Biking Buenos Aires headquarters, located at Peru 988 in the neighborhood of San Telmo happens to greet some of the most interesting characters that travel this globe and find themselves in Buenos Aires, Argentina. One day, a young Dutch man named Maarten, strolled in for a city bike tour to warm up his legs just before embarking on the bike trip of a lifetime. He would take his beastly bicycle with motorcycle-style tires into the frontier and pedal across the Andes mountains to Chile and back to Argentina, riding the spine of the Andes, down to the southern cone of South America. We love meeting all people that come through our doors but we admit that some leave us with a lasting impression and inspire us to keep dreaming of those long-distance bike trips.
He started pedalling west from Buenos Aires end of January with some nerves in the belly and curiosity in the mind, as posted on Biking BA facebook page. A little over two months later, Maarten came by the Biking BA Headquarters, looking rather skinny with his clothes hanging off him loosely and his face looking more tan. He had successfully, completed a journey of 2.600km cycling Patagonia down and up, crossing the Argentine/ Chilean border several times. Inspired by his journey, we decided to sit him down for an interview to share his story.
BBA- What part of Holland are you from?
Maarten- South of Holland
BBA- So you just finished an incredible journey, tell us a little bit about where you went.
Maarten- I cycled mostly Patagonia. I took a train west from Buenos Aires to get into the pampas, which I only cycled two days in the pampas, which was nice but really hot and windy. I then decided to just get a bus to Bariloche. The scenery was much nicer in Bariloche so I stayed there a couple of days and did some mountain biking and enjoyed the scenery. From there I cycled to El Bolsón. I met some fellow cyclists in El Bolsón and we crossed the border to Chile next to Lago Puelo. I cycled all the way down to O´Higgins provincia in Chile and crossed back over the Argentine border, which was really nice because I had the big tires and was able to cross on the rough road more easily than other cyclists. Some of the other cyclists took up to 7 hours to travel what took me two hours. I then crossed over to El Calafate and spent some days there to see the Perito Moreno Glacier. I then cycled back across the border to go see Torres del Paine, Chile. I then cycled all the way down to Punta Arenas, Chile but decided not to take the boat to Ushuaia, as it was pretty expensive and I hadn´t budgeted for that much. I turned back north and kept cycling back up to the area of Bariloche to take a bus back to Buenos Aires.
BBA- Why did you decide to take this journey?
Maarten- I didn´t like my job in Holland, so I quit. I decided I would either find another job or go travelling. I really enjoy cycling and knew I wanted to cycle somewhere. I then had the curiosity to go see South America and I chose to go to Buenos Aires because we have a direct flight with KLM airlines. From Buenos Aires, I could be closer to cycling the area of Patagonia. I went with a general guideline but not a strict plan, which is the best way to go.
BBA- Have you done a bike trip like this before?
Maarten- No, this is the first one. It was kind of scary because I didn´t really know what challenges I would face. Thanks to you guys, BJ specifically, who gave me tips on how to get out of the city on the train. Once I was out there cycling, the biggest problems I had to worry about were getting to a camp site before dark and having enough food and water.
BBA- How much distance did you cover? How many cycling days did you have?
Maarten- About 2,600km in about a month (30 days) of cycling. I had a lot of rest days along the way where I did hiking. For example, I hiked the W trail in Torres del Paine, Chile and I also did other small day hikes.
BBA- What was the most difficult part of your journey?
Maarten- Hmm, what is difficult?
BBA- The most challenging part
Maarten- The changing climates and having a lot of headwind in a storm. Often times you just need to keep pedaling and it will be fine. The cycling in the pampas was also challenging because the headwind was very tough. That is when I decided to take the bus straight to Bariloche.
BBA- How did you prepare for this trip?
Maarten- I researched what other cyclists had done on this same kind of journey. I wasn´t sure how much food and water I would need so it took me a while to measure how much food and water I would need.
BBA- On cycling days, how much water would you carry with you?
Maarten- At first, I carried 4 liters, which was not enough. I realized I would need about 8 liters per day. When I was in Patagonia, it was possible to re-fill water anywhere from the streams and rivers so I would only carry 1-2 liters and fill up at each stop.
BBA- What kind of food did you have on cycling days?
Maarten- Pastas, tuna and canned foods because they were easy to carry and provide a lot of energy. On rest days I would eat whatever was available where I was.
BBA- How far in advance did you decide to do this trip?
Maarten- About 3 months, which was about enough time to prepare everything. I wasn´t able to get all of the tools that I needed. I was missing a casette tool, but fortunately I did not need it.
BBA- Did you have any bike malfunctions or problems along the way.
Maarten- I just lubed the chain along the way, replaced the brake pads several times and repaired several flat tires.
BBA- In conclusion, what advice do you have for anyone who would like to do a similar trip?
Maarten- To get the stuff that you like and that you will need. You don´t need to pack too much for this kind of trip. Just enjoy the journey, that is the most important part, just enjoy each moment that you have out there.
We send Maarten van Geest a hearty thank you for your time and for being such an inspiration to cyclists and travellers around the globe who dream of doing this kind of journey.
If you have any further questions about Maarten´s journey, you may contact us at email@example.com and we can put you in contact with this living legend.
Stay tuned as we have more inspirational long-distance bike journey interviews to come!
Viva la bici!