January 14, 2003 GMT
100 000 miles...

On the road - Ruta Cuarenta or Route 40 as it is known in English, near El Chalten in southern Patagonia, Thelma clocked up her 100 000 miles today - a great moment and luckily I had bumped into Lance Wiggs (NZ on a 650GS) just 15 miles earlier and so he was able to witness and record the event.

Once I have worked out how to put the pics up I will do so.

Posted by tiffanycoates at 06:31 PM GMT
January 12, 2003 GMT
Leaving Santiago

The month started with a welcome reunion with our second gear, Thelma and I had been coping without it since Quito - 4,000 miles and two months of travelling. I had quite got used to just kicking straight up into third gear but it had made the mud and dirt roads of Bolivia (never easy at the best of times) even more of a challenge. The guys in Santiago eventually got my gearbox operational again - and I have to say a huge thanks to Ricardo Baros of the Horizons Community in Santiago for all his help and patience, particularly his diplomacy during the times when I just wanted to go round and boot the mechanic up the backside!

And then... Ruta 40 - I started off along it blissfully ignorant of the notorious reputation that this road has - yes, I know I am probably the only rider in this part of the World who didn't know that it was the Road from Hell. I had a rude awakening though when I was swept off the road by a 70 mph gust of wind, through all the gravel, into the gully, across the field and then finally managing to turn Thelma back into the wind and onto the road - the startled faces of the land rover occupants heading the other way almost made it worthwhile. After that, it was a terror ride all the way, apparently it was a particularly windy day that I had chosen to ride on! I am proud to report that I didn't drop Thelma once, though it was close at times, tackling sand and gravel combined with those deadly winds.

Close to Calafate, things got nasty when I hit a rock (don't ask) and smashed two big holes in my engine cover -ooops! A pick-up truck stopped to see what was up; once they had ceased scanning the horizon for some errant husband or boyfriend to appear on a bike and actually started to believe me that I was on my own, they took things into their own hands. There was only one option according to them, they would tow me to the nearest house - two miles away.

I was understandably hesitant, and how right I was. Before I knew it, I found myself being dragged at 20 mph on a woefully short piece of rope through the gravel and sand, buffeted by the winds, while the driver spun his steering wheel - occasionally remembering to look back and see if I was still there and amazingly I was.

Posted by tiffanycoates at 06:47 PM GMT

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