(See blog post from Day 2 of this research trip on this link.)
Of course one of the great things about riding in the Atacama Desert, the "driest desert in the world," the weather is absolutely beautiful once again! Even the brief rainy season here is 'barely' rainy, so we mostly have bright blue sunny skies to enjoy.
Waking up to a view overlooking the harbor in Antofagasta, we headed north along the coast for some great sweeping curves and twisties similar to those found on California's Hwy 1, or as the PanAmerican Highway feels along the shorts of Peru just to the north. Waves crashing, birds hunting, and that wonderful scent of ocean air makes us just love this trip.
Depending on where you happen to be along the coast, the roads in Chile are made with a blend of standard highway paving materials, and also nearby salt resources. Be careful with this! Just a little bit of moisture can allow a strange "glaze" to build up on brake discs, such that your first second or so of braking pressure won't result in actually slowing down. A little heat quickly burns this away, and then the brakes start working as they should, but again....some of these roads south of Antofagasta require a bit of precaution for braking needs.
The nearby mining activity surrounding Antofagasta is quite clear, given the construction equipment and trucks we sometimes see. Fishing villages make for excellent lunch and snack stops, just watching all the fisherman come in with today's catch up the white sand beaches. Many of these fisherman also live out the working season in tiny little shacks along the water, usually made of nothing more than scrap wood, cardboard, and metal found nearby. Definitely not luxurious in any way.
Along the great sweeping turns that guide us up toward Iquique from Antofagasta, we've got crashing waves to the left, and the "cordillera de la costa" (coastal mountain range) just a few hundred meters to the right. It's not often in the world that one gets to ride in such surroundings, with ocean, desert, and such nearby mountains.
All this, while we're actually preparing for the upcoming busy Patagonia motorcycle season! More comments from this trip soon.