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Day 396 – 8th January 2010

Posted by TravellingStrom on January 8, 2010

Friday – Villa del Mar, Bolivia

I thought the other day was tough, today was extremely tiring and knackering!

Today was tyre day, I was quite concerned about my rear tyre as it was a bit smoother than I liked, but as long as I was with a group I should have no issues. I went with the others down to the tyre shop to help them out and promptly picked up a nail in the rear tyre!!! Johannes was very kind and donated his old tyre which had a lot of tread on it, my old one we would take along just in case, thanks a lot m8, much appreciated, my mind is a lot easier now 🙂

One little problem was when Graham was replacing his front wheel he asked me where did this metal spacer go? When I looked at it, I realised it was mine from my rear wheel, it had obviously fallen out when the tyre was being changed, a very lucky call, I would have gone nowhere without that!!! Now, while we were doing 6 tyre changes, swapping from one to the other, the late comers from yesterday had been and gone to the Salar, as far as the salt hotel and when they returned, the truck went for a few new front tyres and by about midday we ready to rock and roll.

As soon as we got out of town it was corrugation, Chris being a motoX dude went bush and played around in the soft stuff, but he told me later he hit mud and nearly dumped it so he came back to the bumpy bit! 🙂

I stopped to go play with some Llamas but they did not want to play and ran away 🙂

I was getting a long way in front, just because I hate corrugations at slow speed, it is shake rattle and hopefully no roll, so by using speed I could skip over the top. I ended up waiting for the others though as there were turn offs and no sign posts. At one stage, Ingo turned up behind me and told me his shock had blown, he was now riding a pogo stick, but there was no way to repair it so he had to put up with it, this was after only 15km or so!! I kept on, nowhere near the speed limit, a tad above in fact 😉 It was fun to be basically riding by myself with only half the weight, but also knowing there was a help in the back of me if it should be needed. This road was about as difficult as the Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay, but maybe I should have kept that thought to myself, because it looked too easy there had to be a downside somewhere!

I did get passed occasionally by Chris who would fly up from nowhere and zooom past at a gazillion miles an hour! We stopped at a small village called San Cristobel for a snack and this was the last opportunity for fuel, then next spot would be in Chile, a long way away.

After the break we turned west and headed to the next junction at Atoli, or something like that. The dirt turned lumpy with plenty of potholes but if you stayed in the wheel tracks it was not so bad, just be careful of the burros though, I nearly clipped one, but as I have seen what kangaroos do, I had slowed down enough so that when he jinxed right into my path, I was ready for the silly thing!

There was another junction a bit further on where I had to turn around because I was unsure which way to go, waiting for the truck took a while, but it turns out they had got a flat tyre which delayed them a bit. The turnoff we needed was just after this junction and what we had been through was nothing compared to what was to follow!!! First up was a deep water crossing followed by deep soft sand and we had better get used to it because this is what the road would be like for a long time! 😦

Of course the inevitable happened and someone went down, not me but Gino. He has a big bike and does not stand up, so this was always going to happen in this type of terrain, the only bad thing was although it was soft sand, the speed he was going ripped the pannier mount to shreds, they are only plastic and a stupid idea, they should be made tougher than that! Gino was OK but he is getting tired of falling down and riding soft sand is tiring as well! Of course while we were getting the bike upright and the panniers onto the truck, we created a blockage in the track and while negotiating his way through, Graham went down as well!

But wait, there is more, when Gino went forward, Johannes followed and I was behind him, bloody Gino stopped on the only hard part of the track, Johannes went to the left and STOPPED as well, which left me nowhere to go but up on the soft berm and promptly fell over a bit, not all the way, but far enough!

Oh well, a soft step off is better than a fall 🙂 The sand stopped after a short distance and we were soon back onto the fast stuff, basically alternating between sand, loose gravel and hard packed dirt with corrugations thrown in for fun over the next few hours until we got into Villa Mar where we were expecting to stay in some sort of lodging. It was lucky we got there before the rain, but we had another water crossing to look at and it looked bad!

Whilst Johannes and I looked at this horrible crossing, a chap told us to go take this goat track and there is a small log bridge you can cross, well, OK, better than getting my boots wet again, even if the track was not fit for goats!

But, the crossing was easy and after a short while the rest turned up and we guided them across and we were soon installed in some very basic lodging. The girls who had been riding in the truck all day did some great stuff with basic food we had bought and even managed to find some coldish beer, good on ya girls 🙂 Chris had a blood pressure thingo with him and we all had a go, his was high, the reason he has it, mine I am glad to say was excellent at 117/78 so it is good to see I am still quite fit even if we were at nearly 5000m and the air was thin. The rain started while we were eating and this made for some nice rainbows outside as the sun went down on our first day in the desert.

We had not covered much ground, but after 6 hours slog we were half way there. Tomorrow would be an early start as it was going to be a full on day, there were some things to see and the road was not going to be easy. 🙂

Day – 129 miles and 208 km
Trip – 48,446 miles and 77,966 km



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4 Responses to “Day 396 – 8th January 2010”

  1. ybg said

    Llamas running away? I would to, looking like that. You musta scared the bejeepers out of ’em.

    Looked like a really fantastic ride, and you kept the rubber side down.

    ça roule

  2. Bruce in WA said

    Don’t think I’ve seen a bunch of fellers look as totally knackered as you lot. Well done!! These must be huge days for you.

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