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
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 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
The other day someone asked us about our timeframe. I think at the beginning of our trip we had some kind of plan, but we realized soon that nothing can be foreseen on a trip as long as this one. It’s been a year on the road (excluding our break to escape rainy season) and things have slowed down a bunch compared to our earlier days through Central America. We do on average 5-day sections that drain us of all our energy, and consequently need to rest up, restock and plan for the next ride.
Since Bolivia we had been on rough dirt roads 90% of the time. Dan’s bum seemed to have suffered considerably. Constant rough roads and a worn out set of shorts caused a large saddle sore to form. Continue reading
Up until San Pedro de Atacama, we’d pre planned meticulously. Travel through Chile and Argentina had always seemed more complex and therefore out of laziness we had banished any thought of it into the very back of our minds. It was only in San Pedro that we realized we’d been so careless, and graciously took up refuge in Carlos’ house (Warmshowers) for some much needed research. We ended up staying a week, waiting for a package and reading about various different routes. Riding through northern Chile was immediately ruled out due to the heat. We were left with three crossings over to Argentina. Jama, Sico, and last but not the slightest bit least, Socompa.
The only reason we were able to ride the classic lagunas route was because of our fatbikes. If you don’t own a fatbike you should forget about even trying. In fact, you should probably just stay home and play computer games because you’ll be a lot more successful doing that.
We rode this whole route in half a day from Uyuni to San Pedro de Atacama. Anyone who says that’s impossible obviously has a shitty regular bike and has never ridden a fatbike.