It's a vacation, right? Occasionally that means stumbling into tourist traps:
Onward and upward to Bolivia.
Marko and I rode up the Yungas Road north of La Paz, commonly considered to be the most dangerous road in the world. It didn't disappoint. A wet narrow single lane gravel track hugging the edge of a cliff for miles on end. Passing oncoming traffic is interesting. On this road traffic is supposed to stay to the LEFT. This is to allow drivers to be able to look out their window and see how close their wheels are to the edge.
We even got to ride THROUGH a few waterfalls:
We then turned South across the Altiplano for Uyuni. Along the way we happened to run into Colin and Grant whom we hadn't seen since midway through Peru. They joined us on the road South.
Salar de Uyuni is MASSIVELY fun on a motorcycle. You can stand in the center and see nothing but salt for 50 miles in all directions. Try riding at 70 mph and closing your eyes for a minute. Just be sure you're here when you try it:
Guanaco = wild Llama-like beast:
From Uyuni we continued heading south through a remote high altitude desert. We topped out at around 16,500 feet in this stretch. The roads varied wildly from an all-weather dirt road suitable for trucks to deep sand, to rocky rutted tracks unsuitable for jeeps. The scenery made the tough going more than worth it though. There were 266 miles between fill-ups here. The first day we didn't even see ONE other vehicle. It was REMOTE.
Here at around 13,000 feet the lakes were swarmed with flamingoes:
a MILDLY sandy stretch:
Sure, this'll do for a campsite:
The next day, in a forking canyon, all of us taking it at our own pace, we managed to get separated. I spent an hour and a half backtracking and riding out various other routes looking for everyone when one of the worst possible things that could happen happened in one of the worst possible places for it happen. Any guesses?
Here's a hint (yes, that's oil):
Yes, that is a 6" long crack in my oilpan. My front wheel ran over a long flat rock tilting it upward enough that my bashplate caught the edge of it. It lifted my bike up and basically pole-vaulted my front end straight up causing me to land hard on my left side. Luckily the impact was mighty enough that the first thing I checked was my oilpan. I lifted the bike off the ground and my stomach dropped when I saw a continuous trickle of oil flowing off the back of my bashplate. There I was alone in the diesert, running out of oil at least 100 miles from help. I grabbed a two liter water bottle off the back of my bike, emptied what I could into other containers and drank the rest. I then cut the top off, pulled my oil plug and drained what was left of my oil into the water bottle. I pulled off the bashplate revealing (to my relief) a long crack, instead of a hole in my sump. This was fixable. I grabbed a sacrificable pair of underwear, soaked it in gasoline and wiped away all the oil and dusty grime on the oil pan. I dug through my boxes looking for the two part epoxy putty I could have sworn that I packed and eventually found it with a huge sigh of relief. I broke off half of it, kneaded it together and mashed it into the crack. Would it stick? The gasoline soaked underwear took most of the oil off the surface, but did it get enough of it off for the epoxy to stick? We'll see. While I was waiting for the putty to cure, I saw three single headlights come over a rise a mile off in the distance. That improved my spirits quite a bit. It was Marko, Colin and Grant. Well, at least if my repair didn't work out, I wasn't completely stranded.
We sat around for half an hour waiting for the putty to harden and then came the moment of truth. I poured the captured oil along with a spare quart that I had been carrying back in and waited. 5 minutes and no sign of a leak. 10 minutes, no leaks. 15, things are looking good. I put the bike back together and we got back to slogging through sand and rocks. I stopped and checked my sump every 20 minutes or so and nothing... not a drop of oil. I was dubious of all the wild claims made by JB weld, but now I'm a believer. We eventually ran into a more major road and farther down it we found a small village where jeep tours stop for the night. They had FOOD!! No gas though.
Here, an exhausted bunch tries to stay awake long enough to eat: