Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day 36 - Tupiza - Uyuri

Distance travelled (by bike): 4575

The day started well, we set off on the right road, the rain missed us and the scenery was as as usual quite amazing. As we weaved up the mountain roads, reaching an altitude of 4150m above sea level, we both quietly thought how well everything was going, at the end of the day we both admitted we were thinking how lucky we were not to have crash or fallen off, how thing change….
Maybe i was a bit to blasé as we approached a section of mud, where the wheel ruts nearly reached the panniers, but hindsights a great thing. The front wheel got stuck in a wheel track that went nowhere, suddenly we were on our side, thankfully at low speed - bike picked up, quick once over, no casualties.
3 river crossings later beginning to think BMW should use this as an advertising opportunity, two up, with stacks of luggage doing river crossings were the water laps the exhaust. Easy.
40km from Uyuri we meet our biggest and more exhausting challenge to date, the river had flooded and risen over the spill way, effectively cutting off each side of the road, the water was flowing fast and reached just above my waist, we would not be driving through this one. After debating the best course of action it was decided to try and drive the bike though 50m of mud up onto some railway tracks, from their cross the river using the railway bridge. Easy in theory, harder when the mud is deep and slimy, the altitude is just under 4000m and the bike still laden with luggage, I fell, hard on one railway track, bending one pannier and puncturing some of the extra fuel we were caring. Quickly the luggage was taken off. I made it to the railway bridge, Shane drew the short straw and had to push, ending up caked in mud. Having unloaded all luggage about 500m back, we then had to carry all the panniers etc past the bike over two bridges which must have been about one mile.
Deciding that some of the gaps were just a little to big to chance riding the bike over, we, with the help of some local youths (while everyone else continued to stare) push the bike across both bridges. Relived that the hard bit was over was loaded up and tried to drive on next to the railway tracks, desperately searching for a place to cross the river/mud back onto the road. As we drove on the bike started sinking, again shane was jettisoned. A further mile up the tracks i stopped to let shane catch up, amazed to see him jogging not far behind, i quickly decided the altitude had got the better of him.
It was at this point an Argentinian called Pablo  pulled his truck up on the road parallel to the railway, jumping out and shouting something, he quickly took off his shoes and socks, rolled up his trousers and scrambled across the mud to come chat. Shane had at this point joined us. The general direction of the conversation was that he would help us cross the mud to the road. Thanking him and not really seeing another option we went for it. With this news his family scurried out if the truck with camaras. The first 15metres were no problem, then i sunk, with Shane and Pablo pushing i made it a further 15metres then completely stuck.
As luck would have it Pablo had a tow rope the truck which we fastened to the crash bars, this should have worked perfectly, unfortunately a little to much acceleration from the truck had me and the bike on our side in the river, quickly we managed to get the bike upright and luckily no damage done. Eventually thanks to Pablo we were back on our way, through very wet, cold and tired.
On arriving at Uyuri i opted to get the bike cleaned before anything else, much to the disbelief of shane, who although understood the logic failed to see how a bike could come before getting warm and dry, agreed to disagree.

one of the many views 

looking on... 

ready to try the river crossing 

on second thoughts,  lets see how high the water is...

crossing the mud, before i crashed 

recovered from crashes, on railway line 

been towed out of the mud 

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