Mendoza, Argentina


Two days in Mendoza. Resting doing nothing. A nice town of about two million people I.e. Another city. But this one has lots of trees and is very green and shady. They have built ditches into the sidewalks and road to keep the trees watered. Be careful driving to not fall in one. I understand during rainstorms they can be quite hazardous to small children.

But yesterday just stayed in camp and enjoyed the peace and quiet, going in about 5:30 to the bike shop to look for new gloves as new ones in august already wearing out. Have fallen for the advertising and bought a nice Argentina colors cycling jacket. Went to pay and asked if take plastic. Of course but then I realized I do not travel with plastic daily. With Brian and deb (2 new people just joining) and able to borrow the 800 pesos until back to camp and get to ATM to repay. (about$60).

A nice walk back to main plaza where restaurants were. Waited till 8 when first ones started to open and had a delightful meal, then cab back to camp.

Today similar except went in about 1 just to take picture of plaza even though quiet during day. No shopping but did run into Terry, Berry, and Buck at an open ice cream shop and enjoyed that. Then back to camp.

James found a restaurant near camp and a nice dinner of pizza beer calzone and great conversation. All for about $9.

Tomorrow we return to the bikes and our route south.



And interesting I find, in that several bottom brackets are wearing out. Three bikes thus far. Lucho currently trying to file a spacer for one as cannot find a spacer in any of four bike shops in town. Interesting.

Another day, another day on the bike

Behind mountains, more mountains

Haitian proverb



After breakfast, washing dishes, and packing trucks with paraphernalia of camp life ( tables, chairs, tents, personal gear, cook gear, etc) depart about usual time of 8 am. Climb slowly and steadily for 28 kilometers rising to nearly 3100 meters in elevation from Uspallata elevation of about 2000 meters. The road quickly went from paved out of town to an old mining road winding through the little canyons and arroyos. Along the way came across numerous guicanos. These animals are the other wild grazers in the Andes. Related to the Alpaca and Llama which are domestic. Guicanos are slowly larger than the smaller much more valuable Vicuña. Vicuña fur is much softer and finer and reportedly fetches as much as 100 Euros a kilo. Both animals are protected.

It is always nice to see wild critters wandering around.

Reached the summit and lunch truck shortly after out of the wind. Carmen and I were riding last today, just enjoying the climb knowing it was a 70 k downhill. Annalot was riding Max’s bike as he does not like downhills and had left. Thus we left Walter and Max to clean up the chairs and incredible lunch spread Walter and Annalot had put on.

Later we commented how it is the miserable parts which stick in our minds. There are some section between Quito and Cusco which folks still refer with bad memories and the Tocota road a few days ago. But today would be remembered for the incredible downhill.


And down we went hands and wrists getting a workout as stopping was frequent and necessary for the scenery. Thought of “going to the sun road” in Montana and the “death road” in LaPaz. Apparently this has 365 switchbacks, although I did not come close to counting. IMG_0823.JPGReaching the bottom where a hotel was situated and pavement began the flowers were in full bloom. And the road continued to descend for another 25 kilometers into Mendoza. Finally requiring peddling to maintain our 35kph speed.



Campsite is a very nice place with eucalyptus trees, palm trees and some other ones related to cottonwoods. And could not get out of birthday celebration which was nice and a parting party for Ellen our cook who is being replaced by Gerdi, and also joined by two cyclist who are Buck’s neighbors back in Minnesota, Deb and Brian.

And Rien as noted earlier is departing. Talking with him he reminded me of jean Claude Killy in the 1968 Olympics after winning gold in all three downhill events. He said the key to winning is never rest, Rien said the same thing, peddle downhill to maintain speed.




And now just hanging out. Jon Willan, James, and I caught a ride down street to a little pastry place for coffee and some sort of nourishment. Campsite is on edge of town about 8 kilometers from city center. I understand it is a nice downtown with several plazas, but not much reason to go now in afternoon. Siesta time. Will catch a cab about 4-5 and go eat dinner somewhere. Mendoza is noted for wine and Argentina for beef so guess that is what I’ll have. About half the crew got a hotel in town for the nights here in Mendoza, but camping is quite comfortable for me. And with only 6 of us remaining, nice quiet time.

Bareal – Uspallata

A nice day. Gentle ride up hill to about 2200 meters again, then somewhat flat and up then a 30 kilometer descent just pedaling in top gear. And best part was the big mountains to the west. At first glance hills with snow on them, but look closer and these were big mountains with big glaciers. Looked it up and biggest was Cerro Mercedario at 6720 meters. The eighth highest in South America. It was first climbed in 1934. Magnificent peak when you look at it.


