Thursday, 25 October 2012

Atacama desert to meet the Husaberg Adventure Team

The last two posts have been one long desert road over four days and all I can say is the next two days were the same.  I rarely pulled the camera out as I just wanted to get to Copiapo and didn't see the point of more sandy dusty shots.


I needed to take a photo (below) of the beachside home/shelter.  Of all things they don't have, what they do have is a satellite dish.  They must have a generator?  Otherwise how to get energy to use the thing? It would be a bummer to watch television via satellite while a loud generator is running outside the thin plastic walls. 


For whatever reason, graveyards are standing out to me along this road.  Again there are no towns or villages around, this graveyard is just out here.  By the looks of the shacks along the road, if there was a village close by at any point in time, it could have blown away in a strong wind.



After leaving Iquique Chile, my next stop was Antofagasta.


I packed a little sandwich and an apple from a fuel stop this morning while leaving Antofagasta.  I really liked this spot along the PanAm and knowing I will arrive Copiapo on schedule,  I took my time today to have a proper lunch.



Yet another interesting looking graveyard.  I was curious what the little fences represent (keep out, or simply decoration?).  Each country and culture has a different way.  I remember in Russia, I saw some graveyards in Siberia that had actual kitchen table and chairs set up. In Bulgaria, a lot of information and detail about the person on a fence post.  Lots and lots of color with fake flowers in Guatemala. This is the Atacama desert way in Chile.



My chain is very loose AGAIN.. Not happy about that, so you can imagine how relieved I was to reach my goal destination of Copiapo.  I arrived tonight and the boys are due to be here tomorrow with their three brand new Husabergs.

Finding a place to stay was a real pain.  The hotels are ridiculously expensive here.  It's not a tourist town AT ALL.  It's not even a nice town.  But it's location is in mining central.  I say mining central, because there are big mines up here, everywhere.

Every cheap hotel was booked up with miners.  There was no way I was going to pay a lot of money for the other somewhat available places.

Eventually, I found a little tiny room out the back of a hotel. It still cost me more than I expected, but it's only for one night and the next 2-4 weeks we will be camping on a mountain... for free!

Anyway, I took photos of where I am staying so I can email to them and they can have a visual to find me easily.


If it wasn't for all the 'noises' coming from the room next door, it was a cheap and comfortable place to stay once they finished.. and it took forever, for them to finish!! ;-///  Kevin and I were talking on skype most of this time (about 3 hours!), and he kept asking if I can still hear the noises, I said "YES!"  Tell me another story so I don't have to listen to them...  and he did.  Which was actually quite cool.  Since I left him in Lima, Kevin has taken up not only hang gliding lessons (even though he used to fly), but surfing lessons as well!  Gee whiz, he is using his time well while waiting on his parts to arrived from USA.  So I really did hear plenty of stories.


Now would be a good time to explain more thoroughly what I am doing here.  There are a lot of blog posts ahead of this one, so a tiny re-cap of who I am meeting.  Three guys who have a dream to achieve the world record of riding a motorcycle to the highest elevation.  Walter Colebatch, Lukas Matzinger and Barton ChurchillThey call themselves the Husaberg Adventure Team and this particular project is called Andes Moto Extreme.  www.andesmotoextreme.com

Walter is a world class moto-adventurer extraordinaire.. ;-) I rode through Russia and the Road of Bones with him at the beginning of my journey in 2010.  He pretty much taught me everything I needed to know for adventure motorcycling.  With lots of advice online while I was choosing a bike, gear, etc, to actually teaching me how to ride on dirt/gravel/sand and through rivers once we met up in Russia.

I saw Walter again in Holland (where he organized a big change with my suspension at Hyperpro, whom spent 2 days reconfiguring my bike and didn't charge me a thing).  And then I saw him again at the Horizons Unlimited meeting in Ripley, England.  When I said my last good bye, he said, "You never know SJ, I'm sure we'll run into each again somewhere in the world.  Maybe see you in South America!"  I didn't ask details at the time as I rode away.  I just remember thinking... stalker... Ha! ;-))  I had no idea at the time, that this new adventure was on the burner.

