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Apr 23, 2012:

Good Weather, A Smooth Road & A New Drivetrain

Distance to Date: 2695 km , 1617 miles

What a difference good weather, a good working bike and a good smooth road can make! We got a new drivetrain for the bike in Puerto Montt and started riding north on Ruta 5 en route to Santiago (1015 km away) last week. The weather started out grey and dreary, but the smooth Autopista was great to ride on because of its wide shoulder and low traffic (compared to the States). After a couple of days, the weather cleared up and the sun finally came out to ride with us!

The journey continues to amaze us with great people and great experiences in sharing our project with them. We wish we could capture all the moments when we randomly meet people who are at first curious about our tandem bike. Once we start sharing our story and our project, they are mesmerized. The word "crazy" has been used to describe us so many times, but always with a smile and words of encouragement and enthusiasm. Yes, being visually impaired and doing such a ride where vision is critical is somewhat crazy -- such is the choice one makes to remember life!

On a random corner in Puerto Montt, we come across a "potential" Chilean Idol. He sings Chilean pop songs, but there's not really a crowd building up around him. Sorry, two thumbs down.

We continue walking around Puerto Montt. Christi comes across a fruit and vegetable stand.

She contemplates dinner by wooshing around in her head what's available.

Tauru checks out the coast line that we had ridden on when we arrived by boat the day before. Luckily the weather was awesome this morning. It ended up grey and raining later.

We heard about a mall with a food court in town, so we check it out. Yup, McDonald's was here, and KFC ...and Pizza Hut. Interestingly enough, most of the food court vendors were burger stands. Oh, there was ONE Chinese food vendor ...and surprise, surprise, there was a long line for it. Variety is the spice of life.

The night before we left Puerto Montt, we meet up with Yves and Katharina and two other Frenchies (can't remember their names) for dinner. We've been crossing paths with Yves and Katharina since we left Ushuaia back in January!

The following morning, we pick up our bike from a local bike shop. Wow, a new drivetrain!!

New crankset. The middle chain ring of the old one had worn out so much that it wasn't catching the chain (which was also worn out). The old cranks and chain were veterans of our 2009 ride across America.

New chain and cassette. With these, we can now ride smoothly without skipping gears. What a huge difference!

On the road again. We like staying at truck stops. They usually let us pitch our tent in a far corner for the night.

Waking up next to an 18-wheeler reminds us of our ride across America where we also camped at truck stops.

Some 200 kms north of Puerto Montt on Ruta 5, we stop in Lanco to get some food.

Then back on the road. Tauru steers as Christi checks for cars on her left as we get back on Ruta 5.

When all the stars are aligned, the universe makes sense. Lunch never tasted better.

Northward bound.

At another truck stop the following day, while taking a break, a couple in a car stopped by and asked about our long bike. We told them about our project and they were so amazed that they wanted to do something to help us. Snacks! Snacks! They bought us a bag full of snacks for the road!

A chunk of manjar is irresistible -- it's sugar and milk stirred and cooked to a solid chunk. Yum!

Later, a bus load of people came by to check out the bike (it draws lots of attention). Once again, as we talk about our project, interest perks up. "Crazy," most say, but always with a smile and a sense of amazement and encouragement.

In the outskirts of Temuco, we feel safe along the bike path that leads into town.

Once in town, though, we can't see well enough to ride in traffic. But all is good because we are doing it!

Spread the word and help us Raise Awareness!

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