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Thread: The Wife takes on Chlamydia. A South American Retrospective

  1. #65
    Buenos Aires

    I used my visit to Buenos Aires as an opportunity to visit friends Javier and Sandra at as well as Karl-Heinz, people I had only previous been in touch with via the internet. It was great to meet them in person.

    The other plan was to do some job interviews that I had arranged via Skype. I assumed that the capital city of a country would have fast WiFi connections in order to allow uninterrupted voice and video comms. Wrong! Even in a 4* posh hotel (I was staying in a cheap gaff around the corner) where the receptionist was kind enough to allow me to use their conference room (I was in shorts, but from the waist up, I wore a shirt and tie...) it wasn't good. People told me it was the same all over the city. Rubbish internet connection = stressed interviewee = no job :-(

    I bought 2 new tyres and a chain and sprocket kit for the bike. The tyres were 1.5 x and the C and S kit 2 x what it would cost anywhere else. But this is Argentina. Friendly people, run down and over priced.

    I did take more pictures in downtown BsAs, but the mood wasn't with me. I'm not a big city fan anyway.

    Argentina's answer to Cannon and Ball?

    Pink House, Buenos Aires

    Top half of route map down the Atlantic coast of Argentina along the Ruta 3. For reasons unknown I put my GPS tracklogs for this bit of the trip "somewhere safe". Navigtion is easy: 3000km in a straight line, likely with a 100km/h side or head wind. Just plug in mp3 player, duck behind windscreen and disengage brain for 5 or 6 days.

    Bottom half. On my previous South America trip on the Wife in 2001 I never rode the Ruta 3. I didn't miss anything then.

    Pictures to follow in the next post...

  2. #66
    The long, and I mean long!, ride down the Ruta Tres

    The highlight of my Ruta 3 ride: Pretty much at the beginning in Azul, only a few 100 km south of BsAs at Pollo's "La Posta de Viajero en Moto". "Pollo", real name Jorge, has been making bikers welcome at his place long before even my 2001 trip. I didn't pass Buenos Aires then, so it was great to meet the man at home. I had met him in the mid-2000s at a bike meeting in Germany where he was a guest of honour. An utterly top bloke who allows you to stay in his place for free. Donations welcome in an honesty box.

    A few of the many messages from around the world!

    Some messages are more profound than others... :-)

    Sometimes the Ruta 3 skirted the coast. Here some chilling sealions.

    Buying tyres and tying them on the back is part of the "overlander chic image" (!) ;-) that some try to portray. In this case me too, with a double whammy. Tyre availability is more than patchy outside the population centres of northern Argentina. The rubber currently on the bike ended up utterly shagged by the time I reached Rio Gallegos, the entry point to Tierra del Fuego

    At Puerto Madryn, a posh-fancying itself kinda place, all the rooms at the inn were full or horrendously overpriced. So I headed back to the main highway and free-camped at the gas station. The morning after packing up the tent. Excellent value for money!

    Long, straight and blowing a gale. That's the Ruta 3....

    I hitch-hiked in several trucks up the Ruta 3 in 2001. With a new shock-absorber for the Wife that a good mate had muled into Puntas Arenas. That story is described at

    Guillermo, a super friendly bike traveller, hosted me Rio Gallegos. In a dry, wind free garage at his mother's house. And good wifi too!

    Here we're outside the British Club, which considering the UK-Argentina stand-off regarding The Falkland Islands/ Las Malvinas amused me. Guillermo said there was a long history of British influence in Patagonia and much of the perceived antagonism is whipped up by the politicians. Like everywhere on the planet really: Friendly populous, dodgy suits.

    Guillermo guided me to a cool volcanic crater

    The ferry to Tierra del Fuego

    I didn't volunteer the information to anyone that my father was a British soldier in 1981, although he wasn't required to serve in the South Atlantic. The new 50 Peso note may look familiar... Like I said, pr!cks in suits

    In 2001 the signs were everywhere too.

    The main fuse on the bike kept blowing, here on a roundabout in Rio Grande. So, while I'm parked where I wouldn't usually stop, take a picture... A scuffed cable attached to the battery: Nothing what a bit of electric tape cant solve. And many new fuses until I sussed the cause.