Barton I met in Russia along with Walter for one day only.  He was traveling in the opposite direction, however, he had met Walter at Lukas's house in Austria a few months prior.  Barton is a mountaineer and will be advising the team about many things (how to survive in particular) at a high altitude with minimum oxygen and temperatures.

Lukas I have never met before, but looking forward to.  He is the 'technical advisor' for the team, knowing the in's and out's of bike mechanics and particularly what is necessary for the bikes to run at the high elevation.

I'm the 'helper'.  When they were telling me of their ideas and plans for the world record months ago, and knowing I would be on the same continent at the same time they would be, I offered to help.  They immediately said yes!  I'm basically here to look after them, cook, drive the support vehicle, photos, etc, while they concentrate on the job.

So I got online and in touch with Walter and Barton via skype in Santiago.  They haven't even left yet! Go figure. Always the case.. I worried and worried I wouldn't get here on time, but still glad I did since that chain is really bad.

They have a new plan of riding only to La Serena today, about 475 km.  They suggest I ride down to meet them there instead.  Bugger!  I thought I was finished!  For me is only a 365 km ride.  But Walter said that no matter how many times I tighten the chain, when it's f'd, it's f'd and I need a new one.  I can do it, but I hope my chain will make it one more day.  I left really early the next morning, the chain slapped along the way, I was overloading on worry, but I arrived KTM.. well ahead of the boys again.  The good news, they can put a new chain on for me.  The bad news, is that they are closing for 2 hours of lunch and I need to wait outside the gate.


I waited.. and waited.. until I saw these two little blue matching bikes and matching riding gear, and I knew it was them.. I waved them in! Walter had the 3rd bike in the back of a rental truck (the one I will be driving) alon with loads of gear.


So here we are.. my first photo of the Husaberg Adventure Team and one Sherri Jo Wilkins.  Feeling very honored to be here with them already!


There is a heck of a lot of work to do.  The boys are preparing the bikes, and the manager of the KTM/Husaberg shop is allowing them to use his workshop.

And for me, it's a bit like Christmas.  For one, the boys got several sponsors on board their project.  And some of them included me.  It couldn't be better timing, but they gave me a new set of earphones, so I can listen to music inside my helmet again! These are bullett earphones from a company called Munitio http://www.munitio.com/.

Gee whiz, can you imagine, my current earphones failed on my first day out of Lima.  So all this way has been in silence.. in the desert.  If I only could hear music while traveling for 6 days through the Atacama desert, what a help that would have been. Oh well, I can't be more grateful now!

I very much needed a pair of water proof boots to be living on a mountain/volcanoe for the next few weeks.  I bought them and sent to Barton who brought them to Chile along with his gear.  I love new shoes, and these are awesome yellow boots!   And then he also rented a big down jacket and sleeping bag for extra warmth and brought them all the way from America.  It's hot here in La Serena, but I was excited to try it all on.


We stayed and worked until the shop closed down for the evening.  The manager of the shop showed us a nice place to stay near the beach as well as a top restaurant.  We went all out for our first night! It was so wonderful to have my friends

I tried salmon ceviche for the first time.  It was divine!  Kevin actually introduced me to ceviche in Costa Rica.  I never had it before, I couldn't tell you which fish it was, but it was very nice.  However, this one with salmon is even better.  Loved it!


We are in a super fancy restaurant, and I don't have nice clothes.  The boys were hungry and they didn't even give me time to do my hair before we left. Luckily, this is the last photo of the evening.


The boys introduced me to 'Pisco'... Pisco Sour to be exact.  I had one small one with Kevin when we arrived Peru.  He told me a little about it.  It was a good drink, but it was small, only one and it didn't do much for me or give me the impression that it would. Very sweet and sour.

Here in this restaurant, the pisco was really good as well. The Chilean Pisco is a bit different to the Peruvian Pisco.  And they just kept coming!  Who's ordering these?!  None of them confessed, but the drinks didn't seem very strong.  Unfortunately, they were very strong, and I got down right drunk.  So drunk I threw up all over Barton's shoes and decided to sleep on the sidewalk outside our room. One of them eventually found me and brought me in. Well?  Embarrassed... won't do that again.

On that note.. Let the world record adventure begin! ;-)

1 comment:

  1. That food looks really appetizing, I could have some of that right now. The graveyards look interesting and weird. The road look amazing along the water.

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