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Old 03-15-2014, 02:56 PM   #181
Umarth OP
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This one is all about the pictures...

Days: 215




With Bruno's swift recovery from being savagely attacked by Big Red, we where ready to take on the next leg of the trip.

First we needed to decide what that would be. As we saw it, we had two options. A short ride south that would bring us to the famed Perito Moreno glacier or, further south was Torres del Paine national park.

The problem being Bruno's time was fast running out to having to turn around and head back to Valparaiso and then home.

We knew that Torres del Paine was going to be spectacular, while the tourists at the Perrito Moreno glacier might piss us off enough to ruin the experience. With that in mind we opted to go down Puerto Natales, stock up on supplies and then head up to Torres del Paine. Since Bruno had to come back this way anyhow, if time permitted, we would stop at the glacier on our way back.

As we crossed back into Chile, the weather turn cold and wet so we where quite happy to see our stop for the day: Puerto Natales. Tiny little town with lots of hotels and yet not enough: they where all full or just about all three times that I was there. We stayed put the following day as I had some maintenance to do on Big O and we needed some supplies before heading off to Torres del Paine.

Note: the food was fantastic in that little town!

Then it was time for Torres! On our way there, Bruno spied a sign indicating a cave nearby so we detoured a tad to get see this wonder of the world... (yes, your not imagining the sarcasm)




Before even embarking on this trips last year, Patagonia had been one of the end goals. I'd always imagined Patagonia to be non stop spectacular vistas overcrowded by majestic mountains. The first segment of Patagonia, done on the Chilean side, gave every indication that it was going to be all that and more. Then we hit Argentinian with its boring ass Routa 40.

The moment we entered Argentina, from Chili Chico, the landscape flattened out, vegetation sputtered out and gale force winds scourer the desolate landscape night and day. Add to that the road itself, the RN 40. Straight line that seems to never end, surrounded by featureless landscape, not to mention battling that fucking wind: Patagonia was quickly becoming an ordeal and less of a thrill. Once in a while the road would turn to gravel and that kept you attentive for a bit (because of the lateral winds) but those are getting few and far in between. Don't expect there will be any gravel left 5 years from now.

So, all that whining just to say that Patagonia was getting boring real fast... That is until we got to Torres del Paine! Patagonia's magic was fully restored for me...

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves...


































We scored the most awesome camping ever!




This was the view greeting us from our tents in the morning.



We did a day trek that took us behind the Torres del Paine mountain. Bruno described it as the best hike he'd ever been on. At the end of the hike, there is this little lake formed from melted ice.



Was surprised by an unexpected colony of odd looking penguins.



Here we have what appears to be a well rested Bruno. Boy, how appearances can be deceptive! The last leg of that trek was gruesome!



Big O's take on the days events

These two are getting more and more like hill billies every day! Who drinks scotch out of a thing like that??

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Old 03-15-2014, 04:32 PM   #182
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Wow those are some spectacular pictures. Way to go!!!
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Old 03-17-2014, 04:06 PM   #183
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Bucket list getting shorter

Days: 223



Now that Torres del Paine has been checked off the bucket list, it's time for Bruno aka Tie-wrap to head back to Valparaiso so he can ship Big Red back home.

'Tie-Wrap' you ask? Let me rewind a tad. When Bruno was still in what he so humouressly called the 'preparation' phase of his trip, he asked me what I thought would be smart to pack. One of the things I told him he absolutely needed was tie-wraps and heaps of them. Being the eternal optimist that he is, he brought a whopping 10 of them with him. I believe he knew what they where before going on this trip but never really realized just how fantastic an invention those things are. If duk-tape holds the universe together, then tie-wraps is what gives said universe meaning!

Was it the first or second day of riding, in Columbia, that his center stand lost a bolt and what saved the day? Tie-wraps!



With-in two weeks his horde of tie-wraps was gone and he was blatantly laying his grubby fingers on Big O's reserves! For those of you who are not aware: Big O is basically held together threw daily séances of black-magic, chicken sacrifices and several pounds of tie-wraps. By the time we hit Argentina, Bruno had figured out so many ways of using those little plastic sticks that I had to concede: he was Mister Tie-wrap! So now, you to, know why...

