QuickPeek: Hill. Flats. Asphalt!! Mild headwind! Traffic!
We decided to start today and given that the days were shortening with mornings being chill, we figured we might sleep in and start when the sun was up! Our host David was a really lovely chap and let us lock up the house behind us after he left for work at 8 AM. We made some b’fast and drank a good amount of smoothie and it was nearly 10:30 before we hit the road. The weather looked awesome with just a hint of clouds in the sky and the sun shining thro with a brilliant blue overhead. Awesome! Usually Coyhaique is a rainy place, but seems like we might get lucky for the next few days with the weather.
We road out into the main drag, found a petrol station to top up air in the tires and hit the Ruta 7. We had a short bit of descent followed by a nice, well graded climb up and over a hill to the other valley. I started with my windbreaker, but had to get out of them as I climbed as the weather actually got pretty warm. The route out was asphalt and it was incredible to be back on smooth pavement rather than lumpy gravel and it almost felt like a different ride! The traffic out of Coyhaique, however, was pretty heavy and it was strange to be riding with so much vehicles after so long! It was sketchy at times, especially given that there was no shoulder and the road was pretty narrow.
We chose to ride along the asphalt route all the way and so the first part was to head towards Puerto Aysen for 50 km and turn off towards Villa Manihuales. Once we crossed the hill out of Coyhaique, the route flattened out and we had an incredible ride along a river all the way thro. The flat and paved route made riding so easy and before we realised it, we had ridden 50 km! Sweet!!
The day was getting warmer every minute and It was really pleasant to be riding in warmth rather than be riding with all the clothes on! Once after the turnoff, the road was flat for the next 7-8 km and then turned into stiff rolling hills. It was still following along a river, but the terrain was a little bit more rough and it was a nice bit of workout. After we had reached 70 km, we stopped for a quick break at the side of the road and thought about finding a place to camp for the day. It was still early, but given we had done some decent distance, we figured camping early might be a good choice. We noticed someone working at a campo and decided to ask them if we could camp out at their place.
Turned out that the place was being built up at the moment as a potential hostel / campsite and specifically catering to cyclists! Our host jaime showed us around and offered one of the cabins for us to sleep in! Sweet!! The place was nearly complete and we had a really cozy little room to sleep in! We walked about his property, which was incredibly beautiful and we were invited by his wife to look thro their home and join them for a cup of coffee! Jaime was a travel Journalist and had visited places around the world extensively and wanted to make a nice space for cyclists and other travellers along Carratera Austral. We spent some time chatting and sharing tips on what we cyclists would like in a “Casa Ciclista” and the place sure does feel like it has an incredible future ahead!!
In case people along this route are interested, locals call this place “Casa Chinook” and it’s at KM 19 south from Villa manisales. From Coyhaique, its about 70 km North and about a km or so after the Puente Manihuales! Cyclists are welcome here and hopefully in the future the place will have a gear exchange spot, a good laundry, hot showers, lovely camp site, a kitchen and wifi too!! They also have a small Greenhouse where they grow organic veggies! Can’t get better than that eh!!
Route: Coyhaique to Casa Chinook
Distance: 69 Km
Road: Asphalt!! No shoulder.
Traffic: Heavy out of Coyhaique. Moderate on road to Puerto Aysen. Light afterward.
Services: Small store along the way. Better to resupply in Coyhaique!
Expenses: SG$ 0
Comments: Catching a Casa Ciclista as it is being born!! Incredible. best wishes for the success of Casa Chinook!