One Comment Written by Tam on 16/12/2012 in Andes-Trail.

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So we made it to the fin del mundo, just in time for the end of the world! A great final few days riding, very lucky with the weather – a bit cool, but the wind was so gentle to us, and the “lucky weather edition” of the 3rd Bike Dreams Andes Trail came to its conclusion. Champagne and snacks on the promenade, then a big group dinner later. 10,937km with 108,036m of climbing, in 106 stages, over 138 days. And that’s it.

I’ve had an absolutely amazing time and can’t thank the crew of Bike Dreams enough for all of their support, without which such a trip would not have been even vaguely possible for me for several years. Also sincere thanks to all of the cyclists – a fantastic bunch of characters that helped to shape such a memorable trip; and some that I will hopefully retain as friends for years to come.

The hotel is now full of partially dismantled bikes as everyone looks forward to returning home for xmas…

Except us! Now we’re packing everything up to post all the bike stuff home, and writing kit and shopping lists. We have another 2 nights here then head up to Mendoza (via a night in Buenos Aires) to climb Aconcagua. The expedition (with 7summits) starts out on 23 December, and returns to Mendoza on 9 January.

So best wishes for the festive season to all… I’ll do another update before we leave Mendoza and hopefully be able to do the odd one from base camp, but can’t make any promises after that, until we get back down.

Punta Arenas

No Comments Written by Tam on 10/12/2012 in Andes-Trail.

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Wow, Patagonia is windy! I got properly blown off the road by a massive gust 2 days back and have a sore knee and stiff neck as a result. 200km/hr gusts blew 2 buses over in the Torres del Paine national park since we left it too!

We arrived in Punta Arenas yesterday where we have 2 nights in a hostel. It’s quite nice not to have to pitch tents for a change! Yesterday we had a party to celebrate Michelle’s, Sander’s and Harry’s birthdays, then went out for dinner and a bar and more drinks until the early hours. Happy birthday / Gefeliciteerd to all!

Tomorrow we cross the Straight of Magellan by boat before heading back into Argentina for the last few days ride to Ushuaia. A few days heading east might mean the wind will be behind us rather than in our faces or from the side… but the day out of El Calafate was supposed to be like that and we got a rare easterly wind so I’m not going to speak too soon… 53 degrees South.

Puerto Natales

No Comments Written by Tam on 07/12/2012 in Andes-Trail.

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3 more days fighting with the wind from El Calafate saw us down in the Torres del Paine National Park where we were suddenly treated with a wonderful day of sunshine, clear blue skies, and only strong winds picking up on the tops later in the afternoon. A bunch of us went for an awesome all-day hike up to the Parador de los Torres for some lunch under spectacular views of the towers themselves.

Another day of wind and rain has brought us to Puerto Natales, and another 2 days down to Punta Arenas…

Too many border crossings… where are we again!? 52 degrees South. Brr…

El Calafate

No Comments Written by Tam on 07/12/2012 in Andes-Trail.

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Sorry for the lack of update, but it’s been a fun and busy few days with a distinct lack of Internet connection, so this is getting written a few days late in Puerto Natales…

The 9 days of cycling from Coyhaique started with 4 long tough days followed by 5 shorter, fun days, with a couple of cool camps at Estancias, a quick afternoon ride down dirt tracks to the shore of the lake nearby for some stone-skimming and an after-dinner race to the top of the nearby hill to watch the sunset, coffee one afternoon with Andy (a random Brit we picked up who drove trucks for Bike Dreams a few years back and is travelling around on his motorbike at the mo), a pairs time trial down a 47km stretch of lovely paved road with a tail wind – averaging over 40km/hr, spectacular rivers, glaciers, and lakes full of icebergs!

When we reached El Calafate, Roffie and Michelle had collectively managed to book us an all-day glacier hike for the rest day which was awesome! It started with a bunch of rain, but cleared up while we were on the ice and so could enjoy lunch, some fun crevasses, and a whisky on the (glacial ice) rocks on the boat on the way back.

