433 km of cycling - as part of a bicycle world trip - from the Chilean border to San Martin de los Andes, via Seven Lakes Road across Los Lagos to Bariloche and pedaling a pass back to Chile.
10 - 16 November 2006 / 7 days
5,049 metres in altitude
Highest cycled point: 1,308 m
I got my Argentinean entry stamp and cycled slightly downhill on a gravel road with Volcano Lanin in my back. I had just entered Patagonia! Land of endless plains and, yes, of the wind. I got lots of it in Chile, but here I would get to know it in a totally different dimension.
Furthermore it was time for changing some parts of the bike, as the rattling and scratching had started to be fairly bothering. So I bought a new painfully expensive cassette and three new - not much less expensive - chainrings. So everything was at its best again, except of the weather. The first day on famous Seven Lakes Road was a great and sunny day on a paved road with views of deepblue lakes in front of snowcapped Patagonian peaks. But on the following day I found myself sliding and digging through a muddy and slippery dirt track going partly steep up and down during heavy rainfall the whole day. In Villa La Angostura I had enough, lodged myself in the local Youth Hostal and met Marie-Claude and Philip from Canada and a couple of other stranded cyclists.
The wind increased, but the rain stopped and so I went to the famous Mountain Resort San Carlos de Bariloche the next morning. But as I was not that fancy on outdoor activities during tornado-like storm-force winds, I got my bike the rest of its general check-up, took a day of rest and started heading westwards back to Chile in the slowest imaginable pace, as the wind was still blowing like hell.
After I got bumped one time on the oncoming lane and two times almost in the ditch beside the road, I started to push my bicycle. But even this was sometimes impossible and so I found myself leaning diagonal against the wind next to the road, grabbing and pulling both brakes with full power and seriously hoping not to get blown away with my bike. This day I enjoyed cycling and travelling, let's say, not that much as on other days... Meter by meter I pushed my bike forward to pass the worst areas until I could cycle in walking pace again.
Fortunately the next day appeared to be better and so I cycled uphill into a beautiful snowy landscape, crossed the border to Chile on Paso Cardinal A Samoré and signed my customs form with a "No" on all questions. The Chilean customs officers asked me if I would bring any meat, cheese or fruits into their country and I answered of course selfconfidently "No". And I was lucky, that following this they just opened my backpack with tent, sleeping bag and mattress. The reason why they did'nt check my other bags as well was probably the group of Argentinean tourists, that wanted to get photographed with me and my bicycle. With pleasure!