As a side note: brings a tear to my eyes seeing how clean those saddles bags where way back when! Mine are so filthy with dust and oil that I hardly dare touch them anymore...

Back to our story...

As you leave the Torres del Paine national park, there is a tiny little town that awaits the unwary traveler: Cerro Castillo. The only thing there is are few houses, an overpriced  general store and the Chilean border station. Did you notice that I did not say that there was a gas station? Exactly.

We had last filled up in Puerto Natales and where now around the 350km mark. On a good day we can do 500km between fill-ups but this is Patagonia and the Patagonian wind can wreck havoc with your gas consumption. To out knowledge, our options where to go back to Puerto Natales and hope we got there or hope we had enough to get to Espenranza which was at the very limit of our range. On a good day... Having nothing to loose, I went and asked in the general store if they knew of anyone who would sell us some gas. Bingo! The owner told us to follow him as he got in his truck and drove to his home where he had several 5 liter gas cans in his shed! As a token of our appraciation, the general store is now under the protective umbrella of the APORMC! Don't fuck with it or karma will hunt your ass down!



I know I know, the sticker is awfully small, but Riley was too cheap to give me some of the big one's...

Having made good time getting to Torres del Paine, it looked like we would have time to go glacier hopping, so we stopped in El Calafate. Just so you don't appear ignorant to your 5 year old who's reading over your shoulder: El Calafate is a tourist town that is conveniently located 80 km from the Perito Moreno glacier. One of the must acclaimed glaciers in the world.

We camped in town as we are cheap bastards. Said camping had power outlets all over the place but them being water proof prevented us from using our adapters (Argentina does not have the same plugs as North America). But Mr Tie-Wrap came to the rescue!



We tried to book a glacier walk with a tour company (it's the only way unfortunately) but we where to late in the day when we tried and they pretty much sell out every day. So we settled for a drive to the national park's walk way that faces the glacier.

I'll shut up for a bit and let Mr. Nikon talk a bit...













FYI: that little chunk of ice that fell, was about 20 meters longs and the splash was bigger than three average suburban houses. Just saying...

So then, Perito Moreno glacier: Check!

Wow, Bruno's time is really running out now!

Going back, we hit the 40 again (god I hate that road) and turned left just out of Bajo Caracoles (thief thief!!!). Bruno had talked with some fellow riders and was told that the Rabello pass was quite spectacular so that's how we where gona re-enter Chile. Again. And to tell the truth, that was indeed the nicest pass that we'd taken between Chile and Argentina. To bad it was raining cause it would of been a photo fest for us. Still Snaped a few that I quite like. And if you don't well guess what: to f'n bad for you...







Absolutely loved the border post on the Argentinian side. One small wooden cabin with, maybe, electricity and a border guard that was way to nice. Dumb ass that I am, didn't think to snap a pic.

The next day would be our last day of riding together and what I a day it would prove to be! It started nice if a bit cloudy, then the rain started and eventually the wet snow decided to say hello.



At about mid way to Coihaique, we stopped to have a bite to eat and try to warm up. I was so miserably cold and wet, that I'd been laughing my ass off for the last half hour. What I didn't know is that Tie-Wrap was on the verge of fainting. For the last hour! Funny cause he sure didn't let it show earlier!



He look like he's enjoying himself, no?

In fact, he was so frozen that I had to hold his bike while he got off it and then park it form him. When we got inside the road side restaurant, the owners took pity on him and placed him beside the wood stove. A few moments later, a kitten wandered over and was not fast enough to evade Bruno's lunge! Kitty served as a hand warmer for the next half hour!

The last stage of the ride wasn't so bad and saw us safely to Coihaique...

Big O's take on the days events
Sure was nice having Big Red along. Having a first hand witness to the daily abuse I go trough. Sure will miss having you 20km behind us...



See you in Mongolia...
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Old 04-11-2014, 05:24 PM   #184
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The end of the road. The southern road.

Days on trip: 235




With Bruno and Big Red gone, first the first time of the trip, I found myself with truly no deadline, schedule, destination, or a clue as to where I was going next.

