|Rhonda arrives in style|
I flew to Punta Arenas where I celebrated my victory with a group of British guys. This "quiet night" ended in one of them falling down the stairs and smashing his head open leaving him unconscious in a pool of blood on the floor at 3am. This is what happens when you start drinking BLUE drinks after dinner! The emergency services was engaged for 10 minutes and things got pretty stressful for a while but he made it to the hospital and in to good hands in the end. His flight home was delayed for 10 days while he recovered but last I heard he was doing well.
The adventure never ends....even when you want it to!!!!
|The Beagle channel from Navarino Island|
world too! The houses are built of wood and metal corrugated sheets and in a strong wind they feel very flimsy indeed. There is nothing much here but it is a beautiful area. It is the only town on Navarino Island which creates the southern bank of the Beagle Channel. This is where I would meet Rhonda again off the Russian Ice Breaker. In the meantime I hung around, did some walking and made friends with the local dogs!
Rhonda arrived safe and sound. I went aboard to have a coffee with the crew again and thanked them for delivering her safely. She was craned off and within an hour the paperwork was sorted and we were free to go. I had been a little worried about this stage as the bike had left Argentina to Antarctica with no stamp to say we were leaving. Rhonda was now coming back in to Chile with no record of where she had been. There was no issue in the end! I did wonder though if it would raise it's ugly head again when we tried to ride back in to Argentina!
|Celebrating with the boys in Punta Arenas|
I couldn't find my passport at the border crossing between Puerto Natales and El Calafate. The officer was lovely. I was clearly the first to arrive and so he came over to help with his phone at the ready to start calling hotels for me to see if I had left it anywhere. I travel with two passports as I have dual nationality. I always thought the Canadian one would come in handy for this very occasion and so I whipped it out and presented it to him. What I had not realised is that if you enter on a British passport, you can't leave on a Canadian! He could not let me leave without the same passport! I searched again and thankfully found it! It had been where it should have been all along!
It seems to me that long distance cyclists are put on this earth to knock us motorcyclists down a peg or two! Just as you are riding along in some remote place on tough terrain and thinking how well you are doing, you come across a lone cyclist doing the same thing BUT WITH NO ENGINE!!!! This happened to me in the crazy heat and wilderness of the Northern Territory of Australia and it happened again on a 150km cold and windy gravel track between Tres Lagos and Gregores! I stopped to say hi and know a little of his story. This guy, who had given up trying to ride the gravel and was now pushing his bike, turned out to be from Holland and had been on the road two years. After a quick chat I left him and carried on my way. The rest of my journey that day seemed extremely easy! I was grateful for the comparison!
|The French bikers who shared their fuel|
had enough to share and offered me 3 litres. This MIGHT just be enough to get me to the next town. "Are you sure?" They said. " The next leg is very bad with gravel and mud. It took us two days to get here as we burt out a clutch and we got stuck several times. We had to camp out there. We would hate for you to get stuck on your own." I was grateful for their concern but now a little wary of what was up ahead! "I'll be fine" I said. "Thank you. It should just be enough to get me there". They had had to deal with the track in the rain. It had not rained now for 24 hours and the wind was strong. The track should have dried. I hoped!! "If it starts getting at all sticky TURN BACK" they warned. They gave me a card "Please email us to let us know you made it". I agreed and set off to see what happened next!
The track was fine. I had no problems at all. In fact once I had got over my nerves of what lay ahead, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. The wind had died down and the rain stayed off. The weather had been kind this afternoon.
The wind had been playing with me of the last few days. It was icy cold and gusting in true Patagonian fashion. I had to stop every 20 miles to remove my gloves and stick my hands in my armpits to defrost (I'm afraid I didn't take many pictures for that reason!). It felt like a game of cat and mouse. The wind was the cat and I was it's prey. It would jab from the left, then another from the right before SWIPE! Keeping the bike upright was hard work. I have learnt not to let go of the throttle when those gusts come. Don't slow down or it will have you. Keep fighting it. On some corners, whilst on an angle it felt like it was going to win and pick me up like a kite. The temptation is to shut off but I have learnt the hard way that this is the worst thing you can do.
On route to Perito Moreno I came across an old friend of mine. Nick Sanders was filming on the side
of the road. At first I waved at the biker and rode past. Then suddenly it clicked and I spun around. It was lovely to see him and in usual Nick Sanders fashion, after a quick hug, he whipped out his camera and started interviewing me! We rode together to Perito Moreno and I was treated to lunch and a coffee before he sped off again to get another 300km under his belt that day. I settled in for the weekend. My only choice was to wait for the Western Union to open on Monday so I could get some money and continue North. The Icy cold wind had died down now and the sun was warmer.
I'm at a fork in the road here and I have found it difficult to make a decision as to which way I should go next. Head in to Chile and take my time riding up towards Santiago or continue on Route 40 in Argentina and make better time. I have decided that as I am heading for my 40th birthday I will continue on Route 40! This way I am likely to meet more bikers. I have also just discovered that a Facebook friend who is currently riding around South America is on this route in San Carlos de Bariloche. I could be there in two days and Claire would be waiting with a beer in hand! That was the clincher for me! Decision made. It would be great to have some company for a day or two.
I've now been on the road 12 months and what have I learnt? Judging by the last couple of week? Not very much at all!! : 0 )