Archive for February 1, 2011

South American Cycling

Posted in Foreign Tourin' on February 1, 2011 by bethleasure

Sin Represas62            Without Power-Lines

63“The environment along the Carretera Austral is so beautiful, you don’t care if you’re riding along at 5mph for days and days and days!”  Nik Obriecht, Bicycle Mechanic and Cyclo-Explorer 

The wild road calls gently


As cycling explorer, we are thrilled by the ride itself and in awe of the beauty around us. A trio of bicycle wanderers pursued whimsy and took weeks in January-March on hundred-pound, steel touring bikes hauling tents and all their gear in search of adventure…and found Patagonia.

Perhaps the last edge of un-civilization exists along the road, Carretera Austral that leads to Patagonia in southern Chile and Argentina. The road of 1350 kilometers is epic like “the worst, steep, craggy gravel driveway you can imagine” twisting through many climates: coast, snow-topped Andean mountains, desert, rainforest, jungle and glacier lakes. Even the word, Patagonia, sounds like a fantasy world. Patagonia is an expansive undeveloped land fiercely protected to remain as is with an incredible variety of fauna and flora. Thousand year old plants live at road-side. It’s considered the last wild place on earth.

Despite its lack of infrastructure, the experience of these wanderers was remarkably problem-free. Its indigenous people were accommodating to their cycling guests, assisting with transport to ferries, safe bike storage, and hosting meals. The hospitable natives peacefully live in the region with European émigrés who settled there within the last century. Each town is a distinct cultural enclave of its settler’s origin. Much different from taking a cruise and souvenir-shopping at tourist malls, there were no complaints even while encountering the “horrendous” conditions of the road itself. Everyone was smiling as they enjoyed one of the last frontiers without an industrial footprint. Sometimes it’s best to ride without connection to any technology – cyclometer or powermeter, reminding yourself why you love it.

Prayer for South American Cycling

“The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 64Numbers 14:7

We are thankful for the good earth. We ask for eyes to see beauty, to be without complaint, and ask blessing upon South American cycling.

Ponder Is there wildness in my cycling? Affirm I sometimes ride without power-lines and make time to explore. Watch and appreciate as you are only passing through this good land.

62Sin Represas really means without development and could refer to power-lines, dams, deforestation or any symbol of urbanization that changes natural topography. It is a movement or campaign to arrest development and the slogan seen on signs throughout Patagonia.

63Conversation with Nik Obriecht. Nik shared his stories of adventure riding in South America. All quotes in this section are by Nik. He and fellow cyclo-explorers took thousands of photographs. You can view them at or speak to Nik about his trip at the shop in Ellicott City, Maryland, USA.

Carretera Austral means Southern Road.

64The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society