Argentina 10
December 31, 2009 GMT
Injuries & Dakar Scrutineering

December 2009 Update Argentina

With the bike safely tucked away on transport to Buenos Aries it was our turn to pack and bid farewell to our family of helpers in Rosario de la Frontera explaining we would return before we departed Argentina early in 2010. A few South American countries enjoy ‘Cama Buses’ which provide almost fully reclined seats allowing patrons to sleep on the lengthy bus rides. The recliners are larger than aircraft seats and the position was quite comfortable in our injured states.

The crew from Dakar motors were waiting and our good friend Karl sent us a text offering to collect us from the Retiro bus terminal in Buenos Aries. Arrival by car was not as much fun as the bike but it was really great to meet up with Javier and Sandra again plus hook up with a few travelers who were bunked down at the workshop. We had been away from Buenos Aries for nine months and all our plans went accordingly except for the last week. Our first night back and what better way to enjoy….a quality asado with Karl, Ilona and the three boys. While we were away however, there had been an addition to the family with the birth of Saskia, ‘a girl at last’ exclaims Ilona.

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Unloading bike Buenos Aries

The delayed delivery of the bike caused a few problems but it arrived unscathed other than some tears in the wrapping. Damage was minimal from the accident but we had organized some parts to be sent to Buenos Aries to complete some overdue maintenance. Steering head bearings, swing arm bearings, cam chain, fork oil/seals and new gaiters plus a full service. We were hoping to get all this done before the Dakar Rally, however our problem was time and the physical limits of our injuries.

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Ian & Vanessa (UK) departing Dakar Motos

Time for more medical checks. Carol’s original X-rays were reviewed and she was given the all clear with nothing broken, just badly bruised ribs. X-rays and a CT scan revealed that I also had a fractured scapula plus a small quantity of blood in the right lung which they wanted to drain immediately. The cost was very expensive and approval from our Travel Insurance was needed however our attempts to ring them failed. Because of these cost concerns we were directed to a ‘free’ Public Hospital nearby who could do the necessary operation. Examining the X-rays and Scans the Doctors recommended that I return tomorrow to see a Thoracic Specialist as the injuries were not life threatening. At 2.30 am our Taxi ride back to the Hostel was a nightmare with the driver continually falling asleep and swerving across several traffic lanes. Good thing the roads were quiet at that hour. Back at the Hostel around 3.00 am we Skype called the insurance company in Australia who recommended we attend another Hospital for assessment.

Hospital Aleman was number four. All X-rays and CT Scans were checked again by three more Doctors. Two more fractured ribs were located from the existing X-rays however the resident Thoracic Doctor advised the blood in the lung did not warrant an invasive drain. The persistent gurgling heard was slowly diminishing and the belief was the blood would go by natural means. The current sling in place for the dislocated shoulder would also act as a support for the fractured scapula. I liked this Doctors report. We confirmed that our conditions were not serious and it was OK to travel, not by motorcycle however.

Our original plan was to attend the Horizons Unlimited meeting in Viedma and this clearance now gave us the chance to bus the 700 kms south. Javier and Sandra had already left along with most of the travelers for the meeting but Annette (NZ) on her Suzuki DR650 was patiently waiting at Dakar Motos on our return from the hospital. Her journey to Viedma began at 5.30 am the next day and we followed her progress via her ‘tracking spot.’ Very trick. She made the distance with time to spare.

Another overnight Cama Bus and we departed Buenos Aires at 9.00 pm Friday arriving at the campsite around noon after a second bus to La Condor on the coast not far from Viedma. It was great to finally catch up with Andy and Maya (Triumph sidecar) who had been in contact with us for several months. They were riding the Trans Amazonas highway (Brazil) while we were boating it up the Solimoes River (Amazon) in Brazil which as the crow flies was not too far away. Meeting our good friends Chris and Sylvia from Switzerland again was a great laugh and Markus our Salar de Uyuni companion was also part of the gathering. Paulo our guide and helper from Sao Paulo, Brazil was also there. He decided that after ten years of work and no holidays it was time for a long ride. Canadian Chris who we met in Cusco, Peru. Brian and Marie from Canada who we keep bumping into. Fabrizio on his sharp KTM 950 finally made it to a H U Viedma gathering. Sebastian and Marisol who tried in vain to keep everyone from knowing we were coming and the ever sarcastic John from Finca Rita, San Rafael. He left Annette ‘home alone’ to tend the farm. Hope she doubled his work load when he got back.

