Thursday, 13 October 2011

Mendoza to Los Andes,

After a week relaxing at a campsite after my little mountain adventure I was keen to get going again. The bike shop was unable to fix my bike and I had finally met the mad Spaniard I had kept hearing about. The campsite was huge and he pitched his tent next to mine and then refused to speak to me!?! On the way back from the shower I narrowed my eyes at him and scowled he quickly turned away, not quick enough I caught the smile on his face.

I set off with a heavy heart Argentina had been good fun and it would be a while till I would be back. I spent the last of my money in a small shop on some biscuits and set off with a few pence (I would draw money out in Chile; I had plenty of food and water on the bike). I soon noticed the amount of traffic; this was the main pass between Argentina and Chile. A small valley meant that only a narrow road could be built. I was constantly having to pull over because of the lorries it was sure there where more than normal but I put it down to the road being narrow. The worst bit was the small tunnels I would peddle as fast as I could to try and get out before I got squashed. Soon I was riding through snow and where the valley opened out a bit there where ski slopes, people would stop and look at me. It became clear as well that I wasn't going to be able to find anywhere to camp, I didn't have anything to clear the snow away and I didn't know where the river was (last thing I wanted to do was step in it by accident). I came across a ski lodge and I went and asked for a room, luckily they had one but I had to pay full ski season rate for it. I was chatting to the guy and said a lot of lorries on the road, he told me as it’s the main pass 4000 a day come through. It was strange to see people walking around dressed for skiing, it hadn't really sunk in that I had cycled so far.

The next morning I had a headwind and I was climbing again soon I was really feeling the altitude. I had to start pushing as there was snow on the road, all the cars had snow chains on. My tyres were just slipping all over the place. A couple of people stopped and offered me a lift but I declined there was no way after all I had been through I was going to accept a lift now. When I got to the highest point it’s a tunnel, it’s a few kilometres long and has a toll booth and police. They told me cycling was strictly forbidden as it was too dangerous with it being so narrow and the lorries. I had to put my bike on the shuttle van and be driven through. I was sad I had lost my tyre track but I there wasn't anything I could do. The van driver was a Chilean who drove about a foot away from the car in front half way through the tunnel you enter Chile the van driver pointed it out and flashed his lights and started beeping his horn to make the point. The driver in front must have panicked and braked just cause us to very nearly tail end him.

The other side of the tunnel was the customs point, this was a combined Argentina and Chile, normally I go through one and then the other. I went in got the argentine desk and got given a form I filled it out and then went to the Chilean desk asked if it was ok and the just went si and stamped me into Chile and took my Argentina visa. Unfortunately I had missed a stage I was stamped into Chile but technically I was still in Argentina, I explained to the guy from Argentina what had happened I had to go into an office were the manager gave me a temporary visa to exit Chile, the guy from Argentina stamped my passport and then I gave the visa back, it was totally ridiculous.
After I had had my bike searched for fruit I was back on the road in Chile, it was all downhill. The road was hairpin bend after hairpin bend the edge of the road had no barrier and was just shear drop for thousands of feet. In some places the road was even crumbling at the edge, with the snow and all the lorries it was terrifying. Soon the snow gave way to green and before long I was starting to feel warm. Soon I was riding past lemon trees, I could see olive groves. The change was incredibly quick. The next day I was in shorts and tee shirt, I was flying along, I thought to myself an early start tomorrow and I could possibly do a 100 mile day. That's something I had not thought for a very long time.

Monday, 4 July 2011

7 days in Tibet,

I had an enjoyable run to Mendoza it was nice to see such a change in scenery, I was now traveling through vineyards. Finding campsites was impossible they are all shut and it's a bit more tricky to hide up. I had pitched in a field when two lady's walked passed they just said good evening and ignored me. The ride into Mendoza was slow it was busy and typical city riding. I got to the center, abstained from getting either a hotel or Mac Donald’s truth is I didn't want to leave my bike outside. This was the same for the bank, Ahh sod it I though there is a campsite listed 6km northwest go and pitch there and then come back later. By the time I found the campsite it was getting late, it had also closed down ages ago, I was in a bit of a bad mood by now I had a rear tire that was slowly deflating but I didn't want to change it so I had to keep pumping it up. I had a look at my map and guide book I could go back into Mendoza and pick up route 7 (motorway, everyone rides down the hard shoulder in fact I passed a woman pushing a pram down the hard shoulder) or take the high mountain pass to the north, this looked more fun it was full of natural springs and some thermal ones said the guide book plus it’s the area where they filmed most of '7 years in Tibet', It’s got to be I thought.

On the way i kept stopping at small shops to get some water none had any bottles and they refused to fill my bottles instead trying to sell me coke, I refused and just carried on I had a small amount of water and would find some from somewhere. As it was late I got about 20 km north and found somewhere to camp the next morning it wasn't as cold as normal I had dropped considerably into Mendoza. I set off without breakfast I hadn't had dinner the night before either but I was confident something would come up, soon I was climbing I came across a park rangers office and filled up with 2 and a half liters of water plus as much as I could drink as I filled them I was now in a national park camping and fires was strictly prohibited, I thought I'll just get out of sight of here and then cook some pasta. I was confident I would reach the town I was heading to that evening. A few miles later just as I was about to stop I came across a restaurant I had 20 pesos (about £3) I asked the lady if I could have a sandwich for that, she did me two massive ham sandwiches I stood outside and stuffed them both down. Back on my way, I was climbing, really climbing hairpin after hairpin I switched the Garmin on I had climbed almost 1000 meters (I was now at about 1800 meters) I didn't stop climbing all day, I was exhausted 2 ham sandwiches in 24 hours and this climbing was killing me I had to push my bike in the steeper parts I was also getting through my water. Don't worry I was thinking I'll summit soon and then it's all downhill. It was at 6 pm at 2890 meters I realized there was no way I could summit, the sun had dropped below the tops of the mountains and the last of my water had frozen solid hours before. The temperature plunges when the light starts to go and it was already well below freezing I knew I had to get my tent up and get in it. The big problem was where? It was just sheer drops and cliff faces soon I came to a small area that had been carved by a river in years gone by I could be seen but at this point I almost wanted to be found by the rangers and taken somewhere warm. I had long ago lost feeling in my fingers even with ski gloves and liners on. It took all my concentration just to open the pannier clips I was getting into trouble, getting that tent up was one of the hardest things I have done on this trip, just hooking a bit of elastic around a tent peg was a huge task. When I finally got in I just got straight into my two sleeping bags fully clothed. I don’t think I got more than a few hours’ sleep and it defiantly goes down as one of the worst nights ever, I have no idea what the temperature dropped to, I was just curled up shivering the whole time.

