67 miles, 1030 feet of climb, 978 ft max
I had a good paved road today for the first half of the ride, until I crossed
Ruta 5 near the town of Los Lagos. From there, the most direct route is an
unpaved road that follows the Calle Calle River valley to Valdivia. Claudia at
La Torre Suiza had told me that it is a reasonable road to ride a bike on and that
proved to be the case. It was not as nice as the road around Lake Calafquén, but
I'd rate it in the "normal dirt road" category.
There are a number of good hills, but the reward is the magnificent views of the
river valley you get from the crests.
I've seen lots of cyclists in Chile but, except for the racers the other day, they
have all been "utility" cyclists, using their bicycles for transportation. Today,
several miles before town, I saw my first recreational cyclist. It was some guy
dressed in lycra and helmet going the other way, hammering with his head down,
hardly acknowledging my presence. Obviously on a training ride.
As I came into town I had stopped at a street corner looking at the map in my
guidebook, trying to find the way to Prat Street where my lodging is located.
A nice couple in a mini-van stopped and offered to lead me to Prat Street.
I had to hammer after them at 18-20 mph for a couple miles but it did get me
right to where I needed to go.
Valdivia, the "city of the rivers", lies at the confluence of the Calle Calle, Cau Cau,
and Cruces Rivers just before they empty into the ocean. Prat runs right along the
riverbank. I had to stop to admire the view across the water with sculling teams
practicing their rowing technique to the barked orders of the coxswain and the
occasional tour boat returning a load of tourists from visits to destinations up
The Lonely Planet guidebook says, "With a lively university scene, a strong emphasis
on the arts, and plenty of history - and surrounded by natural beauty - Valdivia
just may be Chile's most attractive and enjoyable city." Based on first impressions,
I'd have to agree.
I'm staying at the Hostal Prat. My room is on the side, but I still can get a nice
view of the river out the window. The place is highly recommended by both guidebooks.
I wanted a nice place to stay since I will be here two days. I'm actually in a kind
of suite. There's a nice large bedroom with a private (locked) hallway perfect for
stashing the bike. My bathroom is at the end of the hall.
I spent my day off doing the tourist thing. I walked over the bridge to Teja Island
and checked out the beautiful campus of the
Universidad Austral de Chile.
I stopped at a little store just outside the entrance and bought a small loaf of
very heavy German schrotbrot bread and a big bottle of Coke. I sat outside and
drank the Coke while a group of students carrying some funny forked sticks,
apparently returning from a hike, sat down to rest for a few minutes.
There's a nice museum on the island in the 19th century mansion of Karl Anwandter,
founder of Chile's first brewery. On the first floor are furniture, paintings, maps
and other objects of the era, and on the second floor is an excellent collection of
Mapuche Indian artifacts, including textiles, jewelry, and pottery.
Later I visited the Feria Fluvial, the open-air market down by the river across
from Isla Teja. On one side of the market farmers set out their produce for sale,
and on the side next to the water fishermen sell rows of various sea creatures to
the accompaniment of the grunting of sea lions who come right up to the edge looking
for handouts. I didn't buy any fish but I did get some apples and some fragrant ulmo
honey to take on the ride tomorrow.
I hiked down General Lagos Street looking for some fine old Victorian mansions that
are supposed to be there. I walked a long way but didn't see anything so I turned
around and came back.
After dinner I walked the long way home along the river instead of taking the
shortcut through town. The serenity of the reflections of the lights across the
river, the lovers on the park benches, the clutches of young people walking and
laughing, made a peaceful ending to a busy day.
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