A journey on the edge of dream and reality... on two wheels

Bike Culture & Tips

A journey on the edge of dream and reality... on two wheels
December 2017

December is the month of wishes. While children wait for a pot-bellied gentleman with a white beard and a red dress to come down the chimney with his gifts, adults make their wishes with their eyes closed and think about how to achieve their greatest goals. There's something that I've been thinking about for a long time now and that has slowly become my obsession: to grab my bike and run away to see the world. I’m thinking about the place where I would like to be, and the journey I want to take more than any other: to ride along the Carretera Austral, Chile.

We will leave together, my girlfriend and I; we will bring our mountain bikes, with a shock-absorbing saddle that helps us feel less sore for the bumps and holes of the Carretera route under our wheels. We will be prepared for the cold that we will find along the way, and we will have everything we need if we have to fix a flat tire or the chain. And I know it will happen, because the small accidents are part of what makes a trip unique and unforgettable. We will get some detailed maps, because when you leave for a bike tour like this you want to have a good plan; and we will bring stocks of food and water, because the slopes can become challenging in some stretches of the road, and it’s easier to ride when you put some energy into your body.

More than 1200 kilometers, almost entirely unpaved, will see me ride my trusty metal and rubber steed, ready to discover the Andes and the millenarian forests that surround them, the turquoise waters of Lake General Carrera and the imposing majesty of the O'Higgins glacier that will be waiting for me at the end of the journey. I imagine the moment when we stop to admire the lush Parque Pumalìn, and, tired but happy, we will pitch our tent near the falls, only to wake up the next morning to the sound of running water. During our ride, we will have extraordinary encounters with the Chilean deer, known as guemal here, which dominate the cold Andean valleys, or perhaps we will be able to see condors and pumas in the southernmost areas.

It took twenty years for the Carretera Austral to be completed in 1996, but the breathtaking beauty that we will enjoy from our bikes, as we will ride leisurely through these immense, wild spaces, was worth the wait. We'll take a month to go through it all, with no hurry: we will ride every mile for the sheer pleasure of pedalling and savouring this biting climate and these bold colours.

I know that if I open my eyes now I will find myself in my home, in front of the fireplace fire that I lit on purpose, because there’s no winter without a crackling fire. It will start to get seriously cold outside and a few snowflakes will begin to fall, while I am lying here, daydreaming on my sofa.
Who knows…perhaps I will see this special gift for myself under my Christmas tree in a few days.


Comments 1
A beautiful, evocative piece of writing! Merry Christmas ;-)