So what are the highlights for me so far? I think the friendliness and helpfulness of practically everyone we have encountered. We don't speak much Spanish but everyone has gone out of their way to be helpful.
Extremes of temperature in such a short space of time: riding for hours in temperatures of 36.5 degrees Celsius made me feel nauseous; and the Patagonian winds we encountered were ferocious.
On the morning we left Puerto Madryn and climbing up out of the town on an old road we got to the summit and a new motorway lay ahead of us. But that was surpassed by the view that confronted us - it was amazing, and words can't describe it. Just one gigantic open landscape as far as the eye could see. It was as if you could actually see the curvature of the earth! The sky was just so big. We had arrived in Patagonia.
Then those winds hit us and we rode for most of the next 5 hours with a crosswind that was scary. Overtaking was a heart in your mouth experience as the bike would be sucked along by the slipstream of big trucks, and once you'd passed them the wind hit you again and you had to apply full throttle and lean into the wind to counteract its force. I had to keep reminding myself to relax the muscles in my body, not tense them as the bike and I are being sideswiped by winds that had me wondering if I'd be blown off the road or into an oncoming truck, bus or car! I'd read about it but until you experience it or see a motorbike and rider at a 60 degree angle struggling to stay in a straight line it's hard to imagine. Riding in those winds for hours on end and day after day was very tiring.
We've managed to get into cheap hotels and hostels after our first two nights camping and tomorrow night when we hope to be away from winds, rainstorms and the coldest places we'll get back to our tents.
We've been on quite a lot of Ripio, especially today - we had just crossed the border again from Argentina to Chile at San Sebastian on Tierra del Fuego stayed the night at the hostel in this remote settlement, and set off this morning with an 88 mile ride in front of us on Gravel roads or Ripio as they are known locally. We were so glad we had done our off road training with Clive Rumbold at Moto Scotland in Inveraray. We encountered many things on this ride not to mention having the crap scared out of me several times as I thought I was about to go down as the bike dived about in the loose gravel. I just had to remember Clive’s words – “Don’t look down, look ahead and the bike will take you through it!”. The flock of sheep blocking the road were also unexpected, as was the People Carrier in the middle of the road with a shredded tyre. We later met those people on the ferry and it turned out they were from Sydney!
The pressure was also on as we had to catch the only ferry of the day at 2pm in Porvenir to Punta Arenas on mainland Chile. The ferry ticket cost approx $7 a head including the bikes. It was an amazing sail in perfect weather across the Magellan Straight (which connects the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans). We saw dolphins and whales and I got some good video with my camera as well. Punta Arenas is a lovely place and a great place to start the next stage of our journey… Raymond 14/2/2015.