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2018 Tierra del Fuego Adventure

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Chapter Two Dispatch from Nick Gudewill




I have chosen to share day 31 of our South America GlobeRiders tour. It is full of adventure and intrigue at least for this writer. My blog contact is below, NG


Please go to
to read Missive #5- Day 31, Tue, Feb 27th to Day 40 Thur, Mar 8th
If you would like to see hourly tracks, elevation, speed and lat/long info go to:
Nick's inReach Tracking Map for DeLorme readouts; there are a few gaps where the tracking device was not turned on, NG

Day 37, Mon, Mar 5th
To San Juan, 621 km


Of the three trips I have made, today was probably my toughest riding day as a GlobeRiders. Let me try and explain.

When we came in last night to Belen, it was a warm sweaty afternoon, no reason not to expect the same today. Before leaving almost the first out I said to Helge, looks like a nice day out there, yes, Helge says, I think it will be nice day too. Just before 8 am, 623 kilos to go, our longest on this tour, may as well be positive.


The first sense of things was a relatively short thunder and lightning storm that I could see would be in my way. I only got time to put on my top waterproof rain cover and it started to pour down. I got completely soaked on the bottom end and it was a bit eerie working my way through the noise and downpour for about 15 minutes.


Next up was a crosswind, a really strong one. It was literally trying to rip off my 3.5 pound Schuberth helmet. I wanted to stop to get a sense of the wind strength of this monster and then thought "best that I don't know, just deal with it". Sand, dust and all sorts of debris flew across the road, lucky the traffic was quiet. It was in excess of 40 knots with gusts and buffeted the hell out of me, not pleasant.

Finally I turned nearly in to it so it wasn't quite as bad. Soon, however, there was another black cloud up ahead. My lower end had dried out a bit by now so I stopped and put on my extra wet gear, also my XX large rubber fishing gloves over my normal ones.

We are 2 hours into about a, 8-9 hour day so just getting started.


Next, the rain starts pouring down, like really pouring, like a flash flood. I come (I think) first to this town called Chilecito and pull in to this nice gas station with a coffee bar and an overhang where I can get out of the deluge and fuel up. The water is running down the streets like a fast running river bouncing off parked vehicles and all sorts of things.



Fifteen minutes later in comes Vince and Linda looking like drowned rats. Now I know what I look like! Vince announces that Linda will dry up and wait for the chase vehicle. By now I am ready to move out again.


There was no breakfast this morning except a bowl of cereal, a banana and a luke warm cafe au lait with some sugar added. I buy a sub sandwich and find out later it is two stale pieces of bread, no butter, no cheese or lettuce and exactly 4 pieces of very thin salami.

This is just a warm up, I am hardly getting started and it is near 11 am.


Navigating out of Chilecito was like hydro planing on a Seado in the summer. Water everywhere. I brought my knees up to my elbows at every intersection, through every large water area. It was kind of fun actually because I had not seen anything like this before.


I got out of town and the green line was taking me to the mountains, no surprise. A few twists and turns later I start to climb. I am trying to see through the deluge of rain and fogged visor cover so going quite cautiously. I get to this flashing light road block with a guy there in a stopped car. No officials at that moment to order me around. He is signaling bad road up ahead. It is the green line, I press on.


It is a nice road, I am by myself, the debris is amazing, rocks, gravel, boulders everywhere have poured off the steep slopes. The stuff is strewn all over the place. Only a motorcycle could navigate it.



I climb to the top elevation gingerly and start coming down the other side. Around a bend, suddenly, there are parked cars and two bikes stopped in front of this wide, deep, incredible body of water over 100' long flowing right across the road like river!


As usual, Franco is one step ahead of me and has things mostly cased out, however few options. One guy, a Brazilian called Gustavo was hugely helpful. He was coming the opposite way and had been there for bit less than an hour. He had driven across the washed out road before it got too bad. He was driving a motorbike exactly like ours and I could tell was very experienced.



Another man and his wife were also eager to help. We waited awhile, gathered our courage and Franco elected to have a go at it. The man and his wife would run interference in their vehicle. I said to Gustavo, "I can tell you are way better at this than me, want to have a go at it on my bike, I will travel in the couples car and you can come back with them". He was a bit reluctant but then agreed and through the river they both went up to their axles.


We are now on the other side and say our goodbyes along with big hugs.