Riding was great and at 50 k hit the gravel and washboard but it felt good so just powered on. Lunch truck at 60 k then onward again, feeling good. It was a long straight road and just cruising along watching the mountains go by.

As noted in previous blog saw a set of stairs beside road going apparently nowhere. There were some folks there so I stopped. Turns out their English was excellent; he from Buenos Aires and she from Vladivostok Russia. They were touring Argentina and found our group fascinating. Who was more unique. He had been to Alaska 4 years ago driving to prudhoe bay. Currently they were excited about the inca road and the ruins which the steps overlooked.

Camp is in municipal campground which as usual has a swimming pool but everyone says it is too early and it is not full of water. Uspalleta seems a tourist town and possibly a ski town in winter as a ski shop and lots of tourist activities. Walked in the 500 meters to gas station for the iffy wifi, but wanted to post before reaching Mendoza, although hopefully much better there and can get some pictures loaded. Have enjoyed taking pictures along the way, even if it slows me down.

And Rien leaves tomorrow. He has been a great addition and a pleasure. I think he is one of best riders here, not only because he is incredible to watch as he powers up a hill, but he also takes time to ride with others. I have learned a lot from him. Back to Holland for 5 weeks to help his niece with a flower shop then off on another bike trip. He is retired from DOW chemical.

And Hardy 2 leaves also to cycle by himself to Buenos Aires and fly home to return to work as a geriatric nurse in Germany. He is the on who cycled from Germany to Barcelona, flew to Brasilia and cycled to Cusco where he joined with me.

Tomorrow a party to celebrate Mendoza, my birthday, and to wish Rien and Hardy off. A municipal,campground and several getting hotels in town closer to the city center. Camping ok by me and will just take a cab in when needed. As per usual we shall see what it brings when we get there. As with the daily briefing the numbers of distance, elevation, % paved due not tell the whole story. Same for camp sights. Have to wait and see.

There are no easy days on the Andes Trail

24 October 2014 123 kilometer temp in low to mid 40s

There are no easy days on the Andes trail!
Rob ( coowner of Bike-Dreams)

I confess a bit of a boring day. Long straightaways up to 25 kilometers, gentle hills, nice mountains to the sides but desert on valley floor. Went through 4 liters water by camp arrival at 3 pm and cannot seem to get enough in since. Thinking today, this is getting boring, just peddling. Well finished the last 10 kilometers with some serious uphill climbs in canyons which magnified the heat. But pretty.

That final 10 kilometer headed west off of route 40 which runs at base of the Andes for the length of Argentina. But we are on a Andes trail and mountains, so tomorrow back to the hills again. Climb all day back up to 2800 meters from our current 1000 meters. Should be cooler, which I will enjoy. The heat is getting me. Will be nice to pull out sleeping bag again. Have just been using the sleep sheet for past week.

Nice camp here. Creek running by and first thing I did was walk right in after removing phone, wallet and shoes. Very nice to just sit in the water about waist deep. After about 15 minutes went to my luggage and removed the one beer I had saved and returned to the water.

The canyon here is narrow and steep walled. The road above for tomorrow is carved out of cliff side with large rock walls made to reinforce the road. And a babbling brook next to my tent for sleeping.

San Jose de Jacal to Tocota. 132 kilometer 1900 meter climb

Well that does not sound too bad as a title for today, but I spent a lot of day trying to think of a title. Titles thought of were”tales of the worlds slowest bike rider” or “why”.

It was probably the worst and hardest day for me. Berry mentioned it was definitely in top 5 and before I joined they had some rough days. Everyone agrees the final 35 kilometers was worst road yet. Soft gravel required a lot of walking and was just plain miserable. As per usual I was thinking I cannot do this, it is way above my level, abilities, and enjoyment. But as usual on arrival in camp everyone stated the same or nearly so.

First part of day was good, with mostly gentle climbing up through incredible canyons then rounded a corner and I thought I had arrived at lake Powell in southern Utah. But no stopping as a big day and a long way to go. Did stop in town of Rodeo where lost Berry, Cristen, Knut, and Hilde. But stopped for ice cream although no soda. After continued to kilometer 82 and lunch and somewhere had jumped ahead of most arriving about 11:30. Hardy said I was time warped. After lunch I put my helmet back on and it felt like a bucket of water poured on me from the sweat in sweat bands.

