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.


Part Four: Cycling Theology 101 (Cariboo Hwy – Sea to Sky Hwy)

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……)

  • Aeolus, the ruler of the winds in Greek mythology
  • Amun, Egyptian god of creation and the wind
  • Anemoi, the Greek wind gods Boreas, Notus, Eurus, and Zephyrus
  • Ehecatl, one of the creator gods in Mesoamerican creation myths documented for pre-Columbian central Mexican cultures, such as the Aztec
  • Enlil, the Mesopotamian/Sumerian god of air, wind, breadth, and loft
  • Feng Bo, the Chinese wind god, Feng Po is the name for the human form of Fei Lian.
  • Fūjin, the Japanese wind god and one of the eldest Shinto gods
  • Njord, in Norse mythology, is the god of the wind. There are also four dvärgar (Norse dwarves), named Norðri, Suðri, Austri and Vestri, and probably the four stags of Yggdrasil, personify the four winds, and parallel the four Greek wind gods.
  • Pazuzu, the demon of the South-West wind and son of the god Hanbi in Assyrian and Babylonian mythology
  • Shu, Egyptian god of the wind and air
  • Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent, was an Aztec god of wind.
  • Sídhe, or Aos Sí, were the pantheon of Pre-Christian Ireland. Sídhe is usually taken as ‘faery folk’ but it is also Old Irish for wind or gust. [1]
  • Stribog is the name of the Slavic god of winds, sky and air. He is said to be the ancestor (grandfather) of the winds of the eight directions.
  • Tāwhirimātea, Māori god of weather, including thunder and lightning, wind, clouds and storms
  • Vayu, the Hindu God of Wind, Hanuman‘s father
  • 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.

Lillooet to Pemberton

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.