Scotland: Aviemore to Berwick Upon Tweed

Badge has finished his tot-up of stats for the American part of the trip and here they are:

Alaska            3 weeks        1175 km

Canada           6 weeks        2520 km

USA                8 weeks         3010 km

Mexico            4 weeks         290 km

Peru               16 weeks        2676 km

Bolivia             3 weeks         1119 km

Argentina        5 weeks          1848 km

Chile               1 week            110 km

And here’s some bike stuff:

Punctures        6             ( Badge 6  Claire 0)

Tyres               5              ( Badge 3  Claire 2)

Spokes           5              ( Badge 4  Claire 1)

Chains            7              ( Badge 4  Claire 3)

Disc brake pads – 5 sets

And so, onto the next adventures back in the homeland. We were very excited to be back in Blighty and speaking English again. Our Spanish had improved but our vocabulary was limited to random cycling related words, such as strong legs and very hungry.

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We had a superb time with Doug and Lara. The weather was kind and we headed out for a day ride to check on the bikes after their flight.

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Back to the land of tea and cake – hurrah!

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After delaying our stay to include Lara’s Sunday Roast we finally tore ourselves away from the home comforts of Aviemore and headed off up Drumochter Pass.

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We had fantastic weather affording us superb views. We were even fortunate enough to see three red deer stags and a couple of red squirrels.

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We were following Sustans’ NCN Route 7. It was a mixture of quiet lanes and cycle paths through some stunning Scottish scenery. We managed to squeeze in a sneaky wild camp along the banks of Loch Tay…

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…. and awoke to a stunning morning.

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Not a bad lunch stop.

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Little bursts of sunshine.

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In Callander we awoke to snow. This made the lanes and cycle paths a bit more tricky.

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Some locals were better prepared than us for this kind of weather.

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Fresh tracks!

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Luckily we dropped out of the snow zone and had a scenic ride in to Glasgow….

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…. where we stayed with a BSES friend, thanks for the hospitality Susie. Team Ranford then accompanied us the next day along the Forth and Clyde canal towpath to the Falkirk Wheel, our own mini peloton.

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We then headed off, back as just Team Hyne, along the Union Canal to Edinburgh…

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… and then onto Portobello to stay with another BSES friend. Thanks Sally – great hospitality despite the lack of kitchen!

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The wind kept us busy whilst we pedaled around the coast on NCN route 76.

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Before we knew it we were at our final border crossing. The easiest one yet.

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It has been a bit of a shock to the body to go from 40C in Chile to 5C ish (and snow) in Scotland, with freezing temperatures overnight leading to frosts on the tent – brrrr! However, we have been enjoying catching up with people, the gorgeous scenery, the shared language and, of course, the many Cadburys products consumed. There has been much excitement over safe electrics in the bathroom and proper hot showers. New (to us) clothes have been scrounged from Doug which have kept us toasty warm and helped us not to look so much like homeless people. Re-entry into civilisation is slowly happening, however, Badge still has a tendency to lick his plate and is still somewhat fuzzy around the head area. They let us in the pub though, so all is good!

Onto the North of England. Land of stotties and Cumberland sausages!

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Final weeks of riding in the Americas: Cafayate, Argentina, to Santiago, Chile

It has been a tough but rewarding few weeks of pedaling. We have put in some long days as towns have been far spaced and it has been necessary to reach them for water. However, interspersed between the long hot days have been some wonderful campsites and delicious barbecues and wine. The Argentinians have been very friendly and, yet again, South American hospitality has proven to be warm and generous.

The scenery has been spectacular with the vastness of the landscape reminding us of our ride through Alaska. Big wide valleys and impressive mountains all around.
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Sometimes it felt like the road was endless.
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Sometimes we road through the desert.
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To fortify us through the hardships we fortunately had empanadas. In Argentina you buy them by the dozen.
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We also found heavily laden fig trees to raid and I found an alternative use for my helmet.
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The camping has been varied. We have had ‘heated’ wild camping in desert areas where the warmth of the day radiates up from the ground all night, creating a sauna effect within the tent. However, the discomforts of the night are always negated by the glorious sunrises.
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Sometimes we thought we were heading to a campsite only to discover it is closed. However, it is often possible to still camp there but the facilities may be less than perfect. As these options are usually free we are content to shoulder a few hardships. We now have quite a good knowledge of toilet plumbing. Sometimes these options can turn out to be real gems. This campsite was at a closed thermal baths, however, we still had access to the baths. It’s the cleanest I’ve been all trip.
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Sometimes lovely Argentinians take pity on us cyclists and invite us to camp in their backyards. Thank you Oscar.
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And sometimes, when you’re just quietly sitting in a town plaza having a drink, someone will approach you for a chat and when you ask them if there’s any camping nearby they will whistle at a passing car, which will stop and you will then follow to one of the nicest cheapest hidden campsites you’ve ever been to. Camping on grass!
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There have been some interesting road signs in Argentina.
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Eventually all great partnerships disband as members need to strike out on their own for their own adventures. In San Juan we parted with our beloved Aussie tandem pals and headed forth as a team of two. Bremma, it has been a real pleasure and we look forward to further explorations together.
We headed south to Mendoza where we visited a vineyard that we knew through our membership with Naked Wines. Mauricio Lorca’s Bodega received us warmly and gave us a very interesting tour around. As it is harvest time there was a lot going on. We had a super time.
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They were kind enough to give us the remainders of the bottles we had tasted.
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We felt we needed to do justice to such fine wines and therefore had a final Argentinian barbecue to accompany them
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Leaving Mendoza did not turn out to be the ride we had anticipated. It was one of the worst riding days of the trip. In South America we had sought out the quieter roads, usually dirt and gravel ones. Therefore it was a real shock when we got onto Ruta 7 and were confronted by a steady stream of trucks, buses and cars. Within 6 kilometres we had been run off the road three times by on coming trucks overtaking other vehicles. The road did not have a shoulder and the ground next to the road had recently been graded so was soft, sandy and pebbly. On the occasions when we had to exit the road; Badge got spat off his bike onto the ground and I got spat back onto the road. The final words my colleague Richard said to me when I left work were ringing in my ears ‘Don’t get squashed or crushed”. Team Hyne gathered together on the rocky shoulder, had a discussion, mopped up the tears, and then pedaled back to Mendoza and caught a bus.

Into Chile through a very strict border control that doesn’t allow any fruit, vegetables, cheese or meat. Then onto Santiago for a few days of celebration, relaxation and jobs. The perfect way to salute the end of the South American leg was a Chilean wine tasting session.
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Then it was down to the serious job of finding appropriate boxes and packing up the bikes.

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It was time to say goodbye to some well loved items.

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Raul and Gemma’s bnb provided us with a lovely environment in which to pack up our kit. We were fed well and treated like one of the family.

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And now we turn our thoughts towards the next leg of the trip: Scotland to the Shire. There is sadness for leaving South America as it has been awesome here. However, we are excited to be seeing family and friends, as well as sampling local UK foods and beers!
It has been a concern of ours that re-entry into ‘civilisation’ is going to be quite tricky. I would like to apologise now to our fellow plane passengers about our appearance. I can assure you that our clothes are clean (I have done the sniff test), however, their shabbiness may make us look somewhat tramp-like. My flip flops may seem an unusual shoe choice, however, believe me you would not want to be sat next to my rotting trainers for 12 hours on a flight. We now need to work on our behaviour!
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