With our spirit of adventure still alive and strong, and our intelligence little improved, we headed off on a closed road through deserts and over mountains for the second time in two weeks. Only this time we sought some local advice first – “Don't do it. It's very difficult. It's very dangerous. There are lots of somethings.” Well, it was very difficult. And dangerous. We found out what the somethings were. It ended with Lachie in hospital.
Ruta 40 is a 5000km road that follows the Andes from the bottom of Argentina to the top. It’s a great road, it really is. It’s just not exactly what we were looking for. The majority of it is paved and skirting around the mountains. We’d much prefer to go over, under or through them. So we did just that.
We’ve been in the habit of rolling our mats out sans tarp and tent, so woke to a sunrise lit sky over endless sand dunes. Things only got better when we found a perfect patch of dirt to punish the bikes. The subsequent hours were gloriously spent perfecting our donuts, burnouts and skids.
At lunch we tossed up the idea of taking on another sketchy desert road. Our only hesitation was that there may be impassable spots where rockfalls had completely taken the road away. The local advice we’d received hadn’t given us much more hope. Then we met Storm. Before you ask, yes that is his actual name and yes he does live up to it. He’s a British bloke riding from Santiago to Columbia and had just done the road a few months ago. It was the hardest road he’d ever ridden, but all we needed to know was that it was doable. We were in.
It didn’t take much convincing for Storm to sign up for round two. We started with a cautious climb up some windy and unmaintained roads hugging the cliffside. As the afternoon wore on and our confidence increased, we discovered that it was much more fun to hand over control to the bikes. We flew through sand patches letting the bikes go where they wished and holding on for dear life. Bonus points if you play follow-the-leader and go in blind in the dust cloud of the previous bike.
Of course this was bound to end in tears. Not far from the end of the road Lachie took a ripper of a tumble. Lying on the ground like a maimed animal, we debated whether to just put him out of his misery and end it for him now. Eventually, clearer heads prevailed.
We tried spiritual healing and clearing Lachie’s chakras to no avail. Much to Scott’s disappointment, he refused to try sexual healing and so we were forced to resort to professional advice. The first doctor that we visited in a small town said something along the lines of “I don’t think it’s broken. It could be though. I don’t know. You should probably ask someone else.” In the next, larger town, we got an x-ray and some more useful information. It was a doozy of a torn ligament but no break. It would take a few months to heal.
After giving the bikes and Lachie’s shoulder a brutal trashing, we decided it was time for some much needed rest and recuperation. We retreated back into the mountains to some thermal pools at 2,300m for a few days. It was there that we did some much needed repairs to the bikes. This was all thanks to our new friend Storm, who knew his way around a bike the same way Scott does Revs. At times, it almost appeared as if Storm had actually come over to South America prepared to ride across a continent.
We’ve now got a few weeks to grow some brain cells while Lachie’s shoulder heals up. Otherwise we’ll be right back at it again, searching for more backroads, mountains and questionable decisions.