Dust storm

Paul (AUS) John (UK) Andy (UK) Maya (NLD)

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Sebastian (DEU) Marisol (ARG) Marie (CAN)

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Tony (DEU) Sylvia (CHE) Chris (CHE)

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Marisol (ARG) Sebastian (DEU)

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Fabrizio (USA)

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Chris (CHE) and Chris (CAN)

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Sandra (ARG) Javier (ARG) Marisol (ARG)

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Ina (DEU) on her BMW650 GS

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Tony (DEU) on KTM 990 sidecar

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Markus (CAN) and Chris (CHE) La Condor campground

The traditional lamb asado had been organized by Oscar and his wife Nancy and we joined them in their 4 wheeled transport to the restaurant. Shortly after arriving a lone motorcyclist on a very loaded KLR650 rode past the gathering. A lot of shouting and whistling the traveler wheeled around and joined us. Paul, another Australian, beginning his South American sojourn had ridden straight from Santiago, Chile to join the festivities. During the meal a dust storm moved through the area. Not pleasant so we moved into town and enjoyed an ice cream before returning to the campsite. The afternoon, evening and much of the next day were spent talking and sharing information. Maps were spread out around the camp tables under golden wattle trees discussing the best and worst roads to travel this great continent. Then it was photo time.

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Golden wattle over Andy, Maya and Triumph sidecar

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Sylvia & Chris R80G/S (CHE) Lorraine & Kev R1200GSA (UK)

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Tabea & Frauke R80G/S Rebecca & Ekkehard R100GS (GDR) Marie & Brian R1100GS (CAN)

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KLR650 talk, Markus (CAN) John (UK) Javier (ARG)

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Chris (CAN) Paul (AUS) KLR650’s Bjorn (DEU) BMW650

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Tony (DEU) KTM 990 sidecar

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Annette (NZ) DR650

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Group photo less Annette who was sleeping!!

On our return to Dakar Motos work began in earnest on the bike. Brian and Marie arrived and I borrowed Brian’s muscle to do stuff out of bounds for my recovery. Javier had plenty of work to keep him occupied. Crawford from USA who we had met in Cusco and Uyuni arrived in Buenos Aries at the end of his journey and was organizing a week of sight seeing with his wife Toni who also bought with her some purchases we had made in the USA over the net. We met up with them in the city and enjoyed a snack with a commitment to come and see them in the USA when we eventually get there.

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Carol inspecting the work

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..and there was a lot to do

As usual bike travelers were coming and going and this always creates an exciting environment. Some amazing bikes at extremes of the poles in the way they were set up. This also side tracked us from the tasks at hand and I could see the start of the Dakar looming and we would not be ready. On top of this neither of us were up to tackling a long hard ride physically. Carol’s bruised ribs were a constant concern with my belief being the diagnosis was incorrect. Her movement restrictions and pain after three weeks were of similar magnitude to mine. Confirming this with another Doctor’s appointment was of no value as she was doing everything required to nurse them back to health be they bruised or fractured.

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Igor Brezovar (SLO) R1100GS a lot of luggage

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Igor Brezovar (SLO) R1100GS That is the front!!!

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R1100GS unloaded heading to airport with very tidy KTM 990

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Eduardo and Graciela

Bjorn, who we had met at the Horizons Unlimited meeting, revealed that while traveling Australia he had met an Australian girl in Brisbane of some renown as an overland traveler. Danielle was coming to Argentina for a holiday to share Bjorn’s bike for part of his journey in South America. A few quick emails and we were rewarded with a package from home including some Tim Tams, Vegemite and Australian flag stickers.