    A chap in Rio Grande suggested I visit this ship wreck

    It's been here a while

  3. #67
    Ushuaia, the Third

    What do 1st February 2016, 29th January 2002 and 24th March 2001 all have in common? On each of these days, Spritely Brightly (sounds a bit wnak to refer to yourself in the 3rd person, but today I will, just using my alleged alter ego...) arrived at the end of the South American road, at this famous sign! Interestingly, Alaska is still the same distance from here, but Buenos Aires has moved 16km further away since the turn of the Millennium! :-) How could this happen? Maybe the guy who does such measuring has had his trundle wheel re-calibrated?

    There is a sign nearby that says no vehicle parking in front of the sign, but having selective understanding of Spanish (No fumar Espanol, Senor!) means yet again vital information passed me by :-)

    March 2001, 1989 BMW R100gs, sometimes called the Wife, but also Goaty, Helga, Ex-wife and the Fat Lady


    January 2002, 1998 KLR650 that burned even more oil than Clym!

    Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints (and graffiti...)

    Shrine by the sea. South of here is the Drake Passage. The souls of many seafarers rest out there.

    The sign in downtown Ushuaia, but not the end of the road.

    [IMG] [/IMG]

    While touristing on foot, these guys rode by. I never spoke with them as the traffic light was green and they didn't slow down. 2 up on a KLR with a load of stuff


    Here at the port there was also a sign that said no photos... Camels are sometimes described as ships of the desert. Are "Ingles" registered motorcycles "ships of the road? Whatever. It amused me taking this picture, albeit briefly. Arrrrgh Captain, shiver me timbers!

    Not sure about this sign. I'm in Ushuaia. Maybe these are the distances from Antarctica to these cities?

  4. #68
    Antarctica. Wild Antarctica! (Warning, display of gratuitous violence at the end of this post... But it is nature!)

    In this post, no motorcycle pictures, whatsoever. Sorry. They'll resume in the next post.

    Ushuaia is the principle staging post for commercial trips to Antarctica, the wildest place on earth that I'll ever visit. On my visits in 2001 and 2002, the season was finished (it runs to mid February) or I didn't have the time, respectively. Most people fly in for the tour. A few ride in. In 2016 I didn't really have the money to afford it, but when you put your mind to it, creative accounting can overcome many obstacles. :-) And it was last minute, half price!

    On board the ship I only wore shorts. I had no long pants on the bike, except camouflage waterproof over trousers! Most others on the boat were well off and alcohol was expensive. But wine was free with the meals and the waiters felt sorry for the few last minute riff raff (possibly because we were able to create some empathy too), so after dinner it was time to stagger to bed, half or completely cut. I hung out with Mike from Canada (who rode down on a 1200gs) and Nick from the UK who flew in. Great guys!

    and Nick

    Flying the flag

    Zodiacs and the ship. All the twice daily excursions were by zodiac with some very knowledgeable guides.

    Diving humpback whale

    Cormorant taking off Port Lockroy, Britain's southern most post office. Such machinations of bureaucracy help to continue claiming sovereignty to their part of the end of the world.

    And he's airborne


    Interesting glacier formations. This is a small one, but still bigger than our ship

    Sweet dreaming Crabeater seal. Luckily for him, no Orcas around...

    More reflections. We did hit it lucky with the weather, most of the time...

    Other seaborne visitors: Yot on!

    Intrigued penguin chick?

    Chinstrap penguins debating whether to go for a swim

    Grub's up

    Penguin colony. Boy, does their purple/red poo stink!

    And a step to the right.... Chicks chasing and adult. This may not even be their parent. It's all about pester power if you get fed!

    During: Leopard seal shredding penguin

    After: Is the seagull say: "That was a bit harsh!" ?

  5. #69

  6. #70
    As we're on the topic of maps, here's the first bit of the route I took from Ushuaia northwards. From Rio Gallegos I followed the Ruta 40, with side trips to some of the usual sights. Lots of memories were rekindled.


  7. #71
    Leaving Ushuaia: The only way now is north. (And some hare brained plan to ride the entire Ruta Cuarenta!)

