Further South to TDF

January 5, 2023

Life is all about challenges. Sometimes there is success, and sometimes not. It is what you do in the face of failure that defines a person.

The original plan was to form a team where Rosi and Lukas would travel by minivan and I by bicycle. The idea was that Rosibell and Lukas would arrive early and establish a destination for me on a daily basis. The plan was to prepare everything in the colder months, then launch in the warmer weather of November or December.

The van would be set up so that it could be the shelter, or if desired we could stay in a hotel. In this way we planned to explore South America together. The plan fell apart.

The difficulty as it turns out was getting a driver’s license for Rosibell. This is not as easy to do here in Chile, as in the United States. Getting a passing grade from a driving school is required, then there are the tests administered by the city.

There are three tests, and they are somewhat challenging. (written, psychotech, and practical driving test) The psychotech test measures reaction times and the like. Rosibell passed this on the first try. After graduation from driving school, Rosi and I would take out a rental car to get more hours behind the wheel. She is a confident driver. It was the written test that held us back. A candidate is only allowed two attempts to pass, and then must wait over a month to try again. Rosi came very close to passing both times.

Rosi came home after her second failed attempt and proposed that the three of us travel together by bicycle instead of waiting another month to try again at a driver’s license. I figured it was worth a try. In any case it was better than wasting the first month of Summer sitting idle in Santiago.

Shake down

We set up Rosi’s 26 inch mountain bike with rear panniers. It already had a basket on the front for Lukas to ride in. We took it on an overnight shakedown run uphill to a campground in Cajon de San Jose. It was a hot day 37C = 99F. Everything went pretty well, in spite of the heat.

Preparations for the Launch

We needed to make only small changes for the big trip. Lukas got a Summer haircut. Rosi planned a Christmas/Bon Voyage party with her family at our place in Santiago. We stored our excess belongings (mostly Rosi’s) in a storage location. We launched on Dec 21, the first day of Summer, about a week after our shakedown.

The party was fun. Romer chided me into betting on the final match in the international Soccer tournament. It was Argentina vs. France. Being the only representative from the Northern Hemisphere, I bet on France. We were able to watch the game on a large screen TV Romer had brought with him.

I lost about $50, but enjoyed the tension when the game went into overtime and was finally settled by a shoot out between the two teams.

We get one last party at our apartment in Santiago.

Launch

The first week went fairly well. We had a few small mechanical problems, but no show stoppers. Rosi and Lukas kept an upbeat attitude about most things.

I am conscious of the challenge Rosi is facing. Gaining the fitness and endurance needed, as well as dealing with saddle sores and muscle aches. She does not complain.

In fact she frequently advocates for destinations more distant than I would. At least once this put us in a rural location with too much distance to complete, and no hotels or campgrounds to bail us out. As we passed through a villiage, I recommended asking a local resident for permission to camp out on their lawn, a common practice amongst cyclonomads. She didn’t like this idea.

I finally found a flat spot about 50m from the road where we pitched the tent as the sun went down. It went well, though we were visited by the Police at around midnight. In my best Spanish, I explained that we would be leaving in the morning. Rosi did a better job negotiating. The cops only wanted us to hide our bikes so they would not be stolen in the night. Done.

Christmas was fun. Apparently it is a popular thing to go camping on Christmas in Chile. We had ample company in the campground. Rosi made a fine Christmas Eve dinner on the barbeque grill in our campsite. Christmas morning we waded in the river nearby.

The native bugs are pretty interesting. So far we’ve found scorpions (several) and a tarantula spider (only one). Jeff Marmaro would be ecstatic to be here.

New Year

Rosi convinced her family to join us on the road for New Years Eve. They formed a caravan of three vehicles and brought 12 people to a campground we were staying at near San Fernando. They were cooking up a storm in one of the cabins and also out on the grill. Over a period of almost three days, many wonderful meals were produced.

Rosi said she was going out to get a chicken and returned with a live rooster. This was a surprise for me, but not really that unusual for the locals. It was slaughtered, plucked, butchered and made into soup in almost no time at all.

On January 2 we packed up and prepared to get back on the road. There were tearful goodbyes between Rosi, her sisters, and mother. They then made a bit of a ceremony of our two bicycles leaving the campground. It was a cool moment.

Summary

The goal is to ride to Tierra del Fuego, the southern tip of South America. This is only about one thousand kilometers from Antarctica. From where we are. this is some three or four thousand kilometers. It will be good to get this done before the weather starts to turn colder in April.

This has been done on two separate occasions by my friends in Northern Europe. There will be difficulties to overcome, and that’s part of the attraction. It is also clear to me that the goal is a second priority. The first being the formation of a long term relationship with Rosi, Lukas and I. I want them to join my nomadic lifestyle, and see the world with me.

Partial map of the journey to Tierra del Fuego.

2 thoughts on “Further South to TDF

  1. Hello Tim,
    Nice to meet you! We both wish you a safe trip and many new experiences! We would recommend you to travel trough Cuba by bike πŸ˜‰
    Best regards
    Nina & Robin

    Like

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