Day 72 – San Pedro de Atacama to Salta

Wow – what a day – yes another one of those!
Breakfast, bike packing and gas routine in the morning. Last night we had dinner with Steve and a friend of his – a girl from Hong Kong who has been traveling through South America for the past 6 months alone! Great dinner and conversation.
Ran into two the Brazilian motorcyclists we had met at Valle de La Luna while we were looking for the gas station in San Pedro this morning – cool guys – they were going to the Pacific to check it out… we were heading towards the Atlantic 😉
We did our Chilean exit at San Pedro in no time and we were on our way.
The road was pretty incredible – we went up and up and up – gently though – up to 4800 meters – got quite chilly but bearable.
My wheel wobble would come and go – I guess the rubber would wear down and the wheel would stabilize for a little while but then it would get unbalanced again – very annoying and very unsettling on the turns – the whole bike would be loose and did not feel very stable.
But we kept on trucking…
The Argentinean border was about 1 hour and half away from San Pedro and took a little longer just because there were quite a few people there at the same time but went through smoothly.
The descent from Suques into Purmamarca was quite nice – lots of incredibly tight turns. By that time I guess I got used to the wobbly bike and enjoyed it a little more but still definitely not at my full potential.
We stopped at a nice little hotel by the road where we had a quick sandwich. I asked at the hotel’s reception if they knew of any motorcycle stores or repair shops in San Salvador de Jujuy or in Salta. An Argentinean guest immediately jumped to help me calling a friend of his who gave him the phone number of the owner of a motorcycle store in Jujuy who in turn said that he had tires for my bike AND balance the wheels!
I was ecstatic… but did not last very long because once we got to Jujuy we found out that not only they did not have the tires, they told me that the only motorcycle wheel balancing machine was in Buenos Aires – and that there was only ONE there!
I think that was one of the lowest points of this trip – my tire was down to the bone – I could probably only drive on it for another day before it literally would rip apart – and even if I got new tires, without balancing the wheel, I would wear it down in another 6 days I think. I was miserable. I even started contemplating putting the bike on a truck and sending it to Brazil.
But there was still hope… Salta is a larger city so I asked the guys to find a tire in Salta for me… they did!! Not the exact same tire but it should do. And to balance the wheel I would go to a car mechanic and have him create some kind of an adapter to fit the bike’s wheel on the car wheel machine…
Off we went to Salta – only 70km away but took us almost 2 hours – we got some back road which was beautiful but my bad mood prevented me from enjoying it…
But then again it all changed when we got to Division 2 Ruedas in Salta! The not only had my tires but they knew of a guy in town who would balance my wheels!!
What a relief!!!
And what a great hotel we found for a great price! Now all showered and ready for some dinner!