February 02, 2000 Santiago Chile

The plane L1011 was supposed to leave about 2300, and actually
started boarding 0030 and left 0130. All the bikes and gear still
did not fit and L1011, not even close. 79 bikes stayed behind with
a bunch of staff gear. This resulted in 2 extra days in Santiago.
We got one day behind leaving Panama, and another day behind, waiting
to get the rest of the bikes to Santiago. This did afford us a chance
to tango in Santiago.

Downtown Santiago Chile

 We stayed two days in a hotel right in the center of town. The L1011 still was not big enough to haul everyone and all the equipment in one flight, so we stay here and extra 2 days while it goes back for a second trip to get the rest of our bikes and equipment. Since we're here and extra two days we'll do a little sight seeing. All the bikes are stuffed into a dining room and small storage room in the hotel.

Monika by the
      bay in Valpariso Chile
Above Monika by the bay in Valparaiso Chile (we took a sight seeing bus trip there from Santiago).

We got two days behind schedule in Santiago, which was OK with us since we were in the center of town in a hotel with easy access to subway and buses. Santiago by the way must have more buses than any other city in the world.
It at least looks that way on the streets. They come in a steady stream. I think you never have to wait more than about 2 minutes to get a bus ride which is about 40 cents (US) or 220 pesos.

When we left Santiago, it was the unilateral decision of our leader
to skip the rest days to catch up with our schedule. (Which really stinks).
People have pretty much resigned themselves to make their own rest
days and go off route when they feel like it.

Had a police escort for the first 20 miles out of Santiago (which helped us get through busy traffic). The next week we just rode down the main highway south. The main highway has good pavement but the shoulder is much bumpier. Its tempting to get on the main pavement, but cars don't give you any rooms so you keep having to move back to the shoulder again. You can make about 5 MPH better time on the pavement since it is that much smoother, but after awhile we just gave up and kept on the shoulder to keep from dealing with traffic.

Chile is a very nice place to get around. They have a pretty good
highway system (at least for cars). The main highway (Chile 5)
is 4 lanes in many places south of Santiago, but the shoulder is
of poorer quality and not as good for road bikes. Some of the secondary
highways are better. We have been on a few with excellent pavement
and shoulder and light traffic through very scenic areas. The general
climate and vegetation around Santiago is about like California, with
lots of vineyards, citrus and avocado. As we rode south it turned into
more like Oregon, with pine and eucalyptus forests.

It would be easy to travel by bus with a backpack here from city to
city which I believe would allow you more time to enjoy the trip
rather than biking. (Especially when it rains). Lots of Shell service
stations along the main highway are very nice, with food concessions
and showers available.

One observation Iīve noted about Chile is there donīt seem to be
any carrion eating birds. No vultures or crows even, so the road
kill just sits and rots by the road. In panama, Costa Rica and Baja
there where hoards of vultures to quickly pick the corpses clean.

Chile has recycling and non-smoking areas in many restaurants.

Finally after a week of riding the main highway we turn off to a secondary road and have a nice peaceful day's ride. During the later part of the day though we had a stiff head wind. That's when I noticed all the trees were growing leaning away from the direction we were headed, which definitely indicated we were going INTO the prevailing wind all the way south. TK&A definitely did not give any consideration to this sort of thing.

The next day we continued on and even better secondary highway with new pavement and a nice shoulder. Only drawback was the rains started and continued all day. When we got to camp we were lucky enough to have a lull in the rain long enough to erect our tent.

Feb. 9 2000, Valdivia Chile

Since it looks like more rain today (heard a storm was headed in for the next five days), we rode the opposite direction from Valdavia for 8 Km to Pucon to catch a bus to Valdivia rather than ride through the rain all day. This would also give us the first rest day in over a week.
The rains started in again this morning just before we got up. TK&A only
provides limited sagging for the "sick and injured", so if you
want to take a preventative ride to keep from getting sick or
injured you are on your own.

Since it looks like rain for the next several days, we got a room
for the night here (rather than camp in the rain again) and will
try to get a bus to San Carlos de Bariloche in Argentina tomorrow
which is 4 days ahead. Since the alternative is the ride 4 more days through the rain over a pass in the Andes, which we have been informed us unpaved for 20 miles this seems like an easy choice. There are other riders in the bus station, most are getting a bus one day ahead at a time. Since there is limited space to haul bikes in bus baggage this makes for some competition in getting a bus. The one we found actually goes all the way to Buenos Aires, with a stop in Bariloche, so we didn't have a problem getting on. Fare was $25 each ($10 of this was for the bike). This will give us some time to see Bariloche,
stay out of the rain, and maybe tango (and do laundry which we havenīt
been able to do since Panama). The bikes are a burden when you travel
by bus. If we could get a partial refund now, I think we would finish
the year traveling by bus, and staying in hotels, and have much
more time to enjoy the trip. About the only thing you see more of
from a bicycle is pavement. You have to watch the road and the traffic
constantly to avoid injury, and you have to keep going to make
the high mileage. When you get done riding for the day, you have
to schlep your bags around, set up your tent, etc. etc.

