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Day54-Clawing our way over the Andes!, Sat, Feb 19, 2011

Border Crossing #13; Crossing the Andes at 35 MPH!

Start & Stop: Osorno, Chile to Esquel, Argentina

Mileage:  331 miles

Hotel: Hostel Residencial Sky, San Martin 981, Esquel, Argentina – 180 Peso ($44.80 USD)

Fuel: $716 Chilean Peso /l liter ($1.51/1 liter) or $5.72 per gal!

Currency Exchange: $1 USD = $4.02 Argentine Peso

Dean: Some days start with more challenges than others.  Mine started at 6AM and as I pack my V-Stromski in the dark, I insert the key and the key doesn’t go anywhere.  The same key that I’ve started the V-Stromsis for the last 54 days!  It will not turn clockwise (to ignition) or counter-clockwise (steering lock).  After 10 minutes of jiggling, shaking, bouncing, torquing, finessing, squeezing … I pull out the silicon chain lubricant.  Spray the lock, spray the key, spray everything attached to lock and key and still no ignition.  Now it’s another 10 minutes of jiggling back-and-forth and up-and-down and still the key will not budge.  After 30-minutes of all the above, the tumblers finally engage and the key turns to ignition.

Lisa: Yup.  Why should this NOT happen?  I had to laugh.  Not only did we wake the entire hostal clomping down the wooden stairs in MC boots, carrying huge bags that banged against the wall, then we stood in the courtyard talking and slamming cans and saddlebags around.  Nice touch.

Dean: I was able to leave Osorno doing 50 MPH.  The road was flat and meandered through rolling farms and lush green countryside.  After 50 km the rolling hills change to low foothill then to mountains.  We are down to 35 MPH on the long uphill sections, up to 65-7o on the downhill runs.  All this is within the 3-4K RPM band.

We spend 30-minutes in the Chile Aduana (immigration and customs) getting ourselves and motocicletas out of Chile.  The aduana windows are numbered Step 1-immigration, Step 2-Customs & Step 3-Trucks.  We only have to go through Steps 1 & 2.  We spend another 30-minutes doing the same on the Argentina side.

And here’s where the day changes!  The east side of the Andes the slop is not as steep as the west side.  There were a half-dozen long downhill stretches.  For the first 2-hours, the RPMs are locked in the 2-3K band.  Anything above starts the power loss and choking, sputtering.  At the top of these downhill grades I very slowly increase the throttle to try and get the RPMs above 3K.  On the fourth downhill grade, I got the RPMs up to 4500 RPMs.  4000 RPMs in OD is 70 MPH!!  I got the engine to run at 4K RPMs, 70 MPH without lugging down.  I was able to run 65-70 MPH from San Carlos de Bariloche to Esquel!!

To top the above, it was a beautiful day.  Warm, somewhat windy.

Lisa: Indeed, nothing like getting all jazzed about breaking the 70MPH mark. Holy cow.  I know this is not his fault and I also know that Dean is working his butt off to keep that pig rolling but anyone who knows me knows that this is Chinese water torture.  I am riding sweep and there’s something special about riding a motorcycle while getting passed by a tour bus the size of Rhode Island that is also towing a huge trailer.  Yes, it’s a special kind of hell.  About the only things*we* passed today were 125 scooters riding 3 up.  And THAT was touch and go.

Dean: I lust for 70 MPH!  This is a different 70 MPH than you are used to.  All of you get to 70 MPH with rapid gear shifting and rapid throttle acceleration.  I get to 70 MPH by turning the throttle very, very slowly.  Most of the time the engine slips into the loss of power mode in which I have to drop the RPMs back and start the slow acceleration all over again.  Sooooooo, passing anything is almost impossible.

Lisa: But, like a lot of other things on this trip: toilet seats, makeup, manicures and hair dryers, to name a few, I’ve just gotten over it.  So I turn up my music, try to get comfy in a relaxed sort of riding stance and then work very hard to never make eye contact with the smug drivers who are blowing by me like I’m standing still.  Because, after all, in the world of riding, I AM standing still.

The good news is that this is a really cute ski town and in the off season it’s still bustling. We enjoyed a nice dinner (yes, a real meal) at an outdoor table and then went for gelato. I am breaking out of the box people.  Alert Nordies that I’ll be shopping in a different department when I return.

Dean: Tomorrow we continue south to Comodoro Rivadavia.  This is the east coast of Argentina.  We have been warned of the extreme winds in that area.

9 comments to Day54-Clawing our way over the Andes!, Sat, Feb 19, 2011

  • Yes, guys, the infamous Patagonian winds await you! Also the 150kms of dirt through the Chilean dogleg and back into Argentina. May I recommend the “inland track” aka the “locals road”, from Cerro Sombrero to the ARG border? It’s easier, and far less broken up than the main (dirt) highway with all the truck and bus traffic on it – according to the locals, anyway. And I agree, as I followed the locals’ advice and did it twice, no problems at all, however it is very remote with barely a homestead to break the glorious scenery.

  • John C

    Dean may be the luckiest man alive, blessed to ride with a person with a wonderful sense of humor. Never a dull moment, right Lisa?

  • Tim Yow

    You guys are keeping me on the edge of my seat—I hope that Osorno was less foggy for you then it was for me–I couldn’t see 10′ in front of my face. You will always remember this trip in vivid detail. I’m glad that you’re rounding 3rd.

  • Alex Harper

    It sounds like Eowyn is growing faster than you two are moving! I keep thinking. Some weird chunk of debris jammed in some as-yet unidentified widget will break free, and Dean’s Strom will suddenly jump to lightspeed. Good luck… May the gremlins get board and bail out on the ride.

  • Don’t worry guys, the winds won’t get REALLY bad until you get south of Comodoro Rivadavia. This is the last big town you’ll see.

  • PuppyChow

    Look at ‘em go! :)

  • Ray D. KD6FHN

    Hey Dean, put pedals on it. You could do 70 on those steep downhill grades on a bicycle. Thank goodness Lisa has music to listen to. I can picture her mouthing bad things to those cars & truck drivers passing you. Wish I was there to witness it all. What an experience. I am so envious.

  • OMG! Tears streaming down my face on your last posts. I hope you’re going to shoot that lame horse at the end of the ride. You have to put it out of your collective misery! Glad you’re both still chugging along though. It’d be cool if Dean’s bike actually makes it all the (albeit slow) way. Good luck. Hang in there. (pictures please!) xoxo

  • Jeff Gallagher

    Ok, we are all having a good laugh at your expense. I’m days behind in reading. You might already be home!

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