EMMANUELíS 90% REPORT
Companions, buddies, family, friends,
Itís like a video game. Bike It Solo. I pretend I stay in place and the road moves toward me. This is my final checkpoint, time is running out and the finish line is near...
Together with my dad, who has been giving me vehicle support since northern Chile, we approached the foothills of the Andes. Our Chilean rental car could not cross into Argentina, but the Lord provided a vehicle through a great family friend in Argentina, Franco Salomone. Franco is a well renowned TV journalist; I call him the Tom Brokaw of Argentina. He drove his car all the way to the Chilean side of the Andes and then flew back to Buenos Aires from Santiago, Chile. Franco is the one who arranged with the Argentine Air Force to take me to Antarctica. Thank you very much Franco.
On February 20th I made my way over the Andes. To my surprise, I climbed the 3,185 meters in three and a half-hours. I had been told this pass was higher, but now I know for sure that the highest pass of my trip was the Colombian "Linea".
The border between Chile and Argentina was inside a 3-Km tunnel. Two of them actually. One for regular traffic with 2 lanes and the old, single lane tunnel, which no one uses except people like me. Emerging on the Argentine side we experienced the first scent of an "asado", the best BBQ on the planet. The view in the Andes was breathtaking. I cycled next to the Aconcagua, the highest peak in all of South, Central and North America.
I cycled, Dad drove, through Mendoza and into La Pampa. The route planning in Argentina was done by my dad and it appears to be a great one. Notice how my 100% estimate dropped from 15,700 to 15,300. Could the 400-mile difference be due to good route planning or was my cyclocomputer denying me ridden mileage? Both, but I notice something to prove the second. In Chile I was measuring less than the rental Hyundai my dad was driving. "Car error" I thought. Now Dad drives a Peugeot 406 and still the difference. You may think, "No big deal to under measure a little every -day", but since Iíve covered so much ground, we could be talking of a 200 + mile difference. I will carefully recalibrate my cyclocomputer and adjust any error.
The Pampas are big and mostly flat. The wind was minimal. I always tell my dad how people in a car donít notice uphill and down hill, saying, "Itís all flat". Then I bike it and find long climbs and long descents. Dad assured me: "In Argentina we have flats and straight-aways; real flat".
We took a southbound route through La Pampa. At first straight and full of "rollers". Not steep or long climbs, but up, and down, and up, and down, enough to notice it. When I saw the first "Dangerous curve" sign, I just laughed. Overall, though, this is a good last route my dad picked. Iíve been doing over 100 mile days since entering Argentina, with my highest at 144.
I began to see large Estancias, pieces of land with thousands of acres. These are cultivated sometimes, but others, many, have cows. Over there, over here and then some cows everywhere. They eat the natural grass, which grows due to the heavy rains all year long. The land is so fertile it provides four crops a year.
All my trip I have been telling cows outside of Argentina that I was headed to Argentina, where cows outnumber people by 1.45 to one. And Iím serious, I actually talked to cows. I donít think that makes me crazy, maybe I was just a little lonely. The nice thing about talking to a cow is that they always look at you and they seem to be paying attention. Now I had the chance to speak with the real Argentine cows. I told them what I had told the other foreign cows and they seemed to be very happy and excited. Well, I think that is what they mean when they keep eating grass. Enough about cows.
Iíve been riding long days, over 12 hours. The other day I rode until 3:00 AM, with a heavy thunderstorm and lightning display from 11:00PM on. Heavy, heavy rain, one of those storms not even the best rain jacket can keep out.
I entered the province of Rio Negro, and the region of Patagonia. Patagonia is very unique, the colors you see are nowhere else, not that Iíve seen. It rains, then stops. The sun comes out. The wind dies off. Then wind again, bringing the next passing storm. Godís creation is so beautiful. I thank Him for it and for giving me the strength to ride through these lands.
I am going for March 5th, to catch my flight to Antarctica on the 7th. It is a tight race, but God willing I will accomplish it. Thank you all for supporting my adventure. Just a few more days will show the outcome. My 100% report is approaching, it amazes me to think that this is the end of my "Bike It Solo: Alaska to Tierra del Fuego" journey. Donít forget to visit my website, built from scratch by my dad, at www.bikeitsolo.com If you are receiving this via e-mail but would like to get postcards from me after the end of my trip, go to the website and "Become a member of the official Bike It Solo Club" so I will have your mailing address. Any one and everyone are invited to register. Please take a minute to do this before you forget.
God bless you all and if you can please ride a bike for one mile on March 5th, 2000.
Bike It Solo,
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