    After returning to terra firma and reacquiring my land legs, I collected my motorcycle from where it was parked, checked out another hostal when other bikers were hanging out and headed north.

    My last view of Ushuaia, the End of the World

    On Tierra del Fuego island, the main highway is still the Ruta 3, that continues up the Atlantic coast to Buenos Aires. On the mainland I searched out the start of the Ruta 40, also bordering the Atlantic, but then heading westwards and northwards along the eastern side of the Andes (Chile/Argentina border) for about 5000km all the way to Bolivia. I had already ridden the northernmost 1500km.

    Waiting for the ferry to the mainland and Rio Gallegos with some Argentine bikers. Muy very windy!

    On the ferry: The guy is holding onto his 250 cc so that it doesn't fall over! I'm leaning against mine too so it doesn't rock so much.

    Stopped back at Guillermo's mum's garage in Rio Gallegos for the night. My German friend Moritz joined me. The last time we met was in Mongolia in 2012 where we crossed the country together. He filmed this now in-famous video... :-) He was heading towards BsAs

    Searching for the end of the Ruta 40... In the end I reached a fence and a big sign saying private property, so I gave up/assumed it was here. Apparently the official end changes occasionally depending on bureaucrats and street planners changing the road classifications/ naming.

    This wreck has been on the beach a long time. Since before 1981 (when it was already a wreck, the Argentine airforce used it for target practice prior to the Falklands conflict)

    Some of these holes aren't rust

  8. #72
    A side trip into Chile to Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine National Park

    I'm now pretty much following the route I took in 2001, albeit in the reverse direction, so there'll be plenty of opportunity to do a bit of a comparison of then and now. The big difference on the Ruta 40 is that the southern-most 3500km is pretty much all paved and can really be described as boring. The myth and the challenge is well and truly over. Still fun though and in comparison to being stuck in a car shuffling along at 10mph in the roadworks around junction 18 on the M6 motorway between Birmingham and Manchester, very memorable.

    One or two short stretches are still gravel.

    The rest is paved. And with a guard rail. Here with pink flamingos in the background. A pleasant surprise. I last saw their brethren on the Altiplano in Bolivia.

    Torres del Paine national park is in Chile and the border crossing was again very straight forward. The customs guy's IT system was down, so he had to issue me with a handwritten document, just like 15 years ago. This is the waterfront at Puerto Natales.

    This picture from 2016 has a certain similarity to this from 2001...

    In the foothills of the park

    A friend suggested it was possible to sneak into the park without paying the steep entry fee. The barrier is often open. Heading towards the gate, a tourist tour van turned out of a side track in front of me, offering the opportunity to ride out of eye-shot from the gate house. Result!

    The Grey Glacier at a distance

    Following the main trail through the park

    Cable-tie storage on the front forks

    Geese in 2001, probably at a similar location to the above image:

    Being on a budget, it is nice to camp for free (in this case legitimately) on a campsite (with enclosed hilltop cooking area), just outside the park gates (as suggested by Moritz) and with super views.

    A few more views in the same direction: Sunset

    (Next) morning cloud, but with a rainbow

    Visiting hawk

    And some more 2001 memories. See also for more "wise words":

    Nimble kitten

    This bridge may have seen better days

    Wild horses and a lot of cloud. But as it's always blowing a gale, the weather changes frequently

    Genuine off road = no road

    In 2001 I hiked up to the Towers of Pain, here a the boss of the hacienda checking his painter's handiwork

    Now I'm totally unfit and with my damaged knee, I would never have made it here. In 2001 it had been raining for a couple of days; Until the day I wanted to leave, when the weather cleared up. So I stayed another day and was greeted by this majestic sight.

  9. #73
    Back to Argentina and El Calafate and Perito Moreno glacier

    Leaving the Torres del Paine park, I rode by these 2 gauchos and young gaucha and stopped for a chat. They're very hardy people.

    Gaucho impressions from 2001:

    Vegetarians might struggle in Argentina

    I never got on with Argentina's national institution "mate". I found it too bitter


    Horses and dogs. A gaucho's best friends

    Back in Argentina

    The wind never stops

    What do ageing pop stars and ageing bike travellers do? Another gig in El Calafate in furthest Patagonia!

