Day 18 – San Pedro to Iquique

Because we stayed in three different locations in San Pedro a new location for the MTC had been devised. Some of us were at the Tierra Atacama Hotel and the others at the Alto Atacama.
Bulletins for the alterations and amendments to the route book are always difficult to follow,especially when the instructions are wrong or ambiguous.
We got underway onto the main route which headed north west up into the mountain ranges between which lies a desert that is just so dry that, it is said, gets 1.5 mm of rain per annum!

Nothing grows here. It’s just miles and miles of nothingness.
It gets quite cool as we ascend to 3500 meters above sea level, yet Denise didn’t miss a beat. She runs so well and with the running repairs on the lay day almost all of the issues have been resolved.
There’s little to report on the 230 km leg as we headed towards the first Regularity, a 3.5 km distance off to the side of the main road on rough dry gravel. Quite good though and the average speed is 70 kms per hour.
Once more the car was put to its paces, but no matter how fast we began we just couldn’t keep up a steady head of steam to allow for any course difficulties. There are always some. We straddled the finish line 9 seconds late.
As we moved downwards suddenly around a bend, there was the Pacific Ocean. What a sight for sore eyes. However we missed the PC at the local Copec fuel Station in Tocopilla due to what the navigator called, the route book inaccuracies.
In an endeavour to find the PC we travelled another 5kms past it and had to retrace our steps using the GPS navigation coordinates but whilst heading back, a flat front right tyre.
Didn’t take long to change and got to the PC checked in only to find that one of the competitors had collapsed on the forecourt as we were refuelling. The two ERA doctors were there within minutes and an ambulance too.
Apparently this is due to the altitude issue and the speedy decent from the mountains.
Apparently she is ok but we don’t really know her condition.
We headed to the next Regularity 6.56 kms in the distance on another side road to the motorway, traversing a steep long hill track with a few tricky bends and double corners. A trap for young players, steep up overlooking the sea and main road. Great run. Steve threw everything at it and was ahead of time catching up with the car in front released from the starters gate 1 minute before.
If nothing else we should have slowed down before the line ensuring the 1 minute spacing between us and the car in front.
Not to be. We were 35 seconds too fast!
What to say?
Onto our time control in El Loa checking out as we should.
We drove quietly for the last 146 kms along the featureless coastline highway towards Iquique. The hills are just huge sand hill, mountains really. Nothing grows on them and beaches are quite nice if you like to live in the middle of nowhere. But also a lot of rocky beach outcrops.

Then onto our hotel for the evening.
Whilst writing this blog Steve just walked into the room to advise that numerous competitors were suffering from altitude illnesses, or the lack of.
Some just collapse.
Of concern, but the ERA doctors seem to have it in hand.
Well that’s the story for the day.

Along the Pacific Ocean coastline. Barren though some holiday homes have popped up.

3 thoughts on “Day 18 – San Pedro to Iquique

  1. So vast & barren looking – you two knarley dudes are not suffering from the altitute so it seems….
    Keep up the good work – going well
    Kathy & Ella



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