Friday, August 22, 2008

Steve and Gavin's non-stop, endorphin fuelled, frostbite bike tour in the tropics: La Paz, Bolivia to Santiago, Chile, 2800 kilometres in 31 days.

Salar de Uyuni....wowee!

Salar de Uyuni

Cold? Just set a bush on fire to warm up.

Frozen water pump.

So cold we rode like masked banditos.

No table? no worries!

1/3 of the way left to go!

Nothing but the finest accomodation on this trip!

Just being good samaratins

Another 1,000m to the summit....not enuf time in one day.


Heading up the volcano


Salt hotel....salt brick walls.....loose salt floor

Checking out the strange animal on the salt flats

Salar de Uyuni....looks like the Artic! and feels like it too!

Frozen bottles in the morning

Ice on the spokes after riding thru a river.

Ouch....asleep at the wheel at the end of a 12 hour ride

Better than most paved roads in Bolivia

Steve and Gavin's non-stop, endorphin fuelled, frostbite bike tour in the tropics: La Paz, Bolivia to Santiago, Chile, 2800 kilometres in 31 days.

Another Endorphin Adventure has been completed; the 5th of 7 separate adventures to cycle the entire length of Latin America, from Tijuana to Tierra Del Fuego; this one a little tougher than most, as we only completed 2 out of 3 goals for this particular section:1. To cycle from La Paz to Santiago.2. To cross the world's largest Salt flats, the Salar de Uyuni, by bike.

Unfortunately, we didn't complete our 3rd goal to cycle up to 6000+ metres. After having dealt with 2 weeks of sandy, washboard roads that contributed to numerous equipment breakdowns, (broken luggage racks and a split rim to name a few) minor frostbite due to temperatures as low as minus 15 and rigors of constant high altitude of 4,000+ metres, we decided we wouldn't keep pushing south to Volcan Uturuncu as planned.

Moving on to plan B, we made an early exit from Bolivia to the Chilean border at Ollague, where we attempted to ride up Volcan Aucanquilcha at 6180m. Alas, we only made it to about 5200m before turning back due to Gavin showing clear signs of high altitude sickness, (major headache, dizziness and nausea) and lack of daylight on my part to continue and return safely before dark. Two weeks in Bolivia had just worn us down too much and we decided that we would not make a second attempt. Instead, we headed for warmer temperatures and sea level on Chile's Pacific coast, hoping to make some quick miles and come back early to be with our little boys, Ramon and Zack and spend some time with our better halves.

And so with that incentive in mind, we blasted down the Atacama Desert, riding up to 200 kilometres a day. Being in one of the driest places on earth and with 100 kms or more between water stops, Gavin the science expert reassured me we wouldn't die of thirst with all the yellow bottles that drivers pee in and toss in the ditch, as urine is apparently drinkable. Glad we never had to test that theory!

Commonly heard excuses/complaints/whinging included:

1. "Steve, I can't see where I'm going, it's still dark." (Early starts due to fewer daylight hours in the southern hemisphere winter)

2. "I can't feel my fingers and toes." (Because it's dark and the sun hasn't risen yet)

3. "My arse is on fire!" (No rest days)

4. "I'm bloody starving!" (No bread available in many rural areas of Bolivia, to alleviate Gavin's daily tuna sandwich fix)

5. "Damn I'm thirsty!" (With 3 full water bottles, yet all were frozen solid)

6. "I've run out of hose clamps to hold my front luggage rack together." (Washboard is also hard on dental fillings)

Other interesting and not so interesting bits:

Number of luggage racks broken: 3 out of 6

Gavin's average daily consumption of tuna sandwiches: 5

Number of body parts frozen: 21 each (we won't detail which ones!)

Tubes of baby butt crème used: 2

Maximum number of upper body layers of clothing used at one time to keep warm: 5

Number of yellow bottles of golden liquid seen on the sides of Chilean highways: Endless….

Bottles of beer consumed by Gavin each night: Loses count after the 5th

Number of tubs of ice cream consumed by Steve: 0 (and still on the wagon at press time)
Number of flat tires: Steve 0, Gavin 2….both on the last day.

Number of packaged, dehydrated meals that serve 4 eaten by Gavin one evening: 2

Number of kilos lost by Steve in 31 days: 5

Number of cold cups of freeze dried coffee consumed in the morning by Gavin: As endless as the bottles of pee on the side of the roads.

Number of full rest days: 0Number of times Gavin fell off his bike: 1 (in need of training wheels perhaps?)

Average kilometres per day in Bolivia: 75

Average kilometres per day in Chile: 120

Number of nights camped: 7

Highest average speed: 33.5 kph, during 2 hours of downhill with a tailwind.

Highest maximum speed: 71 kph (Gavin, with no helmet)

Longest day in the saddle (pedaling time): 10.5 hours

Number of kilometres around the world via the equator: 40,075

Total number of kilometres ridden by Steve spanning 22 years of bike touring: 42,500 (Yipee!....finally surpassed 40,075kms)

We had hoped to raise money for the Cazuca School in South Bogota by cycling up to 6200m and placing the CGB flag. Well, since we did give it our best effort and managed to cycle up to 5200m (over half the distance, from our 4,000m starting point) and place the CGB flag on a cairn, we are hoping that instead of the 10,000 pesos you may have sponsored, that you still may find it in your heart to contribute half of that. Please place any donations in the big jar labelled "Bicycled to 5200m for Cazuca School", located in the office in the accounting window. Many Thanks!

I think we now need a holiday from our holiday :)

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