Archive for the ‘biking’ Category

Carretera Recap

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

I did my recaps on facebook, so I’m just scraping them from there and leaving them here for posterity…

The first 3 days were my hardest of the trip. In some ways physical, but more emotional and mental. It was really hot in the midday, way more cars than we expected, hello gravel (maybe I should have trained a little in gravel?) and on our first day we came close to our highest elevation of the trip. Day 1 out of Coyhaique was still pavement so I was lulled into thinking we could cover a lot of miles! Day 2 we hit the gravel…deep, large rock gravel. And if that wasn’t enough….we had a serious headwind. It was so strong that I had trouble keeping any real forward momentum…which in the deep gravel meant I was having trouble staying upright. Every few minutes I’d just fall off my bike! Thank goodness for Alissa who assured me that it couldn’t remain this hard the entire time. I didn’t believe her for a second, but I think it helped stop my despondent tears. Thankfully the scenery was already beautiful and each night we “wild camped” at beautiful spots next to the river along the road. I’ve never slept so soundly!!

Heading off to our first wild camp

Day 4 we got a ride from the owner of a farm we were staying at to the next town (Puerto Rio Tranquillo) and caught a bus from there to get another town (Cochrane). We always knew that we’d likely be unable to complete the full 600 km in the time I had….and then with the snowstorm delaying me by a day, the mileage became even harder. So we cut out 150km this way which allowed us to still have long days of cycling, but with much less stress. As a road cyclist I’m used to being able to cover a lot more miles. But with the massive hills and the road conditions, we had to adjust our expectations and generally did around 50km a day…and it still took all day! When we got off the bus, we grocery shopped as this was the last town we’d see for 5 days. After a day of “rest” (if that’s what you call sitting in a bus bumping along a terrible road)…I was ready to get back on the bike. The road conditions got marginally better and I also got better at riding in the gravel. We started seeing glaciers regularly and the traffic slowed a bit. As we crossed over passes the terrain would change rapidly! Thankfully, day 5 was our last really hot day. Day 6 was a gloriously moderate temperature…it threatened to rain all day (but never did) and was relatively flat which meant we were able to cover a lot of miles along beautiful rivers, stopping just past a huge confluence of rivers, right at the base of a long climb.

Bikes on a bus!

At the top of this pass it felt like a rain forest!

Getting to the top of a pass always felt so good!

The confluence of rivers here was amazing!

Yet another amazing campsite!

Day 7 began with a long 10km climb that started out so steep I had to walk…and I was sure I was going to have to walk the whole time…cue desperation. Whomever graded the road clearly just wanted to torture the cyclists, as after the 2nd switchback the grade went back to something bikeable and we passed through amazing canyons and ended up on a beautiful pass with sun and lakes! This was the one day where lunch time coincided with a beautiful spot so we made the most of it. Then we rode back down the other side to wait for a 6pm ferry. As we waited cyclists started showing up and by the time it left, there were 7 of us on the ferry. Two of them were a Canadian couple (Amanda and Andrew) we’d met at our second campsite who we’d really enjoyed getting to know. There’s lots of leapfrogging that happens on a trip like this and we were happy to sync back up with them and after exiting the ferry, we utilized the long hours of daylight to knock out another 20 km before finding a campsite with them. Right on a raging river and under a huge glacier with no houses for miles…it really felt like we were in wild Patagonia now!!

Climbing out of the valley

Into the canyon we go…

Beautiful lunch spot with a break. It was coooold though.

The ferry

Nothing made me happier at night than to set up my home!

Yet another beautiful campsite! — at Carretera Austral.

