Posted by: chriswode | June 15, 2014

Brazil Bound

14 of us loaded up at LAX and started the trek to Brazil with a layover in Panama City. Arrival in Rio brought the excitement level up but just 1 more quick flight to Salvador got us to our 1st destination. Our helpful local Carlos met us with driver Andre to take us to our house up the coast in Guarajuba. Anticipation was high as the doubts of Duncan’s aka Inutil’s house selection would be up to par…but the house is great. Just off the beach, pool, plenty of bedrooms, big TV…only downfall a sketchy wi-fi. The plan was to eat and drink at the house, recuperate from the long travels and get ready for the fun. Duncan finally arrived after swimming from the US & the “recuperation” began in earnest…if that means drinking 4000 beers and 2 bottles of tequila.  We started out walking out to the beach and found our new favorite local spot, Bar do Carlinhos.  Perfect spot right on the beach with plenty of TVs, plenty of cold beer and 2 minute walk to the house.  Then it was back to the house to chill…or play Erik’s game called Queens, which basically has no rules, just a choice of you drink or make someone else drink.  The chants started with the resounding chant of the night, “I believe that you will shot!”  Yes the grammar is terrible but thats what helped to make it great.  BMack had told me of an impending surprise for the Germany game but I had no idea what it was and didnt know it would come out when his first shot was doled out to him.  Pictures below for the comedy.  A couple bottles of tequila and many beers later and finally Brad arrived so the special surprise could go down….Duncan and I got everyone personalized Brazil jerseys with their Brazilian nickname on the back. We got everyone out by the pool and started giving them out one by one….Confusson/Fabian, Alilto/Alex, Marquino/Marky, Gito/Mackerer, Bincha/Brad, Brendisco/Brendan, Aubrisca/Aubrey, Dempsinho/Brian, Michao/Mike, Ricardhio/Richard, Volei/Joe-Anna, Tarilda/Tara, Wodinho & of course Smartacandro for Smart Erik. Everyone was totally surprised and stoked; we all jumped in the pool and celebrated. #awesome

After a hard day traveling and partying most were ready to hit their beds, others content to drink some more in the living room watching highlights, while 2 brave souls were eager to head out to a dance club we were told about.  So Brad and Erik jumped into a cab before anyone could catch up and ended up going out up the road in Praia da Forte.  An interesting night out for both indeed as SLG lost Brad and then tried to get a cab home…only problem is he had no idea where “home” was.  Three hours later after zero communication in the same language and multiple unsuccessful guesses as to where his passenger was staying, the cabbie somehow found the entrance to our beach community much to SLG’s joy.  He ambled into the house to the roar of the small group still up…and proceeded to tell his tale.  Long and short of it, the checklist for “Dont Do’s in Brazil” was just about broken…on night 1.

Team Brazuca at LAX

Team Brazuca at LAX

Fuleco, Brasil 2014 mascot welcomes us to Brazil

Fuleco, Brasil 2014 mascot welcomes us to Brazil

Fuleco and 2 foolios

Fuleco and 2 foolios

TV setup at the house in Guarajuba

TV setup at the house in Guarajuba


our pool

our pool

Guarajuba house

Guarajuba house

our beach in Guarajuba

our beach in Guarajuba


1st stop at Bar do Carlinhos

1st stop at Bar do Carlinhos

Carlos (far left) joined us

Carlos (far left) joined us

Erik's first purchase...sounds of Carnaval

Erik’s first purchase…sounds of Carnaval

Bar do Carlinhos

Bar do Carlinhos

BMack with his "German surprise" for his 1st tequila shot

BMack with his “German surprise” for his 1st tequila shot



Fabian picks me for a shot!!

Fabian picks me for a shot!!

Captain USA joins Herr Deutschland for a shot

Captain USA joins Herr Deutschland for a shot

"I believe that Erik will shot!"

“I believe that Erik will shot!”


Team Brazuca in new Brasil jerseys

Team Brazuca in new Brasil jerseys

Brendisco, Michaao, Gito, Bincha, Fredj, Wodinho, Volei, Ricardhio, Alilto, Marquino.  Aubrisca, Confusson, Dzekinhosa, Tarilda, Dempsinho and Smartacandro.

Brendisco, Michaao, Gito, Bincha, Fredj, Wodinho, Volei, Ricardhio, Alilto, Marquino. Aubrisca, Confusson, Dzekinhosa, Tarilda, Dempsinho and Smartacandro.

