November 30, 2005 GMT
29th Nov 2005 - Mendoza + Catheuta, Potrerillos, Vallecios (ski)

Mileage - 152 kms


Well the first job today was to get Nik's bike to BMW Mendoza for the allocated service. very dissappointing lack of fresh coffee, donuts or croissants...not like the UK at all !

I guess they must get a few travellers through as they plainly didn't have any interest in the bikes or where we had been. Mind, if you've got a garage full of BM M5's and the like they're clearly not going to get much from us.....well if you exclude the price they've quoted Nik for a rear tyre.

They had a nice range of bikes in the showroom, obviously an affluent area as there were two 1200GS's and an 1150GS in the service area too. Mind the 1150 was in bits, and the 1200 had been the day before for whatever reason. Seen a couple of old airheads around town too, nice old R75/5 particularly. Anyway, not an inspiring place to be really, just necessity. Nik tried to make sure he was getting what he wanted before we had to leave. I'm used to having Bev on the back but it's weird having a different pillion, it's not that Niks heavy, it's that Bev's light. But at least we're able to help each other with the two bikes and so we came back and had a late breakfast.

As Nik was planning updating his blog (see for more piccies and tales of the three of on the road) we checked it was OK for Bev and I to pop out for a spin for a couple of hours. When you've ridden together so much it seems odd to go out alone, and it seems right to seek approval.

Anyway, part way up the road to Chile was an off-shoot that looked interesting. It was spied on a cartoon type map on the apartment's wall, not detailed on my map Although it meant we would cover some ground all of us will do soon, it was the only means to get to the side road.

Within 10kms we were back on the plains with the Andes looming high above through scattered clouds. The view was surreal, as there is a huge petrol refinery there too. So basically it was Teeside dumped in the desert with the Andes behind. Odd, flare stacks and snow capped mountains.



The road after the bit of plain wound round behind the closer lower hills and onwards towards the real Andes themselves. I have to admit to a touch of sentimentality at this point, as when the Andes loomed into view so close I could feel my emotions well up and my eyes dampen. Daft old fool !


The Andes!

Now, here, this was our adventure.

The plains etc are all well and good, but this was what we came for, and here we, and it, were. Such a good feeling riding on well (generally) surfaced roads winding upwards towards gigantic snowy mountains. The adventure is unfolding.


Gated Access

We took the minor road and gained some exellent views, and then took an off-shoot of that towards the ski slopes. The road got worse, the tarmac ended and the gravel track was quite hard riding. We stopped to drink in our surroundings and marvelled at the variety of alpine flowers blooming....well it is spring up there I suppose ! Many recognisable types, but many not.

Our final bit of excitement was Bev spotting two huge birds circling the sky ahead. They weren't too close but not too far away either, but plainly huge. With the binoculars they were clear enough to be confirmed as Condors. I'm sure we'll see more, and closer, but that was a sight to treasure as it was.

Back down to base as we didn't want Nik thinking we had either crashed, got lost, or buggered off. I took Nik down the road to show him the view, the one with the refinery. He grew up with his parents around Redcar and Saltburn so knew he's appreciate the contrast. I wouldn't tell him why he had to see the view - apart from in case the weather came in and it wasn't there again, but I knew he'd got the joke when I heard him laugh as the refinery came into view....

Posted by Simon McCarthy at November 30, 2005 10:49 AM GMT

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