Diary & Travel Reports from the saddle
Ushuaia, Argentina. 2 January 2004
Ten adventure motorcyclists celebrated the new year with a motorcycle race on Tierra del Fuego in Argentina last week. The first 'Fin del Mundo Cross' took place at the Rio Pipo campsite west of the town of Ushuaia on 31 December 2003. The two part competition, consisting of a trial course in the forest and grass track circuit next to a river, was the first of its kind at the end of the world, probably the first worldwide.
Six Germans, two British, one Dutch and a Swiss unloaded the luggage from their heavy bikes to accept the challenge which separated the men from the boys. The event was won by Karsten from Germany on his cut down BMW who was presented with a bottle of schnapps to make him feel at home. Local television showed up and caught some spectacular crashing on film. The course was laid out by Dutchman Maarten Munik (www.maartensworld.com), riding round the world on his Africa Twin, who honorably stepped out of the prizes after winning.
"We hope it will mark the start of a new tradition among the riders who venture down the Ushuaia each Summer. Needless to say it was my idea and needless to say who did most of the crashing," said Simon Milward.
Happy New Year from the end of the world in Ushuaia Argentina.
It is nice here. The town of population 50,000 looks out onto the Beagle Channel to the south. Several cruise liners are moored at the quay and yachts from Australia, Belgium, Italy are getting ready for the next leg of their trips. To the north are countless snow covered mountain peaks. It is one of the most beautiful areas I have been for a long time. Charles Darwin sailed in the Beagle from England when he was 23 years old and here developed his theories of evolution. The weather is very changeable. You feel it camping, because some nights are cold enough to demand full thermals and a jumper in my sleeping bag, whilst others are warm enough for nakedness! Some days are sunny others are wet.
The campsite, where Ruben and Marie have been looking after us all and letting us use their warm kitchen, has been alot of fun. In total there have been 18 motorcycles at New Year, though quite a few Brazilians and Germans left already to head back north. It has been really nice to meet and travel with like minded people for a while. Bob Morley from the UK (www.worldtour.overpro.co.uk) has just started his RTW tour by 650 Funduro. He and Maarten Munnik have volunteered to train health workers in Latin America in basic maintainance on motorcycles they use for their job, as they pass through over the coming year.
Together we have all been discussing the meaning of life - whether we know what we are doing and where we are going. The turn of this year gives me the feeling that I am going in the right direction and doing what I am supposed to be doing which also happens to be the easiest thing for me. Gracias a Dios.
My front forks do not seem to be bent after all, and I have been doing odd bits and pieces to my bike. It was great to go racing with it without all the weight. I've been treating all my leather gear with dubbin. I visited the national park near here, and today I was helping Daniel from Germany. A taxi driver knocked him off and broke his spleen - quite painful though the hospital seems to be treating him OK. I found him a lawyer. Pain has no value in Argentina - no compensation unless you can show a receipt.
I met a special lady, Esther Fadul, a former political party boss and member of parliament (a Diputada) who was a great friend of Evita Peron. Her house is like a museum, sitting on the street named after her family. She said that at the end of my ride she would propose me for an award! I have been trying to raise a little money ($2500) to pay for Ricardo Rocco's training in Africa, because there is oil money here. I nearly forgot how hard it is to fundraise! Ushuaia is one of the few places in Argentina that is free from official corruption, so I am told.
It took me fours years to get here so I am going to stay a few more days. I asked a few companies about taking me free to Antarctica by ship so I have to wait on that. Perhaps it is the thought of having just one more continent to go, which is slowing me down. So here's to another year on the road. I plan to get to South Africa in March and head north towards Morocco or Egypt.
On the other hand I might go quicker in Africa because I'm getting impatient about getting our hands on some of the wasted billions that we will use for motorcycle and health projects. There is a limit to what you can do on the road. Give me an office with staff and budget and I'll show you.
Right, that's it.
See you, Simon
A solo fundraising round the world ride on a handmade motorcycle.
Supporting Doctors Without Borders and Health For All.
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