Enough fun. Back to the grind tomorrow. After consulting with a few people in town, one of whom was kind enough to call a friend in Villa O’Higgins, I’ve decided to go for the pass into Argentina at Rio Mayer, about 550km away. Good beer, good company, and wonderful times in this gorgeous city in paradise. There will be less updates from here on out as I get further south.
The weather’s great in Coyhaique and I’m going to give myself an early birthday present and enjoy the city, and its few cervecerias, for a few days. I’m not really about wine/beer/food tours, but if there were a stop that I could do it at, it’s Coyhaique. So, I’m at about about 600km, pretty much halfway to the pass into Argentina depending on which one I choose, and this seems as good a point as any to take a small break, watch some football, and bid farewell to my 22nd year. I really pushed through the last few days, going about 200km in 3 days. I did 70km which I’ve already written about on the first day, 105km and an unanticipated 750m climb on a “shortcut” yesterday, and limped the final 35km into Coyhaique this morning.
Down here it is much drier than further north. I’m in the rain shadow of the Andes, and spend most of my time closer to Argentina than to the coast of Chile. Gone are the rainforests, and over here spring has definitely sprung. Nothing but fantastic riding weather, with frigid mornings and moderate sunny afternoons. (I heard they had snow a few days ago, but I refuse to believe that) Yesterday was supposed to be a nice mostly downhill ride from Villa Amengual to Villa Manihuales. However, once I hit Villa Manihuales at about lunchtime, about 60km in, I was still enjoying the pavement and pushed on. I’m glad I did now, but man was it tough.
Before I begin, I want to give a shout out to the two places in Eugene that I have gear from down here. The first is my Ninkasi Brewery hat, which I show off over beers with people I meet. The second is Paul’s Bicycle Way of Life, who built up this tank of a Surly LHT that I’m riding. Everything has performed perfectly. The rims are still intact, and I haven’t had one flat in the 450km that I’ve ridden. The only spokes that have broken are the extras, which were attached to the chainstay. It has welcomed the nasty bits of the Carretera, spat them back out and said “give me more.” She’s a little dirty, and needs to be lubed up pretty regularly, but she’s thriving. Thanks, Paul’s!
Now on to the good stuff. I haven’t updated in a few days, mostly because the hostels down here with wifi are, for the most part, closed during this season. The ones that I have stayed in have mostly been hosting road workers during the night, most of whom I have passed at some point during the day. Nevertheless, they’re an expensive luxury and I usually prefer to camp and make my own food over staying in one and forcing the owner to make dinner for the one crazy gringo that is coming through in spring.
The days are sort of starting to blur together. Rain, eat, bike, rain, eat, bike, camp. When did I last have wifi? I try to update my journal and have trouble remembering how many kilometers I biked on which day and where I camped. I guess it’s been 3 days or so since I updated my blog, and I’ve slowed my progress a little. The last 2 days I’ve gone about 50 km, savoring a small stretch of pavement which has now ended. I have a large pass ahead of me at about 650m elevation, and I’m going to take my first rest day today and tackle it tomorrow when the weather’s supposed to be better.
Chileans are very nice people. After riding 57 km today on gravel roads through hail and rain, and untouched wilderness, I was welcomed warmly at a hostel in Chaiten by an old man and his two sons. They called me crazy to be riding today, and gave me a bowl of soup and a beer. I’m at kilometer post 200, which is a lie since 40 of that was a on a ferry ride yesterday. What a two days it’s been.
Hello from Hornopiren! I’m two days and 100km outside of Puerto Montt, in a hostel with wifi. The last few days have been wonderful, full of every sort of weather and road condition possible, Chile’s Fiestas Patrias, and many delicious empanadas.
I had to stay an extra day in Puerto Montt because I hadn’t anticipated that the government would mandate that every business in the country give its workers the days of the 18th and 19th off. Turns out that the Fiestas Patrias, Chile’s weeklong celebration of its first government, are basically like the 4th of July, except with more mandates. Everyone is required to hang the Chilean flag out their window, and all businesses have to close for the 18th and 19th. However, there was a military parade one day outside of my hotel, which made for a cool sight. Anyways, I spent one of the days wandering around Puerto Montt looking for the gas station that would sell me the one good map of the Carretera in stock, and another morning rushing around for last minute supplies.
I’m off to Chilean Patagonia next Wednesday. My bike is in the process of being boxed up and my bags have been packed in a standard issue green canvas military bag. A bike box is frustratingly expensive to take on the small planes out of Eugene, so I’m driving to San Francisco to fly out of there. I’m flying through Toronto, to Santiago, and then on to Puerto Montt at the start of the Carretera Austral. I should be there by the night of the 17th local time if everything goes according to plan. I’ve been composing this post for about two weeks now, and it gives some more details about the route, info about my gear, and the motivation for my trip. Over this summer I’ve visited tons of touring blogs, and they were all helpful in giving me gear and route suggestions. If someone who doesn’t know who I am comes similarly comes across this blog in the future, I hope this post can be as helpful for you as the others were for me. So without further ado, here’s for you, future Google searchers:
Carretera Austral. Carretera Austral cycling tour. Carretera Austral September weather. Chilean Patagonia cycling tour. Puerto Montt to Ushuaia cycling.