Skip to main content

See also:

950 km til the end of the world!

This is a newsletter from Family on Bikes. Sign up now to receive them directly to your inbox.

The famous Patagonia winds were a definite challenge to deal with
Nancy Sathre-Vogel

950 kilometers to go. Less than one thousand. Three digits. YEE HAW!

I’m now sitting here in my tent in Puerto San Julian thinking about our adventures of the past month – we’ve had a lot of them. And I’m thinking forward to that day about four weeks from now when we roll into Ushuaia and declare an official end to our journey. It’ll happen – and time is racing these days.

After what seemed like an interminable amount of time in delays in the Bariloche area, we finally pulled out of town determined to keep those pedals turning. That lasted all of one day.

That very evening, as I brushed my teeth, my crown fell out and I looked like the wicked witch of the west with a great big gap where my front tooth should be. As soon as we rolled into El Bolson, I called on the local dentist – and discovered my original tooth had broken off and they needed to completely redo the crown. Five days, minimum.

Our spirits were low as we sat around the campground that night. We moped and pouted and held a full-fledged pity party for ourselves – winter was marching in, and we weren’t moving on. If we only knew what was coming, we would have counted our blessings.

It was the middle of the night when John awoke me from a sound sleep. “Nancy!” he shouted in the crowded campground. “Davy’s bike is gone!”

I scrambled out of my tent and looked blurry-eyed at where the bikes had been stacked together and carefully covered with a tarp before I had gone to sleep. Now, my bike lay on the ground about ten feet away, and Davy’s was gone. Vanished. Disappeared into the night.

The next twenty minutes are a blur in my mind. A mad scramble around the campground looking for the bike, talking with the police, seeing the tire tracks across the dirt road to the fence, and finally – finding Davy’s bike unceremoniously thrown into the bushes. John had awoken just as the thieves were stealing the bike and his shouting no doubt scared them off.

We were über-careful for the next few days, making sure the bikes were never out of our sight – not even for one second. At night, they were carefully stacked a few inches from our tent and locked together. And we counted the days til my crown was done and we could push on.

It always seems to happen that, when you most want things to work out, they go wrong. As desperately as we wanted to move on, my crown came back the wrong color and had to be redone. And then redone again. And again. Finally, John and the boys pushed on and I took a bus to catch up once I had been recrowned.

A few days later we pulled into Esquel and suffered from record low temps. We piled on every layer of clothing we had and spent an inordinate amount of time curled up in our sleeping bags. It was cold – not quite down to freezing at night, but it came mighty close. Panic began to set in – if it was that cold in the middle of summer, how could we tolerate fall temps farther south?

Three days later, we were sweating buckets. A major heat wave blanketed the area and temps were over 100°. We lashed massive amounts of water to our bikes and continued on. “How can this be?” we thought. In the span of four days, we moved from record low temps to the highest temps ever recorded in the area. We couldn’t wait for the heat wave to pass on.

And pass on it did. A front moved in – complete with those winds Patagonia is famous for. We cycled in the winds for a day as they pushed us from behind. We experienced unheard of speeds as we raced across the continent toward the Atlantic Ocean. “This wind is crazy!” Davy grinned as we stood straddling our bikes on the side of the road waiting for John to catch up. I felt like I was holding back a stallion raring to go – waiting to take off and fly like the wind.

The following day, the wind was even stronger. We sat in our tents listening to the wind shriek and howl through the trees above us. When I looked out through the mesh netting of my tent door, I saw the trees straining to remain upright against the onslaught. We knew we wouldn’t be able to, and stayed put – hoping the storm passed quickly.

Since then, we’ve been blessed. The weather gods have looked upon us with favor and provided mostly tailwinds. We’ve raced along the Atlantic coast cycling alongside guanacos and rheas. We’ve enjoyed picnic lunches on the beach. We’ve made good time and are nearing the end of our journey.

At this point, we have a mere 950 km to cycle to the end of the world. We plan to take our time, see penguins and glaciers, and enjoy these final weeks. We’re finally feeling like we’ll beat Old Man Winter after all.

The next time I write it will be to announce our victory – we’ll have reached Ushuaia and the end of the road. Even now, I tear up at the thought of approaching that sign announcing we’re at the end of the world. I can only imagine how I’ll be feeling that day.

I’ve been receiving many emails lately thanking us for sharing our journey with the world. But really – I want to thank YOU for supporting us. I can’t even begin to convey how much it has meant to us to have the support of so many people from around the world. Just knowing we have that worldwide network to lean on when we need it has given us strength and courage to push on when things have gotten hard. So I say to each one of you – thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being there with us in thought and spirit.

And so, we push on – to the end of the world! Ushuaia or bust!

Comments