The next morning was a struggle to get packed up I hadn't fully regained feeling in my fingers, I set off and was immediately struggling I could only push the bike about 10 meters before I was completely out of breath (like I had just sprinted as hard as I could) and I felt sick and kept feeling like I was going to faint. I put it down to lack of food and exhaustion, I was also getting dehydrated as well. It crossed my mind it could be altitude sickness, nah I thought, that's stupid people go skiing higher than this. After hours of struggling I summited at 3000 meters and started the descent it was hard, there were no safety barriers and the road just crumbled at the edges with drops that would kill me if I went over. With frozen hands I made my way down slowly, eventually I got to the town (upsalata). I have no feeling in the tips of my fingers yet even though my hands are warm and two of my toes are really hurting. The sickness has gone, I don't know if the half kilo of biscuits and pasta cured it. I later found out altitude sickness can affect people climbing up to and over 2500 meters in a fast ascent, especially those under stress. Hungry, dehydrated and pushing a 60 kilo bike would tick all the boxes!

I'm going to have a day or two off and stay at the campsite here before I attempt the big pass into Chile. Though I have been warned it can close for weeks at a time in the winter with the snow.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Chasing sunshine

Chasing sunshine,

Its cold at night, the outer zip on my tent has broken so the wind and frost get in. My sleeping bag and foam mat, the self-inflating one got ruined ages ago and binned, are not really up to this so I am going to get a cheap sleeping bag to go in my other sleeping bag. I find I wake up all through the night having strange dreams only to realise I am actually still in my little tent in south America, its one crazy dream straight into another. Yesterday it rained I got soaked the wind made the rain sting, I pitched the tent early the desert floor just became mud that stuck to everything soon everything was covered and I was feeling wet, cold and pretty miserable. The next morning was hard to get packed up and into wet clothes in freezing conditions. I pack up in the dark and get going as soon as there is enough light, today I was lucky there was no wind and soon the sun came up it started to get warm really warm I dried all my stuff out and soon I was down to just shorts, top and arm and leg warmers. I'm hoping I'm far enough north now to catch the odd warm day.

Today I was going to get to a small town according to the map and small it was I almost cycled past it thinking it was a farm; it was a grand total of three buildings. The old petrol pumps caught my eye. It was the first place I had seen in four days. Outside the petrol station/general stores was a man standing in a suit, a dark navy blue suit, double breasted with great big gold buttons and flares. It must have been 30/40 years old this suit. Next to him was a stick, a hat, a small leather satchel and a rolled up duvet. I cycled over and said hello as I went past "where are you from" he asked in very good English, England I said and asked where he was from, Germany. I asked him is that seriously all your stuff for travelling pointing to his four things "yes... but I have too much" he said. He explained he had got rid of everything to achieve total independence and freedom. He had been stuck in this place for days waiting for a lorry or car to take him on his way. I didn't point out that he was now completely dependent on others and as a result had lost his freedom. He may have turned his nose up at all off my possessions, but all I need is some fuel for my stove and food (and maybe a 70s suit, it was pretty cool).

Inside the petrol station/general stores was exactly how you imagine a small store out here to be. (Outside was a bar to tie your horse to, people do still use horses as transport out here, I leant my steed of steel against it). There were shelves with packets of food where some that had been in the sun had faded compared to the rest and tins with spots of rust on. You could buy spares for your saddle and calendars of 2009. I loaded up with food that probably went out of date years ago and got back on my way.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

They Paved Paradise and Put Up A Visitors Centre

They Paved Paradise and Put Up A Visitors Centre

Glacier Perito Moreno,

Note after 3 days in El Calafate my bike is now fixed.

I decided to take a small detour and see the Perito Moreno glacier. By the time I had picked my bike up and loaded up it was 11.30, still it was only 50 miles to the glacier I wasn't worried. I was fighting a headwind, one of the worst since I had been out here, and it took me 4 hours to do 25 miles. I was just crawling along, soon I was in the Andes this helped break the headwind but now I was climbing and descending. It was almost 6pm by the time I arrived I had about 1/2 hour of daylight left, I’ll find somewhere to sleep I thought and see the glacier in the morning. It became apparent I wasn't going to be able to camp, I had been told when I bought my ticket absolutely no camping. I figured I might be able to hide somewhere but there was nowhere, it was either mountain or open and I would be seen. Oh well I thought I’ll have to go to the hotel, this turned out to be closed (it’s now out of season here). I went back to the visitors centre, by now everyone had gone apart from a guy cleaning. I ran through my options, I can't camp, hotel is closed, all the buses have gone and there is no way I can do 50miles back to El Calafate tonight. There was a large sheltered area between the gift shop and cafe I was sheltered by three walls and I had a roof over me. I got in my sleeping bag I was warm it would do.

At about 10pm a ranger found me and asked me what I was doing "waiting for the gift shop to open" I replied. I explained I had nowhere else to go and I was sleeping here unless he let me put my tent up "no camping no no no" he said. I shrugged and pulled the draw cord on my sleeping bag so only my face was looking out. He stood there "but it will get cold" he said, I shrugged again (I would be alright but I was hoping he would let me pitch my tent). He walked off and then came back and said "ok ill open the toilets you can sleep in there". Even better I had shelter, lights and heat!

The next morning I spent ages at the edge of the glacier, the front is 5k wide and 60 metres tall, massive chunks of ice fall off the front with loud cracks and booms as the glacier grows (up to 2 metres a day sometimes). All throughout the night I could hear it.

I was ready to leave and was just having a coffee when a different ranger found me and asked me to leave the park, I couldn't believe it, I was being thrown out. It wasn't my fault, there was just no way I could do 100 miles with a headwind and mountainous climbing in one day. On the way back it was easy the wind was still strong but a tail wind for me now the only downside was it was pouring with rain and I got soaked.

Tomorrow I start heading north again.

Getting back into the swing of things

Getting back into the swing of things,

The part was meant to turn up for my bike on the Thursday before Easter, nothing came and everything closes down at Easter in Chile, the Monday was not a bank holiday so I decided to go and ask at Chile express if there was a parcel for me. I knew UPS had used a third party but I didn't know who it was. "No, no parcel for Robert joy" I was told. I went back to the hostel and sat in my room wondering what to do when there was a knock at the door, it was the mother of the family looking all excited "parcel here" she said "here at the hostel" I replied "no, but here" I wasn't sure what she meant by that so I said" Chile express?”, “yes" she replied. Still didn't make much sense I had just come from there I decided to go back and ask again. This time she produced the missing parcel.

