Patagonia – Day 1 Santiago to Pucon

Date: 11/10/2014
Starting Location: Santiago, Chile
Ending Location: Pucon, Chile
Today’s Events:

The initial tour briefing

Last night at 6PM we all gathered on the 17th (top) floor of the hotel and spent about 90 minutes signing forms and learning more about the trip.  That’s where we met Eduardo, our guide for this trip.  Eduardo informed us all about how the insurance waiver holds us liable for damage to the bike under a number of scenarios.  In the end, it turned out that the maximum amount of damage that we could be responsible for was $4000, but that if we dropped the bikes, it was likely to be much less than this amount.

Needles to say, all of us vowed to to keep the bikes upright, and not to drop them.  This statement of course seems very reasonable, but when you’re going to be confronted some some roads that are comprised of deep gravel, if you’re not careful, you’ll probably making a mistake at some point.

SantiagoHotelRoofView SantiagoHotelRoofCliffI’ve vowed to keep the bike upright, and to deal with all of the varying types of terrain by applying and using all of the things that I’ve learned at the Rawhyde training class, and on the rides that I’ve done at Clear Creek, in Sonoma, and on other dirt roads.

After the briefing, I took a few minutes to shoot some photos from the roof of the building.  The view was quite nice, and in these photos you can see snow-capped mountains just outside of the city limits.

Leaving Santiago…

Woke at 5AM in order to get packed, and meet in the lobby at 6:30 AM.  Departure time from the hotel was 6:55, and off we went to the airport.

Try to imagine that the tour company paid for this flight, so our guide had to provide all of our personal information to the ticket agent, who then had to print all of the tickets, accept our luggage, and check our passports.  Given that there were 9 of us, in addition to the guide, we took up quite a bit of space at the ticket counter.  After about 10 minutes, all of us had gotten checked in, and off we went to the cafe for a coffee before we left.

Have you ever heard of a coffee shop that can’t make coffee?  Neither have I. Nevertheless, that was what happened.  But, after about 10 minutes, they miraculously managed to fix the problem, and coffee started to appear.  With coffee comes clarity, and after a few minutes in the coffee shop, we were ready to head to the gate.

The flight left Santiago and landed in Temuco after about an hour (10:00 AM).  The baggage folks from SKY airlines had all of our luggage on the baggage claim conveyer belt in about 10 minutes.  The goal for the day was to get to Pucon, which is about 60 miles or 90 minutes away.  We all got in the transport van and headed to Pucon.  I fired up the GPS and watched it locate and lock on the satellites, which took about 10 minutes or so.

So, tell me about Pucon

Pucon-MapPucon is one of those little towns that caters to Adventure travelers.  Think of Bend Oregon and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what the streets of Pucon look like.  About 20% of the town’s businesses are either adventure clothing/gear, and tour operators.  Don’t get me wrong, the tours here look pretty good, and with anywhere from $30 to about $80, you can go horseback riding, see a volcano, or take a ride into the National park and see the waterfalls.

The town seems to be comprised of the one road that leads into and through it, intersecting with the main drag.  The main drag is where you can expect to find all of the restaurants, shops, tour operators, etc.

Pucon-StreetWalking through Pucon you can’t help but think that it is probably a pretty good place to live.  You’re located on a beautiful lake, and close to many of the natural beauties that are nearby.  I think that if were to someday live in Chile, I might live in Santiago or Pucon.  Now, mind you that these are the only two towns that I’ve been to, but they are both very livable, and each has their own charm.  I’m sure that the rest of Chile will continue to be both beautiful and interesting.

We expect tomorrow’s ride to be in and around Pucon.  We’ve been told that we’ll head to pick up the bikes in the morning, and to be dressed in our gear when we leave the hotel.  This afternoon, when we arrived, we met Alain, who is Eduardo’s partner, and who will be driving the support vehicle.  Alain is French and Austrailian.  He calls himself a Frausie, and encouraged us to think of him in that way.  Alain seems to be a nice guy, who has a big personality, and whom is very gracious, and energetic.  I can imagine that he’ll be a great addition to our team, and we’ll hear many fun stories that he and Eduardo can share with us.

Time to begin tinkering with the bike

As I mentioned, I want to be sure that the bike fits me, so I’ll be installing ROX risers on the handlebars, and Touratech lowering footpegs.  This combination of parts will ensure that the overall stature of the bike is almost 3″ greater than that of a stock bike.  I use both of these parts on my BMW R1200 GSA at home, and they made all of the difference in the world.

I’ll also be installing an xCreen windshield extender, which will make the windshield height about 3.5 or 4″ more than the stock wind screen.  Lastly, I’ll be installing some mounting brackets for the navigation system, and Eduardo will be wiring it into the CAN bus on the bike.  With all of these little goodies installed, the bike should fit like a glove, which will make the trip much more enjoyable for me.

