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Day 416– 28th January 2010

Posted by TravellingStrom on January 28, 2010

Thursday – Bahia Blanca, Argentina

Well, today started slow, stopped suddenly and dragged on for hours. But I met some very nice locals and although it looked like a disaster day, it turned out to be a great one in the end 🙂

Well, I thought this hotel was expensive and it is now confirmed as a rip off, don’t stay here. The included breakfast turned out to be two small bits of sweet bread and a cup of tea, I have had more to eat when I was dieting! That said, at least I got some 🙂 Anyway, I was on the road around 8am with my basic plan today to get to Tres Arroyas or Three Rivers. This was about 750km away and that would leave me 500 or so to do tomorrow to get into BA, that would be sort of ideal, arriving on Friday arvo 🙂

I nearly went nowhere though as when I left town I saw black smoke at an intersection and trucks everywhere with lots of people. It looked sort of weird though because there was no panic going on. So, although the traffic was stopped, I snuck up to the front and saw burning tyres and a picket line, there were plenty of police around as well. But, as I still had no idea what was happening I snuck through and went down the wrong side of the road to get past, I was nearly blocked by banner holders but got away. WTF. Anyway, after getting some fuel I headed off east to the coast.

Wrong, somehow I ended up on the wrong road because the roundabout signs are not the best and I was going north, but I only noticed it when I saw the road km distance markers showing 200km, yet I was over 1200km from BA. I checked the map and found I was on the Ruta 251 not the Ruta 3 like I thought. But, it did not matter, as this would also take me to Bahai Blanca but from the other side of the square, north then east rather than east then north. In fact, it was better because I was not riding into the sun and when I did turn east the sun would be higher and not so much into the face, cool eh 😉 There were a lot of straight roads again although the country side was a tad greener.

It was along here the problem occurred. I had been followed by a car for a short while and he was right up my arse, I hate that, within 20ft at 70mph and you can see how long and straight the roads are, so there was no need for it. I backed off and pumped the brakes to get my brake lights flashing and basically hung the finger out, well he passed me but slowly and headed off, but it was the backing off by me that ended the trip for this moment. The bike suddenly revved out and I backed off and pulled over and inspected the damage, the chain seemed to be out of place!

Well, that was a bugger! But, it could have been worse, it might have ended up jammed in the front sprocket and high sided me! So, while I was off the bike I took the chance to take a leak, while enjoying the moment, I felt and heard a buzzing in my right sleeve, it seemed I had caught a bee or something and it was angry. So, I was trying to shake the damm thing out while it was stinging me and also trying not to wet myself, not a good situation. I managed to bash the thing into submission and when I took my jacket off there was no bug to be found, but three bites near my elbow. I took these the next day, not very impressive but they still itched like a bugger!

Yeah, I know not very impressive, but they hurt at the time! [Note to self, standing on the side of the road with your pants half down and shaking your right arm about vigorously is not a good look I reckon, judging by the honking from the passing cars!] Anyway, I checked out the chain and found that once again the master link had broken and once again on the back of the link, not the spring clip, this is weird! But, weird or not, WTF was I going to do, I was not on the main Ruta 3, but a different road and miles from nowhere! Well, just then a semi went past and beeped his horn, I looked at him and shrugged my shoulders with my arms stretched wide and he stopped! 🙂

From stage left enters Mariano, a bloody nice chap and the first of four for the day. So, we discussed the problem, OK, we pointed and tried to communicate at each other, but in the end we agreed it was bloody hot, at least 46c by my gauge and there would be no hope of any phone range nor any repair trucks in the immediate area, read 100km for immediate! So, he suggested a tow rope, he would drive slowly and I would hang on to a rope with one hand 😯 Well, I have to say I backed out of that one, I would rather camp here overnight than do that, I mean I was sober after all! OK, next idea, a wire link, I had some snare wire but it was a bit thin so he produced some thicker stuff and we made a new link 🙂

Well, that lasted all of 2 feet as it snapped when I took off, bugger! OK, Farmer Fred to the rescue, while I was getting the chain untangled from the bike and removing the sprocket cover etc, Mariano went over to Farmer Fred’s Fence and removed a bit of fencing wire 😉 Bloody strong stuff this, whoever designed this needs his blood bottling! OK, so I rode for about 20 feet and it seemed to be holding, so we are now good to go. The idea being, about 10km up the track is the junction of this road and the 22 which goes to Bahai Blanca. Along that road is a major thoroughfare of car transporters and maybe I can score a lift. The next town of Rio Colorado was a small one and no repair shop, so I would need to get to at least Bahai Blanca. The other little issue I had to deal with was the oil leaking out of the clutch shaft seal. It seems when the chain let loose, it bent this shaft and it was now opening the oil seal and leaking oil. I could see the problem and it was no real big deal, but I had no tools to fix it here. I figured I would not run out of oil in 10km, so off we set, very gingerly with a big rig following me as a backup, good on ya m8 and as you can see he took my extra gear to lighten the load 🙂