I quickly fitted everything back on to the bike as I was putting it together it became clear the rear derailler was bent. I went to the bike shop he didn't have one which would fit as I walked back I thought there is no way I can spend another week or so here. I borrowed a vice and hammer off the guy who owns the hostel and started to gingerly tap it back to shape it took all of about 2 minutes before I lost my temper and started to hit it as hard as I could. It was a state but I could get three gears it will do I thought.

By now it was 3pm I might as well set off first thing tomorrow I thought (only 3 hours of daylight).I went and had dinner in the cafe and said goodbye to my favourite waitress. The next morning it was raining I didn't care, I was back on the road. By lunchtime my legs were killing, I was just climbing and with only three gears it was taking everything I had. I realised that I hadn't peddled for one month that's the longest break off a bike in years, my knee was starting to hurt from pushing a big gear in the climbs. After 8 hours I could do no more I was exhausted I set up camp and fell asleep. The next morning I shook the ice off my panniers and wiped the frost of my saddle, it was going to be a cold day. I started climbing again and was soon riding through patches of snow, not for the first time I wondered if my kit was up to this. I could only manage a short day my knee was killing me and the cold was getting to me. I was starting to feel ill my legs were shaking and I had no strength, I would have struggled to walk up stairs at that point. I made a large pan of pasta enough for the morning as well and went sleep. It rained heavily during the night but was clear in the morning, then my route turned to dirt track with all the rain the night before it was a sticky mess I was stopping every 100 metres or so and having to dig mud out from between the wheels and frame with a tire lever, in the end I started pushing the bike, without my weight I was actually going quicker, it took me all day to cover 50k and again tonight I'm exhausted.

You may think I'm moaning, I'm not. I'm just telling you how it is, frustratingly slow and hard. But I am so happy to be back on the road even the cold and the problems are better than being stuck. I'm in my little tent right now typing this and there is nowhere else I would rather be.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

It was the best of times and it was the worst of times

It was the best of times and it was the worst of times,

If you are a keen reader of this blog you might be aware my bike is broken and I am waiting for the part to turn up (a rear mech hanger). This means staying in a hostel (hence the worst of times) with absolutely nothing to do. I've been consuming vast quantities of Chilean wine (hence the best of times). I woke one morning from a vivid dream to find myself fully clothed on the floor, I must have looked like a character from inception. I had spilt red wine everywhere, down my trousers and all over the floor. I washed my trousers and left the floor, I doubted anyone was going to notice with all the dirt and stains already there. The hostel is £6.50 a night; it’s not too bad, I've stayed in worse. After a few days I had to by an air freshener for the room, the wine in the carpet was making an awful smell.

Now here follows the saga that is the missing part,

The part was ordered from chain reaction cycles, they offered a 4 day DHL express delivery for £30, that's not too bad I thought, £30 and I'm on my way. I might as well relax for a few days. On the Friday it was due to be delivered I got a phone call on the hostel landline, the guy didn't speak English, I got the gist it was in Punta Arenas and will be with me by 6pm. I spent the afternoon sitting out the front reading a book, 6pm came and went. Oh well I thought maybe the driver couldn't make it round and it will be here tomorrow. The next day nothing, a few days later I realise it’s not going to turn up, it had been signed for therefore according to DHL I must have it. Chain reaction weren't doing much at their end to find it. Dejected I loaded everything up I was going to start walking, I really wanted to start moving again. The next morning I had a chat with my friend Matthew he convinced me to stay put and got on to the case he got a new part sent to him and made me up a box with some goodies in (new socks, inner tubes etc.) and what a star got a full refund out of chain reaction, thanks mate.

With nothing to do for few days, I tried to find some cheap trainers and shorts so at least I could go running. They all cost more than I was prepared to pay. I normally just go for a walk along the coast and take my stove to cook something for later on. Today I went to my normal cafe for lunch hoping the waitress I like would be serving, she is surly but pretty, she was. I wondered if she noticed I had been wearing the same clothes for five days in a row. Maybe she could smell I had, I am struggling to get stuff dry, it’s not much above freezing and my room is damp. I'm looking forward to getting back into my tent.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

The last cyclist,

The last cyclist,

A Belgian girl told me I was the last cyclist; she was cycling with her boyfriend to Ushuaia. They hadn't seen anyone going the other way for days, I had set off late I was going to experience winter in the Andes. Well I was going to have to experience it at some point! But I liked that term 'the last cyclist'. I was still thinking about it when a dog started running alongside me.

It’s not uncommon to have stray dogs running alongside with you, this one kept it up for about 20/25 miles all I did was look at her and occasionally speak to her, yeah I know I've been on my own for 50 days I'm happy talking to a dog. I arrived at the Chilean border I pointed out to the guard that a stray dog was following me, he just shrugged and motioned me to go on. In Argentina it was different, the guard came out and roared with laughter "ha ha ha HA HA HA Dog follow Dog follow ha ha ha" he even called his mates out to see. I cycled on, I got about 15km up the road when there was a crunch and the rear derailleur came round from the back. The rear hanger had snapped, I stopped and tried to do a fix. I took a spare chain out and tried to make it into a single speed but I couldn't get the chain tight enough, I pushed the bike for a few km. I was running out of daylight so I just found a somewhere out of sight to pitch my tent. I got the stove going my new companion sat a few feet away looking at me. Ok, I know I shouldn't, but I fed her some pasta.

I got In my tent that evening the wind was terrible it was raining as well, I hardly slept, the noise of the tent flapping was too much. In the morning I unzipped the tent to find a soaked shivering dog curled up by the entrance. It wasn't much above freezing, snow in the hills, she licked my hand. Ahh crap I felt bad, but what could do? I packed up and set off, she ran with me. She would run after dark people carriers it didn't take much to figure she had been dumped, how someone could do that I don't know. I sent a picture to my friend Matt, his girlfriend, Liz, named her Dixie.

As I got near to Rio Turbio Dixie ran out into the road to chase a car, there was a big crump as she was hit at about 50mph by a car in the other direction. The car just carried on, I couldn't go back if she was still alive what could I do? Put her out of her misery like Will Smith in I am legend? Nah I couldn't do that. I just went on, it had been 24 hours and she had been fed, she died happy I hoped.

I got to Rio Turbio, a strange town I don't know if the mine is still working but the town is dead even if the mine isn't. It’s mostly closed down businesses, empty buildings and peeling paint. Only one hotel, tried to charge me 300 Argentina dollars I poorly haggled to 250, Eric idle would have shaken his head and said "one born every minute". I went into the supermarket and bought some bottles of Stella, I spent evening chatting to my mate John and drinking a few beers.