When I left Montreal I had no idea how I'd get to Panama but I did know that (1) I had to get to Panama and (2) for a specific date so that I could catch the boat to Columbia in time to meet up with Bruno when he landed in Bogota with Big RED.

Figured I'd take a few days to decide what would be my next move. Before even leaving on this trip, Terra Del Fuego and Ushuaia where the official South American destination.

Having researched a bit on what awaits the traveler in Terra Del Fuego, I was having second thoughts. Along the lines of: why bother, there's nothing to see really! It's basically flat plains and a coast line with a bit of mountains just before you get to Ushuaia. Had I been in Puerto Nataless or Punta Arenas at the time, the question would have been irrelevant since it's just a two day ride to Ushuaia from there. But having accompanied Bruno back from Punta Arenas all the way back up to Coihaique, I would have to re-do the routa 40 again Twice (down then back up) for a total of 4 times. Which is getting a tad tedious.

Not knowing where to point Big O to and considering that the hostel I was staying at was dirt cheap, had good internet, with proper scenery and Big O needing a bit of TLC, it was a no brainer to stay put until an epiphany hit me or plain old boredom overcame me and forced me back on the roads of this callous world.



In the mean time, I'd open up Big O's engine again to try and get rid of the pesky oil leak that's been hitching a ride with us for the last month: ever since we left Valparaiso in fact, way back in Chile! Bonus: the hostel had a nice and quiet place for me to work on Big O.



Ended up staying 5-6 days, fixed up Big O and this time let the liquid gasket dry for 3 days before starting the motor. Would prove to have been a waist of time as the oil leak is still present, if not as profuse. The weather was pretty cold so maybe that had something to do with it. I'll redo it further north (odd for me to associate the north with warmer weather! Everything is upside down in this crazy part of the world! heheh).

The finale decision was to go to Ushuaia. Mainly because it was highly improbable that I would ever be in this part of the world again, so if I was ever to hit southern tip of the continent, now was the time. an other consideration was I was still debating taking a cruise down to Antartica and pitching my tent on that fabled ice for a few days. It's just that prices are so stupidly high that I'm having a hell of a time convincing myself to do it. Guess I'll decide once I'm there...

Leaving Choiaique, my plan was to redo the Robejo Pass to enter Argentina and this time I was gonna do it the hard core offroad way. Looking at google maps I'd noticed a realy off the beaten track road/trail that was going through some crazy elevation lines and figured this would be a perfect reintroduction to solo riding. About an hour out, I found the head of the trail and it looked like it was going to live up to my giddy expectations!

The trail wound through mountain farms, crowded with what looked like wild horses roaming the country. Pure deep blue skies and NO BODY around but the occasional farmer on his horse. Unfortunately, it was not fated to last. Some 60 kms in, the trail hit the first fence. Having seen a few options a bit back I back tracked and tried every alternative that I could find but all ended in fenced gates.

And that's how I ended up going back to the main road and it being late at this point, canceled my return ticket to the Passa Robejo and it's gorgeous scenery, but taking the very proper and civilised paved road that goes straight to the Routa 40 in Argentina. In other words: buzz kill...

We stayed in Perito Morenno that night and then Gobernador Gregores the following. And that was where I met three fellow travelers, two from Germany and one from Argentina. I don't know what it is about germans but they are quickly becoming my reference for happy people! Guess who is who in the next picture!



If you picked the two middle one's as German you got it right. Whether it be these two crazies, Tobbie with his incredible faith in life, Julia and her infectious smile or Flo's antics, they just ooze happiness. I don't know what it is with these Germans but it's pretty hard to see life as anything but joyful with them arround!

The next day would be a day with far reaching repercussions. The destination was El Calafate! Between Gobernador and Calafate, the RN 40 has some 100-140kms of gravel. But nice and fast gravel. In other words nothing to write home about. Well that is, when the conditions are dry... Had been raining the day before and started again when I left in the morning. When I reached the unpaved section, everything was fine at first. Gravel, wet or dry, is still gravel so party on! Things got interesting about 20 clicks in when the gravel gave way to clay. Or as some call it Gumbo.

