Still on two wheels, but with a view

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I signed up for this year’s hi-wheel race in Frederick, MD. Okay, I didn’t have a penny farthing and I had never ridden one. So one month before the race I got one and began training. My primary goal was to avoid doing the not so popular but somewhat common header.

Stage 103 half timing to Punta Arenas and penguins…

IMG_20141208_190341_851No time lost or gained.

Bikes left at hosteria and a cruise to Magellan Island across the Strait. Truly a fabulous experience to visit a rookery of Magellan Penguins. Thousands of penguin pairs raising young where there are no predators and complete protection from humans. In the early days sailors would dry their meat for food and collect eggs when they passed through this famous route between the Atlantic and the Pacific avoiding the journey around Cape Horn.

 

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Stage 102 One of the scariest experiences on a bike ..,

Calafate
Calafate
DSCN2756Riding pavement with full timing. Sounds reasonable enough. Alfred and started out joined by Terry and Reinhardt. Terry and Reinhardt would ride in the group but would not influence Alfred and me. We were screaming along and stopped together for lunch.

On route turned south and our tailwind suddenly became a lion of across wind. After passing through a dust storm which hind us and vehicles from view we were hammered by cross wind gust as strong as yesterday’s or stronger. It required constant attention and leaning to manage the next 48 km. One of those gusts put me in the other lane facing a car. Leaning and pushing hard to the right put me where i needed to be. Reinhardt and Alfred were both blown off the road leaving just Terry and me. With great determination we arrived with the dinner truck sharing first. Reinhardt arrived followed by Alfred.

I really wasn’t very energetic about the race today still feeling rough from yesterday’s ride. Once on the bike and warmed up I knew I could do my best. That has been my daily objective, always to do my best. In my mind that’s not the same as just trying to do my best.

12/5 Stage 101 no timing but wait…. We thought we knew Patagonian winds….ha

Pushing
Pushing
The cross winds hit with force enough to send me flying off and sprawled on the ground. A repeat performance and it was clear that pushing was the safest choice. Gusts were extreme and unpredictable. I ended up flat on the road at least 4 times. Only flesh wounds resulted. During one of those moments I had stopped to photograph a lake and was blown backwards landing on my back and having my camera sail out of my hands. With 143 km to cover I was wondering how I could possibly reach camp before dark.

After what appeared to be a difficult push for everyone across a flat area we reached the ranger station which provided wind protection and our lunch stop. Wind speeds were posted at 99 km/h. Several had bailed out earlier because of wind and most at the station were calling it a day. Only 9 of the 35 bike-dreamers attempted and completed the entire stage.

It was the longest day yet going from 9 to 7:15. The rest of the way from the station was more of a tailwind and was quite scenic offering views of turquoise lakes fed from glaciers. Well done.

Very tired and somewhat beat up from being blown down I retired to my the tent.

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Contact with road due to wind
Contact with road due to wind

Stage 100 with no timing….NP Torres del Paine

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IMG_20141205_081240A beautiful pedal without that typical wind into Torres del Paine National Park. This is a popular hiking destination in Chile. We are here at an optimal time due to more hospitable weather and also longer days. The herds of guanacos are very common.

Another rest day tomorrow!

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Guanaco
Guanaco
Rob
Rob
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Rob
Rob
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Stage 98 12/02/2014. A good day !

About 94 km of good racing on pavement. Glued to Alfred for maybe 30 km then Reinhert pulled out and I followed.. We stayed together and worked together arriving first after 36 km of bumpy dirt road. I’ll change to wider tires after dinner for sure. The problem with my skinnies is they are unstable and provide a very harsh ride.

Buck reminded me this morning about my close call Sunday as the peloton was coming into Calafate. I swang left to pass the lead off and came very close to being hit by a passing car from behind. I was lucky, very lucky and probably careless.

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Stage 96 it’s a race!!! 58 km 8 to 10:30 accompanied by the ubiquitous wind.

Six of us broke away and rode as a tight group. We took turns leading into the wind. Then at thirty something Joost pulled over into the left lane and surged. I missed his lead. Terry, Barry,and Ben caught his draft and away they went. That left Alfred and myself, arch rivals, to find our positions. Alfred drafted me and soon Barry jumped on as we overtook him. From there we pedaled hard. Each one of us, knowing if we slowed the slightest, would be left to battle the wind alone. So we hammered on passing the lunch truck which wasn’t remotely near the road. No photos as we passed by Lake Viema which was formed fed by glaciers and now is fed by them. So the first break away group finished first and our three finished second..

Now the afternoon is for relaxation as the wind picks up more.

I should mention that we are camped at another estancia, the Parador Luz Divina along the La Leona River which is glacier fed via the turquoise colored Lake Viedma. I briefly glanced at as it we rounded a curve during today’s race. We needed to focus on not deviating from our lines since we were drafting side to side due to the dominate westerly wind.

It must be strange when it is dead calm. People must sit around drinking beers and talk about the strange sense of quiet they had when there was no wind to yell over.

Yes Calafate tomorrow with a rest day plus a glacier that isn’t receding.

Twelve more cycling days with six more races I think. The light gets brighter. A few cyclists have told they expect to see me on they podium. Whew.