Ushuaia, Argentina

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

Well it has been an interesting week.  Arrived at airport here in Ushuaia about 7 pm last Thursday (today is Wednesday), I believe more dead than alive.  We were to say the least, exhausted.  Concerned about our airbnb as unable to contact them due to no phone, wifi, etc., but on arrival the owner was out front and gave us hugs on arrival.  Her brother said lets go get a SIM card and we hopped in car to drive several places to obtain a SIM card so I could have phone access and such, when no wifi available.  Finally got it although a few days later when I got around to putting it in phone turns out did not work.  Only 50 pesos though about $3.00 so not worrying.  Seems card had been cut wrong.

As we arrived late and had planned on thursday arranging trips about Tierra Del Fuego and up to Punta Arenas, Chile we found a room for another night.  The airbnb was booked but found a hotel nearby although only room was a triple for $130.  OK for one night.
Went out to eat at first restaurant we found which by now was 9 pm and mostly empty, with a couple of tables busy.  By the time we finished at 10:30 every table full.  I forgot they eat late here.  Most restaurants do not even open until 8 pm.  But excellent food.  Then we slept, oh sweet sleep.

In the morning we  walked to new hotel 6 blocks away and apparently a double room was always available just not via, hence we would get a reimbursement.  And off to make arrangements for the next 5 days.  Information booths, tour companies, bus companies, etc.   More difficult than anticipated.  Had tried to do on line from home, but proved difficult without any answers.  Ferry boat ride between Punta Arenas and Puerto Williams (near here) was something we really wanted, as it was 35 hours on inside passage as a local ferry.  Tourists ferries were too long and expensive.  But the schedule was exact opposite of what we could do.  Then we heard there is strike at Chilean border which no-one seemed to have much information on, except borders blocked most of time except maybe 10 minutes an hour or two or three.  The bus ride from here to Punta Arenas is 12 hours thus it did not seem inviting having just finished a horrendous travel experience.  Flying an option but over a thousand dollars for us.  Also could go to Rio Gallegos in Chile which was far cheaper and easier to get to but would mean hours there and an overnight and everyone said a boring town.  Seems traveling about Tierra Del Fuego was not going to happen.  We would stay in Ushuaia and see what it has to offer.  5 days now and 3 on return.

Ushuaia end of the world

At hotel we walked up to the lounge area on third floor and as we passed second floor there was a Deborah Green, who I had gone to nursing school with me in 1982.  I had seen her a few times since but not much.  Jeanne came up the stairs and recognized her as she had worked with her in hospital years before, but took a bit to recognize as way out of context.  Small world!  They are leaving for Antarctica on a different cruise, but we made arrangements to have dinner.  They were going hiking and we were trying to find out options for next days.

Another great dinner again beginning at 9 pm, and we four decided to rent a car the next day to explore tierra el Fuego national park, which was one of the reasons I had wanted to spend time here.  Two years ago I rode through the park on bicycle and it looked great for further explorations.

Oh boy the next day we rented a car.  A superb day but the renting of car was the adventure.  The rental company a block from hotel and they did not speak English and rental agreement was in spanish.  Although paying in cash the deposit was on a credit card.  Many have told us the credit card charge here is 10% so often cheaper to use cash.  But the deposit required a call to credit card company and that was an adventure. The rental guy was getting very frustrated with the incomprehensible questions from the credit card company.  They needed to verify it was me, thus by the end we had a slip of paper on desk with passwords, social security #, mothers maiden name, etc.  All the things you never give out.  We watched that paper closely.  Was a problem as the bank said social # was wrong because it should only be four numbers.  Finally realized they only wanted the last four digits.  Anyway when we finished the paper was fully shredded placed in my pocket and I considered swallowing it.  Again we laughed. It took over two hours to get the paperwork and simpler than the paperwork at home.

Finally finished and we drove the 30 kilometers to the end of the road.

End of the road,  the other end is either Homer Spit or Deadhorse or maybe Inuvik


Finally after  when we reached the end of road, parked, explored, and on return to car none of us could figure out how to put the car in reverse.  20 minutes later and almost getting out and pushing it back, Deborah discovers you lift up on the handle.  More laughter.

Bird watching Tierra del Fuego national park

The park was great with lots of new birds and photograph potential.  Striated caracara, rufous collared sparrow, upland goose, rufous goose, kelp geese, flightless steamer ducks, and once we looked up and not at the ground found a bunch of parrots which I figured were Austral parakeets.  Had not expected to see parrots here.  Amazing wildlife.  A superb hike to the coast amongst the beech trees.

Austral parakeets

Returned to Ushuaia and wanted to avoid driving San Martin street due to busy, but ended up on it not once, but twice when roads we turned on dead ended forcing us to navigate San Martin, finally climbing back to the rental place where the fellow had driven from home to meet us.  Very nice. Quite an adventure and it worked out well.  

Sunday was pleasant without wind and we suddenly decided to do a Beagle channel tour, to view cormorants, fur seals, light houses, petrels, terns, and another continuous onslaught of critters sights and sounds.

Antarctic giant petrel
Antarctic fur seals. They are as sluggish as California sea lions and stellar sea lions

Did some walks about town visiting the monument to immigrants covering a big section of hillside  and memorial to those who died in the falklands war (Malvinas)

Monument to immigrants. 3 sections of maybe twenty total



Today a bus tour about town and found out about the native inhabitants.  When Fitzroy and Darwin came here in early 1800’s they asked what the Indians called themselves.  They said “tualkin”. For 50 years that is what people called them until someone translated that to mean “I do not understand”.  As of 2010 only one native remained, the rest had died off from diseases and such they had no immunity to.  

And thus tomorrow we board the ship to travel to falklands, South Georgia island, and Antarctic peninsula.  Jeanne, Geoff and myself are very excited.  23 days aboard ship with excursions ashore.  New sights.   

Thus I will leave it at this.  Apparently wifi is available but limited and I am not planning on connecting thus if no word here it means I am successful in disconnecting.  This afternoon has reinforced my desire to disconnect. As this $230 per night hotel has wifi which marginally works slowly.  The hotel earlier at $60 night worked good, and some what consistent.  This writing has taken 6 hours of fits and starts and frustration.  

Against  I apologize for the lack of coherency or length but am frustrated with the technology. 

Letdown and what does it all mean

The best traveller has no plan and is not intent on arrival.



