Monday, 25 February 2013

Chile. 20.02.13

At 11.56am on Wednesday 20th February we entered another country for the first time.

We left Argentina and entered Chile.

I think the border crossing at Paso Futaleufu ranks as the prettiest border crossing I have undertaken, shadowing a large aquamarine river pinned between high mountains. The actual border process, for both countries, were also completely painless, the border guards both relaxed and friendly.

There is one aspect common to all international crossings; when you pass from one country to another there is always a palpable change. On some crossings the difference is very obvious, such as when crossing from Canada into America, or when crossing the Tamar from Cornwall - (God's country) - into Devon - (England, a heathen land...).

Others, such as from Argentina into Chile, are no less noticeable, but also so subtle it is hard to put your finger on it.

And my new catch phrase, the one I am currently driving Sarah mad with..?

"I think I am going to like Chile".



Trevelin. Tuesday 14th February 2013.

Not content with the beauty in Wales, a bunch of them decided to snap up some prime land over here in Argentina. They brought their sheep, their red hair and their names with them for good measure. Trevilin (meaning 'mill town'), complete with Welsh dragon on its coat of arms, is known for its vestiges of Welsh culture, having being settled by the Welsh decades ago. Fortunately the culture associated with Cardiff on a Saturday night was nowhere to be seen, but we did seek out the famous Welsh tea room, and its famous afternoon tea.
Sarah was reluctant to patronise the afternoon tea, but came along anyway.
It was excellent! Even Sarah thoroughly enjoyed it. The sandwhich, scones, home made jams and 5 different cakes - all traditional recipes by all accounts - were worth every Argentian peso. But star of the show had to be the tea, served in a china pot and tea cups. My conclusion; it is justifiably famous!

It has been a while...


It has been a while since I last posted a message; (Editor; I hope the wait is worth it). Towns such as Alumine, San Martin de Los Andes, Villa Angostura, San Carlos de Bariloche, El Bolson and Cholila have come and gone. The Seven Lakes Road (Overrated in my opinion), routa 231, Routa 40, Routa 71 have been our little world for the past weeks. It has been a good world.

Steep, sharp valleys, snow crested mountains, glaciers, heavily wooded meadows cut by the ripio, deep blue skies, strong, strong sun and icy lakes have marked our course through this part of Argentina. So different from before. Here are a few images from that time.

Finding a bus stop for lunch before the rain arrives always makes for a good day.



As far as I can tell nothing is thrown away in Argentina, nor anywhere in South America. Cars just keep getting patched up and put back on the road. The ultimate in recycling?

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Out of the desert.


We have been out of the desert for quite a few days now.

And though it pains me I have to say, I miss it. There is alot about it I do not miss, but much that I do.

Difficult to put into words, but if you have been there you will probably know what I mean.

End of post.


Wednesday, 6 February 2013

When culverts are your friends.

In my letter to the AAA I mentioned how much we appreciated their culverts. And in the dry north west we certainly relied on them for shelter from the heat, the wind, the storms.

But they came to be something a little more then just shelter, to the point I have started to wander what they are like at home? I am guessing that they are probably always wet or otherwise uninhabitable, but who knows - perhaps there is a little world back home just waiting to be discovered? (Editor; do not be so stupid. We have pubs at home).

Cool enough in the heat of the day for a lie down.

Here is a tribute to a couple of the culverts that we enjoyed - our friends in times of need.

" Sarah, don't say I don't take you nice places."
The tent is up due to a possible shift in the wind direction.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Rivendell. 02.02.13

Today I realised that we had effectively been riding through a desert for the past 2 months. Very little water, bone dry river beds, intense, burning sun and heat, absurdly hot winds. Our thinking each day has been characterised by 'we'll need water for two days and maybe another half a day as well, so if we fill....'

That is what it has been like for so long I had taken it to be the norm. So what prompted the change?

Today we cycled into Rivendell.....yes, Rivendell, and the contrast could not have made the past months any clearer.

We rode from the unlikeable town of Las Lajas up towards the Hachado pass.

Suddenly there we were in the mountains, and we could see real plants, monkey-puzzle trees, beds of soft, green grass, and water, flowing was everywhere, flowing, bubbling streams, gurgling and chuckling over rocky beds, water as clear as glass. It was actually quite emotional, and I found myself a little delirious with the sheer pleasure of it all.

Turning off onto a dirt road towards Alumine, we stopped by a small fast-flowing stream - with my feet dangling in the very cold water - had our lunch, a cuppa and a snooze; woke up and agreed we should just stay where we were. So we did, finding a secret, grassy glade to set our tent, and while-a-way the afternoon.

It may not have looked exactly like Rivendell, it didn't have any waterfalls and I have not seen an Elf, Gandolph or Bilbo Baggins; but it was just as magical.

A Rivendell sunset.....

So if we are not back in 6 months time, I suggest a good place to look for us would be; near the top of Hachado pass, turn south onto the dirt road to Alumine, after 3k climb look for a small, rushing stream on the left, walk 200 meters up into the monkey-puzzle trees - if you get lost, just ask any of the Hobbits.......


Monday, 4 February 2013

I hate the Dutch.

Yes, I hate the Dutch. On the 31st January we met a typically Dutch couple, Devi and Iris.

They were so typically Dutch.

They were typically bright, educated, funny, intelligent, articulate (they spoke perfect English, better than what I do), outgoing, interesting and interested, blah, blah, blah.

