Good days

22 Novemeber 2014 Coyhaique to Puerto Ibanez 117 kilometers 1812 meters climbing, bike odometer reads 5587 kilometers done in South America since 17 September

Coyhaique rest day good. First night all but 10 bailed to a hotel room, without telling Gerdie the cook. She was a bit upset having cooked for 40. After dinner those of us remaining in camp waddled to our tents way overstuffed with 3 helpings, 2 of desert and way too much wine.
Rest day we had access to kitchen for coffee and some rolls and jam. Then bike cleaning and semi major work. Needed it badly. Then rode the 2.5 k into town to look for internet, a cafe, some food for evening and to see the town, which means go to the square. Had to get directions to the square as town laid out around the square but if you come in from outside not obvious. Wandered a bit found an open ATM and got 200000 pesos for next days and time in Chile, hoping not too much. The square had wifi but not very good, so wandered some more. Walter had found restaurant saying wifi, ordered but wifi did not work. I left. Grocery store, then wander finding a great cafe with super wifi. Next 3 hours posted pictures, finally got last blog out, and caught up sort of.

Rode back to camp where 8 of us sat around in sunshine drinking and reading. Time for dinner and I volunteered to reheat last nights delicious hamburger with vegetables sauce for pasta. Everyone brought something to add, wine,cheese, conversation, whatever. A good time was had with more wine cheese and crackers after. A fully satisfying meal. I believe part of reason people leave is just to get away as we all commented how pleasant it was with just a few of us, not that anyone is a bother just large numbers.
Today a great ride all pavement, sometimes a bit more than a drizzle, and wind from all sorts of direction although generally not a head wind, although it was on one descent requiring peddling downhill and only 25kph at that. But great fun back on the bike again. Last 30 kilometer mostly descending winding curves just flying along. And mountain views. Patagonia is awesome. Would be great to explore more.





Sitting outside a closed cafe here beside Lago Buenos Aires a beautiful spot. Someone got the password beforehand they closed so after dinner several of us rode the kilometer into town and are sitting outside. Still cannot figure out schedules around here. Burned again yesterday in Coyhaique going in the afternoon but did find the one restaurant open. And ATM does not siesta.

Bad Days

El Bolson to campground at National Park Los Alerces

Interesting day, a good one but interesting. Started as usual it seems uphill. Somehow I am ready to ride and then the uphill even though small, still gets me. Beautiful day with mountains around snow covered peaks. I was thinking this is just like home in Alaska, and mentioned this to Michelle at lunch but had to correct to eliminate the grassy fields, pastures, cows, sheep, horses, flamingos in the ponds, different birds. Otherwise just like home. Ok we see what we want to see. An example I suppose of how I mentioned a few days ago this or that place reminded me of somewhere I had been or seen, then realized no,it is like here.

A campground instead of bush camp which is nice. This one has a grassy field with trees and nice showers (i.e. hot water). No electricity but batteries are charged and solar chargers are working. Cannot charge iPad from the batteries but it has enough for a few days, I just need the iPhone and garmin GPS. No wifi here but that is ok too.

Headwinds most of day especially after lunch and now blowing in camp. I must be careful as anything will blow away. Laid my gloves down on ground on arrival and when finished with soup they were 5 meters down the field. But laundry is drying nicely hanging on the fence. And the wind is testing the tent. Seems ok thus far with all lines out and secure. Just a bit noisy with the flapping. My repairs from the other day on the pole and rain fly are holding well.


It has been a delightful afternoon. Turns out just over the small hill from where most of our tents are is a rather large river. Some folks explored first and carried their gear there. I ended up visiting that side and taking pictures mostly of the monkey puzzle tree protected by the hill and surrounding poplars set up for wind.


A great meal of beef stew made with stout beer for sweetness and a great desert of heated prunes, peaches covered with whipping cream. Shortly after dishes done most have retired to tents despite still being light and early. Everyone a bit concerned about tomorrow’s ride. Because shortened today by 18 k due to the closed usual campground our day tomorrow is 18 kilometer longer and is mostly unpaved and into the wind. Plus tomorrow we enter Chili which seems border crossings usually take a couple of hours. Thus it will be a long day. But as I have learned worrying now does not change tomorrow and we are going to do it one way or another. It will be what it will be.

And it was a day. As in the past much of day wondered what the heck I was doing as slow, exhausted and way behind. And dirt road definitely has made my butt sore. Changed saddle back to WTB last week and not as nice. Hoping butt lasts 4 more days. But as thinking about whether I was capable of this I realized I had been through these thoughts numerous times and everyone was tired.

It was an incrediblely beautiful day. Definitely in the mountains now riding along these lakes and wood with snow covered peaks above. National Park Alceres. Everyone commented on how good potential pictures were. I was not stopping as knew it was a long day. Nearly 9 hours in saddle and 10.5 overall. Did stop for the flamingoes as close enough to almost get a picture.
Arrived here in chili, through customs without a problem then into Fuel hu. Only ATM in town only takes MasterCard and I have one but locked in green bag comes out on rest days.