Bike-dreams route Andes trail
Bike-dreams route Andes trail
The route through South America Andes.
The route through South America Andes.

3 days in Ushuaia. When I set up reservation for this trip I knew next to nothing about Ushuaia, but figured I will not be here very often so scheduled three days to explore. Turns out there is a lot to do, boat excursions, beagle channel, penguins, Cape Horn, hiking, museums, national parks, the list goes on. And I had energy for almost nothing. I did ride to the end of highway 3 but that is the extent of my explorations and the maritime and prison museum.

Talking with others they felt the same energy is gone. It is like we were “on” for 4 months and suddenly it is done. As Michelle said it was about the journey and not the destination. And a bit anticlimactic; we had a farewell end of trip dinner the night of arrival and then slowly people began to drift away. If one was around, one said goodbye, otherwise they were gone. Most will not be seen again. Weird feeling to live with people, eating, sleeping, biking, encouraging, cajoling, and surviving for four months and then suddenly it is done and we go back to regular lives. Seems everyone was gone yesterday morning except Rob (the boss) who is driving trucks to Uruguay for storage until the next trip in two years, and then taking a month to cycle around Uruguay exploring that country which he has never been to. The three girls Carmen, Vivien, and Michelle who are awaiting boats to explore Antarctica. Julia was last to leave for her 34 hours of flying to Australia. I had dinner last evening with Michelle and it was a good conversation and goodbye. She returns home 3 January and back to work at university 9 January. I recommend her blog michelle’s blog In my quest to find out why we do this her answer was similar to Gunter, Hardy, and Alfred. It is in our genes. As she said we are people who want to feel what a place is like. To be knocked down by the wind and attempt to crawl into a ditch to protect oneself from the flying gravel is very different than watching it on the travel or nature channel on TV. We want to see what is over that hill, mountain, valley whatever. And we agreed the worst you can do is fail to try. Failing at something is one thing but not even trying is total failure. So what have I seen: it would be shorter to just reread this blog and that does not begin to cover the things I have seen. At the current moment I am thinking of the remote Bolivian village we came across on a rough dirt road, where a hundred kids encompassed us with curiosity, fear, wonderment at these strange gringos on bicycles. I suspect they had never seen such a sight. Or the rise over the hill and seeing the Torres de Paine towers rising 2 kilometers over us. The grueling climb to Tocota in the heat. A multitude of experiences and sights. And a bicycle is a great way to see and feel it. As Earnest Hemingway said; It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of the country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. But you remember them as they actually are, while in a motorcar only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.

And what have I learned.  That too is a question of imponderables.  But it I will try, without being too trite.

to get anywhere you have to move. Seems simple but as Barry and I stood there enroute to Tocota in blazing heat he said “well we can’t get there by standing here”. Even though both of us just wanted to lie down and await whatever. And the windy day out of Torres del Paine was similar. I wanted to lie in the ditch and await rescue, but that seemed to easy, and a long wait. Again this seems to fall into the category of you cannot succeed if you do not try.

And I learned I can do it with a good mindset. As Thomas the tank engine says “I think I can”. And my track coach in high school told me anything physical is 90% mental and the more I do the more I find that true. One must believe.

One of my first blogs was entitled”facing one’s fears” where I expressed my fears at joining an elite group of hardened cyclists. I knew they had cycled all over the world and were also looking for additional challenges and places to explore. I had expected them to arrive after 6 weeks of hard cycling high in the mountains not only acclimated to the altitude but capable of superhuman feats. They dribbled into Cusco more like old wet, dirty dish towels than the super humans I expected. My friend Buck, who is incredibly tough, I thought was going to collapse on my hotel doorstep when he arrived.

Nearly every day I rode I had the thought “I can’t do this I am not strong enough”. When I arrived in camp often last I would sometimes relay this to others. They would look at me like “you are crazy, all of us feel that way” and I would look around and realize it was true. They would look as exhausted as I felt.  On the great divide after three weeks Joe and I were ready to quit.  We weren’t strong enough for the ride we felt.  That day we changed from doing the great divide to just ride the next day.  It changed our perspective and became wonderful.

And I was bothered by how slow I was, finally near the end I realized I could ride maybe not as fast as the fasted racers, but I could hold my own. There were many times I took my turn leading the pelaton or pace line. I realized slowly often the difference was I stopped, took pictures, ate, peed or just took a break. Some in the group would not drink coffee in the morning as they would have to stop to pee. Rob mentioned to me once this group was different as they did not stop to photograph or enjoy the view, they were intent on getting to camp. That is certainly ok but was not my ride. I rode my ride in my way. After San Martin when a large pelaton made riding easier against the wind I did not do pelatons as much because of the scenery I missed. Everyone to their own.

Hence the learning, I can do it if I want to. Negative thinking results in negative results. Ok, trite.

And I learned the world is an amazing place. So many different ways of doing and looking at things. And money has nothing to do with it. Sometimes the poorest people are the happiest. We all crave things but sometimes it is the feeling which is more important. And just because someone does something in a different way does not make it better or worse.

In South America one does not put paper in the toilet but in the garbage can next to toilet. Most from western countries find this weird. But paper is carbon and tends to overload septic and sewage systems, not allowing proper bacterial action to decompose the waste. Or perhaps their septic and sewers just can’t handle that waste. Whatever the reason it is the way it is done here.

Buck told me once, when I was complaining about the seemingly feral dogs all over rural Peru and Bolivia, it is their culture we cannot always understand it. (Two people on our trip were bitten and had rabies treatment.). Quite true, one cannot always understand a culture and before one tries to change it try and understand why it is that way.

And I learned traffic can be ok with a bike. Joost told me he actually enjoys riding in traffic at home as it is an additional challenge. Perhaps though it is because cars may respect bikes. There is always an outsider but I felt ok with the cars. They treated me as a vehicle which is the way it should be and not as an intrusion on their personal space. The times cars lined up behind us waiting for a safe time to pass continually amazed me. People can be respectful of others. Of course we did prove that one outside car can do some damage. When a car and a bike fight it is extremely difficult for the bike to win.

Now I sit in Lima back where I began my trip in South America. My story is told, and I am trying to understand the past 4 months because there is so much to understand, but I feel like a person who now has no story, which is the opposite of what I have always said. Everyone has a story; perhaps they do not know it or do not know how to tell it. Perhaps it will come to me. Tomorrow is another day.