Weatherwise it’s got pretty cold, and the winds are often strong – mostly westerly so unpaved roads can be pretty treacherous when it’s a strong crosswind, or slow progress when it’s a headwind. When accompanied by rain it’s only fun for about 60km 😉

50 degrees South! And colder and crappier than 50 degrees North in the UK…


No Comments Written by Tam on 22/11/2012 in Andes-Trail.

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Adios Argentina (for now), Bienvenido Chile! Some long, tough, unpaved cycling days across into Chile, including a drop by Butch Cassidy’s cabana; a bushcamp near Villa Vanguardia with an awesome fire and a dying goat bleating through the night; and camping in the national park under the Collante Glacier, where some of us managed a couple of hour hike for a closer look – watching the front edge carving off and crashing noisily down into the valley below.

Patagonia is starting to show its colours, with a drop in temperature; difficulty drying laundry over several days; low snowline (below 1000m); impressive torrential rivers and crystal clear lakes; spectacular steep sided mountains and lush green valleys full of lupins, broom, cows, sheep and goats; and a full night, by Lago Las Torres, and day of persistent rain yesterday. In summary: weather and scenery that could be mistaken for Scotland!

A day off in Coyhaique was approached with an early Thanksgiving dinner (Mexican themed) plus toasted marshmallows, followed by a trip down to town following Didier’s recommendation and followed up by a bit of research in Ghilly’s Lonely Planet guide, resulting in us at what used to be a live music bar with disco and dancefloor, but now just beer on tap, a quick round of bingo, with cocktails and wine as the prizes (we didn’t win though), and then a late night of Latino karaoke.

One more day of Chile (for now) before heading back to Argentina for a 9 day stint into the Pampas… 45 degrees South…

San Carlos de Bariloche

No Comments Written by Tam on 13/11/2012 in Andes-Trail.

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Stages 75 – 80 of cycling completed with Patagonia treating us remarkably well – an odd day of strong winds which were mostly tail/side winds and only the last 20km of a strong, dust-filled headwind. A second day over a high pass drove us to set off at 7am to try to miss the wind, to find out that the bad weather had come through the day before and made cycling virtually impossible, but we were very fortunate again with low winds, and forests full of monkey puzzle trees all day. We’ve then spent a couple of days riding the Ruta de 7 Lagos, a popular and incredibly picturesque tourist route winding past 7 beautiful lakes with scenery to rival Norweigian Fjords, or the Alps, and the roadsides covered in bring yellow broom and purple lupins. 3 days ago we came past a stream that split and flows from that split to the Pacific and the Atlantic. That night we camped beside Lago Faulkner and some of us managed a quick dip in the rather chilly water, collected wood for an impressive fire, borrowed a Canadian Canoe for a quick paddle round the lake before sunset, and found that the campsite shop was well stocked with beer, wine and snacks :) A couple of short, leisurely days through Villa la Angostura and into S C de Bariloche has seen a lot of coffee drunk, ice cream and cakes eaten, and the odd bottle of wine…

Nobody’s leaving here, but Jo is back! She was missing us so much that she’s come back to join us for the last few weeks to Ushuaia :) Kevin’s very happy! Also we have a couple of new cyclists – Rob (Dutch) and Wouter (Belgian) – welcome aboard!

41 degrees South. Nights are geting cooler but the days are still warm. Thinking about everyone back home as you roll into winter and I can’t really say I’m looking forward to coming back ;p

Chos Malal

No Comments Written by Tam on 07/11/2012 in Andes-Trail.

