Saturday, November 23, 2013

Day 6

This was our last day on the bikes.  We only had 125k to ride back to Santiago if we took the most direct route.  The direct route was on highways, so we devised a more interesting route back consisting of mostly back roads.  One of those roads had a noticeable discontinuity on the map, which was mildly concerning.  The topographical map for the back roads seemed cool and we had some time to kill, so we decided to roll the dice and see whether or not we could actually get through.

The first 5 miles out of Vina del Mar were much more scenic than our route into town.  We snaked up some hills just south of town and took in amazing views of the Pacific Ocean, Valparaiso, and Vina del Mar from up high.  We hopped on the highway for a few miles before exiting in Casablanca, Chile for the beginning of our back country ride.  The country roads made for great riding: hilly, curvy, and very few cars and trucks.

Displaying photo.JPG

We managed to connect the discontinuity of the roads on the map via another back road and then proceeded up an unexpectedly mountainous region.

Displaying photo.JPG

We meandered through a few villages after coming down from the mountains and before hopping on the highway back into Santiago.

We once again missed our exit in Santiago and found ourselves going through the longest tunnel in history.  By the time we got out, we were nearly outside the city limits.  We got our bearings and headed back in for attempt numero dos.  As I have done the entire trip so far, I lead/navigated.  Just before entering the tunnel again, Davis saw he believed to be the correct exit and decided to leave behind his fearless leader and go it alone.  I´m not sure if he was more surprised to see me get to the hostel first (because of course I took the correct exit) or the single tear I cried for having been betrayed by a friend.  We hugged it out and all was well.

We returned the bikes to the rental place, ran/parkoured 5 miles back to the hostel (without getting lost this time), grabbed dinner, and hit the sack early in preparation for an early flight down to Patagonia.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Day 5

Today was a down day for us.  We started the day with a morning run along the beach in Vina del Mar, Chile.  Following the trend of our last few runs, we stopped to have some fun at a playground.

We´ve also begun including some parkour into our running because we´re hardcore like that.

We headed to nearby Valparaíso, Chile for lunch and sightseeing.  We mostly wanted to ride an acensor (outdoor escalator constructed in the late 1800s early 1900s to help residents get to the top of Valpo´s steep hills).  Unfortunately, the four we visited were all closed for unknown reasons.  ¨Who knows.  Welcome to Chile¨ was the only explanation we could get from a local.


I´m short on time, so I´ll just post a couple pics from Valparaíso.  Read up on the city if you have a few minutes.  It´s got a rich and interesting history.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Day 4 

Today we embarked on another epic ride. We actually started on time, though it turned out to be for naught. The first part of the ride was a 100k stretch from Mendoza to Upsallata that offered glimpses of the Andes in the distance and alternated between desert and a red rock canyon. 

The next leg, from Upsallata to the border, is 100k of climbing up the Andes.  The approach was particularly scenic because we were driving straight at a wall of mountains.  

We made it to the top without issue, but it took about an hour and a half to get through the long line at customs. We took advantage of the down time for a few photo ops.  

The steep descent starts almost immediately after crossing the Argentina-Chile border. We only made it about 5k before hitting the other side of the one-way construction zone that held us up for an hour on the way out. We were second in line, so we knew we had a big delay ahead of us. After an hour of waiting, the construction worker told us there was an accident ahead that needed to be cleared before we could go. My argument that we would be able to squeeze by because we were on motorcycles were apparently not convincing. I can only assume that my sub-par Spanish watered down my charm and persuasiveness.  We made the best of the situation by juggling rocks, throwing rocks at road signs, and taking naps on the road 13,000 ft up in the Andes.  Almost 2 hrs later we were on our way. 
The 29 curvas peligrosas were even more dicey on the way down, especially being tailed by a bunch of people that were antsy from waiting two hours. I thought I recorded some great video during the descent, but unfortunately we lost all of it.  Noooo!
We made good time to Los Andes once we finally got moving, but after taking well over 3 hours to go 3 miles in the Andes, we were running out of daylight in a hurry. We stopped to fuel up the bikes and consume as many calories as quickly as possible.  OJ, chips, ice cream bars, water and onward toward the coast. 
We passed through miles and miles of vineyards just west of Los Andes and watched the sunset through the mountains near San Felipe, Chile. 150k later we arrived at our hostel in Viña del Mar, Chile on the coast of the Pacific. 12 hours on the road makes a boy hungry, so many fajitas and cervezas were consumed shortly thereafter. 
As a quick closing remark, I don't know of a time I've ever seen as much or as beautiful scenery in a single day - desert, red rocks, canyons, river valleys, snow capped mountains, vineyards, gorgeous sunset, Pacific coast, and Davis Burge.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Day 3

