There was a few miles where the road was unpaved and about a two miles of that was really bad washboard. When we stopped to look for a place to camp Ian noticed his iPhone that was mounted on his handlebars was gone. The washboard road loosened the bolts on the mount till it fell apart. The three of us rode up and down the stretch of road searching for it. Riding in low gear Ian’s radiator started leaking. The washboard stole his iPhone and cracked his radiator. Since there was a lot of foot traffic on the road I continued searching for the phone before someone else could find it. It was hard to spot but I eventually found his phone in the middle of the gravel road. When Ian rode up it felt good to give him some good news. Before sundown we started looking for a place to bush camp for the night. We found a nice spot on a hilltop overlooking the valley. With a few bottles of wine and pasta, we had a feast.
When I woke up in the morning I realized the bush camp we had found wasn’t as good to me as I thought. Somewhere on the way in I picked up a thorn in my rear tire which caused my rear tire to go flat for the third time on the trip. I pumped it up and it was a slow leak so I rode to the next town to have a shop fix it so we could get on our way faster. In Argentina tire shops are called “gomeria’s”. I can’t remember the name of the man who ran the shop but while he worked on my tire his son, Franco, was curious about my gear. The repair only cost me $2 and we were back on the road. But not for very long.
Only 10 minutes out of town Ian had to stop as his radiator was leaking, again. He poured in a stop leak powder he purchased in town and we rode on but a few minutes later his KLR was overheating and leaking. This was the beginning of a long day.
After he thought he had fixed the leak we continued riding but less than 15 minutes later his bike was overheating. We stopped to let it cool down and when he went to start the bike he had no power. Not even a headlight. Obviously frustrated at his bikes problems, Paul and I tried to help troubleshoot the problems. Paul is tech savy and quickly started going over the possible electrical causes. The morning turned to the afternoon and there was little progress. Nothing was making sense with the electrical problem and he still had the radiator issue to fix. Ian was afraid this might be the end for his trip and said we could go on as he didn’t want to hold us back. In the hot afternoon sun I was tired of waiting around and thought about moving on. I didn’t think I had much to offer since I know little about electrical work. But the more I thought about it I decided I’d stay. The three of us had been having a good adventure over the past couple of weeks so why let a few hours of bike problems stop that. Plus, I thought it’s good to not be on my own schedule all the time. After tearing his bike apart for 3 or 4 hours it turned out to be a loose battery connection. Doh! It was now later in the afternoon and the temps had dropped so Ian wanted to see how the bike would ride. We left town and made it about 30 minutes when it overheated again. Looking in the radiator Ian thought the stop leak had perhaps clogged the entire system. With little options at this point, Ian and I flushed out his radiator on the side of the road.
The stop leak was in fact clogging his radiator. Less than an hour later at 6pm we were finally on the road south. In the 9 hours since we had started we had traveled less than 60 miles.
We rode on Ruta 40 until the sun set behind the mountains. With nothing around but endless desert we easily found a spot to set up camp for the night.
It didn’t take long for the morning sun to heat up the desert landscape which had us wanting to get moving fast.
The highway worked its way over a mountain pass where we had to wait for construction crews to clear the rubble after they used dynamite to break a part the rock.
Down from the mountains the road once again was flat and straight. Ahead of me I could see the sky turning dark. But it wasn’t the typical dark grey storm clouds. This was something different. A few minutes later I was riding in the middle of a sand storm that blocked the sun. The strong winds in the valley were blowing everything across the road. I imagined I was trying to outride the apocalypse.
Just as we rode out of the worst part of the sandstorm I felt the feeling I’ve become all to familiar with. A flat rear tire. I found a place where there was some protection from the wind and got to work. Ian and Paul helped which made it faster. The cause of this was the rim tape wasn’t put in place properly at the tire shop the day before, exposing the spokes to the tube. I should just stick to doing my own tire repair. Anytime someone else does it there’s always a problem a day later.
The rest of the day was more great riding.
Before sunset we rode about a mile or two down a dirt road off the highway and then up a dry river bed and found a good spot to camp. We had the tents set up in a few minutes and enjoyed exploring the area and watching the gorgeous sunset.
In the morning we only had two hours to ride to Mendoza so we stopped in a small town for a quick breakfast. The restaurant we picked ended up being a two hour ordeal. The owner was an older women who was the most talkative person I think I’ve ever met in my life. It didn’t bother her that we couldn’t understand half of her questions. She kept talking. This woman was a character. She told us all about her life, her kids lives, and her dogs, before she would even take our order. Trying our best to be polite but at the same time hurry up the process of getting our breakfast. After an hour we eventually got our eggs and coffee. Getting out of there took another hour. She certainly filled our morning with laughter as the three of us sat the table asking each other if they understood what she said.
Next I’ll take you to the vineyards of Mendoza.