Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Hello Internet Friends,

It has been a while. New things have come to light. Our legs and shoulders are a lot bigger and we all showered for the first time in a week this morning. Not bathing regularly isn´t really a big deal if everybody else you are with stinks too, right? Maybe?

We are now in Cochrane taking a rest morning and tuning up our bikes. The roads here from El Calafate were pretty hairy but everything except our bags and a tire made it through in fine form. Our first few days out of El Calafate were almost idyllic, the last stretch of big open mountain vistas much like the American West. Our next stop after two days of riding was El Chalten, a tenuous little mountain community the serves as the launching point for many serious mountaineers who climb the Fitz Roy…Most of them were French and had bigger scars, beards, and gear than the four of us combined. It was probably our favorite town so far…dusty roads, cheap food, and tons of stray dogs.

On Tuesday we raced against a ridiculous headwind to make the first of two ferries…we barely made it the 40 km in time only to discover that the boat was delayed until the next morning because of big winds, leaving us only four hours the next day to make it to the next ferry which only ran twice a week. Disembarking the next morning we found ourselves sometimes pushing, sometimes physically carrying our bikes up a washed out horsetrack of five kilometres followed by a rocky descent that we often had to walk as well. For a while it was two people per bike trying to get through the rutted trail. Tensions ran high when the video camera came out. Expletives were used frequently. Two bags were torn and there was blood and mud and all over our legs. Know this; we felt incredibly tough. That is until we realized the Spanish bikers in front of us had done the trail in half the time with no problems. Then we felt like rodeo clowns at a real cowboys´ convention; awkward, and only a little emasculated.

Anyway, the second ferry was delayed as well so we camped out on a big bluff right next to slaughtering yard and ate fresh raspberries and had a mild crisis when we tried to buy bread from a nice old farm lady who claimed not to remember that we had already paid for the bread we bought from her. Harris was confused and Bull refused to get involved and Ben thought about taking the photo of her father that hung above their fireplace and selling it on Ebay as retribution but then was overcome with wracking guilt that he would ever think about stealing a senile old woman´s only memento of her dead father out of some petty sense of moral outrage at being conned out of three dollars. Thea just talked to the woman and cleared it all up – she really had forgotten. Things were very exciting. Then we got on the ferry to Villa O´Higgins and everybody got sunburned.

That was about three days ago. From O´Higgins we started the Carretera Austral, a 1100 km gravel rode that connects up to Puerto Montt. Because it basically dead ends in Villa O´Higgins (there is no car ferry or other outlet for vehicle traffic) it is popular with cyclists and we have been meeting about as many people on bikes as in cars. The road is very lush, green, some might even say resplendent with big forests and snow capped mountains. Sometimes packs of horses run alongside us through the trees as we trundle along on our silly little mechanical contraptions. There are waterfalls. It is pretty much eye candy for arborists and lifestyle junkies.

And it has been raining a lot, and kind of cold. One day after a rain shower we were riding along this lake and suddenly there were thousands of dragonflies all over the road, swarming up as we passed and hitting us in the face and arms. Have you ever been to the park in San Francisco on a Sunday and seen all the people and their dogs running around and conversing and wondered whose birthday it is, for surely for all these dogs to be in one place they must be having a dog birthday party? Well, this was a dragonfly birthday party and we were invited. Some of them had been killed by passing trucks or other natural causes and so it might have been a dragonfly funeral, but really these things are much easier to think about in terms of birthdays.

And we have a dog. He followed us 110 km from this tiny logging town called Tortel. He only ate three hardboiled eggs and a can of tuna the whole way and is a complete hard-ass in every sense of the term, except of course the way he affectionately sleeps next to our bicycles at night and follows us all around town and even licks your fingers if you have jelly or tuna water on them. His name is Albert but his stage name is Ice-T. We will leave him in town here because even though it was an amazing thing (is it feet? or feat?) for him to run 60 miles his paws would wear out on the roads and besides, stray dogs are meant to sleep in parks and play with other dogs and trade parasites and what not. But he is our friend and we love him for being so sweet and tough. Tonite we will ride in a big group and he will follow us and when we get to an intersection we will each go a different direction and hopefully he will be confused and sad as to why we abandoned him but will soon resign himself to the noble matter of chasing as many cars each day as he possibly can. If he continues to follow one of us we will tie him to a tree with a note on his rope asking a kind passerby to release him in approximately one hour. No just kidding that would be incredibly risky and cruel. We´ll figure something out. Maybe he will come to Caracas with us.

Tortel, as a side note to the awesomeness of Ice-T, is this crazy little logging town built right onto the a rocky sea cliff that has no roads, only this intricate string of cypress-wood walkways by which everybody gets around. It was pretty amazing to see and we had this ridiculous campsite on a big sort of wood veranda. But it rained a lot so spirits were a little low, though luckily camping on a wood deck is sort of like sleeping on a slotted spoon – all the water drains off and the thing you want to keep (our tents, bikes, and mortal vessels) stay on top, ready to be served up for yet another day of riding bicycles.

Everybody check out for a laugh. Many thanks to Albert for taking the time out of his busy work schedule (from which he has a steady income, health, and maybe even dental) to parody our travels. Feel free to contribute your own comic…most of them have actually been incredibly true to life. Everybody who has taken the time to make fun of us so far...THANK YOU. You are awesome. We miss all of you a ton.


Blogger Tokyo Sexywhale said...

I feel so slighted, like my creativity has gone unacknowledged and overshadowed!

5:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello guys. i wish i could be there. i envy your adventure, your raw power, but most particularly ben's facial hair, which seems to be a new development. happy riding
michael shreve

6:55 AM  
Blogger Beatrice said...

hi guys!!!
just found the website:
lots of love from nyc :)


9:06 AM  

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