Friday, 2 January 2009

The straight and uneasy road to Buenos Aires

The peace of mind lasts 60miles out of Tucuman. Raul Becker in tucuman, and his boys had spent the whole day digging into my bike searching for answers. The spluttering had to be a moody carb. A clean and a refit was all that was needed. the starter problem was all in the cleaning of the wires in the box, on the handlebars. And scratching the white crusty stuff on the battery connectors. 60 miles out im spluttering and buckerooing all over the road again. arghhhhhhhhh !! no more !!!! All i had to do was switch the tank tap to reserve and alls rosy on the spluttering front. the pipe leading from the tap into the tank thats not the reserve pipe must be blocked. i blame bolivian sand myself. The bike starts after a few attempts of pressing the starter button, but its still a worry that it will erode into uselessness, somewhere up high and nowhere near anything. Cordoba is the next nights stop. it being a large city , they should have a mechanic to scratch his brow over the bike there. Cordoba. They say it is the cultural capital of the americas. loads of universities, museums and art , everywhere. to be honest all i noticed was a decent mechanic and a million beautiful , i mean very beautiful women everywhere. A wonderful place to sit drink coffee and just watch the world. I spend 2 nights here. the bike starter problem is understood. the clutch sensor has decided that with all the miles from alaska it is a weakling. 2 pumps of the clutch everytime i go to start the bike , it starts. reliable as regular postroom deliverys at Aon London !! .. did i mention my speedo hasnt worked since the ecuador - peru border ? cant remember... mike has marked down most of the miles, but i am unsure acuratly. i think its around 17 or 18 thousand.... will study a map and get a more acurate guess one day soon. After 100s of cafe side coffees im off to buenos aires..... not even out of cordoba and my bike is all over the place. a savage rattle scaring the life out me comes from below. my rear wheel bearings have been crushed and eaten alive. im not going anywhere. the sun is a melting pot fire. we take the wheel off. half the bearings have disintergrated and the other half , crushed flat. the casing is split into 3 pieces. my sweaty bald head is in my hands and my elbows on my knees as i sit leaning against a shop window, which turns out to be a moto mechanics tienda. mike gets chatting to a local fella who says he will take mike and the wheel down the road to a tyre fitters to see if they have a new bearing, while i stay as i am, a shell of a man with his head still in his hands. they dissapear for 3 hours. the sun moves around baking my brains even more. i dont care. im visited by, elvio, luis and frank. followed by gregg and his brother ignacio. 10 mins later im laughing about and chatting all things bikes, babes, basketball and general man stuff. i speak terrible mockney spanish, they dont speak english except gregg and ignacio. i understand most of what we say. all great once again. these people just want me to be happy and they incourage me that the bearing is no problem. they seem very sure and convince me. mike turns up with the first chap we met, who drove the wheel away . carlos and his kid son. the bearings new and fitted.... we all exchange details and say hard goodbyes then we are off. into a falling day and loads of miles, or so i think !...... from cordoba its around 700 ks. . this part of argentina, is very flat. the roads are endless straights. A strong wind seems to always be head on. the views either side are green oceans of corn fields and just fields. towns turn up. all the shops are large agricutural machine selling warehouse type shops. A salar shows up. mike decides to have a look . about half mile off the road. he falls off the bike again when the sand around the salar reminds him of bolivia. 100 miles out of cordoba, "bang !!!" oil everywhere ! mikes ktm is spitting out the dark fluid like i have never seen before. im relieved it isnt my bike. i imagine a football size hole in the belly of the bike. its his ususal oil sensor problem thats been irritating him for weeks now. lucky once more though, we are stopped at an asado restuaurant, with a kawasaki dealer next to it. looks like goodfellas are all sitting outside the asado place. i approach them tentatively. they all smile and get me to join them munching the big famous beef, pig, brains, tongue, pollo asado that argentina is so famous for. incredible food. i cant resist. brains are har dto get used to as the fellas all laugh at my struggle swallowing the grey matter. could you resist if you were here ?! it would turn any veggie back into a carnivore , im sure . the wine is just as good as the munch. corrrrrrr. we stay a night . buenos aires seemingly moving further away from us. mikes bike is in great hands. jose and the boys deal with the stroppy sensor easy. creating a new gasket for it out of nothing. Theres a firework display on that night at midnight. its new years eves, eve. we ride the bikes down there. we are crowded out by loads of people. i am actually asked for my autograph. i can only think they thought i am a dakar racer. i felt fake. i didnt try and be anything else apart from a foreigner riding his bike into town. i thanked them more than they thanked me, for doing it. im sure the next morning they must have confused expressions saying, "who the hell was that baldylocks ?" and "what actually is fragile x syndrome ?" ..... we get going the next morning, hard goodbyes again. mikes oil starts weeping out again. its not too harsh coz we can sort it in buenos aires. he just keeps topping it up every so and so miles.... its new years eve now. we full throttle for the city , with dreams of a special night out in a romantic lively city. night falls too quick. we end up staying in a small town 70 miles out of buenos aires. our hotel is a back street homage to the days of art deco. a dusty smell in the air, a ticking clock, and mumbling men, who become our companions for the celibrations. the owner is maria, a right laugh. she takes the mick out of all of us, even though i cant understand a word she says , im still belly laughing. we find an asado shop with a circular grill the size of a large car. dead animals stretched all around it. we buy cow and chicken. i stuff my face with the butter like meat, smiling and not missing the dreams of the big city night out i was dreaming about. 12 oclock comes. me, mike, maria and an old boy toast the ano nuevo with gorgeous sweet champagne. bed by 1, sober and glad. Sunshine new years day and off to buenos aires. im excited. all that has conjured up in mind over the years about this city and now im just gonna ride into it. Not many cars about . all must still have their heads in their pillows and why not. the suburbs come past miles out of where the signs say the city is. this place must be huge. 13 million im told. a mad alien space ship car comes roaring past us on 5 lane highway. Im reminded, this is where the dakar rally is this year. gone from africa. some say coz of terrorist threats , some say coz of the amount of racers that get killed every year. who knows. im just excited that its here, where i am. we roll into the city getting lost straight away. i run out of petrol on a very busy road. i have my spare jerry can topped. Another space ship flys past. we chase it into a garage, right next to the river plate stadium. im grinning like never before. im next to this amazing famous stadium. who remembers argentina 78 ? mario kempes, those 2 ugly dutch twins ? and archy gemmils goal ? .. we chat to the team in the mad car. russians. very friendly and insightful about the nut case rally. people crowd us as much as they crowd the car. i feel like a kareoke rock star again. this is buenos aires. the streets are wide the buildings high. each one a different character. the people are all dressed immaculate. no litter anywhere. the buzz of the dakar is all over. a ridiculous truck burns down a street, its a back up vehicle for a racer. built to drive vertical up the andes and over the atacama desert. the bikes are lined up down a closed street. everywhere we stop, people come flying over to say hello. i manage to get a radio interview straight away. it is polish radio station, covering the rally. they want to know why i have ridden from alaska to here and what i think of those mental racers, who i admire more than any other racing genre racers. that evening KTM are having a conference. mike needs a new sensor desperate now. he has a ktm shirt. we must blag our way in and meet the stars and get his sensor. can i leave this city ?

