A final dirt detour

April 13th, 2014

Suddenly, the name that we have been heading for so long is close. Too close for comfort, in fact. So close that we might have to start thinking about what comes next.

We scrutinise the map, searching for a way to delay the inevitable. Our escape presents itself: a dirt road looping away from the tedium of the asphalt into the heart of Tierra del Fuego.

It’s the perfect ride: Patagonia in all its multicolour autumn glory, perched precariously on the edge of an icy winter. If I could finish anywhere, then it would be here – on the dirt, in the middle of nowhere, with just the guanacos for company. This is where I feel at home.

But the magnetic draw of the finishing line is too strong. We reach the asphalt once again. End of the World ego trumps my romanticism, and we push on, Ushuaia-bound.



Sheep on Patagonia estancia

Tierra del Fuego: land of pampa and sheep, corralled in enormous estancias

Martin the shepherd, Estancia Rubi, Tierra del Fuego

…and watched over by shepherds like Martín. An icy downpour has us seeking shelter at his door, and in true Patagonian style we are greeted with a smile, mugs of tea, tray after tray of roasted lamb, and a bed.

Estancia Rubi, Tierra del Fuego

The next morning dawns icy…

Frosty bike handlebars in Patagonia

…everything covered with a hard frost.

Stove in estancia kitchen, Patagonia

We retreat to the stove to defrost frozen hands…

Sunrise over barbed wire fence, Patagonia

…until finally the sun creeps over the horizon.

Cycling Estancia Rubi, Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia

It doesn’t get much better than a crisp, clear Autumn morning’s ride like this…

Frosty grass, Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia

…the world seemingly frozen in time…

Frosty autumn leaves, Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia

…caught between autumn and winter.

Cycling Ruta 9, Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia

We savour the moment, absorbing every detail of what feel like our last days of South American freedom:

Horses in the frost on Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia

…the ever-present onlookers…

Icyy puddle on Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia

…the roadside art…

Frosty fence on Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia

…the plays of light…

Snow peaked mountains, cycling Tierra del Fuego

…the freshly dusted peaks…

Tree in Patagonia

…the ancient waymarkers…

Estancia and snowy mountains, Tierra del Fuego

…and the hidden lives.

Riding Ruta 9, Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia

These are the days when I could ride towards the horizon forever…

Leaves on the road, Tierra del Fuego

…the magnetic pull of the open road.

Signpost to Ushuaia

And then: Ushuaia calling 123…

Facturas at Panadería La Union, Tolhuin, Tierra del Fuego

…forestalled by a stopover at the legendary Panadería La Union in Tolhuin. It feels like Christmas Eve; the perfect place to spend our final night on the road with empanadas, facturas, a warm bed and good company.  


5 Responses to “A final dirt detour”

  1. Inge Says:

    Aw, that makes me feel quite sad for you :’(
    However, you’ve turned a sad(ish) post into a beautiful blog yet again.
    I’ll miss your updates.
    You know, I’ll even give you some kisses, even though we’ve never met, that’s how much I’ve enjoyed your journey! Un abrazo muy fuerte y besos xxx


  2. Mario Kausel Says:

    I am sure those last 123 to Ushuaia must have felt the shortest distance in time throughout your incredible and amazing journey,just because it was coming to an end! Big hug


  3. Mike Howarth Says:

    Great pics guys.

    The autumnal colours down here are certainly something else.

    Looks chilly though! Brrrrrr.


  4. Darren Lightburn Says:

    Amazing journey, I’m sure resulting in feelings difficult to articulate. Thankyou for sharing your amazing journey, I will miss ur blogs so very much



  5. Christine McDowell Says:

    James and Sarah… wonderful but sad… it is done… until of course the next amazing adventure…. can suggest New Zealand… good biking!!!
    ps.. we have photos of great-grandmother.. and others..
    xxxhugs and kisses, from Chrissie, Mary and Junie Liz – very much down under..


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