(December 3 – written by Nancy – just plain ‘ole Nancy, as I don’t think it’s necessary to remind everyone I made the 10k mark first…)
Today turned out to be a lovely day for a bike ride in Patagonia. We actually both got hot riding under the intense sun – not sure I remember when that happened last! We had some broken clouds when we left Puerto Rio Tranquilo but there was enough blue sky and tailwind to sweep away those ‘I don’t want to leave my little cabana’ feelings pretty quickly.
We had a decent climb right out of town to warm us up so we started off with no jackets and never missed them. The road surface was a bit rough for much of the day – not thick gravel/rocks thankfully, but pretty decent-sized rocks stuck in the road surface and washboards made for a bumpy ride. We had some nice traffic that slowed down for us to reduce the dust but also had some other cars and buses speeding by throwing up tons of dust for our enjoyment. The road surface improved a lot right at 30k – we’d heard that this would happen and were happy with smoother surfaces the second half of the ride.
The road seemed to go up and down a lot today, though nothing too steep. Dave’s work on my gears yesterday seemed to do the trick and it was much easier to shift down when I needed to – always comforting to know when you see the hills ahead of you. Hopefully it will stay fixed, at least until we get back to civilisation and can work on it with proper tools and advice from the bike shop.
We had a couple more repair jobs today – Dave’s strap for his beloved four (4!) spare tires broke so he had to tie them up with a piece of rope (good thing I have been carrying that extra package of parachute cord since Alaska!). Then the rubber bit on the nosepiece of my sunglasses that has been threatening to tear off finally gave up, so Dave has fashioned new covers from the fabric tape in the repair kit. And Dave also tried to fix my ongoing problem with my front bags bumping off my rack when I hit a bump (of which there are many these days) by putting some fabric tape on the rails of the bags to prevent the hook from moving, which it seems to do no matter how hard I try to tighten it down.
There seem to be many lakes in this region – it’s hard to tell where one ends and another begins. They are all a gorgeous shade of blue, presumably from the water coming off the mountains. I am sure they are very cold – we haven’t been game to try to take a swim in one (despite carrying our swimmers all the way from Alaska!). With the blue lakes, the dappled blue skies and the snow-covered peaks all around us it was a very pretty day. Dave may have hit his number of stops per kilometre ridden today, with tons of pictures as a result.
We have broken the ride to Cochrane up in two days and have stopped at a great little campground called Cerro Colors. It is run by a fairly elderly couple that are so friendly. They have built a common room with a nice kitchen and bathrooms (with hot showers) – it is very comfortable, and even has power, all for about $10 per person. We set our tent up in the yard, bought eggs and homemade bread and home-grown lettuce from them and made some egg sandwiches (with lettuce) for a late lunch. I am not sure we will be hungry for much dinner but we’ll have to dig through the dinner bag to see what we have to eat.
There is a very friendly cat, Mika, that lives here too and she was quick to come say hello to us so I expect we will see her later. We are now hanging out in the common room, and Joe and Sarah just rode up so we will have company tonight as well. Tomorrow we head to Cochrane, which supposedly has a population of just under 3000 people. We are thinking of taking a day off there to prepare for the next leg to Villa O’Higgins, which is the official end of the Carretera Austral. We will have three days of wild camping to get there so need to make sure we have enough food (wait for it, here comes Dave complaining about carrying too much food again…).