This is a necessary central valley connector before I can head towards mountains again. It brings the start of operation "Ruta 5 avoidance". Ruta 5 is probably the best-known Chilean road. It is basically an autostrada going from the south to the north. Unfortunately, there usually aren't many alternatives and sometimes you are forced to take this road unless you are willing to make a loooong detour.
My yesterday's change of brake pads did result in a rather ever-braking situation. To fix this, I am trying to adjust the brakes but it isn't an easy task. It looks like pistons are just too lazy to move back so I oil them. This immediatelly works wonders on the front brake. The back one is however a different story. Now I have a brake which does not work. But I hope that the brake will eventually settle in and start doing it's job again. Preferably before the next pass but that one is still hundreds of kilometers away.
As a part of my Ruta 5 avoidance plan, I am heading first to Pinto. There I am having a quick lunch and then turning to Coihueco. And I am replacing fast paved road with a slow ripio. Meanwhile, it looks like the back brake starts to slowly settle in.
In Coihueco I have a second lunch. And I am observing lots of students. Apparently the school year is already started. What I find interesting is that, similarly to Japan and unlike in Europe, each school has its own uniform and so you can easily recognize where the students belong.
From Coihueco I am happy to learn that the next roads are mostly paved despite my maps showing otherwise. By the evening I manage to reach San Gregorio. And because I have a weather forecast, I am opting out for a hostel. Of course, my GPS does not have much info for such a small village. But asking at the main square I am promptly directed to probably the only hospedaje around.
My forecast did not lie and today it is a raining day. I am spending most of the time managing my blog and just relaxing. I am not even cooking -- Marcela, the owner of the hospedaje and restaurant makes me a rather good deal -- 15000CLP for a full pension is more than a good price.
In the afternoon I am going to the post office. I want to send my five postcards and one letter. This turns out to be a best fun at post office ever. Of course, the main person in the post office, an old lady, does not speak English nor easy Spanish. So it takes us quite some time to confirm that I want to send these 6 things in the most economical way and the destination is Europe. Then she figures out the price which is less than I ever payed for a postcard. The price is exactly 360 pesos. And here is the problem -- the lady does not have a full variety of stamps. She has stamps for 290, 100 and 10 pesos. Go figure out how many we need. While I am watching, she spends the next fifteen minutes slowly placing stamps on the postcards in a way to avoid covering the text and having all the stamps visible. I must tell you, fitting 8-9 stamps on a postcard is pretty much a heroic job but she manages it well!
The morning is still rainy so I wait a bit more. I pack my things after the lunch and head north. Unfortunately, this is a part where "Ruta 5 avoidance" fails as there are no alternatives. The autostrada isn't pleasant at all but unlike Slovak roads they have a big shoulder here so even with all the passing trucks it feels a bit safer than a normal road. And as if Ruta 5 wasn't enough, I am also getting random rain showers.
I manage to avoid Ruta 5 starting from Parral. And when I see the coming rain onslaught, I am quickly decide to spend some time investigating the choices in a local supermarket. The rest of the road to Linares is generally without Ruta 5 with an exception of three bridges which cannot be avoided unless I am happy to ford rivers (which I am not).
In the evening I am quickly passing through Linares and continue to the only camping I have on a GPS. This turns out to be a bit more expensive but a very nice place run by a pension-old lady. She is quite technical -- apart from riding a new car, she also has a smartphone and is taking pictures of me!
Download simplified GPX of a route here
Stats by activity:
| Pedal rotations
|March 7, 2017||82.1||0.22||33.5|
|March 9, 2017||67.3||0.10||21.5|
The next table is only for cycling activity.