So, once again the day started out in bright sunlight, but this time I was on the proper gravel road and the world was my oyster!
The road was easy, fast, and dry- a perfect tonic after the nightmare of the last few days. Mind you, it wasn’t fond of being taken for granted, so during a twisty stretch I was surprised by some mud and made to pay the price.
But that was it. I was done. I had a beautiful stretch of tar, followed by a dirt deviation that had dried enough for easy riding and was ready to cruise on up North.
Except my bike wasn’t. As soon as I got on decent roads I started to notice how the front tire started to pull- a little turn one way would be hard, while a turn the other would force me to fight against the tire wanting to lock itself full over. A straight line run would have the handlebars jumping all over the place. It must be the front bearings- the hard riding in the mud must have worn them enough to start wiggling and since the the road had been so bad I didn’t notice. I stopped and put the bike up on the center stand- no jiggle at all to the wheels, no problem with the spokes- all was well. After a bit of puttering about I got it- it was the mud! There was enough mud on the bike, and the tires especially, to put it completely out of balance. A half hour with a screw driver as a chisel and I had removed enough clumps from the wheels to give it another try and… Perfect! The bike was back- still horribly muddy, but completely stable on the road.
Before long I was riding into Bariloche and ready for a much needed rest. The city is a tourist mecca- both for Chilean/Argentinian tourist and for those from the wider world. Normally I would do everything in my power to ride through or around it, but I really needed a rest and the convenience of a tourist trap with its variety of restaurants and pleasant sights was a balm to my slightly frayed nerves.
It wasn’t just the town itself that made for a pleasant wander- its location was spectacular.
And the view from my bedroom window was good for a least a couple of cups of coffee every morning.
So, after a few days I was completely recharged. I had new tires (excellent TKC 80s this time- no fooling around anymore!) and proper oil waiting for me just across the border in Osorno, the weather was decent, and in about a week I had another break planned with my previously mentioned charming Belgian friend.
I was back and lovin’ it!