17 November 2014 Futaleufu to bush camp at Villa Vanguardia 105 kilometer

Up at usual 6:30 but late start today (9am) so walked the two blocks to plaza where free internet. Hotel internet as usual does not work once all of us there. Even in middle of night says I am on but nothing happens. Thus at plaza, but alas only had phone and not much time. Phone not working for IM texts and pictures on IPad. Then decided to verify ATM took only MasterCard. Sign on outside says visa but rejected twice and not going to try to hard as Vivian had her card eaten here. So I have no money and owe bike dreams for last nights dinner. (On hotel nights they do not supply food, but had made arrangements to eat at hotel)
Then I hear the hotel manager will change some U.S. Dollars and I quickly grab my bag before packed away for day where there was some stashed $20 notes and a $50 bill. I us wrinkled them the best I could and he exchanged the $110 for 61,000 Chilean pesos. The exchange rate is 500 per dollar. There were no money changers as at past borders. I took 10000 and paid back dinner last night and with cash in pocket we departed.
Dinner last night was salmon which was nice to have as have not had in a while. But it was obviously farmed fish, being a bit flat in taste, but still good.
And the ride was gorgeous through a canyon with pastures, fields, and cliffs to the sides with snow above. Beautiful and felt good so stopped to take photos which of course put me behind. The road was dusty but not bad surface. Came across Michelle with a flat tire. Yesterday her tubeless tire blew out and required a patch made of a water bottle. She had borrowed a tire from Albert who also runs tubeless. Well after Michelle’s flat on Alberts tire she felt inside and found five thorns sticking through. He had been running tubeless and they had patched themselves until a tube was put inside. Jokingly she accused Albert and Joost of conspiring to slow her down as she is proving capable of keeping up with the leaders, which is those 3 and James.




Then I came across Buck and he had a flat tire, but said no problem and waved me on. At lunch 12 kilometers later Michelle came in saying bucks tire had had numerous flats and repairs were not holding. After lunch Walter went back and picked up Buck for ride to camp.
I finished the ride with Carmen although did about four kilometers with Rob. Rob and I talked about the great divide sharing stories. He also wanted to know if this was as hard as expected or harder. (He is the coowner, director of bike dreams). I had to say it was definitely hard and I knew I would have trouble but it had met expectations. I told him my biggest complaint was same as great divide no time to explore along the way. But then as I have said before you can’t really make the trip longer and the divide was long.
Also in the canyon out of Futaleufu runs the river Futaleufu which comes from Argentina but is known as the rio grande there. Saw some river rafters and stopped to talk with the guide who spoke good English and said it was a great float. For 10 kilometers it is class 4 water and the 5 kilometer below them is class 5. Class four is difficult rapids requiring experience, class 5 is very technical requiring advanced level abilities. The scale goes to 6 which is unrunnable except by exceedingly experienced people and is still very dangerous water. In our daily briefing guidebook (we refer to it as the wiki book) it says the Rio Futaleufu is known around the world for its rafting and is a world,class destination. It looked so.

But last 30 k turned out to be paved as the asphalt world continues to expand. It had occasional sections still being worked on where canyon narrowed. Rode in with Carmen, both of us getting tired at end of day and looking for the bike dreams flag along road marking camp.
And a bush camp here at villa Vanguardia which seems to be about 6 houses although no stores and this is not an official campground. Somehow bike dream has again found a shed I which to set up the kitchen and dining. It is open air and the split roof with a meter space between roofs allows rain to blow in. And shortly after arrival it did begin to rain. Luckily got my tent up before too much rain. (I was last to put my tent up due to near last arrival and ate soup first)
But dinner, I was on service tonight so served the food and did dishes after. Then coffee with a few cookies, good conversation and now retired to my little tent. It is quite cozy as big storage bag is inside with me. Bag is usually left outside door, but as it is pouring rain, nicer to have dry stuff available. A bit cramped but everything is close. Home sweet home.

And summer approaching as it is 9 pm and still light. Fuchsias out along road and he says in summer hills are covers with their blooms.

18 November 2014 Villa Vanguardia to Glacier Collante 107 kilometer

And a hard 107 kilometers. Definitely not one of my better days. Rained almost all night and put tent away in rain wet. Ride was rain with some rare sunshine but rain off and on all day. And I missed lunch. Was at village of La Junta but I missed the flag somehow and kept going. About 60 k I was running out of oomph and found Timmwaiting beside road for the truck and informed me I had missed it. Luckily it came by then and Hannie had made sandwiches for those four us us who had missed the lunch stop. Very nice and also some cookies and 4 more breakfast bars which suffice now as energy bars as the nut bars from prior must not be available in Chile. But I was slow although I was stopping to take pictures.

Then at about 65 kilometer the road returned to gravel and construction. It had been paved for about 10 kilometer from La Junta where lunch had been. And it was rough with mud and such. Shifting was an issue for all as the sand and grit was reeking havoc on all components. My chain began sucking right into frame whenever on a hill requiring lower gears, finally stopping me. I had been in a fit of self pity until then, but the Norwegian sisters, Kristen & Hildie came upon me then, which made me feel better as I had thought I was last. Rob came by too and we washed the chain and derailleur in a creek and it improved.
Rode with Rob into village of Puyuhuapi and first thing one sees is the tsunami evacuation route signs. The lake was the end of a fjord from the Pacific. We were at sea level. The lunch truck had stopped at a cafe and I also stopped having a coffee. Chile prices are definitely western as 1000 pesos for a cup of coffee ($2.00). And the usual Nescafé at that.