Arrival Ushuaia

Well it finally happened; we made it. For me after three months and just shy of 7500 kilometers ridden plus 450 in the truck, it is bittersweet. For the others they left 1 August in Quito and did 11000 kilometers. I climbed 59000 meters whereas the entire trip consisted of 110,000 meters of climbing to include the mountains of Peru which I did not do. Whew

Departed the campground on a nice gravel road along lake then onto pavement and into a bit of wind, but nice riding in a line with Alfred, Barry, and Juerg. Sunshine.

Entered some hills and then the climb of 400 meters but easy grade. It feels very good to be back in trees and mountains. Feeling good and traffic back to reasonable, passing when safe. Of course there are always a few drivers who insist on ignoring cyclists and one must be aware. Lunch was not until 80 kilometers so that we could group up and ride last 20-25 together. And a very happy moment when camp truck passed and Michelle was hanging out window waving, smiling, cheering. Still was not sure of her condition and elation set in. Having seen the bike and realized the damage that was incurred was all done when she was on it. It is amazing she survived at all.


Lunch and waited for entire crew apparently I was snoring away. Then a police escort for final tour. 2 trucks and 4 motorcycles. Arrived Ushuaia and stopped for pictures then proceeded into town square running every red light thanks to police stopping traffic for us as we circled town and the square, where finish line awaited, champagne, beer, food, and people from town and visitors.


IMG_1660.JPG I and Joost helped Michelle onto my bike and Joost helped her cross the finish line on a bike. Hooray
“Fin del Mundo” (the end of the world). This is farthest city south in the world and a tourist town for such with ocean shipping, cruises, and the tourist activities accompanying such places.
Had the awards ceremony for the race winners overall and all men were first place James, second, to Alfred, and third was Joost. Amongst the women first was Michelle, second was Hilde, and her sister Kristen was third. Congratulations to them all.



After we realized we still had to find our hotel which had been conveniently placed high up on a hill above town. We managed the very technical ride (due to beverage consumption) through a strange town, in a strange town, joking we were back in the altitudes of Peru and Bolivia. Numerous folks had to immediately begin packing bikes and prepping for departure.
Then a walk into town and a delightful argentine dinner. Restaurant of course did not open until 8 pm and we arrived shortly later. I was fascinated by the cooking room where the chef was barbecuing, entire beef, lamb, chicken on large skewers over a large grill. One went to a window and told him what you wanted and he cut it off. Absolutely wonderful. Then added a side salad from buffet. The place was hopping at 10 (on a Sunday night) and I walked back to hotel leaving about 11. Several took cabs for the uphill return trip. The local cycling club gave each of us a plaque with map of route and it was a wondrous evening filled with the usual sad goodbyes.

This am up for coffee and hotel breakfast and watching some depart. I then had offered to remove useable parts from Michelle’s bike and began this work. For the police report the bike was totaled and insurance wise it was. Actually only everything from rear seat tube back was totally destroyed. Cassette, chain stays, hub, rear brake, wheel. Still amazed she survived. Luckily the car hit her rear wheel sideways throwing her off. Still something hit windscreen breaking it and a large dent in right door. She is walking but very bruised and sore.


And so it ends. Hoopla but the mixed feelings one has. Ready to move on but this has been such an incredible experience I still have not processed it. I will be spending three days here I. Ushuaia exploring and trying to figure out what it all means. In rio Grande I went to dinner with, Hardy, Gunter, and Alfred (all German) and asked they why we did this. Each said there is no reason, it is in our makeup. This is what we enjoy. Nothing more nothing less.

Hence I close although there will be more posts in an attempt to figure it out. I have for myself enjoyed writing this and posting. It kept me connected and I enjoyed the comments. Thanks for the support. For those interested in the actual events they are pretty much finished for now. I will continue to post my ideas for those willing to endure my ramblings. (I can hear the unsubscribe clicks now.

So thanks for the support, interest, and go out and create your own story. It is there and it is fascinating.

Tierra del Fuego

All I want from life is to be in love, ride my bike and drink good coffee


Five days left: 2 cycling, a rest day, 2 cycling, Ushuaia, and then the rest of my life. Thinking of the end, not so much as I want it to end but to break the routine. To not get up and do the same thing every day maybe. No, that is not it. Maybe the idea of not necessarily “being on” all the time, facing the world. I guess maybe it is the desire for a routine which I understand. Tiring to every day translate multiple languages of which I speak only one, to wonder where and when lunch and dinner are (even though I know), every night in a new location. (Maybe that is why the tent is nice, once you go inside all is the same and in order). The trip is exciting yes, and wonderful to see new, different things and ways of doing things, but sometimes nice to have ones own routine.

Currently on the ferry crossing the Straights of Magellan to Tierra Del Fuego, a two hour trip. As per usual I have trouble sitting and sleeping as most of the 300 passengers are doing. It is the same ferry that took us to the penguins the other day so have seen much of ship, but seems always more to explore. I guess that is a difference between me and some others, I find this fascinating and the views always changing and interesting. Others see it just as a mode of transportation. I think of it as it’s own adventure. I think of how some did not want to go see penguins as they had seen penguins elsewhere or were going to see them later. Once in the arctic someone did not want go see a snowy owl nest as they had seen an owl before. People think differently, it is not right or wrong just not how I think. What is important to one may not be important to others. What I find most important is to respect the difference, and to understand that there are differences. If we were all the same whether in likes, dislikes, beliefs, looks, it would be incredibly boring.

Ok skipping ahead in the chronology I am writing this from the bush camp reached after the ferry ride. Hardy, and Joost were talking about the end and whether excited or not. Yes and no. Basically I believe they summed it up in that these past months are basically easy and a vacation. Sure we ride hard, but every day is eat, sleep, ride. As Joost said, compared to the regular work world or raising a family this is easy. Escapism.

Ok back to today’s ride. Off to the 5 k ride to ferry terminal and boarded the “Crux Australis”. This time loaded not only with 300 people but cars and trucks for the 2 1/2 hour ride to Porvenir. Met some interesting people traveling about. A couple from Poland who had flown to Columbia , bought a BMW motorbike and were now traveling to Ushuaia then on to Buenos Aires where they sell the bike and return home. Another fellow just coming back from climbing Mount Vincent in Antarctica. He is doing two of the seven summits every year. He goes to Mount Everest in March.

