A change of plans

As proud as we are to have surpassed the 5000 km mark, we are also confronted with the difficult realization that we cannot reach Lima as the final destination for our expedition. It has been an ambitious plan to attempt to cycle the whole way to Peru – apparently, too ambitious. But we stand tall and proud for what we have achieved. It is almost compelling to reflect on what happened since landing in Rio de Janeiro.

Losing two full weeks to last-minute preparations and (luckily, only minor) health problems in Rio and Salta were hard pills to swallow. Maybe a more conservative planning approach would have taken these circumstances into account right from the start, but I do not feel bad for cutting back our goals for the Vuelta. Cycling this beast is completely different from what it looked on paper, and we have surely made the most of it.

While many travelers choose the shortest, quickest or easiest route from coast to coast, our aim was always to make our next step as interesting as possible. In Brazil, we stuck to the mountains instead of following the coast, and were rewarded with tantalizing views of the Serra do Rio do Rastro. Granted, some parts of the southern Brazilian coast were monotonous, but it was a great adventure to cross into Uruguay on a road most cyclotourists avoid, and we can be proud to have cycled every inch from Rio de Janeiro to Buenos Aires. And we did not cheat after that, either: while we have not technically cycled from Buenos Aires to Mendoza, the way from Salta is actually longer, and surely more mountainous. We can look back on an extraordinary effort as we have cycled from sea level to the highest parts of this magnificent continent.

While we were approaching the high edge of the Andes, we decided to make some changes to the route. Since Lima is too far a leap, we will cycle to Valparaíso, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. In retrospect, it feels funny that we started our journey in the coast-to-coast tradition by dipping our rear wheel in the waters of the Atlantic. Now, it looks like the last thing our front wheels touch on this continent could be the salty waters of the Silent Ocean.

As I am writing this, we are waiting to cross into Chile, the weather conditions permitting. If things go well, we will be able to reach Valparaíso quickly – but we should plan our next steps prudently under these circumstances.

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