Nicholas Coe is the Content Creator for the 2022 South American Epic Cycling Expedition. He reports on the experience of cycling in Patagonia.
After leaving Puerto Montt, our cycling lifestyle completely changed. We have had a few hurdles to jump through on our new journey – ferries, rain, campsites and food. It was almost like entering a different country, a different world. We knew that, at last, we had officially entered Patagonia.
While cycling through Patagonia on an epic expedition, it’s almost impossible to stay in a warm cabin and bed every night. This place forces you to camp. This adds to the experience of being here and we’ve been camping in some spectacular spots like a lamb farm when you’re greeted by herds of sheep or farm animals in the morning or on a body of water surrounded by snowy peaks.
You never know what you’re going to eat when you roll into camp. After one hundred and twenty kilometres on gravel roads and over a thousand meters of climbing, you’ll eat basically anything but our chef, Mark Lutz, has been spoiling us. What about a giant fish caught that very day or a full lamb cooked over an open fire by a local farmer?!
There are kilometres of roads without any development. If we did see something, it was a simple homestead and we wondered how they get any supplies, food, etc. Rider Janet once said while looking at a log cabin, “Wow, they must really hate people”. Riding here, you have to deal with very few coke and coffee stops. From previously having four stops a day to none at all, it’s a mental challenge to overcome while cycling each day.
The weather? Well it’s most unpredictable! Expect rain, and be surprised by sunshine. I have never seen a group of people who are more able to withstand weather than our riders. They cycle through cold, wind, rain – sometimes at the same time! Everyone’s true colours came out riding into Villa O’Higgins – everyone was astonishingly positive. Rider Marnie rolled into lunch with water dripping from her gloves and helmet and the first thing she said was “Is everyone okay?” She was thinking about the group way before thinking about herself.
Ferries? Wow, have we dealt with ferries. Our first ride was a six hour ferry through gorgeous Patagonian channels. Since then, we have ridden on another four ferries! One particular ferry was the cause of us getting to know the little town Villa O’Higgins so well. Villa O’Higgins, population six hundred, sits at the end of the Carretera Austral. The South American Epic rolled into this town with the biggest group the town has seen in four years and we ended up staying way longer than expected. We were supposed to stay just one night and then hop on a ferry for an epic journey across a lake to an island where we would cross into Argentina, hop on yet another ferry, before riding into El Chalten.
Due to high winds on the lake, the ferry couldn’t operate and there was nothing we could do. At first, the uncertainty made us worry as a group but soon, after accepting the inevitable, the group started appreciating where they were. The quaintness of the town inspired everyone. A brewery, Ventisca Cerveceria Patagonia, was a rider favourite with its friendly atmosphere, good beer, great food and Wifi. It was opened just a year ago by a lovely local couple and you could feel their passion for it when walking through its wooden doors.
The staff are extremely proud of this group of riders. They have been going into many unexpected situations with no hesitation at all. They are tough and resilient, two traits you definitely need while cycling though Patagonia.
South American Epic
This challenging expedition offers you the best opportunity to explore the vastness and diversity of South America by bike. In keeping with the TDA...