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Part Fifty Four: Southern Patagonia

Just south of the tiny hamlet of Bajo Caracoles in central Patagonia there is a 50km stretch of road, that, for want of a better name, we will here call, ‘That-stinking-bastard-piece-of-frickin-crap’ road. It’s paved and runs straight as the proverbial arrow and flat as the equally proverbial pancake in a west-sou-westerly direction.

If you should find yourself on a bicycle and on this road (and not the lovely curly one opposite), on an afternoon when the prevailing wind is doing its thing and raging away from the West, then please ensure that you have come equipped. That means 1 x core made from Diamond and Kryptonite infused Einsteinium, Nobelium and Buffaldium. If not, you are far better off just sitting at home, having a scone with marmalade, some tea and a nice lie down.

Your long suffering (and ever-humble) correspondent spent six hours chugging away into this bastard wind and I am not ashamed to admit that on more than a few occasions I felt the above-constituted core softening a tad.

More Lakes and mountains just off Austral Highway

Late in the afternoon I made the blissful turn sweeping gloriously away to the southeast and could then blast over the next 60km in less than two hours chasing down the startled road-runners until, squawking out a defeated ‘beep-beep’ they opt for jamming their crest-fallen selves through a fence to escape rather than get rounded up by an elated bicyclist.

Road From Hell

Such is an average day riding Patagonia. Distances start to diminish in importance where 1km can take anything between two or 10 minutes depending on the wind.

Me and a guy who seemed willing to listen to drunken Spanglish in Bajo Caracoles, “miles from nowhere”.

Bajo Caracoles had been the venue for the consumption of much cheap red wine just two nights before. My Spanglish becoming oddly fluent as the night progressed.

I now find myself being blown across to the Atlantic coast where I give another prayer to Stribog then turn south for the last couple of day’s ride to Tierra Del Fuego.

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Part Fifty Three: Carratera Austral – Northern Patagonia

The Carretera Austral or Route 7 [formerly Carretera General Augusto Pinochet], is the road/highway running north/south through Chilean Patagonia. It is part dirt and part sealed but all beauty. Being the well-traveled and weller-experienced adventure cyclist that I am, of course, I have always considered the Karakorum Highway running from far western China south into northern Pakistan to be the ultimate bicycle touring road. After a few more days on the Austral I may have to reassess this.

Veiw from the campsite north of Travelin, Argentina

Same Campsite. Probably the prettiest of the whole trip.

I made the left turn onto the Carratera Austral at Villa St Lucia having crossed from Argentina near Esquela/Trevelin. Still holding tight to the notion of pedaling every kilometre southwards from the top of Alaska to bottom of Argentina had declined the opportunity to cross to Chile further north and endure a ferry ride for part of the way where Route 7 is cut for a while.

As it turned out, staying in Argentina and cycling through the southern Lakes District was a bonus as just north of Travelin, the National Park was a very pretty couple of days of winding dirt road surrounded by a lovely collection of lakes and snow-peaks. The road across the border laid on the alpine vistas as well. Getting difficult to find an ugly spot in this part of the world.

On the Carratera Austral. The incline was not that steep but the sign looks impressive.

The seaside village of Puyuhuapi was the first wheel dip in The Pacific Ocean since Costa Rica.

Can’t get enough of the lakes and snow peaks.

Goucho country north of Coihuaique

Today finds your correspondent in Coihaique a mostly unpronounceable and unspellable provincial town full of gauchos. There were echoes of Australia this morning as I was awakened to the dulcet groans of a lawn mower churning through a ‘nature-strip’ outside the tired but comfy Hotel Austral (the owner of which turned out to be a prize-prick!). The women are intent on sporting the latest butt-lift jeans which cause all manner of odd contortions to the buttocks and abdomen.

The ride just north of here turned into a bit of a chore in that the derailleur decided to fall off and had to be wired into place and therefore I had one gear with which to ride the last 75km. Quite hard-core I have to say.

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Comments

Am a little bit concerned at the lack of feedback at the moment and more specifically, the lack of gushing praise for my blog and bicycling. I can see that many many people are looking at the blog. You are not, however, adequately sharing the joy of the experience with the buff3ysbicyclingblog community. Therefore to assist in rectifying this short-coming, I have below provided some pointers on the type of comment that is required to help you along:

–       “Buff3y, you are truly remarkable! It is difficult to imagine how a human can ride a bicycle for such a vast distance and also produce such an entertaining blog at the same time.”

–       “Buff3y, we love you!”

–       “Buff3y, look so trim and fit and could be 25 years old”

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Part Fifty Two: The Lakes District

Dear Readers, Know that your long-suffering correspondent is still on the long road heading south and has made it to the charming provincial city of San Carlos de Bariloche in Patagonia. Nestled on the banks of the Lago de something-or-other this is a heavily touristed resting spot before I head towards the Chilean border to ride some of the Carratera Austral highway in a few days. It’s now about a month before I will be in Ushuaia and I can now feel the end of the journey approaching. Only a couple of thousand kilometres to go between now and then.

North of Bariloche

Small shed was shelter from fierce winds

The country has been just beautiful coming through the Lakes District of Patagonia with clear water streams, lush green fields, forests surrounded by snow peaks and clear skies. The ski-lodge towns have lashings of chocolate shops and over-priced accommodation, which is lovely. The Argentinians continue to make it a pleasure to pedal through this part of the world and thankfully I have hit the much anticipated and dreaded patagonian winds on only a couple of days so far. Grasping for loads of wood right now as I still expect to have some hard days riding in the weeks ahead. I was ever so thankful to the Gods of bicycle touring providence when I saw the little shed photographed as the winds were absolutely howling across the barren slopes and a tent would simply not have held up at all that night.

In front of a water fall north of Lake Something-or-other