Tierra Del Fuego

Tierra Del Fuego fence

The sign requests us to protect it, but what the hell is the endangered split-headed-beavertail -asaurus?!
The sign requests us to protect it. But what the hell is this endangered split-headed-beavertail -asaurus?!
Yes these are lifesized green toy soldiers taking the Maldivas.
Yes, these are life-sized green toy soldiers retaking the Islas Malvinas (Falkland Islands)!

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Windy Sign

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Buff3y The Hardcore Adventure Cyclist, having just conquered all of the South American mainland is now forging his way across Tierra Del Fuego towards this ride’s end point at the southern most city in the world, Ushuaia.

Now with only a few days until I arrive in Ushuaia it is curious how the notion that the ride will very shortly be finished is simply not computing. Two days and then no more riding!? How can this be? I’ve been packing pannier bags in the morning and heading out onto the long road for so long now that it just seems silly that this will soon end.

What does one do when there is no more road south? How do you wake up and then go about a beige life without the wind blasting in your face? Without the need to curse or praise Stribog? Well I suppose I’m about the find out.

Two days from now I will go from being the hardcore solo adventure cyclist to merely being just another passenger; a passive beige automaton in the boring flow of commuting towards a grave.

I will be (reluctantly) transformed from one who has enjoyed all the freedom to go, to stop whenever I felt like it. From someone who has suffered every mood of the weather and enjoyed all of the road’s joys, pains and fears, to one who sees the world flash past a window frame, ignorant of gradient, wind, rain, surface, aching muscles etc etc.

I won’t be earning destinations – I’ll just arrive. I’ll be informed when I’m allowed to board. I’ll be offered tea or coffee. I’ll be told when I can and cannot use the toilet. When all I wish to do is ‘disembark’ like a civilised human being some idiot will no doubt gratingly inform me to “de-plane”, as if one can seriously “de-car” or “de-bike”. Great galloping gods! In essence, I will go from being free to no longer being so. Bugger it.

Somewhat incongruously set against that sobering thought, I’m really looking forward to finishing. I’ve cycled every kilometre of land between Deadhorse Alaska to this point and, quite frankly, I’m a bit tired. Theatrical writing theory tells us that you need to tell the audience anything that really matters at least three times …so let me reiterate: I have cycled every kilometre south from Deadhorse Alaska to this point that is about 220km from the southern most point of the Pan-American Highway. So, just to be clear, I have cycled every kilometre south from Deadhorse Alaska through Canada, USA, Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. Haven’t added all of those kilometres up as yet but will do so soon. Suffice to say here that its a lot! […it is 27,000km]

Anyway. On-on and twice more unto the bike I go dear friends to reach the end point. Will communicate again from Ushuaia in a few days.

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 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.

More Lakes and mountains just off Austral Highway

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.

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 offer another prayer to Stribog then turn south for the last couple of day’s ride to Tierra Del Fuego.