Day 8 we got a taste of what the weather could be like and I’m grateful to say we only had one crappy rain day. Thankfully we were able to pack up before it started pouring. For the next 3 hours we were just warm enough as we climbed long hills in the rain and then froze as we rode down the other side of the hills. We got lucky that eventually the rain stopped and the sun even came out for a bit. But all around us we could see storms raging and we knew that at any moment it could start pouring (or worse) again. We knew there was a cyclist refugio (aka a shack) with a fireplace and protection from the wind and rain that we could get to, so we set our sights on that for the night. Although it would mean stopping early in the day, it seemed like the prudent thing to do. The four of us arrived around 4pm and quickly one more joined. There was no wood, so we all set out to find any sort of dry wood around. Although there were “windows” there was no glass, so we had to keep the slats closed to keep the howling wind and rain out. Then from the south 2 more cyclists arrived. At 7 people we thought we could still fit all of us in if we slept like sardines. But by 8pm we’d grown to 12 cyclists. It’s quite an experience spending so many hours in a tiny, dark space…with wet clothes hanging from the ceiling, listening to the wind and rain rage outside. Eventually the last 5 to arrive agreed to pitch tents outside and the original 7 fell asleep on every available surface. I wish I’d had a way to take a picture of all of us! Day 9 we rode an easy 30km into Villa O’Higgens..stocked up on food, checked to see whether the ferry we’d made a reservation for would run the next day (sometimes it doesn’t run for days because of weather!), ate a hot meal and found WiFi and a hot fire in the local library. Then we biked to the ferry “terminal” and the official end of the Carretera Austral to camp for the night before a big day 10. We were treated to a beautiful rainbow for our last few km of the Carretera!

Wet, wet, wet

Some sun and lots of glaciers makes for a very happy Bebeth!!

The cyclist refugio

There are still only 7 of us now…

The snow line is getting very close to us!!

A good omen for finishing the Carretera Austral

Completion! But we still have 2 more days of biking.

Day 10 was always going to be one of the craziest ones of the trip. It started with a 3 hour ferry ride across Lago O’Higgens. Most people stay on the boat to go see a glacier and then return to Villa O’Higgens. Since we didn’t have enough time to do the glacier part, we got off at the only stop after 3 hours. It was a lovely ride across a beautiful lake, and despite not getting to see a glacier, we did get to see an iceberg! After you get off you are on a 21 km stretch that crosses the Chile-Argentina border that’s only accessible by foot or bike. First we checked in at Chilean customs where you have to get a very important stamp (if you don’t get it, they’ll reject you in Argentina!) The next 6 km were stunningly hard…climbing up out of the lake on steep, deep gravel. We had to walk much of this part which was definitely discouraging. The next 8km were relatively flat and stunning. Peaks and glaciers everywhere, no cars, no people…just the occasional hiker, biker, or cow passing in the other direction. Finally, you reach the actual border of the countries and the “road” we’d been on disappeared and the last 5-6km was essentially a really bad hiking trail, complete with huge roots, rocks, stumps, swamps and streams. Though a mountain biker might have been able to bike some of it, a loaded touring bike wasn’t up to the task. After about 1 km I figured out I needed to get rid of a pedal if I hoped to have any right calf left. It was one of the crazier, but also more fun things I’ve done. Not necessarily in a “I want to do that again” sort of way…but definitely in a “that was pretty cool” way :) As Alissa would say…it was definitely type 2 fun. It ended right at the Argentinian customs building which has a huge beautiful field that everyone camps in for the night with a spectacular view Fitz Roy. That 21 km took us over 6 hours to complete!!

Petro and Black Pearl go for a ride!

Bicycle parking at customs…I loved it!

There were hand painted signs all along the road…so cool.

Climbing out of the lake…super hard, but with great views to keep you motivated. We could see the rain moving across the lake, but we never really got any!

Hello Argentina!!

Where’s the trail??

Almost done with views to die for!

I woke up at Lago El Desierto in Argentina to this view. Spectacular!!

