A ferry ride followed by four days of cycling brought me to Ushuaia to complete the trip with our arrival yesterday. My bicycle is already boxed and I will have two days here as a tourist before flying back.
Overall statistics for the trip:
- 27,066 kilometers (16,818 miles) with 14883.9 km in North America and 12,182.5 km in South America
- 240,252 meters climbed (788,288 ft or 149 miles)
Day One – to bush camp
After packing our bags in the truck, we started with breakfast and a rider meeting where tour directory, Emily, reviewed the days ahead. Folks were excited to be getting close to finish, though still a few longer days ahead. The big wild card would be weather: cold rain or strong headwinds would make an otherwise easy day much difficult.
A quick cycle of 5.5km to the ferry terminal where we boarded for a two hour ferry ride across the Straits of Magellan to Tierra del Fuego.
A rainbow over Punta Arenas as we boarded the ferry.
Ferries in Chile seem to have some of their signage in Greek as well as English.
After cycling from port to small village of Porvenir, we found the gravel road heading out of town. The rest of the day was expected to be on gravel. There was occasional washboard areas but overall still a good road.
Some pretty riding along the coast.
The road was sparsely traveled. In the afternoon the wind picked up. There was a brief turn into the wind, but much of the afternoon was mostly a strong tailwind. For a portion, it was strong enough that winds would carry us along without pedaling.
Twelve kilometers before our campsite, we crossed a road intersection and had pleasant surprise to find a new concrete highway. Construction signs still up (for next 45km). While the wind died down, it was still made for pleasant riding.
Overall, the ferry ride meant the ride went longer towards late afternoon, but overall not too difficult. Our camp was essentially in a shallow valley on a side road leading to an estancia (ranch). The ranchers were kind enough to allow our group of two dozen plus to camp and we even were allowed to use the outhouse.
Day Two – Rio Grande
We crossed over to Argentina today.
Cycling out of camp in the morning.
We didn’t know how long the new road might last. For a few kilometers it was a new completed concrete road. After that, the main traffic was directed onto gravel, but as cyclists we could ride on the not opened concrete sections. Finally after that came construction barriers and gravel for us as well.
A short bit later was a village of San Sebastian and then the Chilean border. The border was busy and took a while to wait in line. I took a bit longer since I waited at currency exchange to get rid of my last Chilean pesos. The exit marked final of three visits to Chile. Each entry and exit gets a stamp, so I now had six Chilean stamps and six Argentinian stamps in my passport.
Just after was no mans land and Argentian border. The lunch truck was here as the Argentinians wouldn’t allow fruits or meats into the country.
After passing the border, it was on to the more main “Ruta 3”. From here we would keep seeing signs leading to Ushuaia.
I met a cyclist, Alee, who was into his third day of cycling to Alaska. Over the next days as we neared the end, it seemed like we met at least one or two long distance cyclist in Tierra del Fuego.
The area around Rio Grande seemed to have small pumper wells as well as some gas lines.
Unfortunately also a reasonable amount of truck traffic as well as these signs with yellow stars to mark fatal accidents. As riders we were fine, but I did get the sense that truck drivers near Rio Grande are worse drivers around cyclists than elsewhere.
A large mission.
Coming into Rio Grande, a more elaborate shrine to the Falklands.
We were camped at a horse riding school. It was a bit of a blustery windy night with a little rain, but by morning the tents had dried out again.
Day Three – Lago Fagnano
Today we finished cycling along the Atlantic and also started to come to area where landscapes changed. We went from area of more arid windswept plains to one that was still windy but started to have more trees and bushes.
Rio Grande is the international capital of trout.
Leaving today we turned more into the wind.
In addition to marking a decreased distance to Ushuaia, this sign also marked 12,000 kilometers since I had left Cartagena.
Tony and Sarah from the UK had started cycling in Alaska and were also working their way to Ushuaia.
After lunch one starts to see some bushes.
Horse riders along the way.
The last few kilometers brought us along Lake Fagnano on a rather poor gravel road. There was a strong wind wipping across the lake. Fortunately our camp had some wind breaks. I pitched my tent inside a wooden teepee that helped the wind.
Whenever we arrive at camp, there is a white board with general information such as where to pitch tents or locations of the bathrooms.
This afternoon we also had a celebratory wine and cheese. While we still had a day of riding to go, that was expected to be hectic, so we did some of the end celebrations now. The staff presented informal awards that were generally fun and in good taste. For example for the rider with most interesting food tastes, the one with the most visits to medical. I received a “Dr Doolittle” award for talking to animals. I think this came from my habits of mooing at cows, baaing at sheep as we passed.
Day Four – Ushuaia
Final day cycling and arrival into Ushuaia. Today we went through much more of a mountainous area again rather than the windswept dry plains we had further north in Tierra del Fuego.
Before breakfast we took group photos.
Here was the entire group.
These were the 10 cyclists who have done the entire trip from Colombia.
Here are the staff.
Now back to the rough gravel road along the lake. However, not much wind today which made a big difference.
We started along the lake, with a continuation of signs giving distances to Ushuaia.
A lot more trees today, also some horses.
I stopped briefly to celebrate reaching the 27,000 kilometer since Prudhoe Bay point.
Signs to describe a gas line being built across this area.
After this point we crossed over a low mountain range. Only 300m of climbing so less than before, but still enough to have some good views.
Max is one of the staff and was riding “sweep” that day.
The overall TDA route was a ride directly through town to end at the hotel. That felt a bit rushed to me, particularly since many of the riders would then be focused on taking apart and boxing their bikes as soon as possible. Instead, I wanted a chance to cycle into middle of town, take my requisite photos and otherwise sit back and reflect on the overall trip before coming to the hotel. So I asked the sweep to continue to the hotel without waiting for me.
At 95km were the entry signs welcoming us to Ushuaia.
I went off the route and via the waterfront rather than the highway to the hotel. Also shows how Ushuaia is located between the Beagle Channel and the mountains behind. Large ships have several choices of sailing in this area including: the Beagle Channel, around Cape Horn (the Drake Passage) or via the Straits of Magellan. Apparently, the blocking winds make the Beagle Channel often the best choice compared to much large waves near Cape Horn and in bays near Punta Arenas.
I discovered the some of the road was under construction, but I was able to wind my way through.
I found the classic, “fin del mundo” sign and took the requisite photos here. It was great to finally arrive and I’m glad I at least took time to get into the town.
After this I cycled off to the hotel. I boxed my bike and hence the riding was now done.
I now have two days in Ushuaia before flying back to Colorado. Nice to finally arrive and finish the trip. Felt great to finish, though I also had enough fun at the end, that I would have been happy waiting a week and then cycling north again…
In the evening we had a slide show that commemorated the trip. It was fun seeing the different sections, the last 20% where I was part of the group and also the initial 80% where I cycled through similar areas on my own. The next day, slightly over half of the riders and staff left already to get back before Christmas. Myself and some others are here for another day or two. I’ve walked around town as well as taken a boat cruise, but I’ll make a separate posting for photos from exploring Ushuaia.