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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Boise, Idaho ...for a few more months.
    Posts
    33

    A couple of big tours

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    I've done a couple of major rides that I've enjoyed a lot. In 1991-92, my husband and I spent a year cycling around the Indian subcontinent - Pakistan, India, China, Nepal, and Bangladesh. It was an absolutely amazing experience!

    Then just last year (2006-2007) we spent a year biking around the USA and Mexico with our children. The kids rode on a bicycle built for three behind my husband, and I rode a single. It was a phenomenal experience for all of us!!

    Now we are gearing up for another epic journey - from Alaska to Argentina. We figure that one will take about thirty months!
    Dreaming of dropping out of society to travel with your kids? Follow along as we do exactly that! www.familyonbikes.org

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    326
    Hi Nancy,

    Awesome! I am cycling between San Martín de los Andes (arg) and Ushuaia, in Coyhaique, Chile at the moment... you will have a blast on the trip, I have met quite a lot of cyclists doing similar routes. If you need maps when it comes to Southern Arg/Chile I am happy to scan what Í've found and send them to you...they are very difficult to come by (read: impossible) in the US. The roads down here are tough...I've hurt my knee and unfortunately will be taking more buses than I would like. If I only had 30 months! (which doesn't seem like so long, actually!)

    Anyhow, you will have a great time!

    Anne

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Boise, Idaho ...for a few more months.
    Posts
    33
    Thanks Anne!! Tell me about it - I want to hear EVERYTHING!!! Yes, I said - EVERYTHING!!! Sorry to hear about your knee. My knee went out when I was in Mazatlan a year ago and we feared that our trip was over. Fortunately, the knee cap realigned itself and the inflammation went away within about a week or ten days and I was able to continue on - SCARY stuff! I look forward to reading about your journey!!
    Dreaming of dropping out of society to travel with your kids? Follow along as we do exactly that! www.familyonbikes.org

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    San Luis Obispo, California
    Posts
    45
    I've been reading your blog about your biking experience, and I'm so impressed! WOW! I was so impressed that I told some co-workers today about your extraordinary feat, and they were suitably impressed, too!

    I want to do an epic ride, too...I've been dreaming about riding across the U.S....and trying to imagine how to do it...and wishing I could think of someone to do it with...a little too chicken to do it by myself. But I am sure that if I have the desire and the will, it will happen....meanwhile, I can read about your journeys and know that it is possible! So I guess the whole point to all this...is Thank You for making it happen for your family and letting the world know that it is possible! You and your husband and family are an inspiration!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Boise, Idaho ...for a few more months.
    Posts
    33
    Wow - thank you Clare!! If there is one message I would like to get out as a result of our bike trip it is that it IS possible to live your dreams. No, it won't always be easy. In fact, there will be times when it s downright miserable. There were days when we were facing gigantic mountains or headwinds from hell or bitterly cold rain - and it wasn't all that "fun". But we likened the journey to chicken soup - there were certainly some ingredients in there that weren't wonderful, but they all worked together to make a big ol' yummy concoction!!

    The amazing thing is that the kids NEVER wanted to give up - they reminded us of the "chicken soup" idea more than once. I remember one day as we were pedaling through Texas... We had been battling headwinds every day for about 600 or 700 miles and we were exhausted. One afternoon we took a break at a rest area and John and I sat there complaining about the blasted wind. Daryl bounded up and blurted, "Daddy - why are you compaining? The head wind is just a part of the chicken soup!" And then he scurried off to play.
    Dreaming of dropping out of society to travel with your kids? Follow along as we do exactly that! www.familyonbikes.org

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    326
    Hi Nancy,

    Just got back and had a phenomenal (if too-short) trip. You are right on with the chicken soup idea...I had so many difficulties, but at the end of each day I could never say that it had been a bad one, or even mediocre.

    I brought back a lot of maps with me & am happy to scan them for you...they are difficult to find from the US (and not that easy to find in SA) but I found it best to travel with a couple different maps of each area since they vary widely and will do things like omit major roads, or list towns that have only 3 houses, 1 occupied. I saw from your other post that you will be starting in June, which means that you plan to reach Ushuaia (I assume?) in December...I'd rethink that a bit if I were you, you probably want to plan for 32 months as I started in the Lake District Dec 1 and it was rather cold. Going through there a couple of months earlier would be difficult I think, and you really want a couple of months between Bariloche and Ushuaia. At least. The roads are difficult and almost entirely dirt (well, actually, almost entirely rocks!) and since the best roads go through and cross the Andes there are more than a few steep sections too. But some of the most incredibly beautiful things I have seen, and the people are just amazing.

