Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Salt Deserts

Hi guys,

Back in Uyuni, where I started off from 3 weeks ago heading south. This time however ,I arrived from the north! After changing plans 3x, I started biking from the same place I did earlier to Chile, but heading south. Was traveling on VERY seldom used tracks (not roads) through the scrub. Linking together very small villages, 2 river crossings, tiny villages with friendly and increadibly tough Ayrama indians. It was incredible and the highlight of my entire trip here. I crossed the salar de Coipasa from north to south, then another day put me on the remote western edge ofthe salar de Uyuni. Holy shit. It was intimidating, like an ocean of salt, 110 miles to cross in a straight line.

Set off from the village of Llica with 18 liters of water and a few butterflies in my stomach. The first day (yesterday) I had about 30miles of pretty bumpy riding across the salt polygons covered in 2+ inches of water, dosent get more crazy, horizon dissapears in the water and you are basically biking in the clouds, Navigating by compass. Got to Isla del Pescado and from there I could see the next island out in the marage. Camped for the very last time last night on the back side of that island. Today things were quite a bit faster and drier.

Yesterday I was totally alone out there, today´s route was more on the 4x4 tour route and they would pass occasionally like ships in the distance. Made it to the salt hotel where I had been before and knew it was in the bag. Pulled into Uyuni everything coated with salt crystals. Made it!! That crossing was pretty much my goal for this entire trip. It's why I didnt leave my bike behind 2 months ago. Now I can just be content and count the minutes until my flight leaves! Probably heading to Potosi to have a look at the mines tomorrow, then back to La Paz to pack the bike up.

Love, Eric

Thursday, March 16, 2006

San Pedro

I pulled into San pedro (Chile) after dark today. The ride from Uyuni through the high remote south west corner was nothing short of completly epic! It was the hardest tour ride I´ve ever done. Got good practiced dodging lightning, acting like a windsock and carrying enough water for days. The 4x4 tracks I was following were so rough I could only go 4-5 mph the whole time. Usually between 14,000 and 16,000´´ 30 miles was a full day. So much to tell, it was amazing and amazingly hard. Knees held up for the most part!

To finish yesterday I pulled into Laguna Verde and pushed up to this old track and camped at 15,000´below Volcan Llicanbur, got up at 3am this morning(jeeze its been a long day!) was very cold starting out, nights in the teens & 20´s and I had a hard time keeping my feet warm in running shoes, but once the sun came out it was all better, I made it all the way up. 19,500´ in trail runners! big rocky scrambling slog. Made it back down by noon, and was back in my tent resting a bit, when the craving for real food after a week out kicked in and I decided to head to san pedro.

Mistake! I thouht it was all downhill, but leaving L. Verde I had 3 hrs of climbing and a hellacous headwind back up to 16,000´ I was spent and my legs were toast after a week of hard riding AND the peak! finally made it to Chile and a nice paved road which dropped 7,000´in 25 miles into the desert. Again had hell cross winds on this never ending flat section coming into san pedro. Cant believe I´m still awake...Ok, will write more tomorrow. I´m so happy I pulled this section off, its what I had been thinking off ever since I wanted to come here years ago. time for more food.

love, Eric

Monday, March 06, 2006

Chilean Coast


Back from a 5 day trip to the Chilean coast. Started by bussing to Sajama national park near the border. Incredible area. Spent two nights in awe of the place and avoiding thunderstorms & hail storms in my tent! The next two days I crossed into Chile with a nice 15,200´pass with incredible views and lots of Vicunas, small and rare species of camalid, llama..and flamingos in the shallow lakes, they are tough even though they are pink...After getting nice and sopping wet again I stopped a bit early on Friday as there is simply no good way to stay warm biking in sleet & rain above 14,000! So yesterday was the real deal. Went on a mission and rode 110 miles out of the mountains through the pre-cordillera and quickly into the desert.

Although its is one of the biggest descents in the world there was still 3000´of climbing mixed in there, and I could'nt believe my altimiter when the cumulative function said I had descended over 16,500 ft! The whole time I had about 15 extra pounds of water withme in case I needed to camp, makes the bike even more of a tank! Dropping into the desert was amazing, just huge barren everything and some increadible sandboarding potential. The last 20 miles I had offshore headwinds from hell and I was so wasted anyway I entered the beloved altered state... pulled into Aricaat 7pm and immediately hit the meat and ice cream...this morning I managed a quick swim in the pacific before almost missing my 8hr bus trip back to La Paz.
Good stuff!
Off to Uyuni Tomorrow by buss.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

biking the worlds most dangerous road

Here are some photos of the rides on the jungle side of the cordillera real. The Corioco Road aka ¨the worlds most dangerous road¨ (for good reason) and the¨Jungle rail trail¨ the rail trail was an adventure ride full of landslides, waterfalls, slippery bamboo, strange thorny bushes and various other Perils, After two hours we came aross this Impassible hole with a death drop, we decided to turn around..Off to the Atacama.
Cheers, Eric