Then on for final 25 kilometer along the shore and it was beautiful, finally arriving at campground here in the National park Queulat and it’s centerpiece the hanging glacier. Riding up the road before I saw the glacier was a huge waterfall which I stopped to take a picture of. When I set camera down and looked back at waterfall it was at a 45 degrees angle with the wind blowing it sideways. And it is huge I am guessing at least 400 meters in height. The glacier is about 700 meters above us.
But for me it was not a good day. I confess I have no reason to feel down but coming in last is getting to me. Of course I have excuses but still hard to always be slow. Just been on the road for a while I guess and natural to have down times.
And again raining as it has been most of day. I would have liked a hot shower and to wash clothes but apparently only cold water and on arrival just time to clean me, change out of wet bike clothes (of which there were a lot, and they smell) and hike the 15 minute walk to glacier view, returning just in time for dinner. A late start tomorrow as gives us time to hike to lake and better glacier view. 10 am start which is a 9 am breakfast. Oh boy.




“Punished”. 19 November 2014. Glacier Collante to Lago Las Torres 78 kilometers

As is so often the case one day is bad and the next is good. Today was the good one following bad. Awoke at 5:45 as getting light now at about 5:30. Somewhat clear and rained only a little during night so up for hike. Decided on the 3300 meter hike to glacier view. Supposedly takes 2 1/2 hours did it in 2. Walter, the lunch truck driver caught me half way up and we had a great hike together. Whenever he has a day off or free time he likes to go for a hike or bike or just get out and about.
The hike was great through the rain forest with its ferns, huge trees with spreading canopies. And the glacier was beautiful although still in distance. The waterfalls were all still flowing although not quite as much as last night, but still incredibly impressive, one falling onto the massive snow field below the hanging glacier. Judging by the river flowing out there is a huge amount of water coming down.
Depart biking at 10 and felt great, but stopped for construction after about 7 k. All waited maybe 10-15 minutes just standing in the rain, enjoying our company. Finally road cleared and off we went. I was in front and finally got a picture looking back at line of people coming through the construction. Of course that is when all passed me, but today it did not matter I felt great and was having a good time. Bike working but gearing difficult but figuring out how to hold the tongue, twist the foot, and get it to shift with sucking chain into frame. Got to the bottom of steep grade which started at 22.5 kilometers and just started grinding it out. The forest was amazing to watch, wondering what the trees were and the nature of this area. Green with spots of flowers scattered all over. The giant leaf plants which remind me of devils club back in Alaska, but do not have the soft thorns and a solid stalk which apparently is good in soups and such. The leaf is almost two meters across and the plant grows to about a meter or two in height. But getting colder and raining again so rain gear back on as was off for climb. Stopped just after the top and put more on because the descent was proving very cold with wind and it was about 10 k long and steep. Then within 100 meters was the lunch truck. Walter and Annalot offered the warmth of inside but turned down as did not want to get used to heat then come back outside. The Norwegian sisters, Kristen and Hilde, left and I said I would catch shortly as putting on the last of my clothes. Two jackets rain pants, arm and leg warmers, plus usual bike shorts, hoodie and bike shirt.. Plus am very glad I got the insulated gloves in Bariloche last week, they are proving a life saver. Letty departed, I had Walter take a picture of me an departed for the descent and 46 kilometers to camp.




Then 200 meters down the road stopped for construction again and flag lady said do not pass. I tried to ask how long but miscommunication. Finally a local from Santiago on a two week bike trip through the area arrived and translated. He was also stopped and said the road was closed for blasting until 5 pm. It was now 1:15. I realized I was not going to finish my ride and rode back up to the truck where they were just packing up lunch. They wondered at my return but we heard the explosion and realized the closure was real. So put my bike on truck with Brigits and joined Hannie and Vivian who were already on as well as Annalot and Walter. Went down to check and yes road closed and the same three cars waiting.

Decided to go back to try the hiking trail we had seen on way up. It was near the bottom of the hill and only 200 meters in length but well worth the trip. I had seen the sign when biking up but no time for such frivolity then. It went to a gorgeous waterfall nearly 100 meters in height out of forest, into a pool the on down a canyon, all in the rainforest. I was taking a picture of a pink flower and the bicyclist who helped interpret the road closure for me said it was a very rare flower in chile and there were only a few known ones around.
Back to road closure and still not open so thought we would go try and get to lake by the pass. Unfortunately no trail and only succeeded I getting our shoes clean in the bog trying to get to lake. It was now 4:30 so back in the que where we were the fifth car. Opened at five as they had been clearing the rocks for the blasting.
I felt like I was being punished for being late, not that driving with Walter in the truck is bad, but one cannot feel the road or see what is happening as one does on a bike. The forest is pretty and the hills and bumps are there but not the same.
Arrived camp shortly after 6 got tent up and dinner time. Wet and cold as have not been able to dry out clothes, let alone wash them. Tent remains wet and basically everything clammy. Luckily sleeping bag still dry and toasty.

