After a perfect day in El Calafate, I continued on up the ruta 40. There were some clouds but I didn’t think much of it.

More than one person told me that this next section of the ruta 40 would be the hardest. Deep gravel with deep ruts and swept by high winds. I think I was fortunate because the wind was not so bad. Only on a few occasions did a gust push me in to the deep gravel where you lose control for a few seconds. It’s like riding on marbles.

After roughly 40km the road improved. I figured I was through the worst of it and could finally speed up. But than came the rain and what would have been a nice gravel road turned in to a nightmare. The ruts turned in to mud. This slippery clay stuff that sticks to everything and gums up the tires. With the rain, the ruta 40 became an absolute disaster of a road. The only place you could find traction was on the edge of the ruts right were the gravel starts. You’re talking just a couple of inches here. I had to stand the entire time. Ruby was all over the place.

I’m not quite sure how to ride this kind of mud either. There was slippery stuff up in Alaska, but it was nothing like this. Do you speed up, slow down? Some sections had no gravel and the the road turned into a maze of mud tracks. I’d just pick a line, pray, and go for it. Sliding all over the place.

Finally I came to a down hill section. Perfectly smooth with no ruts. Could almost be considered pavement had it not been for the rain. I pretty much knew ahead of time that there was just no way I’d make this. And sure enough, down I went. The front tire washed out. I landed on my butt. No broken bones, no bruises, not even a scratch. The only positive thing about mud, it’s a soft landing. Rudy did not do as well. The left pannier completely smashed and ripped off. The pannier definitely helped brake Ruby’s fall because the rest of her was untouched. We were doing about 40 mph.

Could barely walk on this stuff. The mud stuck to the bottom of my boots.

So what to do next? Riding this road in its current state was next to impossible and it was only getting worse. Flintstone it the whole way? I had no idea how far I was from tarmac. All I knew was that there was tarmac 85 miles back. When would the rain stop? How many days until the road dries? Its getting dark, I’m covered in mud, and Ruby is broken. I decided to abort and go back to Tres Lagos.

I didn’t have to wait very long for someone to come by and help me get Ruby back on her feet. She was much heavier in the mud and getting a good grip on her was difficult. Plus I’ve become a weakling over the last 6 months. The man (forget his name) was from the states and he told me that the road gets way worse farther ahead. So I packed my belongings in to his car and headed back to Tres Lagos to find a tow. Caked his whole interior with mud. Fortunately it was a rental.

The next day I got a tow truck driver to go out and pick up Ruby. Over night the rain had completely decimated the road. Cars were stuck in the mud and broken down all over the place. We stopped as we went along to help everyone. It was one of situations where everyone came to the aid of everyone else. Ropes were tied, cars pulled, fouled electronics rewired. We gave a few people a lift out of there as well. One guy told me as we were trying to fix a stalled out car stuck in the mud “Welcome to Patagonia!”

It took a few hours but we did finally make it out to Ruby and she was as I left her. Thank god! I was up all night stressing. We got her back to Tres Lagos and mended her panniers with a sledge hammer and u-bolt. Not a pretty sight but it should hold together for the rest of the trip.

So I have failed, defeated by the ruta 40. In those two days on the road, I didn’t see a single motorcycle. I guess most riders have more sense and check the weather report.



4 Responses to “Crash on the Ruta 40”

  1. Anthony Ayala on March 12th, 2010 7:32 am

    Holy Guacamole H!

    Glad to hear you (and Ruby) are okay…

    OK, note to self: (YOURself)

    Check weather reports!

    Safe travels,


  2. Ash on March 12th, 2010 5:27 pm

    You should put one of those arrows Scotty put on Kimba on Ruby, and you’ll be set! Just don’t go blasting up any ramps….

  3. Krissy Otten on March 12th, 2010 6:12 pm

    I’m surprised Ruby is still talking to you.

    Glad to hear that she was still there when you found her and that you are both off that road.

  4. Damien on March 15th, 2010 10:34 am

    I rode your blog for a long time, and it inspirate me….
    I hope that all is right now. The only thing is to be ok, after all is material.

    Goog luck for the rest of your journey

    Safe rides.


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