Saturday, December 31, 2016

Cycling Chiloe in Chile

I am in southern Chile on the main island of Chiloe on the Pacific Ocean for a week-long self-guided bicycle tour. As touch points for this tour, my friend Fred Milligan and I are riding to towns and villages in which wooden churches were constructed in the 19th century. Some of these churches are now designated by UNESCO and have been or are being carefully preserved.

These structures are unique in that they were intended to be stone buildings and are built according to plans shipped from Europe and based on European stone churches and cathedrals. But the needed stone does not exist as a resource in the area. So, Chileans creatively used local boat making knowledge and skills to build the churches out of wood. It's quite a feat.

The main island of Chiloe (it's actually an archipelago of islands) is about 80 miles long and 40 miles wide and is very hilly. The undulating terrain is tough on day-long bicycle rides. Not any one of the hills is too hard to climb, but the accumulation of them over the course of 40 to 50 miles takes its toll. The last few miles of a day of such riding makes even the mildest hill seem like Mt. Everest to hill-weary legs.

John Franklin Hay
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

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