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Posts tagged ‘headwinds’

Tierra del Fuego

The_road_signs keep telling us that Ushuaia is just a few kilometers away.  What does it mean to be this close to where the road ends, where we can go no further south?  The closeness of Ushuaia hasn’t made Tierra del Fuego’s famous winds any easier to combat on bicycle.  For reference, when the wind isn’t in your favor, it is quite easy for a strong cyclist to be humbled by the pace of a gaucho herding some sheep at a horse’s walking pace.  The rough, washboard gravel road that we took more than 100k from Porvenir to our final crossing into Argentina wasn’t made any smoother.  Our excitement and simultaneous bewilderment at how close we are to the end of this long road hasn’t kept our feet and hands warm while riding through wintry mornings.  Ushuaia is where we pack up our bicycles and fly home and say good-bye to this life of tent-camping and stove-cooking and unknown miles by bicycle.  Yet these last days with my brothers and Joe aren’t any more special or significant than the hundreds that came before them.  That first comical day out of Anchorage, struggling to get 100k finished as complete rookies in abundant Alaskan daylight, was no less crucial than the 100k that we covered yesterday and the 100k we’ll ride tomorrow to finish Bound South.  These last days on Tierra del Fuego aren’t special or different, and for that we are thankful.  These last miles are simply more sustenance for this moveable feast we will always know as Bound South.

Boarding the ferry to Tierra del Fuego.

Skewed horizons on the Strait of Magellan 

Our first day on Tierra del Fuego brought us to Concordia, a sheep farm of 7000, where we were welcomed by two gauchos.

They had four extra beds, a roaring stove, coffee and mate, bread and homemade “ruibarbo” jam. We were ecstatic and so thankful to be out of the elements.

We were told the gaucho on the far right is the oldest shepherd in all of Patagonia, having worked for over 80 years!

Patagonian wind.

Three days.

The Atlantic.

Life in the Vast Lane.

To celebrate Joe’s birthday, we biked 110 kilometers through the wind and rain. This is Joe 60 kilometers in.

Our destination that day: La Unión, a bakery in Tolhuin. We sang for our keep here. They housed us, fed us, and treated Joe to this much-deserved slab of cake.

Buen Provecho!

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Nature Sans Nurture

Whitehorse has embraced us with its warmth and graciousness.  We are “actively resting” which is not a misnomer when one is extremely tired and hungry, or when one is taken into a retirement home and fed delicious moose stew, rhubarb pie, and saskatoon berry desserts.  Nathan made the acquaintance of Father Jim, the priest of the Catholic church in downtown Whitehorse, and before we knew it we had been housed in a home for retired priests and fed like kings.

Lunch stop on top of a lonely old station wagon.

If only Mother Nature was so kind to us.  This present splendor dulls the pain from a week of difficult riding.  The road from Tok has been challenging.  Nathan has struggled with tendonitis in his knee which led to a hitchhike to Whitehorse to rest and recover.  We battled five straight days of 20mph headwinds.  Unrelenting, unforgiving, unbelievable headwinds.  Our “modest” pace of 65 miles per day was made grueling by the uncooperative attitude of Mother Nature.  The wind was so fierce that our bikes would roll to a stop on slight downhills if we ceased to pedal.  To give you an example of a day in the life of Bound South: the winds with steep mountain climbs near Haines Junction meant that we began to ride at 9:30AM, rode hard all day, completed 70 miles by 7:00PM, and finished just in time to devour 2,000 calories at a generous grocery store.

Bridge across Destruction Bay

Our last day of riding was a 100 mile trek from our campsite in Haines Junction to the city center of Whitehorse.  We were so mentally and physically exhausted that the crosswinds seemed like a gift from above.  To be taken in by the community here was a gift from above and this rest is much needed.

EKG of a living day in the Yukon

Ten miles outside of Whitehorse, fierce and cold headwinds appeared.  Once more we found ourselves yelling and laughing out of exasperation and exhaustion-induced euphoria.  I said, “Don’t forget, David, there are thousands of people out there that envy us right now.”  There are certain times when you lose sight of the important things; like when you’re hauling a heavy bike up a steep mountain into a headwind with grizzly bears around.  

The diet of Bound South: bagels, peanut butter, and honey.

We’re riding bicycles from Alaska to Argentina, building a house for Habitat for Humanity, and capturing the essence of this spectacular adventure as we go.  This is not easy, but it is a privilege and a dream and like any difficult and wonderful thing it is worth doing.