The final stage to Santiago. With the villages almost constantly around me, this isn't as exciting as the mountains of Paso Vergara. On the other hand, lots of habitation have a bright spots. For example, frequent stops to buy a soft drink or some small snacks to eat.
Today is a day of snaking on asphalt roads towards the north. The distant views aren't very exciting. Or to be more precise, the distant views aren't -- it is hot, a bit humid and smoggy so the views slowly disappear behind a gray curtain. The short views are better. Fields, small towns and villages, fruit and wine orchads. As it can be expected, the roads are full of cars. Fortunately, sometimes there is a bike path just next to the road so I don't need to share the traffic.
Before Rancangua I again manage to cycle on almost an autopista. This seems to go on even inside the city so I am trying to find an alternative road. Which is to say, I am half-lost between myriads of small alleys (to be sure, you cannot be fully lost with a GPS). And because in my search I come across McDonalds, I am instantly using this opportunity to get from the heat and eat a lot of unhealthy calories. They are calories after all!
After Rancangua I continue my journey on less busy roads. And because this isn't exactly a country full of nice clean water springs, at carabineros I am replenishing my dwindling water reserves.
The evening is in a lazy fashion. I have many stops for snacks or just to leave the pedals. I can afford this anyway -- my plan is to arrive to Santiago tomorrow late evening to meet my (soon to be) Slovak friend Vlado. As there are few kilometers and much time, I definitely don't need to push today too much.
The only reason for pushing further is actually finding a place for camping. It isn't exactly easy with almost constantly crossing populated places. And on the short segments between the villages the road is just fenced to insanity. I am pondering whether I should camp just besides the road (resulting in a super-miserable night because of all the traffic) when a perfect opportunity occurs. As I am nearing a dry river, the fencing suddenly stops and on my left side the road there is a nearly perfect place for spending the night -- it is flat enough, not very rocky, and I can push my bike more than 50 meters from the road, greatly diminishing the sound of traffic (as well as a chance of uncanny nightly visitors).
The night was surprisingly hot, I would say too hot for my sleeping bag. I am starting off quite early. To kill the time I am trying to select a "longcut" across some back-country steep gravel roads. Until I figure out that part of my longcut seems to be on a private road. This puts the nail to the coffin of my plan as so I continue further on the shorter paved route. At least it features a tiny pass to kill some time.
Man, Santiago is huge. Or to be more precise, the agglomeration of Santiago. My way to Vlado looks like never ending journey through streets, buildings, hourses and whatever else you can find in a city. It would be so easy to get lost here without a GPS.
As I need to kill time, I just end up in a pizza place and munch on another unhealthy dose of calories. And in the meantime I talk to my family over Skype. But even all this does not delay me enough and I end up before Vlado's apartment a few hours earlier than he should arrive. In the meantime I just sit down and read a book although this gets a bit uncomfortable after the night falls. And my contact is still not back. Hmm, or isn't he? The bad news is that my phone is running off the battery and I basically need to keep it in a flight mode to stay alive. Which means I don't receive an email that he was looking for me. Well, a quick call sorts the things out and I am lead to the apartment.
Relaxing in Santiago
I am staying in Santiago for the next few days. First I need to fix my bike -- I need a new chain, sprockets and the rear tire (While my Schwalbe Marathon MTB is ridiculously good and even after 5000 kilometers it could do more, it already has only a bit of profile and what is a better place to get some good stuff if not Santiago?). So I am heading to a cycling store. Oh, pardon, a cycling store street! Yeah, they have a whole street full of bike shops there.
Unfortunately, my search for Schwalbe did not turn out well. I tried asking in numerous shops but nobody has this king of tires -- only one shop had Schwalbe but that was some weird fatbike tire nobody else probably makes. All in all, I had to be contempt with a model of Maxxis which the seller presented as the strongest they have. But with the half the price of Schwable, I also expect half the distance and no puncture-proofness.
Next day I continue throwing money at shops (not literally though as I am using my card). I need to get some good warm stuff. Importantly, I need a warm, mountaineering grade gloves with all fingers (It wouldn't be very easy to break and/or switch gears with traditional skiing gloves), a warm pants and a sleeping bag -- I have heard that Bolivia can be pretty cold (read: regularly below -10°C) and so my plan is to have two sleeping bags which I put one inside another. Of course, it is hard to balance sleeping bag comfort rating, weight and cost. In the end I end up with a -5°C comfort (which is, of course, an utmost lie) which isn't excessively large, is synthetic and has a decent price that is not going to ruing my purse. I am also getting a flint which will prove useful later when I start using gasoline as a main fuel for my stove.
I spend my final two days in Santiago chilling out in the apartment of my host Vlado and his friend. I have enough of work with the blog and I am more than lazy going to the city. But this enables me to recharge batteries before the next big adventures.
Download simplified GPX of a route here
Stats by activity:
| Pedal rotations
|March 16, 2017||91.8||0.39||30.9|
|March 17, 2017||74.1||0.52||29.4|
|March 18, 2017||23.3||0.12|
|March 20, 2017||17.7||0.16|
The next table is only for cycling activity.