Departed and on through Iglesias and continued a nice ride but as left pavement Rob passed me and asked if I had enough water as none ahead. Yes had refilled at lunch 1 1/2 liter in camelback camera bag ( no pictures today as long day). And two bike bottles of 500 ml each.

Well the gravel road was nice for about 5 k then went soft and washboards. Had to occasional get off and walk and spent a lot of time going back and forth on road trying to find something rideable for more than 10 meters. Speed was down to about 8 kph and still 30 kilometers to go. It was still uphill. I was ready to quit and am talking about the ride. Just did not have strength to ride this. And the temperature was about 42-43 Celsius. I was going through my water. Met Jon Willan fixing his 4th flat of the day. He had taken Mario’s tires when Mario left and they were too light for this ride. Terry and Berry caught us and the three of them rode on, but a few kilometers later I caught Berry standing beside his bike letting out a series of expletives. Keep in mind he is from Australia and I learned some new expletives and combinations. Finally he said standing there was not getting us to camp and we had 25 k to go. Onward we trudged. Sweat was poring off me.

Lunch truck passed full of people and I said I was ok. As soon as they left I wondered if I had made a bad decision. Barry voiced the same, but too late. We rode on, later seeing a mirage on up the road. We questioned it but it was the truck broken down leaking diesel fuel. Barely made the truck with no water and refilled drinking a full liter while restocking. They did repairs and moved on as did we.

The truck return about an hour later and again I refilled with water. They were going back to offer ride to the4-5 still behind me.

Finally made camp barely, after a 7:30 am depart and arrival at 6 pm. 10 hours in the saddle. Too long. But all out to cheer arrival, Buck keeping me from falling into the mini cathedral I had stopped at. Seems everyone was exhausted and had same experiences. Rien and I had a talk about the day and he mentioned those earlier riders were stronger and could power through the road. I consider him probable the best rider here. He is amazing to watch him power up a hill.

And Rob one of directors of Bike-Dreams said at evening briefing. “Tocota is a place no one in the world has ever heard of and we will never forget it”. Very true. It is a town of two or three houses and a police station. We are camped on the ground of the police station. There are 4 of them and they cover a vast area here by horse, mostly looking for poachers of Vicuña.

And at 2800 meters elevation and cooler. Will need to pull out sleeping bag. And before sleep I must stretch the muscles. Legs go into sleeping bag and extend all the way out at which time I will fall asleep.

26 October 2014 Tocota. – Barreal 129 kilometer

“You are on the right track baby
You were born this way”
Lady Gaga

Well another day and again it proved different. Everyone a bit concerned about road down from Tocota but figured it was more used and no heavy trucks so maybe not like yesterday. Proved awesome for me, many did not like it but it reminded me of powder skiing. Go fast let gravity provide the speed and hence the power. Only a 2% slope but just right. Gravel and it did throw you around and required route finding on road.

For whatever reason it felt great to me and started down catching and passing many finding myself soon near the front and the racers. But then a few picture ideas popped into my head. Then back on bike at end of pack and off again flying by people wondering what was going on. Did they not realize speed was the key as it provided the power to get through the soft stuff. But I admit control was at the edge. Just like powder skiing, let gravity provide the power and fly.

I also put on music which I rarely do as I consider it a distraction and dangerous to ride with. The playlist I chose was the one I call ski jumping as all the songs remind me of ski jumping.

One note as cruising along there were soft spots as on the road yesterday which tended to stop one or definitely slow one down. Today was different as going 20-30kph instead of 7. Must be what it feels like to hit the runaway ramp on a steep hill with no brakes. Just trust the bike and ride it out. I figure I must have learned something from all the snow biking I do.

The day flew by and before I knew it was on pavement still downhill for another 30 k and lunch at 85 k. It was a 60 kilometer downhill run. Back at about 1400 meters elevation. Lunch in the plaza at Calingasta then 40 k to end. And it was a hot ride, slowing ascending a wide river valley. Snow covered peaks with glaciers to the west and a red muddy river flowing. Hardy’s bike thermometer was reading 45. I was cycling along but slow at 17 kph listening to music and heard yelling and screaming. It was Buck, Cristen, and Hilde at a rest stop. I pulled in and joined Marias and Hannie for a soda. Another soda. But it was so good. I had been looking but everything closed. Revitalized me and took off cruising at 24 enjoying the ride again. Reached green trees a short time later. And town of Barreal reaching municipal campground 8 k later.

