Saturday, 31 December 2011

Days 53 & 54: Ruta 40 through the Pampa (561 & 659 kms)

There was a miscalculation of mileage in the plan, so we opted to ride further and earn an extra day off at Christmas. This made for two long days of riding in western Argentina with a final destination of Gobernador Gregores.

The first day of riding we saw some other overlanders. First, some Germans on rented bikes heading south. We rode with them for a while but to our collective relief they pulled into a service station relatively quickly; they were unsafe riders.

Later that day we were passed by a steady stream of vintage Volvos heading north. I spoke to one of the drivers and discovered that all one hundred or so vehicles were Dutch and doing a two-month journey around SA. Nice!

Late in the day we encountered the first of the strong winds. Some riders rigged up ballast systems to keep the bike level.

We found a decent spot to camp on the pampa once the estancia fencing opened up. Nathan and I both found skulls of camelids. Mine became a kind of totem until it was confiscated by the Chilean customs.

The second day, which comprised some of the most difficult riding of the trip, with the dirt, gravel, wind and persistent construction of Ruta 40, ended later than anticipated. We also passed through a wicked little hail storm and I stopped to take a photo of the bike with some of the accumulation.

The delay was my first flat of the trip Eventually we made it to the town and had a kind of mini-celebration dinner of ravioli and vino tinto. More gravel awaited us the next day, before a day off in El Calafate.

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