It was a sad moment but we had to say good bye to Carlos and Angie as they were heading east to Buenas Aires and we south to watch Dakar. Thankyou sooooo much to everyone who chipped in to help these guys out. Together we so far have raised approx $2800 in total and they were speechless at everyones generosity. They asked to please say a very huge thankyou and that you are all their Angels.
Leaving Salta we rode past the Dakar bivouac and watched some of the vehicles roll in for the night then we continued on southward to get ahead of them as they start their day around 4:30. We made it to Cafayate which is a wine growing region – enjoyed a bottle of local swill and awoke at 6 to hit road south to race start. Super cool experience as by then they had caught up to us and we travelled the next 150 kms on the road liasoning with the the pro moto riders. Our Dakar hero Lyndon Poskitt rode up and hung with us for a few secs before speeding off! (actually he hung w TK and gave me a wave). In middle of desert we hung out alongside the gravel track that was part of the course and when the bikes came through they were at full throttle hauling around 130 kmh through rough loose baby heads – was awesome to be standing right next to them. We haeded south to Belen to catch a short track loop they were doing there when I had a flat – picked up a nail. Everything was closed as everyone in town was out watch race so we swapped it out ourselves with some help from a local guy who offerred. Next day we rode on to catch more action but missed alot of it as they start so damn early.
My rear tire was in really bad shape – totally bald. I was going to buy a new one back in Salta but everthing so expensive in Argentina we decided to wait till Santiago Chile. Problem was we were planning to take the lesser used Paso Agua Negra across the border and Andes and I was not filled with confidence in my rear tire. Then came the idea (we have lots of time to think while cruising along the highway) that all these Dakar racers go through a tire every day or two so there must be a mountain of lightly used tires somewhere nearby. We rode to the bivouac at Chilecito, rode down along the fence and found the KTM factory race trucks. I yelled over to them and asked if they had a tire for me and sure enough in no time one of the guys was throwing a used tire over the fence. There is even a chance that the tire now on my bike was used by the race winner Mathias Walkner! Those guys did me a real solid and even though it was used it felt brand new and our ride the next day was super amazing.
Returning to Chile, Paso Agua Negra is about 100 kms of dirt road that goes up to an elevation of approx 4700M (15,400′). Beautiful open alpine landscapes and some crazy snow formations at the pass made for an amazing day of riding. Was the easiest and fastest border crossing of the trip so far, only about 30 mins at Chilean side and 15 min at Arg side. By days end we were back at the coast in La Serena camping at a hostel. From there we had 430 kms to ride to Valparaiso – the main port town on the coast near Santiago. During the transit we met Claudio and Italo at a gas station both on 690’s, same bike as mine. They were on a dirt riding weekend from Santiago and asked if we would like to join for a section of trail and hell yes we would! It was a 50 km ride on dirt roads not on the map alongside the ocean. Nice views and some tricky hill climbs and sand sections but all good. Tk was a dakar star and rode everything like a champ. Me- i did ok, got bucked around and bounced into the cacti. Man those thorns are tough! I donkey kicked one and it punched a thorn straight thru the toe of my riding boot and into my toe! All good tho, came right back out but real glad i didnt fully land into them. Had a few stuck in the tire but also thankfully no holes. After the ride we said goodbye and hit the highway again. It was a loong day but made it into town.
Valparaiso is a very interesting town – it was the main trading port for all goods and ships on the entire Pacific coast prior to the construction of the Panama canal yet is located up against some pretty steep hills so the town is full of old historic buildings covered in some amazing graffiti and crazy roads winding all around. Some might say it is run down and dirty but we think it is vibrant and super cool with lots of great eateries and bars everywhere. It is a UNESCO world heritage city for whatever that is worth with a real tourist zone but we are in gritty part of town that seems less overrun. From our hostel room up high all we hear now is tunes being crankind and people partying. It is now Sunday at 6pm – time to head out and find a patio and have some beers. Tomorrow we head to Santiago in search of motorcycle parts and do some maintenance before we head off south toward Patagonia.