What makes clay so interesting is that it's (1) very slippery, (2) very sticky and (3) dense. Big O has a low fender up front, which is great for just about every situation but VERY ill adapted for Gumbo. What happens is that the front wheel packs up with clay, flings some onto the low fender and eventually there is no space left between the wheel and the fender. Since the Gumbo is so dense, when that happens, it's been known to jam the wheel (remember, it's also very slippery so the wheel has little to no traction).

At first I wasn't even aware that I was going through the slimy shit; visually, it looked like ordinary mud. It's when both front and back wheels started drifting left and right by quite a bit and almost fishtailing that I realised what I was riding on something else. I stopped to check what i was riding on. Just putting my foot down and I knew. The stuff stuck to the underside my boot like a drunk to his bottle!

Time to I stand up on the bike, for better control and in a low speed crash I usually land on my feet. Looking periodically at my front wheel, checking for signs of accumulation of Gumbo. I was lulled into a fall sense of security by the fact that it was keeping pretty stable. What I don't realise, idjit, is that the underside of the fender was getting a good and solid coating. I was lucky as the wheel did not lock up, but the Gumbo did extract it's price: I saw Big O's front fender fly off!




As you can see, it's filled with gunk!

This posed a problem: the no front fender kind. In this type of shit, were I to ride without one, the radiator would get clogged up completely in minutes and then I could very easily end up with an over heating problem. And, as if that was not enough, Big O's brake line passed over the front wheel. The break fluid line is a bare inch over the tire. It would be a matter of minutes before it would get caught by one of the tire's knobs which could tear it off and leave me with no front brake or lock up the wheel and crash the bike. Tie-wraps to the rescue!

I punched 4 holes in what remained of the fender, passed tie-wraps threw them and tied it to the fork braces. And voila! Instant high fender conversion!



As for the break line, again using tie-wraps, I was able to bend them away from the wheel.



Worked like a charm. Well except for keeping Big O and his Passengers clean. That shorty high fender did absolutely nothing to keep the shit off of me and Karma!





About an hour after the fender incident, we came across a large group of riders. It looked like it was an organized tour as they carried no luggage on the bikes but did have a truck following them with all the junk and what looked like a spare bike. The Bikes where all big bikes: mostly 1200GS with a couple of 990's thrown in for good measure. Spoke a bit with them and quickly understood that they where at there wit's end with the Gumbo. They where having a terrible time of keeping the bikes up. I guess smaller sometimes is better. But to be fair, I don't think these guys where use to real off road conditions. To most, off road probably means fast, hard paved gravel roads. Welcome to Patagonia guys! hahaha

They had even started riding on the side of the road when possible as the grass did make things less slippery. I tried it for a bit, hopping to go faster but ended up actually slowing down as you frequently had to slowdown to almost a complete stop to go over huge ruts. I even lost my bottle of hooch in one of them and only noticed once in Calafate! Nooooooo!!

So then, to sum things up, once the fender had been moved, Big O ran like a champ in that shit and having him slide all over the place actually made the road entertaining. We reached Calafate and returned, for the 3rd time, to our now very familiar campground. I even noticed that Bruno aka 'Tie-Wrap', handy work was still present.



The ties where his solution to keeping our adaptor from falling off. Was still there when I passed by again on my way back from Ushuaia...

After finding a Laundromat to clean my fouled riding gear, I booked a glacier trek, for the next day. Both times prior, me and Bruno, had tried but no tickets where available. Time to see just what that's all about!

Enough blabla: pictures...



















Next day was time to pack my bags and head off to Ushuaia. First stop would be Punta Arenas for a new rear tire, then head on down to Terra del Fuego. On the way down we came across a small ghost town that the highway goes through. On the beach of the Magellan straight, were two ancient ship wrecks, from the 20-30's of the 29th century.











That's where I met a new friend, the three legged kind. Poor thing! So wanted to take him with me. Can't see how he'll survive the coming winter...



After that it was a rather uneventful ride down to Ushuaia. Did get snow and rain just before getting there.









And holly crap was everything overpriced!! Was so underwhelmed by the whole place that I decided to leave the very next day! I know i'm a sucker, just don't like being reminded of it...





