It has been already one year and three months since we came back from Chile. Occasionally our daily routine still gets disturbed by flashbacks of our epic journey through the fabulous landscape of South-America. We obviously will return one day, when and in what way still has to be determined. But maybe cycling trips in other countries will come sooner....
Something noteworthy is that we have finished our project . A couple of months ago we got a message from Maria Ayuda that they received our donation and that they had put it aside for funding the construction of a childrens home in Puente Alto in Santiago de Chile. We are very proud of the amount of money we raised and all the sponsors and people that tried to raise it. That's why we'd like to thank everbody once more. We will keep the website up and running for a little while longer, so we can respond to any questions or remarks by visitors or future Chile-cyclists. For us it's also nice to have it as a sort of souvenir. In the coming months we'll try to update the detailled maps and add some stories and comment to the pictures. We hope you'll visite our site once more. >>>
It's cold here, dark for nearly all of the day, we have not even biked one meter in this place, but it's home sweet home; we're back in The Netherlands!! To get here we took a flight from Ushuaia to hot and steamy Buenos Aires. We couldn't copy the luck we had with our luggage (every piece came along and the transport of the bike didn't cost a penny), because when we wanted to get a ride into the center to get a nice big and juicy steak, there wasn't time enough to do so. The time it took to get from the national airport to the international airport was way to much and just little was left to buy some souvenirs. From Buenos Aires we flew to Madrid en from there to Amsterdam. There a whole bunch of family and friends was awaiting us with a banner, a wreath, balloons and trophies. We were very glad to see everyone again and we enjoyed a very dutch meal to celebrate our coming home.
By now it's already a new year with new plans en best whishes, but also with the responsibilities of daily life. However, the good memories of a glorious trip will make dreary days look bright. And, what's more, we haven't even finished our challenge, because we'd like to gather even more funds for Maria Ayuda and call upon you to help. Please support Maria Ayuda and make a donation on 184.108.40.2069 (ASN bank), so maybe in a few months we can donate a whole lot of money more. >>>
It took a while, but here we are again. It is not that we have been sitting idle, but the timeschedule has been tight for some time. After La Serena we slowly crept into the green zone, onwards to Ovalle. Just before we devoured the, up to now, best "pan arrollado" (handmade ham sandwich) ever, "alsof een engeltje op je tong piest...". Fully complying with our anti-culturebarbaric-upbringing we visited a beautiful museum in Ovalle containing pots, vases, bowls, etc. from the Diaguitas era.
The road led us along Chili's greatest waterreservoir "La Palma" to
Combarbalá, a quiet little village with a beautiful square and good fries and chicken. Taking the time to enjoy all this was of course not an option, the next morning we had to cross two huge mountain passes so we could have a look at the last wild habitat of the Chinchillas. These little hamsters were definetely not big and we didn't have time to search around for them, so we were glad that they had gathered around some of them for us.
After Illapel we were greeted by the rough roads. And if that weren't enough, there were 5 mountain tops that we had to pass, and 4 unlit dampy oneway tunnels, and 118 kilometers... What has been our toughest day to this day, was also a day with beautiful views, many flowers, véry thrillseeking tunnelcrossings (only one headlamp...) and a well deserved final long paved downward slope towards the village of Pedegua. This is where the kindest people of the region live. We were able to sleep and eat with a family, and afterwards we were also invited for coffee, with sandwiches from grandmas lovely homemade marmelade.
Through one of the Dutch people living in Chile we came into contact with a park where houses are being sold to inhabitants of Chili and foreigners. A really marvelously beautiful park consisting of a 50 kilometer valley that stretches out unitl the snowy mountain tops of the Andes. All this green and the many animals made it a real paradise. We were very pleased that they invited us in and let us use, for the first time this trip, a swimmingpool all for ourselves. A beautiful sunset, delicious food made by two lovely ladies, a perfect hostess and host, made our stay there to a heavenly experience.
We did, however, had our first flat tire, which we just replaced on the spot. Much praise for Schwalbe, they truly have created the best tires that we ever had the honor of putting under our aluminium steeds!
But all good things have to be extended with new experiences, so that afternoon we descended again into the 'real' world of Los Andes.
On to the children of Maria Ayuda in Santiago!
The roadpirates of the Panamericana, Victor and Frans>>>
Many thanks for the birthday wishes from everyone! We are now in the city Copiapů, the place where the first train station of Chili was build. Today was the first time we saw what a few drops of water can do to a dry dessert . A beautiful violet glow from many small flowers spread over the otherwise dry surface. We were quite lucky to witness this, because it is a very rare event for the dessert to blossom. Yesterday we had a tough day in which we continuously had to cycle against the wind. For the first time we did not reach our end goal, but today, with a bit more wind in the back, we made up for our losses. Now to find a place to have a nice meal, because that will be Frans his birthday present.
After a long flight to Santiago with just little of sleep, we faced our first challenge at the baggage claim of Lan Chile. We could only find 2 out of 4 pieces of our belongings, which won't do. We decided to wait in Santiago for one more day. The airport personnel recommended the Hostal Americano, in the Barrio Brasileiro near the city centre, where we finally found ourselves in a gorgeous room with a view to the Santiago broadcasting studios. After taking the desperately needed siesta, we made a trip to the centre where we treated ourselves to fruit, Crush and our first and last MacPalta, in the meanwhile enjoying the beautiful panorama of snowy Andes mountaintops and a fantastic sunset.
