the patagonian weather has been fickle. dense, intimidating clouds blanket the sky, pregnant with rain. we dart down highways and dusty roads hoping for openings in the clouds, where a few rays of fleeting sun warm our wind chapped skin and dry our rain soaked clothes.
in the metal and glass enclosure of modern cars, rain is something of a curiosity of nature. climate controlled air and warmed leather seats shuttle comforted passengers through inclement weather with barely any notice, minus perhaps the constant swishing of rain activated windshield wipers. drivers lose themselves in the stereo surround sound of a 6 CD changer, oblivious to the texture of the road, and the scent of the country.
on a motorcycle, riders are exposed. loose packing of the gravel makes itself known as your rear wheel slips out of your control. the dust kicked up by the vehicles in front of you accumulates on your helmet windshield. you smell the horses before you see them. when you ride into the rain, your torso, the bike's gas tank, and your legs conspire to create a natural funnel, unceremoniously directing all the water and wind towards your crotch. there is nothing romantic about riding around with a cold and wet crotch.
the most aggressive trait of patagonian weather is not the rain, but the winds. in the nominal state of windless affairs, riding a motorbike at high speeds is like dragging your hand through a pool of water. though still and less viscous than liquid, you are displacing significant amounts of air as you fly down the highway. the static air that you impel around you has a characteristic howl that becomes more fierce the faster you move. it's loud, but it's predictable.
in the large expanses of patagonian highway, the winds demand your focus. sudden and randomly directed wind gusts will pull you off your line, forcing you to hold a 10 degree lean just to maintain a straight heading. narrow highway lanes, strong opposing winds, and the invisible wakes of oncoming trucks will create bow shocks that literally knock you off your seat.
riding around a bike in these winds is not comfortable and it's not safe. but really exploring patagonia means getting to know the winds.