Destination Patagonia: The journey and the vehicles

It is a long way from home to ride bikes

It is far. 25 hours and 3 flights.

It is far. 25 hours and 3 flights (click to enlarge).

Patagonia is a region that is part way to Antarctica with part of the land in Chile and the other in Argentina. Last week, we were invited to a series of events held in Coyahique, in the Patagonia region of Chile. In this series, we’ll cover a bike launch, the birth of a race series and the mountain biking scene in Patagonia.

The arrival of the bikes in Santiago, Chile.

The arrival of the bikes in Santiago, Chile (click to enlarge).

Time difference was only five hours from California since it’s not as far west as Europe. It’s just really far down south. The town where we set up base camp is Coyhaique which is the biggest accessible city that far in the continent.

The bonus is it’s summer out there with 80 degree temps. Sunset is very late at about 9:30 pm too delivering plenty of daylight.

Santiago, Chile is a city with a population of over 5 million as evidenced by this bustling airport.

Santiago, Chile is a city with a population of over 5 million as evidenced by this bustling airport (click to enlarge).

We arrived in Santiago Chile and had one and a half hours to get on our connecting flight to Balmaceda. Unfortunately, we had to go through customs and recheck our luggage and go through this line. Can you say mayhem? We made our flight but six other journalists missed theirs and were delayed a whopping 24 hours.

This first post in this Patagonia series will focus on the vehicles of Patagonia. They were so cool and functional unlike the behemoth trucks of the US. Many of the vehicles we saw were 4wd vehicles that weren’t that big. All diesel and perfect for the mountain bike lifestyle.

This Chevy diesel 4x4 seats 5 and carries 5 bikes easily.

This Chevy diesel 4×4 seats 5 and carries 5 bikes easily (click to enlarge).

This particular truck is a Chevy but basically every manufacturer was represented in the segment. They are predominantly diesel 4wd 4-door trucks with manual transmission. Bed is not that big but it fits up to five a bikes perfectly.

Our hosts rented several these trucks and they went up and down the mountain carrying five bikes and passengers each time. The trails were incredibly raw and rough but the trucks had no problems.

This jeep is fully decked out with lights and snorkel.

This jeep is fully decked out with lights and snorkel (click to enlarge).

So there were a couple of highway paved roads and then the network of dirt roads branched out from there. These dirt roads were legitimate roads with signs, speed limits and guard rails. Thus these wonderful little trucks seemed like the ideal tools for the job.

One of the many dirt roads near Coyhaique, Chile. Photo by Gary Perkin

One of the many dirt roads near Coyhaique, Chile (click to enlarge). Photo by Gary Perkin

About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.

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