Daily Archives: December 7, 2015

Day 135/164: Los Lagos to Entre Lagos – 170km

Climbing 1060 and down 1160, and 40 km gravel

It did not rain over night but it looked like it could at any minute when we set off. The first 5 kilometres was gravel, we were going back the way we had come into camp out onto the highway again.

The 35 kilometres after that was a paved road, but it had a slight up gradient and I found it hard to get up to a decent speed. At 40 kilometres a number of us stopped for cake and coffee (once again warm milk and instant coffee) and I had one of the nicest lemon and meringue pies I have ever had.

The sun came out and the mist cleared, and I finally got to see some lakes. It was like riding in New Zealand around Lake Taupo, and I kept half expecting to see the town Taupo come into sight at any moment. A number of the houses and farms look like a lot of money has been spent on them. Again it was very green, and cows were full and dozing by mid morning.

Views along the 'Circuito de Siete Lagos' (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Views along the ‘Circuito de Siete Lagos’ (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

Bahia Coique, Lago Ranco

Bahia Coique, Lago Ranco

Lago Ranco sandy beach, lovely beach.

Lago Ranco sandy beach, lovely beach.

My legs are tired and I found the hills hard going. Not as hard however as the 40 kilometres of gravel at the end of the day. The gravel was thick and it if you got too near the edge your tyres would skid.

Unfortunately it also had a fair bit of traffic so you either had to ride on the edge or stop. Most of the drivers slowed down so they would not spray us with dust and stones, though a couple were not at all considerate and stones flew everywhere.

I was pretty tired and grumpy by the time I got to camp. Without suspension and thick tyres, or a mountain bike, the average speed on this gravel is about 8 kilometres an hour, and it was 5:45pm by the time I arrived. There were a number of riders after me still, and dinner was put back an hour to give people a chance to arrive.

The campsite is in a town by a lake (Entre Lago), not as wealthy looking an area as the day before yesterday. I doubt there would be any USA $300,000 apartments here. The lake is just as pretty, but riding all day left little time to enjoy it. A number of the riders did not even go down to the lake which was at the bottom of the camp site.

I was amused riding towards camp to see 8 dogs sitting on the road watching a table of locals eating dinner, watching with great interest, hope and patience.

Dog TV!

Dog TV!

It was cold and drizzly and bleak. The campsite was crowded, as it was really too small for a group of our size. As usual by this time of day all the good and half decent campsites were already full with tents. There were cabana (cabin) options on both sides of the camp ground so I decided to get a cabin again. The place where I got the cabin, the family who ran it were having a family celebration for the birth of a new baby boy. There were small children running around playing, and adults sitting and talking and laughing. I had pangs of homesickness again.

Lakeside outside my cabin

Lakeside outside my cabin

Dinner was a beef stew and brown rice, and was actually really nice and a decent serving. I was eating a bit of meat and a cat came up and looked at me hopefully. I said hello, next minute it was standing up on its hind legs trying to get food off my plate – a more direct approach than the 8 watching, patient, but hopeful, dogs I had seen earlier.

A pretty friendly cat!

A pretty friendly cat!

A direct approach!

A direct approach!

I have managed to lose yet another pair of reading glasses (2 this week) and am now back down to my last pair again! Thankfully they are cheap reading glasses not optometrist prescribed, and I will be able to get some more in Puerto Montt.

I am not looking forward to another day of climbing, gravel and 147 kilometres tomorrow. This is the time of the trip where the going gets tough. Your body is tired from months of riding without good recovery time, and the bad weather and cold is starting to wear us down. Riders are getting scratchy and irritable with each other, and the TDA staff. The weather from here is going to only get worse, and we still have the Patagonia winds to come. The weather for the rest of the trip is expected to be more rain than not, and we still have a number of bush camps to look forward to. I try to stay in the moment and not worry about what is coming and enjoy the different scenery.

I play a number of mind games when I am riding along, when I am finding the going tough and the scenery is not inspiring, to be able to stay in the moment.