Day 11, my final day of biking!! It began with a ferry across Lago Desierto and a final 35 km bike into El Chalten. The road was pretty bad, but thankfully we had a tail wind and it was relatively flat. We were essentially circling Mt. Fitz Roy so we had amazing views the whole time. We could see a storm chasing us which added a little drama, but it never caught us thankfully. At the end of the 35 km, right as you arrive at El Chalten….the gravel ends, and you hit pavement. I’ve never been so happy to see (and feel) pavement in my life! At this point we were back with Andrew and Amanda and we biked around looking for a cheap place to stay (not an easy feat in a tourist town on a Friday night in high season) but eventually found a dorm room for 4 people in a bed and breakfast…so we all bunked together! I was finally getting a hot shower and a good meal!! Day 12 was spent relaxing, finding a box for my bike, and doing some laundry. It’s never felt so good to do nothing for a day. With the bike box sorted out on day 12, it meant that day 13 was free for anything I wanted (otherwise I would have had to bus to a bigger town to find a box). Alissa, Amanda and I decided to hike to Laguna de Los Tres….a spectacular hike that drops you seemingly at the foot of Mt. Fitz Roy. It had always felt strange to be going all the way to Patagonia and not hike, so I felt pretty grateful that we ended up with a day to do just that. We lucked out on the weather (lots of days you can’t see any of the peaks) and the views were amazing. We were able to hike all the way back to town, get a celebratory beer as we walked through and arrive “home” to a yummy homemade meal by Andrew! And with that amazing final day, I was ready to start the 48 hour journey home to see my family!!

We’re done!!

Yup, that’s Fitz Roy behind me!

One final post with a few thoughts on my trip, and then I’m done, I promise! Did I miss out on stuff doing this trip in such a short amount of time? Yes, definitely!! There were so many things we could have seen along the way, if we’d had more time. I was definitely envious of the riders we met who had no schedule. Was it worth it with so little time? Yes definitely!! I feel super lucky to have snuck away from my life and family for over two weeks, to have gotten to see such amazing scenery, and to have had the adventure of a lifetime! I’m grateful that Alissa and I both wanted to do this, and despite not having done more than a 1 day adventure together before, she didn’t run screaming when I was a miserable puddle on the second day after having fallen off my bike too many times to count! It takes a special kind of person to think this sort of adventure is “fun”…so glad Alissa felt that way! I’m grateful that the trip went from bad to good (and not the other way around) as all I’m left feeling are warm and fuzzies. And I’m thankful that fate put us on the same stretch of road as some really interesting people. Although we got to know Andrew and Amanda the best, we also met quite a few other fascinating people, from tons of different countries, including a family of 4 (kids 5 & 9) who rode everything we did and more (we met them after the crazy day on the trail…and that made me go from feeling like superwoman to just normal really fast! ????) It’s always fun to learn about other ways of life, cultures, and experiences…especially when at the end, you’re pretty sure you like your own the best! I don’t think I’ll be doing any extreme trips like that again anytime soon…but I’ve already got my bike back together, tuned up (unexpected highlight of this trip is now knowing how to take care of my own bike!) and am headed out for a ride tonight!

MS Bike Ride 2010

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Well another successful and fun year at the annual MS Bike ride. This year the weather wasn’t as cooperative as it’s been in the past, today it rained quite a bit on the bikers! The team this year was smaller, and consisted of Bebeth, Lisa, and Mikaela; Ray and Cynthia were virtual riders. The Bine and I were there for moral support! Mikaela biked over 30  miles the first day and Bebeth and Lisa did over 70 miles. The second day Bebeth and Lisa rode almost  30 miles and finally called it a day after being soaked to the bone.

If anyone is interested in supporting Bebeth she’s just $89 dollars short of her $5,000 goal, you can go here to donate:

Also if anyone is interested in riding next year let us know! We’re always looking for more team mates! It’s really well supported (rest stops with food, drinks, and bathrooms every 10 miles) and there are multiple length routes you can do; first day ( 20,50, 70, 100) second day (50, 70). Over 2000 bikers come and ride and support the fight against MS. If you sign up all your meals are taken care of (breakfast, lunch, dinner, plus snacks). You get to ride across deception pass escorted by Harley Davidson riders!

Nice afternoon

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

It was a great afternoon for a bike ride and to play in Bitter Lake with the Bine.

Time to fight MS!

