Bike touring along Patagonia road

Bike touring along Patagonia road
Aysén Information

There are three ways of moving through the Binational Circuit "There are no borders between gauchos": traveling in private motorized vehicles, bike touring, and public transport. Each offers distinct advantages and disadvantages along with special safety considerations. In this article, we?ll talk a bit about biking through Patagonia. 

One of the popular options for traveling through Patagonia and the Binational Circuit "There are no borders between gauchos" is bike touring. There are service providers in both Argentina and Chile to support your trip with information, rental equipment, maintenance and repairs.  You can even arrange for logistical support who can travel with you, providing assistance and breaks along the way.
Safe bike touring on dirt roads requires some practice. The surface of dirt roads is constantly changing, Small stones may build up, forming an unstable surface in which speeding vehicles and your bicycle can skid. Rain can form large puddles whose depth is impossible to discern. Bumpy roads can produce vibrations resulting in a loss of control of vehicles and bikes. Services along the route are limited. In most communities, you will only find the most basic services. Food supplies are also limited. Carry enough provisions for at least one or two complete days. Travel times are always longer than expected and can vary due to climate, road conditions, events, how you are feeling, mechanical issues, etc.  Wind is a particularly important variable.  Your itinerary must allow for the flexibility of these factors.    
When traveling by bicycle it is very important to always remember to ride defensively.  In Patagonia, there are no bike lanes for cyclists and the sides of the road are narrow to non-existent. The roads are always full of adventure and surprise.  You might  encounter dust, rain, wind, blind curves, animals in the road, large trucks, vehicles who drive in the center of the road, etc.  Maximize the chances that other drivers will see you by wearing reflective clothing, installing little flags, and using flashing front headlights and reflectors. Always keep to your right and be prepared to get off the road to avoid collisions. On hills and in curved areas, it is important to always be visible from both directions. Keep alert for livestock which often escape their fencing and can behave unexpectedly.  You are also likely to encounter wildlife, including  guanaco (Lama guanicoe), huemul (Hippocamelus bisulcus), and ñandú (Pterocnemia pennata).
We suggest that you completely take apart and reassemble your bicycle, yourself, before the trip, (even if it is rented). This is the best way to familiarize yourself with the parts and assembly and to prepare for dealing with problems in the route. Also, there are few places to buy spare parts or repair your bicycle during your travels.  Therefore, we recommended to bring specialized parts with you.
Before traveling, check your bicycle, especially the chain, bearings, brakes and tires. Make sure that your luggage is covered and secured in the pannier or cart. Wear high visibility clothing and reflective gear  on your bicycle. Wear suitable clothing, for the weather conditions and the physical effort. Eat and drink sufficiently, before setting out. Pack high-energy foods and enough water or liquids in a place that is easily accessible. Plan your travel day around your distance goals and the places you wish to visit. Apply sunblock.
During travel, drink and eat enough and frequently. Use sunblock regularly.  Use a helmet. Keep to your right. Be prepared to get off the road to avoid collisions. In curved areas and on ascents, it is particularly important to always be visible from both directions of the road. Downhill, especially in bumpy roads, keep a low speed to avoid losing control of your bicycle. Sometimes it is better to walk. Be aware of animals in the road. Check your luggage regularly.
In the event of mechanical problems or minor accidents:  Make sure that your position does not represent a danger for yourself or other travelers. When you repair your bike it is advisable to look for shade or shelter from the wind, sun, and other elements. Make yourself comfortable and enjoy the experience, as an opportunity to relax. In the event of an accident with another vehicle, animal or person, you must file a police report (Constancia) in the nearest Police Post. This is a legal requirement and a document you will need for insurance claims. 
If you need help, you can usually flag down the first passing vehicle.  If you do not have mobile phone reception or a satellite phone, you can often communicate by radio. Many rural homes and farms are equipped with UHF radios that are able to contact assistance sources. If you need assistance, are leaving equipment or will need to return, it is important to know the exact location. Take a GPS reading and note any traffic signs indicating kilometer numbers, bridge names, etc. Take down as many references as possible to help assistance services to find you.
In the event of a serious accident,  activate your emergency protocol.  Before traveling make sure you have a plan and protocol for the management of serious accidents.

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