This morning we left the sounds of the crashing surf of the ocean for the last time. We were now heading into the uplands in earnest onto the southern Lake District of Chile towards Patagonia. After an unusual flat rollout of 2 km we turned right and began a 10 km, 14% climb, the first of 7 huge double digit percentage climbs linked by a series of up and down rollers.
The wind was offshore so we were faced by either a crosswind or a full on headwind…the whole ride.
Our first climb took us through eucalyptus, pine and gum tree forests. Along with this came a steady stream of huge double tandem logging trucks. Otherwise, there was little traffic and for a second straight day we had very smooth roads for the most part**.
Dropping down to the south through pasture land inhabited by the unique gray Friesens cows we did catch a last glimpse of the sea at the harbour town of Lebu.
Another steep climb back into the mountains after a fabulous picnic lunch of homemade sandwiches and fruit. The breads of Chile are fabulous!
Fellow rider Belinda asks a Malpuchean child if they wanted to sit on her bike, they didn’t understand
After an exhausting 130 km, 6500 ft of climbing with wind that made this more like 170 km, we arrived into Cañete and descended a 3km gravel road to our hotel on the shores of Lago Lanalhue. Riding 23mm tires made this end of the ride extra challenging and a little dicey! **
Lago Lanalhue is also known as The Lake of the Dead because of the long history of wars , persecutions and executions. This is a very solemn and sacred area with many burial sites around and in the lake. From the times of the Spanish dominationin, the era of the Inquisition, wars between the native Mapuchea Indians and Conquistadors was constant. We rode past the killing place of Mapuchean Pedro de Valdivia, brutally tortured and murdered by having his heart ripped out at the hands of the Spanish. He became a martyr to the Mapucheans and the Cañete town square is named after him.
Even today the Malpuchean people are fighting the government for their ancestral lands. The Chilean government is about 30 years behind the western world’s treatment of their native people. Violent rioting is breaking out right now, just last week a Malpuchean was killed triggering riots. The Army is present in the area. We have been advised to ride cautiously through this area, and, if we see or sense unrest, we are to turn back and regroup until peace resumes!
This Hotel/resort is beautiful and reminds me of the Muskoka or Halliburton regions of Ontario. We feasted on local Chilean BBQ of beef, pork, chicken and sausage with potatoes, sopapila and salad. And of course another different Chilean wine selected by our travelling sommelier Bruno.
Mechanic Manuel is keeping us fueled and sweeping the route keeping in touch with us as our line spreads out. He is also keeping our bikes running smoothly, as is Max. Max and Bruno have been educating us on the history of the area, very informative.
We are told that we are now on the northern edge of the Southern Hemisphere’s longest stretch of inland lakes. The volcanos, the mystery, spirituality and sheer brutality of this area is ours to discover in the days to come.
I am tired but a good night’s sleep will recharge my spirit and get me pumped for a new ride in the morning!
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