After a nice stop at the Train Graveyard I went onto the road for 4km or so. I couldnt help but think that the road is a little crooked and all these people must spend hours tilted 5-10 degrees to the side? My initial plan to ride the train tracks west was changed by the howling wind, if I turn more south, i will get one hell of a tailwind and so I did. I pre-loaded a lot of maps while browsing in town so I had some different options. It’s a miracle I made it out today after I took long to pack, eat, visit immigration (to check visa duration) and all….
As a bonus, I will reach some more varied parts and hills and all that, a bit of climbing but more to see and more wind cover
really makes you wonder what all these animals eat, there really doesnt seem to be much but thorns and sharp, dry grass out here
I found reasonably sheltered spot for the night among some odd rock formations, so glad to be out of the salt and the sand, even if for a night
In the morning it was a nice ride to a little town where I found water and also a very good lunch and fruit. Prices, for where it was were very good and I took the chance to load up again on extra food I may need over the next week or so to Chile
When I talked to the store owner who had a car he looked at my route and suggested something else, it’s only sand he said. I said good, thats what i want.
it wasnt exactly easy going and quite a bit of walking at times but what worried me was a giant dune I could see from far away. Which in turn turned to be somewhat hardened sand and more rideable than the road itself
then I found a salty riverbed which I rode uphill until it joined with another road
there was an excellent cover from the wind and a luxurious dinner with potatoes and tomatoes and onion! I even had a can of condensed milk for coffee in the morning.
In the morning I inspected the lights I saw at night and it must be a mine
then it was my turn to be inspected by the wild burros
The rocks got more odd-looking and there were even condors in the air. Not all of them had the white collar but they were still just as big
for some odd reason there were plenty of donkeys out here…
and the Vicunas would just see me and run up a ridge (like 3-400m vertical) just for the fun of it… me, i’m huffing and puffing to barely keep up walking pace on a road…
The road got quite bad that I followed few moto tracks onto the riverbed, it was a bit of a shortcut and in general I think better riding surface than the road
I already set my goal for today and it was to stay near this nice pointy mountain
This is one of the three moving vehicles I saw during this entire post, all the way to Chile.
The road had very nicely designed signs which made me worry a little, from what I heard for the last section of Bolivia there is a hefty 150BOB ($30CAD) to pass by. After the feeding frenzy in Uyuni, I had 30BOB to my name which was just enough to cover the 1 day visa fine, if for some reason I get delayed.
I stopped at this funny little town, the kids watched me with curiosity but none was brave enough to talk to me, to see how my stove works although when I was at the store buying eggs I came out and they were all touching the bike and the tires, haha
only a few were brave enough to remain when I asked for a photo while filling up water at the school
The prof told me I am leaving on the main way out of town but I wonder if he meant I came on the main road, because this was NOT the main road
While setting up my tent, a wind gust took out 3 stakes and the tent body and I started running after it. I dont think i’ve ran like this ever, if I didnt catch it it will be gone…. it will reach argentina before me for sure and I’ll have to sleep wrapped in my tent fly somehow for the next little while…. I barely got it, i was out of breath, tired but… well…. I will need to make sure I have something heavy inside next time.
The road was bad at best and I really doubted many people drove this way
I had 3 days left including today and with the bottom bracket I was already concerned I would could damage the crank shaft. A detour to the highest road in the world (5800m!) was not really an option, epsecially if the winds continue blowing from where i am heading (west-ish). Water was also a worry, as I only saw one stream yesterday in the afternoon and the lakes were likely sulphury or salty or at best just full of flamingo…. um, excretions.
The good news is I found a nice stream, fresh cold water (better than any town’s water Ive seen so far and no funny foam when boiling!)
somewhere around 1-2pm the wind was just too strong to ride (considering the bottom bracket) and I just walked my bike the rest of the day, even on the downhils. I set up with some okay wind cover for the night.
A check of the crank shaft (which in the absence of a proper tool is done by unscrewing the bolt holding the driveside crank and riding until it falls off) showed barely/minor damage so I continued riding it (although trying to put most force on the non-drive side pedal stroke to avoid more damage. After noon there wasnt much riding, only on the downhills.
