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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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

Going up in Ecuador (border Ipiales to Quito via El Angel, Otovalo, Perucho, Lloa)

El Angel

You can download the GPX file for El Angel (Ipiales to Ibarra) here.

After crossing the border at Ipiales we went on a dirt road after Tulcan which leads to the national reserve El Angel. The landscape changed drastically from farmlands to desert-esque with unique flora. On our map we saw two lakes and we were determined to camp there. The elevation was tiring and despite a very gradual uphill we had to push our bikes on occasion. The road was tough but made us appreciate having fatbikes very much.
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Colombia, coming to an end

San Agustin

For many weeks we had been told by various locals to go to San Agustin which was apparently beautiful. So that’s what we did! We tried to find the Casa de Ciclistas in town but found out that it was closed, so we headed to a campsite together with Ana and Adrien, two fellow cyclists we had met on the road for the second time. Continue reading

Finding dirt and illness (Neiva to San Agustin)

When Dan mapped out our route through Colombia on google earth it looked like we would be on paved roads and highways a lot of the time. We were able, however, to deviate from this route for the most part by finding networks of small roads by looking at satellite images in Gaia and MotionX on our iPad. There were sections we were not entirely sure about but asking around (in particular the police is always very helpful) certified some roads’ existence. A great part of the roads were dirt, some in the process of being paved, and some already paved but still with only very little traffic with scenic views.
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Riding through the desert (Suarez to Tatacoa Desert)

How much kindness can you receive in one day? We cycled on dirt from Suarez to Purification, where we were offered free avena (oat) drinks, a free avocado, two free soft drinks and beer if I hadn’t kindly and slightly regretfully turned it down. It’s an awesome feeling when people want to stop us to chat, they genuinely want to know about our trip, and our bikes. Being a gringo is a blessing and a curse, but here in Colombia definitely much more of the first. To me it’s interesting how Colombia has been seen as a place of unrest to many foreign countries, yet the people who are so incredibly welcoming don’t seem to get any recognition abroad. As long as you’ve got your head screwed on straight, (as in any country) this place is amazing and the people even more so.
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Bitten off more than we can chew (Melgar to Suarez)

We had stayed the night in Melgar, a touristic spot filled with hotels and resorts, a friendly fellow saw us biking in and gave us a really good rate at one of the hotels off the main road. The morning forced a decision as to which of two route options to take. In Carmen de Apical we spoke to some tuk-tuk drivers who told us the mountain route to Cunday was paved, and the “flatter” route was dirt. We opted for the dirt road to Suarez. The first 20k were nice, through forests with great views of the mountains. Then we came to a fence and were told that a mountain followed: “up up up up, down down down down” we were told. It was a hiking trail, but we’d seen a man pass us on a horse. I said “if a horse can do it, we can do it”. Well who’d have thought horses were so tough.

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