The Journal  

8 March 2006

Gobernador Costa

Author: Jeremiah

Photographer: Holly


The Pavement Bites Back: Gobernador Costa , Argentina

February 21-22, 2006

As we were walking back from dinner in Gobernador Costa, it started to rain, a storm that continued all night and into the morning as we got ready to leave. Besides the main street, all side streets were dirt and flooded as we left town with a 500-plus mile day ahead of us as we rode for Argentina 's Atlantic coast. Besides the weather, everything seemed fine, until 10 miles out of town, the rear end developed the vague feel that can be mistaken for wet pavement until enough air had escaped from the tube to make the sensation of a flat tire unmistakable. Easing off the road onto the steep gravel shoulder we brought the bike to an upright stop.


We pulled off the road to inspect the flat rear tire.

So far on our journey I had considered us lucky when it came to flats. One rider we met in Lima had already had eight by the time he reached the Peruvian capital. Up to that point, we had only had one, the nail puncture on the road to Puebla , Mexico .

With no apparent damage to the tire, I pulled the wheel off the bike and removed the tube. It was pinched on the inside, a victim, perhaps of our curb hopping with a fully-loaded bike that morning as we left our hostel. I had a spare tube, but in Mexico I had found the CO2 inflator to be woefully inadequate for pumping a tire back up and also wanted to make the swap out of the mud and rain. We took the bags off and went back to the road's edge to hitch a ride back into town. In a few minutes, a south bound Chilean SUV turned around to offer us a ride. We piled our bags and our selves into a vehicle already packed with two passengers and their luggage and headed back to town.


We stuck out our thumbs with the hopes someone would take pity on us and give us a ride back to town.

We had passed a tire shop on the edge of town as we left and we stopped there to swap tubes and re-inflate the tire. With a brand new tube in place, I hitched a ride back to the bike, reinstalled the tire and rode back to town to pick up Holly. By noon we had repacked the Guzzi and were heading back out of town.


A tire mechanic let us use his shop to change our tube.

The rain had slowed to a drizzle and we were soon past the spot where we had our first flat. Then suddenly, while cruising along at highway speeds, the rear tire again lost pressure, this time violently, the rear end sliding from side to side like the motorcycle was on ice. The few seconds the bike stayed upright felt like five minutes, but just as I thought I had the motorcycle under control the rear end washed out, the machine low-sided and we found ourselves sliding along the pavement, the Guzzi scooting away from us as it ground to a halt.

By the time I reached Holly she was sitting up, smiling, “Are you O.K.?,” the first words that came out of her mouth. Our riding gear had paid for itself. We were scraped all over, some places through the material, but nowhere to the skin. Together we hoisted the bike back upright, besides some nasty scrapes, the engine and handguards had done their job, and the plastic saddlebags had miraculously survived another fall. The tire once again looked fine from the outside, so we decided to haul the bike back to town to figure out the problem. An American rider on a motorcycle he purchased in Argentina stopped and offered to ride to the next town for help.


Besides being shook up a bit our gear really prevented us from any injuries. We had to patch the torn parts of our jackets and pants with duct tape when we got back to Gobernador Costa.

While we were waiting for a truck, two Argentinean riders pulled up and insisted on helping. Together we pulled the wheel off and discovered the brand new tube we had purchased in Mexico had split open along the seam, instantly deflating the tire at 65 miles per hour. I had another used tube, which we installed and we were trying to re-inflate when the police arrived. Apparently they were the only ones the American rider could urge to come to our rescue, and together the six of us loaded the Guzzi on to the back of their truck to haul it back to Gobernador Costa.


Two Argentineans on dirt bikes pulled over and insisted on helping us change the tire on the road when we just wanted to get back to town and out of the rain.


One of the Argentinean riders had a foot pump to put air in the tube after we the CO2 cartridges didn't work.


The police arrived with a truck to give us and the Guzzi a lift back to Gobernador Costa so we could change our tube at the tire mechanic shop again.

Back in town, we unloaded the bike at the same tire shop and I put the used tube in. As I replaced the tube again, Holly noticed two fully-loaded Kawasaki KLRs cruise down the street. It was nearly dark by the time we got the Guzzi back together and repacked, so we prepared for another night in Gobernador Costa. The KLRs were parked by our hotel by the time we got there and we recognized them as belonging to Glen and Shelia, the Canadian riders we had met in Bogota and hadn't seen since we parted in Cali in December. We caught up with them over hot tea before heading to dinner, getting to bed early in preparation for the next day's second attempt at leaving Gobernador Costa.


All photographs © Holly Marcus / Page design by Robin Marcus