Mary & Mike diary: Going far South

Hola! Greetings from Chile. Here is a recap of our 20-day trip to South America for our official...

Hola! Greetings from Chile.

Here is a recap of our 20-day trip to South America for our official season opener, the Pan American Championships. We flew into Santiago, Chile, rented a dated four-door, short bed truck and drove it over 3,000km to the Patagonian region of Chile and Argentina. Our main priority was going well at this critical race, but after a little research, we decided that this was a great opportunity for some epic travels.

March 1 - Getting there

We arrived in Santiago, pretty worked over from 25 hours of buses, planes, and layovers. Still we felt as if this were more of a chance to rest when compared to the previous weeks of careful outlining, planning, and logistics. We were committing to packing everything necessary for our three weeks in South America followed by a week in Puerto Rico for an C1 race and finally a week in Arizona for the first NORBA (Technically speaking, this was NMBS #1 - ed.) national. We are not super picky with foods, so we didn't have to haul five weeks of soy milk or anything, but it is amazing how much equipment and supplies are necessary for training and racing abroad the "right way." Even though Mike brought nylon strapping to substitute for a bike stand and a sturdy road frame pump in place of the heavier but oh so much nicer floor pump, it still cost us around $200 in excess baggage charges just to get it all on the plane.

Communicating in Espanol, just off the red-eye was a colorful experience. I pried my tired brain for vocabulary. Getting directions out of the city from the rental car agent with charades brought the humbling realization that I was going to have to study my Spanish dictionary more. We got it all worked out after a few wrong turns that offered us an unplanned tour of this hectic city. It was just enough of a peek to make us feel really good about deciding to drive on rather than follow our cravings to go the nearest hotel and to sleep.

We had done enough preliminary research to find a quiet town that would be the perfect place to rest, build the bikes, and get in some all important training in the week leading up to the race. Pichilemu, a small town on the coast known for it’s epic surf and quiet back country feel did not disappoint. Although it is only about 300 km away from Santiago, a bit of being lost, overtired, and driving on back roads made our trip a long seven hours. We were both pushing our limits to be cheerful by this point, but happily made it to "Pichi" just before dark.

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