When we, refreshed and full of energy, came back at the airport the next morning, only half of the problem was solved since my (Frans') bike had now arrived, while there was still no trace of Victors baggage. Considering that we now had both our bikes, we traveled on to Arica. We constructed the bikes in record time and went by bike to Arica, where we arrived at nightfall. We hurried to find a hostal, ate biffe a la pobre (meat with egg, rice and papas) and climbed a hill with a lot of sand, stones and canons to get a beautiful view of Arica. Thereafter we went back for our bed to reload the batteries. Today we are planning a roundtrip to the Peruvian border and hopefully we will get some positive news from Madrid. We will keep you informed!
Only a few more days until we say farewell to the Netherlands. Our plane will be airborne Saturday the 3th of September at 7h35 pm, hopefully we will be in it. The tension is growing and packing lists and to-do lists are being altered continuously, even three days prior to departure. Gratefully, the most important items on the list are already in our possession: the bikes. We picked them up a week ago at the Santos factory in Sassenheim. Of course we were all but reluctant to test them, so we headed for Haarlem through to the pouring rain (We are so blessed with our dutch summers!). There we bought the Jack Wolfskin tent, the warmest sleepingbag in the world and various warm and waterproof clothing, while having a perfect cup of coffee and a chat with Wim, our Jack Wolfskin contact. The pictures are proof of our first harsh ride. Odlo is already convinced that harsh conditions need harsh measures, that's why we will be using their stretch shirt to keep us warm and dry. But that aint all: die-hard SIDI Mountainbikeshoes are sponsored by Veltec to cover our chubby feet. And like a horn of plenty Polar puts two heart rate monitors to our availability, that function as altimeters and cyclingcomputers as well. Bike2build closes the line with a pair of cycling shirts and discount on tool and cycling pants. The equipment won't be the problem. On the other hand, what we feel is our problem, is the project of Maria Ayuda. We are already very proud of the people that donated money for the children. Today the donations add op to a wonderful 903,81 euro (Remko thanks for the ,81!), without even cycling one mile! But we wouldn't be who we were if we didn't want more. Therefore we call upon you to make a donation on 220.127.116.119 (ASN bank). On the Sponsoring page we give some suggestions how to contribute to the project. It's not just friends and family that we want to involve, other people or organizations are wanted too. That's why we have made ourselves immortal in the local media. The coming week we will feature in an article in the Veenendaalse krant and this week page three of theObservant (University paper of the University of Maastricht) will have a awesome photo of us on the bikes accompanied by some nice words. >>>
It seems there's no going back, us leaving for Chile. An odd feeling arises thinking of mountainbiking the altiplanos as soon as September, but the prospect of 4000 miles in one hundred days still causes no withdrawal urges. Guess that there is no alternative to doing what we are claiming to do all along, if not solely for Maria Ayuda. For that charitable goal we have opened a bank account: 18.104.22.1689 (ASN bank). From now on donations are very welcome! The webpage Sponsoring shows some suggestions we made to support the project. The first one hundred euros are already deposited and we hope a few more will follow. Antony, thanks very much!
The tyre manufacturer Schwalbe made a very generous contribution by weaponing our bikes with special puncture proof tires and tubes; an absolute must have for such a biketrip! And besides very fast tires, we also will be having unbelievably streamlined haircuts thanks to hairdresser's saloon Ragazza from Maastricht. Sometime end of Augustus will be having our hairs cut!
Finally don't forget to take a peek at our new pictures and the forum every now and then. To leave a message you don't need to log in, you can just simply click 'Post Reply' (in the guestbook) to get your literary talent on the web!! >>>
It's time to give an update on our planning and progress. We are first of all proud to announce that the forum is finally fully running. From now on the guestbook is open for leaving a message. You can also give comment on and ask questions about our tour and the charitable goal. Furthermore we provide an opportunity to exchange experience about the equipment we shall use. Till so far five productsponsors will help us with equipment. Merrell gave us two pairs of state of the art running shoes, X-Socks will sponsor three pairs of superb cycling socks each, the company Jacobsons promised us discount on two sets of the world famous Ortlieb bicycle panniers and Tubus carriers and Camelbak sends us two hydration backpacks. Really excellent!! Tickets are also taken care of: we will leave The Netherlands the 3th of September and we will return 23 december, just in time for Christmas. This gives us 109 days to get from Arica to Puerto Williams. So if we meet our challenge and make it in less than 100 days, you can find us 'chilling' at the beach of the Beagle Canal!! >>>
The official launch of the website has become a fact. After many quarrels and handy tips from friends we asked and others we didn't ask, we decided to keep the lay out the way it is now. It's hard waiting for the day meter to start running, but until then we'll be busy training and participating in the cycling tour 'Limburgs Mooiste' in June. You can expect a report on this event on our news page added with some photographs on the pictures page. Please visit our site occasionally or leave a message on the forum. We cheer at you if you do so!! >>>
Version 1.0 is ready for comment, which means the provisory site has been placed on the server. Bit by bit, the project is progressing and we are already able to show our very first product of a 'blitz course' in website building. We would like to thank Hugo Leisink for putting a part of his server to our availability, so that we can show our website to a world wide audience. Also thanks to Sander Niemeijer who 'klussed' some stuff for us and who offered us his services as a photographer to enhance the visual aspect of the site in the future. Remko van Leipsig is the third hero in this epic story. He managed to learn us, dumb no-brainers, the ropes of site building. However, apart from the time consuming factor he also failed to tell us that typing some html can be quite enjoyable, so that with this remark we now have declared our selves inhabitants of the 'Empire of Nerds'. Thanks a lot!!!>>>