Motorcycle Explorer Issue 17 - Page 45

before – we looked and just laughed at each other. The ‘gas station/truck’ though did do exceptional coffee – so all in all a great pit stop!

That night was spent on an Estancia with flamingo’s in a small pond, many migrating birds and a wonderful meal of freshly cooked lamb on the bar B Q ad a glass of the old red stuff. The road in and out of the Estancia were pure heaven both small tacks and once again the beauty of Ruta 40 in all its glory. Sadly some of the gravel sections are now being covered with tarmac which having only just experienced this delight is a shame as it heightens the experience and riding skills immeasurably. Leaving early in the morning with the sunrise forming made the ride up to and along the Carretera Austral that much more magical.

Opening up virgin territory is always controversial and the history of this road is no exception. The whole Aysen region was a pawn in territory disputes during much of the 19th century. Settlement (‘colonisation’) and deforestation were actively encouraged, leading directly to the scenes of desolation which will still be visible for hundreds of years to come. Politics again led the way in 1976 when the project began under General Pinochet (of Lady Thatcher fame) - it is no coincidence that Chile and Argentina were at that time still smarting from one of their many border disputes, and the new road was one way that Chileans could travel through their country without having to enter Argentina – how lucky they and now me were!

Heading towards and overnight stop in Coyhaique the road twisted and weaved past my coach stop lunch at Cerro Castillo which made a welcome change not to be up on the pegs as I had been for much of the past week or so. Next stop Bariloche which is the Swiss chocolate heaven for Argentina – it just so happened that President Obama was there at the same time, how dare he gate crash my party; although chocolate was not on the menu but the most wonderful steak instead with a drop of Malbec!

Heading further north towards Pucon and its volcanoes’ once again changed the scenery and atmosphere. Pucon had a real ‘western’ feel about it but in a relaxed manner – I really liked the place. Great hotels, food, choices and restock of essentials, what more could anyone want. The roadway and gravel took me past Ruta de Siete Lagos (7 lakes route) and on every section you could have stopped and spent an hour taking pictures, they were all fantastic.

The final few days riding led me to Santiago in Chile for a much needed days off and bike maintenance at BMW. The dealership, like so many other places on the trip so far, could not have done anymore to help – including an introduction to the local bike traffic police! The first phase of this epic journey had been completed and it was incredible to think of all the amazing experiences, sights and sounds.

I reflected on my pre-trip thoughts and how lucky I was to have all those things in my life and how important they were to me. But here I am with two small bags of luggage, a bike and fuel/food and camera – and have seen things that I never thought possible. All in all it could be said that less is more? I would of course prefer to be sharing the adventure with my wife (to be) but as I have rubbed Magellan’s foot in Punta Arenas then the inevitable return may be sooner than planned!!