    For the last 50km heading towards El Calafate, Chlym started running like a dog. At the hostel there were 3 other KLRs: 2 Gen2s and a Gen1. All the guys were super helpful, especially the young Dutch chap with the Gen1. He allowed me to swap component to test for the fault. Every electric component I swapped out made not the slightest bit of difference. Until I tried the chap's fuel tank on my bike. It then ran fine. So I thought it was my dirty/contaminated fuel. Even more checking/testing... and 20 litres of fuel poured into a ditch... The fault was still on my bike! Bollox. It had to be the vacuum fuel tap. With some RTV silicone I turned it into a gravity only fuel tap and the bike ran fine. Turns out it's a known fault! Should have Googled it first, before attacking the bike. Novice error! But 6 hours of d!cking about means I know where all the electronic components can be found and how to remove them, as well as what the carburetor looks like from the inside.

    The Perito Moreno Glacier in 2016. It chucked it down the whole time I was there.

    From 2001: More action and no rain then...





    Side on view of another ice "fall"

    2016: Visitor in the hostel garden. The hostel was utterly full to overflowing because of Ricky's concert. I (sadly) avoided going.

  10. #74
    A quick video comparing the Ruta 40, then and now.

    A 2001 picture:

    There's plenty of random dialogue… Worth a watch? I’ve described it as boring. Maybe “anti-climax” is a better description. The northern 1500km is gravel and through some undulating terrain. Now 99% of the southern 3500km is paved, flat, straight. And still windy! Progress can’t stop the wind!

  11. #75
    El Chaiten and Mount Fitzroy with Cerro Torres: Well worth a revisit, especially if it's not raining

    The rain stopped after leaving El Calafate but the wind was well and truly turned up to near max. In 2001 I travelled to El Chaiten by bus and hitchhiking because the Wife was stuck in Gobernador Gregores with a snapped rear shock and I passed the time around the south west waiting for my friend Dan to fly into Puntas Arenas airport in Chile with my new shock.

    It's important to park the bike pointing the right way, so that when you dismount, it doesn't blow over. Also leave the bike in first gear that it can't be blown forwards off its stand.

    Here are Uli and Stephan whom I'd first met in Ushuaia. A pleasant German couple touring the Americas on 2 Yamaha 660 Teneres. Their website is In this picture they're holding onto my bike to stop it getting blown over while I take their picture!

    Riding in to Mount Fitzroy and Cerro Torres park. Captain Fitzroy was the captain of the Beagle, the ship that Charles Darwin sailed around the world on.

    Wild camping in the park. The accommodation in El Chaiten was again too expensive and as the weather was good, why not? Last time I passed El Chaiten there was about half a dozen buildings there. Now: several hundred.

    Puncture. Bollox. Caused by a nail on a rickety wooden bridge. Couldn't get the tyre off the bead, even with a huge SUV driving over it. I hitched the 20 miles with the wheel back to El Chaiten to a gomeria (in Indian this would be a tyre-wallah).

    2016 view from the wild camp spot close with the final rays of the sun on the peaks.

    In 2001 I got up at before dawn to trek to Mt Fitzroy. Here the sun is just rising behind me, while the moon sets, illuminating the sheer rock face in orange. No filters or photoshop used. Totally au naturel!

    2016 view above

    Below, in 2001, views from closer as I trekked in...

    Another 2001 trekking picture:

    Hitchhikers are nice to chat too. They can also take your picture when you're riding solo :-)

    What a vista!

    And another of Chlym, because I like the view so much

    On the way out, heading back towards the Ruta 40

    Spotted this fella on his moped at a petrol station. South Korea guy (I think) on a Chinese moped with Colombian licence plate. in order to tour Latin America, who really needs a GS with the entire TT catalog bolted on?

  12. #76
    Ruta 40 meetings and memories

    2016: Riding the paved Ruta 40 means that things are going to get cold. So wrap up warm: I wore my down jacket between my body armour and outer jacket. If motorcycles are coming the other way, often there's a wave, but no one stops for a chat, like they did in 2001. Occasionally I spotted a cyclist: Here, a Polish guy who was taking a rest, sitting on the railing. He isn't that fat! It's the wind blowing up the inside of his jacket. A French fella on an old Transalp that's in a much better state than my rat-Transalp (which I used around Central Asia in 2012: ) also stops for a chat. A pleasant 10 minutes spent.

