(December 27 – written by Dave)
We did it again, that is, we did a double day. We planned on taking two days to cover the last 150k but had some great tailwinds for the first 110k today and just couldn’t resist the smell of the barn. We had lunch at just past noon at the 110k mark, mulled over what to do next, and you guessed it, we got back on the bikes. Why not, it was early.
Getting here a day early gave us the opportunity for “the catch” as well. We’ve been following a couple from the USA for more than 2.5 years – Curtis and Jenny Shaw They started in Alaska like us but they did so when we were still back in Sydney, getting excited for our trip. We found their blog and have been reading it daily for ideas, tips and even a good hotel recommendation when our paths crossed. Well, today we rolled into Punta Arenas just in time as they are hopping the ferry to Terra del Fuego tomorrow morning. We’ll be here in town until 1/Jan so they have a chance to get a few days ahead of us and send us more tips for the road ahead. Thanks for everything guys and keep those updates coming. We’ll be having dinner with them later tonight.
We were up early this morning – we had a 5AM alarm to beat the wind. We were in bed early last night so 5AM isn’t as bad as it sounds. At about 9:30 last night the wind completely died down and we had hopes for a calm morning. We were greeted by gusting wind first thing. But great news, it came around to become a northwest wind and we had tailwinds more or less for the first section – a section that would have been brutal yesterday afternoon. We left the refugio at 6:45 and were at the end of the “hard” section to Villa Tehuelche before 9AM.
We didn’t think that there was much in Villa Tehuelche but found a small store that served hot coffee and warm ham and cheese sandwiches, which hit the spot for an early morning tea. It was pretty cool this morning and the breeze was cold when you were just standing around (it was brilliant when you were riding!). Our original schedule had us spending the night here but there was no way we were stopping at 9AM, especially with the tailwind blowing.
The road turned a little more southeast after Villa Tehuelche but if anything, the wind got better. We were rolling along at 25-30kph without really working all that hard. We hit a few small uphills and felt like we were bogging down at 22-23kph. You have to love that, bogging at 22-23kph – this is the Patagonia we’ve been reading about.
We found a few reasons to stop however. We spotted a pack of llamas that were sheltering on the lee side of a gas pumping station. They didn’t move as I took photos, no giving up the only place out of the wind. We stopped at the “almost” famous monument to the wind. It was sort of boring – no moving parts and 1 of the four tops had fallen off. We also stopped once at a lake to get some distant photos of pink flamingos.
And in the catagory of “they don’t pay me enough to do this job”, we stopped to take photos of a group of guys out in the middle of windblown nowhere with weed whackers mowing stubby, too short to mow grass, growing in the verge. And that’s not the bad part. Besides doing a crazy job, the fence that they were mowing up against had a sign that warned of land mines being planted in the area. Whatever those guys were getting paid, it wasn’t enough.
After lunch, we rode on and were committed to reaching Punta Arenas. Almost on queue, the wind decided that a side wind would be more fun. It wasn’t. It was easy to see why we had the wind switched as we pulled up alongside the Straights of Magellan – how crazy is that, we rode to the Straights of Magellan. Anyway, the side wind made the last 40k harder, as did the increasing traffic as we neared Punta Arenas. It wasn’t too dangerous as somewhere in the last 10k we also picked up a second lane going our direction and all of the cars gave us a full lane.
We pulled into town and headed straight for the hotel where Curtis and Jenny were staying. We had a booking for tomorrow night. We tried to check in a day early but no amount of texting and messaging could raise the owners so we headed further into town and got a hostel for tonight. After quick showers, we’re heading out for dinner with C&J – more on that and Punta Arenas in general once we get a little more settled in…
Meanwhile – while it wasn’t one of those 100% perfect Patagonia tailwind days, it was pretty darn good. A celebratory ale is in order!