(November 17 – written by Dave)
We slept pretty well in the tent in our tiny hut home last night. It rained off and on but undercover we were dry. It was not raining in the morning when we got up and in fact the rain held off until almost 10AM. That let us get up and on the road before getting too uncomfortable.
The hut was particularly nice as Nancy discovered a tear in our tent rain fly when we were setting it up yesterday. We patched it today when we reached Chaiten. We are getting to the point now where we will see more and more equipment issues – you just can’t do a trip of this length and not expect things to wear out and/or break. Some end to end America’s riders suggest starting in the south and heading north as more repair/replacement options are available in the US and Canada – maybe do it the other way next time Nancy, what do you think? Nancy? Nancy? No wait, where did Nancy go? She was here a minute ago…
I’m sad to say, Nancy is leaving me!
Ok, just kidding. But you’d be forgiving thinking that she is. If you look at my photos from today, near one half of them of are of Nancy riding away from me. The scenery was nice today but that pesky rain sort of had us in heads down, eyes forward mode. I tended to look up, not sideways. And Nancy’s rain jacket looks great in the green and gray of the Chilean forest. See below, and my apologies in advance for the “Nancy leaving overdose”.
The first half of today’s distance was on a gravel road. The surface ranged from smooth worn-in hard pack to new, soft, wheel sucking gravel/dirt spread. We had a few steep pitches in the gravel but managed to ride everything today. The sealed road started right at the half mark, along with the hardest rain of the day. For the timing of the rain, we should be thankful – it meant that we had to put on our full rain gear but at least we were on fast rolling pavement. Had the rains come when we were on the dirt, it would have gotten messier.
We thought we’d seen the bicycle track of Andy and John (the Tassie guys) but when we met them later in Chaiten they said they had been behind us and seen our tracks so there is probably someone else ahead of us. They arrived in town a couple hours after we did today. We pulled into town just past noon and started trying to figure out where to stay. We had a couple options but weren’t sure so we stopped for a slice of pie and a cup of coffee – what else to do but eat when a hard decision needs to be made.
Once fortified we rode to Cabanas Central. They agreed to rent us a nice cabana for a good price and even offered to make the fire for us. Sold. We unloaded our bikes and spread wet gear all over the cabana – thankfully the owner hasn’t looked in on us – what a mess. We got the fire roaring to the point that we have stripped to summer clothes this afternoon but things are drying out enough for us to go out and do it all again tomorrow.
After getting cleaned up we headed out in search of something to eat. We ended up a greasy spoon that was sort of crowded, must be a good sign. Today we tried our first Chilean Chorrillana – a dish that is really tasty but you’d probably never eat it outside a bicycle tour. It consists of a layer of french fries, then fried onions, a layer of mixed meats and finally fried eggs. Our dish was big enough to feed a small village, or possibly just two hungry touring cyclists. We managed to pull it off – teamwork makes the dream work.
Tomorrow more rain is in the forecast, but at least for the next two days, it is not at the “showers all day” level. We have a couple options and/or bailout points if it gets too bad. We are both nearly well – as far as the colds go – but we’d prefer not being stuck in the rain all day. And if we have a bad day, perhaps we’ll just look for another Cabana with a wood stove. I’ll leave it there, I need to take off another layer as it is getting even hotter in here now – Nancy has on a sleeveless top, I may go to shorts soon….
And here’s hoping that Nancy doesn’t leave me again tomorrow!