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“I made it to the bottom of the world, I did it,” Manuele Biondi wrote to us on 30 November 2023. After his grand journey in South America, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, he returned to Italy on 12 February 2024. The photos in this article are his.

April 2024 (G.T.) – Some adventures are born out of chance meetings. This was the case for Manuele Biondi, 64 years old, from Piombino (Livorno, Tuscany, Italy), 40 years of working in the steel foundries and as many on the roads astride the bikes from Mandello in his free time, a passionate Guzzista “forever”. He confirms, “I began with the V35 in the ’80s, then the California II and III, followed by the 1100 Anniversario for Moto Guzzi’s 75th.

And there’s more: California Special, then California 1400 Touring. The California is my favourite bike. I have thousands and thousands of km in the saddle, all over the world.”

Manuele has vast experience in long-range bike rides. “The United States a couple of times (Sturgis in 2001 with the California II is unforgettable), then North Cape, North Africa and Morocco; all of Europe, Bulgaria, Ireland, Greece, Holland, England, Portugal, even Turkey and Moscow a few years ago. And for decades I've participated in numerous European Guzzi rallies.” And he explains how the idea was born for the “a la fin del mundo” trip (as Ushuaia is called, in the extreme south of Argentina, in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago). “The idea was born a couple years ago, out of a conversation with my biker friend Gianmario from Bergamo (who I met in Budapest, whilst on my way to Russia). We promised to do a grand motorbike trip, destination Ushuaia, in the Tierra del Fuego, along Ruta 40, some of the longest roads in the world (much of which ‘ripio’, gravel) which runs 5,000 km from Northern Argentina, along the peaks of the Andes all the way to Rio Gallegos, on the Atlantic coast, close to the Strait of Magellan, and then the section on Ruta 3 before returning on the famous Chilean Carretera Austral, which goes through otherwise isolated regions (reachable only by sea), through wild and spectacular landscapes, running along the Pacific Ocean.”

It is the journey, significant and demanding, that every biker dreams of doing at least once in a lifetime. Manuele has done it, and here is his “report” complete with images. Note: a “California purist”, he had to switch bikes for this adventure, considering the difficult road conditions and the treacherous areas he would have to ride through. His faithful and reliable travel companion was a Moto Guzzi Stelvio and, whilst travelling (from November 2023 to February 2024), the new Stelvio was launched, which Manuele is keen to test.

From Ruta 40 to Ruta 3. “We departed from Limonta/Pioltello Milan, bikes sent from Genoa by ship to Montevideo (Uruguay), whereas we, Gianmario and I, travelled by air with a layover in San Paolo, Brazil, on 7 November 2023. After collecting our bikes, from Montevideo we tackled the periplus of Uruguay all the way to the Argentine border. Then, from Zarate (province of Buenos Aires), we rode on the famous Ruta Nacional 3 which runs along the Atlantic all the way to the Rio Grande, finally arriving at Ushuaia after more than 4,000 km.” Manuele saw it all: lush natural parks, petrified forests, the coast of South Argentina, the Atacama Desert and Salt Lake, the impressive Perito Moreno glacier...

Altitude, wind, sand, and stones. “We travelled entirely at high altitude, between 700 and 1,000 metres above sea level, up to passes as high as 4,770 such as Agua Negra, barren, sandy, and stony landscape on Ruta 3, with high wind, whereas the Rio Grande area is much greener with high mountains. Gianmario was on a 650 cc Japanese bike (and had a Tom Tom with some reception problems at those latitudes). I was on the Stelvio 1200 (a 2008 model with 90 thousand km, and the dear old reliable paper map of South America). The high winds moved Gianmario’s bike around, whereas I travelled comfortably. The Stelvio is a solid bike, efficient in any riding situation and terrain, from asphalt to dirt. I travelled a total of 19,600 km without any problems, except for two tyre punctures. The great thing is the solidarity among bikers. When I had a puncture in the middle of nowhere, some Brazilian bikers came to our aid.”

“I'm a street rider, a California Guzzista, and I don’t particularly love off-road riding, but for this demanding trip, I had to make arrangements, so I chose the Stelvio - perfect - with Pirelli Scorpion knobby rally tyres. Then, for the final part of the trip, I replaced them with street tyres.” “Fin del mundo” club. Upon arrival in Ushuaia, in the Tierra del Fuego, bikers are issued an official certificate from the ‘Comunitad Internacional Motero Ejemplar’ (International Community of Exemplary Motorcyclists: respect, brotherhood, loyalty). There are so many riders from all over the world and the atmosphere is thrilling. Tales and experiences are exchanged, stories of motorcycle trips. You meet truly special people.”

From the Atlantic to the Pacific. “The return was along the Pacific, spectacular, on the Carretera Austral with sections overlooking the ocean. Zig-zagging back and forth crossing the borders. From San Pedro de Atacama in Chile to Humahuaca, on the Rio Grande in Argentina, all the way to Cordoba, returning in the direction of Buenos Aires and Uruguay. Gianmario stayed behind for a bit and I returned to Italy by air, leaving the Stelvio, which returned subsequently. Here in Montevideo you can leave you bike even for a year with Willi Motos (the manager has also been to the Moto Guzzi plant in Mandello del Lario), a point of reference for European bikers. And I also think that it would be perfect to have a Moto Guzzi dealer and service point in Cordoba for the great travellers. It would really be significant.”

Greeting new Argentinian friends. “I am extremely satisfied with this adventure, having overcome the toughest moment of the tyre punctures, and I'm happy about the bikers we met, who also admired my Moto Guzzi Stelvio, like Kim, a South Korean on a GS, who was in the same hotel as us in Santiago de Chile. And then, the new friendships, like the one with Argentinian Carola and her family (of Italian origin), in Cordoba. Here we visited ‘Villa Nydia’, Che’s museum-home where the Guevara family lived in Alta Gracia. So many great moments experienced, it felt like living in a film every kilometre, and then the great feasts of fish and chorizo (grilled meat - wonderful - take it from an authentic Tuscan). And a final word of thanks goes to my trustworthy Stelvio (comfortable, even if you want to travel two-up with luggage), which took me all the way to the fin del mundo.”

If you want tips on going to the Tierra del Fuego on a bike, feel free to ask Manuele Biondi (who is also a member of the Moto Guzzi National Owners Club-MGNOC, United States): you’ll see him at the Guzzi rallies all over Europe and he promises to be at the next big event, the Moto Guzzi Open House 2024 (Mandello del Lario, 12-15 September).