(October 31 – written by Dave)
Today was a long day, but a lot of it was ridden on Ruta 5, what we have been calling “I-5”. It is not technically an interstate but that’s our story. I-5 riding was not overly exciting except in perhaps the stressful way. I-5 is a dual carriage way with lots of trucks and buses heading up and down Chile’s main north-south highway. The high amount of “big rigs” keeps you on your toes but the shoulder is more than wide enough for it to be safe. The positive aspect of riding this road is the tailwind that the big rigs create. We would have had a headwind more or less but the traffic turned this around into a small localized tailwind. If we could just do something about the noise…
We had nice send off this morning from Moritz and Jenna, the hosts at Casa Suiza. Casa Suiza was a great place for a short break. The guys have done a great job getting the hostel set up and are working super hard to make it a successful. Good luck to them. And just for the record, Moritz is a happy friendly guy, even though it doesn’t look like in the photo below – smile Moritz!
We had about 40k of rolling farmlands before reaching I-5. The back roads are remarkably quiet compared to I-5. The farms seem to focus on grapes but there is a good deal of fruit as well. We stopped at one vineyard for a bio break, giving Nancy a chance to try out her new kick stand. What do you know, it worked. Nancy was happy with the performance but admitted it took a bit more time to set up and take down. For the record, I will not be filing for a patent. I copied the “quick-stand” product but just made it out of what we could get our hands on.
We stopped for morning tea shortly after reaching I-5 at one of the highway service stops. We were not sure about reaching Talca today but agree to roll with I-5 and the generally higher speeds that it created. We didn’t stop again for more than 30k when we reached Molina. We had toyed with staying there but the two places we read about didn’t seem to exist. So instead we made it our lunch stop. We found a small dinner where we got a menu of the day – more food than we needed but it was a great kick start to pushing on the last 50k.
The last 50k, Nancy sat on the front breaking the wind while I sat on the back and called out all the cars and road debris. I didn’t see all the debris however, as I managed to pick up a truck tire wire and got a flat about 20k from Talca. No big deal except that Nancy didn’t hear me shout out and she slowly road off into the distance while I pulled over to fix the tire. Oh well, I had everything I needed so I got stuck into fixing the flat. Luckily Nancy noticed me missing not too long after and was able to ride back (the wrong way on the shoulder) and come back to help me. It was pretty hot but we got the tired fixed pretty fast.
The last bit into Talca and to the hotel was not overly fun. Traffic seemed to get thicker on I-5 and in the city it was pretty thick with rush hour traffic. We had a few navigational challenges before we finally reach the hotel. We are staying at the Hostal del Centro and it is ok. They overcharged us when Nancy paid so I went back to reception to get a refund. I was successful but it took some persistence on my part.
Talca is kind gritty. There are several derelict building right in the centre of the city and lots of graffiti. Not “nice” graffiti like in Valparaiso but rougher, if that makes sense. In 1818 the Chilean declaration of independence was signed here on the main plaza. We stopped there for a look around on the way to dinner. I helped look over the final copy of the document – see below. For dinner we had basic but tasty quesadillas and a really nice IPA beer. We haven’t had a lot of great beer in South America but this particular label was nice.
Tomorrow we have a short day planned. We had a choice of long today, short tomorrow or short today and long tomorrow. After today’s 130k, that means tomorrow is short. We are heading for Linares and a campground near there – unless we decide we are up for another long day…