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Dakar Finish and 32C v 32F

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Fri, Jan 16: Our trip through Argentina / Chile is coming to an end, and what better way to cap it off but by experiencing the finale of the inaugural running of the Dakar Rally here in South America! We arrived in Buenos Aires to stay with friends - they moved into a house in NorDelta, right on a canal. Temperatures have risen steadily, and the site of the pool in the yard was like an oasis in the desert. Saturday morning we rode north out of BA on Ruta 9 to encounter the rally finishers heading into town. After passing dozens of rally bikes, cars, and trucks, we turned around to follow them in and experience the local fever. Argentineans are a passionate people; their first love is futbol (soccer), followed closely by rally racing. We followed 3 rally cars into the city, down the famous Av. Libertador, towards the finish line. Have you ever seen the finish line to a really big race? Usually there is a corrider for contestants lined by police barricades and cheering fans. The corrid

Dakar 2009 - First Hand Experience

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The Dakar rally has been in full swing since January 3rd, and after security threats in Mauritania cancelled last year's event at the last moment, organizers moved the location to Argentina and Chile to mark the 30th anniversary -- http://www.dakar.com/ Sunday, Jan 4th - we rode up over the stunning Pehuencha pass. Near the top of the pass we passed the Laguna del Maule, a colorful and vibrant site nesstled in the western slope of the Andes. About 2 hours before San Rafael, we came across the Dakar organizers as they were scouting the route for a final check. It was very cool to see, and a great mini apetizer for things to come. We arrived back at John & Annette's finca where we would hang out for a few days and wait for the Dakar and other travelers to come to town. One night, in the rain on the way back to the finca I ran into another traveller - I asked if he was going to J & A's finca and he said yes, but wasn't sure he knew the way. He said his name

Feliz Año Nuevo!

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Feliz Año Nuevo! Today is New Year's day, and once again we're in a foreign land. To celebrate the end of 2008, we returned to Pucon (Chile) to attempt to climb the active volcano Villarica, high above the city and still covered in snow. The past 10 days have been interesting and challenging... Jan 21st in the southern hemisphere is the longest day of the year (solstice), meaning the sun rises earlier and sets later than any other day. It also marked the day we would stop traveling south and start our return north. We departed in the rain, on our way to the ferry (60 miles). Ahead of schedule and half-way there, we got a flat. Normally a 1 hour challenge, however we discovered not only was there a hole in the inner tube, but the attacker was wire-cored from the tire itself. Yes, the inside of the tire was ruptured. I made a roadside repair, but we would miss the ferry. We found a semi-abandoned work camp where we would seek shelter from the rain for 5 hours, and the caretak

Carretera Austral – 1,247kms through Chile’s remote fjords, lakes, and glaciers.

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The end of the road… what a great destination! We’re in Villa O’Higgins, in the southern end of mainland Chile. The Carretera Austral stretches through this area of fjords and glaciers, and after more than 700 miles of sand, gravel, rocks, potholes, corrugation, a ferry, and some of the most stunning views, it comes to an end here. Dec 11, 2008 - We entered Chile again near Futaleufú, a small town known around the world for its class 5+ rapids. Kayakers and rafters from all corners of the globe come to test their skills against the mighty Futaleufú. Unfortunately, a recent eruption of the volcano near Chaiten has blanketed the town in a thick layer of fine ash. The air has been tough to breath for several months, but these hardy folks are staying put, and the short tourist season is about to begin. As we rode along the bank of the Rio Futaleufú, the crushing sound of the waves reverberated off the canyon walls and up to the road. We stopped at a small bridge where rafters unload, a

Northern Patagonia resort towns in Chile & Argentina

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Often times people stop and take pictures next to the bike, often when we are in restaurants or simply not around. In this case, two bus loads of travelers from Buenos Aires stopped just to chat with us. They asked what the cost for a photo on the bike would be, and Chris, always trying to enhance international relations, told them a kiss would suffice. We're not sure if these seniors were happier to sit on the bike or share a kiss.... After two restful days in Pucon we were on the road again to cross the border into Argentina and to San Martin de Bariloche at the end of the day. Rather than take the paved, beautiful pass we had taken several times the last time we were here, we decided to take a different, more interesting route south through the Chilean lake district and east to the Chilean border at Puerto Fuy. The ride started out as a welcome cool, foggy day with the roads rising and falling through green pastures and around beautiful lakes. We got to the quiet village of P

San Rafael to Pucon (Start of Patagonia)

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It was around the crack of 10am when we rode off John & Annette's finca , heading south for a 300 mile ride. We had a fantastic time on their finca and vowed to return in early January to see the Dakar pass through. The first 1.5 hours was on a well paved road as we slid southwest back towards the mountains. The road then became a mix of pavement and dirt, and we opted to get off the main road and take the less-used route 221. We zigged and zagged , slipped and slided, and danced the bikes over some pretty technical sections. Although we spent many hours in the countryside, we only saw one shepherd the entire day! Erin took the pilot seat (it's her bike too!) while Chris sat behind taking some of the video... There were also a few un-posted detours which were slightly challenging... Late in the day we reached the main road again, and arrived in Chos Malal , exhausted. As we took a break in the small town centre, a few local kids directed us to a hospedaje wi

On the road.

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The bike arrived on Sunday (Nov 23) and customs/unpacking went almost perfectly – the clutch fluid all leaked out (bad) and we refilled it with tap water which works just as well. We’ll replace it later with proper fluid. Roadside ingenuity in its simplest form! We headed out on Monday afternoon, got 35 miles out of Santiago, and Paul’s rear tire went flat. We broke out the tools and an hour later we were rolling again. The ride was fantastic – some 30+ switchbacks up over 10,000 feet. We exited Chilean immigration/customs, but could not get Paul’s bike thru Argentine customs due to a paperwork snafu (borrowed bike). 11:30pm we rolled back into Santiago, dead tired. Video from Paul's HD camcorder, attached to his helmet... Erin's first attempt at video footage from our digital camera... Tuesday (Nov 25) we went to dept of justice then dept of ministry to get Paul's paperwork legalized, then to Argentine embassy to get legalized paperwork translated onto Argentina