The Bottom of the World.

It’s rather tough to sit and lie here in Southern California while fielding e-mails from my riding partner and good samaritan extraordinaire Jeremiah. But it is what it is; as the adage goes. Since leaving me to to get on my way with my medical evacuation Jeremiah has slowly made his way south through Chile and Argentina crossing the two borders a number of times.

Today he reports from De Puerto Natales. Puerto Natales is the capital of the Province of Ultima Esperanza. The city was founded in 1911 on a gently sloping point on the inlet of Ultima Esperanza and is an excellent base camp for exploring the amazing national parks of Torres del Paine and Bernardo O’Higgins as well as the Cueva del Milodon, Earlier this week Miah had one of those epiphany’s as he rode the Pampas toward Patagonia and rode through Torres del Paine saying it was “One of the most amazing places on the face of the earth.”

Torres Del Paine

The Magnifiscent Parque Nacional de Torres del Paine, Chile

Photo by Jeremiah St. Ours

But getting there took quite a toll on El Viento, his 2005 Dakar. Taking the Carretera Austral, a dirt and gravel road built by Chile’s last dictator Pinochet beginning in 1976. Construction wasn’t completed until 1988. The Carretera Austral (Southern Highway) provides access to the massive wilderness of the Palena province and the Aisén region. Here he rode through never-ending fjords, glaciers and temperate rainforests . But the road is desolate, lacks services and due to the constant barrage of tourists in 4 x 4s, the road has degraded into a pot-holed and washboard nightmare.

[…] I followed the Carretera Austral south towards the small town of Coihaique. The route is a remote, rough, washboarded, potholed dirt road with very little traffic. The near constant pounding destroyed my foglamp and headlight. It flattened my front tire. It loosened many fasteners and I lost two of the bolts that hold my aluminum pannier to its frame on the bike. Worst of all one of two (both critical) sub-frame bolts sheared in half! The sub-frame bolts hold the entire back end of the bike on, and I was down to only one–lopsidedly holding it all together under great stress […] (in Coihaique ) I was fortunately able to locate a small machine shop and was able to drill out the sheared bolt and re-tap the threads to the original 8-mm. I screwed in a new (old and used) bolt that fit, repaired the flat tire, replaced the headlamp bulb, tightened everything up, and adjusted and lubricated the chain […]

Jeremiah tells me he will connect with two other riders we both had been in contact with throughout our South American sojourn Brad and Anne. They plan to converge on Ushuaia, the southern most city in the South America — where I thought I’d be, too!

I hope to connect with them via iChat and include them in the next WorldRider podcast. Stay tuned.

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