Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ride to Talca with the Adach Group

Originally posted to El Cantar de la Lluvia on Sunday, January 08, 2006

The night before I set off for Talca I was tossing and turning in my bed. An untimely head cold threatened to turn the trip with the Adach group into a fevered torture. What worried me the most was sleeping enough so as not to be tired, but when you are in a hurry to fall to sleep, you never do. I gave up at 6:30 AM and got up.

ClauZ and Ritokera had invited us all to spend a night near Talca, at a camp site. It wouldn't be the Adach's first outing, but it would perhaps be the longest one, and that had some people on the verge of not going. A few days earlier, at Don Jano's house, we had gathered to talk about the ride. I personally feared that disorganization on the highway would be catastrophic. Jare surprised me by proposing a rigorous and detailed itinerary, and mainly because of that, and the seriousness with which everyone else was treating the matter, I decided to go.


FireBat at the Cerro Chena Shell station.

The meeting point was the Shell station near Cerro Chena, in San Bernardo, Santiago, at 8:00 AM on a Saturday. Quite a few people had arrived by the time I got there. I noticed the distinct lack of tents, which made me think of mine, with a sweet sense of security: that night, at least, I would sleep well, cold or no cold. It was then that I realized that I had left my sleeping bag at home. I paused my cursing just long enough to say hi to Brisa, and I went to the store to get some money out and buy something to drink. The ATM rejected my card, and then pointed out that it was faulty. Perfect: I had a grand total of 0 pesos in my pockets. I wandered over to where the group was, imagining a cold night, shivering in my tent, without even the money to buy toilet paper to blow my nose... Luckily, FuturoAs lent me some money, which I returned at the next stop, since it turned out that my card was fine after all. After that, we set off.


Tent? Yes. Sleeping bag? No. Fuck.


FireBat, Pato Wein and Pau, Yeres, Jarrano.

We had decided to ride in a zig zag formation, with the more powerful bikes on tail, and the two smallest bikes on point. Logically this would Slippery, with his ferocious 80 cc beast, then Don Jano, with his faithful 100 cc Honda Hero Passion, and after him Pato Wein and Pau, myself, and everyone else (in no particular order, Yeres, Jarrano, Octanito, FireBat, Ben Kenobi, Jare, Dusan, FuturoAs and Brisa, El Rebelde and Andrea).

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Octanito: Enjoying those special moments during the ride when absolutely nothing bad was happening to him. (Octanito - Video/MPEG)


At one of the stops. FuturoAs: Nice bike! And nice helmet! Can I see?


This time we won't stop by, though it does sound inviting (translation: 'Nothing' would be even worse, the name of a town).


On the road.

Riding in this formation worked for a bit, at around 75 km/h, which really felt like standing still. A bit later Slippery increased his speed slightly, leading a few of those who decided to break away with him, leaving Jano and those with him behind. Cruising speed was a controversial issue during the whole ride, and the column ended up breaking into small groups.

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Pato Wein and Pau from Octanito's bike (Octanito - Video/MPEG)

During one of my monotony-breaking escapades, I came across FuturoAs, who had stopped to have a mote con huesillos. Cool, refreshing, and with the appearance of two testicles floating in sweet juice and soaked corn, nothing could have been better at that point to beat the heat. Just then Octanito arrived on his Kawasaki. I noticed that his front tyre was low, and as a matter of fact, it had a puncture. Pato Wein, who had just arrived, offered us a giant can of puncture spray. It would seem to have been caused by a piece of glass, since we just found a small cut, and no nail. The spray worked wonderfully, and while Octanito went round and round the parking lot so the stuff would set, we got ready to carry on.

Just as we got to the Angostura toll, I managed to spy a black Suzuki that sped off as soon as he saw us. That was surely DKid, setting off to tell the rest of the group that we were on our way.


The turnoff to the campsite.



Seen from Ritokera and ClauZ's point of view: Jare, Don Jano, Yeres, Ben Kenobi.


