T – Holy crap. What a night. Both of us crashed out and slept quite soundly for a good chunk of time. Then it got really, really cold. In fact it got so cold that when we eventually ventured out of our tent this morning we were greeted by ice on everything! The bikes were frozen, the tent was frozen, my face was frozen and even our chairs had a layer of ice on them! Brr. That’s what you get for camping at 4000 metres.
C – It was the first time, even in all the camping in Alaska and Canada, that I could feel the cold through my sleeping bag and liner. Brrr! I definitely did not want to get up. But, the morning was absolutely beautiful and the ice did make everything look pretty!
T – After everything thawed out we packed up and tried to warm the bikes up. Mabel roared into life on her first kick, but Rosie, she refused flat out. We kicked and kicked and kicked but to no avail. It felt like she had no compression. I had heard of a trick where people had pre-warmed their bike engine up by placing a camping stove under their engine. So that’s what we did. And 5 minutes later Rosie was running too.
C – Well, it seems Rosie is becoming a little precious in her old age. I did not even need the camp stove to get me up and going.. But then again, I did have a nice, hot coffee!
T – As we rode along the highway we started to see a sliver of white shimmering on the horizon. The salt flats! Woohoo!
We pulled into a dry dusty town where we managed to bargain for some fuel and after filling up our tanks we headed down the track that would lead us onto the flats proper. We carefully negotiated some muddy salty puddles and soon the mud gave way to hard white crusty salt. The white was so blindingly bright and it stretched away in front of us to some very distant mountains. Wow. I have never seen anything like it.
C – The Salar de Uyuni was exactly what I expected! Blindingly white and nothing to see. It was extraordinarily beautiful and serene. Except for the wind, which absolutely howled across the flats, stealing all the warmth from the sun and giving us the chills.
T – We had a nice ride in a straight line for about 10 kms and nothing changed. It was quite disorientating really! The salt crunched under our wheels and sounded like we were riding on ice. Another guy on a bike pulled up and had a bit of a go about our bikes being so small and was generally being a smug smart ass, so we quickly said goodbye to him and headed back to town.
We had wanted to camp on the salt flats but there was a freezing wind howling through so we decided to continue on our ride. But first we had to find a car wash to get the salt off of our bikes.
C – It would have been lovely to camp, but with nowhere to get out of the wind, we decided it would not be so much fun.
T – After Uyuni we started to head directly west towards our next destination. Chile. It was a fair hike away and we knew that we wouldn’t get there until tomorrow. So we rode out of Uyuni for about 100kms and found another lovely free camp. Rosie has been a bit unwell lately so I decided to change out her cam chain, and set her valves. After an hour of dismantling her engine it turned out that the cam chains I had for the bikes were different to the one Rosie had. So I put her back together in the dark. Oh well! I shall do her valves in the morning, which is what I suspect is giving me the feeling of no compression.
Tomorrow we head into Chile!