Day 200 | 16763 Miles | Buenos Aires, Argentina

I relocated 3 times within the 5 days I spent in Ushuaia and met up with many friends that I’ve ridden with previously (Damien, Joe, Kevin, Derrick, Nat & Sarah). It’s a beautiful city and an unexpected surprise after thousands of miles of Pampas. However it is quite touristy so after a few days of R&R, it was time to move on.

Leaving the jagged mountains that surrounded Ushuaia…

Back to the land of Pampas

Derrick and I headed north to Parque Pingüino Rey where a colony of king penguins reside. These are large species of penguins that reach up to 1 m in height. (Video)

Smartass Derrick got some close up shots using a phone and binoculars.

Introducing: ‘Penguin-scope’

The fuzzy brown ones are chicks.

Feeding time

Waddling home after a long day of work.

We left Tierra del Fuego on a ferry the next day and parted ways afterwards. Derrick wanted to visit a few places he missed on the way down and I cruised north on Ruta 3 toward Buenos Aires.

Last time getting my passport stamped in the Americas marked a total of 21 border crossings, 8 of which were between Argentina and Chile.

There were countless number of (live and dead) guanacos and rheas hanging out on Ruta 3. I don’t know who’s more afraid of whom.

Mega Gauchito Gil

It’s nothing but fighting the wind, cold and occasional rain through the Pampas for the next few days.

Old & New

One and a half Beemers

South Atlantic coast

Hands-free cruising

More Gauchito Gil

Difunta Correa

I was on the final stretch to Buenos Aires when disaster struck. I pulled over to make a sandwich after a gas stop and this caught my attention. The final drive plague has finally caught up with me! I calmed myself down hoping that I could limp my way to Buenos Aires by constantly topping up on FD oil. So I wiped the oil off the wheel and rode a couple of blocks down the road to see if the leak is significant. Sadly, everything is covered in oil again after a short distance.

I rode back to the gas station and took the wheel off to inspect the damage. Oil is weeping out of the final drive on the hub side and there is significant amount of play between the axle and the hub. I’m fairly certain both the seal and bearing are gone and it would be unsafe to continue riding.

So I’m stranded in the tiny town of Tornquist and getting a tow to Buenos Aires is the only viable option. I asked the gas station attendants but they don’t seem to have any ideas. While I’m standing there scratching my head, a group of bikers pulled into the gas station. Marcos from the group spoke English and comprehended my situation. Then the group spent the next 3 hours making phone calls to arrange a transport for me. Some even went to the local train station to see if it can be a cheaper alternative. After many calls and much negotiation, they finally found someone from their local town that’s willing to do it for $500. It is still a significant chunk of change but consider the initial quote was $1000, I’m just thankful that I have a way out.

Thank you Marcos and moto club of General Lamadrid! I will be forever grateful for your help!

I checked into a hotel nearby for a restless night and the Lamadrid moto club confirmed the details with the tow truck driver Carlos on their way home. Carlos met up with me at the hotel the next day and loaded the bike via an embankment ‘Long Way Round’ style. The bike barely fitted in the back of Carlos’ VW Amarok.

600 km and 8 hours had never felt so long.

We arrived in Buenos Aires around 11PM and spent another hour searching for a reasonably priced hotel. Finally, Carlos dropped me off at a gas station near the dealer after having no such luck. I can’t really fault Carlos for leaving me there because he still has a long drive home ahead of him. I sat at the gas station all night with my stuff piled in the corner while struggling against sleep deprivation. It felt like I’ve hit rock bottom and the only saving grace would be getting the bike fixed the next day.

I watched the night go by and sun come up. As tired as I am, I packed up my bike and rode slowly to BMW km 40 Pilar about 5 km away through side streets. The technicians there were shocked at the state of my final drive and told me it was irreparable. Apparently the crown bearing inside the FD is a sealed unit so regular gear oil changes wouldn’t affect the life span and when the bearing fails it will just destroy the housing. They searched inventory for a new replacement final drive but my jaw dropped after finding out it’s $3314 plus labor. At that point I just wanted to get rid of the bike and end my trip here. I inquired about selling the bike but was told the import taxes are so high in Argentina it would be an even wash with value of the bike. I made a few phone calls to dealers in the US to see if it’s any cheaper to ship the bike back then fix it. While the part itself is cheaper in the States, the cost and hassle of towing the bike to and from the airport would be a nightmare. I was completely lost on what to do when the tech waved me over to inform me that they found a used unit from the parts bin. It will still need a rebuild in the near future but it’s enough to get me through the transit period. They pretty much gave it away so I can continue my trip. It was installed in 20 minutes and I was back on the road for under $100!

Thank you BMW km 40 Pilar!

I will be dropping my bike off at air cargo on March 21st and flying to Madrid, Spain on the 25th. What was supposed to be an uneventful closure to the Americas part of my journey turned out to be quite the roller coaster ride. Nevertheless, I’m glad I went through it all because it made me feel like the luckiest person on the face of this planet. 🙂

15 comments

  1. Lucky is an understated lol! But in the end it all worked out so congrats on accomplishing the Americas buddy! Hope your second leg of the trip goes as well or better! Stay safe and get your bike maintenance done! 🙂

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  2. So glad you got the bike sorted and are on your way to Spain! I can only imagine the emotional roller-coaster that you were going through with everything that got thrown your way all at once – with a nice dose of sleep deprivation on top of everything. This will be one of those stories that gains legendary status as you tell (and re-tell) it. Eventually the story will probably involve explosions, heroic crash recovery, banditos, and maybe even rabid penguins.

    Seriously, though, Charlie, I admire your fortitude in managing a really tough situation. It’s inspirational for those of us who wonder what we’d do if we ran out of gas on a weekend trip.

    I’m also glad to hear that you’ve decided to move on to Europe. Hopefully you can find someplace to fully repair the bike for a reasonable price. Munich is a long way from Madrid, but maybe pulling up to BMW HQ and raising a fuss will get you some well-deserved attention!

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  3. Hey Charlie,
    Really glad you were able to sort it all out. I can imaging how anxious that would make a person feel.
    I’m also glad you’re keeping on. I have a feeling that not to far down the road you would have regretted that decision. Plus, those of us living vicariously through you would really miss following you on your adventure.
    I’ve also realized through your trip that there are still a lot of great people in this world. Perfect strangers becoming great friends. People bending over backwards to help a fellow human out of a jam. Really inspiring to hear.
    Stay safe and good luck on the rest of your journey!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Charlie,
    What an epic ending to the Americas! A tough emotionally roller coaster indeed…. but this is what epic trips are made of…trials and tribulations. Glad you got things sorted out in the end and kept your cool! Love to see fellow bikers helping one another.
    Definitely looking forward to the European leg of your trip and as Joe stated, we’re vicariously living through you, so keep on rolling!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I was going to comment on ‘Penguin-scope’, but by the time I get to the end of the post, ‘Penguin-scope’ seemed like a LONG time ago!

    What a story around the FD failure! Bad, got worse, yet worked out in the end. Onward!!

    Liked by 1 person

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