Final words from the other half of fatcycling

Like with whatever else you do day in day out, this trip had a bit of everything; excitement, joy and routine, as well as times of boredom, frustration and anger.

Summarising 20.000k…

It’s been almost two years since we landed in Cancún, Mexico, all happy-go-lucky, no clue what was actually awaiting us. Heat and humidity, long days on flat highways, food poisoning, popusas, taking boats across estuaries, camping and cycling on beaches, in churches, firestations and schools, and yacht-ing to bypass the Darian gap (which we probably would’ve tried with our current experience). After taking five months off in Canada to avoid rainy season we headed back to the Andes; dirt roads, insane climbs, elevation sickness, wind, rain, mud, heat, thirst, sickness, teaching at a local school, hike a bikes, deserts and salt flats, illnesses, robberies, sand, corrugations, green forests and lakes, almost drowning in an attempted river crossing, volcanos, blackberries, glaciers and the cold. We had so many experiences, the memories will last for the rest of our lives. Continue reading

An ending (ascent)

Finality is unavoidable. And this chapter of my life is about to come to a close. I’ve struggled a lot the past few weeks searching for that last ounce of motivation. I almost convinced myself to stay put in Punta Arenas and count down the days until my flight. But, something kept gnawing at me to push through a few more cold days. To reach Ushuaia.

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Expenses in South America

Here a summary of our expenses whilst touring, might come handy if you’re trying to figure out a budget. On top of food and accommodation (although we try to camp whenever possible) we had various other expenses (repairs, illness, shipping down gear, etc) – so don’t be fooled and be prepared to spend (a lot) more than you expected.

As a general rule, things get more expensive as you go south, but I think for us food averages also increased because we ate better (more, and in Chile, for example, more variety was available…).
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Shutting down

I was full of enthusiasm, a few years ago when the idea of this trip began to form. The recent emergence of bikepacking blogs had caught my eye, and I put myself into the shoes of the innovative few who had begun to bikepack South America. Studying and analyzing small lines on google earth, looking for any signs of trails and paths less travelled. Slowly, the hopeful mapped out squiggles turned into real trails beneath our tires. The fruits of labor were becoming real, sometimes working out and other times not. Either way, it was exciting. Bike maintenance mirrored this enthusiasm, and our Pugs were a happy pair of stallions. Smooth bearings, and well adjusted brakes. Continue reading

Video – Chile and parts of Argentina (all the way from Paso Copahue to El Chalten)

Includes clips of Chile (sections of the Greater Patagonian Trail, Monkey Puzzle Trail, rides and hike a bikes through parks like Villarica national park, lakes region, carretera Austral and detours off it, and finally Villa O’Higgins) and Argentina (Siete Lagos route, detour from Palena into Argentina to Lago Vintter/Lago Palena, and finally into El Chalten).

Forbidden Fruit

DSC03847As part of our plan to find detours along the Austral, we found a nice piece of sendero action to try out. Unfortunately, after putting in some serious effort to arrive at the trailhead, we were informed that it is prohibited to pass through by bike. With a bit of smooth talking we managed to cut a deal wherein we would “carry” our bikes the whole trail. As it turns out, the first day we weren’t lying. Steep climbs and bush bashing were a recipe for slow progress. Unfortunately, due to the un-transited nature of the trail, we picked up a few spikes along the way and managed to use all but two of our patches. This left us 30km from any chance of meeting anyone, with two patches, on a trail covered in spikey death. Continue reading

Going Lateral (ish) – Palena to Coyhaique via Argentina and 4×4 track (Lago Verda – La Tapera)

Our second episode of escaping the Austral begins from Villa Santa Lucia. The kind of town which makes you wonder if anyone actually lives there. Unfortunately for us riders hunting out dirt roads, the Austral is being paved piece by piece. A huge step in the right direction for an interconnected Chile, but not much fun if a fatbike is the only arrow you’ve got in your quiver. Most people seem to duck out of Chile and head into Argentina to seek refuge from the rain, but oddly enough we’d enjoyed seemingly endless hot and sunny days while following the Austral. We directed ourselves towards Chile’s relaxed neighbor for other reasons. A dirt section through pampa setting us up perfectly to ride a small part of the Sendero de Chile from Lago Verde to La Tapera. Continue reading

Entering the Austral

The past few weeks have marked an entirely different pace for us. My folks came for a lovely visit which provided us some downtime from riding. There comes a point in any tour where one forgets to appreciate the incredible experience they are living, and I think it’s safe to say that Gina and I were very much in that position. However, It’s amazing what a week off the bike can do!

The Carreterra Austral is iconic route for South American cycle-tourists. Usually marking the beginning or end point for some very epic adventures. In our situation, a realization hits us. We’re on the home stretch and that’s pretty scary for two . We’re lined up to hit Ushuaia in early winter, but neither Gina or I are in any great rush to try and make up the time. We’ve decided to use the Austral as a sort of “home base”, branching off whenever something more interesting comes along. Continue reading

All green (summary of our time in Central Chile)

Chile was quite refreshing, literally; trees and shade, which we felt like we hadn’t seen in a while, and water sources everywhere (good timing, our bottle cages were falling apart). Continue reading

Digression (Huilo-Huilo and Volcan Osorno)

From Paso Samoré we cycled north to Riñinahue. We wanted to do the Volcán Puyehue traverse (section 13 of  the GPT). As we were told it would take us five days of pushing and carrying, and water was extremely scars, we decided to bail on this one.

After sunbathing in Lago Ranco for a couple of days, we crossed paths with Skyler. He convinced us to join him on a trail he had done a few years back, a ride through the Huilo-Huilo reserve. It felt rather weird to be going north. Continue reading