I must admit I was quite nervous as I rode along, but there were no crunching noises and the link seemed to be doing its job, but I was clutching all the time and when I know that this link has failed twice so far and NOT thrown me off the bike, there has surely got to be a limit. I sure was glad when we arrived at the junction of the 22 though and pulled over for a check of the link. It was the same, no wear marks on the wire link so I gave the thumbs up to Mariano and I decided to so the next 20km to the fuel stop at Rio Colorado. And I must say, after a further 30 minutes or so at 45kmh in 2nd gear I was real happy to see this river town. As luck would have it, there was an empty car transporter here and he was heading in the same direction, well, basically he was heading towards Bahia Blanca and with his help, so can I 🙂 I had lost some oil, so I was not happy about riding any further and I have to say I am extremely embarrassed because I have forgotten his name 😳 sorry m8, I hope you contact me via my card so I can correct this stuff up. But, with a little bit of pushing and shoving we soon had the bike strapped down and after I bought a feed we were on our way to BB where I hoped to be able to buy a new chain, I can fix the oil leak with a few hammers, no worries. 🙂

So, for the next two hours I was a passenger and I managed some small conversation with my second saviour of the day. Basically he has been shipping cars all over the country for 25 years and loves the job although he is on the road a long time and misses the family 🙂 The view through a bug splattered windscreen is similar to one from a bug splattered bike visor, just a tad higher off the ground 🙂 After a few hours of driving we ended up at Bahia Blanca outskirts which has a large truck stop and here I had the hard job of doing a 35 point turn inside a car transporter with a bit of oil underfoot, but I managed to ride it out without crashing and now I was parked in a strange town with a broken down bike and the communication skills of a gnat!

Here is a picture of the newest link using Farmer Fred’s Fence, it has done a terrific job, but there is no way with the pliers I had that I could have done this, we used a massive pair of pliers from Mariano.

So, I was hot and bothered and once I had the bike parked I started to look for info regarding chain shops. I noticed an Africa Twin parked here but could not see the rider. The servo chaps gave me an address for a bike shop but I had no idea where it was and although I trusted the link, I was more concerned by the oil leak. So, keeping an eye out for the other rider, just in case he was local and knew where to go, I dismantled the clutch actuator and removed the bent shaft, ooops, on the side stand the oil ran out the hole! I got some help from some interested people standing around gawking at the latest Exxon Valdez and we got it up onto the centre stand, contamination stopped, no penguins damaged this time 🙂 Just over the road was a truck tyre shop, they must have some big whackometers surely?

Yep, they did and a few minutes later after some metallic tweaking, the clutch shaft was pretty much straight again and when it was installed, yep, no more oil leak 🙂 It will still need a new one which I hope to get in BA, but for now, no problemo 🙂 So, now I went over and asked the other rider a few questions, well I tried to, but lucky for me he is a top bloke, spoke great English and to top it off his name was Richard 🙂 So, he was on his way from his home town of Rio Grande in Tierra del Fuego, I went through there to get to Ushuaia, and he is heading to BA but via some other round about roads. When I showed him the address of the bike shop he was quite happy to help me. If I am sure about riding the bike, then I can follow him and he will guide me, he has a routable GPS, good onya m8, Samaritan number 3 🙂 So, I followed him slowly for the next 10km into town, then through the streets, but eventually after a big bump the link finally failed again 😦

Did I mention it was hot, well, yeah it was a stinker and I was getting stressed by now. But, cool Richard went into the auto brake shop I had broken down outside of and grabbed some pliers and once again, using the spare bit of Farmer Fred’s Fence, we made another link, but this one was not as well done as the pliers were offset and we could not get the right twist happening.

Well, this link lasted about 1km after some horrible traffic, before it gave up the ghost and although it was right outside a Hospital in a no parking zone, like I gave a rats by now, in fact I was not going through any more hassle, I would get a taxi to the bike shop and buy a chain! Just then a chap pulled up on a Piaggio step through, enter good Samaritan number 4, this is Hector and it just so happens he owns the bike repair shop we need to get to, after we buy the chain 🙂 Well, Richard said he would stay with the bikes and he was in no rush and I jumped on the back of the scooter and went for a ride with Mario Andretti, well it seemed that way, crikey this chap could pull some herbs from a nothing scooter! Anyway, we took the old chain and here I had a choice of chains to buy, a good old EK like I have used before or a Regina, which Richard had mentioned as being good and so did the sales chap, well, I bought it as they were the same price.

Just a quick note here, I decided to change the whole chain rather than get a new master link because this chain, although only 8000 miles old has been stressed wrong and as I later realised the 2nd master link that was installed as a fix, should have been removed at the first chance, because it had no “O” rings, that was the cause of the 2nd break! I am now totally against this chain and not waiting for number three break, that is pushing the limit too far! So, I buy a chain and Hector says he will install it, but he needs to go remove two links as I had advised him that this bike needed 116 links. So, he dropped me back at the bike and Richard and myself sat around with some cold drinks in the stinking heat for a while until Hector came back.

