ser•en•dip•i•ty [ser-uh n-dip-i-tee]

ser•en•dip•i•ty [ser-uh n-dip-i-tee] –noun

1. an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
2. good fortune; luck: the serendipity of getting the first job she applied for.

Love how this whole serendipity thing works sometimes! Here’s another kindness of strangers story.

A few days ago we cycled into the small town of San Julian and were greeted by a huge mob of cyclists.  We stopped and chatted for a few minutes, then pedaled into town with the group – a bunch from Rio Gallegos who happened to be up there for the day.

I chatted with Hugo, the leader of the group, for a while and mentioned that we would be looking for a place to stash our bikes in Rio Gallegos so we could take a bus over to see the glaciers in Calafate.  He handed me his phone number and said he could line up a place for the bikes.  That was cool – one problem solved.

I never dreamed that by the time we pulled into Rio Gallegos, a place to store the bikes would be the last of our worries!

We only had 30K to go today – and had awesome tailwinds the whole way.  But still – John’s wheel was foremost in our thoughts as we barreled down the road.  Would we make it to Rio Gallegos?  Would we be able to move on from there?  What was broken?  Parts available?   Everything was unknown.

Hugo had told me he had arranged for us to stay in the Municipal Gym, so we pedaled straight there, then gave him a call.  “Hello Hugo??  Yes, we’re here – in the gym.  I don’t know how long we’ll stay, but I have a huge favor to ask…”

Within a few hours, he had a mechanic over to the gym. The mechanic took apart the wheel … and said it was merely gunked up with grease and dirt and needed a good cleaning.  Whew!!

So now we have a brand new wheel and we’re good to go – I can’t even begin to say how relieved we all feel.  After two days of nervousness, we can finally relax.

Our plan at this point is to stay here for a day, then take the bus over to Calafate to see the glacier.  Once we’re back in Rio Gallegos, we’ll pack up and head south – to the Chilean border, then over the straits to the island of Tierra del Fuego!  We’re thinking we have about 8 – 10 cycling days left of our whole journey!

Davy: Today we only had to go 30 km or so. We slept in really late and left around 10:00. We didn’t eat breakfast because we would eat in 30 km. We also had a GREAT tailwind.

We saw one other cyclist (Mom saw two). We went right by because we wanted to get into town. We saw our first sign that had Ushuaia on it. It was just less than 600 km further.

We stopped at a little store and Mom asked if she could call but the phones didn’t work so we went a little further and stopped at a gas station and she asked again.  Again, the phones didn’t work. She asked where the city gym was (we were staying there) and got some directions.

We ended up asking about five people where it is and finally we found it. The person there showed us to our rooms. They were more than decent. The gym actually had dorm rooms on the second floor. We brought everything up there and then settled in.

Hugo (our host) was coming at 3:00 or 3:30 and was bringing a mechanic (Dad was having trouble with his hub engaging).  We took showers and eventually they came. They took Dad’s wheel to look at it and managed to get it fixed.

Kilometers today:  29
Kilometers to date:  27216
Distance remaining:  578

We actually had a shoulder to ride on today.  Imagine that – a shoulder!  This is the first one we’ve had since we left Bolivia 5000 kilometers ago.

We actually had a shoulder to ride on!

Yup – that sign really does say we only  have 578 kilometers to Ushuaia.  We’re getting close!

578 km to Ushuaia!

We had a whole crew helping with the tandem – we’re so very grateful! We are always amazed at the kindness of strangers.

fixing the tandem

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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6 Responses to ser•en•dip•i•ty [ser-uh n-dip-i-tee]

  1. Evelyn March 1, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    Glad to hear things worked out with John’s bike. It doesn’t seem possible that you only have about one or one and a half weeks left of your journey. I have enjoyed following along with your family since the start. Keep traveling safely.

  2. Peter Ratcliffe March 2, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    I keep wondering if you’re going to cycle back home, just for the fun of it.

  3. Eric tepner March 3, 2011 at 6:08 am #

    We would love to see video footage of your arrival to the infamous sign in Ushuaia!

  4. nancy March 3, 2011 at 6:22 am #

    Eric – I am hoping to video the whole day and make a short little video out of it!

  5. nancy March 3, 2011 at 6:22 am #

    Peter – we may be dumb, but we’re not THAT stupid!

  6. Steve March 5, 2011 at 8:01 am #

    Nancy, John,

    Funny you should be encountering problems with your rear wheel! So am I! And like you, I was somewhat worried, but more from a selfish point of view! I’m away from my wife and kids conducting training with Canada’s Army and getting ready for a deployment.

    As we’re a one vehicle family, I had to leave my vehicle behind for my wife and kids, so, as usual, I packed my mountain bike up to take with me, at least while conducting training here in another part of Canada. Of course, it’s been -30 to -40 Celsius (I’m not sure what that is in F, but either way, it’s pretty freakin’ cold).

    At any rate, I finally put my bike together and got out with it the other day, and I ended up with a little free wheel action in both directions. In my case, the grease was cold enough that, when I stopped pedaling, the pawls in the hub itself didn’t rebound back to engage the chain.

    I’ve been following your adventures for about a year and a half and hope that I’m able to witness your arrival in Ushuaia before I get too wrapped up in training. Good luck and God Bless you all.


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