Posted by: chriswode | June 10, 2014

Brazil World Cup 2014 prep

Brazil 2014 is here!  Team rosters are set, friendlies have been played and my groups’ itinerary is complete.  A look at our group and itinerary (more details on the Brazil page tab) :

Leave LAX this Friday June 13th through Panama City and into Rio 6am Saturday.  Jump on a plane for Salvador which should get us to our house on the beach in Guarajuba about 1pm..which is exactly when the first game of the day kicks off.  A week in Salvador with 2 games, Germany vs Portugal and Switzerland vs France.

Salvador group:  Fabian, Duncan, Erik, Joe-Anna, Tara, Brian Mackerer, Alex, Marky, Richard, Brendan & Brian Dempsey, Aubrey, Mike, Brad, Freddy & myself makes 15.

Then off to Rio on the 21st and meet up with Fabian’s daugher Lauren and her 3 friends which will give us 18 in the house in Barra da Tijuca area of Rio.  2 games in Rio are Belgium vs Russia and France vs Ecuador.  Also side-trip to Buzios for 2 nights to see the “St Tropez of Brazil”.

We are ready for soccer, beaches, caipirinhas and Brahma beer!  Is Brazil ready for us?

The celebration already started with a big Sunday at Nansen Field in our Fram game to win the championship…another double in the books.

SuperSmart Erik raises the World Cup….errr SBPSL playoff trophy.






Posted by: chriswode | April 17, 2011

Buenos Aires

Recommended to eat in BA:  steaks, pasta, pizza…not recommended:  sushi.  We were both finally feeling pretty good & it was nice to be back in BA & decided we would try one of the many sushi joints right around our hotel.  No bueno.  We had some tuna, salmon & 2 rolls & it left a lot to be desired…I couldnt even eat that much.  After dinner we found a cool little bar just down the street that was playing classic American rock & grabbed a table inside…as a rain storm came thru.  I had a super strong Dutch beer & could not manage a 2nd.  We chilled there for a while & then headed back to the hotel.

Then in the middle of the night I felt like it was a week ago all over again…ugh!  So I have been struggling again the last couple days & Esteban has too.  But we did get in a trip to MALBA, an art museum featuring South American art & the Buenos Aires Bus tour that takes you all around the city.

On Friday night Esteban’s buddy from here, Ale who is a soccer agent, picked us up with his bro to take us to dinner.  We went to a really nice parillada by the river…I ate some steak, Esteban barely did.  Saturday we were mostly useless, we caught some soccer on TV including ManCity beat ManU, saw the Heat beat Sixers & chilled.

Sunday would be our final full day in BA & I felt much better & Esteban was improved.  We still had no word from our connections for game tickets to see Boca Jrs and he threw out going to downtown area we saw on our bus tour…I said, “there is no #$%ing way we are NOT going to the Boca game”.  In my mind that would have made the trip an absolute failure given we had battled all this sickness…so I got online and found some tour/ticket companies that do tix.  Got us 2 that included ride to/from game with a guide.  My connection actually came thru with 2 free tix but we didnt find out til after the game anyway.

So the guide picked us up at our hotel & then picked up a couple from London.  He told us about the stadium, the teams, etc & dropped us right where we needed to be to walk thru the neighborhood to the stadium.  We were there plenty early & chilled in line until they opened the gates.  Then we had about an 1 & 15 mins to chill for pregame.  We were in the end behind one goal in what is a terrace…no seats just rows of stairs with some sections of bars that you can stand against…we grabbed a good spot behind one.  The young couple sat with us & we learned they are Tottenham fans & had just got back from Iguazu Falls.  The stadium, nicknamed La Bombonera, started to fill up to its 55,000 capacity & finally it was close to kick off.  The atmosphere started to build, especially on the opposite end where their “fan club” stands.  I got some great vids & decent pics.  Tigre went up 1-0, then 2-0 and it looked bad for Boca…but then with about 5 mins before halftime they got on the board…then just before the halftime whistle they got the 2nd on a nice Riquelme goal & the crowd went bananas.  So 2-2 halftime.  2nd half Tigre went up 3-2 on a penalty kick (deserved) & then with about 15 mins left Boca hammered home the tying goal on a sweet shot from 20 yards that hit the upper corner of the net.  3-3 final score.  Then we had to chill for about 30 mins as they let the approximate 5000 visiting fans get out of the stadium & the neighborhood…and they actually let most of the rest of the crowd go to except the 2 end sections with the craziest fans.  Finally we could exit, walked out & found our guide who drove us back to the hotel.  It was a great experience & obviously one to do when in BA…as a matter of fact we noticed quite a few Americans & Brits that had probably bought similar packages.  The crowd & atmosphere were great & the stadium is cool because its very vertical so it feels like the crowd is right on top of the field…but I’m gonna give the edge to Penarol for their atmosphere…granted there are about 30,000 more people in their stadium plus they had the flares & fireworks.