The next morning I got up and set off to find a bike shop I walked round the corner and felt a familiar poking of a small nose against my leg. I looked down to see Dixie, limping badly, how she survived and crawled into town I’ll never know. After a while it became apparent that there were no bike shops here, I was going to have to go back to Chile. I stayed in the hotel another night and got up early, no sign of Dixie. I went and had breakfast, came back, and there she was waiting outside. I pushed my bike for 9 and a half hours back to the border. I went across the Argentina border post and as I got to Chile the guard said you can't come into Chile with a dog, “it’s not mine” I said. “Nothing to do with me, It follows you it’s your problem, take it back to Argentina" he said, I tried to explain even if I did that my bike is broken so I couldn't out run the dog. I went back into no man’s land and screamed at Dixie to go away she just put her tail between her legs and cowered down, I felt bad but she couldn't come with me. She stayed long enough for me to walk back and then ran to me just as I was about to go through the guards said try that again and they picked up stones and pieces of wood to throw at her. I went back and did the same again 4 guards stood in a line throwing stones and bits of wood at her. It was the strangest way I have ever entered a country. It didn't work she ran straight into Chile, an Argentinian family who were going the other way back to Argentina agreed to take her and chuck her out of the car the other side of the border I felt bad but what could I do? I hoped they took pity and kept her.

In the end I couldn't get the bit from the bike shop and will have to wait for a new one to arrive from England. That means I will also go back across the border were Dixie was left, I have a funny feeling this might not be over.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Ushuaia - the end of the world, the beginning of everything,

Ushuaia - the end of the world, the beginning of everything,
it’s a must for cyclists, the place they call the end of the world. There are no roads on the planet that go any further south. On the way there I met 2 French girls who had set off cycling to Peru, I asked them what about the slums? We might take a bus for that bit they said. We said goodbye and I continued in the other direction. It was a hard ride after weeks of gentle rolling land, full on mountain passes were making my legs feel like lead. I was beginning to think I wasn't going to make it when suddenly I descended for ages down to sea level, I had arrived.
I didn't know what to expect, after hours of riding through mountains some with snow on I was a little disappointed to see an industrial looking place. I stopped and asked a guy where the centre was, he turned out to be an American who had just come to the end of his four month trip," I fly out of here tomorrow, I can't believe it’s over" he said, he was in his own little world, I left him to it and wondered how I will feel when it comes to the end.
I got a hotel, I hate hostels I would rather pay a little more a have a hotel room or sleep in my tent. I went down to the restaurant and ordered a beer, then a meal and a bottle of wine. At the end I got another bottle and took it to my room. This is how I relax; I was going to get pissed. The next morning I got up early and headed down to breakfast, incredibly even after all that booze I was early for breakfast it opened at 7.30 I chatted to the guy on reception as I waited for it to open. I told him I was going to take a boat trip the next day; I had shopping to do today. "No do the boat trip today, the weather here changes so fast. You have a good day today, use the weather" he explained. After breakfast I thought he has got a point I will buy some warmer clothes later. I put all my cycling tops on and headed off. The trip was ok; if I'm honest I got really cold and a bit bored.
I got back and started exploring the town, apart from the fact everybody was wearing gortex I could have been in Europe, with European prices to match. I figured I’ll get warmer clothes on route but what I must get are decent waterproofs mine just didn't work. £150 later I had new waterproofs and waterproof skiing gloves.
I went to the kiosk near the hotel and bought 5, 1 litre bottles of beer, like I said before this is how I relax. On the third night, 6 cans and a 1 litre carton of red wine I then staggered down to reception and got another bottle. I had so many empties I didn't know what to do, I had been hiding them in the wardrobe when I was pissed so the chamber maid didn't see them now I had loads. I was tempted just to leave them so the next person would be confused to why the wardrobe was full of empty bottles and cans. In the end I put them in the bags my shopping came in and strolled down the road and chucked them in a skip.
Before I knew it I was back on the bike, three days had flown past. I put my new waterproofs on it was raining, it doesn't matter how much you spend after 8 hours of pouring rain you are going to get soaked. I was feeling miserable, hard riding, wet and I had to pitch a tent in the rain. The days off had made me lose my mind-set. I needed to refocus on what I am doing here, toughen up a little and get back into the groove. Who knows I might even catch up with those French girls!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Rio Grande and little victories,

Rio Grande and little victories,

Sleeping in the tent is uncomfortable at the moment I wake a lot during the night needing to move my legs I have what feels like very faint cramp, this is a pain in a sleeping bag as I have to unzip it and move around, fall asleep, wake up cold and then get back in. I am wearing a jacket now almost all the time the days are still sunny but the wind is cold.

I booked into a small hotel in between two towns, originally I was just going to get supplies and camp in the dessert. When I got in out of the wind I thought sod it I'm going to stay. On the form you have to fill in under occupation I put 'bird of prey hair stylist'. The form wanted to know if I was single or married. Why they need to know this for a hotel room I don't know. The room was basic but nice, the taps said 'hot' and 'cold' on them, it took me a while to figure out they had been plumbed up the other way round. I asked the owner where I could put my bike and he said 'put it in your room' this meant wheeling it through the restaurant it was tight and we had to keep moving chairs and tables. I folded my map over for the last time I am on the last section, I have also worked out my winter kit is not going to be warm enough for the Andies as it will turn into winter as I climb them. I will buy some new kit in Ushaia.

I managed a good day from the hotel to rio galegous the rest had done me good as I entered I stopped at a service station and got a drink and packet of biscuits and wondered what to do I had been given an address by the couple that gave me the bananas but I thought it would be a bit rude to turn up out of the blue on a Friday night plus all I had was an address the place was a small city, I chuckled as I cycled passed the massive bus depot advertising a 36 hour bus ride to Buenos Aires was that all?

I cycled down the streets and was looking ahead when someone waved to me I waved back and was still looking down the street thinking I'm going out of town I need to go back. I turned round and was met by Juan Carlos on a bike he said follow me, I had cycled passed Geraldine and Juan Carlos (the people who gave me the bananas and there address) they had waved but I had cycled straight pass, I felt a bit silly for not stopping. I wasn't expecting to see them it was like bumping into someone in Newcastle. As Geraldine said 'it must be destiny' I soon had my map spread out and was showing them my route, Geraldine told me about a Argentinian cyclist (Damian) who had been in the paper that day who had been on the road for four years and was on his way back home he was in town and her husband Juan Carlos was joining in with a group cycling with him the next day. She very kindly took me to a bike shop and I asked for some new tyres, they didn't have any they gave Geraldine a phone number when we got back she phoned it and then told me Damien the cyclist was going to come over to see me, I was touched it was so nice of her. Damian is tanned, good looking and speaks perfect English we went through my route and he told me the best route to go (not the easiest, but the best route) he also warned me against Lima in Peru to many cyclists had been robbed in the slums going into the city. "Your white there going to think you're a gringo, they will rob you" I had been lulled into a false sense of security with Argentina it was safe. "You need to be sharp or you will get robbed or worse" Damian told me. I had dinner with the family which was great and went to bed thinking about what Damian had said. Please check out his website,

The next morning Geraldine had put a magnificent spread out for breakfast, she warned me it was a 4 day bank holiday in Argentina (sat to tue) and that there was a four hour wait in the border crossing to Chile. I said my goodbyes and set off.

