(November 2 – written by Dave)
First up a report on I-5, it’s been such a big part of our lives the last three days. Today it was almost a completely different road in terms of the amount of traffic. It is day 2 of a 4 day weekend – meaning most folks heading out for the long weekend were already where they wanted to go. And being a holiday, not too many trucks were out and about. Net-net, I-5 was almost fun to ride today.
The best part of I-5 today was that we had mostly a ripper tailwind. Flags were standing straight out, pointing south, the direction we were travelling. So, you ask, what with the “mostly” fun comment in the blog title. Well, we learned from Moritz the other day, if you are getting rained on, that almost always means that the wind is coming from the north. You guessed it, we got rained on today.
In fact, we got rained on last night. It started raining a little after midnight and continued until we finally extracted ourselves from the tent a little after 7AM. The rain didn’t really bother us overnight as we were under the cover a pole barn. The wind that came with the rain was probably more of an issue as the campground had a handful of motion sensitive flood lights. The wind got the trees moving and the trees made the lights go on. We both woke up several times thinking it was morning, only to realise that it was just the lights and wind gusting through the trees. Never mind that we were sleeping under gum trees, something all Australians are warned not to do in a wind storm. Anyway, we survived.
We didn’t leave the campground until after 9:30. It wasn’t raining but skies were threatening. The lovely host of the campground told us that the rain was forecast to continue until 3PM. We had to ride north a little getting back out to I-5. Boy we were glad that we didn’t have to ride north all day. On the way back to the highway we passed a bike race – a time-trial – that was just getting set-up. There were some really fancy looking bikes and lots of not-so-sure riders looking at the sky and wind much like we were. It would be fun to have a fast, light carbon fibre bike but on a day like today, I’ll take my mudguards and thick tires.
Just about the time we made it to I-5, it stated to rain. We had a nice tailwind so there was little to no rain hitting our faces but our feet and bikes got a lot of spray. Nancy put her rain booties on before we left Linares, I was wishing that I had. We had about an hour of rain and then we had about an hour of wet sloppy roads. At least we had the tailwind and the low traffic on our side.
We didn’t stop for the first 46k. No photos. No bio stops. No smelling the roses. It was just heads down and ride. We finally stopped close to noon at an I-5 Copec servo just outside Parral. Rain was letting up but we needed a bathroom and a snack. We spent an hour standing at the Copec coffee bar, making puddles with our wet clothes and feet. We bought a food or drink item every 15 minutes or so, just so that we wouldn’t get thrown out. We went back and forth on stopping in Parral or continuing on to San Carlos. Eventually the gusty winds and rain stopping swayed us to shoot for San Carlos. We even booked a room there, to force a commitment, and to insure we had a room on arrival.
The 43k to San Carlos was stop-free as well. The wind continued and the rain more or less held off. It only took us an hour and twenty-five minutes to ride all 43k. Not bad for two old farts on loaded touring bikes. We had a little trouble finding the hotel as it has no sign – Hotel Molino Viejo. And by no sign, I mean absolutely no sign – see below. Had it not been for the stand-in hotel clerk coming by when we rolled past for a third time, we may have given up. The stand-in said that she worked at a different hotel around the corner and was only coming over here to help a friend (and to let us in) – sure glad she did as it had started raining again.
We checked in and were thrilled to find that our room had a proper reverse cycle heater. We’ve cranked the room temperature up to 30C and are trying to dry all of our stuff out. All of our clothes from today, the tent, booties and everything else is soaked. Oh well, other than a little wet, it was an ok day.
For dinner, we couldn’t find any restaurants that were open so we bought a roasted chicken and fixings for sandwiches at a Unimarc (super market). Back at the hotel, the real manager had shown up. She was more than happy to let us make dinner in the dining room. She was kind enough to make us tea, put out a table cloth and provide us with cutlery. Best of all, she wanted to make sure that we go the heater going and was not fussed that we had the room hot enough to be a sauna.
Tomorrow it is not supposed to rain – great. We’ll spend the full day again on I-5 – not bad if traffic stays calm. As for the wind, well, we can always hope. We have a couple campgrounds picked out right about the 100k mark. If the forecast is correct, we should have no issues…