This time it’s the clutch. On the PanAm 5 highway pulling into the umpteenth toll road and she stalls because I can’t gear out of 6th, 100km from Santiago, Chile.
Pump the clutch handle, stomp on the clutch pedal and we are in neutral, first gear take-off, stalls! Now what, still on the highway, now obstructing traffic, push bike to the middle (you know just past the toll gates there is a spot of no-man’s land) (Cathy adding…. when Andrew says push the bike it means Cathy jumps off and pushes the bike across the highway with Andrew steering!!!!!!). Ok, must get into Santiago……Cath is on, and I am run starting the bike straddling my saddle, still in neutral……drop the clutch and she howls into first gear and we are off…..crunch crunch and we make it all the way to 6th. Now we are cruising to Santi! It so happens that our hostel is just off the highway. Stomping on the pedal to get us into second coming off the highway at 100 we shoot every stop street and stall on the pavement outside the hostel? Enough to make one’s heart skip a few beats! For the ultimate luck, the place we eventually parked the bike, had a local car mechanic who was most intrigued with our problem and semi-knowledgeable about BMW. Bear in mind, the BMW dealership is still a hellova long way from us. Short before long and screwdriver shoved into the heart of our steed, her clutch is running smoothly…….will this last…..untill we get her to a dealer to make sure!
Prior to all of this excitement we have put ourselves and the bike through a few tough days.
Cath had a speed wobble when were crossing a river so I had to get off and check the riverbed – in the interim, the bike then rolled over its side stand on the muddy bank ( I could not reverse uphill)! Thanks to Jan du Toit’s course on off road biking many years ago, I was able to lift the bike, fully loaded, out of the river 😉
We did this traverse across Parque National Villarica, just outside Pucon in Chile. It was meant to be a ‘shortcut’ from one side of the lake, across a pass to Pucon.
Well, it’s a gravel road of about 80km of which 20km took us 3 hours. This section was through the actual Parque. At one point there was a 100m stretch where a bulldozer was bogged down in the mud! We dismounted and examined a line to take adding the occasional log to the route for traction. With Cath off the bike and filming (and walking the route to make sure it was fine to ride) and the 2 tractor drivers watching in fascination I take our line and blast across this terrain; knee deep mud, short deep puddle of water, roots and log planking – the GS did us proud!
In broken Spanish I ask the guys what the rest of the route is like and they say emphatically that it’s not negotiable by car, but bike is ok. We establish later, that this is very much the case. (Cath adding…. When I asked Andrew for the translation he left out the part that the route was not negotiable by car… when I found this out I was NOT a happy wife!!!!!)
Our next obstacle was a 45degree incline badly washed away in the middle with a big lip at the edge, i.e. you get wheelied. At this point Cath has run away uphill as far as she can so as not to watch! Again, choosing a line carefully, I drop the clutch and tear up the incline keeping the revs high (and cooking the clutch a bit); I make the lip with my front wheel but it kicks at the rear wheel dislodging the limited traction and sending it laterally. A hard wrench of the accellator swings the rear around to connect with the washed out side of the track offering purchase and I am shot forward and upright again into the line. Cath’s face was ashen when I met her 100m later, all she could hear was a screaming engine!
Eventually over the pass and the downhill begins – narrow track with a deeply washed out central portion and angled sides (muddy, so can’t ride here). Centre the bike in the middle rut and let the gears guide is down a very steep pass!
Cath has been hopping on and off the bike the whole day – a lot of the in between sections had lots of roots sticking into the track – fully loaded, I have to be careful not to bottom out the shock, so Cath has to jump off repeatedly!
(Cath adding….. I really didn’t mind walking or running…. at one stage I chose to rather run up a very very steep hill dressed in full leathers carrying a helmet…. for those of you who know me well this will give you an indication of how terrifying it was for me!!!)
We eventually made it to the last river crossing – see the link to our video upload. Here we met up with 4 septogenerians on a trip in their 4×4 into the Parque. We warned them it was crazy and their response was to offer us lunch! We subsequently spent the rest of the afternoon sharing their food and telling our story.
Phenomenal Chilean hospitality again! Spontaneously, they offered us a place to stay in La Serena, 300km north of Santiago!
Their 4×4 got stuck going across the river, so when it was our turn we had a full on audience! (Cath adding…. to cross the river we had two choices… see the pictures… either across a log or across a river!!!!
Andrew drove like a star across the river. Have a look at the link…. quite something)
The things to do in Pucon, are basically twofold – climb Chile’s most active volcano (Cath’s post) and go to a hot spring.
The geometric hot springs of Pucon. Where searingly hot water bubbles out of the ground……..there must be a volcano near by! 🙂
These natural springs have been well commercialised throughout the area. This particular one gives one an opportunity to walk about 400m up a gulley with serially created man-made pools of varying temperatures all fed by diverting part of the hot water streams through them. We are at the tail end of the summer season, so were fortunate enough to have the entire ravine to oursleves as night fell and the galaxy revealed itself!
Tomorrow heralds the truth behind getting the clutch and hopefully of new rear tyre!