20 November 2014 Lago Las Torres to Coyhaique 122 kilometer via Villa Ortega 58% unpaved

Whew, finally a good day. Left the beautiful lake and very nice riding cruising easily at about 25 kph and soon a granite wall appeared on one of canyon walls. Have been wondering when I would see a wall. Then the flowers began: the hills were in red fuchsia (I am told that is what they are) and the areas not in pasture were covered in blue, purple, pink, and whit lupine. Amazing color.
Lunch at 63.5 and reached about 11 am and decision time. The 10 kilometer longer all paved or the 60 kilometer unpaved. Now what kind of choice is that? Of course I chose the unpaved as did about 7 or 8 others. ( I was last in so they had already left). Rob said he would go with me (as sweep I guess). Derrick, Hilde, Marias, and Hannie left on the paved.
It was a great ride with Rob. The mountains were awesome to look at and enjoyed the pastures of cattle and horses. Up and down with one descent which I clocked at 67 kph, my fastest of the trip, and on gravel. Whew, probably too fast but was a kick. We stopped at the village for a soda and chocolate, then on. Conversation ranged from photography, group dynamics, and bikes. Rob takes most of the pictures put on Facebook and has a good eye, plus he has the strength to ride ahead and set up a good picture. We stopped several times to get some pictures. Was great fun and he commented how this group tends to just ride and get to camp and not stop for pictures. They do stop for soda, or coffee break but mostly just get to camp. As for the bike he has noticed mine and only one on trip to note the Chris King hubs and hope brakes.
And bike being good now that cleaner but still needs some good care. Shifts ok, but still have to twist the tongue just right. Not the way I like it. Rest day and will work on it.
Camp is a nice spot although apparently about 2 k into town. Nice grass, sunshine on arrival and hot shower and electricity. The only thing missing is wifi. But will write and prepare this then into town where apparently plaza has good wifi.
Seems once again people prefer a hotel with a strange bed to tent. On my arrival most had already departed for town not to be seen until departure after rest day. I prefer to just enjoy the day and will walk in later after bike work and this writing is ready. A city is a city.


And as become all too familiar I am going to post this with minimal editing. Sitting in a cafe with wifi which was difficult to find shortens the time for corrections. I have found many and tried but am sure there are many more. Please read between the lines, the mistakes are mine but feel I must move on. Patagonia is amazing, Chile fascinating, in its differences with Argentina. It always amazes me how an artificial political line makes such a difference.



And tomorrow we return to the bikes for nine days of riding returning to Argentina for some days. Will post as energy and wifi allows

San Carlo de Bariloche and random thoughts

Rest day here in this upscale ski town of about 130,000 people. Nice town obviously built for tourists with lots of quaint shops, outdoor centers and multiple hotels often with the word ski in front or after the name. Beautifully situated on the shores of some big lakes (Nahuel Huapi, Gutierrez, Moreno, and Mascardi) with snow covered mountains as a backdrop (Tronador, Cerro Catedral, Cerro Lopez). The towns economy is based entirely on tourism and apparently not only has skiing in winter (July, August) but water sports, trekking, and climbing.


Bariloche is also famous for chocolate of which I have not tried although there are numerous chocolate shops. And it is infamous as the residence of several German WWII war criminals including Adolph Eichmann. There is apparently an advanced science and technological research center.

We arrived yesterday in temperatures of low 20’s or high teens; very nice cycling temperature. Staying at the “Hotel Islas Malvinas” which I am unsure of its significance to the Falkland Islands. There certainly are signs on the road throughout Argentina stating the Malvinas are Argentina. For those that remember there recent history England and Argentina fought a war in the early 1990’s over ownership which as I remember was inconclusive, but England was a bit embarrassed as I remember it.

As usual hot soup, fruit, chips, cookies were available on arrival which was great. Seems all are ready for a rest day of doing nothing, overrating, oversleeping, and indulging. Here Jon Willem and Carroll depart. Jon
Willam did the last part 4 years ago and is excited to see his family having started in Quito, the first of August. Carroll must return to work having joined in Mendoza. Both are incredible cyclists. I asked Carroll yesterday why the Dutch seem so good at hills. I think it is because since they do not have big climbs they do not know that they hurt. Carroll said it was because since they do not have big hills they just want to get to the top. Meanwhile I huff and puff. I will miss their comradeship. But we are joined by 5; 2 from Australia, 2 from Belgium, and one from Germany. Makes 35 of us plus crew of 6.

The last days of cycling have been beautiful in the mountains. Actually several national parks (Lanin, Nahuel Huapi) which were of course beautiful. At first I was comparing them to the high Sierra or Canadian Rockies, or Colorado, but finally settled on this is Patagonia and it too is unique. Mostly we were on highway 40 but this section is known as "Ruta de 7 Lagos". (Route of the 7 lakes). And every since the first lake at San Martin we have been cruising along the shores.



And the cycling continues. I have almost reached 5000 kilometers ridden in South America. Thus far although officially I have only ridden about 4500 for the race. Route 40 kilometer posts are now down to 2065 from Ushuaia although our distance is longer due to we often get off the main road for back roads and are going into Chili next week. My bike the Ibis Tranny is doing great without a problem as yet although now on 3rd chain, 2nd cassette, and still needs a major cleaning, but is holding up well. Loving it. Changed the saddle again today in hopes of rearranging the sores on my butt, which are improving. Physically I am doing good. Even think I may have lost a bit of weight which was and is still necessary. Started at 98 kg and weighed myself in Salta many weeks ago and was 90 kg with clothes, so still fat but improving.

And as far weight loss have concluded regular diets do not work. I have tried not eating and it works well for several hours then I get hungry. And I reside with someone who is an excellent cook and know several people also excellent cooks.

Thus twice now I have gone on a eat anything you want,mad much as you want and I seem to lose weight. I did that on the great divide and it seems again here. Get up eat bread, rolls, jam, sausage, cheese, hopefully porridge, yogurt, bananas, coffee and juice. Several snack bars during the day with bananas, lunch is rolls, sausage, cheese, vegetables, (tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc),fruit (bananas, apples, kiwis, pears, watermelon, oranges) juice. Snack at end of ride, soup (yesterday was tomato noodle) with chips, cookies, juice, and lots of fruit. Dinner is a big plate of delicious whatever. (Two nights ago curry rice with chicken and lots of peanut sauce and vegetables, with an ice cream cake for desert). And of course two cups of coffee after dinner. Rest days are anything you can get your hands on. Last night a liter of beer, and two large pizzas for 3 of us and 6 empanadas. Breakfast today at hotel toast, sausage, cheese, cereal with yogurt. Lunch was beer and 4 empanadas. Dinner I am in search of an Argentina steak of which we have found a restaurant which opens before the usual 8 o’clock. Of course as with last night it will be followed by 2 scoops of ice cream.

