The day started with the navigation of the one way system of Salta and the morning traffic rush. Soon we were on the outer ring road which lead us on to highway 68 the main road south from Salta. 40Kms down this road we turned off onto highway 30, the start of a 160 Km diversion that would take us up through one of Argentina’s most scenic national parks. The mini vans on this piece being evidence of this. Soon we had reached the 3600m summit and we were on our way down to a little town of Cachi. To our surprise the road was in much better condition than we expected and it appeared that this diversion to Cafayate would be easier than anticipated. We had a quick lunch (two eggs) and it was back on to Route 40.
As soon as we exited the town of Cachi the road conditions got way worse, no patches of sealed road. We had 110km of rough gravel and sand. The sand being the more troublesome terrain as we fish tailed down the road like pregnant whales. Just as we started to get some rhythm Gareth picked up a screw in his rear wheel giving us our first puncture for the trip. Half way to Cafayete (2hrs of off road riding) still tense and water tight from riding we stopped for a well deserved Empanada and drink of lemon flavoured water. We only had 71kms to run, the sand however was becoming more prevalent and we now had pockets of deeper patches. We all had issues fighting these with our heavy machines. It was just a matter of time before one of us bit the dust. Sure enough 8 kms down the road we had our first off for the day, this was a heavy fall, pinning our team mate to the ground until we arrived and lifted the bike off. Once again the BMW panniers showed their weakness as the right one was ripped from its mounting frame.
After quick running repairs to our colleague and the bike we were up and running again. 28kms from Cafayete the road turned into seal as we wound our way through the wine vineyards of the Cafayete region, the second biggest wine region in Argentina. With rain clouds threatening to break and with all the other bikes in front of me I could not resist the temptation to stop at one of the vineyards of the region and taste the local product. Finally I made my way into Cafayete the others wondering why the slight delay !!!!