Blog: “Is this the end of the beginning?”

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patagonia mountains

argentina cycle touring
Buenos Aries -135Km (Total 2119km cycled)

Highlights: Warmshowers, America Embassy, Masa Criteria.

Day 111-127 – April 28 – May 14 : Changing plans
The last few weeks in southern Chile and Argentina have shown us that winter is fast approaching: lots of rain and often very frosty, humid nights.

We managed to temporarily paper over the cracks of the problem by adding a fleecy blanket to our sleeping bags, and jumping on a bus to Argentina where it rains less than in Chile.

But, we have to face it: we’re not fast enough to keep ahead of the seasons and where we’re planning to go, Bolivia-bound, it will be extremely cold at night for the next four to five months. Even during the height of summer, the high passes (over 3000 metres) can get snow.

We don’t want to give the impression that we’re bailing out on South America because we dislike anything about it other than the weather. We have loved our time here and have met some great people while on the road. We’ll definitely miss meeting them in random places along the route.

Given the havoc that the cold damp night air was playing with Peli’s asthma, we’ve decided to head to the USA where the climate will be more forgiving. It’s best to avoid the asthma triggers when in the remotest parts of South America.

In the USA, spring and summer are on the way, so our plan is to fly into Portland, OR, the self-proclaimed cycling capital of the States, to cycle south along on the Pacific Coast. We’ll then see how we go. We’d like to spend up to six months cycling in the US, and our rough destination is still Boston/New York.

Did you notice something?

Yes, the wind we’ll be cycling with will be in our favour, for a change.

cycle touring in argentina and chileThis all depends, however, on whether the United States will let ius in. We can enter on a Visa Vaiver, ESTA, since we are Danish and British. But, the ESTA is only valid for three months and our planned tour may be up to six months. Therefore, we have to apply for a Nonimmigrant Temp Visa (B2) to get six months stay in the USA. This has meant having to fill in a form online, pay a fee, apply for two joint interviews (each on different days) and then wait for our passport to be returned. This process can take up to 15 days and is also done with the help of DHL – do I need to say anything about how our hearts felt when we read that?

So, we are staying in Buenos Aires at a combination of our very good warmshowers.org hosts for a few days, and Dakar Motos where our friend Mick is staying. We’re hoping to see a bit of the city while waiting for our passport to be returned.

One thing is reasonably sure, however: we hope to return to this beautiful part of the world some day and finish what we have started. But for now, expect more and prettier photos from us touring in summer weather, rather than seeing us suffering in the grey, cold and wet. And please wish us more luck than we’ve had so far!

8 COMMENTS

  1. Hey guys,
    Sorry to hear that your plans have been cut short.
    Why didn’t you fly to Baja California and cycle north? It’s a lot warmer there and the California climate is same all year round.
    Good luck with the stay of execution, hope they return your passports and not you.
    Ian

  2. We have a saying – we’re out to enjoy, not to endure – so don’t feel bad about a change of plan. Looking forward to hearing about your new route and keeping my fingers crossed that DHL don’t stuff up again.
    Brenda in the Boro UK

  3. Yeah, I’ve just had to go through the US visa procedure and it’s rather exacting – make sure that in your photo your shoulders are square to the camera! Mine was accepted online but rejected at the interview! Bit of a pain!
    Best of luck and may the wind alway be at your back! Ant

  4. That’s one of the great advantages of a bike, that you can pack it up and get on a bus or plane when you need to. This looks like the most sensible way of keeping the good times rolling, and I wouldn’t take any chances with asthma. Spring on the west coast will be glorious but I hope the fog doesn’t bother you.

    All the best,
    Stephen.

  5. Thanks all.

    We had some passport photos done in BsAs, but the US Embassy are now taking the photos. No smiles, no glasses, look straight into the camera, do not pass Go, etc.

    We got our passports back OK, phew, but the visas are not approved yet. The immigration officer at the border has the last say, so it is more like a pre-visa, we can go to the USA and then apply.

    We are going north to south because of the prevailing wind should be in our favour. Right now in Portland it is up to 32c and the next week ahead looks very good indeed. We are looking forward to seeing the west coast in the spring.

    We think it’s the wise thing to do – we’re not in this to ride 500km through nothing and struggle with water, food and health. So here’s to the next adventure.

  6. Good luck to you both. Nothing wrong with changing plans to meet needs, it’s all part of the adventure. Makes me no less envious of you. ;-)

  7. Sorry to hear you’ve had to cut short your Southern adventure. “we hope to return to this beautiful part of the world some day and finish what we have started” resonated strongly with me!

    We often heard it recommended to do the west coast of USA North to South, so this is probably a good choice. We arrive in SF a week today, so we’ll be looking out for you there!

  8. Hey Guys,

    Your journey has been inspiring and thanks for sharing it with us. I just want to comment on your U.S.A. plans and offer a suggestion or two.

    I’m in Portland, Oregon, and I believe that your plans to bike down the coast to Southern California and then head east across the southern part of the U.S. might be a mistake this time of year.

    Might I suggest another option: bike from Portland across the northern states during the summer months, then bike (or take a train) down to Yorktown, Virginia, and head west on the Trans America route to either the Washington state coast or Oregon coast (see: http://www.adventurecycling.org), and then bike down the Pacific Coast route in November/December. Actually, this is the best time for biking along the California coast, from my experience.

    I will be leaving from the Oregon coast with a small group of four on 4 June, heading east. We will visit beautiful Glacier National Park, Yellowstone NP, Grand Teton NP, cross the gorgeous Bighorn Mountains, ride the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota, ride along the Great Lakes, the Adirondack Mountains of upper New York state, and into the New England states to the Atlantic coast of Maine. (see: http://www.bikewithamission.org) I might suggest a similar route from west to east for the summer months, or you are welcome to join us for all or part of the summer. We have to be to the Maine coast before 1st September, because two of our group have grad school classes in September.

    These are just some thoughts and suggestions about your plans for touring the U.S.A.

    BTW, I’ve biked from San Diego, California going east in April, and it was 40C everyday. It was scorching hot! So, summer is definitely not the recommended time to bike that region, IMHO.

    Safe journeys,

    Ted Phelps
    http://www.bikewithamission.org
    tphelps at bikewithamission dot org

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