On arrival we rode off the ferry and were in Tierra del Fuego. All rushed ahead to lunch but Hardy and I stopped to take pictures in town center of us beneath the Christmas tree. Quick lunch and off we went.


Nice ride along the coast and once stopped to watch the dolphins near shore. Magellans dolphins I believe and I believe they were feeding. Then on east with a tailwind and my cockiness in last blog caught up with me when talking about no bike problems. Air departed my rear tire and I had a flat tire. Rob came by shortly after and asked what my biggest problem was as my bike was upside down and wheel off. I could not think of any problems so had him continue on. Finally found a hole in side wall wearing thin which the latex sealant does not help much. Put a tube in but it would not pump up. Removed the tube to find a centimeter cut in the new tube. Thus repaired that, replaced tube and on my way again.

And an awesome ride with a very gradual descent and headed east so a 50 kph tail wind. Flew along the smooth gravel ride for next 15 kilometer, guanacos and sheep watching me fly by and suddenly the bike dream flag appears. I was not ready to stop as having great fun cruising along at about 40 and it seemed early. Turns out the scheduled bush camp of 14 trees was really blowing hard so they had returned to find the only gully for a long ways. Could not see trucks or tents until nearly on top of them. They had nestled into this little gully and set up a great camp. I began repairs changing to new tire on rear throwing old out as I can see it getting worn when tire is off the bike. Rob tried to go for swim in ocean, but rough seas and rocky beach and cold water. Great dinner of curried rice with chicken and I was on service meaning delivering food and washing dishes after.

Great little orange orchid in amongst the grasses here. Only about 2 centimeters high.


Whatever day it is I do not know or care: it’s the one from bush camp to Rio Grande and a rest day tomorrow. Did 156 kilometer and windy

Awoke to the sound of crashing surf over the gully edge. Pacific Ocean water, although technically Straights of Magellan, but the is water coming in from Pacific. Rained I guess during the night and drizzled during this mornings ride but not bad. Full rain gear removing rain pants within 15 k. Tailwind and cruising along averaging 26 kph until lunch at about 62 kilometer just before Chile immigration. Accused Walter and Annalot of setting up in only windy area around, but riding one does not notice a tailwind.

Did see several heavy loaded bikers heading north to anchorage. And in this section they were going directly into wind. Rob said when checking this route in 2007 he did it going north and on this section he could only do 8kph and 80 for the day. That tells me something, as Rob is incredibly strong.

Immigration was easy, both of them, arriving just before the buses arrived. And Chile immigration near the beach of the Atlantic Ocean. Crossed a continent, maybe not at its widest but still pretty cool. Leaving the last dirt of trip and onto pavement the road turned to the southeast which meant cross and tail winds. One section going east for 5 k was perfectly flat and I coasted between 32 and 37 kph having a snack and water, not peddling a bit, just letting the wind push me. But when turned south the crosswind was again severe. Probably blowing about 50 kph today. Stopped once for photo of Gunter and as usual rushed ahead out of breath, braking hard, a gust hit me and I went down in a tangle of bike, me and the backpack I was trying to remove at same time. All ok and got the photo I hope.

IMG_1567.JPGMade it to town of Rio Grande which is an industrial town of about 50000. Average 27 kph for the day for 155 kilometers, even with crosswind the speed picked up for the 90 kilometer after lunch. We are staying in a hotel near middle of town. Good shower , but wifi cannot connect, but two outlet plugs in room allowing Buck and I to both charge something at same time. It is the little things in life.

And how cool is this; Pacific Ocean water waves last night and tonight on shores of the Atlantic Ocean.

Punta Arenas and rest day life

Estrecho De Magallenes

IMG_1469.JPGMonument to the wind along road, although I think it is a directional beacon for alien spacecraft.

Departed the bush camp early in hopes of lengthening our rest day in Puntas Arenas, and our hopes succeeded. A quick 100 kilometer arriving just before 1. And about 20 k from town was a large lake on left to the east. The garmin said Oceana Pacifica. It is the straights of Magellan. Wow. I have read and heard of this country since I was small. The stories of explorations, discoveries, history, and people for the last 600 years are impressive. I was awestruck at finally seeing it, Tierra del Fuego across the channel. We are getting south.

Found the hostel after a bit of wandering the neighborhood as Garmin directed us this way and that. Then the usual question of what is this place going to bring. As usual several people opted prior or immediately on arrival to get their own places closer to town or alone, or with better wifi (without 40 people trying to log on at once), or just to get away. As for me it is fine sharing a room with James and the shower had hot water which is sort of unique. Everyone commented how fast the internet was although the system refused to allow me on. Max says apple products sometimes have difficulty due to their higher security, but others apples products were logged in. I spent much of the afternoon frustrating myself trying to log on without success, while others typed away.

But wanted a tour of penguin rookery and today was best day as occurs in evening. The birds are out fishing during the day and return in afternoon. Thus signed up for a 5 pm departure on boat. Michelle, Joost, Letty, Bridget, James and I took a cab to boat harbor, and boarded the ferry for two hour trip to isla Magdalena.

Just before arrival at the island an albatross took off beside the ship. Then as we neared the beach (ship is a landing craft with drop bow) the birds appeared. Again totally awestruck at the sight of these storied birds waddling by the thousands about the beach up on to the island. These are Magellan Penguins and follow the light from here to southern coast of Brazil in winter. About 40 centimeters high and as cute as one imagines. They live in short burrows which are dug by them throwing dirt everywhere. They mate for life and anthropomorphizing them one imagines the love, caring, squabbles, and trials couples go through.

The park is very good about controlling the hundred or two hundred visitors dropped off by the “Crux Austral” with roped off areas and a few guards to keep track. Penguins get priority, but all were good and close with centimeters. Again I was amazed. Had seen penguins when in Tasmania but nothing like the thousands here. I have not seen wildlife viewing like this since seeing the masses of caribou in the arctic.


Returned late about 10:30 and logged on to high speed internet. Wow. Then spent three hours just enjoying the outside world, posting blog from last night, talking with Jeanne, posting pictures, J. R.’s photostream, and just enjoying the connection.

Awoke this am with a full list of rest day chores: write this, blog, charge batteries for the next days, bike maintenance, laundry, breakfast, and most important find coffee. Then discovered this hostel serves breakfast so two items covered quickly (except for the savoring it part, which was done in the good company of others). And the hostel here does laundry so for 10000 Chilean pesos (about $20) I get all 4 kilos of clothes washed by someone else, and not done by me in a sink, shower, or creek. Life is good.