walking into La Bombonera

La Bombonera pregame

Posted by: chriswode | April 13, 2011


Uruguay is just across the Rio de la Plata from Argentina so on Monday we jumped on a ferry for a 3-hour trip to its capital, Montevideo.  It was a comfortable ride over & we actually watched The Fighter on Esteban’s computer…great movie.  Sitting by us we noticed an older crew of guys with lots of leather & sunglasses…we asked 1 of the guys what band they were…he told us, The Boys, a punk rock band that started in 70s or 80s from UK…they were playing a gig in M’video…interesting crew.

We got into town just before sunset & ended up walking instead of jumping in a cab…2 reasons:  we didnt have Uruguayan pesos & a little walk would do us good.  Thanks to a kid selling a map we found we could walk pretty easily to our hotel…turns out the map was for a gentleman’s club…kids’ gotta earn $ somehow these days & the map was helpful.  So we walked thru the old town & 20 mins later were at our hotel.  The lobby was new & nice, the room a little bigger than our others but rooms definitely on older side.  We ended up walking a block over to a pasta restaurant & had a good meal…I was craving spaghetti & sauce after a week of minimal food.  I had a small bottle of Uruguayan cabernet savignon…lets just say they are not that known for their wines yet.  We ended up walking the main street for a little while but didnt see any place of interest.  Its a little different than BA.


The next day we walked down into the old town, called Ciudad Vieja, which was much more lively during the day, with street vendors hawking all kinds of goods, all the stores open & people walking everywhere.  We chilled at a good spot called Mercado de la Puerta (Port Market) to have a beer & people watch.  Turns out the older couple at the table next to us where Americans so we asked where they were from (NoCal) & what they had planned here.  Turned out they were in a travel group & were actually going to the same soccer game that night!!  We couldnt believe it…we told them its not like a 49ers game…they would be in for a shock methinks.  We ended up having lunch in a square right in town…of course people walking everywhere around us.

one of the main squares in Montevideo

Ciudad Vieja

We finished & headed back to the hotel to get ready for the game…about halfway Esteban realized he left his sunglasses on the table…again, as he had done in Bariloche…so back again to pick them up & ultimately back to the we got some extra walking in.  Kickoff was at 7:15 & I was thinking 6pm departure but he said “we dont need to go early, it should be easy to get there”…so we jumped in a taxi about 6:30 & in 15 mins were at the stadium.  It was crowded all around but we didnt really know how many people would be at the game.  We got hooked up by his guys in BA with free tix and on them was just a barcode & 1 number…Esteban thought that was the row (49)…I knew WAY better.  The stadium, Estadio Centenario, holds close to 90,000 and was built in the 20s to host the 1st World Cup back in 1930…and this was a mid-week game in Copa Libertadores with Penarol in 1st place in the group of 4 & Independiente in last in the group.  Well we realized what the crowd would be like as the cab dropped us off…we caught a glimpse of the stands which were raging full!  We found our gate, walked up & had to hit the higher tier as the lower was full…and of course it was just general seating, not assigned…if you could even find a seat.  We walked out the tunnel & the place was a cauldron!   The entire stadium was packed & the fans were all in yellow & black going crazy jumping up & down, singing, lighting fireworks & flares & waving flags.  WOW!  We stood at the bottom of the stairs & had a nice view right at midfield.  I dont think I’ve ever witnessed that type of environment, even with World Cup games…as this was 85,000+ Penarol fans plus 1 small section of Independiente fans tucked away safely.

