Cochrane March 9 – Thurs

I made it to Cochrane in record time. I arrived yesterday, making the trip from Ohiggins in 3 days.  But today I am paying the price.  I am super tired so am going to stay here today.

My plans are a bit up in the air.  The weather around here is changing rapidly and that kind of puts my plan of passing back through Parque Patagonia and then up Route 41 in Argentina.  It is supposed to be amazing,
but 41 is at altitude in the mountains. Today, in Cochrane, I woke up to 45 degrees and raining. That is really pushing the limits for my riding, based on the clothing/gear I brought with me.  Even just walking around is pretty cold.  I wonder what the temperature is up at the pass.  I think I could make it, it is just about me thinking through how much of a margin of error I want to have as far as warmth. That route would be 200 KM with no towns.  I estimate it would be a 4 day trip.
So….just drinking coffee today in a warm coffee shop plotting my next move.  Today I kind of wish I was at home with friends and family where I could rest, eat good food and stay warm.Below are some pics from the three day trip over. I didn’t take many as I was moving as fast.  This is the most mountainous and rainy section of the Carretera.  Riding solo, I was not psyched about getting stuck camping in the mountains in the rain (first time going south it took 5 days, but I caught up with friends during that time and we were able to find shelter together).  On this trip I woke up to SUN and no wind in Ohiggins (the… time this decade?).  So I bolted.  100 KM the first day. 80 the second. 45 the third.  God knows how much climbing.  It only rained a bit at night and ever so slightly on the last mountain pass (but didn’t even need a rain coat). Lucky because it is getting cold on those mountain passes.

Woke up to SUN in Ohiggins!

Everything looked so different with the sun out that I actually stopped to double check my GPS because I didn’t recognize this lake and thought I had missed the only turn for the day and was headed to Argentina.

The first time up this pass I could read the sign, but couldn’t see the view. Actually I couldn’t see three feet beyond the sign. Imagine me, by myself, in the rain and fog, exhausted going up this climb, and then swearing at the stupid sign because it was telling me about something that I couldn’t see. Actually I think I swore at every “Mirador” (viewpoint) sign all day. (Yes, I often talk to myself, the random dogs, and inanimate objects like signs as I ride by myself. I find it quite entertaining, lol) Anyway, happy to see the view today.

The are not kidding when they say tourist season ends March 1. On the ferry over to this last section off the Carretera, the deck was full of cars and had at least 10 cyclists. Coming back, I saw all of 5 cars over the 99KM (almost 6 hours of riding). On the ferry it was just me and these two cars.

Man I love this bike! I feel sorry for all over the abuse it is taking. Too bad it is no longer made. I’d buy duplicates, maybe triplicates! Come on Gary, bring it back!

I got to the far side of the lake (end of ferry ride) late. Before me was yet another mountain pass (#5 for the day) and it was starting to rain. Fortunately in these parts, you are allowed to take shelter in most of the government infrastructure. So…I got to sleep in the ferry waiting room for the night. Nothing fancy, but I was psyched to not have to put up a tent in the rain.

Real live shelter with a view!

Sleeping on a bench never felt so luxurious.

I even had a first class view from my bench. No extra charge.

One of the very rare flat sections of the Carretera. A good 5 KM of total, Chicago style, flat road. The first time I came through, it was such a surprise, I thought something was wrong (like I had made a wrong turn)

Believe it or not, this was my first real campfire the entire trip! Usually it is too wet for wood or I am in national park where fires are banned. I had the bright idea of washing some of my cycling clothes in the glacier fed river and then drying them by the fire. Washing was a smashing success. Drying was a total failure. Yay, nothing like cold wet cycling shorts first thing in the morning. 😦

Sun! But man, the snow is a LOT lower than when I came through a few weeks ago.

So there is a convoluted story about this section of road. You can’t see it in the picture here, but along the road and at places in the field there are stacks and stacks of white sacks (think burlap sack size) piles up. If you look at them closely (and translate the Spanish), you will notice that these are sacks of fish meal. Hmm…strange. The most reliable source I could find told me that a while back a fish farm in the town of Tortel had a “bad shipment” of fish meal on a massive scale. Not knowing what to do with it, someone came up with the idea scattering it on the roads in these parts (dust on the roads is a big problem…when not raining). I am not sure how fish meal makes things better. Maybe fish dust beats dirt dust? But that is the story I was going with. BUT on this trip back, I saw people spreading the fish meal out on the marsh fields and not on the roads. Maybe they are trying to fill in the wetlands? Hmm…with fishmeal? Mystery still not solved. P.S. Still can’t keep my eyes of that snow on the mountain tops. Yep, its making me nervous.

Oh, did I forget to mention I caught trout a few days ago? (Lago Desierto, before O’higgins) Fun!  And so much better than pasta for dinner!


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