|Distance||84.06 kms||52.20 miles|
|Climbed||705 meters||2,313 feet|
|Ride time (hours)||5.69||-|
|Avg speed||14.7 kph||-|
|Distance||7,205.14 kms||4,476.98 miles|
|Climbed||69,734 meters||228,786 feet|
|Ride time (hours)||541.19||-|
Thursday, March 7th, 2013
When I stay in a city it always seems to take me forever to get out on the road again in the morning. Today the culprits were: 1) a rear flat tire I discovered when I went to get the bike and 2) the supermarket in town was closed for renovations so I did a 10 kilometer round-trip south to go shopping. I had breakfast at the hotel, listened to a few of Rodolfo's China stories (it made me want to tour there), patched a few tubes, then went shopping with the bike fully loaded. The Caribineros gave me directions to the supermarket and the security guard at the Unimarc actually let me bring the bike inside the market and leave it next to the cash registers while I shopped. The police and security guards of Argentina and Chile have been really good to me.
When all was said and done I was on the road at noon headed towards Iquique. Heavily loaded with food and water because there is not much for the 230 kilometers from Tocopilla to Iquique. Today's ride was nice, there was a cool breeze off the water as I rode the highway that snakes along the coast between the ocean and the mountains. Towards the end of the day I stopped for a break on a cliff, I heard barking sounds so I walked over to the edge figuring there were some dogs down on the beach, but it turned out to be a colony of sea lions perched on a big rock. I was pretty far away but even so I could tell that they are huge animals. I had ever seen sea lions in the wild before. Very cool. Now I know where they got the voice for Chewbakka.
When I got closer to Río Loa I decided to camp on a nice big stretch of dunes, figuring I could get good cover from the road and be right next to the water. I got what I wanted but I had to drag the bike through sand for a half a kilometer to get there. This kind of campsite doesn't appear every day: a front row seat to a Pacific sunset without a soul around. I couldn't be more grateful. Dinner tasted excellent, as much for the view as for the ingredients.