Cordoba. they say the Americas cultural capital ?

Cordoba traffic. Not as nut case as other cities.





Carlos, his son , Luis and his son frank. All incredible people, who spent an afternoon helping and cheering up a total alien stranger. I would still be there now , leaning on that yellow shop head in hands, if it wasnt for them.

Ignacio, Luis, Mike, Frank and Elvio. All mates withing a matter of minutes. Elvio coaches a local basketball side. top luck to him ! Luis and frank run a car fixer and sprayers shop. All immaculate work. Ignacio a top translator. Gregg his brother is out of picture , coz he ran down a few blocks to get myself and mike a gift. Cordobans ! thank you !!

In the town of Villa Maria, where mikes bike was leaking oil. Jose at GAF MOTOS was no end of help and laughs. These boys no how to get the job done and laugh. the next day full of concerns and questons. not just letting yet another punter just go away.

Villa Maria, adado restuarant. this food is tasty incredible. more meat on that grill than the field next door ! sizzling and smoking all day long.

nearing Buenos Aires

New Years eve munch ! more and more meattttttt !!

New years eve celebrations. Quiet and funny. welcome 2009

A glimpse at the River Plate stadium. Buenos Aires

The russian NART TIME rally raid team. look out for them in the rally. number 356. racers : K . Zhiltsov and Y . Solouyev. friendly blokes who gave us time in a petrol stop.

Its an american designed engine that screams like a banshee exiting the fires of hell !

buttons, leavers and more buttons. how do you decide what button to press at 150 miles an hour in deep sand and altitude ? for hours on end

grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr !!!!

Senor Zhiltsov. driver of the NART TIME. squeezing time in his busy schedule to chat about the fragile x pedition. good luck chaps !

The Dakar bikes. ready to roll . all tuned and built for some real brutality. "they aint riding those bolivian roads i did though !" to scared i recon !

Dakar 2009. Argentina - Chile

What i would do for an hour on this beast

The KTM riders in conference.

Mike can be scene here pushing his luck. he managed to get the KTM team to not only take the needed oil sensor off one of their show bikes, they are fitting it for him also.
BIG THANKS TO : Raul Becker at Becker motos, Tucuman, Argentina
David Edgardo Paredes at Paredes motos, Cordoba, Argentina
Jose L.Saul at Gaf motos, Villa Maria, Argentina

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