Then on to the bike and redid bottom bracket as creaking two days ago in the wind but seems ok since then. Just preventative maintenance. Chain needs changing, but will let it go to Ushuaia and put on a new one there, utilizing all the spare parts I brought along except one set of brake pads, one set of shoe cleats, and a set of derailleur cables. Knock on wood (that is for good luck) the bike is working well still, although the engine is still slow, but steady. Max gave me his chain lube as mine is almost done and he is now done riding. (Remember he only goes up hill, as he finds downhill and flat very boring and prefers to ride in truck)

I still cannot log onto internet with phone but working away with others while on my iPad. Like I said life is good. Manage ones frustrations.

Everyone is looking at the end, excited to be done and succeed, but also that apprehensiveness of changing lifestyle and returning to our usual worlds. The holiday is coming to an end and reality is working its way back into our lives. Have we changed, learned, grown, or figured anything out? Other than 42 is there meaning to life? These are life’s little problems.

Walked the 10 blocks into town along the beach front which has a very nice bike path, walkway, seats, exercise areas, (as are throughout South America), basketball courts, and generally nice beach front, although windy. It seems people here are just used to the wind, no one seems to be bothered by it, just dressed appropriately. A nice town square with statue of Magellan and the fuegoans beneath him, and nice trees. A town square is valued here in every town in South America I have been too no matter the size.

A great lunch at local restaurant pub of lamb and potatoes. A good walk back to hostel and ready for the final week. Legs still sore from trek the other day up to Cerro Torres, but feeling good. Can easily do 150 kilometers on a bike but walking a short distance hurts. And other than that Punta Arenas seems another town. Will be good to be on the road again.




Cerro Torre

Michelle learning to be a condor

Condor Wanna be’s

Ascension valley to to base of Torres


Cerro Torres area those peaks are two thousand meters above us. For comparison Yosemite walls are about a thousand meters.

Amazing day of hiking walk muscles have not been used and we did 25 kilometer today with 1400 meters of climbing. Great rest day. Tomorrow back on bike for 3 days. Puntas Arenas next rest day then 5 days to Ushuaia. Wow. Starting to get congratulations from passerbys. Feeling good hoping to survive tomorrow.

And I will end with more pictures of today as a picture is a thousand words




Another week at the office

I am back

23 November 2014 stage 90 Puerto Ibanez to Perito Moreno. 109 kilometer unpaved 1200 meters climbing with border crossing from Chile back to Argentina.

Yet another good day but a rough and tough one. Our 10th day in a row of climbing more than 1100 meters in a day. Tomorrow the climbing drops down. (But there will be something to make it interesting). I was thinking today “Is this fun?” Well I got to ride my bicycle and that is fun but overall at the moment, maybe it is questionable. But when you look at whole picture it is great fun. Saw some incredible scenery, rode along a large lake, (Lago Buenos Aires) went from mountains back to the pampas, exchanged rain for wind. Yes, it was fun.
But as for the daily activity, started with porridge which is always a good start. Everyone gets excited on porridge days. Then off at 8 for the 2 kilometer ride through town, turn left at lake and await the trucks as no use going through immigration unless they get through. The lake Lago Buenos Aires is big and we rode for 35 kilometer along and above some of it. Beautiful blue color and apparently, has a ferry running across which if time could replace some of our distance today but length of time and schedule does not allow. Besides no bike riding on ferry.
So exited Chile as the official carefully checked our entry papers before stamping our passport. Always such a good feeling to hear that clunk of the stamp on your passport. Means you are almost through although in this case only exiting Chile. The Argentina immigration is 22 kilometers down the road.


And immediately the pavement ended and road was rough although long stretches of brickwork pavers for road surface. And it climbed with several sections measuring 20% which three people said was the steepest on the trip yet.




Climbed to the plateau above the lake then along it going somewhat up and down before a nice descent into Argentine customs where the official very carefully wrote our name, numbers etc from passport into a book and finally stamped it, and again I get a good feeling. Border crossings are not my favorite thing. Then on to lunch at 47 k at the summit of a 500 meter climb. Was a good climb although washboard, loose gravel and the usual problems with that. The lunch truck looked very good when I arrived about 12:30 with
the usual awesome lunch prepared by Walter and Annalot, then we rode on hoping the road surface would improve which it did not. But it was a descent to the end, a 1-2% grade down for 60 kilometers. Washboard and teeth rattling. For the most part I had fun with the tailwind helping immensely. Several times I was coasting on a rough road pushed by the wind at 20 kph. But it was the usual task of trying to find a decent track without too much loose rock.




But we are back on the pampas again with its large flat open areas snow covered mountains way to the sides. And that means wind which was usually a tail wind but often from sides. And one got me.
Riding along with Juerg and a gust caught me unprepared and blew me off my track and into a loose pile of gravel which I then over corrected for and totally lost control, going down. As I went down I saw Brian’s bike coming on me as he was immediately behind me. I thought, oh this is not good, bad enough I am bouncing down the gravel road and he is going to run me over, but he hit the brakes and skidded to a stop and never came close. Thank you Brian. He said he saw me get blown half a meter off my track into the gravel.

It took a while to get up and realize no real damage was done although I was rather sore on left side where I hit hip and left hand, and back pack. Was going about 20 kph so bounced rather than hit hard. Up and back on again finishing the next 30 kilometer without problem. Into campground, soup, tent, dinner and then chores. Changed rear brake pads which I had noticed were not braking very well. Very scored and worn probably from mud, dirt, and gravel of past weeks. Wow they work good now. And raised saddle a centimeter to try tomorrow. See if it makes a difference in sore knees.
Deb was not as lucky today though. Apparently she hit a rock with rear wheel knocking her down. Now left arm swollen double normal size although has full movement and nothing broke.
So all in all it was a good day and I enjoyed it. Many here do not like dirt but it is a challenge and I think it can be great fun.
Tomorrow 130 k of pavement. Wind in camp is slowly dying down as sunsets and getting dark now at 10:15.

Patagonia is noted for wind
24 November 2014 Perito Mereno to Bajo Caracoles 129 very windy kilometers

Well the wind did not stop last night but I found it not too bad really, although a bit chilly this am, reportedly only 8 degrees. Depart at nine and felt good with gradual uphill and no pelatons or pace lines, but somewhat together until I decide on a picture looking back at village.