Little did we know what awaited us! Three more big crossings and no Gustavo! We get to the next one, just as big as the previous one and there is no choice but to suck it up. You have to be very firm and confident, stand up on the pedals, fix your gaze at a place on the other side and for sure not lose your nerve.


Second one completed and on to the third. This time we have some swagger and away goes Franco; only trouble is, he gets bogged down in a whole bunch of silt towards the far end and over goes the bike and him. In a jiff I plough through the crap, get to the other side and race over to help him lift the bike. Lucky, it starts first time and no harm done except a wet body and frazzled nerves realizing what can happen.


The next one was potentially the worst because the water was rushing so fast we can see and hear the rocks big and small rolling over on the roadway hidden underneath. A few cars are waiting too then one big pick up goes for it and we watch him go bumpety bump. Must wait. Franco wades out into the fray and doesn't like what he sees, and feels.



We wait about an hour, it seems to go down a bit, time to give it a try because no turning back. Through we go, high fives, feeling good.

Now we are in a lower valley area and want to believe we are home free. Raging, angry water nearby, no way!

About 20 minutes of nice driving later we come to another immense water crossing, the longest, deepest yet; a dozen vehicles, maybe two dozen humans milling around, waiting. They have seen this movie before. We haven't. I engage every single one of them trying to ascertain the issues but no 'speeky zee eengleesh' leaves me perplexed (my fault entirely). I kind of gather there are 3 to 4 more like this and no one is moving, too dangerous. Time is getting on, how much daylight is left, will we be camping out?



The problem with all of this besides the stress is that we are in up to our eyeballs, on our own, no language facility and it is pretty dangerous stuff. One slip up and the bike can wind up down the river, ruined, gone, trip over, no way of recovery.


Finally two police guys show up and I get out my all weather national geographic map. I also have my google translate going a bit. Chatter, chatter. It is warming up, rain over but no idea how much more has to come down off the mountains before it all subsides.


Luckily the wife of this older couple arrives and she speaks a bit of English. She is able to translate what the policeman has been trying to tell me all along. There is another route, a new road, much better, no water on it, you have to back track a half hour to Villa Union then take a secondary route south one more hour to Los Baldecitos and then you can get on the road westward to your destination San Juan still 250 klics away after this traverse. The road on my map is a dotted line only so we are putting all of our faith in his recommendation. 


We have been there over an hour and it is now 4:04 pm according to the InReach message I have sent to Helge to let him know whats up. Off we go on a whim and a prayer. Franco needs fuel asap so I get some too and all this wastes precious daylight time with a 2 km traverse to find the stuff in Villa Union.


We race down the secondary road at a speedy rate hoping that we will have a paved road to navigate at dusk. For sure, we do not want to be out in the mountains on gravel after dark. We get to the turn off and voila, a lovely paved road through a national park; very windy and twisty but glorious scenery. Thanks Mr. Policeman! By this time we were pretty damn tired, the sun is receding faster than we would like and full attention was required so no time for photo ops.



It is 100 further klics to get to our treasured green line detour point. We stop for some cookies and water and a very short break. Franco says "okay Nick, 180 to go, let's get this done! It is now 7:30 ish and off we go taking turns on the lead.


The sunset was truly spectacular, the shadows on the hills made it all worthwhile. Sometime after 9:30 pm and 795 km total distance (approx 170 back tracking km), we got to our hotel.


The others had to detour differently around other wash outs and had arrived a bit earlier. We were a lot further ahead and had wired back the problems so that they could adjust. I could tell Helge was pretty proud of our efforts and ability to get out of the mess.

Case closed on a great day albeit a little taxing for Nick and Franco! 


Chapter Two Dispatch from Vincent Cummings


Last journal was from Cartagena up to Cusco this one is suppose to cover Cusco to Santiago.  I said “supposed to cover” because, unless you keep a daily journal, there is so much that happens everyday that it is impossible to remember each place and the things we did (well impossible for some of us).


There has been great roads, interesting side trips, city tours, interesting people, great hotels, funky motels, remote border towns, adventures on the road and of course the group and its dynamics all add up to make this one heck of trip traveling through South America on two wheels.


