I decided these facts were worthy of a little personal satisfaction! Tick!
Ruta 40 is also one of the least travelled highways in the world and it can be challenging in places. Sometimes it feels that if you are not fighting the gravel you are fighting the wind. Sometimes both at the same time. It can get tedious at times. The romance of following in Che Guevara footsteps will only take you so far! However, as you travel along this historic road, winding through the stunning, ever changing scenery, you start to develop a love/hate relationship with it. Somehow it makes you want to stick with it! I guess there are just enough "wow" factors to keep pulling you forward through the tough bits.
My birthday week was great. Spending my 40th on Ruta 40 was special. It was made all the more so
by meeting up with Claire. A Pom living in Australia and currently travelling around South America on a Honda Tornado 250cc. We hit it off straight away and spent the next few days riding, camping and chilling together. We had met in El Bolson and travelled up to San Martin where we came of Ruta 40 and headed back in to Chile to a little town called Pucon with the promise of some great off road trails. Here I could also top up on my dollars (my cards don't work in Argentina).
We met an American guy called Matt who was working over here for 3 months. Together we decided to try and ride up Villarica. An active Volcano which had been more active than normal lately. It had not seen so much action since the 1980's and now it was smoking and grumbling. At night you could see big plumes of red shooting up in to the clear sky's. It was stunning. We sat and watched from our hostel balcony.
Our ride was scuppered by the police. They had barricaded the path and were stopping anyone going any further. There was clearly some unease about the situation and they were keeping a close eye on things. We decided instead to take a ride around it.
The trails were stunning and we rode deep in to the woods on some lovely technical trails. It was so nice to get off the gravel and do some proper off roading. No luggage and the company of other riders to give you the confidence to tackle those tricky bits. It was play time and it was great!
I stayed a day longer than planned and then said my goodbyes. We all had our own missions from there and mine was to get to Mendoza, 850 miles away in desperate need of a new chain and sprocket. I had tightened the chain twice in the last few days and now it was sagging again.
My plan from there was to go to San Rafael, while Mathiew was on a mission to get to Mendoza. We agreed to meet up at the Banana hostel the next day and share a few beers together.
Those few beers have ended up being a few days as I have hit Mendoza during a 2 day public holiday and the Honda dealer is closed as is the KTM dealer! This means we are forced to chill and enjoy this lovely city until the weekend.