El Molito - The thirteenth step ... Six months in South America - CycleBlaze

December 1, 2022

El Molito

When we arrived in Futaleufú yesterday afternoon we seriously considered having a rest day because we felt so knackered.  But by the time we went to bed we had decided to carry on to somewhere between Futaleufú and Villa Santa Lucia.

One of the things that had got me down yesterday was a small mechanical problem.  Leigh's bike's right pedal had developed a worrisome clicking noise so I swapped the right pedals on the bikes to make sure that the noise came from the pedal.  Sure enough the noise now moved to my bike.  But what was even more of a concern was that a noise starting emanating from my bike's pedal that was now on Leigh's bike!  So the first thing I had to do this morning was to sort out the pedals.  I could find nothing wrong with Leigh's pedal except for a lot of dirt and grit, which I cleaned out.  However, my pedal's spindle was completely loose and I didn't have the correct size spanner with which to tighten it.  After a fruitless search for an open "taller mecanico" I eventually bought a small shifting spanner from a hardware store and tightened both of my pedals (the left one was also a bit loose).  

With the pedals sorted out we headed off to the ATM to stock up on cash (the one in Futaleufú is the only one between the bordder and Coyhaique) and a supermarket to stock up on grub.  No fresh foods can be transported across the border so we were running pretty low.  Low enough that we only had a small amount of oats left for breakfast.  So a second breakfast of jamon and pan was immedietly enjoyed in the plaza just across the street from the supermarket.  The bread in Chilean Patagonia is pretty dreadful.  All that is available is flat round pan that go stale within a hour or two after being cooked.  We will just have to get used to it again.

Futaleufú lies on the Argentinian side of the Andes so the first part of today's ride took us up and over the Andes before a mostly downhill trajectory brought us to the junction where the road splits to go to Villa Santa Lucia or Palena.  Even though the second part was mostly downhill it had some wicked little climbs with fifteen percent gradients.

We were expecting the asfalto to come to an end within five kilometers of leaving Futaleufú but the ripio only appeared after more than eleven kilometers.  When it did it was a far easier surface on which to cycle than that in Argentina.  The gravel used here is a lot finer while in Argentina the ripio is covered with egg size stones.   The wind was also a lot kinder today so even though the hills were much steeper than yesterday's ride it was a far more pleasant day on the bicycles.  The only negative was high traffic volumes in the area where white water rafting tours that run on the Futaleufú river.  The tour operators rush up and down transporting water craft and clients and seem to have little regard for other road users.

The valley, almost a gorge, through which the Futaleufú flows is very attractive but following its course was hard work.  We stopped often, once to watch the rafting operators take some clients through some small rapids.

A few sheep hold up Leigh's progress just outside Futaleufú.
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In Thailand they say "same-same but different". The views here are similar to across the border but somehow they look different.
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I think that there are more rivers on the Chilean side.
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Near the highest point of the day.
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I think these are "The Three Nuns".
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A dead glacier ?
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The Futaleufú river.
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We watched these guys run a short section of rapids.
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Just after the fork in the road we stopped at El Valle, a small shop with some accomodation that we had read about.  We have a small but cosy room with a kitchenette.  Rain is predicted for tonight and the next five days and there don't aappear to be any camping options so we feel fortnate that they still had accommodation available for us.  It's a short hop to Villa Santa Lucia tomorrow albeit with quite a lot of climbing but with the rain forecast and the two tough days we have just had we can't see ourselves going any further.

Today's ride: 52 km (32 miles)
Total: 4,192 km (2,603 miles)

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