With last Thursday the 15th October being the one year anniversary of my arrival in Argentina and Monday the 19thbeing the actual start of the cycling and the departure date from Ushuaia, I thought I‘d give you an update on the trip. Some of you will already know that I am currently in Chile, on the coast about 75miles west of Santiago, in a place called Concon.
My trip has taken me across Tierra del Fuego from Ushuaia in Argentina, the most southerly place on continental America (oddly enough it is actually an island) to Porvenir (480km) where I took a ferry to the mainland proper and the Chile’s largest southerly city – Punta Arenas.
I then headed north to Puerto Natales for a week or so and explored the Torres del Paine National Park. Breath taking. I had met an Italian cyclist 150km from Ushuaia who was about to end his own odyssey from Mexico City south and he recommended the Carretera Austral as an option north. Pampas are flat(ish), very windy and with nothing special to see. One of the best bits of advice that I’ve taken.
I hopped on a ferry north which went through the western Isles and canals and fjords. Yet more remarkable scenery – like Scotland on steroids.
I joined the Carretera Austral at Caleta Tortel and headed north through Alpine-like valleys, over mountains, alongside lakes, glaciers, rivers and the odd Guanaco (think Llama).
The road was mostly ripio (gravel) and it is very hard going, especially the uphill parts– the bike kept sliding sideways and I had to push it up several ascents.
I had one or two moments when I did ask myself what I was doing but as Slamma suggested, I looked for a hairy, strawberry blonde hand to give me a boost.
I eventually made it to Puerto Montt, the end of the C Austral with a feeling of trepidation. So many cars and people after 6 weeks of relative solitude.
Onwards east across and along half a dozen lakes and into Argentina and Bariloche; where I parked my bike and flew to Buenos Aires for Christmas.
New Year brought a renewed vigour and desire and I travelled along Argentina’s fabled Ruta 40 through the region of Los Lagos (Villa La Angostura – one of my favourite places) and on to San Martin de los Andes and back into Chile. More lakes, ferries and so many volcanoes. Fantastic. After weaving north west for a bit, I reached Temuco where I joined the Ruta 5, part of the Pan American highway system, which runs north/south for approx. 3,500 km.
This part was fairly dull and the only thing of note was getting sprayed with tear gas in Rancagua by Chile’s finest – the carabineros. If ever there was a wrong time and wrong place moment, this was it. Travelling on the hard shoulder (can you imagine doing that in the UK?) I managed to get some serious mileage (700km) in a relatively short time, averaging 20kmh+ and 70-80 km a day against 8kmh and 40-50 km a day through the mountains and gravel.
After 3 and half weeks in Santiago, I headed west to meet some mutual friends from Kabul who live south of Valparaiso. A quick side trip to Easter Island (another remarkable place) and I caught the second last flight back to mainland Chile and the onset of the bastard CV19.
I have been sitting out the pandemic now since March and have decided to stay here until next year.
Distance travelled 4,000 km excluding the 7,000km return journey out into the south eastern Pacific and back.
Accidents – 0
Flat tyres -0 for 3,700 km and then 3 in 75km!
Nights wild camping -6
Ferries taken -7
Lakes crossed – 4
Brits met – 3
And most importantly money raised for Deany’s nominated charity My Name’5 Doddie
£ 2,781 plus gift Aid of £372.50
An enormous thank you to all of you have donated or followed my journey so far, you know who you are…and, in particular, to my family, friends and the Rugby Refugees.
For the moment the odyssey is on hold until the world becomes a less crazy place but it is my intention to reach the Caribbean coast of Colombia – only 8,000km to go.
Would I do it again? You bet I would.