To say that I hate mountain biking might be the understatement of the year. Me riding 1,500 miles on a fully loaded touring bike on steep, bumpy, loose gravel roads is comparable to a tropical islander driving in a Midwest blizzard. I know how to ride a bike well, but I'm a roadie who loves to ride fast and far on smooth roads and doesn't know how to ride in these conditions. I'm tense, nervous, feel like I have no control, have a death grip on my handlebars while holding on for dear life, tight shoulders, clenched jaws and it's no wonder why I arrive at camp with a headache every night. It feels like the big rocks on the road are grabbing at my tires and constantly throwing me off course into the loose gravel or sand so I slide out of control. The roads are continuous potholes and washboards that steel away my momentum and my vision is like watching a home-made video done by a 6-year-old who is running and spinning the entire time he's filming. I find it impossible to focus which makes it extremely difficult to dodge obstacles in the roadway and I wonder which will happen first, my bike will break or I'll end up in a full body cast. It drives me crazy that we have to go so slow and it takes us literally all day, from breakfast to dinner, to ride 50 miles. I get frustrated very easily and at least once a day stop, on the verge of tears, to scream at the top of my lungs, cursing the road and wanting to quit. Sometimes I think Mike is going to leave me on the side of the road. And I wouldn't blame him.
You may be asking yourself why in the world I would want to ride down here, then, if the majority of the roads over the next month or so are going to drive to me insanity. For the first few days of crummy roads I was wondering the same thing. But then one morning as I was sitting in the tent, drinking my tea and not wanting to get back out on the road, I looked at the quote on my tea bag and it rung a bell in my head. “Our patience will achieve more than our force.” I will have to go slow until I get the hang of this (which thankfully is getting better every day), and even after I do get the hang of it I'll probably still have to go slow and will probably continue to have occasional wipe-outs. I will have to walk some sections where the road is just too bad to ride and if no one picks us up to give us a lift and we have to spend all day walking 20 miles, then so be it. But patience will get us to our destination and I might as well relax, slow down and enjoy the ride through Patagonia, what is turning out to be one of the most beautiful places on Earth.