Big trees and big foot

Everywhere we go there are big trees.

And big foot

The coast

Wild, windswept beaches with huge numbers of driftwood logs. Amazingly beautiful and atmospheric.

Leo loved it

The Spruce Railroad Trail

This was fun. A railroad trail at each end with a single track path for 4 miles in the middle. Great swimming, lots of pushing and 'a really great path papa' according to Leo who sat in the back helping by doing his 'push' face.

A return WarmShowers

In summer 2014 we hosted Eric, an American guy who stayed with us for a few days and entertained Leo quite successfully. When we knew we were flying to Seattle we realised that Eric might know stuff about getting to the ferry from the airport so we got in touch. Amazingly he offered to pick us up from the airport and host us for a couple of nights so that we could get over our jetlag.

When we arrived, his wife Loretta and his daughters Sophie, Lucy and Maria made us feel very welcome despite us throwing the girls out of their she-shed in the basement. We recovered, had a trip to REI and then rather wonderfully Eric rode us into Settle down the amazing network of trails that linked Bellevue with the city centre. We had a great day especially because most of the journey was downhill although I suspect Eric had a harder time getting home.


Cycling the Olympic Peninsula

We're cycling anticlockwise around the Olympic Peninsula starting in Seattle then heading south to Portland. From there we are going to make our way back North to Vancouver BC somehow. With Leo in the trailer and his constant interest in everything around us the going is slow but great fun.

The land is empty and there are many state park campgrounds so far conveniently placed about 50km apart.


Have we left Norway yet?

Poulsbo is a small town on a peninsula on a peninsula. It was on our way and had a nice park in the forest and easy access to a good beach for Leo to forage for crabs, so we spent the afternoon there. It was settled by Norwegian fisherman and the people of the town are still really proud of their Norwegian heritage. Leo was quite excited at all the flags and we nearly got him to sing his Barnehage song: 'Sundelia Barnehage hey, hey, hey!!!' but he got all shy when we got the camera out.

Friendly locals

What makes people like this? TV?


Book - Chile and Argentina (Carretera Austral)

Read through our book to get any information you need. The book should be viewable full screen and it's all available to see online.

Carretera Austral slideshow

Photos taken along the route of the Carretera Austral between Ralun and Villa O'Higgins


Tablets and free digital maps for cycle touring

Nowadays we use the Garmin Edge 800 (Review)
for routing while we are on the bicycle and charge it with the dynamo hub on my front wheel. This is great for finding our way to accommodation or addresses or along a choice of roads to the next town. Cities become a pleasure to cycle through.

The Edge 810 is newer and has a better battery life but the 800 is fine. We tend to use the simpler but excellent free routeable maps from http://www.velomap.org/ on the Garmin.

For seeing a view of the whole route it is useless as the screen resolution /size is too small, so we end up buying physical maps or using the completely free Open Street Maps or Open Cycle Maps on a computer/tablet to work out our route.

Bike Route Toaster

The free Bike Route Toaster website allows you to work out all your routes before your trip using Open Street Maps, save them online or export them as Google Earth files. You can save in many other formats and can add the routes to your GPS and also view great height profiles too. It doesn't work well on a tablet but on a computer it is fantastic and the saved online routes mean you can get the routes wherever you can find internet. In theory someone at home could plan your route on the site and you could download it to your gps wherever you are.


We used an employer provided iPAD throughout our Eastern Europe trip but it was a bit restrictive about what we could do with it and it was difficult or expensive to get all the free Open Street Maps on it. It felt like anything new we wanted to do with it cost us more money. It was also big and heavy.

Nexus 7 (Android)

For South America we used a little Nexus 7 and were able to add all the free maps from Open Cycle Maps including contours and hill shading. We used the excellent app - OsmAnd which is free but has a low-cost paid-for option which gives routing. You can also add a contour lines plugin for incredibly detailed information about the route. The maps all work offline and even the routing works really well offline. The main reason for using the routing function is to find the distances to places as there is often only one suitable road.

This app was really useful and it is possible to add maps of anywhere in the world through the internal menus. We had the whole of Chile and Argentina on it and could check out the heights of passes or plan our overall route at night or on rest days, using the high resolution screen.

With OsmAnd it was possible to add gpx tracks from the computer and see them on the screen, so in theory you could plan your whole route before the trip and see it on your tablet.

The Nexus 7 is a really useful size and weight for travelling:
Compared to a laptop it saves a lot of weight and using a USB thumbdrive and an OTG cable we could put loads of TV programmes for Leo on it as well. Unlike the iPad we could charge it with our dynamo and it fitted nicely in the handlebar bag.


The Carretera Austral

This is a crazy road built to unify Chile under orders from Pinochet. The most recent section to Villa O'Higgins was finished in 1998. The way we did it (from Ensenada via Ralun) was about 1300km long.

You can find out more info here:
Crazy Guy on a Bike (Carretera Austral page) - all sections described - really useful
Wikipedia  - Carretera Austral - loads of history and context

Below are files that you can open in Google Earth. The kmz file can be expanded to see the separate sections in Google Earth and you can import it into the free Garmin BaseCamp software to send it to your gps:

The last 21km section across the border into Argentina involves a boat, pushing up a farmers track for 5km, 11km of OKish riding, and 6km of pushing, lifting and carrying your bikes and bags through a forest, over streams, roots, rocks and for the last 2km, down a heavily eroded gash in the earth 'just' wide enough for your bike.

Our route through Chile and Argentina

Purple = Bus/Plane         Blue = Train         Red = Bicycle         Orange = Ferry

Below are files that you can open in Google Earth. The kmz file can be expanded to see the separate sections in Google Earth and you can import it into the free Garmin BaseCamp software to send it to your gps.


Cycling finished, a broken rim ends the ride 200km early

As we rode the last few metres into Victoria, Isabelle complained that her brakes were rubbing. We checked it out and discovered that the rim was completely destroyed in several places and on both sides. Before we started we had wondered if the wheel would last because the surface was getting a little concave, but we assumed that with Isabelle's lighter weight it would last the trip. We were nearly right. The wheel has done about 20,000km so it's lasted well. Now she has to decide does she get a Rohloff hub on the next one?
We had to get a bus up to Chillan and then the train back to Santiago a day earlier than expected, but in the grand scheme of things we have been very lucky. My bike broke just after the Carretera had finished and Isa's the first day we arrived in a major town in Chile. If the weather hadn't been so shit in Argentina it would have broken on a dirt road or a high pass further North and we would have had a lot more trouble getting back for our plane home.


Motorbike museum

Just before Freire we saw a sign for a cabaña and went down a little track. It led to the house of Elizabeth and Irving, whose cabanas were full but who happily invited us to camp in their garden. Amazingly Irving had a small museum of mainly British motorbikes in various stages of restoration, and was the only Chilean member of various British motorbike clubs. He had Enfield, Triumph, Ariel and Panther bikes and was really pleased to see our Brook's saddles as one of his oldest bikes had one too.