Was talking today about riding the coast allll the way south for a month with a buddy of mine...
The "Rental Glide" infront of Boot Hill.
It all started with a dream: Take the winter off, see the world, avoid aviation.
It was Mid-October and I had just accepted a position with a smaller company for the following season on floats. Still being on contract with the current company I offered two solutions, either I would work until the end of the contract or because the busy season was long since over, I would happily accept a lay-off to give others the miles I would have flown. Three days later I was happily unemployed plotting my assault on the southern hemisphere. Without doing a terrible amount of research I came to the conclusion that I should fly to Santiago, Chile and purchase a bike for an adventure though the country.
It had been quite some time since I had been a motorcycle, thankfully an uncle in YPW had a little 800cc cruiser kicking around. I graciously accepted his offer to take it off his hands for a December tour of Vancouver Island and the sunshine coast. It was bitterly cold in the rain and occasional slush, but the opportunity to visit former colleagues and some new ones was worth the torture that I put my body though on the ride. Thank you all for your hospitality on the trip, I look forward to tasting more home made Grappa, hearing about new gigs, and stories of shinanigans that the new rotation job brings you (you all know who you are). With renewed faith in my ability to ride in less then desirable conditions I boarded AC92 for SCL.
The triple seven greased on the pavement a half day later to the applause of those on board. I fled the airport and made my way to Calle Lira, the bike capital of Santiago. Expecting to find a good selection of classic bikes, I was a little shocked on arrival. 125-250cc Chinese knock offs as far as the eye could see. Settling on the "Euromot GXT200" I began the process of purchase. After days of government officials angrily pointing at forms I could not read (my Spanish consisted of a few key sentences including: Dos Cerveza Porfavor and Dondes esta el Bano) I had acquired the bike, insurance and registration in my name.
The first test ride of the bike took me to the west coast and through the Casablanca wine vineyards. She handled better then expected and cruised at a comfortable 80km/h. Now it was time to test it on gravel, the Andes seemed like the logical solution. Enroute to my chosen camping location I was winding around a very sharp right on a VERY narrow mountain pass. Moments before this a bus had decided to stop in the middle of the one lane to pick up a hitchhiker. Thankfully my head took most of the force from the impact, and other then some "minor" cosmetic damage the bike was fine. To be quite honest it was a little nerve racking lying pinned under my bike under a bus... Another forum member put it pretty correctly "So you were driving to fast and crashed into a parked vehicle?". After the collision I spend a few days testing out the myth of hypoxia by camping well north of the 10,000 ft mark. Hypoxia is for weaker people I happily thought to myself after several relaxing nap filled days.
The journey really began after the camping trip when I set out on a 3,500km ride down to Patagonia. I zigged and zagged my way down the narrow body of Chile. Eventually I had reached the famous Carterra Austral. I'm not sure I will ever find a better road to ride on. Simply put it was breath taking. Around every corner lay either a crystal clear lagoon fed by waterfalls, a stunning glacier or an emerald green river. I was so enthralled with the feeling of riding through Mordor I Failed to take a single picture for the 800km. I justified this decision to myself as a vacation from my vacation, and it was worth it.
Finally it came time to cross into Argentina. There was about 30km between border posts on thin gravel road skirting the largest lake in this neck of the world. I arrived at the boarder, proud of my accomplishment so far, and met a very annoyed boarder guard. More pointing and yelling in some foreign dialect (I was later told it was "Spanish") he sent me back to Chile to get an exit stamp for my motorcycle. A little annoyed at my ignorance, I decided to have some fun and off road the way back to Chile. Minutes later time seemed to slow down during my first unintentional moving dismount of the bike. Instantly I knew something was amiss with my thumb, the blue and black colors confirmed my suspicions that something was wrong. As did the swelling... similar to F/O's at LCC's trying to cooker KD for hours to get more bang for their buck, my thumb was large enough to no longer fit my gloves. The pain was not too bad but it was extremely hard to operated the clutch. I had about 800km more to go before the next hospital, and decided I had better get a good chunk of it done, I was certain it would hurt more the next day. I was right.
