April 10, 2009 GMT
Let's Go To Work. Or Bed.

27.3.09. Santiago, Chile.

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Having timed my arrival in Santiago to coincide precisely with my birthday - and been out by only a day, idiocy buffs - I sense raucous behaviour on the horizon. The fact that my good pals Drew (who lives here), C (here for a job interview) and John (here photographing Iron Maiden) are all in town increases my disquiet.

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Birthday-eve is a fairly simple matter of an ocean of booze and so on.

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The day itself ends (at 9am the next day) in an unattractive assault on a NAME OF INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS HOTEL DELETED minibar and a rather coarse disregard for house rules. Rock And Roll Bastards!

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Oh splendid!

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I curl my fingers at the very thought, but C takes the bus to Valparaiso as there's no room on my bike. No room at the Inn for the baby Jesus, no room in 1939 Germany for the Jews, no room on Saturday Night Live in 2009 for an actual joke.
Er, anyway, she gets there and we "hook" up with my German pals, Oli and Silke, to watch World Cup qualifiers in La Playa, a tear-wringingly beautiful old-time bar in El Centro. I'd love to watch the England game, but I'm outnumbered by Jerry, and happy to support them as they topple a weak-kneed Wales. I gave up supporting the "home nations" years ago. If you're Scottish, you'll support any team against England. The same goes, to a slightly less fanatical extent, for Wales. If you're from N.I. and you're supporting England, you are weird.

So I find myself supporting Germany for the first time ever. Why not? I like Germany, I like Germans, I like Deutsch, and they play their (somewhat machine- like) football fairly and, er, squarely. My favourite WC Final scenario is England v. Germany and I don't suppose I'm alone. But no, of course I wouldn't support them against, say, Holland!

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It's ta-ra to C again - and this time it's for real - and off to Vina Del Mar for a clutch-tweak at the Honda shop and a 72 hour water binge. I hit the tracks on Sunday morning feeling fresher than Miley Cyrus's armpits, and blam the 270 miles to La Serena like a pig corpse off a Dark Ages catapult.

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8.4.09. Copiapo, Chile.

You know that song, "Flying Without Wings"? Awful, isn't it? Yet it may, one day, prove to have inspired a motorcycling revolution. I'm talking - as if you haven't guessed - about Riding Without Pants. As a rule, I prefer a loose boxer short, but a long day in the saddle inevitably causes ride-up, pod-snatch and crevice-chafe; so, pondering the implications of a 350 mile ride to Antofagasta tomorrow, it occurs to me that to dispense with a layer of of cotton might yield bum-benefits. I'll keep you informed.

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Maintenance news, and I've just been to my 5th Honda garage in Chile in almost as many weeks. Carmona in Copiapo, is, like all the others, friendly and helpful. They correctly spot that I have horribly buggered rear wheel bearings. Tonino in La Serena supplies a new Pirelli MT60 for the rear (not ideal but Continental TKC80's are thin on the ground). Aldante in Vina del Mar sorts out my ludicrously bodged and pathetically adjusted clutch cable, and the Valdivia shop fixed my stuck choke. The other one, in, I think, Puerto Varas, didn't do anything but were very nice about not doing it.

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The Atacama Desert! Hot, dry and wild. Except there's a splendid 80mph road running through it. And it's not actually that hot, if you take your jumper off. Dry though!

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Posted by Simon Fitzpatrick at April 10, 2009 07:54 PM GMT

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