I can only imagine that some of you reading this are wondering why it is so important to have the bike fit me like this.  For those of you that are thinking that I’m making too much out of it, just consider that us tall folks spend most of each day dealing with chairs, tables, doorways, etc, that are all made for a wolrld of smaler people.  Given the cost of this trip, and the need to be both safe and skillful, it seemd to me that I should do whatever is possible to make sure that the bike fits me well.

 

About the Author

Cliff Musante

Cliff Musante is a technologist, business leader, motorcycle enthusiast, father, grandfather, and more. In June, 2013 his passion for motorcycles was revitalized, and he set out to ride across Patagonia. This 'Blog is the story of all of his adventures.

Comments

  1. You Cliff
    with all these alterations to the bike you forgot to install the beer holder? how can this be, how the hell do they expect you to ride through rough terrain and hold your beer, those crazy Chileans are backswords.
    I’m printing all your emails for Mom, I think she is enjoying reading them so fare.
    have a good trip
    CDM

    1. Carl, you’ll be glad to know that when I was shopping yesterday, I was able to locate and purchase a motorcycle coffee holder, so the problem that you so eloquently pointed out has been solved. I’ll get it installed tonight, in preparation for our trip tomorrow. Tomorrow’s trip is really the beginning of the drive to Ushuaia. I can’t wait.

  2. Please keep these coming. It’s such a great start for my day to read about your adventure.

    I knew that you really enjoyed coffee, but did not realize how critical it is for you. Will keep this in mind on our track day morning schedules.

    Alex

    1. Hey Alex, thanks for your comments. I’m somewhat surprised that you didn’t know about my coffee addiction. It’s a good thing that it’s only coffee, if it were an addiction to the hard stuff, given the frequency of satisfying the habit, I’d be in real trouble.

  3. Hey Cliff – great travelogue, love the colorful descriptions, running commentary, and pictures. I can feel your enthusiasm, and the bliss of being in the moment. Best wishes, amigo!

    1. Hey Larry, thanks for the kind words. A number of people have commented that I’ve been writing just like I speak. I think it’s funny to hear everyone say that. I mean, how the hell else would I write?
      As to the trip, I am in my element, and having a ball. I could really get used to this kind of travel. It’s addicting, exhausting, exhilarating, and mentally draining, all seemingly at the same time. Whew, I can hardly muster the strength to type thi…

  4. Glad to hear that you are enjoying the trip so far. Be careful about animals/obstructions in and on the road. If necessary remember to serpentine….

  5. Great blog Clff. A few mates and I headed over from Australia and did this ride in 2012 and are still in touch with many of the other riders we met there., having hosted them on rides here too. I’m looking forward to reliving it through your excellent writing. (Although I’d rather be doing it again myself). Good luck with the coffee!

    1. Hi Andy,
      I can really feel your longing for the ride. I’m not sure how you found this blog, but I suspect that Shaun had something to do with it. At any rate, welcome aboard, and I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

  6. cliff, I did this same adventure 3 years ago. I made some great new friends on the trip whom I have shared other rides with. I got linked to you through one. How can I get “direct connection” to your very well written missives. I am eager to re-ride along with you.

    1. Hi John,
      Thanks for the kind words, and I’m glad your enjoying the ride. If you would like to see each post, as it is published, then visit the home page and in the Right-Hand column, you’ll see a place to subscribe. Subscribe to the Patagonia newsletter, or any of the others, if you like.
      I’m glad to see that you met some good friends, with whom your still socializing. That sounds great.
      Incidentally, we’ve got only one Aussie on this trip with us, and his name is Stan. But don’t worry, he’s a true Aussie through and through.

    1. Hey Bruce, old friend,
      Glad you’re enjoying the reading. I’m looking forward to riding some more when I return home. BTW, I’ve let another guy borrow the Air seat, and he’s loving it. As for me, I’ve apparently got an iron but, and don’t need it.

  7. G’Day Cliff,
    John was another of the crew on our trip and also is one of several from the States to have since come out to Australia to ride with us. The link has gone out to all of the class of February 2012 so you can expect a few more drop-ins. The price of fame through such writing talent I guess……

    BTW – I got onto this blog through it being posted on Facebook by Compass.

    1. G’Day Bruce, oops sorry, mental slip as I fell into some Monty Python.
      Yes, Andy, it’s great to see all of these alumni joining in on the ‘Blog. Shaun sent me an email to let me know that he’s let things “leak out” through Facebook. Well, I think that’s great, and I’m happy to be able to bring back some memories to those of you that have been on a tour already, and also to those that are soon to travel on one of these tours.
      Ah yes, the price of fame…

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