And on arrival usual soup, fresh fruit, bread , chips, and cold water. Watermelon never tasted so good as I sat down for two bowls of divine pasta soup. And the watermelon was the old fashion kind with seeds. Incredible. Then lots of chips with their salty goodness as Michelle says. A shower and beer. Then charging implements as is everyone else: garmin GPS units, phones, laptops, cameras, batteries and implements of modern life. Bike cleaning oiling, tire checks. Numerous flat tires today. Jon Willan with record of 10 past two days. Apparently only about 10 people have had no flats as yet. I have tubeless and very happy with it.

And thinking I should go socialize but much to do. Shower, clean, transfer pictures to iCloud even though no wifi. Talking with Buck it is always busy. I think of the great divide and it’s motto of eat sleep ride. This is almost more so. Would be nice to stop and enjoy some of the sights along the way, but a schedule is required if we are to make Ushuaia. Hannie and Marias mentioned everyone must be a bit masochistic for this ride. Maybe true. Then I think this is only 20 miles per day more than Joe and I did on the divide. And have only done 22850 meters of climbing (75000 feet) which is far less than the divide thus far. Admittedly the heat is hurting. We never had 40’s but high 30’s. This is definitely harder though.

Whatever, I am still having a good time in a weird way. And feeling like I am accomplishing something. I find that weird. I have not cured cancer and solved the problem of Israel and Palestine, but perhaps just seeing a different world accomplishes something. (I am assuming Israel and Palestine have not reconciled during my absence.)

And it is the 27th of October and sitting in a gas station which has wifi. Marginal, but wifi. Will try and post this and hope not to bad. Good day today gentle up then 35 k of gravel which was very washboardy but if you push one can ignore the vibrations. Then downhill. Only 5 1/2 hours in the saddle today.

And along the way checked out some stairs to nowhere but was an overlook to an old inca site. Met a nice couple touring Argentina by truck. He from Buenos Aires and she from Vladivostok. Now time to return to camp for dinner.


Why suffer a little, when you can suffer a lot”
Jeff Dusenberry

Awoke in apartments to a very light drizzle and much to everyone’s consternation there was definitely more snow on mountains to the south. I was excited to see snow, apparently I am weird. Those peaks are over 6000 meters and we definitely were not going that high. The climbs for the day would take us just over 2000 meters.

The instructions for the day were unclear as there was construction and unsure if trucks could pass or if we might have to wait for some blasting. Bring extra water. Then there was an option for two different routes to begin. The regular route which was shown and listed on directions but the elevation profile was not included. The directions said the summit was at 17.5 but the elevation profile showed that as low point of day.

And told when we arrive at Villa Union wait at gas station on corner which was probably closed as not sure which ways the trucks would come.

Of course I chose the extra course up the climb which was 10 k longer and unknown climb, which turned out to be a 750 meter climb. Whew. A nice descent although worried about a rattling on bike. Worried about a catastrophic failure and stopped several times to find it, without success. Finally on next climb it was the air pump not completely tightened. Safe!

Next climb over the construction. Very nice climb, riding with Brigit, topping out about 1:30 with 65 kilometer to go. As we descended we could feel it getting hotter. From 2050 meters down to 1000. Very much looking forward to finish. Arrived Villa Union intersection and no one there. Garmin said go right but it has steered me wrong too many times. Paper instructions said go straight. Asked some folks standing around if red truck came through. Yes it went straight ahead. Did bicycles go by? Yes. Keep in mind my Spanish is almost non existent. The conversation lasted 5-10 minutes and I have no idea what was said.

As Brigit and I had a bit of water left we followed the paper directions which were go straight for 23 k to bush camp. 15 k later we questioned it and stopped a recreational cyclist but other than a lot of Spanish and there was a police station in another 35 kilometer we got no where, but thanked him. I tried stopping a couple cars but no one stopped, finally Brigit stood in middle of road and car with 4 guys stopped. They said they had seen no one camping ahead but there were two heavily loaded bicycles ahead but that was all. We turned around, met Lucho coming up trail and Walter and Annalot in truck all looking for us. We figured they would be as it was almost 6 and we had been on road for 10 hours. Most arrived at 2.

And riding back Brigit and I reviewed the wonderful things of day: no rain, beautiful scenery, nice company, good climbs,(1967 meters of climbing). Nice descents, and a beautiful snow covered peak which turns out is 18th highest in South America. 6200 meters.

So as Brigit and I returned to camp in town folks said oh sorry you got lost. I had to correct them and say it was them that were lost as we knew where we were. We had followed directions but well that did not work out.

And it is hot most enjoying it, but sweating like crazy. Have not used sleeping bag in a week just the sheet. And new sun screen today but burned arms.

