Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Day Ride: Mendoza to Uspallata for a picnic

We left Mendoza headed north towards Villavicencio, the town and water source for bottled water to be distributed all over the country. I was unable to find a gas station leaving town, but was optimistic that I would not get us stuck in the middle of the desert. That would be a truly rookie move.

We stopped at the restaurant for coffee and cocoa. My photographer/co-pilot making faces.

Hamming it up.

We followed the zig-zags up the mountain into the ominous clouds above.

A condor!

Happy-time smirk post zig-zags!

The other side of the range gave us cool air and blue skies.

Sundries as offerings. Cigarettes to electrical tape. I don't really get it.

In the valley coming into Uspallata, more of the always welcomed tree lined streets.


After lunch and a siesta by the creek. Pura vida.

Back through this field towards the ruta and down to Mendoza.

We were stopped due to typically inefficient Argentine road work. They decide to move a wrecked tractor trailer from the road on a Saturday afternoon as everyone is coming down the canyon.

We had two hours to chat and make friends with some other local riders. Yours truly rider's left.

The hustle back to town with no one in front of us for two hours!!!

*All photos with me as subject taken by S. Cirone. Gracias!!!

Friday, March 26, 2010


I'm taking it easy in Mendoza trying to spend some good time with my amigo from home as well as buy some new tires (arm and a leg), get an oil change, fix my helmet, send some stuff to BA and rest. I was set to leave today, but with the prospect of some fun social gatherings on the horizon I decided to stay just a few more days. And that statement is used quite a bit, "just a few more days". I enjoy Mendoza because of its proximity to the mountains, the wine industry and the fact that its a city with the feel of a town. I am not completely excited about the first half of the transcontinental trek across the plains of Argentina to the triple border of Argentina, Brasil and Paraguay, however, if I am to see the bright beaches of Rio I must get a move on. Has to be Sunday, no later.

The proposed route:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ride Report #11: Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina

Santiago reminded me a bit of LA because of how arid, brown and hidden by smog the hills where. As I left the valley I found myself in wine country again, but without time for tasting. I was extremely tired and felt a cold coming on so I drank as much coffee and redbull as my liver could handle. Just had to make it to Mendoza.

Getting closer to the town of Los Andes, the REAL mountains began to appear. And as I was not expecting them at the moment I was, once again, surprised at their height.

This pass is the most intense and sensational mountain pass I have yet to cross. The sheer height and slope of these mountains is remarkable. The road was being repaired and I had time at each stop to look around and admire the natural power or my surroundings.

The section of road above is like something out of a motorcyclists fantasy. The road climbs so high, so quickly with forceful wind requiring all the energy and focus available to stay on the pavement. This view had me speechless!

At the top of the pass just before the tunnel was the Chilean exit.

They were constructing this part of the road to be protected from heavy winter snow fall.

Now in Argentina and approaching Aconcagua!

At 22,841 feet above sea level, Aconcagua is the highest peak in the western hemisphere.

In the parking lot I met two other guys also riding Suzuki V Stroms. One from Buenos Aires and the other from Santa Barbara. After going through customs I met with them and rode back to town.

I arrived in Mendoza just as the sun was setting following another superb day of riding through the Andes mountains. I am completely at peace and thankful for this experience!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ride Report #10: Pucon to Santiago, Chile!

I woke after 5 hours of sleep in one of the coolest hostels I've ever seen. Ecole is located in the center of Pucon, with a full vegetarian menu, cafe and beer on tap. I would have loved to stay longer but I had a big day ahead of me. I left early after a mexican style breakfast knowing I was in for over 800 km of riding through the area of Chile hardest hit by the earthquake.

The morning started early, cold and extremely foggy. I was wearing all of the layers available and praying for sunshine. Soon after getting to the Ruta 5 my wishes were granted!

The Ruta 5 which is the main vein running up and down through the center of this skinny country is usually perfectly maintained and allows for big miles. However, once I got closer to Concepcion the road started to fall apart. Bridges were out, guard rails pulled down, huge cracks in the pavement and random depressions in the freeway. This all made for more detours than I could count. However, the Chilean authorities did a fantastic job of marking these extensive hazards.

I would be cruising at down the road at 120 kph and have to come to almost a complete stop to ride through a depression the size of a shallow pool, then get back up to speed to be stopped 1 km down the road and detour around a collapsed bridge.

All of this made for an eventful, albeit long and tedious ride taking 10+ hours. In a car or bus it would have taken closer to 13 or 14 hours.

After an hour or so trying to find a reasonably priced hostel I stumbled across this charming guest house in the center of Santiago with the oh so valuable moto parking!

The daughter of the family welcomed me and made me feel at home for my one night stay. We spoke extensively (as much as possible in Spanish) about the devastating earthquake just weeks before. Above is some of the damage to her family's adobe style home.

That night, although EXTREMELY tired and feeling a cold coming on, I ventured out to see the new W hotel in Santiago. A buddy of mine works at the W in LA and made arrangements for me to go the Whiskey Blue Bar. I had fun dancing a making new friends until I could barely stand, then back home for a few hours of rest before leaving for Mendoza the following day.