Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Puerto Varas to Entre Lagos

Erik and I loaded up our panniers this morning. I had expected there would be economies of scale by travelling as a pair. When I rode Vancouver Island, I fit all of my stuff into my two panniers and this time we are sharing a tent and we have decided not to take a stove, so one might think we would have saved half of one pannier just from that, not to mention other 'shared' items such as tools, toiletries etc. But somehow Erik and I still filled both my panniers beyond capacity. Maybe its because I've chosen to be extra conservative on a few things - like bringing four spare tubes and some extra warm clothing.

We left a bit later than expected; just after 9:30. We decided to head North toward Ensenada and around Lago Llanquihue. We had a general idea of our route for the day but had not specifically chosen a final destination for today because we were unsure of how far we could get. Challenge number one was that Erik and I have not ridden in this way together before today - so it was difficult to predict what speed we might ride. Challenge number two was the weather, which was forecast to be rainy today. Challenge number three was the amount of road that appeared to be unpaved according to our map. The big question mark was what 'unpaved' meant - it could mean a lot of things and you just never know by only looking at a map. Combined with the rain that was in the forecast, 'unpaved' could mean mud. While Erik's bike is relatively well suited for unpaved roads, mine is not. I had tried to get some tires that were suitable for offroading but my narrow fork limited my options and I ultimately chose a set of slicks that were practically bullet proof.

t was raining lightly when we left the hotel, but warm enough that it was kind of a refreshing rain, so it seemed (at least for the moment) that the weather was not going to be an issue. Erik rode in front and picked the pace. It was a good pace, probably similar to the effort I would have put out if I had been on my own. So far so good. But then after only about 5km, we had our first little adventure. I was following maybe a bit too close to Erik's wheel and he didn't point out a rut/curb. The next thing I know, I'm in the bushes with two flat tires and a scraped leg (the 'bushes' here happen to be roses in many places, which are pretty, but not so great to ride your bike through). Erik was kind enough to change my tires and we were quickly back on our way.
The road was very good to Ensenada, paved, scenic, not too busy, and Erik was keeping a very enjoable pace. From there, we continued around the lake toward Las Casadas. We entered a national park and made a quick side trip to Laguna Verde. Once we were back on the road, the pavement lasted only anothe couple kilometres before changing to a dirt road. Fortunately, it was reasonably smooth and it was volcanic rock and sand, so it drained the rain reasonably well (it was still raining/drizzling). Erik was faster on this stuff, but I did my best and he was patient with me. Based on the map, it looked like it wuld only last about 30km anyway. Along the way, we passed a truck that had 'crashed' in the bushes off the road. Erik and I watched as a larger truck pulled it out of the bushes. Also along the way, I had another flat.

Eventually we made it to pavement again, but it only lasted 13km or so. I still managed to get a flat tire on the paved stretch though. While it was a bummer to use them all in the first half of the first day, I was really glad I brought four spares!

From there it was more dirt road. The rain had stopped and the dirt road was a bit more of a gravel road. Now Erik was much faster than me and took the tent so that I could limit the weight on my back tire to reduce the risk of flats. We decided to target a little place called Hotal El Paraiso by Lago Rupanco. Unfortunately, we didn't see it somehow and basically had to keep going toward Entre Lagos. I got two more flats along the way. One was in a spot by some cows that were the noisiest cows I've ever seen. While I was changing my tire, Erik amused himself by making cow noises and watching the cows react. Also, because it takes me about ten minutes to change a tire, we had a good opportunity to observe the passing traffic, which included a horse drawn buggy being driven by a little boy that must have been under 10 years old. He had two passengers, also children, one of whom was talking on a cell phone. It was an interesting sight.

We finally made it to Entre Lagos after about 8 hours of riding. We only covered about 125km, which is telling of how slow my bike is on the unpaved roads. In total, we were out for about 11 hours after adding on my six flats for the day, a stop at Laguna Verte, and a quick lunch.

In Entre Lagos, we found a nice little Cabana that seems perfect for our needs tonight and went for a walk to the supermarcado to pick up breakfast and then for dinner. Along the way, we passed a giant slide, which Erik just had to try. He ultimately had to walk down the slide because it was too narrow and not slippery enough for him to enjoyably make it down on his rear.

We passed three supermarcados before we actually bought breakfast. Supermarcado means something much different than you might think. I'm not sure there is a specific definition that is universal but, from what I saw, a corner store with pop, beer, yogurt, and fruit can qualify as a supermarcado. Dinner was fun, we went to the only place that we passed that was still open. Most of the stuff on the menu was out of the realm of our vocabulary. Erik ordered a mystery meat and fries and I ordered steak and fries. Erik drenched his fries in ketchup, which turned out to actually be hot sauce. Pretty funny. I was amazed that he still ate them all, but I'm a little worried that he's killed a few taste buds. On the way back to our cabana we stopped for dessert at a sort of fast food place that was just closing up and bought some sort of local donut things. I love trying new things.

Tomorrow we will head west toward Argentina, with the goal of making it to Bariloche in the next few days. How far we ride tomorrow will depend on the roads and how late we leave (its now just passed 11:30pm here, and I will be busy patching some tubes in the morning). One of our maps says there's another big stretch of unpaved road between here and Bariloche, and another suggests its paved all of the way. We'll see.

I'm having a lot of fun so far and I think Erik is too. Its an adventure anyway. I hope the roads ahead will be more paved than not. Erik was really patient with me today, but I think we will have a lot more fun if we can ride at a closer pace on smoother roads. I am also looking forward to pavement because there are constantly dogs coming out of peoples yards and chasing you. Some are more aggressive than others. Erik commented that he thinks they probably wouldn't bite and riding faster to get away probably just gets them even more excited. I'm not interested in testing that theory, and it's much easier to out run a dog on a paved road that to deperately manouver through patches of gravel, mud, puddles as quickly as you can on a bike with skinny, slick tires and an extra 30 pounds on the rear wheel.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Six flats and Erik didn't have any??? Wow, that is awesome. Maybe the Chilean peros are secretly biting your tires as they chase you...

December 22, 2006 at 8:50:00 AM MST  

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