I reached the crossing late afternoon parked my bike and joined the quad it was over an hour before I got my passport stamped that wasn't too bad I thought as I cycled off only to be see another checkpoint I went through it all again to get into Chile. Chile has something I had never encountered before cheerful border guards I went through my route with them and chatted it was nice to be welcomed into a country with a smile. I noticed a coach driver with a stack of passports he idly looked through a few while queuing, rather like a fat Jason Bourne choosing a new passport I thought ad I collected my bike. Once again I was searched for fresh fruit and then I was off.

The road soon disappeared and I was cycling on gravel it was hard going and the bike and me was getting shaken to bits. I stopped at a truck stop and had a sandwich while I was having a coffee a load of Brazilians on motorbikes turned up they were in the middle of their tour I posed for pictures and one of the guys said "one day I'm going to be like you and go on a great adventure".

After a while I came across some workmen putting more gravel down, they were keen to stop and chat to me. They insisted I had something to eat and drink with them it was great we talked the international language of football!

By the time I reached the boarder i was tired I stopped and asked an old Chilean guy if there was camping nearby. He motioned me to follow him and let me pitch my tent in his back garden behind his shed out of the wind. I am looking forward to going back to Chile.

I cycled on to Rio Grande and stopped in the town centre after the 8th cash dispenser I realised they were all out of money a 4 day bank holiday and low denomination notes had left them empty. It’s not just staplehurst that runs out I thought, beginning to panic a little. I had passed a casino with a hotel in it I knew they would take cards it looked very posh (and out of place) I wasn't sure what to do. Ahhh I might as well ask how much the rooms are I thought. As I went in, please bear in mind this place is posh and I haven't washed for four days, I saw a cash dispenser tucked round the corner I quickly went over and popped my card in. A security guard shouted, it was not for rif raf to use, to late I had got my money. He angrily escorted me off the premises, I was tempted to march up to the hotel reception plonk my visa card down and order a room in my poshest voice. When I got outside I chuckled and realised that's what this trip is going to be about, 'little victories' and I am going to take them where I can.

Monday, 28 February 2011

For Hugh grant in love actually its airports, for me its services stations, ok there's no love, but they all have food, cold drinks and they are always open. Most have cafes or seating areas, I enjoy sitting and watching the people come and go. It’s always a welcome sight to see a service station.

Or it was, I had a slight tiny problem, I ran out of money I had about £1.70 left I hadn't been to a town big enough to have a cash dispenser (I can't draw cash out over the counter like an Argentinian can, only big towns have cash dispensers) I do have a backup 50 American dollars which I am sure someone will take.

I had been camping for 6 nights in a row, the ground is dust that gets on everything, and I’m filthy when I put sun cream on with the dirt on my skin it just turns into a paste. I was looking forward to a hotel room and a shower.

I only have two patches left out of the twenty I bought out. All three spare tubes have punchers as well; I am going to need to find a bike shop very soon.

I stopped at a service station there wasn't really anything I could buy but hot water I had a couple of coffees standing there cursing myself for being so stupid, I should have checked I could get money out. The next big town was just over 100 miles away I still had some fuel and some dried pasta. A big day and I would reach the town or worst case be there next morning, I would go hungry but it was possible to do. I set off.

If you go to any internet forum or read books on cycling in Patagonia, they all ways go on about the wind, its strong, you have to lean into it and suddenly it will drop just as you stop leaning it comes back and pushes you of the edge of the road because there was an 1" or so drop I couldn't bump back up it without risking breaking a spoke so I would have to stop and get back on the road slowly. This happened hundreds of times and was so frustrating. At lunchtime I cooked some pasta it wasn't very nice but I had to eat something. It started raining with the wind it got very cold I had most of my winter gear on but was still shivering at 6 o'clock I had only done about 50miles but I was so cold, wet and tired I knew I needed to stop, pitching my tent in that wind with numb hands was so slow and frustrating. The next day I got up and got on again the wind was fierce and I was climbing I hadn't eaten, I needed to reach the town by the evening, it was painfully slow going it was still wet and cold as I stopped by the side of the road behind a pile of earth out of the wind I noticed my breath was condensing it was cold, how I thought? A week ago it was mid-thirties it can't get that cold that quick. The Garmin said I was 2500 ft. above sea level I knew at my current pace I would never make the town by nightfall I was going to try though. With about an hour of usable daylight I had 26 kilometres to go, I couldn't do it. Oh well I'm not far out now one more night in the tent. I was suddenly treated to 12k of descending it was fantastic the views were immense; I didn't take a single picture my hands had been numb for so long I couldn't open the pannier to get the camera out. On the way down I saw a cyclist loaded up going the other way I stopped and we chatted he was from Argentina he was on his way back from the south, he was in full winter gear, his lips where all chapped and he had more stuff than me. He asked where the next supply point was I told him he had almost 100 km, I offered him the last of my water he declined "I'm always running out" he said "I just stand in the road and stop cars, they always let me have water" suddenly I didn't feel too bad about running out. After about 20min I pushed on, no way I could make town tonight. It was also hard to find somewhere to camp as it was outskirts of an industrial city. I saw a sign for camping, I got there pitched tent I was just 6 miles away from town. I fell asleep quickly looking forward to eating something the next day.

In the morning I got up about 8, packed up and set off. As I got into the town it was about 10 I was starving I saw a sign for a cash dispenser I went and drew out 1000 dollars next to me was a big building I could see a cafe type place and a sign for sandwiches I went straight over some school kids were differing about so I rudely pushed passed them 'sorry I have to eat' was all I could say. The woman serving looked confused I get that a lot people don't expect to see someone in cycling gear covered in mud. I ordered 3 ham and cheese rolls and a family pack of biscuits and went and sat down for 15min all I did was eat. After a while I looked around the place was full of school kids "hmm must be a school nearby I thought" it took about 5 more minutes before, I guess sugar to get into my blood and me to realise I had just walked straight into a secondary school and was sitting in the canteen. Oops well I wasn't hungry anymore.