And sorry but no pictures. Have to transfer from camera to iPad and that takes time, then choose for here. It is time for bed. We are in a gas station campground and as usual wifi is very iffy. And another apology as I am going to try and post without editing. Not good, but exhausted and 6 am comes soon and 50 degrees expected tomorrow with a 50 degree day.

Chilicito rest day


Apartments with 4 of us in room. Quite ok by me. Buck, Terry, Berry, and myself. A nice evening in town as it arose from Siesta. Ate a huge meal then a huge ice cream cone.

This am coffee (Starbucks Via) emergency stash, then cab ride into town square for breakfast on sidewalk watching the world go by.


Word of warning or advice for those visiting here. Do not expect American feeding habits. There is not a rush. 1/2 hour to place order, then an hour or so to get the order, then eat and relax after. Seems status quo. And very nice with time to visit and enjoy.

After it was time to cross the street and see the plaza which was busy with people wandering, sitting, visiting, and whatever. Streets were busy. But alas lunch time and another sidewalk cafe. Steak with papa fritas (French fries). Could not get a dark beer as ordered but settled for a Budweiser. Finally heat building up and time to return to apartment, but first some beers and snacks for afternoon. Uh oh it was 1:30 and I looked up; square was empty, streets quiet and market probable closed. Quickly got a quick market as they were closing and we caught a cab. Afternoon heat rest catch up on this blog and pictures as internet mostly working.

Futzed with bike clean, add fluid to tires (no tubes).

Music sitting around legs not spinning, charge batteries.



Now clean up for another trip into town. Tomorrow back to work heading south towards Mendoza, about 700 kilometers and 6 days away. A fair amount of off road, so should be interesting.

Hoping all is well wherever you are and life is treating you as you wish it should.

Cafayate-Santa Maria-Hualfin-San Blas -Chilicito

Great day. Although disco band outside campground played from midnight to 6 am. Oh well. And then we are up and departing at 8 am. A few pictures of grape fields and something happened. Must have been the Nescafé kicking in but my legs started turning. Why fight it, there was timing to lunch so I went with it, slowly working my way along to kilometer 49 and lunch at about 10:15. Lunch, grease up with more sunscreen, fill water bottles and onward this time at a cruising pace. I am on 5th tube of sunscreen thus far. Redo it three times a day. Still have a burnt area on left arm which was not covered in first days out of cusco.

Afternoon was a lot of gravel which was fine and little villages alongside the mountain. With a forest fire burning up one of the valley’s. Arrived at town of Santa Maria about 12:30, after 78 kilometer and a gentle 500 meter climb. We are at 1900 meters now.

Of course it is Saturday but more important it was siesta time so town was deserted. Doors locked up, everything closed. Sign on grocery store informed us they would open from 6 pm to 10pm. Walked from camp the 500 meters to plaza where supposed wifi was but it did not work. Did find a bar and it had decent wifi. Several sat outside but I found it cooler inside. Temps a comfortable mid 30s today. Amazing how two days ago reset everyone’s thermostat. Mid 30s is not bad.

Not a lot to do but caught up a bit on life back home. Texted Jeanne who was at work then she had a break. She is in break room at work and I am in a bar in Argentina. Wild. After phone call found an ATM as running low on cash. At Bolivian border turned in U.S. Dollars and got 13 pesos to the dollar. At ATM got 8 to the dollar. But no exchange market here, and running low on dollars.

Great dinner, my favorite Thai curry. Boxed wine tonight was only fair but ice cream and strawberries for desert was good. Now sitting around as it gets dark, awaiting concert to begin next door to campground. Numerous have said they need to have one for old people which would quit at 10, but I do not think that will happen. Till then listening to music of sound checks. Beautiful venue overlooking town and valley.

Has been a good three past days. Buck, who is riding again after a week of rehab, commented it is like waiting for shoe to drop. Past three days have been pleasant less than 100 k and gradual climbs. Tomorrow may change: 122 k 65% pavement with 500 meter climb over 70 kilometers. Not bad, then day after is longest day of trip 165 kilometer. At least I have something to complain about or worry about. It will be what it will be.

And Argentina interesting. As noted obviously much richer than Bolivia or Peru. In Peru it seemed most cars were Toyota, Bolivia it seemed a combo of Toyota and Nissan. Here a wide variety. Citroen, Renault, Toyota, Nissan, ford, Chevrolet. And have noted 5 or 6 ford falcons. That is as in 1965 models.