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Stages 69 – 74 of cycling bring us to Patagonia and specifically Chos Malal. The first night in San Carlos saw the 240th anniversary celebrations of the village itself with a massive party in the plaza. 2 bushcamps, a bunch more of Ruta 40, a “bar” skilfully created by Rob at a kiosco in the middle of nowhere at the Buta Billon bushcamp, some fantastic scenery, loads of snowcapped peaks and volcanos, and yesterday a 1424m unpaved climb over the Troman volcano – an awesome day, with not only cool lava flows visible (it last erupted in 1822), but also a couple of lovely lakes full of flamingos on the huge descent down the other side. Some awesome days of cycling. Let’s hope the wind doesn’t pick up too much – we’ve been lucky so far :)

Yesterday evening we listened to the Melbourne cup for which we’d held a sweepstake the day before. I shared a horse with Michelle (there weren’t quite enough to go round) and Jackleberry came in 3rd, so we won $60. This was promptly reinvested in a bunch of red and blue drinks to share round as each US state called their election result – a bunch of us were up drinking them until 01:45 local time when we cracked open the champagne for Obama’s reelection! Makes up for the lack of bonfire the night before if we’re going to tick off all the national traditions, although we did have bbqs the nights either side 😉

37 degrees South…


No Comments Written by Tam on 01/11/2012 in Andes-Trail.

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The last 6 days of cycling has seen the winds pick up (although they are still warm); a broken truck which took a full day to get fixed and caused logistical issues for the day; a bushcamp next to a service station on the edge of Villa Union; several more km on Ruta 40 and success finally in sourcing t-shirts; Adie’s birthday, for which we managed to make a beer-can car-shaped cake (covered in cream) which exploded as he cut into it (as he burst a can); Didier’s birthday the next day which was celebrated by a lunch-time party; two days of awesome views of Aconcagua (South America’s highest mountain at 6962m); and finally reaching Mendoza for a ‘hat party’ to see off Anna and Pops Bridgeford, Wilbert, and Kirsten’s folks. Here we are joined by Arunas (Aussie), Gerdi (Dutch), Zander (Dutch, Paul O’s son), and Wilbert is replaced by Rob (cycling crew).

Mendoza is an awesome city, full of tree-lined streets, lovely cafes, and a stark contrast to so much of the poverty we have seen so far in South America. There’s some great outdoors shops, and a couple of well-stocked bike shops, so supplies have been sourced. We’ll be back here in about 7 weeks’ time as this is where the Aconcagua expeditions all start from…

We’re now 32 degrees South, and have another stint of 6 days, all camping, ranging between 94 and 140km, before our next rest day in Chos Malal on 7 Nov. Here’s hoping for tail winds…


No Comments Written by Tam on 24/10/2012 in Andes-Trail.

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6 days of northern Argentina full of vineyards, lots of tasty wine, barbecues, campsites, long, dull, undulating, straight roads, and 500km of Ruta 40, which runs almost the entire length of Argentina. 3 days ago we had a ‘bushcamp’ at some hot springs – awesome showers! 2 days ago we did 160km (~100miles) in one day – Ghilly’s 60th birthday! and yesterday saw another 120km into a strong headwind all day. Sore knees led us in to one of our final hotels here in Chilecito for a relaxed rest day.

Another 6 days of cycling now until Mendoza, and then apparently it starts getting cooler and maybe more windy. Let’s make the most of the good climate until then! :)

29 degrees South…


No Comments Written by Tam on 15/10/2012 in Andes-Trail.

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Adios Bolivia, Bienvenido Argentina!

Made it safely across the border, and 4 days later we’re in Salta for a couple of rest days. Only 4 more hotels/hostels on the trip – the rest is camping, but we’ve come down off the altiplano and are down at 1400m so it’s much warmer, sunnier, greener, nicer cars, good coffee, good food, wine with dinner the last couple of nights, barbecue last night in the campsite, and they reckon this should last for a few weeks before we hit the winds of Patagonia. Also the hour time change means lighter evenings so it really is party time :)

Two days ago we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, so 23.5 degrees South! In actually cycling distance, however, Salta marks our half-way point :)

Here we sadly say farewell to Susana, Jo (Kevin’s gf), and James (who’s going to ride his own way to Mendoza) – all awesome people and they’ll leave a significant gap in the party :( But we gain some new faces – Dean and Jacqueline from the US and Kirsten’s parents from the Netherlands – best behaviour, Jonathan 😉

Here’s looking forward to a lovely 6 days cycling to Chilecito!