I spent the next two days in Comodoro Rivadavia, it had warmed up again the sun was shining I spent a bit of time thinking, I realised I had to change what I was doing I need to cook more and plan better. I am going to be doing this for a long time.

Today I set off again, I'm keen to get back on the road. I was nice to have a break but I don't like being still for too long.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Photos on Facebook

I have uploaded some photos to Facebook and made it a viewable to everybody, please feel free to have a look.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

What a difference a day makes,

What a difference a day makes,

After my tough couple of days I decided a full days rest off the bike was needed, I booked into a hotel in San Antonio Oeste. It’s a small town and I enjoyed just sitting in cafes drinking coffee and watching the world go by, I had a nice lunch and went to the supermarket my first though was, how many complaints would Tesco get if they played music this loud? I enjoyed walking round the supermarket and just seeing the differences, I got a few supplies and a wooden spoon. On the way back to the hotel I spotted a bike shop I couldn't believe I had missed it earlier, that night I went through my kit again (by the way I will do another kit list of what stayed on my next rest day). I couldn't bring myself to get rid of my chain set I'm going to need it at some point. I decided my fleece liner would go it only cost £20 and I could get another one shipped out. The next morning I went to the bike shop and got a full service on my gears and everything oiled up, I then got 12 litres of water, I wasn't going to run out, the wheels might collapse but I wasn't going to run out of water. I chomped through the miles and camped just before Sierra Grande, the next day the scenery changed it was rolling ground and hills it was stunning. It was great to be climbing again buoyed on by this I stormed down to Puerto Madryn. I had two punchers today that's 4 in total now, it’s the plants every single one has spikes.

On the way down at about 2pm I saw a restaurant by the side of the road I wasn't sure if it was open I decided to go and have a look, to say the building needed decorating would be kind it looked like it was about to fall down. I went in, there were quite a lot of people in their eating I went and took a seat at the window so I could keep an eye on my bike. An old man stooped over, shuffled up to the table, I asked for a menu in Spanish, he gave me a blank look I resorted to signs I pointed to the people next to me eating and motioned I wanted the same. He understood I had ordered something, he cleared up two tables were people had left both had half full dishes of bread he emptied one into the other and placed it on my table. I was guessing he didn't have a certificate of hygiene hanging in the kitchen. This was a real Argentinian working man’s place to eat. After a while he put an empty plate on my table and shuffled off and came back with a pot I had seen him with before. It dawned on me there was no choice you had one dish, he piled my plate with a mixture of pasta, beef and a few vegetables. I tucked in I couldn't manage it all and paid the pricey sum of £2 for it, as I walked outside I smiled for I knew for certain my leftovers would have gone straight back into that pot.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Suffering and the kindness of strangers,

Suffering and the kindness of strangers,

The last few days have been tough, I knew it would get tough, I had no idea it would be so soon. It started on my way to viedma I stopped for the night in a small town the next morning It was dead I had nowhere to get any water oh well I still had 1/2 a litre something would come up soon. Nothing came up for miles I was really dehydrated that when I finally got to a shop when I took a swig of water I was just sick straight away I lay in the shade outside sipping water till I had the strength to carry on.

I got to Videma and got a hotel room I splashed out and got one with air con I needed to recover, I drank plenty of water and had a nice meal. The next morning I set off two guys in pickup trucks asked if I wanted a lift I politely declined I wanted to cycle this, a couple stopped and gave me some bananas they also gave me there address and insisted I stay with them when I get further south (they are on holiday in the north). By lunchtime I was starting to feel awful again my water had heated up and made me gag as I drank it I realised I hadn't fully recovered from the previous day and here I was back in the heat with no shade, still I had no option to push on. At about 6pm I was really suffering I had only done about 50 miles the headwind and exhaustion had broken me, I turned off to go and find a town 12k off route 3 after about an hour nothing the garmin told me I had gone past it but there was nothing there, I hadn't had a mobile signal for hours or I would have given someone at home my lat and long and got them to look on google earth for me I saw a turning with what looked to be some buildings in the distance I was in luck it was a farm there was a guy outside 'excuse me sir may I have some water' I shouted "si" he filled my bottles up from a stand pipe, I eyed the water tower there was no way he could be on mains out here. So far on this trip I had only drunk bottled water of sod it I thought time to stop being such a wuss, these people are alive, so I just drank straight out of the bottle when he handed it back to me. I rode just out of sight of the buildings and pitched my tent between some bushes it took forever the surface was about 1" of dust with what felt like concrete underneath, I searched for ages for a rock to knock the tent pegs in but couldn't find anything bigger than a pebble. I fell into my tent only to scream as some spiky plant dug straight into my back I stamped it flat with my shoe lay back to rest for a few minutes, when I opened my eyes it was the next morning. I got up eager to find this town before it got to hot, I rode around for about an hour there was nothing, other than the farm I hadn't seen anyone since I had turned off I decided to get back on route 3 at least that had people going past in case something happened. I could see from the garmin and the compass that the track I was on was heading back to route 3 I wasn't far away when cruelly the track came to a dead end just some big concrete pipe sticking out of the ground in the distance I saw a bus I was about a mile away, I threw my panniers over the fence there was no way I was going back. It took me about an hour I couldn't cycle the dust was to deep the spiky plants had scratched my legs to pieces, I had long finished my water by now. When I eventually got on to the main road I realised I was going to have to ask for help, a camper van went past slowly I grabbed my water bottle and waved it in the air the van pulled over two young guys they gave me 2litres of frozen water I couldn't believe it, I wish I could have thanked them better. The ice was melting so tantalising slow even In the heat, I was going to cut the top open and smash the ice so it would melt quicker, I decided against it at least this way it would stop me drinking it all to soon. I was about to strap it to my bike when I suddenly thought off the tour de france riders and stuck it down my shirt against my back every kilometre mark I would talk it out and have a mouthful. 3 or 4 times I pulled over and made myself as small as I could in the shade of my bike unable to carry on in the heat I would stay like that for 1/2 an hour or more when I stood up I felt dizzy and it was an effort to get the bike going again. The strange thing was, there were small storm cells floating about, 3 times it rained on me I kept my collapsible sink in my jersey pocket and every time it rained (only for about 60 seconds then everything would be dry again) I would get it out and collect as much rain water as I could it was hardly anything I would just slurp it out of the bottom and off the plastic bag on the back off my bike.