I was getting ready to ration my last liter of water when I spotted a little stream, coming out of nowhere and disappearing into the sand in few kilometers.
With the wind increasing it felt really pointless walking in the evening, I found some rock cover and I’d need to leave early in the cold but calm weather tomorrow. That wind is tough, wow.
It was about 4500m elevation but it was extremely cold, water bottles inside the tent were frozen solid (note: i’ll need to take better care of the nalgene because it can break!). I wanted to go and take a photo of the frozen flamingos but they have normally flown away when they see me from afar… these shots from planet earth 2 must have been with some super zoom camera!
The road went up on such a little incline that it was barely noticeable, without wind the sun felt very strong
after the pass, oh boy. full force headwind coming from the pacific ocean. I was running good on time but this will be pushing it, I was able to ride most of the downhill but when the grade got lighter I just walked my bike for the rest of the day (minor riding brakes)
I wondered what kind of an encounter it would have been if this military base was manned, hmmm!
at some point I stumbled upon a bike track, I could see the zig-zag, the lane changes, footprints. Ha, its not easy riding here! A standard bike would certainly involve a lot of walking.
since noon I was counting my hours and approximate distance, I estimated 5km/h with the wind was a good walking pace and was aiming to be there before 5 in case they close. Now the funny thing is that with this wind, after 4 it becomes very cold. I made it at 5:20 to the border post and got stamped out, I wasn’t asked to take off my hood or anything…. hmm… border guy told me chile immigration is in 5km although both journals I read said it was in San Pedro de Atacama.
Chile had pavement but I still walked with the wind, kind of riding slight downhill sections. The immigration building seemed quite fancy but there were no signs, no work hours, nothing. I sat there for 5min drinking my ice cold water and then knocked on both front and back doors. Nothing, it must be in san pedro then.
I put on rain pants but was too cold to undo the top (also high chance of breaking the zipper since it was almost gone) and dig my down jacket in my bag to put it on. I just decided to roll on down as far as I can, preferrably under 4000m. Despite the wind the grade along with the pavement were enough to get me rolling downhill at a pretty reasonable but cold pace.
At San Pedro I met with a friend of a friend and also received a nice package from USA for the next leg, instant mash potatoes and chilli!!!
there was just one little problem…. immigration was not in sand pedro but up at the pass and I will need to go back there to get a stamp. There is no bus going there and its either buy a spot on a tour going to the salars on the chilean side or hitchhike. I walked out of town to try and find a ride but there wasnt much going up or going down for that matter. A man going to buy some goat cheese at the last ranch (around 4000m) gave me a lift
from here it was about 12km to the border so I just decided to walk it, of course flag down a car if i see one (all trucks were going downhill at this time of the day)
I made it to the post, already cold and knocked a bunch of time, eventually somebody saw me and they let me in. Boy its so warm in there! They easily stamped me in and asked me how am I going to get back to San Pedro, I said I’ll hitch a ride. It was about the same time as yesterday when i rode down and I clearly remember few trucks passing down after I set up my tent. They said ok, we’ll find you a ride and everyone from the office came outside with me. haha, if that doesnt make my day i dont know what will!
I was just getting worried about them freezing when a pickup drove up and talked to one of them (people from switzerland were just driving up in a rental car to ask some questions), they took me in on the way down and i feel really bad for them for having to be in an enclosed space with me and about two weeks of no laundry (and 7 days without shower).
and to top it off right as I made it walking to my friend’s place, the brazillian grill was well underway!
along with the happiest dog in the southern hemisphere!
meanwhile I can take few days to fatten up and maybe make a new video. Sadly the tablet/laptop hasnt been doing quite well from charging issues (requiring me to open back and disconnect/reconnect the battery) to screen shut offs and funny colors. Nontheless, with some care and a lot of patience I put the new video together, it was in a way tougher than riding it! oh and the render marathon took 14h total with an error but the file plays fine so i hope it works
meanwhile if you have made it this far, haha! you can check out the early link to the video here
next up is the Six Miles North in Argentina…. i may be away from internet or anything until early january…
route here (2nd part from Uyuni: