From Quito to Ushuaia by bicycle
Recently, an international group in South America cycled 11,000 kilometres from Quito in the middle of the world to Ushuaia in the far south of Argentina.
Traverse the continent from north to south
It is a unique journey, which took around four months and led some twenty cyclists from all over the world to cross the continent from north to south, on unfrequented roads, through landscapes that many of them could never have imagined.
Dutch, Belgians, Irish, Canadians and even a Czech at some point answered the online call from Rob van der Geest and Wilbert Bonnét of the Bike Dreams group to go on the trip. One of those who also responded to this call was the Peruvian-Dutch Susana Montesinos Tubée.
"For a group of 20 cyclists doing this kind of trip you need a lot of support; that's why they needed a nurse, a mechanic, two cooks and a translator, and that translator was me," says Montesinos.
Born in Arequipa to a Dutch mother and Peruvian father, the journalist and ethnohistorian scholar already knew the interior of Peru from previous trips. This, combined with her knowledge of both Spanish and Dutch, made her the ideal travel companion.
The appeal of the Andes
"The Andean geography is very varied, not all roads are asphalted, we find all kinds of nature, diverse cultures; characteristics that make the Andes interesting," says Montesinos, and which, according to her, mainly motivated the Bike Dreams boys to choose this route.
They started the trip on 8 August and finished it on 14 December, cycling daily distances of approximately 100 kilometres. "Only then do you realise the immensity of the Andes," he says.
In Peru, the cyclists were most impressed by the altitude of the Andes and the variety of ecological zones. "One day they were climbing a mountain and the next day they were descending it.
In Bolivia, they were impressed by the magical solitude of the altiplano. In the Salar de Uyuni you get the feeling that nature is so huge and you are so small," he says.
Anecdotes and accidents
Interestingly, none of the cyclists suffered from altitude sickness, known as 'soroche'. Montesinos attributes this to the fact that the cyclists gradually climbed the mountains. "After all, human beings adapt easily to different environments," he adds.
The Arequipa native also says that few were spared stomach ailments and, in the worst cases, there were accidents. "There were several broken collarbones and, at one point, a cyclist was bitten by a dog.
The adventure does not end in Argentina, Montesinos confirms. On 6 September, the Bike Dreams group will start a journey between Paris and Dakar. A distance of 7,000 kilometres that the cyclists hope to complete in 10 weeks. And next year they plan to return to South America.
Source; Anna Karina Rosales