It was very difficult the two weeks prior to arriving in country to really focus and get myself in the correct mindset for the challenge ahead due to so many events and media interviews.
A great comfort to know though that due to the amazing kindness of St James's Place Charitable Foundation, over a quarter of the huge £1 million target has already been raised.
Once in country, this soon changed and I just wanted to get on the bike and start the cycle. Of course there was a lot of apprehension and nerves as you would expect but these would soon subside. We arrived into Chile and the morning of our arrival the shipping agent sent an email to inform us that due to bad weather, the vessel would be delayed in San Antonio (Chile)at least a week, and upto 2 weeks realistically
We were faced with our first challenge, the support team were conscious we have everything for the start, however I'm not sure I could be sat waiting around for up to 2 weeks, as I was now desperate to get going.
I went for a cycle to clear my head, and during that 2 hour period I had decided that we had enough equipment to get going, yes it wasn't gold standard as we had planned but we had to react to the current situation. PAH18 HQ team have been liaising with the various Chilean port authorities to have the container offloaded in San Antonio for us to collect as we pass through in 2 weeks time.
Finally the day arrived, 24 hours after our original start date. I'm still not sure how to sum up what I was feeling then? With 20 months planning and preparation, I was finally on my way.
One of the planning factors for starting in Ushuaia and not Alaska was the strong southerly Patagonian winds, this would give me a perfect tail wind and start required, this however was not the case. 7 out of the first 8 days I was confronted with unrelenting strong head and crosswinds of upto 40 knot strengths, I had never ridden in these conditions before and was struggling to not get blown off the bike as I was leaning into wind to stay upright.
The majority of Patagonia is open plain lands, plateaus and basins with not much protection at all from the winds as they sweep through, the best way to describe it would be Dartmoor on steroids.
At the end of the 8th day I had covered the equivalent of Lands End to John O Groats in strong winds. The forecasts for the winds had no break or change of direction for days and so I couldn't even cycle at night if the winds subsided...because they didn't. The original plan from my training team back in UK was to be conservative for the first week with power wattage (power pushed through pedals) at 160, if this was the case I would still be in Ushuaia. I have been pushing out powers upto 500 watts with speeds of only 6-15 miles per hour, at the end of day 8 however I was only 39 miles off my target.
Finally there is a forecasted break and directional change in the winds this is not until day 10 though, day 9 I would again be facing even stronger headwinds than already encountered. It was this reason to decide to wait 24 hours until the winds subsided before I set off again on the bike, with the Andes just around the corner I do not want to be arriving there already fatigued, and need to think of the long game.
I have been riding 8 hour days for the first week, it was forecasted that after the first week I would increase my time by 30 mins per day as I got fitter, this additional time will see me regain these miles I lost.
I'm looking forward to saying goodbye to Argentina in a few days and enter Chile, I know that I have been unfortunate with the winds here in Patagonia but you cannot plan Mother Nature. A comfort is knowing that the winds are changing and that I will have a tail wind in Peru for 2400 km (1500 miles) as the winds always blow Northwards.