Cycle Touring Archive

The End of the Road

A medium-sized provincial town deep in the heart of Argentina, about 700km west of Buenos Aires, may seem like an odd place to end a bicycle journey. Ten years ago however, on my very first day in Argentina, having crossed the border from Chile all the way down south in Patagonia, I met a couple of friends, Juan and Elisa, who were also travelling the area, albeit not by bike. It is in large part …

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Córdoba Streets

Thought I’d sling up a few impressions of Córdoba city. It’s alright; colourful, busy, good icecream. I’ll say goodbye to friends here this evening over beers, and will set sail for the final few hundred km to my other friends in Villa Mercedes on Monday. It looks like it could be a damp affair; winters here are cool and dry but the summer season is hot and very rainy with lots of thunderstorms. It would …

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Cerro Aspero

To my mind one of the greatest things about a bicycle is the ease with which it enables new friendships and shared adventures. The weekend just past I took off to the sierras in the southwest of Córdoba province with new friends from the local biking community for a side-trip of a couple of days and nights. The area is fabulous for exploring on two wheels with plenty of empty space and steep terrain. It …

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To Córdoba

There will always be more to do in the Andes but having comprehensively ridden my bike all over from the north to the far south it seemed like a good idea, when thinking about this journey, to head east away from the Andes and have a look at the sierras of Córdoba province; for a number of years it has been a spot on the map that left me wondering how it would be to …

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The Green Room

The change in riding environment has been so rapid, and so profound that I still have not fully rationalised it. The memories of the months spent on the high, cold, austere altiplano amongst the volcanos and salt pans feel as if they belong to a different life. The transition from parched desert to dripping cloud forest happened within the space of a mere 40km or so. Sitting in the perpetual sunshine of Cafayate it was …

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Cafayate

Cafayate is the point at which my route intersects that of ten years ago. It was a lovely place to spend some time then, and remains a lovely place to enjoy the same today. The only difference I can see on this occasion is the almost complete absence of foreign tourists, particularly the backpacking crowd. I’m not certain why that would be; perhaps the economic and political turmoil is putting people off, but it seems …

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Cactus Country

The high puna/altiplano can be a punishing place to ride a bicycle, and inevitably at times when battling the wind, the cold, the altitude it is impossible on occasion not to want to be somewhere else. The moment it is left behind however it is missed; the landscapes, the quality of light, and the sheer emptiness of the place. It is something of a drug in that respect. Having descended from the puna all the …

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Pampa to Puna – La Quiaca to San Antonio de los Cobres

The winds of the high puna of northern Argentina and Chile are infamous amongst touring cyclists. They are to be expected but every so often, as with weather anywhere, the winds can reach an intensity somewhat greater than might normally be expected. One of those days turned into one of the most testing days on two wheels I can remember, far more intense than anything I recall  experiencing in ‘windy season’ down in Patagonia, probably …

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Dust, Rain, and Snow. To Tupiza

After three days the blockade of Uyuni suddenly ended at around 6pm on Saturday evening. I’m not certain what, if any, resolution was achieved but I am certain that the increasingly peckish inhabitants were not entirely unhappy to see the back of it. The first indication that things were returning to normal was when I heard some trucks moving in town. I raced off to the market to pick up some fresh bread, fruit, and …

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Uyuni

Having ridden the stretch between the Argentine border and Uyuni back in 2010 I had planned to take the train this time. There would have been one on Monday morning, however things rarely go to plan. Uyuni and the surrounding area has been in state of lockdown, general strike, since Thursday morning. The roads are blockaded, nothing in or out, all businesses are shut. Not even independent motorcycle tourists are being permitted to leave. I’m …

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Putre etc

A small grid of quiet, dusty streets in the precordillera of northern Chile, the Aymara village of Putre sits about 75km west of, and at 3500m is 1.2 vertical kilometres below the remote Bolivia/Chile border post at Chungara. The population is somewhere around 1500 but to walk the streets is to wonder that more than about 10 people live here. Being somewhat warmer and lower than the high altiplano, and with some decent (i.e. edible …

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The Wild West

Bolivian bikepacking – cross-country, via network of dirt roads and remote trails, from La-Paz to the Sajama volcano (6,542m / 21,463 ft) in the west of the country.

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