Infamous Argentina Route 40

The wind howled all night as we slept at the ranch. Since the wind typically has increased as the day progressed, I could only imagine what we might be in for on the road. And we had a big day of riding: 300 miles, mostly gravel, and a time consuming border crossing to take us into Chile. This would be our last day of riding Ruta 40 in Patagonia.

Well rested, I believed that I was up to the challenge. Navigating the 2-mile dirt path out of La Estancia went well. When I turned onto Ruta 40, I was greeted by mounds of loose stones with variable firmer tire tracks in which to ride. I’m not a superstitious person, however, today’s route notes were page 13 of our Section 2 hand outs. While riding the 13th mile of the day, the unthinkable happened. Supposedly, speed can be your friend when maneuvering on variable surfaces. I’m still not sure if I was going too fast or too slow and how much effect the horrendous wind had on my situation. I do know that my front tire wound up buried in a 6” deep section of loose stones, stopping it NOW. The rear of my bike spun to the left. I wound up flying over the bike, breaking the tank bag mounts, landing on my left shoulder with my face planted in the stones. All off road and dual sport riders know that, like football, riding can be a contact sport. That’s why we wear full face helmets, strong riding suits that contain shoulder, elbow, hip and knee padding, substantial boots and metal reinforced gloves. My gear was called on to do its job. The only damage to my riding gear was to my helmet. The visor and flip up front section were ripped from their mounts. I’m very happy that my face does not now look like the visor or the helmet’s front piece.

I think I now understand how Brett Favre felt on nearly 300 Mondays during his football career. My left shoulder told me that I had not been kind to it. I hope it will forgive me.

After a few minutes to take pictures, assess damage, and calm down, I again mounted the bike. With 287 miles of adventure remaining, daylight was burning. When we came to the day’s one short section of tarmac, I thought we could make up some time. My Suzuki V-Strom 650 had been able to cruise at 92 mph, without being wide open, on the speed unregulated autobahn in Germany. With today’s strong head and cross winds, at one point I was only able to go 58 mph at full throttle! Kevin said that we were experiencing the strongest winds he’s encountered in his 7 rides through Patagonia.

Kevin led me on a ride that had such a beautiful section along Lake Buenos Aires, that I was able to salvage much good in this tough day. During a photo stop, an Andean Condor was soaring majestically in the sky above.

Reaching our beautiful, lake side, log cabins for the night’s stay involved riding down a STEEP drive that had been covered in loose rock since the Globebuster’s last visit. In my exhausted state, I did not notice the impossible for me road condition and proceeded to crash land again. At least this time it was at a very slow speed. 

22-Jan Saturday La Angostura, Arg- Baja Caracoles – Perito Moreno – Puerto Guadal, Chile 297 miles

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