December 12, 2006 GMT
Mendoza, Argentina and Bike Service

Riding on the Salar de Uyuni and taking funny pictures was a lot of fun but little did we know that there was a BIG price we were going to have to pay. That price was the road south from there to Tupiza, Bolivia (where the map said paved road started again). The gps said it was 97 straight line miles. When we finally got there we had covered 170 of the WORST gravel roads (the map called them ”seasonal tracks” and they were that at best) that I ever hope to ride. It took us 10 hours (you can do the math again) and at least on my part a LOT of praying. The roads were gravel, sand, rocks, mud, and small boulders.

When we weren’t clinging precariously from the side of a mountain, we were riding in the bottom of a river bed

(yes there was a rain cloud hanging over us but it at least didn’t let go). When we thought it couldn’t get any worse we were detoured thru a little settlement called San Vincente. This is the little mining town where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid held up a mine payroll and then were later killed. I got the picture BUT IT WAS NOT WORTH IT. :=)

Made it to Tupiza completely exhausted only to find out that the map was wrong and we had 60 more miles of gravel to ride to the Argentina border. That road was not bad though (NOTHING would have seemed bad after yesterday) and we made it to the border (and thankfully paved roads) in only about 2 hours.

Into Argentina. We saw the sign that told us how much farther we had to go.

It is just over 5000 of those Kilo things (I think that is about a ton and half) :=) Argentina presented an entirely new and pleasing perspective. First, PAVED roads, nice scenery, light traffic, and higher speeds. I think the guys that design and build roads in Argentina are motorcycle riders. The road south from Salta to Cafayete HAS to be one of the PERFECT motorcycle roads.

Out of the mountains following a canyon with a rushing river in the bottom, no traffic, perfect curves, and perfect temperature. Ironic, huh, the WORST day of riding separated by only one day from the BEST day of riding. On south toward Mendoza, Argentina. For my friends in Southern California, it is very much like riding thru the Santa Ynez Valley only 1000 miles. Roads lined with nice fences and trees separating grape vines as far as the eye could see.

Very nice “fincas” with long driveways, lots of horses and horseman and wine tasting places every mile. If you like beef and wine (and I DO), this is the place for you!

I am having the bike serviced here (new chain, sprockets, and rear brake pads) and tomorrow (13th) we will start the big push for Ushuaia (after all we still have ton and a half to go). :=) More pictures starting here!

More from down the road!

Posted by Rick McDermed at December 12, 2006 03:17 PM GMT

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