for both of us. Lots of cropping and beef operations. Couldn't find a camping ground with showers and toilet.Not a tourist location. A rural farming community. Cooked our tea outside opposite the Plaza and across from the hostel not allowed to cook in Hospedaje. Had lots of people steering at us as they walked around the plaza .480km today.

11th January 2012.

We are now in San Luis, 250 km east of Mendoza, Argentina. My bike is due for a 10,000 km oil change. Planning our route further north. Maybe out of computer contact now for quite a few days. Robert.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Christmas and New Year.

We rode onto El Calafate. Battling the wind which has now become a constant reminder that we are in Patagonia and getting further south. From a distance El Calafate looks like a town set back from the near by glacial lake in a very arid environment and didn't look very inviting. The town of El Calfate is quite green and its main industry is catering for the tourists who are travelling 80 km further west to the massive glacial wall of Porto Merino. We by chance ran into Lukas and Whitney on the main street and ended up staying in the same hostel as them. The owners of the hostel were very welcoming and made us feel at home Belena and Dorio. We had Christmas meal on Christmas eve a roast chicken and all the bits and pieces. In between skyping family in NZ.
On Christmas eve all hell broke loose we fireworks going on for two hours. We received gifts from our hosts which was nice.

The next day (Christmas day) we rode onto Puerto Natales. It was interesting to see all the families parked up beside streams barbecuing sides of lamb in the shelter of trees out of the wind. It smelt pretty good as we passed by. We stayed in a hostel that was more like a hotel. Which was nice and got laundry done which is a constant issue.

The next we turned around and went north into Torres Del Paine National Park. We went up to Lago Grey and looked and the huge Glacier at the end of the lake and met our Australian/German friends on motorcycles again. We camped near the start of the trek into Torres Del Paine. Surprised by the number of young backpackers who get them selves to this remote point and do the "W" walk ,which involves walking up the valleys and out again. Very dry underneath beach forest.

     We got early the next day to beat the crowds and we at the Torres Del Paine massif quite. Interesting to see horses packing in food into a NP where a small cafe and backpackers were located. The Torres were pretty cool and I enjoyed seeing the giant Condors soring on the massive up drafts. We went back and stayed in the same hostel in Puerto Natales.
The day after we left a huge fire started in Torres Del Paine NP. Everybody was evacuated. Apparently a Israeli backpacker started a fire in a area that was not a designated area.hes been arrested.

At Pueto Arenas we had to do some servicing on our bikes. I changed my back tyre for one that we found sitting in the car park at the hostel car park Puerto Natales a really Pirelli tyre with a small whole in it. I also had to get some welding done on bike where the  bash plate attaches to the frame. I also located another bolt for my clutch lever which had rattled out. The corrugations have taken there toll a bit. Joe changed his oil.

That evening Joe and I went had a beer with Salvar Harambour at his home. Salvar is a member of the Motorcycle web group adventure riders ADV and has been helping me get a front tyre sent down from Santiago to fit my bike. Lovely family and we enjoyed there company.There daughter Camila is world BMX freestyle champion.

The next day we caught the ferry onto Terra Del Fuego over to the town of Provenir. Met up a Japanese couple on a BMW1200GS and a German guy on a KTM990. We ate takeaway at Porvenir and decide to make a run for Ushuaia. A trip of 450km for the day.
Came across a landrover that had rolled just before had arrived on the gravel road fortunately nobody was hert. Tailwinds as we headed west. Which meant Joe's bike started to run hot. Fun racing the cloud shadows. We had the dust actually blowing from behind us and up into bikes.
We got to the San Sebastian Chilean boarder which had 120 people plus trying to get down to Ushuaia. Terrible ques and an in efficiency. That took nearly two hours to get your passport stamped. My passport is now fill of Chilean and Argentine stamps with the number crossings have had.
Tierra Del Fuego has surprised both Joe and I with its contrasting scenery, flat wind blown tussock country to alpine passes with lush beach forestBoth of us have enjoyed the ride there.

We stayed in a over crowded hostel in Ushuaia. Ushuaia is a busy place with the recent arrival of a cruise ship and smaller ships that go out to Cape horn and down to Antartica. We rode out to the end of Ruta 3 and into Tierra Del Fuego National Park and took the  obligatory photo.

We had hoped to run into a large gathering of other adventure motorcycles. There were other riders about but scattered all over the town.
We camped in a camp ground which is also home to the Ushuaia rugby club. This is Argentina.

At the camp ground we met Mark (Maxvolt) from NZ who had started in Buenos Aries one month before. He had spent two months learning Spanish and he was pretty good.The other 4 people were from the UK. Really good evening drinking a few beers and a couple of red wines.

Feeling abit under the weather Joe and headed north hoping to find a hostel open in Rio Grande. Everything is closed including the hostel. We headed on into the wind and stopped 5km north of Rio Grande. We got speaking to a Argentine family and there friends and shared some mate (tea but tastes abit like tobacco). We were invited for tea at Roberto's place and he helped us find a camp site. really nice to spend time with a local family and try and converse in English and Spanish
Were now staying at old farm homestead that has been bought by Geopark a oil and gas exploration company that Salvar manages waiting for my tyre to arrive. Just south of Rio Gallegos

Patagonian winds

Leaving Puerto Natales for Punta Arenas i was in two minds whether to fill up the fuel tank. I had 250km on the trip meter and it was going to be around another 250, should be fine really as I have 650- 700 km range with the safari tank. I decided to play it safe and top up though just in case.

Half an hour into the ride I was clad that I had a fill tank of gas, not because I was worried about running low on fuel but because the big load of 36 litres was heavy and the winds were so bad I was worried about taking off! In fact it felt like I was operating a light aircraft rather than a motorbike as I continually made adjustments due to "wind speed" in order to keep the bike pointed down the middle of the road. The wind was nailing us from the side and was the worst yet requiring some insane lean angles just to maintain a straight direction of travel. On coming traffic must have been concerned about changes in gravitational forces as we approached at an uncanny lean angle.

Out in the treeless landscape we found some shelter from the wind in a tiny bus stop and had some lunch. Someone had kindly left us some beers which we enjoyed later that evening! Our direction of travel changed and the raging storm that was battering us was transformed into a surreal peacefulness as we drifted along the countryside with the surrounding air at over 100km hr. it's an unusual feeling of weightlessness on a motorbike without the force of the air moving past and our muscles enjoyed the rest from the wrestling match with mother nature.

As we neared Punta Arenas things got real interesting, scary really. The wind had reached new velocities. Our focus normally directed at avoiding pot holes, corrugations, deep ridges of loose gravel and rim denting rocks was now on anything that intensified or disrupted the nasty side wind. Bridges, causeways, road side barriers and oncoming traffic etc all had us bracing for a violent jolt that if not ready for would have you on the wrong side of the road. A particularly bad section of road had a concrete separating wall about a meter high and uniformly down the centre of the road where some road works was being carried out. The wind was hitting this short wall and eddying over it so the bike felt like it was travelling down a standing wave of air and the turbulence had the bike and us shaking violently.

It was with relief that we made it into town without any mishaps. The next day we heard that the wind speed had been recorded at 137km which is even a tad high for these parts!