Friday, February 26, 2010

El Calafate to Gobernador Gregores - February 23

We stopped for Cafe con Leche at a YPF Service Station before leaving El Calafate and were not surprised to see the pumps closed given the line-ups by the locals the previous evening.  It is not uncommon for Argentinian towns to run out of fuel due to the remoteness of parts of the country.
The first section of Ruta 40 to Tres Lagos was paved  and an easy ride taking us past Mount Fitz Roy with a spectacular vista.  Mount Fitz Roy is also known as El Chalten, which means "smoking mountain" attributed to the cloud that forms around the mountains peak.

The next 25km was the most difficult ripio we've experienced yet - long sections of deep, loose, tennis ball size stones, punctuated by sand, deep ruts, and the occasional watermelon size boulder sticking up out of the ground.  We stopped for a breather and a road side snack and just before mounting up I realized the ripio had done a number on my bike.  Two bolts connect the lower sub-frame to the frame behind the transmission, but in my case the left bolt was gone and the right bolt was resting in place but the corresponding nut welded to the frame had sheared!  I had pulled over for a rest a few moments ahead of a much more sudden stop.
The arrow points to the location of the missing bolt.

Fortunately, we had a proper size spare nut and bolt along, and with the help of an old piece of 4x4 post from a nearby broken sign I was able to lever the subframe into alignment and replace the missing bolt. 

Following a once over to check for any other rattled nuts and bolts, we were about to get underway when another rider approached from the north. We were surprised to see it was another Canadian!  Greg George has been riding for four months, having left New Brunswick in November.

We stopped for lunch of empanadas and cerveza at an Estancia near Lago Cardiel, where I made another new friend to share my lunch and a siesta with.
The rest of the days 200km of ripio was far less challenging and we arrived in Gobernador Gregores by 8pm and put up for the night.

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