I took some pics & vids but even they dont do the environment justice (notice Esteban’s reactions in 2 of the vids).  The teams came out & the crowd swelled with emotion & got louder & then dropped one of the biggest banners ever created down from the top of the seats that covered almost 1 entire sideline plus behind 1 goal.  Then it went back up swiftly & the teams kicked off in a haze of fog from the flares.  In the craziness I grabbed a flare from a guy & lit it up as well…just kidding, but that would have been awesome.  We kept laughing picturing that tour group of approximately 25 people at the game (the couple we met were probably around 60 & had never been to a professional soccer game…the guy just said that “everyone is a soccer mom now”).  Do soccer moms do this for 2 hours straight?? (i’m sure the stadium was packed well before kickoff so might have been even 3+ hours).

Penarol dominated possession & was putting pressure on Independiente but couldnt get a breakthru.  Then about midway thru the 1st half they had a bad giveaway in midfield, Indy countered & played a nice ball over the top that the forward ran onto with only the GK to beat…he did from just inside the 18 and they celebrated as the place remained mostly quiet, except for the couple hundred Independiente fans who were in red, dancing & banging their drums.  Penarol continued to push but couldnt get any great chances even well into the 2nd half.  With about 10 mins left Esteban threw out the idea of possibly getting a jump on the crowd leaving…we of course decided against it…and its a good thing as some drama popped up.  First there were a couple good chances, then some pushing & shoving which got Penarols forward & Indy’s GK sent off (red cards)…both had made all their subs so Indy had to switch one of their field players into goal.   Penarol had plenty of late chances but could not even test they guy who stepped in net, putting a couple over & wide & a free-kick into the wall…he is not a goalie for godsakes, put some shots on target!  Independiente survived with a 1-0 win…bummer, we really wanted to see that place go wild when they scored.  Exiting wasnt too bad as we just had to walk a bit before catching a cab.  That night we had a late snack of some pizza pie & relaxed at a table outside on the main street.

Estadio Centenario


Wednesday was travel day back to Argentina & I realized the night before that we were on a bus to Colonia, then the ferry to BA…I really wanted to surprise Esteban with seeing the countryside 😉   A taxi dropped us at the station just 10 mins before check-in closed & the place was big & crazy…but we finally found the right spot & were good to go.  It was a nice coach & pretty comfortable & I enjoyed looking out the window as we left the city, cruised the suburbs & into the countryside.  2 hours later we were in Colonia, jumped on the ferry & 1 hour later back in BA.  Taxi back to our usual hotel & get ready for a few days here.

Posted by: chriswode | April 12, 2011

Leaving Patagonia

Its been a crazy week & definitely one we will never forget.  Unfortunately I’m still hit hard by stupid stomach bug which Esteban seems to be fighting off himself.  Even Marc, the lodge owner, was hit yesterday.

Morning for most was breakfast & getting ready to depart at 11 for drive back to Bariloche to catch our flight.  We said our goodbye’s to Hoolie, Marc & Johanna while Kelly & Cailen were to drive us.

A huge thanks to:

  • Julian/Hoolie – for making it a fun & adventuresome week of riding & paddling.  he is an excellent guide, rider & river guide plus his tireless energy & sharp Argentinean/Canadian wit had us going the whole time.  we always gave him a hard time with his time estimations & how much uphill would be on rides but he took it well.  and thanks for putting up with me having no energy most of the week to do much.  hopefully we will cross paths again.  and to his wife Katie for joining up with us to help host later in the week
  • Marc Jordan & his wife, Ellie for great hospitality & the beautiful La Confluencia
  • Shea Jordan for picking us up & helping us the 1st day or so…too bad we didnt get to ride with him
  • Kelly Jordan & his girlfriend Cailen for being our everyday hosts around the lodge & their excellent river guiding
  • Johanna – our Sacred Rides guide, yoga instructor & fellow rider…huge thanks for putting up with our already amazing riding & yoga skillz, we know its hard to teach those that are already masters 😉  she is an amazing rider that would be a great guide for anyone thinking about an adventure like this

It was great meeting Robert & having him as our 3rd member of our small group…he did an amazing job of riding all week, especially considering he was the oldest of the crew…young at heart, buddy.

As the guinea pigs of the 1st Sacred Rides Patagonia trip I think we would all give it a huge thumbs up.  They already have 5-6 signed up for the next one in December…just tell them to bring some appropriate meds 😉  .  As I said earlier in the week, it was definitely tougher than I expected…tho my expectations were limited as basically I had only ever been on 1 mountain bike trail ride when I signed up for this trip, and that trail is a lot easier than the ones here.  I knew it was something that was out of my norm that I would probably never do.  And after the week I’m gonna say I’ve got to be an elite level bike pusher now 😉 .  Johanna even said the owner of Sacred Rides, Mike, was reading my blog & emailed her a little worried to ask if it was really as difficult as I was writing…we all got a kick out of that.  I think its definitely a mountain bike purists’ trip…I just cant wait to get back on my beach cruiser down on the strand 🙂

I’m posting some videos here: Chris’ vids

Back to BA:  On the drive we listened to Robin Williams’ latest standup…thats some funny stuff.  Then we had a short flight back to BA & got in late Sun afternoon.  Back to our hotel where I basically crashed on my bed while Esteban was online or watched amazing Argentinean TV…at least there was some soccer on.  With both of us struggling it was a low-key night…we ventured out to find a drug-store, grab some gatorade, sprite & chips & a little pizza to bring back to the room.  Exciting stuff, huh?!?

Bariloche from above

Posted by: chriswode | April 11, 2011

“Volunteer Day”

We joked all week that Hoolie was really going to have us help him build his barn which he needs to get started on after we leave…but in effect we were all his & Kellys slaves to build & repair a trail that ends just above the lodge & goes up the mountain along the Rio Azul.  So we grabbed tools & walked up to the beginning of the trail.  We spent a few hours changing the trail to make it easier to ride & also cleaning up branches, roots & rocks & clearing brush.  We even had to chop down a few trees to build a little bridge across a tiny stream.  We did a solid job thats gonna take them a while to get it done all the way to the top…but someday people will be able to enjoy biking, hiking & horseback riding up it.

Pizza for lunch & then we were off to the hopping metropolis of El Bolson…a town of 35,000 people, many of whom are hippies.  Every Saturday there is a feria (fair), which is basically a long row of booths set up with people selling their art, jewelry, clothing, etc.  The smell of patchouli & marijuana was lingering everywhere as we walked around.  Esteban & I did a slow stroll thru the fair & the town.  My stomach pains were still coming in hard & really bothering me so we stopped by a grocery store to find anything cold to drink & to hopefully soothe my stomach…especially a Gatorade or Sprite…no Gatorade so I grabbed a cold Sprite.  We continued walking & then sat outside a bar to enjoy a local brew.  It was another gorgeous day with temps in low 80s but felt nice.  Bonus was they had their music playing outside and about every 3rd song was Oasis.

El Sol Cafe

El Bolson

We met up with the rest of the group, hit 1 more store & then drove back to the lodge.  I was beat from this illness so hit my bed & crashed for an hour or so until it was time for dinner.

Tonite was a change in dinner…there is a small cabin just a few hundred yards down from the lodge on the Rio Azul where we cross in the truck.  Its set up for hikers & everyone during the day & also has dinner so we had arranged a parrillado (where they bring out plates full of different meats) for all of us:  Esteban, Robert, Johanna, Hoolie, Cailen & myself.  Had some wine & brews & talked about our favorite moments of the trip, movies, funny stories, etc.

Back to the lodge where we checked out the amazing sky filled with stars probably as bright as just about anywhere in the world.  A good ending to a great week…just wish I didnt have to battle whatever I got for multiple days.

Posted by: chriswode | April 11, 2011

Riding Day 6 – River

Well the illness was still lingering…the cramp/pains were now the main problem & kept me up most of the night.  So I wasnt up-and-at-em too quick for our 9:30am departure.  But we were all loaded up & ready for a day beginning with a drive over to Lago Steffen where we would ride down some trails to the lake & then hit the Rio Manso for a full river run.

We had the little truck loaded down with all the gear:  5 bikes, 2 kayaks, 1 ducky & 1 raft.  Then all of us jumped in a big passenger van.  Marc drove the truck & we were joined today by Kelly & his girlfriend Cailen, who have been our everyday hosts at the lodge.  Was about 90 minute drive & we actually got to get out on asphalt road for a while.  Again the views were incredible & we arrived at our drop spot.  We unloaded the bikes & road the couple miles down to the lake which is actually in a set of lakes tucked in the middle of a couple ranges of mountains.  We got down & Marc, Kelly & Cailen had lunch going on a little beach on the lake with an amazing view.

