Monday, February 19, 2007

Go with the flow

We bumped in to Mark and Daisy from the UK on an Africa Twin ( en-route to Riobamba who were coming the other way. It was great fun to meet up with them but a shame we were headed in different directions as it would have been great to go for a piss up with them. Some other time guys!

Mark and Daisy!

After staying in a nice Riobamba hostel with slightly strange owners (recommended by M&D), we were heading off to Baños, not the toilet but a spa town about 65kms north, about an hour or so´s drive away. All was going well until we came across a bit of a landslide which had taken the road with it. Now I tried for about half an hour trying to get the KLR over it but had to admit defeat in the end. While we were turning around, what did we see but a Catapillar earth mover coming our direction and it turned out they were just going to clear the road. And about an hour or so later, it was clear enough for us to ride across, cheers lads! Very bizzare that it had happened in August last year and they turned up to fix it while we were there.




Don´t look down

So that was the end of the problems or so we thought. It was actually just the beginning. Rounding the bend, I came across a totally impassable section caused by a rather lava flow. Again thinking that we´d need to turn back, I started turning around when 3 locals (yep 3) on a 200cc bike waved us onwards. We followed them to the edge of the flow and I watched the driver manouever the little bike down into a steep gulley and up the other side via a really narrow section of loose volcanic rock. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Baños is on the other side of a rather active volcano. And when it says that the road is closed, it probably really means it.

Gritting my teeth, I went down the same route but became quickly aparent that my large bike was really going to struggle here. Luckily the locals assisted and I got the lardy beast through. Going back to do the same with the KLR, Michelle asked the locals if that was it and it turned out there were several more of these before hitting Baños- great.

And so it went for the rest of the journey. The small bike going first dumping its 2 passengers before tackling the obstacle, nervously followed by me on the GS. We´d have to take my panniers off as some of the tracks were just way too narrow. At one point, my rear wheel started slipping downhill, luckily I had some very useful assistance before it disapeared for good. Then I´d come back to take the KLR over which luckily is a fair chunk lighter but not much. I ended up using two tips given to us by mad Timmy, the Canadian from Cusco. One was to have someone (Michelle) turn and pull the front wheel when trying to get over boulders when the bike just wouldn´t budge. The other for really really steep parts was to flick the engine kill switch off and keep the bike in first gear, that way you use the clutch as you´re brake and your feet can stay on the ground. Finally after much sweat and very nearly tears (as I kept hitting a bruise on my shin), we made it but not before giving those 3 locals a $10 beer tip for their help. Thanks lads!

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