Bahia Blanca, Argentina to Canuelas, Argentina

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We got a decent start today, relatively early after the usually unsatisfying Argentinian breakfast.

This is one gripe I think we all have about Argentina – one of very few. The breakfasts here are so lame it’s just hard to imagine. It’s like every hotel took their que from the Super 8 Motels in the US… they serve some pastries that are probably a week old (and even then, they were probably pulled from a box that sat on a shelf for maybe a month before that), some Tang that was mixed at about 1/2 strength, and if you’re lucky, you might see a slice or two of some not so good cheese, and if you’re really lucky, you could see a slice or two of some unidentified meat substance that is probably all the leftover lips, hoofs, and snouts ground up and pressed into little flat slices of delightful happiness. But I digress…

We got out of Bahia without too much fuss – a couple wrong turns and back onto the main road out of town. Maybe 10 miles out of town Wes pulls over and I came up beside him. He said he felt like his chain was “slipping” and wanted to have a look and maybe tighten it up. We got off the bikes and he dug out his tools. I took a look at his counter shaft sprocket (this is the sprocket that is attached to the engine and pulls the chain so the rear wheel pushes the bike) – well, there were no teeth left on the sprocket. Wes had busted them all off. He did a couple boosts (wheelies) in Bahia that morning and one of them was a little too much for the old sprocket.Here we go again with the chain problems – and we are literally about 400 miles from being done! John was out in the lead and he returned a few minutes into our discovery. This didn’t look good, it was Easter Sunday and there would be ZERO parts stores open today. Wes didn’t have a spare counter shaft sprocket. We set about taking things apart to have a better look at the sprocket.

Wes-sprocketOnce the sprocket was off we could see that it was definitely cleaned of all teeth – at least Wes did the job right. Why leave a couple teeth on there to limp into the next town with?

 For those of you who don’t know what a sprocket is supposed to look like – imagine the one in the picture only all those nubbed off things are longer and pointier.

So, we worked through our options and eventually we decided the best thing to do was tighten the chain up as tight as we could so that that the little nubbins of the sprocket that were left would be able to engage the sprocket and maybe we could get it into town…. but it’s not possible to tighten a chain that tight on a bike with rear suspension because the rear wheel needs to go up and down and the chain needs to be semi-loose to accommodate this movement. So, we had to disable the rear suspension. We found some tiedown straps that Wes had and set about cinching down the rear end of the bike.

 

Dan-wes-rocksWe manage to modify the strap hooks to fit over the axle and sub frame – using some available custom made concrete and rocks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Klr-strapWith Wes and John jumping and pushing on the rear subframe – I was able to get the strap super tight and it would hold the rear suspension solid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Klr-strap1We wrapped the strap several times around the hooks for added strength, tied up the loose ends with cable ties, and then tightened the chain up super tight. We had to double, triple, quadruple (and all the other uples that come after that…) the strap up to make it strong enough and keep it out of the chain and sprockets.

 

 

 

 

 

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After Wes’ bike was ready we moved some of the heavy stuff to Dan and John’s bike (clearly a simple plot by Wes to un burden his bike of the heavy stuff…) and set off. Wes’ mission was to not spin that front sprocket against the chain as it would wear off the nubbins that were left and we would be done.

 

 

 

 

 

Img_1857We took off and it was working great! Even if we had created a bit of a lowrider KLR – Wes was able to do 50, 60, 70 even and he could even pass a few cars here and there without so much as a chirp from the sprocket/chain. The downside was that he had ZERO suspension in the rear! This meant that ever single little bump in the road was transmitted very efficiently directly into Wes’ ass and up his back… and of course, Dan and John were looking for the best line of riding to hit the bumps, railroad tracks, and everything we could to drive a little payback for having to carry his heavy stuff.

 

 

The bike was doing great and we made it to the next gas stop without any troubles. We were keeping the speed down in the 60 mph range but that’s better than zero or waiting for parts.

After that gas stop the traffic heading back into Buenos Aires on Easter Sunday began to build. We were on a two lane road and it was getting dangerous. The aggressive drivers would begin to pass us and just pull out beside us to go the same speed for a while – not sure why they do this – then when they figured out they couldn’t get the full pass in, they would just start to move over into our lane. Pushing us to the side or expecting us to just get out of the way. Then there were the super aggressive guys who would fly up the left lane trying to pass as much as they could and when they saw the bikes they would just push into the bikes to get out of the way of oncoming traffic. Normally, the best way to handle all of this on a bike is to be traveling faster than the cars are and “work” the traffic. That way you are in control of things – not the maniacal drivers. But we were limited by Wes’ bike problems and he couldn’t push the bike much.

At one point, we were riding behind a row of cars, there were numerous cars in the oncoming lane and people behind us were frustrated. One of these guys pulls out from behind us (he’s got his wife and kids in the car and she looks terrified) – he pulls all the way to the other side of the road and onto the shoulder of the oncoming lane and he floors it! – so he is passing us and the row of cars in front of him while on the shoulder of the oncoming traffic and the oncoming traffic is going between us!!! Pretty scary stuff.

We spotted a YPF and decided to break for gas and try to regain our sanity. We had a very hard time pulling into the station because as we slowed to turn left across the road it was the signal for everyone behind us to pass – and pass at very high speed. So after dodging several cars we finally got into the station. Filled the bikes up and pulled over to the side in the shade to just let our nerves down a bit.

 

 

Gals-dogsAt this point – it seemed like a signal for every one of the Argentinians to come over and talk to us – in English! – These were the very same people who were literally out to kill us on the road coming in here – so it was a challenge to have a civil conversation with them! We did meet this very nice gal with her daughter and dog on her bike. I’m sorry but her name escapes me right now. But she was enthusiastic about our trip and they looked great on the bike!

 

 

 

 

 

We decided to cut the run into Buenos Aires short because of the traffic and the dangerous drivers. We would hit the next town of Canuelas and find a hotel. That would put us about an hour out of Buenos Aires in the morning – but that same distance tonight would take us several hours of scary/dangerous riding tonight.

We made it to the town and road the shoulder along several miles of backup – crossed into the main town area and eventually found a nice hotel. We ordered some beers and booze, celebrated Wes’ bike actually making it there, ordered some pizza and watched yet another crappy movie (YACM) on the TV!

Tomorrow we ride into Buenos Aires!

Cheers!

 

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