With 45 kilometres to go to San Antonio I saw a farm about a mile away I decided to go and ask for water, I cycled to the gate then took my bottles in I was greeted by 5 scruffy looking dogs who jumped around barking, a guy came out of a building to see what was going on I explained I was cycling and may I have some water, he pumped 5 litres of water out of the well for me it was brown and tasted of mud I thanked him and I had drunk 1 1/2 litres by the time I had got back to the bike. By the time I got back to the main road I was starting to feel better, I had something to eat drank some more, put in my ipod and set of a different person than one I had been 20 minutes before, my strength was back and spirits were high again, I powered into san antonio drinking brown water like it was champagne.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

My headwind is somebody's tailwind,

My headwind is somebody's tailwind,

I stayed in a campsite at a lagoon last night it was good to have a bit of human interaction. I was immediately surrounded by people and bombarded with questions,
"Where are you from"
"Where are you going"
"Why are you cycling"
"Do you have a job"
"How old are you"
"Are you married"

I got my main map of south America out to show them my route, an old guy poked me in the ribs and then pointed to the Falklands, oh god here we go I thought. So I pointed out Maradonna hand of god - Falklands = it’s a fair trade. After I had shown the guys everything electrical and I had and let all the women kiss me on the cheek I was left in peace. I set up the tent and went for a walk about, a young guy came up to me and asked if I was the cycling guy I said yes he said ahh come and join us for a drink he was with two Americans, a South African and an Irish guy. They had come out to fix a gas turbine but where waiting for parts so they were passing the time at the lagoon wind surfing and having a bbq. It was great to be able to chat normally for a while it had been 10 days since I had had a proper conversation. It was Saturday night and the music went on till 5am, the South American version of Chas and Dave doing a song to the tune of jingle bells began to grate after a while.

Today I came across the first cyclist like me, an Italian guy who had a big grin on his face my terrible head wind was a stonking tail wind for him, we had set off at the same time that morning he had done 60 miles to my 30. He had started in Chile about three months ago and was coming to the end of his trip he had been right to the south the same route I will do but the other way. He warned me about the winds in Patagonia '100kph and change direction all the time they blow you all over the road be very careful'. I directed him to the campsite I had stayed at, I knew they would keep telling him about the 'English guy'.

At the petrol stations they normally have vending machines that dispense hot water, 50 cents gets you a litre, I figured it was cheaper to make a cup of coffee using this than setting up the stove and boiling the water, so I put some coffee in my cup and then put my money in and hit the button when my cup was full I let go off the button but it seems when press it you get it all even if you don't want it, I quickly walked away leaving boiling water pouring down the front of the machine and stood by my bike pretending to fiddle with stuff as I quickly drank my coffee.

The facilities over here take a bit of getting used to, a squat for a toilet with a bucket of water for a flush or just a hole in the ground. Showers with no hot water! Mind you, it’s still better than France!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Week 1 - the first step is the hardest,

Week 1 - the first step is the hardest,

It’s been one week since I assembled my bike and set off. I have covered 545 miles so far, I have found it hard going I think going from the middle of an English winter hasn't helped I found some factor 65 sun cream which has been great, my bottom lip is all cracked from the sun and dehydration. I went into a shop today there was an attractive girl serving I smiled and my bottom lip just split open and blood started pouring out down my chin.

The shops remind me of the 1980s 1 pound goes a long way and there isn't a huge amount of choice. I have still managed to go over budget in my first week but I think that will improve as I know what I am doing now. I am drinking about 8 litres of water a day and it’s expensive to buy bottled but seeing it is readily available I thought it best to save my purification tablets and water filter.

The people have all been very friendly whenever I stop someone will ask where I am going. Well I think that's what they are asking, it could just abuse I have no idea.

My routines are slowly starting to take shape, I still have to fine tune my panniers and lose a few more bits when that has happened I will do another kit list of everything that stayed.

Today it’s a long slog down route 3 I am pretty much on this road now for 1500 odd miles other than when I go to towns or to look at things.

Time to finish my coffee and get some miles in.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

It's all about the bike

It's all about the bike,

For the first time I am beginning to wonder if the bike will make it. I have ridden for about 50 miles in total down dirt track the rear skewer has come loose, the front rack is starting to fail and the rear brake squeaks constantly. If the bike wasn't loaded it would be fine I have tried to shave some more weight off, a few clothes and few bike tools have been ditched but I think I will need to lose more. I haven't seen any bike shops yet so I will hang on to all the spares.

Yesterday I reached Mal del Plata, it was early and I didn't want stay there so I had a quick look at the map and saw there is a coast road which goes through Miramar it was a bit out of my way but I fancied a change. I'm glad I did it was a beautiful morning I had the Atlantic to my left and rolling ground. It was a good change from the vast flat grazing land and dead straight roads. On the way out of Boulevard Atlántico I stopped to check the map and a car drew alongside me a woman lent out of the window and said something in Spanish. I apologised and said I didn't understand I don't speak Spanish she looked at me and went "ahhh English" the car pulled forward about two foot so the rear window was level with me it was darkened so I couldn't see in, it slowly slid down to reveal a little old lady "good morning....have you heard about the drinks that give you energy?"

A little confused to what she meant I said no. "These drinks are amazing they give you energy so you can go on and on....... it’s amazing it gives you energy" and then the car pulled off leaving me scratching my head wondering what it was all about. Maybe they got round the corner and all started roaring with laughter, she never said what the drink was.

Later on I was back inland again I started to look for somewhere to sleep before I got to the town, once again it was dead flat as far as the eye could see when suddenly I realised there are no hedges I hadn't seen a proper hedge since I arrived. I rode for ages down a dirt track by now I was so tired I had ridden almost 100 miles and a lot of it was off road. In the end I realised I couldn't go on so I just pulled over took the panniers of the bike and threw them over the fence and then the bike and pitched in a sunflower field I was in view I didn't care I just had to sleep. I was just going have some faith in the human race and if that doesn't work ill stab them with my Gerber.

The next day I got up early and was ready to go but realised I need a rest, I'm not trying to go as fast as I can I'm here to see things so I cycled to Necochea booked into a hotel and spent the rest of the day exploring, on the hotel form it said occupation so I put powered egg salesman.

It was good to have a rest, the reason it’s so hard going is I have to keep slowing almost to a stop for bumps, holes etc and then get back to speed again also you have to have your wits about you with south American drivers.

Something I learnt today I noticed a lot of cars with a plastic bottle on either the roof or bonnet I couldn't work out what it was about. It turns out it means they are for sale.

Tomorrow I will be back on the road and back in the tent.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Headwinds, a cyclists worst nightmare.

Headwinds, a cyclists worst nightmare.

