Daily Archives: December 21, 2015

Day 155/164: El Cerrito to Cerro Castillo – 119km

Climbing 663 meters, and down 1110

What a day! To start off I nearly had a serious injury falling into a pit in the shed, where TDA had set up breakfast. When I came in the door I was busy concentrating on the table and the line, and never even saw the pit in the floor until I stepped back into it. Luckily I was just shook up and not hurt, but my porridge and cup of tea went everywhere!

We started early today as the direction we had to go was into the head wind all day.

The start of a very bad day! (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

The start of a very bad day! (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

I was on my bike at 7am and didn’t get to the Chile border until 5:45! The first 84 kilometres today was gravel, mostly loose and treacherous, made worse by the wind. Thankfully there was not a lot of traffic on this road.

It was so cold I had on:
2 hats (one that covered half of my face and one a thermal skull cap)
2 pairs of gloves
Long johns top and bottom
Ice breaker singlet
Riding top
Long and short riding pants
Two pairs of socks, and a plastic bag over both feet inside the shoes to try and keep some heat in, and stop the wind and gravel getting in.

The road never ends  (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

The road never ends (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

Within 2 kilometres of the gravel I saw a skunk flash across the road, then later I saw what I thought was an armadillo, and talking to one of the riders later it turns out they are here so it most probably was. I also saw some flamingos on a lake.

Highlight of the day: flamingos

Highlight of the day: flamingos

It was bleak and miserable, and took six and a half hours to ride the 84 kilometres to lunch. After lunch we had tarmac and even though it was still a head wind I thought it would be faster, but it turned out that it wasn’t. The average speed for the first 20 kilometres was 8 kilometres an hour.

The traffic was dreadful and you could not hear it behind you, and the wind kept trying to sweep you out onto the road. With 35 kilometres to go I was thinking “I know I can do this, but why is it that I want to?”. Just then Cristiano drove past and I got a lift with him 11 kilometres to the turn off to the Argentina border.

The road to the border crossing was 6 kilometres of gravel, but thankfully it was side wind, not a headwind. It was getting colder and colder even with all the clothing I had on.

At the border checkpoint, this is where we are!  (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

At the border checkpoint, this is where we are! (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

After the Argentina border there was another 7 kilometres of gravel to the Chile border. It started to rain and I thought this is going to be a really miserable end to a pretty miserable day, but thankfully then the sun broke through the clouds and the rain stopped.

There was a nice warm cafe at the Chilean border, then only one kilometre to camp.

Border Cafe in Chile

Border Cafe in Chile

We were staying in a local’s backyard. Goodness only knows how Cristiano manages to come up with the places we stay. Cristiano has got a charming nature, and we often see him doing what we call “Smoothing the locals”, and he has them smiling and chatting.

There is no camp ground here, and the next big town is 62 kilometres away, too far to manage on top of today’s ride. Cristiano just arrives in a town, goes into a shop and starts chatting and then says “So do you think there is anyone in town who might like to rent out their backyard for the night to some cyclists?”. I bet he doesn’t mention the number of cyclists initially.

At the place we stayed they had some really cute blood hound puppies. It was really cold over night, minus 4 degrees, and we had frost on our tents.

Blood hound puppies!

Blood hound puppies!

Blood hound Mum and puppy  (Photo credit: Sue's Facebook page)

Blood hound Mum and puppy (Photo credit: Sue’s Facebook page)

Categories: Argentina, Chile, South American Epic | 1 Comment

Day 154/164: La Leona to El Cerrito – 136km

Climbing 1645 meters, down 1207.

This morning there was no wind when I woke up, but like a switch had been turned on it arrived full on at just before 8am, when I was leaving.

We went straight into a climb much to my legs disgust. We had a head wind and side wind most of day. My hands were aching from the pressure of clinging onto the handle bars.

Every time there was oncoming traffic I had my hands on the brakes ready for if the wind tried to blow me across the road. With the traffic coming from behind you just had to hope for the best as it was so windy you could not hear it.

The sign is a little redundant! (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

The sign is a little redundant! (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

We had a 10 kilometre hill to climb, and thankfully that was the one part of the day that we had a bit of a tail wind. After that it was back to a sidewind.

It was really cold, down to 3 degrees. I was worried about what the bush camp would be like and hoping it was not going to be like the infamous lake camp in Peru where we were at 4,300 meters camping and freezing. When I got to the camp it was really cold, but we had the use of a large garage to sit in and drink cups of tea and soup. Plus access to a hot shower.

Having a nap in the cold shed (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Having a nap in the cold shed (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

When the tent was being put up there were a few snow flakes! And this is summer here! Luckily there was a hill that the tents could shelter behind.

It would have been a cold miserable evening without the shed. We did have the option of putting sleeping mats on the garage floor, but the door made a really loud clanging sound every time it was opened, which I decided would drive me to despair, so I chose the tent option instead.

Dinner time! (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Dinner time! (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

Categories: Chile, South American Epic | Leave a comment