From the other side.


The turnoff to the campsite. As soon as the stragglers arrived, we set off.

And there they were, a few kilometres north of Talca, waiting by the turnoff to the campsite. We took the road. We all followed ClauZ, but for some strange reason Slippery, young and impulsive, shot off into the middle distance. I assumed he knew the way, and followed him, since I was one of the few dirt bikes on the ride, and the road was dry and stony, and I wanted to have a bit of fun. Ben, Pato Wein and I stopped on the bridge by the river, and waited for the rest. Slippery was not available for comment, due to his having gone down to the river itself. After waiting a turnoff to a not-very-visible road.

Finally, after about 250 km of riding, we got to the camping. It was a large area, flat, trees and a river not too far away, on the other side of a stony bank. Raps and Anita arrived in their car, kids in tow, plus Andresius and Gise. An asado was quickly set up, we had choripanes and meat, swam in the pool (some of us; I am told that others interacted with the pool in a more... reckless and accident-prone fashion. I'll let you guess who that was) and just generally enjoyed the good life.


Open spaces, and shade for men, women, and our gals, the bikes.


Raps, Anita and the kids arrived.


After riding on the highway, under the hot sun, nothing better than a dip in the pool. One small detail: not having brought a bathing suit.


A true biker never takes his boots off.



Jare decided spontaneously to start dancing.


"Jano: Ok, Robert, let's see who's a real tough guy, right? See who takes his hand away first!
Robert: ...
Jano: Ouchie!!"


This calendar will be published as a fundraiser for the noble cause "Bring Octanito Back from Talca!" (translation: José Luis catching some rays)

It was time to set up the tents, and FuturoAs decided to inaugurate the tent he'd got by cashing in his frequent shopper points at the supermarket before leaving Santiago. "I've never put it together, let's hope there's nothing missing". 5 minutes later, it was clear that the problem wasn't the lack of pieces, but rather the size of the tent: it was 120 x 140 cm. The surreal part was watching FuturoAs climb into it, to see if he could fit his whole body in. Rather than occupying the tent, one could say he wore the tent. I think I have seen looser-fitting body bags.


FuturoAs discovers that the tent is not all that he though it would be.

After lunch, and some siestas, Ben, Firebat and I decided to go for a ride. We chose some nice dirt roads, with beautiful views. It was somewhat like an evangelical tour, each of us representing a different style of motorbike for the enlightenment and education of the cows. Moooo.



The river, about 100 m down from the campsite.


They say the nicest parts of Chile are always at the end of a dirt road. And boy, it's so true.


The Ambassadors.


A canal.


Music, the smell of asados, we decided to crash their gathering but we couldn't find how to get to the other side. Oh well.

We passed a nice spot with a view of Talca. We spoke about life and really important things.


A view of Talca.

We came down into town, and decided to stop for something to eat. We stopped in front of a hot dog stand, but we were entranced by something quite visual, not the food (hint: the hotdog lady is sometimes a cute hotdog girl). Instead of eating there, we crossed the road and went into a cheapo diner (with a good view of the hotdog stand). FireBat ordered a giant sandwich, Ben a smaller one (with mineral water, you big bad biker), and mine never came.

After that we went across the road to the plaza, and waited for everyone else. The group arrived, we chatted a bit, they told us Jare was already on his way to Santiago due to some argument, and that Slippery had had a fall. We rode towards the Plaza de Armas, burning time before going to the Kamikaze disco, and set off.


The first plaza, at night.


"Mind taking this picture for us, pretty girl?"


The plaza at night

Night had fallen, and there wasn't much traffic on the streets. We rode in a compact formation, so as not to leave anyone behind. The road opened onto a large central plaza, with little illumination. The left side of the plaza, with respect to our direction of travel, was skirted by the a road going in the opposite direction. At the start of the block, nearest to us, was an Esso petrol station.