    Don't plan on too much distance a day; there is so much to see and the roads are really brutal. For me, 40km on ripio (the unpaved roads) was about equivalent to 100km on pavement, the bike and load being equal. There is always wind. If it is still in the morning, you are guaranteed wind by afternoon. If it is windy in the morning, it will probably be windy still in the afternoon. After a while you get used to it, but I met a number of cyclists that had ridden through the pampas and given up on it because the wind was too brutal. Areas with trees are infinitely better.

    As far as routes, I highly recommend the Carretera Austral as opposed to following Rte 40 south. I crossed over at Futualefu and found it really beautiful and not so difficult as the mountains further north. The stretch from Puerto Yunguay, to Villa O'Higgins is amazing; almost totally unpopulated and wildly beautiful. The border crossing from Villa O'Higgins to El Chalten, Arg. is one not to miss. You cannot cross by car, only by a combination of biking or walking and boat crossings. Do pay to have horses carry your luggage on that stretch, and the path on the Argentine side was really heinous (as in single-log bridges over rivers, narrow paths and deep mud. But the most fantastic border crossing I have ever experienced!

    You might consider bringing a satellite phone or renting one around Bariloche. For me it was nice to be away from all forms of communication, but on the southern section of the Carretera Austral I would sometimes see as few as 5 or 10 people a day... I heard a story of a guy breaking his hip on a remote section and his excruciating 7 hour wait for an ambulance...

    If you and your family don't already speak Spanish well, now is the time to learn. In many of the small towns in Patagonia you will find virtually nobody that speaks English; you will miss out on some tremendous people and cultural experiences if you can't speak the language well. And starting out with a good base is a great way to help your kids learn a new language and learn it well...they will learn quickly if they are immersed in it & if you speak Spanish together as a family.

    I've traveled a fair amount in South America apart from the recent bike trip and would recommend avoiding major paved roads like the Panamericana through Peru at least; the speeds that people drive at are incredible and I've seen the aftermath of a few accidents on such roads that will haunt me for the rest of my life. I had some scary experiences on paved sections of Rte 40 in Argentina; if someone behind you honks it is sometimes to say 'hi, what a great thing, you riding your bike' and other times it is to say 'you have 3 seconds to get onto the rocky shoulder before I run you down.' That said, I found the average driver far more courteous and friendly than I've found the average US driver...but the major highways can be scary.

    I have posted about my trip at www.annedirkse.com; there are lots of details I haven't included but I'm happy to share any information or be of any help I can. I am back at work and seriously jealous of your upcoming trip!!!

    Anne
    Last edited by onimity; 01-10-2008 at 11:53 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Boise, Idaho ...for a few more months.
    Posts
    33
    Dang Anne!! Now you've managed to make me more antsy than ever to be off!! I had actually settled in quite nicely and was content waiting until till June. And you had to go and change all that!!

    I'm really glad to hear you had a great experience - I'm sure it is a beautiful area!! I'll be there some day....

    I would LOVE for get copies of your maps - thanks so much for offering to scan them!! When you get a chance, you can send them to me at sathren (at) gmail (dot) com I really appreciate that!

    As for timing - we won't know till we're there how long we'll take. Basically we are saying we'll leave Alaska in our summer and arrive down there in their summer - approximately 2 1/2 years after we start. We will be talking with a lot of people as we work our way southward and can time that final approach accordingly. We are pulling the kids out of school for (at least) 5th, 6th, and 7th grades, so we could conceivably stay down there until August of that year.

    I am so psyched!!! I can't wait to get back on the road!!!!!
    Dreaming of dropping out of society to travel with your kids? Follow along as we do exactly that! www.familyonbikes.org

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    427
    Welcome back Anne!!!!!! It was a such a pleasure to come home everyday and see if you had posted anything new on your website. I got DH a book on touring Central America for Christmas and between reading that, Llamas and Empanadas and your posts, he is in full planning mode!

    Glad you're home safe and look forward to any upcoming adventures!

 

 

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