view above Lago Steffen

Lago Steffen

I finally got in some decent amount of food & we prepped to hit the water…including Hoolie giving us his 4 Rules.  Esteban & I would start in the ducky, me in back as navigator, him in front to do all the paddling 😉  Hoolie, Robert & Johanna were in the raft & Kelly & Cailen were in kayaks.  We geared all up to keep warm & dry with wetsuits & splash jackets fearing freezing water temps.  But as we started the easy paddle out of the lake and into the 1st parts of the river it was actually quite warm & layers were shed.  Its an easy river with some class 2+ rapids, a bunch of sections of class 1 (easiest) & just open easy moving water.  But it was a nice change of pace, the air was warm (probably around 80), the water felt great & the views were spectacular.

ready for the river

We paddled around, splashed around and Robert & Johanna jumped off a nice little bank as we meandered our way towards Chile.  Kelly & Hoolie got some vids so hopefully I’ll have some good ones of us going thru some of the better rapids.  Then about halfway in Esteban & I switched places with Robert & Johanna…giving Hoolie his chance to have some fun with us.  He took us sideways thru some waves so I would get soaked & rammed us up a couple rocks…all while singing random songs in his funny Argentinean accent (gotta hear it but we give him a hard time for his “v” & “b” pronunciation).  The last big rapid came & we paddled hard at it as it made a sharp left at a big flat, sloping rock facing us…we were thinking we were going to turn at the last second & avoid it, but Hoolie’s late instruction hinted otherwise…”when I say ‘go’ sit down inside & hold the side of the raft”.  We rammed into the rock with the front of the boat climbing pretty high up and & buckled & the stop in momentum wasnt too bad for Esteban & I cuz we were down in the front compartment…but Hoolie came flying forward from the back of the raft & slammed into me.  We bounced away & continued down, all getting a laugh, even everyone else as they had turned to watch us.

We arrived at our pickup point, unloaded & made the drive back to the lodge…smartass Hoolie yelled back from the front, “Rule #5: no falling asleep”…which of course we all did, including him.  We had to drop the big van just up the last section of road before the lodge at a little spot that has the bar sitting in the pasture.  Some kids were playing soccer so of course Esteban & I jumped out and joined them for a while.

Back to the lodge, some yoga, dinner & some Heineken while we watched some of the vids shot by Johanna & Hoolie.  His wife, Katie had joined us at the lodge for the last couple days as well so we got to know her.

Posted by: chriswode | April 9, 2011

Riding Day 5 – The Plateau

Oi…the illness continues…and now with random sharp pains in my stomach that come on every minute or so.  Again no breakfast but I muscled up to head out on the day’s ride which would take us up thru a local ski hill and a huge plateau.  We loaded up the truck & drove a few minutes over to the ski cabin & had to get the gate unlocked to go up.  This ski area has 2 lifts, a 2-person & a t-bar with just a couple runs off them.  We traversed our way up the cat-trails & finally shot straight up the last run to the top.  Then the “fun” began…long uphill push of our bikes to the plateau which is a vast, rock-strewn expanse covering hundreds of acres.  The views are amazing as you will see in my pics…but the riding is the exact opposite…as a matter of fact during the many hours we spent up there, probably 15 minutes were spent actually riding.  We crossed a cool little mountain stream, hit a spot of snow & took in the views.  Ultimately, we pushed across to a great spot to have lunch at the top of a little rock outcropping…I could manage a couple crackers & cheese & a little ham.

Then we began a long traverse that was mainly uphill to go to another ridge…again it was all covered with large rocks & mostly unrideable…there was zero trail.  So in my misery of no energy, constant headache, lack of nutrition, pushing my bike everywhere, trying to walk thru rocks, I was at the No Fun Zone.  It was taking forever so we finally decided to head back down..which still took us forever to get back to the ride-able trail.  At one point I was looking for the nearest canyon to throw my bike off…Esteban had a few laughs as he knew I was at the breaking point. I was cursing Hoolie for bringing us to the moon, Steve for bringing me on this trip, Johanna for being our Sacred Ride guide, Robert for just being there & anyone else I could think of just to be fair.  At one point I was thinking, I could be chillin’ in Barcelona, sipping on some sangria & catching a few Barca & Real Madrid games…but we move on.