I was in the middle of the column, on the right side. Our speed was not greater than 50 km/h. We passed a bus stop, and a family with kids waved. I then saw Jano, leading the column, fishtailing wildly, and going down. Immediately afterwards, everyone started doing the same, and a few bikes went down in front of me. My back wheel skidded a bit from side to side, but it was only when I put my feet down to stabilize myself that I understood what was wrong: oil.

The oil patch went from the petrol station on the corner, right till the other corner, and took up the whole right lane. It was evenly and thickly distributed. Some vehicle had lost all its oil in one go.


The first half of the block. The darker oil is that of Octanito's bike.


The second half of the block. Everyone parked where my bike is.

I got off my bike, to help those who fell, and I saw more bikes coming up to the oil patch. It was Octanito and the others who had been ahead of Jano, and Ritokera, on Jarrano's bike, had told them that some bikes were down. They had gone around the plaza, and were headed straight for the oil. When I saw them, I signaled to them not to use the right lane, but it was too late. Octanito's Kawasaki gave two slow, wide fishtails and went down, rotating on the engine's side cover. Ben Kenobi later pointed out how it looked like a slow-motion MotoGP accident, and I agreed. Jarrano managed to control the bike. I walked and slid over to where Octanito was, already standing and trying to get his bike up. I was on the right side of the bike, but due to the slight slope of the street, I saw a thick river of black oil running under the bike's keel, towards the gutter: the crankcase was cracked, letting out all the oil. It would be a long night.


Disappointment.

With his bike now upright, and rolling towards the sidewalk, I saw that cars were still coming through on the other side of the road, watching the spectacle. It would just take one vehicle in our lane to wipe us all out. I ran to the corner, and with my helmet, the only reflective item I had, I started waving traffic off to the left.

A helmet is a heavy thing, and after a while I thought my arm would fall off. The guys at the petrol station said they didn't even have the standard sand buckets for putting out fires. They stood there watching. A short time later, a police pick-up truck came by completely by chance, I explained the situation, and they carried on. They stopped in the middle of the street, lowered their window, heard everyone else's abridged story, and set off, wheels spinning in the oil.

I carried on waving the traffic off, and noticed that all the bikes were out of the road. I didn't know what condition everyone was in, but I couldn't leave my post. 15 minutes later, another police car came by, with three Carabineros in it. I explained the situation again. They spoke quietly on the radio, and two got out. Carse kept coming around the corner, and I kept waving them into the left lane. A third Carabinero just sat in the driver's seat, doing nothing at all. The other two walked slowly, taking their time, looking at the oil. For a moment I rested my arm and stopped waving the helmet, assuming that a police car and two policemen in the right lane would be enough to dissuade anyone from taking that side of the road. At that very instant a pick-up truck took the right lane and started skidding diagonally towards the Carabineros. After their near-death experience, they walked slowly back to the police car, and only then did they borrow the Esso station's barriers so that they could close the street. As far as I can recall, the third Carabinero did absolutely nothing during the whole episode.

ClauZ called a mechanic, who was miraculously still open, and only a block away. I was the last to leave. The family at the bust stop explained to me that they were trying to tell people not to go through the oil, but I wonder how they planned to do that, sitting at a bus stop, motionless, making "oooh" and "aaaaah" noises at the skidding vehicles.

The mechanic's shop was open, and right beside a nightclub, with a well-endowed Cuban black lady and the manager, a decrepit man in his 60s, who never stopped touching and snorting his nose, and speaking on his cellphone.


The damage to the crank case, seen from below.


The pedal support, broken. That curve above the chain shouldn't be there, that's where it cracked.


Outside the shop.

Octanito left his bike, and Robert69 bought a new helmet for 10000 pesos (20 bucks) to replace the one he had, and everyone shared stories about what had happened.

