Section 8, part 1: The Lake District


Day 93: Santiago to Lo Miranda, 118k

We rode in a bike convoy led by a tour staff member out of Santiago. We started at 7am to try and bypass traffic. There are a plethora of bike lanes around Santiago, so we rode on those. This made for a frustrating ride because we are now up to 22 riders. When stopping we would take up an entire city block. The convoy only lasted 5k, then everyone continued to ride together until 30k when we were out of the suburbs of Santiago.

The busy traffic started to slow and the road was now lined with trees, vineyards, orchards, and the occasional small town. At some points during the day, there was a cycling lane along side the road. Although sometimes covered in debris, it was still a nice option.

IMG_3234I was ecstatic to see trees, rolling green hills, and wildflowers throughout the ride. A floral scent perfumed the air. The side of the road was covered with various shades of yellow, orange, pink and purple.

We had one long climb today, about 4k going 200m. The road curved up and around a  mountain with beautiful views. At the top was the lunch van and a lovely view of a lake at the bottom of the other side and the rural villages surrounding it.

IMG_3235The road became more busy again, we rode through some busy towns with narrow roads. A semi truck followed slowly behind us for at least 2k, waiting patiently to pass, there were road dividers prohibiting passing over lanes. We pulled into a driveway and the driver honked in thanks and drove on. This was probably the last respectful driver for 20k. Bike lanes would appear and disappear without notice. Hopefully, we get the hang of this or not ride on such busy roads over the next several days.

fullsizeoutput_9a8Our camp was in a small agricultural town, with a couple of bodegas on the square.  We camped at a camp ground that is still getting ready for summer, a few pools were being repainted as well as the picnic tables. But a quiet and shaded area. And there was a pug living there!!

Day 94: Lo Miranda to Santa Cruz, 115k

IMG_3238We started out of camp onto a few quiet roads for 5k before jumping back onto the highway bike lanes, but we were only on the busy road for 5k before turning back onto quiet rural roads. We enjoyed these roads for the majority of the day. The narrow tree lined roads curved in and out of villages. The homes we passed were adorable and mostly well kept. IMG_3250The majority of homes had massive rose bushes as living fences in front of their homes. IMG_3258I have never seen rose bushes this big, and the buds were fully bloomed. The ride overall was visually appealing and relaxing.

Around 60k we noticed a canal along the road then water mills, or Ruedas. This was noted as a historical landmark in Chile and a tourist attraction. There were several mills along the road pumping water into homes and farmland.

IMG_3240After lunch we enjoyed more beautiful roads that were tree lined with views of vineyards and orchards with mountains in the distance.

As we started get closer to Santa Cruz, the traffic had picked up. I always stress out in traffic and hammer my way through it to get over with. We were instructed to ride on sidewalks to avoid traffic, but school had let out and students were sauntering along making it even more difficult. The town was busy and had lots of shops and restaurants. Also, Santa Cruz is one of the best wine regions in Chile. Luckily, a few riders had purchased wine in town to enjoy at camp.

fullsizeoutput_990Our camp was on a vineyard,  but in the back half near a lake. It is set up for events and camping. It is very quiet and serene. I am looking forward to a good night’s rest.

 

 

 

Day 95: Santa Cruz to La Pesca, 130k

We woke up to overcast sky and comfortable temperatures, As we were eating breakfast the wind picked up from the mountains behind us and you could see fog creeping over the peaks. We had a big climb in the first 3k. It only lasted 1.5k but gained 120m of elevation on a narrow and winding road that was busy with traffic. About half way up we entered the fog which stayed with us for 30k after. IMG_3255The skies were grey and the air was cool with moderate winds. I was happy for a change in the weather. fullsizeoutput_966We rolled through farmlands, vineyards, small towns, and logging towns. The landscapes were beautiful with the air filled with scents pine and eucalyptus, two of my favorite scents.  The rolling green mountains and farmed valleys reminded me of Washington state.

IMG_3257We passed a few dilapidated homes, which we have seen all through South America. I can’t help but wonder what these homes were like in their prime and who lived in there.

IMG_3256We enjoyed quiet roads for most of the day until around 70k we turned onto the Ruta Del Mar, a scenic highway to the Pacific Ocean. This road was significantly more busy with logging trucks and busses. The extra traffic made it a little more difficult to focus on the scenery. We also had a steady stream of villages along the way. The wind had picked up and we were getting tired and ready to be finished.

Around 100k you could see where the mountains were starting to separate and break into the ocean. At that point, the wind picked up even more and became chilly. The thick pine forests and pasture lands continued all the way to the coast. I was in love with the trees on one side the road and crashing waves and sand on the other. IMG_3260A drastic and welcome difference from the Peruvian coast. I hope we get follow along the coast for the next few days.

IMG_3264

 

 

We camped on the beach, and Bruce and I splurged for a cabin rather than camping. It was relaxing have a private deck to watch the waves crash. We did take a walk to the beach for sunset and regretted not jumping in the water earlier.