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

As many of you know, last week we broke many heat records in Seattle.
While for some people the highs of 103 meant that it was a great
opportunity to play hooky from work and visit one of our many beaches,
lakes or wading pools, for the thousands of people living with
Multiple Sclerosis, it was a nightmare. The high temperatures can
exacerbate the already challenging symptoms.

As you’ve probably already guessed, its that time of year when I hop
on my bike and join the MS Ride to fight MS. Like last year, I’ll be
riding with hundreds of other cyclists for two days in September to
raise money. Unlike last year I’ve started a team with some friends to
help raise as much money as possible. We’re The Fighting Axons! The
funds raised will help support programs for people living with MS as
well as their families. Can you imagine being a little kid and
watching your parent struggle with the most basic activities? Kids
camp would give you a safe place to ask questions and meet other kids
who know just what you’re going through. Of course, the money will
also go towards finding a cure…one day we hope that no one will have
to live with MS!

Please consider sponsoring me as a I ride in support of everyone with
MS, but especially my Uncle Ray. I’d like to see him one day be able
to say that he no longer has MS.

If you’d like to donate, the easiest way is by going to:



MS Ride Wrap-up

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

This update on the ride is a little old, but didn’t want to post it online till now (my appologies for those of you who are getting this twice…)

Yes, this is the final ride update for the year…so please read all of it. It’ll be worth it. Just to give you some incentive, I’ve created a quick table of contents:

1. Good news.
2. Good news.
3. Better than expected news.
4. Good news.

How bad could that be? :)

The first item of good news (and arguably the best news given the purpose of the ride) is the fact that with much support, I raised $5,900! That put me in the top 20 fund raisers out of 2,000 riders! The money is going to a great cause and will help support both research as well as some amazing local programs.

The second piece of news is that my dad decided to fly out and join me for the ride. He rode 58 miles on Saturday and 50 miles on Sunday…definitely a personal best! We had a great time riding with over 2000 people including my friends Jessica and Jack and Mark’s parents. There were people of all ages (12+), with bikes of all kinds (road, mountain, recumbent, unicycle, and hand cycles), and lots of great camaraderie!

The better than expected news is that I rode 82 miles on Saturday and 75 miles on Sunday for a total of 152 miles. A little less than I had planned…so why better than expected? That would be news item number 4.

The final good news is that Mark and I are going to be welcoming the newest addition to the Schenk-Steudel family next March. Yes, that means that I’m pregnant! While riding 175 miles was fine with my doctor, I lost most of August’s training to feeling sick. So, at 13 weeks, I still think 150 miles isn’t half bad :)

Overall the weekend was a great success. I had a really good time, learned a lot more about our local chapter of the MS Society, and it was amazing to cross the finish line with Uncle Ray waiting for me! Getting involved with the MS Society has been a great experience and I definitely plan on making the ride an annual activity. Hopefully I’ll be starting a team with Jessica and Jack and we’ll want you to ride with us!

Jack, Bebeth, Dad and Jessica

Father’s Day

Monday, June 16th, 2008

Yesterday we had a great time on Dad’s day. We spent it biking around town, eating good food, and just good ol’ hangin’ out kind of fun. Hope everyone else out there had a great day as well!

Multiple Sclerosis

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Currently there are approximately 400,000 people living with Multiple Sclerosis in the United States and 200 more are diagnosed every week. The Pacific Northwest has the highest rate of MS in the country and yet no one knows why.  I’d like to help the National Multiple Sclerosis Society eliminate MS…wouldn’t you?

Why am I supporting MS? As some of you may know, my uncle, Ray Heacox, was diagnosed with MS in 1998.  Mark and I have been living with Ray and Cynthia for the last six months and have gotten to see first hand the challenges that Ray has to overcome every day. Symptoms vary greatly from one person to the next and include: fatigue, numbness, vision problems, coordination problems, and many others. Wouldn’t it be better if no one ever had to live with MS?

