Today was not a typical ride day for a few reasons.
Pre-ride group stretch
Rai and I gong full Aussie today!
We all headed south out of the hotel with the usual climb on stiff legs. About 2 km out I stopped to take a photo of this metal creature by the side of the road.
Doing this allowed the front group of riders (the primar cyclismo equippo) to get a good distance ahead. And the rest of the group had not reached me yet. So I took off in pursuit but never saw them again.
“You’re Going the Wrong Way”
At 4 km out at Chovellen, my Hammerhead bike computer told me to turn left and I obediently did as instructed. This took me 20 km along a beautiful road in the middle of strawberry fields and pine trees. It was also quite steep with grades o 9% to 13%. Something just didn’t seem right. I flagged down two local farmers as they were driving by (remember, we can’t speak each other’s language). Kicking their feet in the gravel shoulder and pointing ahead was the indication that the road turns to steep dirt. So I turned back and retraced the 20 km I had ridden.
But Where Was I ?
My Hammerhead was still giving me problems, telling me to go back to the hotel. So I relied on the daily map sheet, and that got me back on track, or at least I thought. Riding along the coast was quite beautiful in the area of Trehulemu, the deNuble region and the Valle de Itata.
In Buchepureo and Cielo, I rode around the towns twice looking for the route. At this point I decide I’m lost and tried texting and phoning the guides, with no luck.
Up that Proverbial creek without a paddle
I chose a main road out of town that I thought was correct. it was the start of a long climb and the wind was blowing pretty hard. The next thing I know my route map falls out of my jersey pocket and blows through barbed wire fencing and into a field. After several choice words, I realized maybe if I just keep the ocean to my right, I will eventually get south to our destination of Quirihue. It was not until I saw Max’s brother-in-law Jorge waiting for me on his motorcycle that I knew I was on course. I can’t explain how relieved I was to see him.
The remaining 20 or so kilometres mostly downhill were wonderful. And Max joined me for the last 6 km.
It Doesn’t End There!
We lunched in Quirihue at a funky restaurant.
However, this town is not on the coast but inland in the hills. So we all piled into a shuttle bus with James and I riding in the support van with Manuel and Max, for a 3 hour shuttle to the coast and our hotel in Las Pena’s. The reason for this was to avoid riding through the huge congested city of Concepcion. All roads come and go from Concepcion so there is no other way to avoid it.
So instead of riding a 74 km, 4580 ft day, it ended up being a 118 km day with 6239 ft climbing!…..plus the 3 hour shuttle
We stay at this hotel on the beach for two nights, with an ’ootnback’ tomorrow. it will be the last time we see the ocean for the rest of the trip.
Shower, dinner and bed….it was a long day.