Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Second accident in two days, Cafayate to Cachi

The guys at Riva Motos sorted my bike early the next morning and once ready I thanked them and rode a short off road section, including a river plain crossing out of Santa Maria.

Dodgy bike gets the thumbs up at Riva Motos
Crossing the river plain on the outskirts of Santa Maria
I only had to cover an easy paved 80km section along Ruta 40 to Cafayate so I had time to stop off at the Quilmes Ruins on the way.  Later I reached Cafayate, which is quite a touristy place all geared around the fine wines that are produced in this area.  I was aiming to meet up with my Oz mate Darren who I had not seen for a few months, but because of my puncture adventure I just missed him and he had left the day before.  So instead I checked into a hostel and literally crashed out as I was still tired from the day before.

The next day I woke early and decided to go to Cachi along Ruta 40.  But first I wanted to see Quebrada de Cafayate, also known as the Quebrada de las Conchas because it follows the Rio de las Conchas.  Its a famous Argentine landscape comprised of a series of strange rock formations with names such as “Garganta del Diablo” and “los Castillos” found just off Ruta 68 north of Cafayate.  It would mean I would have to ride 50km north and then double back to Cafayate before taking Ruta 40 to Cachi.  I’d been told months ago in Buenos Aires that it was worth seeing so after breakfast I headed up there. 

Ugly views along Ruta 68
Farmhouse along Ruta 68, Cafayate

Quebrada de Cafayate, also known as the Quebrada de las Conchas, can see Ruta 68 in the distance.
It was true, there was some stunning scenery and the road was in really good condition with lots of twisties to mess around with on the bike.  I took a fair few pictures and videos and typically for me I ate into a good chunk of the time I needed to get to Cachi.  In this one I tried to kill a dog but it ran off too soon.

Riding back to Cafayate I saw a short cut to Ruta 40 so thought it would be a good idea to take it, but as it didn’t show on the map I didn’t realise this included crossing a river.  It wasn’t too deep but was still deep enough to get my feet wet as you can see in this video – sorry its pretty damn shaky as its my usual hand-held work.

A few kms later I finally reached Ruta 40 at about 1pm.  I still had to go about roughly 150km, which although not too far is all offroad, so I had to allow time for this too.  As usual the scenery was spectacular, but the road condition definitely wasn’t.  There was the usual fine ripio where I could get some good speeds going, however this would suddenly change to hard corregrated gravel or sand.  The corregated gravel was uncomfortable and shook me and the bike to pieces so I tried to ride along the edge as close to the sand as was safe and this kept me going nicely enough.  However later in the day the sand increased and always seemed to be on the turns, of which there were many.  Not the easiest thing to ride through.

I was trying to capture some of the ride on video and because I don’t have a helmet camera like every other rider seems to have, I usually resort to using my camera and holding it up in my left hand.  I had just finished doing this, when I saw a left turn coming up fast which was typically sandy.  I tried to turn the best I could but holding the camera made it a little tricky and the sand forced me over to the right edge and I ran out of space.  I slowed as much as possible but it was too late and for the first time ever I fell off the bike.  I wasn’t hurt, just more surprised it happened really but my ankle was caught under the bike.  Luckily I’d fallen on loose sandy gravel on the edge of the road so I could dig it out using my other leg.  My luggage took the brunt of the impact so I needed to adjust it a fair amount to balance it out.  Having so much luggage did mean the bike had not been damaged, so I carried on feeling pretty good to have had my first fall out of the way so easily.

My first ever fall and video below that caused it

Soon after though I noticed my throttle kept sticking in the on position, so I had to stop to see what was going on.  There was some sand stuck in the handle so I played around with it for a bit to free it and went on my way again.  The rest of the afternoon was much the same, a lot of sand and a few dodgy moments but no more falls and I arrived in Cachi in the late afternoon.  Using my GPS I found the campsite but it was a strange place at the bottom of a hill and there were small floods all over the place that didn’t instil confidence that it was a good spot to camp.  I parked up and while I looked for a dry area to put up the tent a guy from Salta who was staying in one of the cabins came over and started to talk to me.  

Within one minute of talking he completely freaked me out.  Some of the stuff he said was pretty out there and when he started saying that I could share his cabin with him and his two friends (who didn’t seem to exist), I politely made my excuses and sped out of there to find another place to stay.  What is it about some people in camp sites the world over?

Finding places was easy enough, but due to the laissez faire approach to things around here, actually finding someone at any reception was not easy so it took me an hour to find a combination of the two.  Eventually I found a hostel and booked in for the night in a dorm room.  There was no parking at all so with the help of some decent people from Buenos Aires who were staying in the hostel we carried my bike into the reception area.   So today 250km covered, with 170km of those offroad.  My arms and legs ache like hell and my eyes are pretty bloodshot from the dust, but all in all am feeling pretty good.

1 comment:

  1. 'Glad you got your first fall out of the way..' Ok.. Typical you to ride a bike one~handed while filming!! Brilliant blog. I get excited whenever I see you have updated it. Sending you lots of love xxxx