Day 1 Villa Cerro Castillo to El Blanco
Waking up in Villa Cerro Castillo, we were pleased to see clear skies and a view of the moutains, which meant a good days cycling ahead of us. The 4 of us were a little nervous of the 830m climb approximately 5km into our day’s cycle but had the very positive news from Brendan and Gina (who had caught a lift from Puerto Bertrand to Villa Cerro Castillo) that the road between Villa Cerro Castillo and Coyhaique was paved, which would make life a lot easier for us.
The climb went on for 15km with some very steep sectioms and mutiple switchbacks. It took us the best part of 2 hours to conquer with one brief rest stop to catch our breaths. Having done this we could enjoy the stunning scenery, knowing that the rest of the day was mainly downhill with the breeze at our backs.We covered the next 15km in less than half an hour with some exhilarating descents (Miguel clocked 75km per hour on his speedometer at one point ).
Having covered 45km by lunch time we stopped to have lunch and enjoy the sunshine in a grass paddock protected from the breeze by some trees. The four of us were starting to snooze, when we heard a familiar voice call out from the road. Gina and Brendan were cycling by, had spotted our bikes and joined us for their lunch break.Half an hour later, the six of us were ready to head off, but this time we were cycling in a more westerly direction, so into a headwind. We decided to form a pelleton, cycling two abreast, in order to give some protection to those of us that were struggling. This seemed to work well and we covered the remaining 15km to El Blanco, as a group.
Reaching El Blanco (small town with a couple 100 residents ) we all looked for a campsite which proved to be elusive. Brendan spoke to a local home owner, who said we coukd use the plot of grass near the river,behind his property, next to the bridge. This area was relatively shaded from the wind and perfect for the six of us to pitch our three tents. We also had a new addition to our group, as a labrador had taken a liking to us and decided to hang around for the evening.Vanessa spotted a warehouse on the otherside of the bridge and Jon and Brendan went to check this out to see if it would be suitable for dinner, as the wind had picked up. On their return, they were excited to announce that our new dinning facilities were ready, as they had constructed a makeshift table and chairs from some concrete blocks and wooden pallets. We all ate and enjoyed a glass of wine in our new dinning room. Day 2 El Blanco to Coyhaique
The wind blew all night and most of us had an interrupted sleep. When we awoke it was stil blowing hard but at least dry. We also noticed that our new found dog friend had slept beside the tents all night. We enjoyed breakfast in the ‘dining room’ and swiftly cycled off in pelleton formation. Unfortunately our new friend decided to come with us. This made cycling very difficult as he was running alongside and in front of us, as well as crossing the road, potentially endangering both us and himself with ongoing traffic. At one point he stopped briefly to sniff a dead hare on the road, then grasped it by his teeth and proceeded to run alongside us with it hanging out of his mouth, as we cycled up the hill. Jon tried hard to cycle infront to snap a picture of this but was unsuccessful as the dog was pretty fast.
This went on for several kilometres getting increasingly more dangerous and with no sign of the dog tiring, we decided that something needed to be done. Miguel volunteered to stay behind and hold onto the dog whilst we carried on cycling and had to resort to tying it to a roadside gate with a piece of string. Whilst this seemed harsh, it probably saved the dog’s life.
With the dog safely behind us we continued in single file the remaining 20km to Coyhaique. Gina and Brendan split from the main group but we knew we would catch up as we had pre-arranged where we would stay the night. Heading into Coyhaique we were nearly caught off guard as the first traffic light we had seen for several weeks was at red.