All posts by bikingjames

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.

Stage 92 when birds have difficulty in flying that’s a significant wind..

Stage 92 when birds have difficulty in flying that’s a significant wind..Patagonia lives up to its repetition of having fierce winds.. and then some. Those of us who chose to take on the cold driving winds know and will always remember the challenge of pushing against this invisible force.

It has been interesting to hear the impressions of those who recently joined us. Mainly they see a group lacking cohesiveness. As one of the participates said early on, “you will see everything.” I mentioned in a recent blog that this has been the characteristics of a TV reality show.

If someone is thinking of doing this in the future by aware that you will stay in some real dumps and you will do your business anywhere and everywhere camping. Otherwise you may be in for a real surprise. I really didn’t know what to expect and this was not a major concern. I was more concerned as to whether I could ride, race, and maintain the same bicycle for 11,000 km. It isn’t done yet but I think it is well within the realm of possibility. So this isn’t the trip for you if you are not comfortable with difficult riding conditions and sleeping in some surroundings with chickens, dogs, excrement, and loud people who don’t take the riding challenge that seriously.

11/24. Stage 91 At first it was a tailwind by 40 k it was anything but….

Joost and Alfred had a sizable lead on me when along came one of the new riders from Australia, Ben Bradley. I should add that Ben is a strong fresh cyclist The two of us fought the wind taking turns drafting and leading. Truly a difficult task in an unrelenting gale wind which was either a cross or a dead on headwind. To have attempted cycling through this Patagonian wind would certainly have been an enormous task if not impossible. Several cyclists reported being blown over or off the road. Fortunately there were only a handful of motorists.

So the wind continues to blow where we are camped in a smal village. The tent will flap and rattle all night as though we were off on some lofty mountain expedition.

Actually there were no towns or even homes along the entire 230 km.

More timing again tomorrow. It will end soon!

11/22 Stage 88 Overeating and Walter’s panqueques…,..

That was my response to Rob’s inquiry about my favorable results today. Kind of a surprise for me as well. It has been quite a long time. I understand that we have 9 more racing days. Believe me when I say that I am looking forward to no more timing. Period. If you were to ask how many pictures I took today. The answer of course would be zero. I didn’t get off until I was at the finish 118 km down the road.

The recent days of rain and unpaved roads really played havoc with my drive train and shifting both front and back. So during yesterday’s rest day I replaced the cassette, the rear derailleur, and front cable and housing. I would have replaced the chain if I had had a another one but I settled for a through cleaning in a plastic container.

Not only did I enjoy riding my bike because it pedaled like a new bike, but I am sure I was able to pedal faster as a result as well.

Tomorrow we cross back through customs into Argentina. No timing! Photos will be taken unless it isn’t photogenic.

11/17/2014. Stage 85. The Reality Show On Two Wheels

We have all of the components of a TV reality show right here in our group.   Mixed in there are several very genuine people.  I will focus on them and distance myself from the others.  Just a little longer on the bikes and we will have accomplished something that most people would never contemplate, much less achieve. 

Here is another reality.  Sometimes I am very tired of the timing.  Like today for example, while passing by some beautiful lakes and rivers  in Patagonian Chili I wanted linger and take photos.  But there was timing.  I do have a commitment to the race.   I never thought that  I would maintain my ranking for this long.  Any day now Alfred will succeed in ranking first.   I will continue as usual doing my best and be happy with that regardless of the outcome.  He’s a very strong cyclist and I know he really wants first place.  

Pretty simple.  I still feel that my main objectives here are to ride the whole 11,000 km and enjoy experiencing the cultures of five different countries in South America.

The rain is here and fortunately the staff of Bike Dreams always manages to find a shelter so that we aren’t trying to eat our dinner in the wind and rain.  Sometimes it’s a school or as in the case of tonight it’s an unfinished house.

Way back in Ecuador or maybe Peru
Way back in Ecuador or maybe Peru
Monkey puzzle trees.. about one week ago
Monkey puzzle trees.. about one week ago
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stage 81!! chilly nights and mornings… many beautiful parks and lakes en route to Barilochi

We continue to rave over Gerdi’s wonderful camp dinners. She took over as cook when we reached Salta. Before she arrived I was losing weight because the meals were unappealing busy concoctions.

Lunch with intense wind and cold
Lunch with intense wind and cold
Michele and Terry Michele and Terry[/caption]
Michele and Terry
Michele and Terry
Today 11/12/2014 approaching Barilochi
Today 11/12/2014 approaching Barilochi
Michele Gane and Hardy Grune
Michele Gane and Hardy Grune
With Hardy Grune
With Hardy Grune
Jorg Buchli
Jorg Buchli
JR Patee
JR Patee
Jan van Haaren
Jan van Haaren
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Patagonian sunset
Patagonian sunset
Monkey puzzle trees
Monkey puzzle trees
Camping spot two days ago
Camping spot two days ago

Finally two days without timing through some of Patagonia’s most scenic parks. Ah, what a joy to savor from a bike.

Tomorrow is a rest day and clean clothes. Barilochi, Argentina