Wind Part II

On March 6, 2013

Leaving Chos Malal I knew wind gusts were supposed to hit 45 mph so I left early. I woke up at 6:30 well before the sun rose and started breakfast. I start with breakfast so the pots can dry and cool while I pack the tent. Normally I start water boiling while I stuff my sleeping bag and sleeping pad but since I was in town I had a 6 egg omelette to prepare. Well… More like scrambled eggs. That was tasty. I leisurely packed up the tent since I knew there was a town 80 km away and one a bit further at 110 km. I was aiming for the earlier one to break myself into riding. I had 5 bananas, an avocado, a little salami, and 4 packages of cookies for lunch. I hit up the bakery to get four rolls for lunch before cruising it of town. And by cruise I mean spinning in my easiest gear for 35 km out of the valley where the town and confluence if two rivers was. I did manage to pass a gaucho on a horse with four dogs but that was the only thing I passed. On my entire trip.

Loving the pavement and surprised by the little amount of wind, I made excellent time. The views are very similar to each other: huge expanses and views of a gorgeous wasteland. I got to Buta Ranqil at 2:30 and decided to buy lunch. I had a snack of this roll of cookies that has 1170 calories so that was pretty filling. The plate of the day was meatballs, potatoes, and bread. I washed it down with 1.5 L of some pineapple drink. Entertainment during lunch was some Buenos Aires afternoon show and 3 kids learning to BMX outside. I refilled on water and headed out of town for 34 more kilometers.

The first 10 were cake. Mostly downhill, a little wind, and sunshine. Gorgeous. I stopped in an abandoned bus stop as the wind picked up and before a monster hill. Self portraits killed some time. The next 14 km were brutal. The wind was so powerful I could pee across a two lane highway. It was mostly in my face, mostly uphill, and I was completely exhausted. I was stopping every one or two kilometers by the end. In Barracas I stopped at the first hotel and took it. Private shower and double bed? Yes, please. The wind howled all night and I was happy watching English CNN and Workaholics on TV while munching on fake frosted flakes. I took three showers at that place.

The next morning it was still windy so I really took my time getting packed and ready. Again I stopped at a bakery and ate 8 facturas after my big pasta and soup breakfast and got some more rolls. It was 29 km to Ranqil Norte (not really a town) and 10 km more to the ripio (yay…. not). After 60 (mas o menos) km of ripio there was still another 20 km to the next town. So I was looking at 120 km to the next major town, half being ripio, where there wasn’t a supermarket (only expensive kiosks). It was 210 km to Malargüe, which is a normal sized town. I planned on two days to Malargüe without resupply.

I made it to Ranqil Norte (all uphill), which is the first town past the border of Mendoza at 11:30. The wind was killer and the mountain didn’t help. I stopped at the tourist info place, which didn’t have anyone in it, but that was fine since I just wanted to sit out of the wind. A lady came running up and opened so I felt obligated to talk to her. I found out exactly where the ripio was and what the next towns were like. She offered me maté which was cool. This is the second time I had it in Argentina, the first bei in Chis Malal but that’s a whole different story. So after a long break, refilling on water (9.5 L), stocking up on more cookies (important), and getting dulce de leche (brown sugar substitute for oatmeal), I carried on. I hit the ripio and had a pleasant 15 km downhill. The ripio was sandy and full of large loose rocks. Five more kilometers on a more level surface and I made it to the first bridge across the Rio Grande. No picture. Before the bridge a truck passed me, then after the bridge I passed the truck stopped on the side. I said hola as the guy kicked the tires. A few meters later it rolls pass slowly and they say something (my Spanish isn’t that great). I stop thinking they wanted to know what I was doing but by the gestures I could surmise they were offering me a ride. Now I’m not trying to cycle every kilometer between Ushuaia and Lima, that was never my goal. I didn’t have my thumb I and wasn’t looking for a ride. I didn’t think twice and just cooly accepted noting that I wouldn’t have to camp in this dusty, sandy, unshaded wasteland. Plus this is part of the experience. I shoved my bike and gear in the back of their pickup and they took me to Malargüe in a few hours. It would’ve taken me two days. I then cook a hamburger with avocado and wine and have no remorse.

2 Responses to “Wind Part II”

  • It looks like you are growing a beard. I think it would be fun to see the sights you see. Is it fun biking? I love biking. That was a lot of wind you went through. Love Max.

    • It’s not always fun while I’m biking but most of the times it is. The hills, wind, rain, and rough roads can make it really difficult. I wouldn’t be able to do or see most of the same things by bus or hitchhiking, which makes it worth it. I don’t remember the hard times, only the fun ones.

      I think my beard will be shaved here in Mendoza, it is way too hot. It got up to 90 degrees today!

      Love, Uncle Mark

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