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

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

Following the bread trail. (A stunning hike a bike through Villarica national park)

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

The long way around (a shortcut) – Chos Malal to Lonquimay via Paso Copahue

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

A push into the New Year (or how not to cross a river)

As the new year began, it was only fitting that we tried something a little bit different. Having spent the past month dealing with setbacks, we decided to try and get back on track with a little adventure route.
Originally planning on crossing over Paso Vergara, we were disappointed to discover that it was still closed due to heavy snowfall this year. Instead we decided to tackle a small circuit near the pass that involved a large river crossing and a small hike-a-bike. Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan.
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Advent adventures (Belén to Mendoza via Paso San Fancisco)

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

Don’t take my Kodachrome away (Tolar Grande to Antafagasta de la Sierra)

I’m writing this sitting in the home of Anibal Vazquez, a mountain guide in Antofagasta de la Sierra. He’s kindly let us stay with him for a couple of days while we decide how to push forward. Our plans have been halted by a golf ball sized lump which has developed on my backside. Our beautiful adventure route through to Paso San Francisco is definitely a no go, rough roads and shredded shorts are a recipe for me ending up in the hospital at this point.
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