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
As 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
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
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
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
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
It turns out my version of purgatory is probably similar to our stay in Conaripe, a overpopulated shitshow of a town which was well on its way down the same road as Pucon. We would have probably slept better had we each taken a dozen caffeine tablets rather than dealing with the screaming kids running around and tripping over our tent until midnight. This combined with our previous day of riding had put us in a state of desperation, escape cottage country at all cost. Continue reading
From Lonquimay we decided to take the scenic dirt track through reserva nacional China Muerta, and follow up with an agreed upon push-a-bike connecting the eastern end of Lago Collico directly with the lakeside town of Caburgua. We had it on good authority (Disclaimer: no one actually seemed to know much about it) that the “road” was possible with a 4×4, and the heavy traffic along the lakeshore was enough in itself to convince us to give it a try. While not all rideable, the four of us enjoyed the challenge of a less traveled route and some beautiful descent. Not a single vehicle passed us up on the trail, I’m not sure that it would’ve even be possible. To be truthful, this route defines that age old quote stating the journey is more important than the destination. Pucon itself is not the most hospitable destination for a cycle tourist on a budget, but the journey makes up for it. Continue reading
We’d been emailing back and forth with Tam and Danny, some cycle-friends of ours (bikesandbackpacks.blogspot.com). Since we’d bumped into them in San Pedro de Atacama, it seemed only fitting that we do some riding together due to the nature of our lightweight setups. In Chos Malal, we finally ended up making a plan for the four of us to ride (or should I say push) our way over Paso Copahue. Continue reading