And I am losing weight. Bliss



And as usual group dynamics is an interesting phenomenon. When Rob announces the next day activities there are boos and cheers. Too early, too late, too much pavement, too little pavement, weather too hot, too cold. And everyone feels strongly about whatever. We all are individuals, but work as a group toward a common goal. Enough said.

Continuing south

If you wish to know the Divine, feel the wind on your face and the warm sun on your hand. Buddha

Retraction Chos Malal to Las Lajas 159 kilometer

Rest day in Chos Malal was a rest day, without the distractions of seeing the interesting points of the town. Must be interesting as maybe I am guessing 10,000 people live there. Two plazas neither with wifi. After a week of traveling we all wanted to catch up with world outside of us. Searched and found a hotel with wifi and coffee, hence some postings. Back to camp and much needed bike work for about 3 hours. Then back to town but afternoon and all quiet. Ended up at gas station where wifi worked good and loaded pictures.

J.R.’s icloud south america pictures and others

Wifi quit when photos done and could do nothing else on internet, but timing was good. Back to camp with a few camp items enroute. (Clothes pins, clothes line, beer, cheese). Then about 6 and hungry as breakfast quite a while before and only 3 crescent rolls and coffee. No cafés restaurants could I find, but found Buck wandering too in the plaza. Agreed it was time for dinner but seems nothing open until 8 pm. Did not want to stay up late as a big day tomorrow. We had been down that route before, restaurant may open but the cook does not start work til 9. So grocery store now open and cheese, salami, and rolls. Back to camp for picnic then in tent for another great night of sleep.

Up for 7 am breakfast depart at 8. Within 20 meters of “Vamos” I was ahead and declared the finish and a stage win for me. No one bought it and we continued on in trepidation of a windy day, and one of our longest with 159 kilometers. GPS track soon had us going wrong way on a one way street which we ignored soon leaving town and onward on route 40 in our ride southward.

Two hills somewhat gentle grade of about 200 meters each of climbing and descent then just long cruise on slow small hills. Worrying about the last 30 k when we turn west generally right into the wind. And it was blowing still. It woke me in the middle of night when had 30 seconds of silence and no wind.

Lunch just after the second summit and Hardy who was only one remaining of first riders (James and Alfred) expressed surprise I was there so soon. I said I had greased my bottom bracket yesterday and could go downhill easier. ( a bottom bracket does not help coasting at all). Whatever, I was feeling good. Took off and again felt good. Windy, crosswinds, and all over but no tailwind. Riding alone basically and Walter stopped again at 122. Barry who had been ahead of me was in truck saying he would wait for pelaton as now in the last 30 k and headwind and crazy to go alone. I agreed and left alone. Rob passed me asked what I thought of wind and I had to respond I had never really cycled in the wind. Headwinds and tailwinds yes but crosswinds no. If you ignore how how fast you could be going with no wind it was not a problem. I was having fun although sort of like climbing.

And I confess I did look back once in a while to see if someone was catching me. Sorry Coach Hislop, you always taught me never look back, just pay attention to who or what s ahead. But I could not help looking back. (Coach Hislop was my track coach in high school and taught me numerous incredibly usefull things)

Arrived Las Lajas and camp and turns out I was sixth for day. As far as I was concerned it was a stage win for me. Wow all I did was, as Joe from the great divide ride, and friend Buzz said ride your own ride. It felt good. Walter the lunch truck driver commented how much I have improved from first days. I guess I am no longer the worlds slowest bicycle rider.

Great dinner, super shower here at campground and tomorrow is a different day. Tomorrow supposed to be harder although only 130 kilometer but 1500 meter climb and 50% unpaved second half. Whatever, I am learning it will be what it will be. Numbers only show so much and there always seems to be a catch.

A 6 am breakfast, our earliest, with 7 am start when light. We want to avoid the winds as much as possible. Some of blogs from two years ago make the day sound horrible. Hunkering in ditches to hide from wind,snowing etc. like I said whatever, it will be what it will be, but best prepare.

Stage 77. 8 November 2014(I think). 130 kilometer 1500 meters climbing

Quite the day departed 7 am and wind blowing. We formed a large pelaton of about 20 and began the slow climb and into headwind. By 20 k I had lost them twice but was slowly able to catch up, mostly when they took a break to pee. Only 150 meters behind but uphill and headwind and I was alone mostly I could only maintain the distance. But when steep section arrived for the 30 k remaining before lunch I realized I could not lose the pelaton. I was exhausted and ready to quit, but realized that quitting would get me no where but as a babbling mass beside the empty road. The truck had already passed so best stick with it. Jorg asked numerous times if I was doing ok and encouraged me. I realized everyone felt that way. We were not just counting down kilometers but counting the meters to the lunch truck.


And Walter had an amazing spot. We had entered a more temperate forest? A very nice change from the ongoing desert of past weeks. But these were monkey puzzle trees. Monkey puzzle trees are evergreens but different looking. Name comes from someone in England who once said a monkey would have a hard time figuring out how to climb it. The needles or leaves are sharp spikes going around the branch which is hanging down. The trunk can be very large, 2-3 meters across are the ones I saw, apparently from their old age. When mature they form into a large umbrella looking shape. The trees are indigenous to this area of the world and Chili’s national tree. They generally grow above 1000 meters in elevation. We had climbed today from the Las Lejas at 800 meters (one of our lowest of trip) to about 2000 meters which seemed above treeline for here. Fascinating trees. As noted I have seen them before but as ornamentals not a forest.