19 October Santa Maria to Hualfin 122 kilometer headwinds

Quite a day. Awake about midnight to 1 am listening to band playing Latino music. Actually good blending the instruments vocals and such. Checked decibel level in tent at 93, 300 meters from stage and to the side. Hardy who had a hotel room across town could hear it in his room. South America loves its noise. Went back to sleep about 1, but awoke again when concert over about 4 and concert goers were reveling.

Cycling was good but 20-30 kph headwind entire day. I took a few pictures near beginning and of course was soon by myself. I do not mind being alone, in fact somewhat like it, but afraid I must learn to ride with the crowd as will not survive the next months, with the coming winds. Folks were a bit concerned with me being late and alone but all ok. Arrived at 4:15 but most arrived about 2 with 5-6 taking truck.

Country was mostly flat, very desert like then arrive here a few kilometers past town of Hualfin. Entry to a desert canyon and a bush camp, but there are hot springs here. Nice little pool water temperature of 36 degrees.

2452 kilometers thus far, about a third of the distance for me. And has been a few days over a month with bike dreams. A month done two to go. Have not a clue what that means except another day cycling tomorrow.

20 October 2014 Hualfin to camp at San Blas de Los Sauces. 160 kilometer 6 hours 3 minutes of ride time from 07:30 to 3 pm. Temp in afternoon high 30s.

Great sleep last night I suppose because it was quiet and I did not set up my tent under a light. Beautiful spot with big rock walls surrounding us. Reminded me somewhat of lee’s ferry (the launch point for Grand Canyon). Early start as long day and winds yesterday have everyone a bit spooked. So alarm at 5:30 breakfast at 6:30 and depart at 7:30. Pretty good considering tents away, breakfast including wash dishes, put away tables, seats and pack gear in trucks. Breakfast today as seems usual is muesli with yogurt or milk and some cereal, rolls, and jam. Everyone seems to miss the porridge. Discussion today covered how folks miss good bread at home. United States excluded for bread, although I did set them straight about good beer in Alaska.

Today’s mantra for me was stay with pelaton. No stopping for photos, looking around, or whatever other excuses I come up with to go slow and stop. Peddle, watch the wheel in front, peddle, coast, peddle brake, peddle, keep the legs churning at about 80-90 rpm. A grouped of about 15 formed up and with a slight downhill we cruised at about 30 kph. Nice. Stopped at Belem at a coffee shop and had a good americano coffee. Basically an expresso without milk. Very good and my 4th for the day after the three Nescafé at breakfast. I seem to be caffeine powered.

Lunch at 75 k in the plaza then back to cycling. Walter the lunch truck driver had his usual great spread of rolls, meats, cheese, tomatoes, veggies, fruits, Bananas, kiwis and apples, cookies, water juice, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup. Then back on road and in the pack. Not a single car honked or rushed us. If someone was coming or a corner or whatever unsafe passing condition they waited until safe to pass. Keep in mind our pack takes up entire lane.

Walter met us at 120 k with more water as none in afternoon and hot, and chocolates. Then back to work and I was able to lead for 10 k feeling pushed along by the 13 people behind, Terry at my side keeping me informed as to proper technique for front position. (Mid lane, so as to provide best wind blockage for following and not to fast so entire pack can stay on your rear wheel). With side wind and gust we kept not quite a meter apart and front was nice as did not worry about braking so could ride with hands in varying position. Before the pelaton regrouped Jurg and I were riding 22-25 kph, in the pelaton the speed picked up to 26-30kph.

Thus arrived at campground about 3, a somewhat nice place but apparently early season yet, so again swimming pool empty, no water for toilets,(like a bush camp) but an irrigation ditch and I sat in it for a bit to cool off and get the salt off. Nice!

And as usual town is closed up tight for siesta so no beer.

Excellent dinner, again, Max barbecued sausages, with potatoes, green salad, garbanzo beans, wine, and a pudding for dessert. Took Terry’s duties after dinner so as he could go the 1 k back to town plaza where there was internet. He still stayed and washed then went to town in search of beer and internet. I decided to stay as cooled off and pleasant after dinner to just sit outside and enjoy the evening. Apparently beers hard to find but internet at the plaza.

San Blas to Chilecito Argentina. 121 kilometer 10 of green leaving San Blas then brown desert until Chilecito

Today’s ride was long hot and butt tired. Time to think. No answers but thinking. Was not ready when time for depart so basically rode alone. Nice ride for a bit with Vivean but alone after lunch. Lunch had a shade spot beside road which was pleasant otherwise direct sun overhead.

