Ushuaia - the end of the world and the end of my ride.
14.12.2012 - 15.12.2012
14th December Rio Grande to Tolhuin 123km / 632m climbing
It didn’t rain today, so I’m happy, and it was paved all the way.
How's this sign? They give people gold stars for killing themselves on the road. Their name gets painted on the road next to the sign. Last time I got a gold star it was from a school teacher.
It's my second last day on the bike and 5km before lunch, I had a flat tyre. I can’t believe I came so close to not having a puncture on this trip. I hadn’t mentioned it, so I didn’t jinx myself, but got one anyway. Not an intrusion, the tube split down the seam. I went to put my spare tube in, which had been in my saddlebag for the last 11000km. It had a hole where it had rubbed through. Bugger! I have usually ridden alone on this trip, but fortunately I’d been riding next to someone else, so instead of patching it, I got a tube from them and used it for the rest of the day. Two cyclists side by side is safer because it makes the traffic actually go around you and not try and squeeze past. Usually. There was one person who couldn’t wait for the oncoming car and just went for it and forced them of the road in a whirl of gravel, dust and honking horns. Better them than us for once.
The meeting point at the end of the day was the bakery in Tolhuin, 10km before the campground. Apparently it’s the most famous bakery in Argentina. I mistook ‘famous’ for best. The range of pastries and cakes was less than yesterday and the coffee I’d been looking forward to was from a Nescafe button machine, so I declined. Panaderia of disappointment! Are they famous because they say they are?
This is the flag that would be out each afternoon for us to find the campsite easily. Seeing the flag from a distance was always a nice feeling.
The campground is by a lake and I erected my tent for the last time!
My last Bike Dreams dinner was awesome! BBQ chicken, asparagus and risotto! Kirstin and Yaap rock! Their dinners have been a highlight of this trip and they often cook under difficult conditions. Here's a few photos taken of our last camp together.
We had a few beers!
This is Jonathan's bike with it's strap on. The frame cracked after the first month and since then it's been held together with rachet straps.
15th December – Rio Grande to Ushuaia 97km / 1060m climbing – My last day on the bike!
My final destination! I made it, but not without a close call that could have gone very badly.
I packed up my tent for the last time and gave it away. I need to lose 11kg in addition to weight of gift purchases. It will be a challenge, but I reckon I can do it. This is the last time I'll see this view.
The morning ride was good with the flat pampas of the last week becoming mountains and views.
Even some snow!
We had a police escort in the form of a few vehicles in front of or behind different people and groups. It was one of these that hit me and knocked me off my bike. I was going uphill on a windy road, which made it difficult for traffic to pass me. There was a police quad bike with two guys on it behind me and some cars behind them. I pulled onto the gravel shoulder to let them pass at the same moment the police thought they’d pass me – on the same gravel shoulder! They took me out, knocking me onto the road in a tangle of bike. Their rear wheel stopped just as it applied pressure to my arm. A few centimetres more before stopping and I’d have a broken arm! I got up and dusted myself off. Everything seemed fine with me and the bike. That was until I rode. My right knee, whilst ungrazed hurt with every rotation of the pedals. In shock still, and with most of the remaining distance downhill, I didn’t struggle to make it to lunch. It didn’t hurt to stand, so I didn’t know what was coming.
Here is our last lunch on the road.
We’d all waited at lunch so that we could ride together the final 30km into Ushuaia. Any other time, the speed they went at was easy, but I was literally riding with one leg and couldn’t keep up. Every rotation felt like a knife being twisted in my knee, so I had my right leg out straight and my left leg was clipped in and doing all the pedalling. I was happy that it was mostly downhill or flat to Ushuaia, but I was disappointed not to be able to be part of the peloton riding under the finish sign. Determination won the day and I crossed the finish line on my bike. I was probably only a kilometre behind the group and a couple of others were with me too. Thanks for the support.
WOW! I made it!
It seems so long ago that I left Quito on the equator and embarked on this dream of mine to cycle the length of the Andes to Fin Del Mundo – the end of the world, 55 degrees south in Ushuaia.
4.5 months, 107 riding days, 11000 kilometres, 108 000 vertical metres of climbing, and here I am in Ushuaia. It doesn’t yet seem real that I’ve actually achieved such an undertaking.
Ushuaia - here I am!
So while it all sank in, we had a celebration on the waterfront. Thanks to the local cycling club, a big blow-up ‘finish’ sign was there and we had an area with food, champagne and music. Place-getters had their moment on the podium and we all had a group photo too.
Michelle took over the job of DJ, beginning with Peaches by Presidents of USA. It's been a recurring song on this trip.
Didier, our driver/medic with his favourite beret.
We were dubbed ‘The lucky weather edition’, and it continued through until the end. It didn’t rain much today on the bike and was fine and sunny for us on the boulevard. The weather has been so kind to us and kept making the crew look like liars after they would warn us how bad a certain section had been previous years and then we’d be there and the wind, blizzard or whatever had troubled them previously was absent.
No sooner had the celebrations finished and we returned to the hotel and the rain set in for the night.
Recognise the smurf? I bought it in La Paz and it's spent the last 3 months hidden in the bowels of the truck. We thought it was lost, until the truck got emptied and there it was. I've put it on the counter of the hotel here in Ushuaia. The world's most well-travelled smurf?
We met at 8pm and, wearing jackets, walked into town in the rain for our last group dinner together. Buffet dinner with BBQ meats from a passionate asado man and a few beers to complement it.
Gilly shared the last few new verses of the song she's been making up for us along the way. We all know the chorus by now and sang along.
Here's Jonathan giving the speech in which he gave all the crew a book signed by all of us.
This sticker says that Ushuaia is the capital of the Falkland Islands for the last 30 years. That would be when they lost their short-lived invasion wasn't it? Strange thing to celebrate.
We left at midnight and kicked on to the Irish pub, aptly named Dublin. We had a few pints of the locally brewed beer called Beagle and I went back to the hotel at 3am. Fun last night. I still can't believe I'm actually here in Ushuaia at the end of my journey.