And camp tonight a campground beside the rio alumine, which we rode along after the pass for about 60 kilometer. Now a nice clear river. Of course as soon as I arrived I went in although a bit on the chilly side but felt great on tired and sore legs. Nice showers and electricity so life is good, although swimming pool as usual is empty, apparently due to early in season. Apparently campgrounds will improve as head further south and more touristy areas and wifi will improve. Funny how tourists get more than locals.

There are a few tourists around but for the most part we are still in the back country. Gauchos, ranch land, desert scrub, but beginnings of pine trees around. In the hills tonight in a small canyon where river flows. Willows here at river bed but quickly goes to desert on sides.

Alumine – Junin de la Andes

Things I have learned along the way – the outside of a corner is smoother and the gradient more even, especially on gravel. Makes washboard much easier. Going fast downhill it may not be the best option.

Great ride down the Rio Alumine a gorgeous river clear water apparently good trout fishing. Did see two kids with hand lines, but mostly we just cycled along. Some nice summer or weekend homes. Then up and over the hill and down to Junin de la Andes. Very nice. Heard the grocery store opened at 5 so back from camp for a beer which was enjoyable. Checked for wifi but reported internet but no wifi, and it was near 6 and dinner time.
Several went back to town after dinner and later reported they found good wifi. Seems I was just too lazy.

Junin de la Andes to Rita de 7 Lagos

Beautiful day with no timing so everyone thinking of the surroundings and a supposedly easy and scenic day. Left at 9 am and pelaton of about 25 people and a dog following for about 5 k at 25 kph. Of course again I had a brilliant idea to rush ahead and take a picture. Pushed hard and thought this is plenty of room and even though they slowed a bit was still too late. I never seem to learn.

But group stayed together for 42 k until lunch at San Martin de Andes. The color at side of road was primarily yellow. Used to be the purple flowers on trees, now these yellow shrubs. Even a few lilacs coming into bloom in town. Gorgous and smell quite good riding along. Lunch supposedly in plaza but never found the truck. It is an obvious ski town with lots of cute shops and cute restaurants but springtime and no snow. Came to end of town at lake and no truck. Hardy and I decided might be farther and if not we had several of the nut bars and a banana. Others decided to go back and look more. Thus Hardy and I off on our own and the scenery was spectacular along the lake then climb up pass. Lanin National Park. Reminds me of so many places, Colorado, Yosemite high country. The rocks are now more igneous granite. Has been sedimentary past months.

We descended and arrived at this lake and beautiful campsite. Grassy area with mountains around some snow remaining. Seems like home, Prince William Sound.

Starting to cloud up a bit and setting up tent tried making it really good for potential rain (or snow). Unfortunately a bit tight and broke a pole which went through rain fly. Repaired well but 5 weeks to go.








Paradise is not where you go but how you feel for one moment of your life.

31 October 2014

Departed Mendoza with all happy as either liked the camp or liked their hotel. Written instructions were long and complicated and I figured I would be getting lost. All rode together to get out of city which went on for 40 kilometer. Rode a bit with Joost who convinced me city riding can be fun. Decisions and keeping an eye out for traffic makes it more technical. I could see that, but was happy to finally get out of city. Turns out I ended up leading the group as I had the Garmin GPS and it seemed to be correct with lots of turns, intersections, roundabouts, traffic, and such. At least I wasn’t following a wheel but did have to notify those behind of bumps, rails,grates, ditches, and stop lights.

Finally departed riding tree lined streets, roads with grape fields either side. Three people separately told me it was just like riding the Provence region of southern France. That happens to be where Jeanne and I were going for a short trip before this trip came up.

Then leave the trees and highway 40 and head back toward the mountains which were gorgous. Several said that one was Acancongua although that 6900 meter summit is northwest of Mendoza about 100 kilometers and we are south. Still beautiful. And the wineries and grape fields were magnificent.

The ride was 143 kilometer and generally fairly easy with one hill which wasn’t much. Totaled 1100 meters of climbing. Rode with Julia for afternoon discussing why we do this. No answers.

Nice camp here at a campground in town.

1 November San Carlos to bush camp

Well has been quite a day. Chilly when woke up and colder as we departed riding 21 k in group not for speed efficiency but to cut the wind and hopefully a bit warmer. But I was in the lead cruising at 24. Nice. Only shop of the day was gas station at 21 k where we turned off onto gravel rode to ride the remainder 90 k. Coffee and snacks then onward. Gravel road had been paved for 35 k and nice riding then gravel with accompanying washboard and occasional soft areas.

Lunch at 62 where construction was separating old and new road of route 40. Hot tea and food were a real pick me up as cold. Apparently temp between 5 & 8 degrees but felt colder and rain looked like it would hit at any moment. When I mentioned at least it was better than last weeks 45 degrees everyone whole heartily disagreed and thought I was crazy. I felt like I might be voted off the island. Several folks took the truck and when it passed after about 8 k and waiting for last rider to arrive at lunch I had to laugh as there were 10 people piled in the back and bikes were stacked on top. Cold weather is not this groups forte.

