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Mutts On Bikes

Like a Falling Tower of Canned Carrots, aka, A Day in the Atacama

CHILE | Thursday, 5 February 2009 | Views [1013] | Comments [3]

so it´s a hundred kilometers to our lunch stop

more like 80

but half of that is downhill

half of that is downhill

got it

and so we descended into the largest of the Atacama canyons, a wonder fair scaring the desolate desert terrian with the kitchy town of Cuyo embedded on the canyon floor. We camped at the south end the night before to avoid the Atacama winds which come all fists and elbows at you begining no later than 1pm. now it was the easy breezy morning and we were descending 1250M in 17KM as quoted in an earlier road report debriefing. we would be ascending to the same height.

how long is the ascent?

about 15KM (quoted from a passing trucker at one pasada or another)

i had that smug look as to say rachel and i had done longer than that on a goof, so no one held concern. i had been holding the map the last few days having knighted myself seniorita ojos of the route. sometimes you get too big for your spandex; sweat, urine and vasoline filled aside.

80KM later i was riding against the wind into our pasada being greeted by rachel´s magnetic mohawke and a large bottle of uncabonated water. my lack luster enthusiasm led to a converstation between our eyebrows. The climb and the heat had left her waterless for half the ride. It was safe to assume that this would have been the case with all things living, but if anyone knows of the tales of the Hero Twins, this paricular mutt receives hidration through an unexplained process of osmosis in which i exchange soul matter for water. suffice it to say, my Klean Kanteen was still full. This isn´t a point to brag, i have the most stomach aliments of all the mutts. it´s more, i´m like the kindergardner that sometimes forgets to breath.

i´m going back to see if they need water

were rachel´s words as she stuffed her pannier with the 3 liter barrel and mounted her horse.

leave your bags with me so you can ride easier!

nah, then i´ll just have to put them on again

and off she went. because that is what rachel is like. a saint bernard in an avalanch. i stayed and drank a bottle of water WITH carbonation... from money i borrowed from rachel. because that is what i am like.

within the hour all four of us would unite again, rehydrated and spirits afoat, meg prominading in wearing the tarterd floaral summer gown she had found on the desert floor and her sporty bra. she´s a nice lady.

the canyon debriefing would reveal the ascent was actually 22KM and at a much steaper grade than the descent... my bust. But now filled again with yummy egg sandwitches, chewing gum and donuts, we were ready for the 60KM to our last large city in chile, ARICA! yes, the winds were now a blowing, hot and perfuse like a wind tunnel through a wooden leg, but it was only 60KM! 60KM! and downhill! ...expect for that second canyon. and all in headwind...

and that is how it is. and in wind, no matter if the canyon is smaller, it is harder. but the mutts can do hard. well, not all the mutts (trust me when i say i speak only of myself) which is not how it should be. you know how some people become infuriated by a ticking clock, or a continious nagging poke adorned with come on, poke, come on, poke, come on, poke, tick tock tick tock tick tock, poke... until the madness fills like a sock with quarters and bees being swung at high speeds? it´s irrational, which is simular to my reaction to headwinds. and as the whirling sounds filled my head to irritionality far exceeding that time in tiny goat herder´s town when a beetle flew in my ear and was subsequently drowned by rubbing alcohol inside my head not before scratching and spasming death´s rattle, i began to bicycle very fast. i wanted out of that canyon, out of my breezy inferno and in two ticks (tock tick tock) went from the back of the pack to second, closing in on rachel who was a few kilometers in front. some ladies call it the jet pack phenomenon.

and being freed from the second ascent i grumpy faced plugged along the rest of the route to Arica watching rachel´s sillhouette on the horizon and dreaming of boxed wine (actually cheaper than water. and that is what the desert is like). and then i watched that sillhouette stop behind a semi truck. she must of hailed him down for more water...

and when i came upon her il hombre de camione had in fact given her water. and would like to give her more help... in stopping the blood coming from the wound. the wound she had just received. from being hit by an 18 wheel semi. rachel was looking up at me smiling.

she was sitting up and using bottled water to rinse her knee and trying even harder to communicate with the kind gent.

It is not your fault

she was trying to tell him

i know you could not move over. thank you. the wind sucked my bike under. i am ok. no, sir, i need nothing more. thank you. my friend will fix my bike. no, sir, i need nothing, thank you. i will ride my bike to Arica now.

Rachel looked at me again.

i think my bike is ok. i can ride the rest of the way.

her bike was ok. i looked at her knee. i looked at her now visible knee bone. i saw the image of her riding her bicycle with a B movie amount of blood squirting from the wound at each bend.

i am going to ride my bike to Arica.

because that is what rachel is like.

i don´t think it is a good idea.

because that is what i am like.

it was not long before a truck was hailed and the ladies had assembled in total. all four mutts and all four steeds were riding in comfort listening to Elvis hits on our way to the Arica hospital. Our patron was Mario, an ex rugby couch from Copiapo who coincidently was good friends with our bike shop owning hosts and friends there. by the end of our time together Mario would self proclaim himself our adopted padre, drive us to the hospital (stopping at vista points of interest along the way), wine and dine us and even drive us to our pre arranged host family for the night. he was a big man that laughed easy and expelled kindess with an ease even greater. because that is what Mario is like.

at the hospital the doctor smiled at rachel and promised her a stitch for every year she had lived. the wound was in the patterning of a cross. this was the second fall rachel had from her bicycle in the last two days, the first causing no injury. it was when rachel and i were hit by a desert tornado. it swung us around like annie oakly and stung of small debris. tornados hurt. but that is what the desert is like.

the mutts pulled our finacial resources equally to foot the bill. everything was ok. everything is how is should be. because that is what life is like.

so now we find ourselves priveldged to have a vacation from our vacation for 2 weeks while our nursing mutt recovers. will mutt meg leave to live a brief life at sea with a crew of merry bicycle pirates? will mutt cat sumerge herself in the wildress to track condors and ride unicycles? will mutt rachel learn peg legged street preforming while my vest, summer dress and i accompany her on ukelele? the world is our oayster, dear friends. Because, as i said, that is what life is like.

así es la vida



rach, this is a crazy story. not a completely unexpected story, but still a crazy one. you are strong and courageous; but i've known that for years. love you. -jennie

  jennie Feb 7, 2009 11:43 AM


Oh my gosh! What a story! Kate, having had experience and training (and a special decoder ring) in your writabilities, I must tell you that you told the story fabulously! Because that is what you are like! Seriously, a great story-telling moment. Glad to know that Mohawk Rachmutt is okay! (and that you were able to hail Sir Mario down!). Thanks for taking all the trouble to write.... I love you! YWSM

  Shari Thornburg Feb 10, 2009 10:29 AM


Your narrative reads like a Jack Kerouc novel, part on the road and part desolation angels. Get well.

  Ev Coulter Feb 13, 2009 1:59 PM

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