An Argentinian gateway (Paso Socompa)

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.
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Bikepacking Ausangate (Wowsengate?)

Foul weather was upon us when we departed Tinke. The GPS was taunting us. Ausangate was only a few kilometres away, but the stormy sky prevented even our imagination from forming a view. Slowly we made our way up the foothills passing small communities filled with welcoming smiles. The rain and hail were relentless, and the cold environment summoned up memories of the Ecuadorian paramo. Nevertheless, we pushed forth.
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New things in Porcelain packaging (2 of 2)

Recently, Dan told me he’d seen a photo of Cass using a custom roll-top framebag from Porcelain Rocket. Without much forethought, we had purchased regular zipped frame bags for our trip. In retrospect, zips are always prone to failure. Extended use, especially on bike bags that you open several times every day, can degrade the zips. I kept having problems with my zip (fraying) and decided to inquire about the custom roll-top frame bags at Porcelain Rocket. Without hesitation, Scott sent one down to me (along with the camera slinger for Dan). Continue reading

Peru’s Great Divide (Huancavelica to Abancay)

I thought it was finished. Take the medicine and the problem goes away, right? Turns out Giardia is pretty complex, and down here it’s developed quite a resistance to the standard treatment of metronidazole.

You can imagine my frustration when I awoke to the familiar symptoms of this terrible parasite worming its way through my stomach. Continue reading

Excursion: my time on an Ecuadorian ranch

Taking a break from cycling I found a ranch to work at for a week, Rancho Emilio’s. Their main work is the production of cheese, mozzarella, and yoghurt drinks. They also have horses they sell and use for work, as well as sheep, alpacas, donkeys, dogs, cats, pigs, and chickens. Continue reading

Roads where the mud never driesĀ (Cotopaxi to Salinas)

Our ride from Cotopaxi took us into Lactancunga for a much needed restock. I kept buying fruit and veggies in bulk as they were so cheap, and in turn this required me to carry our backpack loaded up with 20lbs (or $1) of goods! We had seen some small roads on our maps which would carry us west of Saquisili all the way to Quilotoa. Following the Panamerican up north 5km or so, we turned off towards Saqusili and a world of adventure. Basically, our map had roads, but none of them seemed to correspond with the actually existing ones.
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Cotopaxi (finding our way)

Gina had mapped our way out of Tumbaco along a small road which would eventually lead us to Cotopaxi. Santiago had given us some route advice as to how to get there the quickest. We set off early before the sun was high, but about 15km in, I took a look at our map and saw we were missing a route I had wanted to try starting from the town of Tambo in the exact opposite direction, I spied what looked like a real remote route through the mountains all the way to Cotopaxi. We ended spending a day cycling there climbing from 2300 to 4000m, only to find out that the route is private and costs 5 dollars per person to pass. To top it off, it was a horse track with “mud up to your thighs”. Continue reading

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

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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