Day 3 was rough.  We spent the entire day in Mendoza, Argentina.

Morning/afternoon went as follows:

  • woke up at 9 ... and then fell back asleep until 10:30
  • 2 hour breakfast
  • walked around town for awhile
  • went for a 5-mile run, which included a stop at a playground

The rest of the day was even tougher:

  • ice cream
  • wine
  • dinner buffet that included more types of meat than I've ever seen in a single room at one time
  • cervezas

Friday, November 15, 2013

Day 2 recap

Theme of the day: "Here´s to alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems." 
Due to a few too many cervezas, Davis and I both ignored our alarm got up over an hour late.  After packing and some lolly gagging, we hit the road and headed north to the quaint little town of Los Andes. We stopped there for motorcycle and human fuel, as it is the last town before ascending up the Andes.  Our little roadside restaurant had an authentic Chilean feel with background music including the Top Gun theme music, Gloria Estefan, and Daft Punk. After huge lunch, we headed out of town and started climbing the Andes. About a half dozen construction sites including one that held us at a standstill for over an hour made it slow going. Finally we reached the famous 29 curvas peligrosas, a stretch of 29 switchbacks leading up to the pass.
The wind and cold made it especially difficult riding, although we would soon find out that the wind would get much worse on the other side. We made it to the top and took a quick breather before going through customs and starting the decent.
image.jpeg image.jpeg
Since words are going to fall short in describing the beauty and diversity of scenery we experienced, I´ll let the pictures do the talking.

Due to all the construction, extremely windy conditions, windy roads, and our late start, we didn't make it to our destination (Mendoza, Argentina) until Argentina dinner time -  10:30pm. I plopped down on a couch in the hostel. The hotel manager cracked open a beer and handed me a glass saying, "you look like you could use a beer."  Indeed I could. Instant second wind. Davis and I met up with Julie Gillespie, a friend from Boulder that is in Argentina for a few months, for delicious dinner at Mendoza's best restaurant Azafran.  Food.  Alcohol.  Friends.  All is well.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Day 1 recap

This trip started out eerily similar to the SE Asia motorcycle trip with Danny and Charlie.  Davis and I ran about 6.5 miles to the motorcycle rental place (1.5 miles extra because I apparently read maps upside down in the Southern Hemisphere). The rental place turned out to a little two-man shop run by one Danish guy and one Chilean guy. They were more pumped about our trip than we were and their basic message was don't trust Chileans, especially Chilean women; be safe; have fun. The 5-mile ride back took me almost an hour - again the map thing and crazy traffic. It took Davis 2.5 hours because I'm the worst lead driver ever and I ran a yellow light and lost him in rush hour traffic. That's not a cool thing to do when you've got the only map.  Davis eventually found his way back.  Many cervezas were consumed in the evening.

Things I learned about Davis today: like our mutual friend Steven, Davis is incapable of dealing with hunger. Unlike Steven, he is able to give me advanced warning and estimate of magnitude of hunger crankiness onset. Davis is truly the happiest and most forgiving man in the world. He should have been pissed at me for losing him and having the only map. Instead he said he was happy to have the opportunity to practice his Spanish and motorcycle riding. Things I learned about Chile today: pisco looks like a girly cocktail. FALSE. Chileans (at least one) don't particularly like the US, but are still kind to Americans. Things I learned about my Spanish speaking skills: watching a Wesley Snipes movie on the Spanish channel while I packed was not adequate language preparation. My Spanish improves as I consume more beer. I have not found an ending point to this axiom.
On to the Andes...