At 3 ½ weeks a check up at Hospital Aleman and the all clear was given with my lung and the healing fractures. Another few days and I would start much needed physiotherapy. Christmas Eve we heard news that Annette (NZ) who we had only met a couple weeks before at Dakar Motos had crashed on a dirt highway in Tierra del Fuego while trying to reach Ushuaia for Christmas. Information was sketchy but we located her in the Rio Grande hospital and spoke to her on Skype as the hospital had a wifi connection. Her injuries almost mirrored mine but were far more severe and in addition she had a head knock with possible concussion. A drain had also been inserted into her lung.

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Valerio (ITA) Honda 400

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Gionata Nencini (ITA) Honda Transalp

Christmas day and we were joined by Javier, Sandra, Fagundes, Julian and one traveler Valerio from Italy. We enjoyed a great asado although our conversation returned to the plight of Annette. Sandra contacted Graciela the previous owner of Hostal Argentino where a lot of bike travelers stay in Rio Grande and within the hour this fantastic person had visited Annette with her English speaking son to offer assistance in any way. We were speaking to Annette on Skype saying there would be someone coming in to offer help when Graciela and her son walked into the room. This was Christmas…….2009.

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Julian, Javier, Sandra, Carol, Don and Natalie Hatton

Don Hatton (CAN) rode in the 2009 Dakar and we were introduced by Javier and Sandra the previous year. Don had a major crash near Neuquen in the 2009 race. He had taken most of the year to recover but got knocked down by the dreaded swine flue just as he was building up for his 2010 Dakar. Still, he and his small team were here again to ride the big race so we contacted Don and his wife Natalie just after they arrived in Buenos Aries and joined them for dinner with Javier, Sandra and Julian. Great conversation and great people and we wished them every success in the big race.

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Dakar rally 2010

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Garry Connell’s Husaberg

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Garry & Ken… a wet day

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Wet and dismal

Scrutineering of vehicles for the Dakar started on 29th December. Happy Birthday Carol!!! We had already been in email contact with the three Australian riders. Garry Connell #117, Christophe Barriere-Varju #121 and Rob Pollard #122. Karl and his youngest son Sven joined us as we roamed the grounds of La Rural before arriving in the scrutineering hall. Bikes due to enter the hall were lined up in Parc Ferme and we spoke to Garry Connell as the rain drenched the bikes and crews waiting patiently. Inside the hall we heard an Australian accent and made a typical Australian challenge to Ian who was part of the back up team for Bruce Garland and Harry Suzuki.

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Rob Pollard’s bike not yet checked or numbered

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Bruce Garland’s Isuzu waiting

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Subaru’s entry

They won their class last year in an Isuzu ute (pick-up) and were back again better equipped hoping for a repeat performance. Unfortunately Ian was on the other side of the barrier and we could not join him, but within a few minutes he joined us with Steve, a member of the support team plus a representative from Isuzu Thailand. Ian also provided us with a couple of wrist bands to cover the next days of scrutineering. These little bits of plastic gave us access to the vehicles and riders/drivers as they entered the hall.

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Scrutineering queue

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Nice paint

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Labeling/numbering time

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Bruce, Steve and Harry

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The route

Karl joined us in shifts as young Sven was not allowed into the secured arena. We met up with the remainder of Garry’s team (Husaberg) and also Rob and Alana Pollard (KTM). A great afternoon and evening with plenty of pictures.

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Administration/control centre

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Sven, Karl and Carol

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Sergio Pascual (ARG) KTM 690

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Javier Pizzolito (ARG) #73 Honda 450

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Jonah Street (USA) KTM 690

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Garry Connell and part of his team

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Nice paint job

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Getting stickered

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Rob and Alana Pollard

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Getting stickered #122

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Crossing podium after scrutineering

After a dose of physio Karl collected us again and we drove into La Rural for day two of scrutineering. Frank (IRE) had also arrived in Buenos Aries to do a four week ride in South America and his good fortune was he had the chance to see a day of scrutineering plus follow part of the race. A spare wrist band and he was able to join us on the other side of the barrier. Although it was a sunny day, we spent most of our time indoors photographing the vehicles as they flowed through with Carol collecting signatures from various competitors on a souvenir t-shirt. Javier and Sandra arrived later and a spare tag had Javier behind the fence taking in the action. It was dark when we arrived back at the hostel. Tony (NLD) was waiting after extracting his bike from customs that day. He rode a Harley Davidson towing a 200 litre (44 gallon) drum on wheels as a trailer. Strange rig. He also was here to follow the Dakar and volunteered he had several Dutch contacts racing this year.

