Andes Trail Stages 82-84, Nov 16-18, 2019

Stages 82-84 of 109, days 110-112 of 142

Photos and routes on Strava

DescriptionDistance in kmDirt kmClimb in mEFI
South America8,3901,43086,673
Andes Trail8,1041,42183,063X
    Ecuador9123016,265
    Peru2,62251528,702
    Bolivia1,1012227,426
    Argentina3,45765430,700
    Chile 10070

Missed distance 282km, 3.5 stages (19/20 and 31/32)

We had a sort of strange rest day in Bariloche before kicking off our next segment going into Chile. We woke up to a windy rainy day and were very very happy Bike Dreams had decided to upgrade us from a campground to a decent hotel! My only item on the agenda for the morning was to put on my waterproof jacket to walk across the street to retrieve my laundry.

View of the lake from our window in Bariloche

In the afternoon, we did some bike love down in the basement, then I headed out with Greg, Ypa and Miranda for beer and lunch. The rain had stopped and the forecast was for no rain but strong winds the next day. We went to a German beer place and their Single Hop IPA was the best beer in South America yet! Great food too. I took a nap in the afternoon then dinner was at a decent Argentine place with fancy ice cream for dessert at an heladeria. Bariloche seems like a great town, especially for eating and drinking.

The promised winds did come in the morning. I looked out the window to see white-caps on the lake, a bad sign at 7am. After breakfast and packing up, we took off in a group and rode through town, with some winds, then up and down a long way with the wind generally pushing forward more than back. We followed Ruta 40, passing km 2000, a long way from km 4300 that we saw a few weeks ago. Eventually we came to the town of El Bolsón where we camped in the Municipal Campground. It was quite nice, spacious and green with working showers, but last time, two bikes were stolen here so we locked the bikes up carefully.

After the usual breakfast we started out and rode through great scenery. The wind was actually fine for the first 50km, mostly tail and side winds although there were some strong gusts. Then the last 15km to lunch was a bit trying. We ate right at the Butch Cassidy House – where he supposedly spent a couple of years. There wasn’t much inside, just four empty rooms and two barns. You had to climb in through a window.

From lunch we were on unpaved roads with drizzle starting. It turned into light rain and the view ahead was dark and grim looking. We fought headwinds for a few km, with a few steep climbs, all on gravel.

But somehow when things look bad, they can change fast – soon the sun was coming out, my shoes were drying, and it was warmer. We hugged the edge of the valley which reduced the winds too. I even took off my jacket for the last 20km.

It wasn’t long and we arrived at camp, in a new campground with fancy bathrooms and wood fired hot showers that worked great. We were in Parque Nacional Los Alerces. We set up tents to dry in the sun, ate soup and then I had a nap in the tent while others hung out in the nice cafe. We seemed to be the only ones staying there as it is definitely off season. Dinner was at 7, then it got cold and a little windy/rainy, so I went to bed before dark.

Stage 84 started with drizzle before breakfast, but it mostly stopped before we left camp at 9:15. We continued the unpaved road for 25km or so, with great views of the lakes, rainbows and snow covered mountains. Bright yellow broom and some pretty lupines were everywhere.

Then we had pavement to lunch in Trevelin at 65km with occasional rain. I’ve been noticing lots of Malvinas/Falklands signs.

Big sign in Trevelin

We ate in the central square then headed out toward the Chile border. For the first couple of km, Twan and I were joking how we could crank out the 40km to the border in an hour at this rate. It was a fast, smooth road with a very strong tailwind. Right after we laughed about that, we turned 90 degrees and the road turned to rough gravel and the downhill turned to uphill and the tailwind turned to headwind. I guess we laughed too hard. It stayed that way to the border. Twan was dying of butt pain and with 10km to go, took off as fast as he could, to try and reduce the pain – unsuccessfully. I continued on, passed a few riders, then arrived at the Argentine frontier. The wait was maybe 10 minutes and getting the exit stamp was simple. I continued on the unpaved road through 500m of no-man’s land, then arrived at the paved road and the Chilean frontier. Inside there was quite a line of people, ours and others. We had to go to three different windows, fill out a form, etc. Maybe it took 30 minutes total. Then I was in!

No one else got out with me so I rode the last 10km solo, mostly up it seemed, into a pretty stiff headwind. Finally I came into town and stopped at the hostal with our trucks in front. I had a nice double with Andrew, took a hot shower, then had soup and snacks – I was famished. Bike love in the afternoon after that, then we went out to get money from the ATM and scope out a dinner place. We sat at a cafe, had coffee and juice. At 7pm, nine of us went out to an Italian Restaurant and all had homemade pasta of various types with various sauces. We were celebrating Wytze’s birthday which was fun. He had done a very uncharacteristic thing today: ridden slow with his friend Bart instead of leading the fast group. He seemed to enjoy it a lot. We bought all the tiramisu (the only dessert they had) at the restaurant and marveled at the bill, well over 200,000 Pesos (worth only about 1/800th of a USD each though). We have four more consecutive riding days in Chile until a rest day in Coyhaique. They look tough by the numbers, but we’ll see. Tomorrow is forecast to be rainy too. We didn’t come here for an easy ride though – we were promised the opposite.