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Archive for the ‘The Adventure Begins’ Category

Unprecedented Kindness & the Glacial National Park

Sunday, October 2nd, 2005

We are slowly discovering the land of hospitality as this first small leg of the trip unfolds. We have arrived in El Calafate, the Glacial National park and touristville. Absolutely supercharged, vacuum extracting level in terms of the breathtaking scenery, mountains, and lakes filled with sun sculptured icebergs, glaciers piercing the sides of mountains, Eagles, Hawks Patagonian geese, Flamingos, and Pumas prowling and scowling the ranges. But it has been the bit in between where there is absolutely nothing (almost) except for tussock and loads of wind that has left the lasting impression.

As we have headed between the maze of lakes and mountains into the Patagonian sparseness the towns and Estancias (farms) have also become sparse. Clean water is harder to come by, food for each leg is more calculated and we have relied more on the fact that if there are farmers here surviving surely we can too. Every time we have ridden up to a door after the initial surprise at these odd looking people wearing tights and flouro clothing before them, people have gone overboard to help us out. When we ran out of money a Chilean couple in the middle of nowhere gave us the full use of their house then hacked up half a cow in front of us (which for them is a great gift) threw two bits of wood together which as they struck seemingly came alight into a perfect fire to cook over, then gave us a steel grill to cook the meat on and let us camp behind their house. They then got up in the morning to wish us well and could not have smiled any more if they where contortionists. An old farmer on a sheep farm did similarly, and was very pleased when he found we were from NZ and proceeded to ask questions about sheep in Spanish. He and a friend then did a kind of play – jumping in the air, throwing their arms up laughing saying “tent very windy wooosh ha ha ha”. Which I think was disapproval of our overnight tent spot – lucky for us they had us move to a more sheltered area.

So now we are in the more picturesque El Calafate on the lakeside of Lago Argenino Argentina’s biggest and the reason the Argentinean flag is Blue – white – blue, the blue of the lake, the white of the mountains and the blue of the sky depicted by a famous Argentinean explorer/scientist. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves, but it is spectacular. What you do not get in the pictures is the thunder of the ice continually breaking and the crisp noise of so many different birds.

Having decided to take the first day off after 1,086km the inevitable happened. While doing an out and back ride in the national park someone sprinkled some “rectosphincterlaxatide” (for you teckos) in our drink bottles with some disastrous effects though very good transition training for triathlons, bike – run – drop and repeat. Angela also had some “foodstraightbackupamoid” another technical medical condition which had her doing bike – run – bow repeats every 100m which was great training but does take it out of you after a while until there is nothing left. This has left us tired but ready to hit straight back into it as we recover and head up the continent knocking off the rest of Patagonia, looking to improve on our biggest day of 9.5hours in the saddle.

Please add your comments and thoughts it is so great hearing from you while we are out here. But just remember, “Start out at 100% and gradually pick up the pace”.