Friday, December 21, 2007

On The Road Again, Rio and the coast south...

Well, much to my amazement, and a few other people as well I am sure, we are back on the road.

On monday as previously stated we headed to Macae where we went looking for a suitable bearing. Rodrigo was sure we would fine one, I was a bit more pessimistic but what the hell, I didn’t want to depress him too much. Sure enough, the first place we went to didn’t have the bearing, but said that they should be able to get it by tomorrow. Ok, sounded good. Just in case we checked a couple of other places, but little luck. So we headed back to Casimiro empty handed. I spent the afternoon, doing some additional work on the bike so it wasn’t a total loss.

The following day we headed back and picked up the bearing, it was of course not the correct one. The bearing I needed is a 61917C3 bearing, the bearing I got was a 61917 which was close but not quite correct. If you have read my blog/web you may remember the transmission work I did last year where a C3 bearing was required. Basically, a C3 bearing has a larger internal clearance, allowing it to work with high heat, and not wear as quickly. I had explained all this the previous day, to no avail apparently. It turns out that they had called around to all the importers and there was simply no such bearing to be had in Brazil!! So I had to take it. The alternative would have been to hang out here for the next 10 days or so and hope I could get it directly from Europe. I decided to take my chances and try to continue and have the correct bearing sent to me in Montevideo. Luckily the seal was available, so we now had the parts necessary to put everything back together.

While in Macae, we decided to see about getting me a new rear tire as Rodrigo didn’t have one in his shop. We checked a couple of shops and finally find one. Not just any tire, but a tire I had been looking to try for quite a while now, the Michelin Sirac tire. We asked for the price, considering ourselves lucky to have found a tire and getting ready to take it and head home. Not quite that simple. The salesman said that he couldn’t get the price since the internet connection was down! What? Sure enough, after checking around, asking someone in the back, he came back with the same line, no internet, no price, no tire. Rodrigo and I could just look at each other and laugh. Ok, we would wait a bit and see if they got their internet back. After an hour we had to give up and head back. No internet, no tire, no sale!

Back at the shop I got everything back together, with a few minor problems, but nothing that a machinist and a lathe couldn’t solve. Not to mention a press and a cooking stove. The first was that the brake guard had to be re-machines as taking it out had been damaged a bit. They weren’t able to machine a new one, but we cleaned up the old one and made a tool to help install it. Next was that we used a press to put the bearing on the gear and the cooking stove to put the bearing into the cover. Nothing to it.

The following days, the bike was back on the road. We had decided to take a day and test everything, not to mention try to get the tire in Macae, maybe their internet would be working. The test ride was north to Nuovo Freiburgo. A city founded by a group of Swiss who had migrated here. The ride was fantastic, it went up along a valley and followed the Sana river for a while before crossing some hills over to another river. The town itself is pretty much a typical Brazilian town with few hints of its Swiss past, such as some of the street names, or a few building here and there. The main thing that you notice about Nuovo Freiburgo, is that is seems to be the lingerie capital of Brazil. Something which was completely unexpected, but there you have it.

After Nuovo Freiburgo, we headed back down to Macae and low and behold, after speaking to someone else, who apparently didn’t need the internet, but did need a telephone and someone in the back, came back with a price. I ended up getting the tire for 150B$ which is around 50% of what it is worth. Not bad, we took the tire and hightailed it out of there before they came after us with another price. The bike was running fine, there was no vibration or any other sign that the bearing wasn’t working, so we decided to get on the road again.

As luck would have it, rain had caught up with us again. The morning dawned wet and dark, we said out goodbyes to everyone and headed out in the direction of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Too bad that it was raining so much. Rio was awesome. From Niteroi you go over a long bridge from where you have a great view of both the bay and the city of Rio, and the hills around the city and the bay. Then you head into town on an elevated highway where you glimpse some beautiful architecture downtown, the port on the opposite side and finally you end up on the world famous Copacabana beach road. It really is a very scenic and interesting town. We will have to come back one day when we have more time and hopefully better weather. Not to mention that I will avoid it during the x-mas shopping rush.

After that the next highlight (I will avoid discussing the miles of strip malls and traffic south going in Barra and Recreio) was the road south of Itaguai. Just fantastic is a good start. The road goes along a rough coastline, full of hills, valleys, islands, bays with some very scenic towns, a nuclear powerplant and a road that gives you some fantastic views of everything. Too bad there are so many great curves that you have to choose between enjoying the ride or enjoying the view!! It is something like a cross between northern California, the east and the west coast of Canada. Enjoyable even in the rain.

Although the rain didn't let up during the two days it took us to get back to Sao Paulo, it is a ride I will not soon forget. I can only imagine what it all would have looked like in dry sunny weather.

Luckily for us the welcome that we got at the Pousada dos Franceses made us quickly forget all the rain. It was a real "homecoming" for us, and it should be a wonderful x-mas among our extended family here.

So we hope that all of you enjoy your Christmas where ever you might be in this world.

Merry Christmas from Katheryna and myself.

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