It’s been more than a month since I’ve ridden my motorcycle more than just a few miles. But as I took residence at Dakar Motos Friday night, I found myself the sole motorcyclists claiming a bunk. I spent the evening packing my gear, reviewing the map and prepping myself for my journey outside Buenos Aires. The drizzle of rain started sometime during during my ritual.
But by the next morning the rain had flooded the city. For the first time in weeks it rained in Buenos Aires. For the first time in more than a month, I was ready to ride. My plan was to meet Juan and Daniel at a gas station about two or three hours outside Buenos Aires. When Javier and Sandra showed up the next morning they were wearing deep frowns.
“You can’t leave in this, Allan,” Sandra cautioned. “You must wait.” But I was feeling guilty as I received a text message moments before from Daniel indicating they were on the road. I replied with the dour news. The radio station broadcast a emergency alert, urging motorists to stay off the road. I was optimistic and told Daniel I would be lagging behind but I’d be on the road soon.
Best intentions. To keep myself from pacing. I attacked one more problem that I’d been having with Doc – my GPS. The electrical power would cut on and off and seemingly random intervals. My electrical connections for the PIAA lights and the GPS were tied to the headlight circuit. I had used quick connectors to tie into the wiring. So Javier and I replaced these with soldered connections.
By the time the rain seemed to be letting up from a downpour to a mere rainstorm, I had to make a fast-break. Sandra and javier still urged me to wait and leave the following morning, but the barrage of text messages between Daniel and I filled me with further guilt that I needed to get onward.
The major road leaving the Vicente Lopez neighborhood in Florida, Buenos Aires is is Mitre. An overpass that features a big dip was filled with water. I had to negotiate my way around. Then on the General Paz thoroughfare which was to take me out of Buenos Aires was gridlocked. Then the rain came down faster.
I eventually got out of the city. But the going was extremely slow. The roads were not well drained and the fear of hydroplaning after a couple wishy-washy scares forced me to slow to a crawl. Even with my new tires the road didn’t feel secure. So making time wasn’t an option. Safety was first. By the time I passed the gas station that I was supposed to meet Juan & Daniel, the sun began to set. They were likely already in Villa General Belgrano.
I was waterlogged. And my visibility was declining. I rolled into Junin, just a scant few hours outside of Buenos Aires perhaps best known as the birth place of Evita Peron, looking for gas and decided that I’d better cut my losses and get a place to sleep.
It rained all night. But as I was enjoying my typical free breakfast of bread, butter, jam and coffee the rain subsided, but as I loaded my bag on Doc it started again. Looks like another wet one.
Everything was soaked. Oh, I stay dry alright. But the Rallye II Pro suit from BMW takes a unique approach to keeping your body dry. In the wisdom of some apparel designer whose notion of keeping the Gore Tex/waterproof layer closes to the body, the liner zips to the inside of the cordura-type material of the jacket and pants. That’s okay. But the Cordura material tends to absorb the wetness and thus makes the jacket and pants extremely heavy – not that they aren’t heavy enough in dry weather.
As for riding, the biggest hassle in relentless rain is visibility. The pelting rain on the face-shield of my helmet is the culprit. But my GoreTex Held gloves feature a squeegee on the index finger of the left hand glove. Ingenious.
A few hours later in Rio Cuarto Daniel and I exchanged text messages. He’d be waiting for me somewhere on the road going into the mountains toward Villa General Belgrano. And about an hour later I rounded a curve near a huge lake with a thundering waterfall created by a hydroelectric damn there was Daniel standing in the middle of the road waving his arms. Bingo.
Later as I followed them to our cabin outside of town, we went through a series of S- and decreasing radius turns. I was feeling good. The sun was shining and the pavement was bone dry. With Juan behind me, I followed Daniel’s line. But I don’t know what I did or exactly what happened. But as I want into one S-turn, I screwed up and ended up wide and into the other lane. As I approached the cliff drop off, I got my head together and brought he bike back toward my lane. Just then another car appeared in my lane. I calmly but with my heart beating and thinking for sure I was going to crash, I got my position and line back and continued on.
Later when I asked Juan what it all looked like, he held up his thumb and forefinger and looked with serious eyes into mine. “You missed by that much.” The event replied in my head the whole night.