I set off to a beautiful morning and managed to knock out a quick 60 odd miles (my speedo was the only thing that didn't make the flight the mounting part has snapped, it can be fixed with glue when I find some) using the distances between places/time on bike I can guess my distance. At about 1pm I spotted a nice looking cafe/restaurant and decided to get some lunch I managed to ask for a menu and a coke, (I won't ask for coke again its really expensive out here). Not being used to the prices I thought because it was so cheap I would only get a small portions so I ordered 2 burgers and chips, it would turn out I actually ordered 3 main courses. Still my appetite had kicked back in so I set about eating all 3 dishes, I did it all apart from half a burger and that was only because the bread is horrible its the same stuff that is used in England for those long life hotdog rolls.

Back on the road I was feeling good for doing a century when the headwind picked up, it killed my speed I was doing about 6mph, to go faster just wasn't possible. I got to a town general guido about 5.30pm due to my slow speed I decided not to push on and find somewhere to sleep the countryside has flattened out and as far as I could see there was nothing I could hide behind, eventually the road ran along side a dried river bed which dropped just enough that no one can see me. I just hope its not connected to some sort of sluice gate that they will open in the middle of the night. Strangely I feel safer in my tent than I did in the hotel last night, I thought it would be the other way round.

My body is covered in dry salt and dust so I have to be careful when rubbing my face or its like using sandpaper. I am absolutely filthy far worse than I ever got in Europe doing the same thing.

Friday, 4 February 2011

The first few days.

The first few days.

The flight was long and uneventful, eating a ba English breakfast while flying over brazil with an amazing sunrise was probably the only highlight.

I stood in the visa queue when it was my turn the woman didn't speak any English and wouldn't wait as I tried to ask if it was for 3 months she just stamped it and handed it back, so I gave up and went to find my bike. First thing I saw in baggage was my chain reaction cycles box I was so relieved I went over and gave it a hug (It went on last as oversize luggage so there was a chance it wouldn't make it). The first thing that hit me was the smoking ban most definitely hasn't made it over here yet, then the heat 35 degrees I was sweating buckets as I put my bike together, I ended up with a small audience who kept taking it in turns to ask where I was going, they couldn't believe someone would cycle to Tierra del fuego, I couldn't explain that was just the first bit, they wouldn't have believed me. Once I got the bike assembled I cycled to the exit and got directed straight onto the motorway by the police it seems everybody uses the motorway, tractors, cyclists and horse riders. The hard shoulder has speed bumps on it I'm sure that's otherwise it would just get used as another lane. It’s a very poor road surface and they have some huge potholes, it’s very tough on the bike.

I spent the first night hidden from view on the edge of an industrial estate. I fell asleep all most straight away. Tonight I am in a truckstop\somewhere to take a girl type place, if I hadn't of paid for the room before I saw it I would have carried on. Because of the heat I haven't eaten much, all I am doing at the moment is drinking water. 1 cheese and ham roll in 36 hours I have plenty of food with me but just can't face it.

That's it for now going to push on tomorrow and head for Mar del Plata.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

My route

Well, more of a guide than route.
If you imagine drawing a line from each of these places it would give you an idea of the route,
Buenos Aires - Argentina
Ushuaia - Argentina
Santiago - Chile
La Paz - Bolivia
Lima - Peru
João Pessoa - Brazil
Rio de Janeiro - Brazil
Montevideo – Uruguay
Buenos Aires – Argentina
I will stick near to the coast so I will travel round the outside of South America till I reach Peru.  I will take the BR230 or Transamazonica as it is better known across Brazil to Joao Pessoa and then again continue down the coast till I arrive back at my starting point.
I have no time schedule to keep, other than a limited time in each country due to visas 3-6 months. I will apply for a longer stay in Brazil as this is where most of my miles will be done. Because I have no time schedule I am free to change my mind and explore anything that takes my fancy.
It will be about 12 to 14 thousand miles, I will aim to do around 1000 miles each month.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Kit list

Well this is it, 15 days to go before I set off on my trip.

Below I have made a kit list of everything I am taking. I am sure there are a few bits which I forgotten I’ll add them as I remember them.
Tent Helium 100 lightweight
9 x Extra tent pegs Alpkit spikes heavy duty tent pegs
Four season sleeping bag -19 to +20
Silk sleeping bag liner
Fleece sleeping bag liner
Quechua self inflating sleeping mat
Mosquito net (impregnated)
M.S.R. XGK Expedition Stove
Fuel bottle
MSR Alpine pan set
Eating utensils
Cooking utensils
MSR Water treatment
Aquaclear water purification tablets
2 x Water bottles
Trekmate kitchen sink
Para cord
Amazonas jungle tent
Amazonas Hammock with integrated mosquito net
2 x hammock hanging ropes
Wind up Torch

5 x Trainer socks
4 x thermal socks
Thermal top
2 x Thermal long johns
2 x underpants
1 x black cycling shorts
2 x bib shorts
1 x zip offs
2 x tee shirts
2 x cycling tops
Full BMC pro racing kit (because I'm a poser)
Winter cycling top
Cycling jacket
Arm warmers
Leg warmers
Skins compression leggings
2 x Summer gloves
1 x Autumn / spring gloves
1 x winter gloves
1 x normal gloves
1 x woolly hat
Skull cap
Giro Helmet
Neoprene shoe covers
Flip flops
2 x Sunglasses ran ban
Sunglasses Cycling
Travel sewing kit
Clothes washing stuff

Bike Cube Delhi
Ortlieb roller plus bar bag
Panniers front Ortlieb roller plus
Panniers rear Ortlieb roller plus
Cycle computer
Bike tools general
Special tools bottom bracket remover etc
Bottom bracket
Brake pads
Brake disc
Inner tubes
Puncher repair kit
2 x bungees
Other stuff
Kubik 8 gig MP3 Player
Unlocked Samsung mobile
2 x Power monkeys
Power monkey Y cable
Elonex colour eBook reader (with guide to South America)
Head torch
Camera Panasonic Lumix FZ45
Camera case
camera battery  (extra)
Garmin Edge 705
Garmin world maps
Garmin heart rate monitor
Maps (paper) Peru/Chile/Brazil/Argentina/Bolivia
Small diary
8 x Flash media storage cards
Body wallet
2 x wallet (1 hidden and 1 mugging)
Timex expedition watch
Passport / Vaccination certificates / copy of important stuff
Giant travel towel
2 x small travel towels
3 x Large dry bags
1 x small dry bag
Cable ties
Wash bag
Dental first aid kit
Sterile first aid kit needles, scalpel etc
First aid kit general
Doxycyline 100 tablets (anti malaria)