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.

11/28 Stage 95 just pampas between Estancia la Siberia and Tres Lagos

I didn’t even see any gauchos or cattle. Major road construction and a few vehicles. No rheas or any life to speak of in this Argentina grassland. There was the ever present wind. That will subside as darkness takes over. Then the wind start again and build as the day tomorrow progresses.

Lower back pain due to bumpy dirt roads and too many consecutive race days. Full timing tomorrow. At least it’s pavement.

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Stage 94 Riding the pampas to the next estancia with vast plains between and of course cross winds…..

No signs of humans or for that matter other animal life in the pampas. The pampas are bast plains containing only grasses and shrubs interrupted by hills. We ride the dirt roads leaning into the wind while searching for the best place to pedal our bikes. Of course wherever one pedals its always better in the track over there.

We have been camping at the remote estancias which are ranches which have been converted into guest ranches having a few rooms to rent. They provide us with a place to eat our dinner and breakfast out of the unrelenting winds. That is certainly a luxury.

Conversations are always interesting whether concerning objectives of those having pedaled from Quito or those having joined us recently. Some question their expectations while others wonder about how to get through the day. I was thinking as I fought a healthy wind today about the inner child and how I might want to stop and just sit along the roadside shedding tears. Just a thought mind you. The adult in me wanted to keep pedaling in order to finish and rest. The adult won. I shared this with my colleagues and they too had similar thoughts.

The timing continues each day and I know Alfred is shrinking the time between us. I continue to do my best knowing that I reached my peak some time ago and I am hanging on by a thread. My goals have never changed. I want to pedal the whole distance, maintain my bike, and remain heathy enough to ride. I never intended to be more than 5th in ranking. Unless something happens to me or the bike I think that will be a reality.

It’s Thanksgiving! So strange to be here with an entire group of people who are so distant from that celebration.

There is a cyclist from Germany who has ridden from Alaska to Florida and then to Ushuaia and now is heading north to Santiago. I think he said he has traveled for 18 months averaging about 10 euros a day. I’m not sure about that amount. He is fully self supported.

Stage 93. Incredibly remote Patagonia finding shelter from the biting wind and cold in the only establishment for 130 km..

I found place to sleep on the floor in an unfinished bano while others retreated to their tents sheltered by the building.

Today was our paired individual time trial. Ben asked me of I would pair with him. We managed second place averaging about 48 km/h. We traded positions drafting nearly every 30 seconds. Top speed was probably 52 or 53. Good fun for all.

Website are camped again but magically there is no wind. So the tent isn’t flapping and shaking like mad. Who knows what we will have for weather tomorrow. In the space of one day today we have gone from cold with strong wind to a warm pleasant day. So anything is possible. It’s Patagonia after all.