Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Puerto Natales

Today I arrived in Puerto Natales, about 250km from Punta Arenas.

When I arrived at the airport on Friday I didn´t think I would be going. The airline wanted to charge 36 pound per kilo for my bike ! I had to ring my agent, who nearly lost it before ringing Iberia head office. They then rang the airport & told them it was 75 euro regardless of destination. Of course this all happened with only a few hours before taking the plane. I lamost had to leave my bike. Still after 45 minutes it was all cleared up.

The journey to Punta Arenas could have been worse, to be honest the last leg from Santiago a Punta Arenas was the best [Lan Chile!]

I was glad to see my bike in Santiago & a weigh in came in at 28+ kilos. Anyway on arriving in Punta Arenas I had to wait for my bike, the last thing though. Still it only took me a couple of hours to rebuild it. I had a few spectators, but by the time I finished, 8 o´clock, there was only the security guard ready to throw me out.

I hadn´t been out of the airport for more than a few kilometres when an owl flew past me and then alongside. I can´t express how beautifull it was to see. After a few minutes it sped on, leaving me to crawl up the hills.

On reaching PA I quickly found a hotel, anywhere at 9, 9:30 in the evening is good. I showered then slept. I awoke at 6 am, took a stroll around town, took a few pictures, then back for breakfast of ham and cheese. I left at 9 ish picking up some marathons [snickers] and a couple of bottles of water and a few litres of petrol. I headed out of town into the wind.

I had been going 20, 30, 40 kilometres. I lost count of how many times I was blown off the road. it was bad!!! I was almost for turning around. I´d eaten almost all my provisions when I saw a sign for a petrol station. at 50km I stopped. There was a small cafeteria, that looked like it only saw business every other day. I had lunch of chicken and chips. I almost bought all their chocolate. I headed out once more.

I had practically given in by 80km, there was no way I good go any further. It was 5:30. I parked up at the side of the road, pitched the tent, had a row of chocolate then went to sleep. I woke several times during the night, hearing the odd noise. I was also cold. I snugled into my sleeping back, liner and outer. After shivering a bit I got warmer. Still it was a good sleep and I awoke at 6am to hear silence. The wind had gone!

I got up and after packing the bike I was quickly on my way. I was approaching Morro Chico when the wind started to pickup again. I found a restaurant at 60km mark. Odd really because there is absolutely nothing, I mean NOTHING, on the road and then out of nowhere there´s a restaurant. I had lunch, I needed it.

After a couple of hours I needed to press on. The wind had reached +40kmph again, I was only making headway of 5, 6, 7 kmph. I would never get there at this rate. I ate more chocolate. I past Hotel Rubens) again, just out of nowhere, I decided to press on a the man in the earlier restaurant said it was uphill for a while then down down down. I felt ok, the wind was calmer so on I went. At 120km I had to stop, it was 7:30. I piched the tent and again went to sleep. I awoke at 5 but decided the last 46km to Puerto Natales could wait a wee while.

7am I eventually got up. I could feel blisters on my nose. A quick check in my bike mirror & yep I was burnt. Still that was the least of my worries. I set out and my legs were tired. Now I haven´t said so far what I was thinking. I waqs seriously contemplating giving up. As I approached Puerto Natales I decided that I would bus the borring bits, and bits where there is literraly no habitation for hundreds of kilometres. If I cooked, road on dirt / gravel roads I would make at best 60km. That´s without the wind and finding water.

So as I sit here, a day later than planned, I´ve decided this should be more a holiday than a grouling torture trial. I´m going to get the bus to Calafate, Argentina, cycle the 150km to the glacier and back, then bus again to Perrito Moreno, before I hop back across into Chile. Cycling 6 days without water with the prospect of winds, is one that I won´t take this time around. At least I may make up some time and perhaps better enjoy the scenery that´s to be had in the less arrid areas. Sorry to disappoint, but it´s better I finish the journey than not at all.

Ok, I´m off for lunch.


  1. Hi Jon, Wow - what a start! You'll be fine and it's not dipping out - it's being sensible!!! It will be a great trip, and we are both still very jealous,
    Cheerio for now,
    Emma and Nick

  2. JonO,
    Before you left you said the wind would be against you for a while. It is not worth overdoing it and spoiling later on - you can always stop the bus and get off if you see something interesting
    The team are watching!
    Keep us informed.

  3. Well I´ve done more mile in torres del paine, than planned. I am behind schedule so I´ve taken the bus into El Calafate from puerto Natales. I´m headin for the glacier tomorrow.
    I saw a few other cyclists on the road, if that´s what you can call it. One looked dead. The winds across the flat open planes are terrible, especially if they blowing into you.