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Archive for January 11th, 2010

Day 399 – 11th January 2010

Posted by TravellingStrom on January 11, 2010

Monday – La Serena, Chile

A very long day today and into a head wind all the way, but I was amongst the Dakar for the last part, wow:) 🙂 🙂

Once again we got ourselves sorted but again late, once again Gino was the culprit, he is always last to get up and last to get on the road. But, after a quick breakfast we were on the road by 7.30, only half an hour late this time! My first concern was I had lost my sunglasses, this would be bad, but lucky for me I found my safety glasses and although clear and not tinted, they would allow some protection!

Mind you it all fell to pieces real quick as we left town, I had needed fuel but I could see we were now into the desert and I told Graham via gestures I needed to turn back for fuel, I would catch up later. Well, as it turns out that was not to be, I had a 20 minute round trip before getting back to where I left them and now I had a long stern chase, ahhh, some fun at last 🙂 The stupid thing was, about 10km out of town I turn south onto the Ruta 5 and there was a bloody fuel stop there, gah! The first section was flat, fast and furious until I saw the national monument, but no info board to find out why it is here 😕

The next three hours I just blasted along around the speed limit, maybe a tad over and the scenery was just desert, but I had heard that this was so, the reason for blasting through. About 12.30 I stopped in a small town for fuel next to the coast, I thought here I would pass or be close to the others and the dude at the servo said there were three bikes about half an hour ahead! That meant I had not gained any time and they must be pushing the pace as well, so we were running even. Fair enough, I decided to skip lunch and chew a few chocolate bars, that way I should gain half an hour 🙂 I met some Argentinean riders here who were nice to chat with, but I pushed on not long after. The big bonus was I found a pair of sunnies in the shop that fit perfectly, my eyes thanked me for that 🙂

The run south along the coast was fun, even with a constant side wind which must be pushing 20 knots. There were a lot of camp sites down here lots of tents but I cannot believe people would put a tent up in such conditions and actually spend time there with no wind protection, apparently this wind is constant year round!

A few hours into this stage and I started to get lucky and I was running into the back of some of the Dakar support vehicles, I had lost track of where they were on the map as compared to where I was, but it turns out they were doing the special stage at this time, between Antofagasta and Copiopa and were coming out of the desert to my left and heading into town on the liaison stage 🙂 🙂

While riding along at 80mph I was being passed at awkward moments by KTMs, they must have been pulling the ton, nothing wrong with that but when I am coming up and passing a slower vehicle, the last thing I expect is a bike passing me on the outside, very unnerving! I stopped at one stage for a leak and spotted tinman up on the hill 🙂

Coming into Copiopa I was nearly out of fuel and the funny part was the streets were lined with people out to see the Dakar come to town, now I was not part of it but how were they to know eh! I was cheered along with everyone else and I enjoyed my few moments of fame 🙂 I managed to roll into town down the real long hill with the motor stalling and farting along, the fuel was too low and at the bottom I bunny hopped into the servo which was right there, lucky for me 🙂 It would have looked funny though to all the people waving and cheering 🙂

After getting fuel I was asked for my autograph by a young girl and although I said I was not part of the Dakar, she did not understand, so I gave my first ever autograph 🙂 I then left and gave too much gas over a manhole and sidestepped my way through the crowd, another crowd pleaser, 😳 For the next hour or so I was constantly passing the entrants and support vehicles and for me it looked like all the hard work had payed off, if this is all I get to see then fair enough, but I was so close it could get better, who knows. I know my left arm was hurting real bad, so it made the riding a tad difficult in this wind and my neck was also sore but not a lot, but the smile was still there 🙂

As I was getting closer to La Serena I did not care that I had missed the others, this was better than anything and over there on the right were some mountains which had clouds blowing over them and boiling down the hill, you could see it for miles, very impressive and when I went up the hills I was actually amongst the clouds again 🙂

For the last stage into town I was right amongst some of event riders finishing their stage but the crowds were so tight and congested I decided to pull a left turn and now try the arduous job of finding a hotel in a town filled with the Dakar event!

I got quite lucky actually, I was riding up a large street and asked a taxi driver for a hotel with secure parking and I was booked into the Casablanca within 20 minutes 🙂 It had a crappy parking area with loose deep gravel but it was secure, the rooms had internet and were basic and not that cheap, but after riding for nearly 1000km I was not going to argue 🙂 It turns out there was a market and bars and food just on the next corner so I wandered around until I found a chook and chips joint for a feed, then went back for some work and rest.

Now, here comes the funny part. I sent an email to Chris and Graham asking where they were, guess what, they were behind me, 😆 It turns out after I had gone back from fuel this morning, Chris had felt crook and Gino was very tired so they stopped at the truck stop on the Ruta 5, here they met a trucky who after hearing about their plight offered them the truck( a closed car carrier empty at this time) and so they paid for the bikes to be carted and they slept all day in the dog box 🙂 Anyway they asked to reserve a room so I did, they would be in later! Graham and Sue emailed around 8.30pm and also asked for a room, but as it turns out they were miles away on the other side of town, so found a different place, they were also way behind me 🙂 I was in bed by 10.30 and at 11.30 I was woken by Chris, Melissa and Gino who had just arrived after dinner and unloading the truck. A long day for them, but a lazy one.

Graham had mentioned that the Dakar would be leaving for a special stage the next morning and we could see them if we were up, so that was the plan, an early start and go to the special stage, 120km down the road, see the stage then ride to Santiago, just 450km away, another long day but if I could actually see a special stage, my dream would have been realised 🙂

Day – 588 miles and 946 km
Trip – 49,404 miles and 79,508 km



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