That was it, I was alone having a good time just cruising along, but as the day went on and the climb started so did the wind. Had been a tailwind and some sidewind but nothing spectacular, and at the top of first climb it changed. The wind began in earnest requiring peddling downhill in lower gears. Lunch supposed to be half way but the flag and truck did not show up until at 72 kilometers and was hidden in only area without wind. 4 people still behind me but no sight of them as I passed them quite a ways back. Max getting on truck at lunch as final summit only 3 k to go and he did not want to wait in cold wind. He only does climbs. Off I go for supposed descent but had to peddle entire way in lower gears. Rarely got to 20 kph and for whatever reason I was disoriented as to direction. It felt as if we were going in circles but the map said otherwise and continuing south. Then a larger descent, but wind had picked up in every direction but a tailwind. I kept hoping the road would turn left and make a tailwind but it kept going right. No wonder I was confused. Then I looked out over a bit of very gradual uphill of about 1-2% grade and open area. Just before entering it I noted wind coming from every direction as I went by a little bluff. Even the wind was confused as it came from every direction, it ran into itself and for 5 seconds it was quiet. But that did not last. I was in third or fourth of my lowest gears going downhill and entered the plain. Here the wind was not confused and I estimate 60-100 kph sidewind. Gruesome. Got knocked off bike once but was prepared, but had difficulty standing. There was nothing to block the wind except a few fence posts and wire fence 50 meters off the side of road. I was taking the whole lane as getting blown all over. Could not hear cars coming up behind with the roar of wind and worried I would get blown into the other lane at wrong time. Very difficult to control the bike. Have never biked in crosswinds like that.

Definitely in the roaring forties. Roaring forties are a term used in the southern ocean as most of the land masses on earth are in the north. In the south, the southern tip of Africa at Cape Town is about 34 degrees south. The southern tip of Australia in Tasmania is about 43 degrees. Hence in the higher forty degree latitudes the just goes round the world, round and round. The wind has nothing to stop it but South America, the Andes and me. Sailors refer to the 40 degree latitudes as the roaring forties. Further south it becomes the furious fifties, then the screaming sixties. We are currently about 49 degrees south. Ushuaia is about 55.
Tried a technique in crosswind which Ben recommended. Sit off center, that is off to windward side of saddle. This moves center of gravity into the wind and allows bike to be upright for the tires to be flatter on road. But keep windward shoe unclipped, as if wind stops you want to be ready. I tried this in smaller winds which were a bit more steady and bike would have been at 10-20 degree angle. But when the wind picked up had to be centered on the bike for full control. Even then control was iffy as getting blown all over.
But scenery great although I think many would disagree. Generally low hills mountains occasionally way off to west. One mountain I cannot find name of was spectacular. A large steep pyramid. Tried to get a photo but in wind too difficult. And I may have seen a condor although a distance away. Flew like a vulture hovering and soaring but did an occasional wing flap, but long wings so who knows. Would really like to see one. Michelle had two come within five meters of her yesterday. Exciting.

Near the end of the plain with severe wind I was getting tired and thought it is late and if truck comes back I will take it. 22 kilometer to go and I was doing about 8-10 kph. But a steep downhill was coming up and maybe wind might change. Just then the truck returned. Difficulty talking, due to roar of wind but decided to keep riding. Truck just seemed to easy. And I am very glad I did ride. Descent was fast braking more than usual due to gusting winds but much better than the crosswinds. Then at bottom on a large flat area an emu appeared. I asked later and the Australians all say it was an ostrich as emu’s only are in Australia, but I thought ostriches were only in Africa. But one of them and it appeared wild but who knows. I thought it exciting. And lots of squished armadillos although many commented on seeing live ones.
Thus made it in at 6:15 and tonight was my night for service. (Deliver food to people a tables, cleanup, and wash dishes after. A rotating job). Usually dinner at 6 and I had told Annalot to not hold dinner for me as I would be late. I changed from bike shoes to tennis shoes but all said to not do service. Felt wrong but I sat and they delivered, but I did help wash.
Then set up tent in this “campground” but more of a backyard. No electricity, I guess the bathroom is the house bathroom. Apparently on the first arrivals the owner was cutting up a guanaco with bits of the creature strewn about.
Alas, a lot of my clothes and such I put on left side of tent. Hurts to lay on left side due to earlier fall. I am a creature of habit. On the good side I did not have to change into regular clothes after cycling as I remained in cycling clothes through dinner and cleanup. Then took Barry’s advice and went straight into tent to be reminded I fell yesterday and hurts tolay on left hip. No problem cycling just laying on it.
But all in all it was a good day. Numerous people came up and said good for me for finishing. Made me feel great with the congratulations for finishing. All earlier arrivees had problems too, but rode as a group which made it easier. The 4 behind me at lunch all took truck. I was last by a long way, but I had a good time, now that it is over.

“Welcome to paradise! If this is paradise I wonder what hell is like?” Rob states as we start 25 November 2014 Bajo Caracoles to Las Horquitas bush camp 108 kilometers

Rob said that to me as we departed this morning and repeated to me my usual “welcome to paradise” greeting plus he added some. It was windy and a bit chilly but the ride turned nice when we turned southeast with wind from northwest. A nice reprieve after yesterday. A fairly decent ride to lunch although wind was a bit squirrly going every which direction depending on land form nearby although the map with 100 meter contour lines showed little variation. But downhill section had a tailwind and I was measuring 40 kph with no wind at all, speed up and a bit of wind in face, slow down and could feel wind on back, although I was completely covered except a bit of face of my face. 40 kph is about my maximum speed for peddling with current gearing.