    2016: The gas station at Bajo Caracoles. Everyone leaves stickers. I didn't have any. I must be old-school ;-)

    2001: The gas station at Bajo Caracoles. I camped here the night in the wind shadow of some buildings

    2016. The significance of this sign? Not the bullet holes, but this spot is where the shockabsorber on the Wife snapped in 2001. As I've said before, there were no paved roads then. 74km from Gobernador Gregores where I limped to at barely faster than walking pace across the ripio.

    2001: A BMW R100GS Hardtale, with tyre-lever lashing it together with webbing off my luggage.

    2001, heading towards Puntas Arenas, maybe 1000 miles away: After arranging for an Ohlins shock to be sent from Holland to England so my friend Dan could bring it with him to Puntas Arenas. Quote from the email:

    "Hope you're looking forward to your trip to Patagonia, Dan. Could you please bring the bike shock that's being sent from Holland to you to Puntas Arenas? I'll meet you at arrivals. PS. I don't have a Plan B!"

    I left the Wife in Gob Greg and became a Scottish hitchiker (there were no buses). The reason for "Scottish" was that I didn't think the locals drivers would know the similarities between the Escocés and the horrid Malvinas-invading Ingles! Got away with it, without mentioning the war, a la Fawlty Towers :-)

    2001: Having collected the shock from Dan (he was on an organised trek through Torres del Paine), I headed back to GG. Here in the back of a truck with my valuable cargo.

    2001: Fitted the new amortigador and headed south to Ushuaia

    2016: A little shocking preview of what was going to happen on Chlym's new (only 3 months old... Virtually all on paved roads) shock in Bariloche, not far up the Ruta 40. I give you: "The Progressive self-dismantling shock"... The only thing worse than a Progressive shock is the Progressive "customer service". Advice: Avoid at all costs!

  13. #77
    Cave of Hands (now), Butch Cassidy (then) and regretting not revisiting the Careterra Austral

    As a post script, here's a contrasting image to the gas pump in the previous post, here from 2001. Except the one, note the lack of stickers!:

    Just north of Bajo Caracoles is a turn-off worth taking. To the "Cave of Hands", that has prehistoric ancient and beautiful artwork painted on the walls of a desert cave.

    The valley where the cave is situated

    Hands, prehistoric graffiti

    More... If you want to read more, click at

    Chubut province

    I had met and stayed with Ivan in Rio Grande on Tierra del Fuego. Here we bumped into each other again by chance at a petrol station on the Ruta 40. He was touring some of his own Patagonian back yard.

    Yorick on his big orange bike was riding by when I was fixing another puncture, caused by the tyre-wallah at El Chaiten's shoddy work. Yorick was a great help replacing the tube and we rode together for a couple of days via Gobernador Gregores, Perito Moreno town and to Esquel. Here are our 2 bikes in the hallway at the hostel in Esquel.

    Riding alone again. So, a Ruta 40 selfie. Nobody really had cell phones in 2001 and certainly not ones with a front facing camera. The scourge of social media. If you can't beat them, join them!

    In 2001 I visited Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid's cabin in Patagonia. The map is at

    A 2001 splash

    I really regret not riding the Careterra Austral in Chile on this trip. The paved 40 was such an non event and incredibly un-challenging, that the gravel roads and breath taking terrain on the west parallel road would have been more fun. Here's a great 2001/2 memory of bumping into Chris & Erin from the US, Jason from the UK and Reto & Beat from Switzerland

  14. #78
    Bariloche: The pretty mountain town of great artisan beers, floppy shockers and exploding clutches

    If you've taken a moment to click the link at you'll see the maps of my 1999 to 2001 trip. They're actually sections of a tapestry that I saw hanging on the wall in a Panama hotel, with random lines drawn on them. Today I use screenshots from my Garmin GPS mapping software. Around the Millennium I don't remember GPS devices being available to members of the public.

