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 raging away from the West, then please ensure that you have come equipped. That means 1 x core constituted of Diamond and Kryptonite infused Einsteinium, Nobelium and Buffaldium. If not, you are far better off just sitting at home, having a lovely 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.
Late in the afternoon I made the blissful turn sweeping gloriously away from the teeth of the wind 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.
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.
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 offer another prayer to Stribog then turn south for the last couple of day’s ride to Tierra Del Fuego.
24th Sept Day 60 (Price George – Quesnell) (121km)
25th Sept Day 61 (Quesnell – McLeese Lake) (75km)
26th September Day 62 (McLeese Lake – 150 Mile House) (60km): “Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow! ….Strike flat the thick rotundity o’ the world! Crack nature’s moulds, ….” [King Lear Act 3, Scene 2].
I too taunted the winds to do their worst .…and that they did. I reluctantly emerged from the comfy sleeping bag early in the hope of beating the forecast strong winds or at least making some headway before the cheeks started cracking. After the 45km ride to Williams Lake a smarter person might have pulled into any one of the ubiquitous cheap motels and called it a day, but ever the optimist, on I forged. The strong southerly eventuated mid-afternoon and, I regret to report, it battered your hapless correspondent into submission. When the bike simply refused to budge into the wind about eight kilometres beyond ‘150 Mile House’, I felt the much heralded hard-core melt away to a mushy jell and I turned the bike away from the teeth of the wind and literally sailed across the road back to ‘150 Mile House”. Happily, a lady at the garage ran a B&B just up a side road. I comforted myself with the thought that, “The better part of valour is discretion“. [Henry IV (Part1) (Act V, Scene IV)], and off I slunk to reassess.
It might also be a silly part of the year to travel south if the prevailing winds are from the south. However, after days and days of Southerlies it is tempting to go with the idea that orbs or gods are somehow conspiring against me. An a-the-ist, a-Santa-ist, a-Goblinist, a-cargoist, a-Raist, a-Yahwehist, would obviously take the former but could it be that wind, orbs and gods are constantly against me? Best to hedge. Therefore, if a benevolent god of wind can show up right now I’ll devote myself to his magnanimousness; even wear a frock and spend my time giving hapless choirboys a jolly good rogering if that’s the call. Sacrificing virgins? (preferably daughters of huge camper-van drivers or Holland-America tour bus drivers?) not a problem. Just need the right one (Google, Google, Wiki, Wiki……)
Venti, the Roman gods of the winds, were essentially renamed Anemoi, borrowed from the Greeks.
I think Stribog’s the chap. Control of wind directions is appropriate. He sounds like a serious kick-ass wind god and much harder-core than a more generalist Wahweh or a thunder technical specialist like Thor. Stribog could no doubt bring down some serious pre-medieval Slavic MMA submission holds on their Canaanite and Norse bot-bots. Stribog it is.
“Oh Stribog, you are so big and powerful we are really impressed down here, I can tell you (Python). If it’s not too much to ask could you kindly give it a rest with the Southerlies even just occasionally, and blow some wind down from the north across Canada in the coming week. Amen”
27th September Day 63 (75km) (150 Mile – 100 Mile)
28th September Day 64 (74km) (100 Mile – Clinton)
Stribog is the goods. Out of ‘100 Mile House’ and a 5km rise up to 1,100 metres elevation and then a lovely rolling along a plateau then a swoop down to Clinton. All the while with a gentle Nor-Wester caressing the right shoulder.
29th September Day 65 (72km) (Clinton – Lillooet)
30th September Day 66 (100km) (Lillooet – Pemberton)
Big ride over the top of the Lillioot Range. 70km up and up to the top of the pass then a plummet at 14% down towards Pemberton.
‘Stribog! Why hast thou forsaken me?’ Towards the top and it was wind against and rain which didn’t do much for the view at the top of the pass.
1st October Day 67 (32km) (Pemberton – Whistler)
Stribog has turned out to be a large stinking pile of bear doo-doo in terms of wind god effectiveness. Perhaps it was the lack of virgin sacrifice that was the problem? I’m in Whistler so there just aren’t any virgins of sacrificable age. (someone must have hacked in and written that – Jenny and her friends at The Keg Bar are quite obviously of impeccable character – and the steaks exceptional).
Whistler is a fun place and a classy (read ‘expensive’) village where happily cycling is taken very seriously, prior to the ski season anyway. It is all of the ‘sick’ and ‘narly’ single track variety with some designer bikes, “specifically designed for the Whistler conditions” whatever that means. Loads of bikers catching the ski lift and piling down the tracks back down to the village. Have been holding up here in the lovely bars and restaurants is just the tonic from the road. Loads of shops full of things you can only marginally imagine a use for but all very tempting nonetheless. Will be a pity to leave really.