Day 96: La Pesca to Chanco, 115k

A great day! We woke up to the sounds of the surf rolling in and birds singing. The sun was peaking over the pine hills. Our ride for the day was to follow the Ruta Del Mar. The road was busier than we have ridden lately, especially with the logging trucks, which smelled like Christmas in the moist morning air.

We curved away from the beach and into forest lands with swampy bogs, it was actually beautiful with tall green grasses and wild flowers giving birds place to land. The pine and eucalyptus trees continued throughout the day. We rode through many logging villages, I appreciated that trees were being replanted where they had cleared sections recently.  We had one really big climb for the day, 3k ganging 250m. I powered up this hill like a beast! I felt so strong throughout the day, I hope I maintain this power for the rest of the trip. The top was more logging mills and tree farms. fullsizeoutput_974We soon descended back to the ocean and the cool sea breeze increased. The road continued to be aggressive rollers for the rest of the day. Our lunch was set up on the coast, it was relaxing to watch the massive waves crash while fueling up for the afternoon.

The weather continued be amazing, sunny, bright blue sky, and moderate temperatures around 20 degrees C. We started to see less logging communities and rode through small fishing villages then as the road curved back inland it became agricultural again. IMG_3282The rolling green hills with wild flowers were stunning.

Our camp was in a Nature reserve outside a small town. The pine and eucalyptus trees where massive. There were several hiking trails winding around the park, I was too tired to explore today.

 

Day 97: Chanco to Trecaguo, 120k

I did not sleep well, and the air was very chilly when we woke up. I really wanted to enjoy a couple cups of coffee before hitting the road. The other riders seem to get ready earlier and earlier and are off before I even finish my oatmeal, which makes me feel like I am running behind.

The ride was going to be challenging today, lots of steep hills, more climbing than we have had in a long time. Bruce’s knee has been bothering him, so he rode much slower than me and eventually jumped on the bus to camp. IMG_3288We rode through coastal towns that were popular tourist destinations in the summer. We are in the off season so it almost seems like a ghost town. And its 8 am on a Saturday. The views of the rugged beaches were beautiful and serene.

The road was literally up and down, it was fun but exhausting. We curved away from the beach for a while and into the farming and logging communities. IMG_3290The roads were once again lined with pine, this time the highway was almost deserted. I really enjoyed the trees, rolling hills and the challenge. Once we descended back to the ocean, the wind had picked up significantly and made everything miserable. When the dinner bus passed me I gave the thumbs up that I was good. 500m ahead of me they had stopped to pick up another rider. IMG_3292I decided that I might as well get a lift to lunch, but as soon as I made it to the bus, they had already started driving off.

The steep rolling hills and headwind continued and I became beat down and frustrated. At one point a small bird skidded across the road trying to take flight, my immediate reaction was “Why am I riding if birds can’t even fly?!?”.

Lunch was set up on a lovely dock by the beach, windy and cold but nice views. I was exhausted and annoyed with the day so far, and the climbing had not even began. We had a 16k climb gaining 550m. In my head it was going to be a vertical climb, a top rope was needed to reach the summit. I decided to call it a day, due to my bad mood and wind.

A couple of hours later, the lunch bus was on the road to camp. When we approached the epic climb, it did not seem that bad and looked almost enjoyable with more rollers, light traffic and less wind. However the temperatures did increase. At this point in the day it would have been too late to jump on the road and finish.

Our camp was at a little hacienda. We still slept in tents but had access to indoor toilets and hot showers. At this point in the section, I am still dirt bagging it, I can shower tomorrow in the Concepcion.

Day 98: Trecaguo to Concepcion, 75k

A good night’s rest and a sunny morning make for a good day! A short day into a rest day, but this late in the tour, rest days are becoming like purgatory, just sitting around and waiting. Its Sunday, and most places are closed.

IMG_3296The rider the day was more rollers through the  same type of farming and logging communities. The landscapes have been beautiful and the riding has been very enjoyable, but it all looks the same in pictures, which do not do the scenery justice.

The rolling hills were steep and usually for 1 kilometer. I had a a lot of fun hammering up and flying down the hills. The wind was barely noticeable since we were away from the coast. Traffic was very light as well.

Around 40k, we approached a long delicious descent. It was about 5 kilometers of curvy  road and under a canopy of trees. I did not have any tore cars to worry about and even saw local cyclists heading up the road in the opposite direction. Bruce said that he was stuck riding behind a truck driving cautiously slow an was unable to fully enjoy the descent.

IMG_3297We rode into a small coastal town, with several turns then we jumped on a bike path along the water. We had a long climb to go over some hills then descend into Concepcion. The climb was about 200 meters of elevation gain over 4 kilometers. I hammered it out felling strong the while way. Lunch was at a mirador overlooking the bay. There was only 15k of busy and confusing roads to the hotel, so Bruce and I jumped on the dinner bus to the hotel to bypass the frustration. Which according to other riders was a smart choice.

Our hotel was new and modern, but in a industrial park away from anything useful. The hotel had restaurant, but it was closed on Sundays. Our only option, from experience, was the mall a short cab ride away. Its frustrating having to spend your off time at a mall, but unfortunately when its your only option for food, you have to suck it up.

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