After arriving in Chile Chico, and after a very tough day on rough gravel roads, I gave serious consideration to not continuing any further south. The thought of traveling alone in the middle of nowhere and having trouble did not sound vey inviting. At this point I had traveled over 14,000 miles. I did not think or feel that I was declaring defeat if I did not make it all way to the bottom of South America. So that evening I studied the map very carefully several times. I decided that the distance left to travel to accomplish my goal was achievable. So I decided to continue traveling south.
I got off to an early departure to reach the Chile-Argentina border. Once there I took care of all documentation in about an hour and was on my way again. The road “Ruta 40” has a reputation for being rough and having loose gravel. In addition to the great road conditions you also encounter the infamous Patagonia winds. After about 10 miles of travel I started to think to myself that maybe I was pushing too hard, so I decided to slow down a bit and take one mile at a time.
After about 100 miles I arrived in a very small town which was basically a gas station and a hotel all in one. My average speed was between 25 and 35 MPH on those gravel roads. The next fuel station was 230 miles further south on this road. That would require a minimum of about 10 hours to travel that distance. So, at 1:30 P.M. in the afternoon, I decided to call it a day. This was the earliest time in the day that I had ended my travel on this trip.
The two German riders, Joahen and Gerald, rode in about two hours later. They stopped for some cold beer then continued traveling south. Later in the evening three other GS riders arrived. They were Spanish riders touring the southern part of the continent.
I turned in early to get some much need rest and I had also planned on an early start the next morning. I got on the road at 7:30 A.M. riding solo again. It was a bit cold and the winds were mild. About 20 miles down the road I started smelling fuel. I slowed down and noticed a tiny fuel stream. As I came to a complete stop the quick-disconnect for the tank crossover line broke and fuel started to gush out. My immediate concern was FIRE, because the gas was pouring all over the exhaust pipes. I rushed to stop the leak by pinching the fuel line with my fingers.
Now, without an extra pair of hands to help me, it took a lot of effort to pinch the line while trying to grab my tools and parts. How I managed I am not sure but what I was sure of was that I was in the middle of Patagonia, miles from any type of help. After an hour or so I managed to resolve my crisis by repairing the fuel line.
Again I continued traveling south on Ruta 40. About 20 or 30 miles down the road I noticed a strange sound – a sound that I had not heard before. At first I thought that maybe it was music playing on my iPod. I stopped playing music on my IPod, but I could still hear the strange sound. One thing to keep in mind is that on rough roads you will hear different sounds – sounds that are not normally heard on a smooth paved road. I traveled about another mile and decided to stop. As I came to a stop the rear wheel felt like it was flat. When I examined the rear tire I was shocked to find that two of the lug nuts were missing and the remaining two were loose and about to come off as well. Again I am in the middle of Patagonia with no parts store to purchase two more lug nuts. So my only option was to tighten the remaining two lug nuts as tight as I could get them. I did a complete check of the GS for any other loose items and kept on riding. I rode even slower at first, stopping to check the lug nuts often.
I was traveling so slowly that the three Spanish riders blasted past me. I caught up with them at a cross roads. I give them a run-down of my morning and they were nice enough to ride slow enough to keep an eye on my progress. We still had 200 miles of travel ahead of us to get to the next stop.
WHAT A DAY!!
You can see where I taped the two missing bolt holes to keep dirt out.
The Spanish Crew Juan Ignacio, Tomas & Juan RUTA 40