Introduction

Thanks for joining me!

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Thoughtful

“Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. “— Izaak Walton

“Get around Matt Vagg coz he is a sick c@nt who pedals around other countries”- Isaac Shute (His words not mine.)

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^Isaac Shute-^

Firstly I will apologise in advance for my poor grammar. The Queen’s English isn’t one of my strong suits, but to make up for it, here is a picture of Smitty and I sporting strong suits.

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Strong Suits

Now, next week I’m off on a 3 month adventure in South America on my pushy. For some that sounds like a pretty shit idea, and to be honest I’ve had a few thoughts of “ why the fuck am i doing this!” myself. But ever since I bumped into a Dutch couple at the airport in Cuba with their bikes  hearing stories about how they travel and after watching the doco “180° South” I have been pretty keen to combine the 2.

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Cracking doco, great soundtrack

With my long service leave just sitting there and my day job consisting of digging holes and putting the dirt back where it came from, it was a pretty easy decision in the end. It’s not like I will be sitting around when I’m older thinking “shit I wish I had worked more”.

So here is the plan!

Next week I’m flying to Santiago de Chile. From there I’m getting another flight roughly 930km South to a town called Osorno. If I walked it, google has informed me it would take 9 days and 15 hrs. Flying was a good choice. Here is a map of me not walking it.

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The map of me not walking it.

From there I’m going to have a couple of days in Osorno to get some supplies, put my bike back together, lay on my hotel bed overthinking everything and stealing all the food from the breakfast buffet. From Osorno I have roughly 3000 kms and 3 months to get to “fin del mundo” (the end of the world) Ushuaia. If I don’t make it to the bottom I’m not too fussed, hopefully that just means I have had heaps of fun along the way and I didn’t have time to pedal.

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I suspect there will be 1 or 2 towns in between that aren’t shown on above map.

I know it’s not going to be all smooth sailing and I must admit I have a few fears. Firstly the infamous Patagonian  wind that I have read about, will no doubt be annoying at times. I hate riding into the wind, and with a head the size of mine it’s going to feel like I have a sail attached to the top of my neck. Secondly ass raping, I’m not making light of the subject, it’s a serious matter. The problem is I haven’t mastered the art of wild camping yet and the first time I’m out in the middle of nowhere on my own and I hear the sound of duelling banjos…. “ yep I’m about to get an ass raping here” is the thought that will be going through my mind.

For the first part of the route I’ll be riding the Carretera Austral. What I know of it courtesy of Google is that its a road built by the Former Chilean leader Pinochet. Not sure if he was a good bloke but by the looks of it he built a pretty sweet road through some nice scenery. The road was completed in the late 90’s early 2000’s when it finished at Villa O’higgins.

From there I’ll be crossing the border into Argentina by foot courtesy of a couple of ferries and pushing my bike through, by the sounds of it, some pretty shitty tracks. Then it’s only another 1100+ km to Ushuaia. One date I will firmly have in the front of my mind is January the 5th when my gypsy amiga Ana will be meeting me at Balmaceda airport  with her bike and joining me for 3 weeks. She is either a bit retarded for signing up to this or more likely a bit retarded for signing up to me.

In the months leading up to this I have done a little bit to hopefully hold me in good stead for the trip. I haven’t had a car for most of the year so the bike riding bit I’ll hopefully have down pat. I completed a basic 10 week Spanish course too, so “no comprendo” will probably get a bit of use and I completed a weekend bike maintenance course as well, which  fingers crossed I won’t have to use because I forgot most of it.

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Abandoned house over looking Elizabeth Island from French Island

Along with that, Ana and I had a little overnighter on French Island to test out some gear and to see if I can pedal with the weight. After the trip I have came to the conclusion I am taking too much shit and I’m going to be pushing my bike up hills.

Seriously though, there is only so much you can read or practice or plan. Eventually you just have to get out there and give it a go. I’m a bit nervous but pretty pumped to get it underway.  People look at me funny when I tell them what I’m doing but I honestly love riding my bike. If I’ve  had a shit day at work by the time I have ridden home I’m in a good mood again. It gives you the chance to have interactions with people and nature that you would never have in a car and it’s fast enough to get somewhere, but slow enough so everything seeps in. Like in those picture books you had as kids were you flicked the pages really fast and the scene gradually changes. It’s how I feel when I’m on my bike. Since I was a little tacker I’ve always considered myself a B.M.X bandit. It’s just a shame the old stack hat does not fit my large melon these days.

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The Stylish Pedlar.