So we hit the steep, narrow downhill dirt part which is fine & arrived back at the truck.  Hoolie asked if I wanted a ride in the truck back down…my retort, “if I managed to push my f’ing bike all over the top of a rock-covered mountain I’m at least gonna enjoy the fun downhill part”.  He laughed & said “hit it”.  So we traversed down the narrow trail, headed straight down some of the wide ski run & made our way back down to the cabin.  Now that was at least fun…everyone got some laughs in at me & we headed back to the lodge.

ski lift & cabin

how can you ride on this? but at least beautiful view

dont let him fool you...he wasnt riding

We got to the lodge & Hoolie wanted to do a quick intro down on the river of paddling a ducky…which is an inflated kayak that sits up higher & is easier to manage.  So we carried 2 down the 276 stairs & took a couple paddles around the river, getting it down pretty easily.  As I got out I really got hit with extreme dizziness & felt like I had to puke.  So I hung off to the side while they finished & then we walked back up the 847 stairs to the lodge & I continued up to my room to crash in my bed.  Esteban & I had massages scheduled for 6 & 7pm…so I got up for mine & headed to the yoga room.  We had an Austrian lady with what I thought was moderate English but she obviously lost some of my requests in translation…she asked any trouble spots…I pointed to my calves, hamstrings & back…then said “no feet”.  An hour went by and she didnt touch any parts of my legs…I guess “feet” in German means “legs”???  Esteban said she really didnt do much of his legs either…kinda weird to be on a bike riding trip, get a massage & to NOT have the legs massaged…isnt that the most important part?!?  But it still felt good on my sore back, aching neck & throbbing head.

Dinner was mexican food of which I had about 3 grains of rice & a few nacho chips.  The chips I could handle & just nibbled on them with guac for a while.  I was still too exhausted to even update this blog for the day so I read some of my book & crashed out.

Posted by: chriswode | April 8, 2011

Riding Day 4 – Horses

Not a good start to the day for me..overnight I got really sick & woke up with terrible headache, dizziness, extreme weakness & no appetite.  But the day was to be very different…we were to ride horses to the top of the mountain above the lodge while 2 horses carried our bikes…then its nothing but downhill.  So I mustered up enough energy to get on my horse..his name sounded like “Tornado” so I wasnt psyched about that..but Hoolie said he is really docile.  Enrique, who helps out around the lodge, led us out on the trail up the mountain.  None of us are horsemen/women so we were all taking it a bit slow.  Mine did like to take it a little slower & trailed in the back but we got him moving when we had to.  The trail starts easy with wide, gentle uphills but then is very narrow & steep most of the way up.  “Tornejo” was really sweating & at a little break there was some serious steam coming off him.  At one steep step up he took a little trip/slip and went down on this front leg…I just hung on tight & he bounced up & continued…thankfully.  After a few hours we made it to the top where there is another Refugio for hikers/backpackers.  By this time I was feeling pretty bad…really weak & sore from the ride.  So I grabbed a soft spot on the ground in the sun & laid down.  Everyone else had lunch, I could only muster a few small bites of empenadas & part of a cookie.  The rest of the group took a hike up the hill & were gone for a while…I crashed out in the same spot I was in.

Rusty! no its really Tornejo

They finally got back, the horses with our bikes arrived & it was time to head down.  I could barely open my eyes & saw a couple of the local guys who brought the bike horses up..I said “hola” very weakly, one guy replied, “cansado?”…to which I then responded “cansado y inferma” which got a bit of a chuckle out of the guys.

my postion at the Refugio

view I missed

anyone want the rest of my empanada?

About the last thing I wanted to do was get on a bike but we were losing the sun & I couldnt stay up there forever.  So we hopped on & hit the trail.  Most of it was very steep, very narrow, very rocky & very root-strewn.  But there werent too many uphill sections so I just needed energy brake, hold on & manage the turns.  At one point I almost fell into a small, rocky creek along the trail but held on.

the culprit behind my Patagonian Lizard Flu?

The last 15 minutes is my favorite part of the trail.  It opens up a little wider, is not as steep & has sections of grass or dirt with way less rocks.  So you can bomb down & cruise thru turns.  After about an hour we were back at the lodge & I had only enough energy to walk upstairs & plop on my bed.  Again at dinner I could only eat a couple bites.  Speculation as to my affliction was either dehydration or what I will now call Patagonian Lizard Flu…the day before on our hike I caught a decent sized lizard & he latched on to me with his mouth while I held on to him…obviously this did no damage but seemed like a weird & funny enough diagnosis for all of us.

