Sunday, 16 March 2014

Los tres amigos

Two good friends of mine, Jack and Michael, had expressed an interest a while back that they would like to come out and join me for a weeks cycling. We had settled on Santiago as being the best place for them to fly into and I was going to do my best to get as close to Santiago as I could. As their arrival date approached I knew I wasn't going to get as far south as Santiago so we had agreed on a city a bit further north called La Serena. They were going to hire bikes in Santiago, bus up to La Serena and we would spend the week cycling south.

Church in La Serena
When I finally staggered into La Serena I checked my emails to find that the lads were not going to be arriving in on the bus for another hour or so. I went off and sorted out a hostel near the bus station. After eleven o'clock that night Jack and Michael had found their way to the hostel. It was great to finally see them. It was also kinda weird to see my two pals in some random town in Chile complete with the bikes and panniers. As the lads had hardly eaten all day we immediately went out for a bite to eat and a couple of beers to celebrate Jack's birthday which had been a few days previous.
We unfortunately had to spend a full day in La Serena as it materialised that the lads both had problems with their rented bikes which was frustrating as they only had a week in Chile. I wasn't overly complaining however as it gave me a rest day after some big days on the bike getting to La Serena in time. It was entertaining to observe all the bemused looks as we walked around the fancy shopping centre in our beautiful lycra attire to buy food supplies for the next few days.

Between the kilo plus of Reeses peanut butter cups that Michael brought and
the order I had put in with Jack to bring from home I was not going to be running
low on goodies any time soon. The silver up top is a bit of salvaged Christmas cake
....ooh yeah.

Ready for action

Michael's bike issue was still a bit of a concern with the tyre coming very close to the frame but we decided to hit the road hoping and praying that it would survive for the coming days cycling. It was great to finally hit the road and the lads excitement at doing some bike touring was refreshing for me. For the first day or so we were not likely to have much in the line of towns or villages so we had brought plenty of food and water. It didn't take long for the lads to see how much water you go through as the day got progressively hotter. That night we camped at the back of a field behind a shop we had stopped at.

Our first nights camp spot even had the luxury of a table (aka large slab of concrete)

Guaranteed Irish..
The next few days saw some good cycling as the lads got to experience decent hills, headwinds and a few hot afternoons. I'm not sure if they'll ever look at wind-farms the same way again. I wasn't sure what standard of cycling to expect from them but thankfully they were both properly cycling fit and kept me on my toes (or cycling cleats). They quickly got to appreciate the simple joys of a proper shower after a couple of days of cycling and camping. I approached the week with the attitude of just enjoying the ride and hanging out with good company rather than trying to rush too much. With that in mind we were never on the road overly early but still managed to get some decent distances in most days.

Just what you want on your week off.. to camp in a cattle pen.

Ooh la la..!
Good camp spot in a pine forest

Time flew by and it wasn't long before our last day on the bikes which was more of a half days cycling to the picturesque seaside town of Papudo where we had a nice lunch and a swim in the pacific. The lads needed to catch a bus into Santiago later that afternoon to give themselves enough time to drop back the bike rentals and catch their flights the following day. Not wanting to miss a last night out with the three amigos I also threw my bike on the bus to Santiago with the intention of coming back to Papudo to continue the cycle after I had checked out the big city. It was late by the time we made it to our hostel but that obviously didn't stop us going out to enjoy our last night together.

End of the lads cycling as we arrived the pretty seaside town of Papudo

Fine Art museum Santiago
The following day we bid farewell to Jack after a quick lunch and Michael and I headed for a stroll around the city as his flight wasn't until much later that night. That evening we went for a beer with Daniel and Maeva a local Santiago couple who I knew through the cycling website WarmShowers who had kindly agreed to put me up while I was in Santiago. I said goodbye to Michael as he caught his flight to the airport. I was sad to see the lads go as it had been a very enjoyable week. I was thrilled that some friends from home had made it out and could get a little taste for my bike journey and also a taste for the kilo of Reeses peanut butter cup sweets I was getting through since they arrived. Thanks lads, it was great fun.

Michael and I having a stroll around Santiago

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