A while later we all went off to the Kamikaze, but due to my cold, I was only there for 5 minutes. I went back to the campsite alone, and found Pato Wein, Pau and Slippery. We chatted a while and I went to bed.

At some point during the night, my thermal pants and fleece top let me down, so I tied a reflective safety jacket on each socked foot, and put on my 5 kilo leather jacket and my Palestinian hatta, which I use as a riding scarf.

When everyone else got back from Kamikaze, at about 4:00 AM, Jano crept about in the dark looking for my tent, and cooed short phrases intended to get me to let him sleep in my spacious three-person tent. "Durandaaal... oh, young Durandaaaal..." he crooned, as he felt around for the tent's zipper. "Are you awake?". I just played dumb, kept quiet, and he soon wandered off and slept under the stars, in his sleeping bag. When his head got cold, and the mosquitos started bothering him, he just put on his helmet and slept like that. Now that's a smart man.

Ben Kenobi and a few others slept in a sort of cabin there was nearby, apparently wrapped up in the curtains. Bikers, no doubt. FuturoAs and Brisa shared their tiny tent, with their feet sticking out, and I woke up with my leather jacket's seams stamped into my skin.


The next morning! Jano sitting a prudent distance away from Octanito, just in case something else happened to him (grizzly bear attack, piano falling from the sky, who knows).


"Bundas" (translation: our private slang for "chicks").


One by one, waking up.


"Bundas".


DKid and Dusan.


Octanito, laughing because nothing bad had happened to him in the last 20 seconds.


Yeres.


Argh, my eyes! Sunglasses were a complete necessity.


Jeans: 30,000 pesos. Boots: 35,000. Cap: 4,000. Visual proof that you slid down an oil-covered street on your ass: priceless.


Ben: "Bundas". Jarrano: "WTF?" Jano: "So then I grabbed her and I... oh. Sorry." FireBat: "!!!". Octanito: "I'm still alive!! :-) ".


Jano: "All the way up to here man, I swear!".

We shared a nice relaxed moment, and then we took the tents down.

The trip to Santiago wasn't incident-free either. I gave Jano my bike, so Ben could use the Passion, and I got the NC30 (Honda VFR 400). That way Jano could enjoy a little more speed (because the 60 km/h that he insisted on out of paranoid fear for his engine were no good for your mental health or even safety, on a 120 km/h highway) and we set off. Ben took the Passion up to 100 km/h, Jano, well, he carried on at 80 km/h and I had some fun.

After riding beside DKid for a while, I noticed that the temperature dial was in the red. I remembered that Ben had mentioned that one of the consequences of the electrical problems that his bike had had recently was an altered voltage coming out of the rectifier. This caused, among other things, a spurious voltage reference for the thermometer, and it therefore seemed that the motor was overheating. This issue had supposedly been fixed before leaving, though. I waited till Jano came by, who knows the NC30 better than I do (he rents a room to Ben), and he told me it was normal, but to ride in sixth gear a while so the engine would cool down. It didn't come down much by doing this, so I caught up with Ben (who had gone miles ahead on the Passion) and we stopped, with Yeres. He attributed the high temperature reading to a problem with the electrical system (because at that temperature the radiator fan should be on by now) and he decided to check the radiator's cap. One twist of the wrist in the wrong direction, and a geyser of boiling water spouted onto my chest and arm, and onto Ben's hand. Luckily we were still in our riding gear, and I felt nothing at all. Ben's hand was only a bit sore, because he had his glove on when it happened. Yeres went off to find some water, we filled the radiator and Ben set off with a wet glove, to cool the burn.


Jarrano.


DKid.


Jarrano and Dkid.


Jano gets ready for his photo shoot.


El Rebelde and Andrea (all together now: "awwwwwwwwww").


Pato Wein and Pau showing off the latest fashion, an oily butt.





The rest of the trip back was uneventful, and we were soon all gathered at the Angostura toll, near Rancagua, to take the last pictures, and say goodbye, at least until the next Adach ride.

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