1. Dividing the ride into small portions like 16/16 and then ticking off each section.

2. If I think I can’t keep going up a hill, then I count to 1,000 and say if I still want to stop at 1,000 I can, and by 1000 the hill is usually over, or an easier gradient.

3. Making up stories that I am going to tell my grandchildren Xavier and Lucy when I get back, with the characters based on a few of the thousands of the stray dogs of South America. The story line: their journey to get a family to belong to, and or their various ailments like the dog that limped badly, the dog with the skin condition, the dog that followed us over the mountain pass, and my hairy friend from Uspallata.

4. I also think about the privilege of having the health and the financial ability to be able to take 6 months off and be able to do this. My sense of privilege is re-enforced by some of the living conditions and working lives seen on this trip.

Evening fishing at Entre Lagos (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Evening fishing at Entre Lagos (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

Categories: Chile, South American Epic | 2 Comments

Day 134/164: Lago (means lake) Villa Rica to Los Lagos – 122km

1000 meters climbing, 1010 down. Only 5 k of dirt today.

Today it is one month until we get to the end of this ride. I am looking forward to going home and seeing my family, friends, and pets.

It poured during the night, and it was raining when we took down the tents and set off. I was hoping it would be dry by the time we got to camp so we could dry out the tents before we put them up again. So far I have not had to deal with putting up a soaking wet tent in the pouring rain, and hopefully I won’t have to.

My legs were really sore and stiff in the morning, from yesterday’s slipping and sliding trying to ride up steep gravel. I thought my bike seat must have slipped down as the first 40 kilometres my legs just didn’t feel right.  Not helped by a couple of long and reasonably steep climbs early in the ride.

At the top of one short sharp climb, Grant and Asher were stopped at the side of the road, they had had a collision a few kilometres back which must have cracked the derailer on Grant’s bike. When Grant stood to go up the hill it broke completely. They were in the process of trying to make the bike single speed so Grant could finish the day. Grant is one of the riders who is still EFI (does every bit of the whole ride). When the dinner truck went past they stopped and put Grant’s bike on the truck to be fixed at camp. and Grant finished the day on a TDA bike.

Lunch was by Lago (lake) Villa Rica where a school rowing competition was taking place. On the lunch table was a large container of sausages from last night’s dinner, most of which were thrown away as most riders won’t touch left over meat the next day, as the fridge facilities are a chilli bin with a bag of ice! There was enough that every rider could have had at least one more the night before.

After lunch we went south from Lago Villa Rica, over a mountain range then dropped down to Lago Calafquen. Unfortunately as it was raining and misty, so once again we could not see the scenery.

Coming down to Lago Calafquen.

Coming down to Lago Calafquen.

The countryside is really green. Unlike other areas where the cows are eating all day, here by mid morning here the cows are all full and dozing.

The weather cleared up in the early afternoon and by the time we got to camp it was warm and sunny. The camp owner said it was the first fine weather they had had in two weeks! The camp site looked like the day after a disaster, with all the riders drying tents, clothes, and shoes, all over the grass and fences.

The sun finally came out - time to dry things off! (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

The sun finally came out – time to dry things off! (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

There was a fence running along the edge of the camp ground, when I went to have a look over it I could see why there was a fence, as there was a sheer drop of a couple of hundred meters to the river below.

Camping on the edge (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Camping on the edge (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

The camp owner had stocked up his fridge with Coke, beer and water. For the first time I had a beer with a plastic screw cap.

When I got to camp there was an option of a cabin which I took, as we have a really long day tomorrow and at least if it rains tonight my tent will be dry when I get to camp tomorrow.

Tomorrow we have 170 kilometres to ride: 1,060 climbing and 45 kilometres on dirt! My legs are already tired and stiff.

The camp had two Dachshunds that looked well fed and a number of cats. I had a raggy, hungry looking, German Shepherd hanging around my cabin, who I doubt very much belonged to the camp owners. I shared my dinner with him, which was burnt grilled chicken and partly raw mashed potatoes – he was much more appreciative of the cooking than me.

View from our campsite, high above the river (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

View from our campsite, high above the river (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

Categories: Chile, South American Epic | 1 Comment