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Bikes going through scrutineering

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Buggy #316

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Unknown competitor

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Unimog #533

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Last minute problems

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David Fretigne (FRA) Yamaha 450 #12

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One of the few BMW 450’s Frans Verhoeven (NLD) #8

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Getting David Fretigne’s signature

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Renault support vehicle

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Lock pliers!!!

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Numbers to go

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Carol, Karl & Frank (IRE) Mirjam Pol’s bike (NLD) Yamaha 450 #44

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Don Hatton (CAN) KTM 690 (Honda #73 beside caught fire on start day)

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Waiting on the starters order

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Tony and H D plus trailer (NLD)

The last day of scrutineering I had to call it quits and continue work on getting the bike ready. The race started the next day and there was still several hours’ work to be completed. Physically we were about 90% fit but I was not confident we could tackle the rigors of following the race for sixteen days. Carol ventured into La Rural for the final day of scrutineering. Garry Connell had given us two passes for the last day however Carol went in alone as everyone else was busy with work. Overland travelers were preparing to ride to Colon, the first day of the race. Carol returned with tales of meeting many of the top riders along with several drivers, some who were previous Dakar bike riders. Talk about a fun time and I regretted not joining her for the day.

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Cyril Despres (FRA) KTM 690 #2

Cyril Despres

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Cyril Despres

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Kamal Merkit (TUR) KTM 525 #55

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Christophe Barriere-Varju (AUS) KTM 690

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Chris #121 (AUS) KTM 690

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Camelia Liparoti (ITA) Quad

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Nani Roma (ESP) BMW X3 & Luc Alphand (FRA)

David Casteau (FRA) Sherco 450

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Paolo Ceci (ITA) Aprilia 450

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Very expensive McRae

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Back up truck

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Nani Roma (ESP) BMW X3

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BMW X3 of Nani Roma

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Stefan Peterhansel (FRA) BMW X3

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Alfie Cox (ZAF) Nissan

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Alfie Cox (ZAF) Nissan

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David Casteau (FRA) Sherco 450 #3

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Francisco Lopez (CHL) Aprilia 450 #9

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Jordi Villadoms (ESP) KTM 690

The last Australian rider was passed today, Christophe Barriere-Varju #121 revealing that this year he had little sponsorship and would attempt the race without backup. A brave effort but he was not alone. Several riders attempt this in a separate class including Kamal Merkit #55 a Turkish rider we had met at the dinner with Kevin Saunders Globebuster team at the end of last years rally. Carol’s favorite dare I say was Annie Seel #76 (KTM) from Sweden. We believe the person who built her bike was also the mechanic for Garry Connell’s Husaberg. Carol returned around 7.00 pm exhausted. It was New Years Eve and we had to decline Karl’s invite for an asado as I still had a lot of work to do on the bike. Tomorrow was race day and we were still not ready.

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Marc Coma (ESP) KTM 690 #1

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Marc Coma last years’ winner

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Annie Seel (SWE) KTM 525 #76 Nice helmet

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Another great paint job, Camelia Liparoti`s helmet (ITA)

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Paola Ceci’s helmet (ITA)

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Robby Gordon’s (USA) Hummer & backup Hummer

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Robby G’s backup trucks

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Ever popular Robby Gordon

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Robby G’s number plate

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Carlos Degavardo (CHL) Other Hummer driver

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A busy Parc Ferme

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VW Touareg Team

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Annie Seel’s bike #76

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Patiently waiting

After much deliberation we decided to leave when we could and catch the rally along the way. A difficult decision but neither the bike nor our bodies were quite ready. An extra couple of days could make a big difference.

Posted by Ken Duval at 05:25 PM GMT

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