So no, I don't really hate the Dutch. Infact, if I had to be something other than Cornish (and by association, English) I think I would like to be Dutch. You cannot bhelp but like them wherever you meet them.


A letter to the AAA. 28.01.13


(A letter to the Argentian Automobile Association. Translated version)

El Presidente, AAA,

1274 San Martin Ave,

Buenos Aires,


Dear sir,

As representatives of the Argentinian road user, I wrote this letter that you may improve your services in that arena.

Firstly, I must commend the condition, location, size and general design of your culverts. We have had cause to use them to escape the sun, intense heat, strong winds and electrical storms. At this time of year it helps that they are all compeletly bone dry, usually with a lovely flat bed of very firm sand. Ideal for that lunchtime break to brew a cuppa (the equivalent of your mate ceremony), or even that over night stay when the skies have turned to thunder, lightening and rain. They have truly been a refuge when the elements have decided to wreak havoc upon us.

However, I must temper this praise with admonition as to the condition of some of your ripio. Whist many are a fine example of the dirt road builders craft, many sections are little short of torture for a cyclist.

Ideed, I have thought to myself, whist struggling to survive riding the worst sections, that the only way the road builder could make the surface worse would be to deposit on the road a layer of 3/4" to 1 1/2" ball bearings interspersed with large irregular shaped blocks of dry ice and the dreaded three-pronged Texas thorn (Editor; a thorn which always has a spike facing upward, no matter which way it lands)

I urge you to take this matter of the poor condition of some of your ripio to the highest level inorder that some improvements may be made. I suggest a strip of smooth ripio only 18" wide would suffice, swept once a year after the winter snow melt.

Surely this is not too much to ask?


Your sincerely,

Mr. D. J. Dalziel,

2nd culvert,

Routa 40 over Rio Grande,

28k South of Bardas Blancas,



Warning; the following post contains strong language.

Wednesday 23rd January 2013. We have just arrived at El Sosneado from Pareditas on Routa 40 - The original route, not the new one via San Rafael.

From a cyclist point of view....

It is * ***** ******* ******* road.

Imagine a dirt road with two settlements at either end some 185k apart. Now add heat. Now place what little surface water there is as far apart as you can. Now make that water as silt ridden as you can, really concentrate that run-off dirt. Add some steep,hills, almost no living person. Maybe two passing cars in a day. Well, all of those things are OK, are even part of the fun of being 'in the wilds'.

But.....make 50% of that road hard and rocky - mostly rideable, but very tough going.

25% sand and rock - mostly unrideable, very, very tough going.

25% sandy, completely unrideable. As in push your loaded bike against soft sand for many hundreds of yards. Even downhill at times. In the heat and with not enough water.

I ******* ***** ********** great sections of this road. ****** *** ***** ** ******!!!! Good job that the wild camping was great, the views stretched for 30miles plus towards singular volcanos, the night sky was as clear as a window, the stars spectacular, and the hail storms a little frighentening.

Perhaps today I learnt that not all bike rides are fun; sometimes, just sometimes, the best thing about a bike ride is when it ends.




For those who don't follow cycling, onJanuary 17th Lance Armstrong, 7x winner of the Tour De France, admitted to having used illegal performance enhancing drugs - after vehemently denying accusations of drug use for over a decade. He did it on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

What a dullard.

I have not seen the whole interview, but it was clear that there was one thing missing from ---- shame.

But the bit that gets me is not the cheating as such - there have always been cheats, there is nothing clever in that - but there was one thing missing in that interview - shame.

Where was the shame?

Of course, he has been stripped of all those tour wins.

Which leaves the score, as the latest winner of the TDF said,

Armstrong: nil -- Wiggins: 1



All of 30k today..... 18.01.13

Leaving Mendoza we found ourselves biking through dozens, many dozens, of vineyards. So after a sprightly 30k we stopped, asked ourselves why we were just passing through, then found a campsite right in the middle of the bodegas. And went a-visiting. In a sprightly fashion.

Norton's is one of the most well-known Argentinian vineyards in the UK. After a great lunch at the bodega, accompanied by 'a few' bottles of their lovely wines (Karen, you would be proud of me), we went for their wine tasting. I was educated in their malbec wines whilst Sarah plumped for the champagne tasting. The measures are generous, and when the staff (who we got along with very well) left us to the bottles whilst they looked after an arranged tour group, they became even more generous.

We had some trouble cycling the ennormous distance of 4k back home. One of us broke their seatpost (without serious injury; more on that later) and the other fell into a large, deep ditch. (Nothing more on that later). Much to the concern of a passing elderly Argentian.

One broken seatpost.

Infact, we may not be allowed back into Norton's again.......



We have had a very hard week of cycling. 17.01.13

We have had a very hard week of cycling...but this week was not it.

This week we have mostly spent in Mendoza, the center of Argentinian wine, and probably its most beautiful city. Rebuilt after a huge earthquake with roads 4 lanes wide - but without the traffic - (to allow people to flee for their lives with a feeling of spacewhen the next earthquake comes), every one tree lined and shady, with a pattern of city squares to while away your time with good coffee, good wine, good food, or all three.

Play ''spot the wife' and win a prize!

So we joined in, eating very well indeed, drinking very well indeed, enjoying ourselves very well indeed. Because we are worth it.