Caught Buck in about 10 k as it was just after summit and he does not like to go fast downhill. I can go fast downhill but today it was cold and hands numb from cold. Have frozen them too many times and circulation is bad when I am cold. We rode sort of together for next 15-20 k occasionally having to walk due to soft gravel and sand and it broke up the routine of cold muscles.

Came upon the lunch truck which was going back for Joost and Alfred as they had taken wrong turn at the lunch truck and were not in. Buck and I were only other ones out. Truck said distance was shortened by about 15 kilometer as they had found a building we could use off road. Go over dam, through tunnel, up hill, and turn right at gate then a kilometer off road. The tunnel was listed on guide paper as 500 meters and dark. I had brought my light.

The dam created a large reservoir which had house boats and such anchored. With the weather no one around. The dam was impressive and would have like to stop and explore but cold, getting wet, and wanted to get to camp. So through tunnel which you could see the other end and at start reflectors in middle of road. I had decided to not stop and get out light when I saw the light at end of tunnel. It was dark and the light at end was only thing to be seen and I tried to stay in middle hoping there were no rocks or holes as could not see squat. Thoughts of a tunnel on the death road came back. There was a tunnel which a bike rider hit a rock, fell and then was run over by a truck. They closed the tunnel to bikes after that and a trail around was created.

Ok, so things were progressing with Buck behind me a ways. Then I hear a car coming I yell to Buck I am moving to side and stopping. In the process of moving I realize I am totally blind and do not know where the rock wall is, but I feel sand at edge and stop then touching wall. I look back but hear Buck yell he has fallen. The car though has headlights and I see it stop. There is some conversation but too far away to understand. It takes a while and I started to move outside tunnel but decided to stay in tunnel due to weather. Soon the truck comes up with Buck and his bike inside. Turns out it is the police and he insists I put my bike in and he will give us a ride up hill. I think about wanting to finish ride but relent, pile in, throwing bike in back of pickup. He drives us up the biggest hill of day. We see the bike dreams flag at top marking camp and he drives us the kilometer to camp, where the police and dam crew have a storage shed which we are using.

Dinner, complaints about the cold, and the additional 15 k added to tomorrow’s normal 135 k tomorrow which is apparently usually windy, and now 150 kilometer. We shall see. Now 7:45 in tent trying to stay warm and waiting for dark. Interesting.

And thoughts of past days of rushing this trail. Would be nice to take more time and explore a bit. Like today, the only pictures were in gas station break. None of desert flowers which were quite stupendous, and the dam. But then I think I had same complaint about the great divide, rushing and not being able to stop and explore. Then I realize we did it in 71 days way more than usual which was a nice pace but still no time to explore.

2 November 2014 continuing journey of worlds slowest bike rider

interesting day. Slept great through night in my little tent, often raining but I was cozy, first time in sleeping bag in about two weeks as has been too hot. Awoke this am and it was cold. Berry came over and asked what I thought the day would bring, to which I responded with a few expletives. He agreed and 30 seconds later said his tire had gone flat overnight. Temp was about 2 degrees and it started snowing although only lasted a minute or two then turned to a drizzle. I have never figured out how to dress for temperatures between 0 and 10. I guess just too humid. Below freeing easy but above freezing and rain still gets me. Cycled in rain gear and sweated but needed the wind protection. No answers. I was wet and cold.

There have been two times on this trip where I have questioned my existence. Both times involved temperature extremes. First was road to Tocota where temps were 43-45, no shade, and I was running out of water with a long ways to go. Other time was today. Cycling in 4 degrees, drizzling rain, rough road and I was wet and cold. No fun.

One bright point when churning along bouncing all over the washboard. Up behind me comes Carroll who joined in Mendoza from Holland. He says “wow J. R. you make it look easy.” Yeah right, I was near dead.

But hit Tarmac at 40 kilometer although the weather same. Lunch was scheduled for 90 k as it was a long day, but Walter and Annalot at 55 kilometers which was a treat. Then off again and slowly began to warm up as drizzle decreased with an occasional clear patch. First the rain pants off then 10 k later the rain jacket and 5 k later the hood which was under helmet. Nice.

Then another break at a gas station where Annalot and Walter had set up a mini lunch. Another relief. And happens the kilometer post on route 40 was 3000. That is distance to Ushuaia so making progress. Started at at around 5120 at entry to Argentina. We will go farther than 3000 as going to Chili and several side loops into the mountains. Tomorrow I cross over 4000 kilometers on this trip. And have been on trip 6-7 weeks with 6 to go.


Joost and Alfred arrived having gone back this morning to cover the distance the truck took them yesterday after their wrong turn. Today instead of the 153 k ride they did that plus about 35 on yesterday’s road. Alfred is second in standings now and used to be a professional cyclist and Joost is just good. I dared them to catch me which they did at about 10 k. I was cruising at about 25-30 with a tailwind and when I joined them our speed was 30-35. I told myself what the heck go for it, 45 k to camp and would be nice to tag along. It was a real treat with them, all alternating first in line. To slow down , no brakes just move outside line a bit and let head wind brake you. I was really enjoying myself and the mountains were out again as it had cleared significantly.

Then I saw some cowboys riding along fence line and was torn as to take pictures or ride in line. I opted for pictures and let Joost and Alfred know as they had been keeping an eye on me. I decided to go try and talk to the cowboys although their English was nonexistent and my Spanish very poor. Oh well I found out about their saddles and such which are basically thick blankets, no horn on saddle or a leather saddle as in U.S. But if they need to hold on a pole goes across blankets. And stirrups are cut outs in a thick piece of leather.