After the most painful 760km of my riding life, the chain flew off the rear sprocket 40km outside my destination of El Calafate. After some quick tinkering the bike limped into the the city, and found me a liquor store to help with the stress of the last few days. I had told a friend (from glider and power, years before) that I would meet him for the Torres Del Paine trek on a date that was approaching faster then the closure rate of two firewalled twin otters. I decided that my thumb must be sprained not broken (I was wrong), so I skipped the hospital and made for park like a wounded llama. After a beautiful 120km hike, my thumb was still sore, X-Rays followed... confirmed broken, and some permanent damage due to not getting it set properly. Shit, that's going to make the coming seasons loading more fun, I though as I exited the hospital.
After several weeks of hiking in Patagonia, I decided to take the ferry back to mainland Chile. I had been blessed up to this point with relatively good weather, and my thumb had slowed my ability to ride non stop all day, so the ferry would save me several days of travel. The journey to city of Puerto Natales, for those of you as fluent in espanol as me, Puerto means Port, was windy. Very windy... You know those photos of mighty 747's going into Kai Tak with more crabbing then a brothel? I couldn't keep the bike on the road it was so strong. The solution ended up being driving perpendicular to the the far left side of the road, then making a dash for it as I was pushed towards the right side of the road, repeat. I managed to turn a 40km straight stretch into the most intense switch backs I've ever experienced.
The chain departed the bike again... this time both sprockets... no worries I have dealt with this before. SHIT! I exclaimed as I discovered my rachet set had grown legs and wondered off somewhere. I eventually cut my through the guard, well partially, my knife broke. In the end a screw driver and a rock acted as a chisel set to finish the surgery on the bike and restore her to her original glory... and a little added duct tape.
Since arriving back on mainland Chile I've been slowing making my way back up to Santiago to sell the bike and head back to work. It's been a great escape from the frozen north and my real life. I'm writing this to encourage all you low time pilots who think hours are the most important thing... they are not, take a break from aviation once and a while. You won't miss the couple hundred hours when you are old, you will miss the opportunities of a life time if you don't.
SCL-YYZ-YVR April 15th, if you are in the Flying Beaver area (assuming I make all my connections and customs lets me back in with what I can only assume is going to be 10 gallons of fine wine) on the 16th at 1030, I'll be the guy with several pints staring blankly at the airplanes flying by trying to pretend I'm still on vacation and not back in reality.
Kudos to esp803 for taking us along, and to the mods of avcanada for allowing this non=aviation thread to remain a great entertainment source.
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Thanks for posting it's some great stories and like you say, they'll be things you'll be glad you did later.
Spring is coming.....so is Christmas 2013!
Keep your chin up Doc!!
And, a shot of the lads in the snow...
Methinks that's the message. We might risk some 60's and 70's muscle cars. Roadrunners and the like. That'd probably be pretty safe. No "sharps" or things that go "bang", though.Rowdy wrote:Perhaps if we keep it to photos and motorcycles, the thread will stay?
You still drive that Beemer? That day at Tim's, I think you had a 5 series?
Repost that pic of your Bonnie. I had a '68 that I bought....NEW!
Theres the cooper, and some planes. Because, well, this is after all an aviation forum
Heres both the toys temporary parking spot.
The Bonnie last summer up the sunshine coast. Was a perfect three day trip!
The cooper and the Bonnie.
Spotted this from Cleveland Cycles the other day. Sure would be a riot for blasting around town on. Makes me ponder...
They certainly do draw you in.Doc wrote:Rowdy, I'm considering unloading the Bandit for a new Bonnie. Just "considering" it for now. Miss my old one. Test drove a new on in AZ and kind of liked it.
I figure I get 40km to a 'what year is that?' ahaha but yeah, it's been great so far. Albeit mine aint close to stock.