Big O's take on the days events

To you nay Sayers that doubted I'd get further than Varenne: IN YOUR FACE!



Now, where's the nearest KTM dealer? I need a new everything...
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Old 04-11-2014, 05:38 PM   #185
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Great update and photos!
The glacier shots are beautiful.

Bruno isn't the only one handy with zip tyes as seen by your brake line fix and chest strap on your rucksack.
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Old 04-11-2014, 06:41 PM   #186
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Originally Posted by enduro0125 View Post
Great update and photos!
The glacier shots are beautiful.

Bruno isn't the only one handy with zip tyes as seen by your brake line fix and chest strap on your rucksack.
I'd say i'm senior 'tie-wrap' while Bruno is more of a Jr...
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Old 04-11-2014, 11:29 PM   #187
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Awesome job bro! Again those are some front page worthy pics. Where to.next?
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Old 04-12-2014, 06:26 AM   #188
Umarth OP
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Awesome job bro! Again those are some front page worthy pics. Where to.next?
thanks mate.

Next would be Buenos Aires and then spend a few months in Brazil for some R&R on a beach practicing Capoeira.
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Old 04-12-2014, 07:54 AM   #189
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Excellent pics! Really enjoyed reading along on your ride.
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Old 04-12-2014, 12:07 PM   #190
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Great cinema dude!
Your Pics are are really beautiful! Gives a nice set of wallpapers :)
Awesome story and Fender construction, however the lost bottle scotch was a serious loss...
Wonder where life will bring you now! Keep on posting!
greets
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Old 04-12-2014, 02:30 PM   #191
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Nice pictures... You go a long time between updates, but the quality for sure makes up for the quantity...

After your fender escapade I would for sure go to a high mudguard conversion rather than face that issue happening again...
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Old 04-12-2014, 03:09 PM   #192
Umarth OP
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Originally Posted by masterchiller50 View Post
Great cinema dude!
Your Pics are are really beautiful! Gives a nice set of wallpapers :)
Awesome story and Fender construction, however the lost bottle scotch was a serious loss...
Wonder where life will bring you now! Keep on posting!
greets
Karl
if you want the pics in slightly larger size, you can go to this address:
http://gnarlyrides.smugmug.com/Travel/BigOTripping/

The pics are only 1600px wide though. If you see some that you really like and would want bigger, just drop me a line. The original format is a bit over 7000px wide. Tell me which and what resolution you want.

Chers,
-J
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Old 04-12-2014, 03:12 PM   #193
Umarth OP
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Nice pictures... You go a long time between updates, but the quality for sure makes up for the quantity...

After your fender escapade I would for sure go to a high mudguard conversion rather than face that issue happening again...

i know, i'm much less assiduous in posting updates as i was at the start. Lazy bastard that I am! :)

as for the fender, just wait till the next update...

Ps: you inly have one front caliper on yours? Did you change the master cylinder or what ever its called? Do you find that the bikes stops well when fully loaded with gear? How about rotor heat build up, any issue vs dual setup?
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Old 04-12-2014, 04:24 PM   #194
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I plan on doing a high fender on my 640, but keeping the dual discs...
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Old 04-12-2014, 06:10 PM   #195
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Originally Posted by Umarth View Post
i know, i'm much less assiduous in posting updates as i was at the start. Lazy bastard that I am! :)

as for the fender, just wait till the next update...

Ps: you inly have one front caliper on yours? Did you change the master cylinder or what ever its called? Do you find that the bikes stops well when fully loaded with gear? How about rotor heat build up, any issue vs dual setup?
The 03 models came stock with a high fender, a single disk setup and a master cylinder designed for the single side brake ... The disk they supplied is a little larger than on the dual disk models, 03= 320mm vs 07 = 300mm ... This setup offers very good braking for both on and off road, never heats up and has very long pad life... You rode my bike, I don't remember if you mentioned anything about lesser braking on it... Single disk 640s are also 8lbs lighter than the dual disk models... I can think of many rides over the years as to where I may of run into the same issue as you if I had been running a low fender...
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