In order to raise money for MS, this fall (September 13-14) I’m riding 175 miles in the MS Ride. The ride takes place over two days in the Skagit Valley (North of Seattle). I’ll be riding with 2,000 other people who are also committed to raising money for MS. My goal is to keep up an average rate of 15 mph and to complete each day in 8 hours (plus one more hour to walk 5 ft. from the bike to the car!)

My goal is to raise at least $4,000 this year. In order to jump start the donations my mom (Deborah Schenk) and my aunt (Diana Huffman), Ray’s sisters-in-law, have agreed to provide challenge donations. Deborah will match the first $1,000 pledged and Diana will match the second $1,000.  Please help me reach that goal with your pledge. Your donation is tax deductible. You can donate through the MS Society’s website via my fundraising page ( You can also mail a check to me made out to “National MS Society”.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society will use funds collected from the Group Health Bike MS Ride not only to support research for a cure tomorrow, but also to provide programs that address the needs of people living with MS today. Because we can fight this disease by simply riding a bike, because we have chosen to help thousands of people through a contribution to the Bike MS Ride, we are now getting closer to the hour when no one will have to hear the words, “You have MS.”


Five Borough Bike Ride

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Mark and I are spending the month of May living with my parents in New York City and I chose my arrival date so that I could ride in the five borough bike ride. Its a 42 mile ride put on by Bike New York that goes through each of the five boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Staten Island). They cap the participation at 30,000 which isn’t a very high percentage of the population, but it still quite a lot of people. There aren’t many events in NYC that give quite as good a sense of community. The last time I did this was in 2001 and its gotten quite organized and very popular (spaces filled up fast). My dad and I enjoyed the beautiful weather and the mostly flat terrain. There were lots of rest areas with food and music, plenty of new sights to see, and even a ferry ride at the end!

Unfortunately I didn’t have a good camera with me (our small one was in a lake with Mark in Eastern Washington), but I took a few with my cell phone.

The first one is of the longest bike I’ve ever seen. Its a little hard to tell, but the yellow baby carrier at the back (sans baby) is at the end of 4 attached bikes. The front is the father’s full-sized bike and behind him are each of his three daughters’ bikes. Its not exactly a tandem, but they’re attached with some bar (I’m sure all you parents know exactly what it is). It seemed a little unwieldy in length, but it was pretty cool.
This shot is of one of the rest areas with lots of people!

A great day for a ride…

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Today was sunny and beautiful….just the right temperature for a bike ride (well, when isn’t it the right time for a bike ride?!) Mark, Jessica and I headed out to Whidbey Island for a day of fishing (Mark) and riding (Jessica and Bebeth). Jessica and I plotted our route on the ferry with food stops guiding our way. Neither of us had ever ridden on Whidbey Island, so it was a bit of the blind leading the blind….but we had a great day. We travelled from Freeland north along the west coast to Greenbank, back down the East side to Freeland where we had lunch at Gerrys (yummy food). Then we headed up the other side of Honeymoon bay and over to Langley for some ice cream. It was only 30 miles in the end. But early in the season and with lots of hills, it still managed to kick our butts.

Our route:

View Larger Map

Perks of being self employed

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

Being self-employed is one of those double edge swords. Sure I get to stay in my pajamas till 4 in the afternoon but … well I’m still in my pajamas at 4 in the afternoon! I haven’t woken up to an alarm clock in over 2 years (except for the early airport run or fishing trip), but I don’t get paid “sick” leave either.

Well one of the perks that I like best is being able to go do things during off times. So last Thursday I headed out with my fishing buddy and banjo player extrordinaire Greg Lawless and Jack Mitchell, one of the best fly fishing guides in this region (meaning planet earth). We saw two boats the whole day and we caught over 20 – 30 fish with almost 90% caught on dry flies.
Winter and spring here in the Northwest can be a bit dreary with all the rain/hail/snow we’ve been having lately, so when the sun comes acalling you better go out and be in it … oh wait you have a job. You only get to look at it through conference room windows … well our conference room today was 11 miles around mercer island … I’ll trade you your Aeron chair for a bicycle any day …