Then turned corner headed east and wind still from northwest so it became a cross and tailwind. The lunch truck appeared behind a hill, with that lovely “Andes Trail” flag set up at side of road.
After lunch headed off with 5 (me, Barry, Juerg, Dietrik, and Hilde) soon catching Marias and Hanne and we all rode together. The afternoon proved to me some of the most technical riding I have ever done. And it was on pavement. Like riding through a rock garden but you can’t see the rocks. They were the gusts of wind varying from the 40-50+ kph cross wind. The gusts would throw you every direction. We rode as a group but not a classical pelaton or pace line but a sideways line at times stretching across the full two lanes. Sort of side by side with rider to left (downwind) slightly behind rider to right. When you were far left you were about 3-4 meters behind leader on far right hand side of road. Few cars, but when one did come from behind we could not hear it due to roar of wind, but all polite slowing and passing when safe. Not a single angry driver, and all waved, from either direction. When the wind did vary direction, the group moved without a word to accommodate, sometimes a mass behind sometimes a line sideways. I found it most comfortable either leading on right which for the most part Barry and I shared, or to the left. I did not trust myself in between riders as I got to thrown around. Sometimes I felt my steering was out of whack, but no, just wind grabbing bike and throwing or pulling you around.
We rode for about 50 kilometer at between 10 and 20 kph depending on wind, as the hills made no difference either up or down with the wind. Because it is a bush camp tonight I figured I would stop and take care of private business before camp, where there would be no facilities and it was wide open. I lost the group not only on small hill but could not catch up. Soon though the road turned and tailwind developed as well as it was downhill. I cruised into camp at about 30 kph.
Camp is a building where they have seven rooms which were quickly taken, and a room where Gerdie can cook and we can eat. Tents are set up downwind all of us tight together up against wall of building with wind howling over the building. But cozy inside tent now, after soup and coffee, just waiting for dinner siren, still 1 1/2 hours away. That is difference between riding 130 k yesterday alone and 108 with group today.


And brochure lists these days in Patagonia as hardest on the entire trip. Because since that was written Rob and Wilbert have changed the route in Peru to include more mountains this may be the most difficult part. But it does not make these days any easier. It is not as difficult as the one day into Tocota some month ago, but definitely some of the hardest. These winds are something.
The area is wide open, one could say flat, with no buildings only and occasional road sign and the wire fence 50 meters to side of road. There is no dust as land is generally small rocks. I believe any dust was long ago blown away. Gentle rolling hills, snow capped mountains sometimes appearing to the west. Actually quite pretty in its own way.
Tomorrow is time trial day again. Last one was on the sale de Uyani. Tomorrow is couples time trial and 50 kilometer long. I am pairing with Gunter as we seem similar, so we shall see.

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Time trial day 26 November 2014 Las Horquitas to La Angostura 82 kilometer 48 kilometer time trial on paved and 34 unpaved.

Wow breakfast at 7 and people somewhat worried the wind would not blow, as the route is directly east for 48 kilometer and route of couples time trial. Gunter and I paired and it was an excellent match. He is from Germany, 62 years old, and joined in El Bariloche, and best of all we cycle similar. The wind was blowing and it was one minute starts estimated slowest riders starting first, which put Gunter and I at third start. We took off with the tailwind and quickly were cruising at 30-32 kph. We said this is good to hold for 50 kilometer but soon we were cruising at 40 kph, carrying on conversation and thoroughly enjoying riding with each other. Timing was on the slowest person of the two. Remember I said a while back my general top speed for peddling is about 40 kph.
And it was a treat as faster riders passed us going at high rates of speed, 50 kph plus. Same gearing as us (mountain gears usually 44 chain ring and 11 on cassette), but they were in race mode with legs churning at probably 110-120 rpm (more usual is 85-90). When Albert went by in a whir it was a beautiful thing, as were all that passed us, but his motions were purely forward, without any sideways or up and down, arms down on aero bars and focused. He also has the only full suspension bike in the group, and currently resides second in standings, 4-5 hours behind James.
Made lunch at 9:15 at finish of time trial, then turn back south off the pavement which meant crosswind again but not bad maybe 20-30 kph. A great relief from past two days. The road was washboard but rideable easily at about 15-20 kph turning off onto small double track lane the kilometers which is ranch of LaAngostura. There is little choice in this area. Some of the most remote areas of Argentina and the two buildings we saw were the one we ate in last nite and this one, which is a residence and a hallway where Gerdie can cook.
La Angostura is on the edge of a wetland with maybe 75 meter bluffs behind and across the valley 1-2 kilometer. Horses are grazing and ducks and chickens, very pastoral. Apparently in winter temperatures go as low as -20 C on occasion, but today the sun is shining with temps in mid 20s.
Thus feels like a real rest day tents up in yard, beer and wine available by knocking on front door. Did laundry of past days as have not had water in bush camp and early enough to really dry. But only first 10 people got hot water as it is solar heated, others had to ate a couple hours, but we had all afternoon. Electricity from wind generators for charging stuff, but no internet so required to be with ourselves. Great to just relax, it has been a hard few last days.








Crossed over 6000 kilometer on my bike odometer today in South America with approximately 1500 to go, 15 stages 3 rest days but who is counting. People are tired and although no way thinking of ending, but thinking of the end and new things to do. Deb and Brian and going back to Mendoza to cycle the wine country there, where they joined this group. Joost is going back to Cusco where his family (I think wife and two kids) is joining him for a three week holiday. Michelle and I believe Carmen, and Vivian are heading south from Ushuaia on a two week tour to Antarctica separately. Marias and Hanne are heading home to see fourth grandchild to be born 1 December, then they are planning their next bike trip from Vienna to Istanbul, which requires cycling to Vienna from home in Holland. Terry is leaving in Puntas Arenas 5 days before Ushuaia to return to Sydney to see his son graduate from medical school. Some things are more important than the last five days. He then is planning his next bike trip including one next winter crossing Australia. The Norwegian sisters Kristen and Hilde go back to work as nurses mid January, back home near the arctic circle. Me, I head to Dallas, Texas to celebrate the life of Joe and Rose Molitor for 9 days, then return to winter and darkness in Anchorage.
And dinner announcement of time trial results. Gunter and I won by the fact we made everyone else look good and we had the most fun. As for the actual mathematical results we placed sixth out of 6 in the all male category with an average speed of 36.4.fifth was 41 kph and the winner was an average of 51.4 kph. The worlds one hour speed record is 51.5 although it was made without a tailwind.

“The wind – the wind began to switch
The witch – the witch began to itch
The house – the house began to twitch”
Wizard of Oz
27 November Estancia La Angostura to Estancia La Siberia 67 kilometer.

