Monday, 25 June 2012

Test run to Valparaiso

Woke early and rode to Calle Lira, my most frequented haunt in Santiago.  I’ve been there so much that many of the people along there simply call me “el Ingles”.  Without much bike knowledge I bought what I thought would be useful, spare parts that I think might be good for later; spark plugs, oil filter, spare chain, little tree air freshener, that kind of thing.  Got the inner tube replaced too, during which in broken Spanish had to explain my plans to the mechanic.  Everyone I meet and tell them what I am planning think it is not possible.  The mechanic was the same, to the point that he had to get another mechanic to come over to tell me so.  I’m sure it is, so I will keep planning.  I will get out of Santiago and over the Andes in the height of Winter!

Anyway….Once all this was done I went back to the hostel, packed and somehow managed to get all my things tied down to the back of my bike.  I finally left at 3pm looking like a Vietnamese local on a scooter carrying all my worldly possessions.  Happy to be getting out of the big city to Valparaiso and more importantly a test run for the bike and me.  It was a good feeling, on a motorbike and free to disappear and get on with what I wanted to do.  I didn’t care that I missed the turning to the main motorway, the route I was taking was far more scenic, through tiny towns and past huge vineyards.  Even going along small roads that wound up huge hills.  I think the area was Maipu – amusingly pronounced “my poo” if thats your kind of humour, it was a really beautiful area despite the name.  

I was loving this so much that I lost track of time and it wasn’t until the hills turned into mountains and it became cold and dark that I noticed I had forgotten to turn off my GPS when I left Santiago.  The darkness helped the low battery sign shine nice and bright and more alarmingly helped remind me that I would have to go without it in Valparaisoo when I get there.  At this point I was fairly confused as I should have arrived at Valpariaso but instead was still going through the mountains in the middle of nowhere. It was a bit unnerving but kept going mainly because I didn’t know what else to do.  Eventually I found a road that took me to the motorway.  

The detour was much longer than I realised, I’d travelled more than the distance needed to get to Valpariaso and I still had some 80km in the dark to get there in what felt like freezing temperatures.  I’m going to have to get more warm clothes for the Andes crossing for sure.  The motorway section was boring, cold and not fun with all with the huge trucks.  It would seem the headlight on a Chinese Euromot is more of a token gesture – you get a massive 3 metre length beam.  Still I eventually made it to down to sea level fine and entered a balmy 9 degree Valparaiso.  It took me a good 90 mins longer than I thought (a lifetime on a freezing bike) and even longer to find somewhere to stay that was safe for the bike.  Anyway despite riding twice the needed distance I made it safely, shattered and cold.  

Conclusion, in future no night riding, more clothes needed and perhaps a bit more obvious but check the route before.  I still need maps, but can’t find them to buy anyway yet!
Sorry no pics this time too cold to stop!

EDIT: Geography lesson…I have since found out that the Andes actually comprise of 2 mountain ranges, the famous Cordillera Oriental between Chile and Argentina and the Cordillera Occidental between Santiago and Valparaiso – sort of explains why it got quite high and why I was so cold on the bike.  Maybe should have researched this a little bit more.

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