Bad news chaps, the damm chain is now too short, WTF, I was still adamant about the 116, but it looked two links short, Hector said he could fix it by adding two links, this was when I noticed that this “O” ring chain had no “O” rings, well, now I hopped back onto the back of Evil Kneviels step through and we went and discussed it with the shop, it turns out the chain is in the wrong box, but I ended up getting the EK chain as a swap out. Now we had more dramas, will this day never end!!!!

We now had to remove the extra links at Hectors mates workshop where we made a mistake and counted back from 124 to 116 again, instead of what we had decided was a 118 chain. Now, I will say here I did not know that the 2007 model and up had a longer swingarm, so the extra two links came into play here. My earlier chains were for a 2006 model and was definitely 116 links, if you are not into bikes don’t try and understand the last technical parts, just take it for a fact there was a major stuff up, but by this time we had picked up the apprentice from the workshop and there was some serious blacksmithing without the flames happening on the side of the road outside the Hospital 🙂

But, to cut a short story long, by 7pm I was once again in charge of a bike with a chain and I was happy about it too. But, I was also so impressed and overwhelmed by the help given to me, especially by Richard who was going to still ride another 600km in the dark, no worries he says! I was also very happy with the fact I had the chain put on by someone who knew what they were doing, even if it was the side of the road! So, good onya both of you and you too youngster 🙂

As you may or may not be able to tell, it is getting dark by now and I am reluctant to knight ride, so I decided to look for a hotel, once again Richard said he would help me find one that suits and would stick around. I had offered a dinner and Hector said he would turn up around 9.30pm after he had done some more work back at the shop. Now, get this bit, I asked him how much I owed him and he said “do I believe in God, if I do, God will pay”. Hmmm, not going there, I said I don’t and offered him some cash, in the end he said what did I think it was worth, well, I have no idea, I mean he spent 3 hours of his time helping me and did not want anything? I ended up giving him some cash and said I would shout dinner later as I could not suddenly change my tune and believe in a God. On that note I rode away with Richard and started to look for a hotel, it was dark and starting to rain and we checked quite a few hotels before I found one that would have to do, this was after a local chap gave us some tips, thanks m8 🙂

So, I am booked in and getting changed in my room, while Richard is outside talking to the Honda Fireblade owner and taking it around the block for a spin and a bit of a wheelie apparently 😉 But, just up the road was a Chinese smorgasboard place which is where we ended up eating and drinking, although eating at 9pm is not my favourite time. We contacted Hector and after he had finished work, he rocked up and joined in the feed and beer fest 🙂

It was getting close to midnight by the time we were finished here, during this time, I had decided I was going to stay an extra day in this hotel and relax(that means get over the hangover OK), meanwhile Richard was still thinking about riding north. He was fine with riding in the dark and it would be much cooler, although I have roo visions when I think about riding at night. Of course things change and we decided to go to another bar for some rum and scotch or whatever. I did the most stupidest thing I have ever done at this point, I hopped on the back of the step through again and without a bloody helmet, I mean I have travelled over 80,000km with one and here I am on the back of a scooter flying through town after midnight! Well, lucky for me we arrived safely and I decided whatever happened, I was getting a cab home, I mean I am really pushing the limits now and only a short distance from the finish. I chatted up this chick asking for her to take a photo and it turns out she had lived in Oz for 5 years and spoke great English 🙂 Those are her legs in the background behind the shaggy thing 😉

So, we sat around drinking for a few hours, I was on the rum by this stage and it seems they were not going to leave me out here by myself, they were going to make sure I got back to the hotel. Once I worked this out I paid the bill and got a cab and we said our farewells, thank you both heaps it was a great day as it turns out 🙂 My camera once again mirrored my eyes on the way back as they followed me to the hotel 🙂

It was gone 3am and by the time I had showered it was nearly 4, so tomorrow would be a wipeout 🙂

Day – 142 miles and 229 km
Trip – 53,572 miles and 86,216 km



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4 Responses to “Day 416– 28th January 2010”

  1. ybg said

    It is interesting how all your misfortune and your good luck seem to collide on the same day.

    What is that? Something to do with the location of that horse shoe???


  2. Ted Rees said

    TS, It just proves the old adage; “A friend in need is a friend indeed”. People always seem to come “out of the blue” to help motorcyclists when they are in trouble. I’ll relate one of my “Good Samaritan” stories when I see you in Albany.

    Actually I was following you on “Spot Tracks” and I said to my wife that you had not moved for some time and the satellite view showed no town within coo-ee so I thought that something was wrong.

    Ted Rees

    • Hi Ted

      Yep, there is a certain brotherhood amongst bikers, but to also get the same response from a few truckers certainly is new to me although I have met quite a few good ones at home.

      Well, there you go eh, the SPOT system did work 🙂 I may have been stuck there for days, but at no stage did I intend to use the HELP function, that is only for when I never saw another person for over 24 hours, the limit of water and food 🙂

      It is good to have someone looking over your shoulder at times, but of course I did not know this out there on the side of the road 🙂

      See ya in Albany, maybe 🙂

      Cheers Richard

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