Amazing how bike dreams finds these places with a shelter to cook and eat in. But then there is nothing in between last night and now but rolling hills and wind. Thus a day of 67 kilometers about Joe’s and my average daily distance on great divide, but there we had no wind, whereas here it blew 30-50 all day and still is. Mostly sideways but an occasional switch when it could not decide how to mess with us. The road turned for last 10 k and a tailwind. Generally though it was a nice day but hard with the gravel and wind. Rode a lot with Terry and arrived just ahead of Joost and Michelle, as Joost had a flat tire 5 k before end. On arrival Rob joked we had to get inside for timing of which Michelle and I raced up the steps. Luckily Rob grabbed Michelle and I won out. Even when they are not trying it is hard to beat those two incredibly strong cyclists.




Then off with Ben and Tim to see the lake 6.5 kilometer off the road and. Nice ride down the hill and a pretty lake but wind, temp of about 15 and shallow kept us from going swimming but posed a picture.



So will spend a might in Siberia. Not much in the way of camp, bathrooms I understand, showers apparently cold so I used the trusty baby wipes. There are apparently a few rooms which I am sure are now occupied. Several people would prefer that to a tent.
Wind is an amazing thing. It wears on you. I think in terms of temperature, or up and down, or the road surface. The wind one never knows when or how strong, or direction, just generalities. There is a German bike rider here who left Anchorage 18 May 2013, rode to Ushuaia and is now heading back to Santiago. He says the wind gets stronger as we head south. He finds today’s wind normal and two days ago,as did we had 100kph winds. Tiring!
And I have developed a cold which is going through the crew. Nose running and feeling run down, so going to bed early tonite, instead of the usual late nite revelry lasting until 7:30 or 8 pm.

28 November (day after U.S.A thanksgiving) La Siberia to Tres Lagos
“All complaints go away when you die!” Rob

Rested here in tres Lagos , then dinner and felt good. Campground also has a meeting place for community although only one person there, but a bar and I had the first good whiskey since beginning of trip. Cost 100 pesos (Argentina) which I say may be $10(guessing) for a double and it was great. Finally broke away as needy sleep for tomorrow another day, day 8 of 9 day stretch. Only 58 kilometer but directly west into the predominant wind direction.

29 November 2014. Tres Lagos to Hotel LA Leona 57 kilometers 4 1/2 hours
Guess what the wind is blowing. 40-50 kph headwind today. As Rob said “30 seconds of tailwind and 4 1/2 hours of headwind, sort of like life.”

I ended up alone again but enjoyed the day. Others formed pelatons and arrived much earlier. But at lunch Walter Annalot, and Rob were barbequeing salami and cheese sandwich over a fire which were great. No time for that on regular day. What is the hurry in getting to camp where there is promised hot showers and wifi but it rarely happens, and so it was today. Wifi could connect slowly and get and send a slow email, but even then the power went out often shutting it down. And showers were hot for first ones racing in, but for those of us dawdlers well my patience is gone and I do not even try. I realize I am spoiled and like a hot shower for comfort, just to stand there. I can clean with baby wipes. I would have a hard time living in a place where water is restricted.




But did see critters,(American term for animals) guicanos, and several rheas (the birds we have been calling emus and ostriches. And mountains appearing again. I believe one was Fitzroy but will have to confirm. A nice ride if you get over the fact it was basically flat but severe headwind like a hill climb. Just another challenge.



Now tomorrow is another day. 107 kilometer 70 south so probable cross wind and last 40 directly west. Tonight people were getting together with others forming groups to ride. I believe Marias, Hanne, Gunter and myself will share the workload. It is ok for 50 kilometer to ride alone but 100 needs help of a group and team effort, changing position frequently.
It will be our ninth day in a row of cycling and all are ready for a rest. Bikes need it. Bucks bottom bracket is creaking along. Several bottom brackets have been replaced, Terry’s twice. My chain needs replacing and bike needs tlc. Most though are happy to let Lucho do the work. Mostly everyone is nursing their bikes to the end. A full shop maintenance is required.
And people need a rest too. One can tell all are getting tired, cranky and looking to the finish. But just over two weeks left and about 1200 kilometers. Debate for the day in El Calafate is sit back on rest day or go see the world famous sights of which it is famous. Supposedly one of the most visited glaciers in the world is here and many want to “walk on a glacier”. Actually would be fun as a group but thinking I have walked on numerous glaciers, fallen in them and on them, and perhaps a “rest day” for this cold which is ongoing would help me more.

And topic for future consideration brought up today over beer at the coffee shop in hotel. “What have we seen?” And “what have we learned?” As noted we all are pondering what happens when it is over. What do we do then, always thoughts after a trip on the way home when one has hours or in this case days to ponder. But that is too much for now. Maybe internet tomorrow which may actually work, for now the wind is roaring in the windbreak overhead and it is time for sleep. Sounds Iike a freight train running through camp.

1 December 2014 El Calafate

Made it here but barely. First 72 kilometer not bad as crosswind and some tailwind nothing serious. But then the last 4 k of the 72 Rob says this is the last of the fun. The road turned 100 degrees to the right, straight into the serious wind. At first the two of us rode at about 15 kph but slowly it dropped as the wind picked up. I told Rob to go ahead as he had things to do in camp and I would get there. Well about 10 kilometer from town I was trying to ride at about 3 kph and just gave up. I could barely stand in the wind. Once the wind grabbed the bike and I thought it was going to head out to sea. Occasionally I was hit by a piece of sand blowing and it hurt when hit.
Finally a lady in a little Yugo felt pity and stopped. I was able to help her get her door open and she offered a ride which I gladly took. Took the wheels off and crammed the bike in on top of the 5 year old. She drove me to the campground in town and all good. I was exhausted.
Then I discovered the reason the lunch truck was cleaning up on my arrival at lunch. Apparently James and Barry had been racing along with Barry about 20 meters behind. James heard a yell, looked back as Barry fell to ground unexplained. James returned, flagged down a car which took them to lunch truck and then from there Annalot went with him to ER where CT showed nothing. Probably a sudden drop in blood pressure and he fainted, but will never really know. I have not seen Barry but apparently doing well in hotel, walking around town looking forward to a beer.
One never knows what is around the corner

And so ends the 9 days of cycling. Currently resting. I was exhausted yesterday coughing and sore throat. The cold had me and perhaps that explains my problems yesterday. Sick last night and another night in shower, a hot one. Better today, but who knows what is around the corner.

Again hopefully this rambling makes some sort of sense. Obviously writing is not my forte, but I like to record the happenings, who knows why. Trying to make it interesting, but after a while I have to give up editing and go do something.




Map can be seen (I hope) in more detail at south america and andes j.r.s spot

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.

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.