Bicycling in the Desert

Published: March 12th 2014
Edit Blog Post

I have had a somewhat adventurous day today. This morning I rented a mountain bike, the only kind of bicycle they have here, apparently, and set out to explore some of the sightseeing possibilities I have missed so far. First, a bit about the bicycle. I also got a helmet, lock, spare inner tube, tire changing tools, and a little bag to put it all in. It only cost 4,000 CLP (about $7) for a half day which is six hours. I rarely rode a bike in college and only a handful of times since then, but as they say, it is one of those things you never forget. I did not find this one particularly comfortable. For one thing it was a little beat up. I have a feeling that most renters are younger, more experienced, and interested in wilder rides than I am. But the gears and brakes worked and I made the best of it. I took a picture of myself at my first stop.(See photo) This was at the "fortress" of Quitor which was a native-built walled area that was conquered by the Spanish when they came through in the fifteenth century. The views from up there are great and I could see the San Pedro River and the town itself. (See photo) This "trial run" with the bike worked reasonably well, so I set out for a more ambitious destination. The Valley of the Moon National Park was about 12 miles away and I knew I would have to ride on treeless roads in the middle of the day under a cloudless sky, but I wanted to go because the sun-blasted scenery of the park is one of the key tourist destinations here. Of course, most people take a tour in an air conditioned bus and most of them go at sunset to watch the play of shadows over the rock formations, but I wanted to avoid the hordes and do it on my own. It was indeed a long hot ride, but I used sunscreen frequently and stopped even more frequently for rest and water. I even had a packed lunch with me and ate that during my time in the park. The scenery was as advertised - much of it did look like a lunar landscape. The word "impressive" kept coming to mind. The pictures I took do not do it justice, but I will include one to give you an idea. (See photo) Another sight, the Great Dune, was pretty in its way, but not nearly as big as, for example, Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan. (See photo. That is the edge of the Great Dune in the background. Note how my shoes look at the end of a day spent climbing dusty trails in this land where rain rarely falls.) I returned the bicycle after six hours and now I am sitting in the shade and cool comfort of the outdoor veranda of the hotel. (See photo)

Additional photos below
Photos: 5, Displayed: 5


13th March 2014

What a ride!
Well Bill, I must say the landscape certainly varies and looks all so interesting. I am envious but enjoying it vicariously. Any snakes to worry about? You are a very brave and adventurous person! We just had 5 or so inches of snow drop enjoy the warmth!

Tot: 1.737s; Tpl: 0.042s; cc: 8; qc: 56; dbt: 0.0306s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 3; ; mem: 1.3mb