Not much at dinner for me & then we all watched Wedding Crashers to end the night.

Posted by: chriswode | April 5, 2011

Riding Day 3 – Pizza & Beer

I’ll start with letting everyone know it was “No Crash Day” as well!  But another tough day with serious climbs & descents but not quite as technical as yesterday.  The destination was Cajon del Azul…a box canyon on the Rio Azul.  We hit the trail out of the lodge at 10:45am & crossed the 1st suspension bridge again…you basically sit on the bike & hand-by-hand your way across because its so narrow.  Then it was uphill & away from the river…and I mean UP.  Some are so steep us non-pros would have to do some bike pushing/walking.  I’ve never even hiked trails as hard as some of these.  Heath Ledger…I mean Hoolie, he reminds me of him…told us it would be mostly “not too bad undulating terrain with a couple climbs”…his definition of not too bad undulating & mine are different.  But we got some great pics on the way as we rose above the river & into its canyon & some new mountains came into view.  We worked our way back towards the river & stopped along some great spots, including 1 with a big, deep pool with some trout swimming in it.

Johanna, Robert, Hoolie & Steve

along the Rio Azul

Then we had to hide the bikes in the woods & hike up along the river up to the top of the Cajon del Azul & the little wood bridge that crosses it.  Here is where the canyon is only 1 yard across at one spot & Hoolie stood across it to show us…we really wanted to try it but with tired legs, the drop below of over 100 feet & it opening up super-wide right by it, we all passed this time.  Then we hiked thru the forest on the other side and came to a high plateau tucked up in the mountain that has a huge farm & Refugio (kinda like a mountain shelter).  Here people can stay the night in the little cabin, camp outside or get some food & drinks in the restaurant.  We got in and they were making some fresh pizza…so we ordered up a couple & a couple big home-made local beers.  Hoolie showed us around the grounds including their power supply, a little creek & we “chillaxed” outside at a picnic table.  The pizza was great, especially as we were all famished & the beer was sweet & refreshing.  We called it Scorpion Brew as Johanna had a tiny one in hers.

scary but I did it!


ahhh...buena cerveza

Refugio Cajon del Azul

We thanked the owner & headed back…1st stopping to go under the cut in the canyon.  We could look up too see the gap & just how far & narrow down it was.  Then the hike back to the bikes to begin our peddle home.  I’m not gonna lie, my legs were jello & I think we all were struggling a bit but we stopped at the deep hole in the river & decided we all had to jump in.  There were some questions of doing it au natural as we didnt want to get our riding shorts soaked & a couple of us were not afraid to pass (Hoolie & I).  So Johanna jumped first (I got vid), Esteban jumped a couple times (vid here) and Robert got in.  Esteban swam as fast as Michael Phelps as soon as he hit the water to the getout point.  And of course we talked Hoolie into jumping & he went from a higher boulder & entered with a front flip.  So as I was trying to get us outta there they all said I HAD to do it…so of course I obliged & went for the same spot Hoolie did…no flip though.  The water is of course cold but it felt great when you got out.  As we were ready to leave we spotted Esteban changing from wet shorts into dry shorts, hence there was a big white moon staring us…and of course I got pics.  He made me delete them but he is so naive…like I cant recover them 😉  I’m selling to the highest bidder 😉

at our swimming hole

The jump in the water revived all of us & freshened our legs some for the ride back.  So it was not as bad due to that & given that we had done more climbing on the way.  The last leg to the bridge was a long downhill with curves & plenty of sections of rocks…so Hoolie said the last one down loses.  But then he went first and I was in the back of the line.  But as I neared the end he was trying to fix his tire, which he had poppled…so I said, “you know what this means?  last one down is gonna lose & it looks like you”…and took off…sucka!

We got back around 4:45pm so it was about a 5 hour day on the ride.  Some much needed relaxation on the couches, then some time in the hot tub & then a 1 hour yoga/stretching session…we continued to impress Johanna so much with our skills, with her proclaiming at the end, “you guys are my best project every”…I think that means we are the best she has ever taught, right?

Dinner of cannelloni & empanadas followed by chocolate, strawberry & lemon ice cream.  Tomorrow is the promise of a much needed easier day…somewhat, horses are taking our bikes & us up the mountain & we are riding down…woo hoo!

I’ll get some vids up soon.

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