Then on alone the 20’k into camp. Much different finish than the start. And busy as last one in again. Shower, laundry,(done in shower) bike cleaning, dry tent, charge GPS, iPad, phone batteries. Again tired how did that happen?

Went to bed wrote above the day then stomach felt weird. Well without going into details was glad we were in a campground with nice hot shower as that is where I spent most of night until about 4 am. Returned to tent hoping the eruptions were done. Awoke at 6:15 thinking wow 2 hours. But took the truck as wiped out. Clothes from yesterday’s laundry and the night in shower were frozen. Everyone biked today, seems a rarity. Did not eat breakfast as afraid of feeding the monster, which had completely taken dinner last night.

Before depart in truck had to go shopping as two days and tonight a bush camp. Although I stayed and slept in the truck Robert, Girdy, and Lucho came back with bags of fruit, onions, bread, meat, to sustain 40 people for 2 days. Then off and the wind had picked up blowing every which directions. The directions were 118 k and 900 meters of climbing. But as usual there was a catch, the wind. Going down the 5% grade people were peddling hard. But all in and camp is nice. Sort of a Pasteur although no grass for horses, goats, sheep. Thorns all over. But I ate some soup and life is good, again.

Interesting how the time of start is still in contention. For myself I prefer earlier but seems only about half the group feel that way, and they are not letting it go. To me we are a group and as with all groups and group dynamics compromises are necessary. But these are individuals and feel strongly. So why not just leave when you want which is what some are doing. But as I see it leaving together is a good “bonding experience as a group” even though we all are a variety of levels. But there is breakfast which would be very complicated to separate into various times, clean up and washing, tables and benches put away which has to done before packing the bags into trucks. For those that leave early puts more work on those staying behind. I agree leaving early avoids the heat of day, the increased wind etc but if all decide to leave later fine by me. To me early gives more time in camp to just relax. Thus 7 am breakfast with 8 am depart, but tomorrow 8 am breakfast and 9 depart. We shall see after that.

The wind is blowing and I have noticed all residences have tree windbreaks. Tomorrow we enter Patagonia.

4 November 2014 stage 74 -100 k – 50% pa

ved – 1022 meters climbing.

A good day with late start so enjoyed coffee before breakfast. Today’s lesson was a repeat in that stopping and taking pictures or a break slows you down. Started out with fast ones but within 3 kilometers had stopped to take pictures. Riding down the Rio Grande valley and it’s volcanic rocks was gorgeous. The river itself is fairly large for this area and actually appeared a nice float, the sections I saw.


On route 40 still and kilometer markers going down, now about 2750 but road is not maintained as well south of Melargue, where we were last night. Actually not bad, but a gravel road with its ensuing washboard and the trials of finding a hard surface. Climb was somewhat long and hot, but that was only hot section. Pavement after the top and flew on down having crossed from the Rio Grande to the Rio Baranca drainage. Just before campground here in town of Baranca we entered the Patagonia region and left Mendoza. Our last region, except for Chili.



Great dinner tonight, apparently another common winter Dutch meal. Rice with beef and carrots with red cabbage. Wonderful.

Now people deciding which route for tomorrow. 122 k all paved and not a lot of climbing or 94 k only 8% paved but goes up over top of volcano and views supposed to be good as well as flamingoes in lake. I will take the latter.
Bike doing great but needs some love and cleaning. Chain needs changing as well as rear cluster plus cleaning and grease overall. Needs that oil bath C3PO got in Star Wars. Rest day after tomorrow night and next day.

Chos Malal and a rest day tomorrow stage 75

Interesting day as a choice of routes and no timing meaning no racing. Either 120 kilometer of pavement but probable wind or 90 kilometer over the volcano unpaved. Of course I chose over the top and it was a good choice but not easy. Climbed 1400 meters walking some in first 45 kilometer of 1400 meter climb, getting closer to the old volcano which apparently last erupted about 1995. So lava fields about and road is lava rock. Very scenic and numerous photos.

But bike front fork going clunk with every bump which is washboard so happened about every half second. New problem and I know next to nothing about forks. Walter the driver of lunch truck was riding his bike back to check on several of us slow ones, and had him check it. Too much air pressure. How come it works great for two months then today has too much pressure but when let out air it worked great again, and again I like my front suspension.

Lunch at 52 kilometer and I arrived at 2:30 having left at 8. First riders in at 11:30. Lunch and on ward to finish the next 40 k but had to detour down a kilometer or two to lake where flamingos were. Wanted some pix but they flew off as wildlife tends to do, but was a fun detour for me. Then another epic descent of 40 kilometers although wind still blowing sometimes headwinds sometimes sideway, bluntly had to peddle a couple times for short uphill or wind too strong to coast downhill. Pondering if need to remove frame bag as sail area created is a problem. Have never biked with crosswinds of 50 kph and more. Very interesting.



Anyway a rest day tomorrow so prime goal is no biking and rest. But rest is problematic as much to do. Bike work, cleaning, change chain and cassette, check fork, wash clothes as not going to trust laundry as usually two days. Also find internet and see if possible to post this. Talk tonight at dinner was how 20 years ago when traveling no internet and relied on snail mail once every two or three months. Times have changed. At least when I hear it is dicey internet I now just go oh well, rather than get frustrated with slow and on and off. Always seems slow. Knut said he was in India just a few years ago and although a far poorer country than Argentina it had far superior internet connections everywhere. Priorities I guess.


Sitting hotel restaurant drinking coffee using wifi hoping to get pictures in here but may have gone to far