Starting Location: Santiago, Chile
Ending Location: Pucon, Chile
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.
I’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.
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 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.
Walking 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.