Ushuaia -20th November

Mark

Well, there we are then. Ushuaia. It’s not quite the end of the world – you can go a few km further on the R3, as Tom has done, and there are a couple of other small roads going a bit further south, but it will do for me. Tom, Ian and I got here on Saturday afternoon, in a blizzard and a biting gale force wind, as the forecast had predicted, and while they spoilt the view for the last 50km or so and made our obligatory photo session at the entrance to Ushuaia a little shorter than intended and somewhat more chaotic, it nonetheless felt entirely appropriate to arrive at the bottom of the world in such conditions. We mucked around for a few minutes, had a hug which involved hugging Ian whilst he remained on his bike (either worried that it would fall over in the mud or maybe he was frozen to the seat) and then agreed that we should go straight to the hotel to warm up. It had been a long 420km ride and we were all tired and cold but very happy. My partner, Tilly, commented later that evening that I looked very pleased with myself in a photo I sent her. She was right.

Since we became a team of three, about a week ago, we have had a fantastic few days and seen undoubtedly the best sights of the trip. The glacier at Perito Moreno, Mount Fitzroy and the wonderful Torres del Paine being the standouts. The riding conditions have got steadily more challenging as we have headed further south with an increasing wind meaning the bikes are being ridden at a crazy angle. We have all commented how weird it looks when we are behind each other.

Our evening in El Chalten, a pleasant little town in a spectacular location, very popular with walkers and climbers, was perhaps the most fun so far. We found a fabulous wine bar, serving decent food as well and pushed the boat out. Get a bottle of Linda Flor malbec if you can. We would have had two but they only had one left so we had something else nice as well but I can’t remember the name!

We are staying here in Ushuaia a few days leaving on Wednesday morning. It’s a bleak place and not at all what I expected. It doesn’t feel rough and tough enough to be a fitting place to end a trip like this. Intriguingly, although we have seen a few heading in both directions on our way down we haven’t seen any other northern European bikers since we got here.We will ride back to Puerto Natales, spending, I think, three nights there with the intention of taking a boat trip that Ian has recommended to see even more of this spectacular place. We will then catch the weekly ferry to Puerto Montt on the 28th, as was originally discussed at the beginning of November. We will then ride to Santiago and fly home from there. Tom and I leave on the 6th for Heathrow and Ian on the 7th for Dublin. Phil, having caught the ferry a week earlier is then riding to Buenos Aires from where his bike will fly home while he flies up to Rio and home from there.

So that’s it. This is my last blog post. Thanks to all who’ve read it and left comments. It has been a remarkable experience and has left me with many memories and an intention to return. Thanks to my teammates and of course to my wonderful partner, Tilly.

FIN