TRIP INFO BOX
Route: Villa Union, Argentina – La Rioja, Argentina
Travel Time: 5 hours
Road Conditions: Good Tarmac
Weather: Warm, Sunny
Terrain: Dry, Mostly Flat, Passing Mountain Ranges, Long straights
Food and Petrol: Patquia, La Rioja
Accommodation: Hotel Savoy, La Rioja
A couple of kilometres out of Villa Union, at the town limits, we get stopped at a police control post. We tell the officer we’re headed for Chilecito via the mountain pass. “Not today, not possible,…” the pass is closed for dynamiting and road repairs, but it’ll be open from about 7PM tonight.
We hate the thought of back tracking to La Rioja, but we don’t want to stay up here for another night so we go to La Rioja!
We have to trace back our arrival route (ruta 76) about 120Km on flat, featureless terrain until we join up with the ruta 150 heading East. Strangely though, there is one huge rock astride the street which seems totally out of place.
This takes us all the way around the south of the mountain range we were hoping to cross directly over. Where we pass the mountains there are some impressive cliff faces, but then the terrain turns flat and monotonous again along the ruta 38.
Ruta 38 provides a gorgeous asphalt track though, on which you can motor down into the green planes surrounding La Rioja. Straight as a ruler and silky smooth!
Several hours, a service station and a helpful push from a friendly by-stander later, we reach La Rioja.
Finding accommodation in La Rioja proves more difficult than we expect. We ride around for over an hour, up and down the one-way streets, hardly able to identify any hostels, hotels, hospedajes with rooms available… and those that we do find are very expensive! 200 Pesos or more!
But finally I manage to get us a twin room for 150 Pesos at the Hotel Savoy (are you kidding??) two blocks away. Thank goodness for that! It’s not cheap (relatively speaking), but we fully appreciate the hot shower and stiff, clean bed sheets on our beds and a substantial buffet breakfast with good coffee!
1. We stop in at a bike mechanic on our way into town (Frontera Motors). They’re cool guys, friendly and honest. They check the problem and concur that the coil-thingy (solenoid) must be the issue, and replace it with a new one. I also get them install a new front brake lever, which snapped off when I dropped the bike. 150 Pesos later (30 for labour) I’ve got a working bike and a spare clutch lever as well, since it comes as a pair with the brake lever.
2. The bike fails to start - Just what we need. This is becoming a bit of a joke now. I get some passer-by to give me a push and we stop at a Honda dealer (Lucera) around the corner. I give him the history, he does some checks and determines the battery to be a problem. A new one (and they only have the Honda original) will cost me 500 Pesos – that’s about 70GBP – OUCH! Taking advantage of someone in need I take it…
Pictures: Villa Union to La Rioja, Argentina – Feeling Down …
Our Worldwide Motorbiking Experience Notes: India, Laos, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil