Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tuesday 8 Feb : the bike was clean!

We left Coyhaique in brilliant sunshine on another beautiful day.  I don't think we've seen a cloud all day! After climbing out of town we were in a positive frame of mind, so on reaching the next junction we decided to go with the shorter, ripio ruta 7 rather than the pavement opinion (which was 25km longer) . We stopped for lunch just over the brow of a hill after a fairly long climb, sitting above the road on a high bank. Just as we started our first sandwich, a truck came past, dropped some workmen and indicated that we needed to move the bike, which was parked at the side of the road.  Just as we got to Dobbin, a ripio construction machine came trundling up towards us. It seemed to work by ploughing up the road and merely leveling the resulting gravel and loose earth surface. No compaction seemed to be used at all which meant the resulting surface was extremely difficult to cycle on. We passed another long section being worked on in the same manner later in the day too. We had just stopped to munch a sandwich that time too when another such road munching machine appeared. We had decided to give up on lunch earlier when the bike needed moving for a second time. It wasn't our day for taking relaxing breaks!

We eventually made it to the tarmac road and shortly after passed a sign indicating that all our cycling so far this trip means we are about half way to Santiago!

We then achieved a new top speed on the bike (on this trip),  shortly afterwards. While gravel and partly constructed ripio may be difficult on a fully loaded tandem, the bike still eats tarmac with the best of them given the opportunity!

We had picked up a couple of useful maps from the tourist office in Coyhaique which shows the approximate location of campsites on the carretera austral. We would never have found the campsite we are in this evening without it. After asking in the supermarket and two other groups of people we eventually found it. It's actually closed at the moment as they are rebuilding the toilet /shower block, but the caretaker took pity on us and after showing us how to fill the toilet cistern, is letting us stay for free. We have a stream for fetching fresh water, and even managed to clean some of the ripio dust of our legs in it too. Just a shame poor Dobbin won't get a bath this time!

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