Thoughts ranged from people mostly parents and how they usually are completely unconditionally supportive. When doing the great divide I would call my dad who was blind and he always knew where I was, following via computer voice. When we went to India his words of wisdom were “have fun and be careful, they do things different there. Not better just different.”

And thoughts of the day riding were how not everyone would enjoy this. Many would be severely bored just kilometer after kilometer. Me, I was just enjoying the slowly changing scenery. The mountains to sides and wide empty valley. No shade and hot the kilometer markers marking down the distance to Ushuaia, 3900.

And sitting on sidewalk cafe watching Chilicito come alive. Took taxi from our apartment where wifi does not work to plaza about 5:30. Not much happening but now 7:30 and picking up. Little traffic at first now road and sidewalk busy. Different world.







Salta – Yafacate

Whew did not get memo this am about late start due to people in hotels and such so I was up at 5:30 yet in the dark. Finally depart for a good day of cycling but as feared it was going to be hot. Taxi driver taking Hardy back to our camp told him Salta was supposed to be 36 today. This afternoon bike computers were reading 45 to 49. Very little shade and could not get fluid in fast enough. Stopped once at a roadside stand and chugged a 1500 ml fruit juice and an ice cream still thirsty. Stopped in another 5 k and split 3 beers for four of us. Each is a liter. Had to check 45-49 Celsius for Fahrenheit. 114 to 119 degrees. No wonder it felt warm.

But the cycling was good, 97 kilometer of gentle hills, covering it in just over 4 hours plus 3 hours of breaks. As noted by several, the Andes Trail is not every day an exquisite delight or exceptional scenery, but it was pleasant. Just cruising along, watching grape fields, alfalfa crops, and the passing hills, plus beautiful trees some in bloom of purple, red, yellow.

Arrived at bush camp beside the road dry with some beautiful saguaro cactus, acacia trees, with their thorns which grab anything. On dinner duty tonite set the table, deliver food, clean up and wash. Dinner of pasta, with vegetables, and pork. Very good and tasty with a great wine, followed by a pear tart. Now under the rain fly as did not set up tent just the fly on arrival for shade. This way a bit of a breeze blows through. Probably too hot for sleeping bag so just the sleep sheet tonight.

And glad 21 days of trip have gone by as having a great time. But as I learned on the divide I am thinking one day at a time. Of course thinking of the sights yet to come, mostly in Patagonia, but that is a few thousand kilometers away. I did today and despite the heat had a good time now I am reviewing tomorrow’s route. We shall see.

17 October 2014

bush camp near Talapampa to Cafayate 91 kilometers cooler as cloudy today only in high 30’s. Left earlier which was nice as got in at 1:30. Was riding along thinking wow it is cooler today then realized it was only 11:30. It is the little things. But it was cooler. Currently after dinner and temp only in high 30s. ( upper 90s)

But a good day. Rode a canyon reminding me of grand canyon with a bit of Yosemite and Death Valley thrown in. Beautiful. Slot canyons, heat, pinnacles, erosion, layers of rocks going in a variety of directions, variety of colors. And I got to ride my bike through it.

Now in wine country. Several wineries today reminded me of napa valley in California. But difference is these are not immaculate with every blade of grass at its precise height. But the wine is good. Tomorrow being a short day 78 kilometer goes through more wine country. May stop for rehydration.

And at a municipal campground again outside of Yafacate. A cute town of artisans, tourists, and wine. Hence lots of junk shops, restaurants and wine. With several ice cream shops thrown in. Reminds me of Santa Fe New Mexico and napa, California combined. Walked into town to try a wine ice cream but alas siesta and closed for afternoon. I am not walking in again this evening.





Salta pictures

Great rest day 15 minutes of work to do and accomplished 14.5 minutes of it. Now I must rest. Salta is an interesting town although another city. Nice plaza although not the nicest we have seen. Good restaurants, WIFI not so great but have a great pastry shop just outside of campground which works well and good coffee. It is hot. Took a shower and still came out sweating.









Salta, Argentina

Paradise is not where you go but how you feel for one moment of your life.

One never really knows how things will turn out. Perhaps an open mind to the possibilities is needed. Yesterday’s ride was expected to be hard especially after the prior days ride into the wind. Yesterday’s was 122 kilometers and 1250 meters of climbing. Two big climbs. We were a bit intimidated but all left cycling except Buck who is still recovering from shoulder injury.