    The 2001 route, in 2 trips. Between the 2 I flew back to the UK to work a little and take a break from travelling.

    Sunny 2001 view near San Carlos de Bariloche

    2001 Horse and guitar carrying gaucho. Unfortunately the focus is a bit soft

    Always happy to pose...

    2016: A bit breezy. Even the life guard has gone home

    An unfortunate acronym?

    Very pretty downtown Bariloche

    One way to keep the sun off your head, although a bit difficult to read...

    Don't know if this is a good or a bad picture. The subject is sharp and you can sense the movement...

    Still Life: I give you nuts, artisan beer and a marginally un-serviceable clutch basket off a 2005 Gen 1 KLR650.

    After the shock was rebuilt so it wouldn't self-dismantle anymore (there's a picture above), I headed out of town. Or I tried. At a small roundabout, next to a gas station in the middle of town (there are worse places to brake down! ... ), I missed neutral and my clutch lever was loose. Snapped clutch cable, I thought. I've a spare cable, so no problem. A quick inspection said that it was much more serious than that. The mechanic/ Honda dealer who had fixed the shocker was up a very steep hill a couple of miles away. I was wearing full mx gear, so a taxi took the strain and the bike ended on a trailer and was back in the workshop within the hour.

    Lesson learned: Always buy OEM or a reputable brand like EBC for a bit more money!

    This is what it looked like before removal. Multiple shattered clutch plates and a smashed outer clutch basket! In this case I'll take responsibility... prior to flying to Brazil to pick up the bike I saved myself 10 bucks by buying a set of Walker, Made in New Zealand clutch plates. Big mistakes. There was an odd rattling sound when the clutch lever was pulled the whole time they were in the bike... Parts availability in Chile and Argentina: Verging from non-available to a complete pita to source. I was intending on being a no show for my the return leg of my UK-Brazil-UK air ticket. The plan changed...

  15. #79
    Getting any parts beyond tyres or chain/sprockets/basic consumables in most place in South America ain't easy. Even these can be a struggle and often way more expensive than in North America or Europe.

    As I had the return leg of an air ticket to use up and buying another Europe/South Am/Europe return ticket not being much more expensive than a South Am to Europe one way, I ordered (and sent to my UK address) a new (used) clutch basket (important: pre and post '97 model clutches are different, Google told me....) and some other stuff and flew home for a quick visit before mule-ing various bike parts through Santiago de Chile airport (cheaper flight and better bus connections to/from Bariloche in Argentina than through Buenos Aires... Everything is more expensive in Argentina!).

  16. #80
    In transit from Bariloche (Argentina), via Mendoza and Foz do Iguazu to Sao Paulo (Brazil) and the flight back to Blighty to pick up bike parts

    No bike pictures in this chapter... But some memories for me, that you might also appreciate.

    I parked the broken bike at the Honda shop in Bariloche and hopped on the bus to a friend's place for a few days.

    It was plum harvest time, so I helped a little.

    I have an affinity for black cats, having previously been the co-owner of 2 of them in England (both called Dave!).

    "Argentina Dave" concentrating on the hunt

    Not what you'd want to find in your bed...

    The flight from Mendoza to Puerto Iguazu was the same price as the bus. 3 hours vs 36 hours. No brainer. Had a bit of time to kill at the airport and outside in the car-park were a whole load of classic cars, pre or post some sort of rally?

    A great way to spend an hour kicking my heals, waiting for my flight.

    I was heading back to Sao Paulo in Brazil for my flight. A direct connection from Mendoza to Brazil was hugely expensive. So I flew to the Argentinian town of Puerto Iguazu, site of the famous Falls on the border with Brazil and Paraguay. As I was here anyway, I checked the Argentine side of this awesome sight. I had already visited the Brazilian side of the Foz the previous November.

    Checkin' the bins. If anyone wants to tell me the names of these mammals, birds, turtles and butterflies, please do!

    Pretty little fella

    No fear. I was able to stick my camera lens, virtually straight in its face

    Taking a rest on a rock

    Likes my old sports shoes...

    Then a night bus to Sao Paulo, catch up with some friends and the long haul back to Blighty.

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