San Carlos de Bariloche - Argentina

We arrived 3 days ahead of the group here (with many others doing to same). Found an inexpensive hotel in town, and sniffed out the local tango community (1 place only).

Monika dancing with

The weather here is nice and sunny.

Dan by the
      lake in San Carlos de Bariloche ArgentinaDan by the lake in San Carlos de Bariloche Argentina

After three days the rest of the group arrived and brought the rain with them. They camped in a cow pasture 20 miles the past the town. The next day everyone rode back through the town where we joined them and headed to the airport. This time we have a chartered 747-200 from Qatar.

The 747 waiting
      on the tarmac in Bariloche

This was the first time this size plane had landed at the Bariloche airport, since it is at altitude with a full load, we could not take enough fuel to fly not stop to South Africa, so we had just enough to reach a refueling stop in Buenos Aires.

 South Africa

Johannesburg, Feb 16, 2000

The 747-200 worked! Everyone and all gear fit on one plane finally,
and we took off reasonably close to schedule. Unloading went well also,
we got through customs, loaded our bags in the gear truck and rode
our bikes the 6K to the hotel within 2- 1/2 hours after landing.

Three days ride from Johannesburg to Hazyview,
Day 1: 101 miles with a 10-20 MPH headwind, mostly flat, looked like
rain but didn't,
Day 2: 70 miles with 20 MPH headwind, with hills, still tired from (no ...
exhausted from) yesterday, looked like rain, just some drizzle near end.
Camped in wet grass down a 1K mud road from Dullstrom. We do have the gear trucks again in South Africa instead of the rental trucks used in central and south America. This is highly welcome as it allows better access to your gear.

Dan at gear
Everything you have for the year must fit in one of these lockers (or you carry it on your bike).

Day 3: Bridges out from unseasonal rain, so a detour near the end
added 15K making total about 180K with long climbs. Total 8000 feet
of climb and 13000 of descent, went over highest pass in S.A., actually
a very beautiful day after initial drizzle, we missed 45K in the middle
as I broke a spoke right at the top of the pass and had to sag into the
checkpoint where the mechanic could fix it. Still a long ride after the
previous two days.

Next morning we got up at 0430 to go on a day safari in kruegar national
park. This was great fun. We got very close to some lions.

Lions in Kruegar
      Nation Park, South Africa

Rained off and on during the safari, but
so far we have been lucky riding in S.A., and not had more than a light
drizzle while riding. The cloud cover is actually welcome other wise
it would be VERY hot for the rides.

Some nice sinks at the campground in Hazyview give us a chance to hand wash our laundry during the off day.

Campground sinks
      in Hazyview South Africa

Nelspruit, Feb 21, 2000

Mid-way checkpoint for the day's ride in Nelspruit. Monika phoned her parents in Germany and found her father had been hospitalized and was very ill. After some short discussion we decided it best that we leave South Africa 3 weeks early and fly to Germany so she could see her father. We had to take our bikes along (per TK&A) as they would not tend them or our other baggage. Did get a ride back to camp to retrieve our bags and then back to Nelspruit, where we booked an overnight hotel and bought plane tickets out of Johannesburg for the day after next. In the morning we rented a car and drove to J'burg. We had enquired with the travel agent about shipping bikes and were told they would need to go airfreight (on the same plane) for a nominal charge. (Told they would have boxes at the freight office at the airport, and needed to get there by 5 PM). After driving all day and arriving at the freight office around 4:00PM, we found it was too late to get the bikes on the next day's flight as customs was closed. Also no shipping boxes to be found. After scrounging around the warehouse they came up with a big sheet of plastic film and some tape. Since bikes were to fly in standard cargo container, I disassembled them on the loading dock and wrapped frames in one package and wheels in another.

Feb 23, 2000

Arrived in Bremen Germany, with the bikes coming one day behind. Would need to pick them up later from customs.

A few days later took the tram back to the airport to find the customs office and retrieve our bikes. We had to open the packaging for the customs agent so he could see these were not new bikes we were trying to import without paying duty, but our personal effects. Carried the packages back on the tram to the apartment of Monika's parents.

This was a sad time as Monika's father was terminally ill and we knew when we left we would not be seeing him again.

When we left South Africa we bought round-trip tickets as they were cheaper than one-way. We looked at returning to South Africa and rejoining the group there, but it turned out to be cheaper to throw away the tickets and rejoin them in Athens Greece instead

If it were later in the year, Bremen would be a great place to bike. There is
a huge network of bicycle roads and paths all round here. And bicycle
lanes on the sidewalk or street through the whole city. Half the
population here seems to be riding their bicycles. (In the rain they often carry an umbrella in one hand while they hold the handle-bars with the other and still manage to maneuver.) It is a bit of climate shock for us, coming here from South Africa. As it is still winter here we only had two day's when it wasn't raining that we could get out and bike for any distance.

previous | next | home