I had decided if the wind was not blowing I would just ride at the pace I felt. Was good but of course most left me after 20 k which was ok. The remainder passed when I stopped beside the road for toilet. (Never any peace and quiet). But a most pleasant ride slowly climbing a gradual slope then a long gradual downhill through a few villages. Almost stopped at one roadside stand for fresh empanadas but persevered on. Lunch truck at bottom of second climb. Several folks said the ride was like riding through the southern French countryside. I must try that sometime as it was beautiful. Still a bit early in the spring but the leaves are coming out and road great. Road was 4 meters in width, enough room for a car and bike, but this is a two way road. Freeway lanes in the United States are 12 feet wide for reference, about 3 1/2 meters. But not a lot of traffic and the trees were amazing. Big trees with epiphytes growing on several, and big vines hanging down. Sort of jungle like but seemed more like California scrub country. Hard to describe but it was pleasant. David from England and I just cruised along till the top then 30 kilometers to Salta, stopping at a country park with lake, swimmers, tables and people out enjoying the day. We had the usual snack of ice cream and soda for energy to finish the ride. Then on to the city where instructions were take bike lane which we could not find so rode the freeway into town, then through the city center and our municipal campground on south end of town.

Salta is a city of about 500,000 and a bit busy although apparently we arrived on a holiday. Folks were sitting in lawn chairs all along the sidewalk (on the shady side) just siting and enjoying the afternoon. Businesses were all closed but expected to open again In the evening.

Campground has what must be the largest swimming pool in world. Empty of course, who knows why, but it must cover 20 acres at a minimum. Took James several minutes to do a lap on the bike. Most of us set up tents at the edge although the sun was intense yesterday. Good for solar charging batteries. Temps probably in mid 30’s. Since losing my odometer I have no thermometer. The campground was not the most inviting although the showers were hot. First time I have had to turn on cold water to mix, although here a cold shower would not have been bad. Several folks though have opted to find hotel rooms in town as it is a rest day. I do not mind camping, hence staying in campground in tent. For most of the two rest days we are on our own for food. And campground will do laundry.

Bike dreams gave a party last evening with a barbecue to celebrate the trips half way point (I am only 1/3 done) several folks are leaving mostly to return to jobs. Toos and Teo, David, Patrick, Mario, (who joined in Cusco with me), Elizabeth, and Maria, From Barcelona, who is not officially here but came with Robert, one of our drivers. She has been a great addition and we will all miss her smiling face and personality. But then all the people are wonderful and it was sad to say goodbye. I have mentioned I am in awe of these folks and their abilities. They have all taught me so much about riding whether in actual comments or through example. Mario who joined with me and we learned together to be with an established group. I think I felt close to him as we would often end up riding together. In our parting he mentioned how I was a strong rider, which made me feel great. I have never considered myself such, but I guess I survived the windy day with the pelaton.

Our group is devoted to the ride, and not much time to really socialize as we arrive in the afternoon, eat, set up camp or room, eat again and go to bed. Last night though we cranked up the music, mostly 80’s disco stuff which no one really liked but good to dance to. Occasionally some AC/DC or such, but a good time was had by all, although I guess there was one incident after I retired. Alas not all is a bed of roses. There are some very diverse personalities amongst us as with any group large group.

And a group of 14-16 year old girls came up yesterday in the afternoon to talk. (Remember my Spanish is almost nonexistent. Pantomime is great! ). They were on 3 day bus tour discussing domestic violence with their moms. The mom’s wanted to know why our stomachs were flat and their men’s bellies were round. But dancing and partying all around. Their bus had broken down and waiting for repairs. We could bounce back and forth from party to party.

Took the bus Into the city center this am in search of wifi, SIM cards for our phones, and food. One cannot use our usual phone card as way to expensive so just purchase a card to insert and get local rates. Problem is I have no idea what I got. I think I got two months worth of phone, text, data, internet for 55 pesos about $20. Reality is very different as used to unlimited but this is only 1.5 mB per day. That is one picture barely. Now I can use the phone as a hotspot and download this blog as long as not too lengthy.

Cafés had lousy wifi although food was good. Salta is definitely westernized, but as David pointed out yesterday we have gone from the poorest country in South America to the richest. Quite a change. Finally ended up at McDonalds because, as is Starbucks, it is noted for free internet and good coffee. Alas batteries almost dead and only two outlets and one in use and no internet at the remaining plugin. So back and forth. Just nice to communicate with the world I know. Finally enough of the city so caught a taxi back to campground with Marias and Hannie. And cabs here have meters hence no bartering before you get in. Western ways.

Now just sitting here with batteries, phone, iPad and camera batteries charging on light pole outlet. Barry brought over a beer ( a full liter) and discussing traveling about the world and how one becomes settles into a regular existence. Soon one year leads to another and soon time has passed. