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  #1  
Old 2 Jul 2010
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Red face Santiago to Ushuaia - how much dirt road?

Making the trip from Santiago to Ushuaia this November and need advice on road conditions/tire choice. Wife and I traveling 2 up on 1200GS - does not handle sloppy mud very well. We will be using the Santiago - Ororno - Eqs - Punta Arenas route (ie mostly Argentina 40).

So the question. How much tarmac and how much dirt road is there on this route and where is it? Need to know if I should switch to knobbies in Santiago or stay with the Tourances.
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  #2  
Old 2 Jul 2010
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About 50% of the patagonoan R40 in agrentina had been gravel last year.
The argentinians pave more and more-so it might be only 30% gravel left (which is sad) - Later in TDF there are about 300km gravel.
You won´t need a real cross-knobbie, but a tire with a bit more grip on gravel might help. There is wind and there are cows, horses,guanacos and sheeps which randomly cross the route...
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  #3  
Old 5 Jul 2010
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From Santiago to Pto Montt is all tar if you want it. If you're crossing into Argentina at Mamuil Malal (ie from Pucon and heading for Bariloche by the beautiful 7 lakes route) there's a hour or so of dirt road either side of the border then another hour or so after San Martin (although they were building roads here when I was last there 2 years ago and it could be in v good condition or even tar here now) (Timings depend on photo/swim stops and your cruising speed of course!)
After Bariloche you can avoid a good deal of the gravel by hopping off RTA 40 onto Rta 20 ( I think it was) then Rta 21 to Rio Mayo (Numbers might be wrong but the route'll be obvious on a map) After Rio Mayo it's gravel most of the way to Tres Lagos if my memory's working, although there were a lot of stretches being tarred/ graded 2 years ago. If you're heading into Chile for Torres d P there's a stretch of gravel to the border, and inside the park, otherwise new concrete all the way to Pta Arenas. If you're not going there (Why the hell not???) it's tar to the ferry at Pta Delgada then bad gravel to San Sebastian (the inland route not taken by trucks is generally slightly better - veer right when the concrete road bends left and follow the small signs - someone please correct me if there's now a better way!)
After San Sebastian it's tar all the way to the end of the world! (Well, at least to Rio Pipo camping!)
I reckon for those stretches, put up with your normal tyres. Rta 40 can be slippery if it rains, but it dries real fast, and it's stunning in it's desolate isolation if you're having to go slow and camp before your destination. Rereading your question, sloppy mud will generally not be a problem - it's all hard packed. Just greasy when wet!
Have a fantastic time. This is my favorite region in the world.
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Old 5 Jul 2010
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Some corrections: Got my old maps out:
It's rta 20/22 to avoid the gravel at the Rio Senguier section of rta 40.
Sections of road from Perito Moreno to Bajo Caracoles already tar and more was being laid when last I was there.
From El Calafate south, the rta 40 route is unpaved from El Cerrito to Tapi Aike. Fine in dry weather but if wet go the long way via Esperanza - all tar.
Incidentally, does anyone know how much of the Carratera Austral (Pto Mont to Cochrane) is concrete now? I used to travel down it regularly - arguably more beautiful than rta 40, but certainly more liable to rain, and it was all gravel then?
Safe travels.
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Old 6 Jul 2010
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Mossproof,

Thanks a lot for the info. Here was me thinking it might be all tarmac by now. Guess I will just have to ditch some weight off of the bike and go for it. (Difficult posting the wife home though).

Cheers
JB
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  #6  
Old 6 Jul 2010
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You can easily avoid all the dirt, gravel, sand, etc. from Santiago all the way to Ushuaia with the exception of the stretch to San Sebastian. Get a map and puzzle it out--you'd head directly over the pass to Argtentina, then work your way across to ruta 3. However, these routes are far more dull, subject to the same sorts of ridiculous winds, and riding all that pavimento disqualifies you from bragging about how difficult it was when you meet other riders. What's the use of that?

There are a slew of giant GS machines on ruta 40 and its brethren. There are swarms of bicycles, too. It's not as hard as it's often made out to be.

My very vague, highly suspect memory is that the Carratera Austral is about a quarter paved, the rest mostly pretty good dirt. Only a few sections of the dreaded ripio bermed deep around ruts.

Hope that helps.

Mark

(from the small country immediately to the north of the Great Southern Continent)
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Old 6 Jul 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post
My very vague, highly suspect memory is that the Carratera Austral is about a quarter paved, the rest mostly pretty good dirt. Only a few sections of the dreaded ripio bermed deep around ruts.
I recomand the carratera austral! we did it two up...
(but not on a GS ...)
we drove also parts of the 40
with knobbies, but all depending on the weather and the graders...
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  #8  
Old 6 Jul 2010
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Go with Tourances or similar 'tarmac' oriented tire - longevity on pavement is better than having knobbies for the bit of dirt you do (and less vibration, less tire noise on pavement).

You can do the entire distance Santiago to Ushuaia on pavement (except, on Tierra del Fuego, the Chilean portion) - if you don't do the bit from Baho Caracoles south to Tres Lagos on Ruta 40 (this, IMO, is the worse stretch). And that is now probably close to half paved.

And if you just keep your speed under control, this stretch isn't so bad. Its when you're doing 100kph or there abouts and you go from one sort of gravel to another (thin and hard, to deep and soft for example) that seems to be the problem for most people. They get complacent, speed gradually increases, and wammo - big winds, lose gravel, maybe a off-camber corner - and bike or body is bent and broken. Otherwise, Ruta 40 isn't that hard.

And BTW - Ruta 40 is more like 75% paved, less than 25% unpaved and shrinking fast, and that's the entire length. There's spots in the north, north of Cafayate, that are as 'bad' as in the south. Just not as windy.

Doing the Caratera Austral isn't a solution - you still cross back into Argentina and ride the Bajo Caracoles to Tres Lagos portion.
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  #9  
Old 7 Jul 2010
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There you go! Stick with the tyres, and the wife! The Chileno highway south from Santiago would leave you with no knobbles left by Pucon anyway
Unless the weather is really dire, keep to the west further down. By far the most beautiful and rewarding. As the others have said, you can get practically to TdF on tar/concrete but why reach the destination without making the journey?
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