We have left the Carretera Austral and have made it to Futaleufu. Our latest start of the trip was from Puyhapi with us making full use of the wi-fi and hot showers before we hit the road, by the time we did get into the saddle the sun was in full force. Today was also the record for number of cycle tourists seen; we all amalgamated in the forecourt of a small petrol station, much to the annoyance of a few cars who didn’t seem to like a bunch of pesky bicycles taking over their area. In total there must have been over 12 of us milling around trading stories about how bad the roads were where they had come from, it was almost a competition, ahh you have some horrible stuff to ride from here, pfft, they haven’t seen Cerro Castillo!
After the lengthy chat with the cyclists and a short bimble to the local bridge our day was done; we opted for a camp spot by a river, and as our time in Chile was drawing to an end I needed to swim in a Chilean river. This camp had everything we needed, including the Chilean version of the golden gate bridge as a backdrop to our very brief dip.
We woke to ominous signs that our run of good weather was coming to an end. With a new found haste camp was packed and breakfast eaten hoping that we would at least start off dry. All too soon the rain hit us and it seemed that we would be ending our time on the Carretera Astral in the same conditions we started it, cold and wet. I find these kind of days mentally tough, it is as if my body is fuelled by sun, take that away and it’s far too similar to the UK, and I didn’t fly half way round the world to ride something that reminds me of home! Still with four of us it’s easier to keep going and before we knew it we were taking shelter in a barn eating lunch, a long lunch where we discussed the joys of cycle touring and how much fun we were all having!
We did eventually leave the safety of the barn with the hope of finding a café in Villa Vanguardia, or at least some bread. Villa Vanguardia has nothing, even the people seemed to be missing; everything was locked up and shut down. It was as if everyone had upped and left, the only sign of life was a dog with dreadlocks, we named him Dog Marley and laughed far too hard at the Rasta-dog and our own pathetic jokes, this rain really was beginning to affect us.
With no other option we pushed on. The Brazilians, to distract them form the dismal conditions, had developed their own entertainment in a version of cycle touring Mario cart, instead of banana skins they jettisoned water bottles, luckily Jess is now a skilled rider and was able to skirt round the trap with ease; looks like the Brazilians will need to try a little harder to slow her down next time.
As our minds turned to food and sleep we began scouting for a place to find some form of shelter for the night, we were rewarded with our determination to keep going when we stumbled cross an old abandoned house, the floors were dry, it came with a small table and bench but best of all, a log burning stove. In a cycle tourists world this really was 5 star accommodation. After a cold wet day our spirits were soaring, that was until we realised we had no wine!
After a night in relative comfort we packed and prepared for another day of rain, at least this time we would be on tarmac and not the ever-worsening washboard roads we had been trying to negotiate. I was able to practice my latest Spanish phrase ‘can we buy some bread please’ on multiple occasions, not because they didn’t understand me, just because nowhere had any bread. It was here that we also left the Carretera Austral for good, we also left the tarmac for an even worse washboard road. We bumped along wondering how our bikes were still in one piece, uphill’s were tough as you could not get into a rhythm and downhill’s were tough as you had to go at a snails pace so as not to risk braking the bike or ourselves. After what felt like hours we decided to throw in the towel and entered what we thought was a campsite. The place was abandoned, the ruminants of old shelters and fire pits were dotted about in a form of organised chaos that gave a glimpse to what the place used to be, the real icing on the cake, however, was the Cabañas. The once luxury accommodation only available to individuals with far bigger wallets than ourselves were also left. Luckily for us the doors to the once expensive huts had not been locked so once again we were able to sleep in relative comfort out of the wind and rain for free, there was even a note from 2014 from some other passing tourists saying of how they had taken shelter here. José, who has been sleeping on nothing more than foam roll matt, even had a mattress for the night, we really were lucking out on the accommodation front!
The weather seemed slightly better in the morning, José was keen to take a few days in the cabañas, more due to his mattress than actual fatigue I feel, but any satisfaction from the weather was short lived when we got back on to the washboards, even the cars were struggling on this road. I felt as if I was cycling over a chain of never ending speed bumps, it was relentless. We lunched in the sun for the first time in a few days and watched some white water rafting pass by.
With a mere 30km between us and a rest day it was hard to motivate ourselves to get up and go, the washboards just killed any desire to get back in the saddle.
We did eventually make it to Futaleufu and find a cheap guesthouse, it’s now time to rest, drink wine and say our goodbyes to Chile. The Brazilians are still with us and hopefully we will remain together as a four until Bariloche, from there who knows where we are going!
Danny and Jessica living the nomadic dream.