Some of the highlights if you can say such a thing, on trip like this when everyday is a highlight would be visiting Machu Picchu that entailed 3 hour bus ride each way and 2 hour train ride each way, but even the traveling to get there had great moments. I won’t talk about Machu Picchu it’s self you can Google it, but what I would say is it’s worth putting on your bucket list. Another highlight from Cusco would be when my wife and a couple others from the group traveled the day after Machu Picchu to Marble Mountain, they started at 3:30 am and got back around 6:30pm. A long day but from their stories and their photos it was worth getting up early and traveling by bus, horseback and hiking to see this amazing wonder.


From Cusco we spent a night in Puno and Twanaku Peru. In Twanaku we visited the floating islands, again something worth putting on the bucket list. The floating islands on lake Titicaca was a fun day with interesting sights stories and lots of laugher as all the ladies in the group and one guy dressed up in the brightly colored traditional clothing. From our visit to the floating islands we head to the border to leave Peru and enter into Chile.


Border crossing can sometime require 4-6 hours and there are line ups to get your documents and paper work processed to leave one country, yourself and your bike, then enter another country, yourself and your bike. All this requiring lining up presenting documents filling in forms and waiting for them to be processed, so patience is a good thing to have. That said, there is always something or someone of interest at the border crossing to keep you entertained.


La Paz was are next main stop over for a couple of days, we had a nice hotel, an interesting city tour and a couple of nice restaurants. One restaurant on the top floor of the hotel that gave us a panoramic view of the city at night which was pretty spectacular because the city is surrounded by a ring of mountains that is full of lights at night.  Driving in La Paz was one of the wildest traffics I’ve driven a motorcycle in. It’s a challenge no two ways about it and traffic is slow because it is so packed with trucks and cars. In a way it was fun in an interesting sort of way to drive into and then out of the city. Not that it was really dangerous just that traffic was so tight that you couldn’t leave any space between you and the car in front of you or someone would be cutting in, lots of jockeying to work your way through. I’m glad I got the opportunity again to ride through La Paz that said I was also glad when we finally got out of the city onto some open highway.                                


Next was Uyuni and the Bolivian Salt flats, largest in the world. We stayed right out on the edge of the salt flats, in a funky hotel made out of salt, even the tables & chairs were carved out of salt. We got to hire a couple of Toyota Land Cruisers to take us for the day onto the salt flats. This time of year the salt flats had a layer of water a few inches deep covering almost the entire salt flat. The effect of the water on the salt flats was to make it like a giant mirror, totally spectacular. With some creative photos taken by Helge of the group and us individually along with a lunch out in the middle of the Salt flats made for an amazing day. Again add this to your bucket list. 


We had a great ride into Potosi, Boliva, another very interesting place, with lots of history that is wrapped around the 400 years of mining for silver out of the local mountain. The whole city, it’s existence then and now is tied into this mountain of silver. Google it and check out some facts, better yet visit the place when you are knocking off some of the other places on your South America bucket list.


From Potosi we had a long ride but an epic ride through the mountains to Tarija. From here we crossed the border into Oran, Argentina, right away you notice the difference in the two countries/cultures and the standard of living.  Then a couple days in Salta, Argentina followed by Belen and San Juan, lots of stories from the road lots of great days. At Upsallata we cross back into Chile by taking an off-road mountain pass up the Argentinian side of the mountain and down the other side of the mountain into Argentina. After clearing the Chilean border we lunched at the famous ski resort Portillo. I would have to say that riding this pass over the mountain was a highlight for sure, if you adventure ride put it on you bucket list. This day ended arriving into the capital of Santiago Chile [approx. 6.5 million people]. Checked into the Crown Plaza where I stayed 8 years ago and experienced an 8 point something earthquake for 90 seconds, when I saw the hotel I had another one of those Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance moments I spoke of in my last journal.


I get asked a bunch of questions about doing a trip like this; one of the most common questions is what is the biggest challenge. I’ve thought about that a lot and what I’ve come up with is it’s not the risk of riding a motorcycle through a foreign country in dense traffic, rough roads, border crossings or the language barriers or the weather or anything like that for me it’s the challenge of not comparing everything with back home. Because when I do start to compare I lose the ability to accept things as they are and when I do that I lose the power of being in the moment, of being present, lose the sense of appreciation and gratitude and I lose magic of the whole experience. And then the trip becomes just another ride, it becomes about the destination and not the journey itself, and I also forget that today is another great day to be a GlobeRider.



Vincent's Photo Gallery



Helge's Chpater Two Photo Gallery

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