Daily Archives: December 16, 2015

Day 148/164: Cochrane to Yungay – 125km

1,749 meters climbing and 1,860 down. Gravel all day.

I set off feeling daunted by the thought of another long day of gravel and horse flies. The first few kilometres the gravel was hard packed, so not too bad to ride on.

At 25 kilometres I was joined a small white dog with black tipped ears and a black patch over one eye. She just appeared out of the bush and started following me. I was quite concerned as there were no houses around and I was worried that she was lost.

Every time I tried to speed up and she fell behind, she barked and cried until I stopped for her.  This meant that my average speed dropped to about 6.5 kilometres an hour. I stopped a few times at rivers so she could get a drink and a couple of times I soaked her with water, as it was really hot. I was not able to stop for long as every time I did I would be surrounded by a cloud of horse flies, thinking they had found a buffet.

I thought she had possibly got off the back of a ute when it stopped, or perhaps had followed other riders from Cochrane and got lost. While I was riding along I was trying to figure out what to do with her. Then I remembered that the next day the lunch truck was leaving us in the morning to follow a 1,000 kilometres trip around to met us in Argentina (because the trucks could not go on the ferries we were catching). This meant the lunch truck would be going back through Cochrane and they could drop her off. Even if she was not from there at least she could join the town strays, with a better chance of food than in the middle of nowhere.

At 53 kilometres she disappeared, she must have been totally exhausted and needed to rest. I spent a few minutes looking for her but then needed to go. It was 3:30pm by the time I got to the lunch truck as it was. Given the time with 55 kilometres still to go, I got the lunch truck to camp instead of riding. I am pleased I did as the last rider got in at 7.30pm (Sue) and the truck had to go back after that to get one rider who was still not in.

Sue asked me when she got in what I had done with the dog? The dog had followed Sue for a couple of kilometres and cried when Sue rode off, but she said she knew I was behind her and no doubt the dog would attach itself to me. A few of the other riders said they had also been followed before 25 kilometres by the dog. I spoke to Luis, the driver of the lunch truck, and if he sees her on the road tomorrow he will stop and pick her up and take her back to Cochrane on his way.

We are camping by a lake, and tomorrow morning we have to catch a ferry across the lake before we start our day of riding. Where we are camping there are a couple of abandoned buildings and one of them is inhabited by two puppies who look to be about 10-12 weeks. Like any puppy, they are full of mischief and the first thing I did was take two cycling shoes off them, much to their disappointment. I put them in my bag until I found who they belonged to, and made sure I left nothing out for the puppies to chew.

At about 8:30pm a car pulled up and the driver hopped out, shut the puppies in the house, and then drove off. The puppies then spent the rest of the evening, until everyone had stopped moving around, standing up on their back legs looking out the window, barking and trying to get attention. Thankfully they settled down and were quiet for the evening once everyone was asleep.

There was a female dog, with a injured front foot, hanging around who I think is the mum. After I saw her around the corner at the ferry dock chasing cars, I didn’t have to wonder how her foot was injured.

These roads keep winding round the mountains (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

These roads keep winding round the mountains (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

On the road today (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

On the road today (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

Categories: Chile, South American Epic | Leave a comment

Day 147/164: Rio Tranquillo to Cochrane – 116km

2,045 meters climbing and 2,091 down. Gravel all day.

On the way to Cochrane (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

On the way to Cochrane (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

Nice weather again today. I had very tired legs from the slipping and sliding on the gravel yesterday.

Today I don’t think there was more than 5 kilometres of flat road all day. It was just constantly up and down. The uphills and the downhills seemed to go on forever. The downhills were often worse than the uphills with thick loose gravel. I spent quite a bit of today getting off and walking patches of the treacherous gravel.

By the end of the day I was over riding, and gravel, and false summits on hills. We had been told that there was 1,700 meters of climbing but there was over 2,000.

On tarmac 2,000 meters of climbing is totally different than gravel, especially treacherous loose gravel! At 99 kilometres having climbed to what I thought was the top of a hill, I could feel tears not far off when I came round the corner and could see the road still heading up and up into the distance!

Just then an alpaca popped out of the bush and trotted up the road in front of me for about 5 minutes, then stood on the side of the road on a small rise, watching me with great interest as I rode wearily passed. Thankfully this cheered me up, and I managed the rest of the ride in better spirits. Helped by a cold drink at 112 kilometres, before the final 4 kilometres to camp.


Alpaca (Photo credit: Brett’s Facebook page)

The area that we are in from the start of the Carratera Austral through the rest of Chile and Argentina is called Patagonia, and it is beautiful. I always thought NZ, particularly the South Island, was beautiful but this area takes it to another level. Thousands of kilometres of lakes, mountains, rivers, forests – all breathtaking beautiful.

Masses of deep purple lupins fringe the rivers (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Masses of deep purple lupins fringe the rivers (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

Editor's note: Kaye's wifi access is terrible at the moment, so this is the only photo I have of her amazing scenery . . .

On the road today

Not at all beautiful is the horse fly that I met for the first and then numerous times today! Initially I was not concerned as they hovered around me, as they were just flies. Flies are a nuisance but they don’t bite! Ha! As I found out that, last statement is not true – these flies bite. They put their tongue in to get blood and it stings.

These flies are persistent, they try crawling into your ears and eyes. They get into your hair through the gaps in your helmet. As you are trying to concentrate on getting up a steep hill they bombard you.

They bite through clothing! Nothing quite like going downhill with one sitting your arm stinging you through your arm warmer, and you can’t take you other hand off the handlebars to swat it because you will come off your bike!

They can also fly really fast. I had one keep up with me and land on me for a nice snack when I was going 25 kilometres an hour downhill. I thought this was pretty fast, but one of the other riders Chris W said he had one keep up with him at 45 kilometres an hour! At least at camp that night I was able to swot them if they managed to get their tongue into me.

I was on the bike for nearly 11 hours today. I was totally underwhelmed to find that dinner was 1 sausage, white rice and zucchini and tomato stew! Luckily Sue did not want her sausage as it was a bit spicy for her, and said she right now she would love a sandwich. I had a left over peanut butter sandwich that I made at lunch to take with me that she was delighted to receive. It’s amazing what you are delighted to eat after many hours on a bike and a lack of sufficient food.

Not far from camp (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Not far from camp (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

Categories: Chile, South American Epic | 3 Comments