Published: January 15th 2006January 13th 2006
We pulled our bikes out from behind the shed at Casa Azul on Tuesday morning to find that Penelope (Christie's bike) had a vine growing up through the front wheel and her chain was a bright orange colour from all the rust on it. My bike had a few spots of rust on the chain, but otherwise was in a much better condition ... well it had less rust on it at least.
Given the amount of repacking we had to do, I was quite amazed that it was still morning when we set off from Puerto Varas for the third, and hopefully final, time. It all started out perfectly, I even beat Christie up the first few hills (she may argue that this is because I told her to stay in the easiest gear for the first few hills due to the rust on her chain, but whatever the reason I got to the top of the hills first).
We pulled off at a town called Frutilla where we planned to have lunch as the guide books described it as a beautiful little town on the shores of the lake. It was such a dump we didn't even bother stopping and ended up having lunch a further 10kms down the road with a heap of small sandflies. We later found that there are two Frutilla townships (Alto and Bajo). We stopped at the wrong one. Situation normal.
It was nice to get onto the backroads away from the traffic, but I 'blew up' (cycling term meaning I completely ran out of energy, not a literal term in case you have this image of me spontaneously exploding along the road) about 15kms before Puerto Octay so really found the last section a grind, particularly the last climb out to the hostel which was 2.5kms straight uphill. Could it be that I've become dreadfully unfit? Gratefully collapsed into the shower and bed that afternoon and that was pretty much the day other than when we briefly surfaced to cook dinner.
The next morning, I managed to find excuse after excuse to linger over breakfast, until around 11am with the wind howling in the other direction and rain pouring from the skies I was brave enough to suggest that perhaps we should just stay where we were for another day. So it wasn't until the 12th that we set off from Puerto Octay with the vague plan of reaching Valdivia in two days ... we planned to do 60 to 80 kms the first day, but that's when Christie the Cycling Queen finally discovered her calling ... long, flat, bitumen roads ... we raced past Osorno before lunch (including picking up my 1000th kilometer on Chilean soil), reached the junction to La Union (our intended night's stop) mid afternoon, but barely slowing down, the cycling queen just up and carried on for a further 30kms to Paillaco. I blew up again (this time it was close to literally) at just past the 100km mark for the day, but all up we totalled over 120kms for the day. I'm sure Christie would have pedalled the last 45kms to Valdivia, but I was buggered and she'd achieved her first century ride.
The last 10kms of the day were spent cycling around and around and around the town trying to find somewhere to stay. It was a disaster ... there were a few pensions (all closed) and a motel, but it had a locked gate and the sign had pictures of naked women all over it so we suspected it wasn't our type of motel. Christie finally found a surprisingly nice Hospedaje (I had collapsed in the shade at the central plaza where the politicians were beating up a frenzy for the Presidential elections in a few days time). For 10,000 pesos we had a private room, breakfast and cable TV. After a terrible dinner, I collapsed into a comatose like sleep with my last memory being Christie talking about her plans to do a 220km ride as soon as possible (my longest distance on a bike in a day).
Today we knocked off the final 45km to Valdivia. It was a fairly easy ride except for a horrible little hill about 18kms along the way which just wouldn't stop going up. I had a good mind to blow that up, but was too busy concentrating on not blowing up (again) myself. Someone should teach hills that it's rude to just keep going up when I'm tired. We're now booked into Hospedaje International where the lovely owner wanted to show us every single room so we could choose just the right one. We chose the cheapest ... of course.
Christie is now complaining that I ride too slow for her, so I've started complaining because she is in the same Country as me :). We love each other really.