Daily Archives: December 6, 2015

Day 133/164: Agro Turistica Parque to Villa Rica – 154km

1300 meters of climbing and 1300 down, 40 kilometres of gravel (wet, slippery, rocky, steep, dirt and gravel).

A steep climb for the first couple of kilometers out of camp, which my legs hate. It was also quite cold – it was 5 degrees but felt colder. We had 5 kilometres of paved road and then about 10 kilometres of gravel followed by a paved road with no shoulder, then more gravel.

The second gravel road was really steep, up to 22 percent in places, and wet and slippery. Even the riders who love dirt riding had to get off a couple of times.  The reason for going on this dirt road was to get lake and volcano views, however because it was raining and misty you could not see anything. Instead of taking this road we could have stayed on a paved road and been in camp about 50 kilometres faster.

Given that camp was in a nice lakeside town, and the day was bleak and miserable, a number of people questioned why we had taken this road at all, especially as two riders came off and hurt themselves. One of them, Hong Kong Tom, was not able to ride for the rest of the week as he had hurt his ribs and damaged his bike. He also needed bike parts he did not have. Linda, another of the new riders, also hurt her ribs and was covered in bruises as she couldn’t stop coming down a steep hill.  As she was approaching a sharp corner she ended up having to jump off her bike rather than risking the turn. I, as usual, am overly cautious with gravel (aka a coward) and got off lots.

If it had been a warm sunny day, and we could have seen the magnificent views, we would have of course all felt differently about the additional kilometres.

On the way up the gravel road a farmer had his two cows hitched up to a cart, and was just coming out of his farm gate. Then his bull decided if the cows were going then he was coming with them, and he charged out past the farmer. I watched the antics of the farmer getting the bull away from the cows, and back through the gate, with a long large stick.

As well as using cows for pulling carts here, they also use them for ploughing fields. There is a mixture of small farms using cows and horses to plough, and then really big farms that plant using machinery with acre after acre planted with the same crops.

Broad acre cropping

Broad acre cropping

A number of drivers tooted and waved at us while we were biking along. One truck driver went as far as stopping and picking up a riders glove that he saw lying on the road, turning his truck around and driving back and giving it to the first rider he saw.  It was one of the rider’s Jason’s glove, and he was delighted to get it back.

The campsite was in nice town by Lake Villa Rica, it would have been good to spend longer here. Lots of shops and restaurants and a lovely lake (still misty and raining).  One of the riders said this is one of most expensive parts of Chile to buy property. An apartment by the lake is USA $300,000. I have to say though, that with about two weeks to summer, I can’t imagine people ever swimming in the lake so its main use is maybe fishing and waterskiing etc.

Hidden view of the volcano, across the lake, at Villa Rica (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Hidden view of the volcano, across the lake, at Villa Rica (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

The campsite was wet and damp, and it poured with rain. There were no room options but there was at least a hot shower. Some riders went off to hotels that were close by, which I could have done as well, but it’s a struggle enough carrying my daily bag from the truck to a tent site.

There was restaurant at the camp so after my shower I went over to sit in the warm and dry. John had a glass of red wine which he said was quite nice so I ordered one as well, but having served one glass they had run out. The owner said he was going to buy some more later. Then I tried for tea but they had no black tea. So I sat there talking to a couple of the other riders. I tried to get onto the wifi, but like a lot of the places we have been at the Wifi can’t cope with more than a couple of people and I couldn’t log on.  The owner arrived back about 30 minutes later, and he had been to get more wine. This turned out to be one 1 litre cardboard box of red wine.

One of the new riders who started in Santiago, Canadian Tom, has only ridden twice since he has been on the ride. Now he has decided he is not riding anymore, as it is wet and cold and not expected to get any better, so he has rented a car and has gone sight seeing. Tom is going to met us in Puerto Montt where he will collect his bike and fly home. Two of the other riders new in Santiago have gone site seeing with him, Denise and Deb from USA (Deb has hurt her knee so is not able to ride at the moment).

Dinner was pasta, and for a change – not – soggy, plus two very small sausages per rider, like the size of cocktail sausages. I said to the TDA person serving “You’re joking!” But they weren’t. I would like to get a dietician to review the food we are provided, and the amount exercise we are doing based on 70 kg woman and and 70 kg man, and give an opinion on what percentage of our daily requirements for nutrition are being provided.

Categories: Chile, South American Epic | Leave a comment

Day 132/164: Collipulli to Agro Turistica Pargue – 154km

1300 meters climbing and 1300 down, 19 km gravel

It was wet and cold over night. The tent was soaking when I packed it away. One of the riders, Ray, had stoked up the campfire again this morning and it was burning well and made us all much more cheerful as we all huddled around it to eat breakfast (it did of course make it harder to leave camp).


Leaving the damp, wet, camp, early morning (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Leaving the damp, wet, camp, early morning (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

I was not in a hurry to leave especially as the first 3 kilometres was up a steep, wet, and slippery gravel road.

Straight from camp, Joss on the first climb of the day (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Straight from camp, Joss on the first climb of the day (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

After this however we were on a highway and then side roads without much climbing, until the last 16 kilometres. It was really cold, I had all my warm weather gear on. There was snow along the mountain tops and it is hard to imagine that two weeks from now it is summer here. Most of the houses had fires going and looking at the smoke coming out of the chimney I wished that I was curled up in front of a fire (in a house) also.

There are hundreds of orange poppies along the side of the roads and some red ones as well. These have been around since the day we crossed the border into Chile and are very bright and pretty. The highway is really busy with endless trucks, and I was pleased when we turned onto a side road. Day two of the Lake District section of the trip and no lakes seen far!

I stopped at about 40 kilometres at a petrol station and had a coffee with caramel in it, usually I would find this too sweet but it just hit the spot perfectly.

Just before the 19 kilometre dirt road I stopped in a small town and sat in the plaza drinking a power aid. I could hear some really loud birds that I had not heard before. After looking for a while I could see them up in the trees, they were quite big, with a curved bill, and loud voice. Later I found they would be with us for most of the rest of Chile, and are called Buff Neck Ibis, and they have a metallic and repetitive call (the book I read this in should also have mentioned “and really loud”). They live everywhere: at the beach, in fields, rivers, and in suburbs. The other bird that has reappeared is the vulture, which we haven’t seen since we left Peru.

The Ibis

The Ibis

The 16 kilometres of gravel had some quite steep bits with thick gravel, and was wet and slippery, so I got off a few times going both up and down.

The camp had clean toilets and a hot shower – an unexpected bonus. It was sunny when we got there so we were able to dry out the tents before putting them up, but it was not warm enough to wash and dry any clothes.

The dinner tonight was uninspiring: one small dry pork chop with sloppy rice.

One of the new riders, Laurie, missed a flag just before the town, and instead of riding 154 she ended up doing a 200 kilometre day. Cristiano offered to pick her up but she wanted to complete the day riding and ended up coming in about 9pm. Two of the other riders had put her tent up for her which she was very pleased about. Understandably she was not pleased to find after a 200 kilometre ride that she had one small dry pork chop and sloppy rice for dinner (it would have been even less inspiring 2 hours after it was served).

Categories: Chile, South American Epic | Leave a comment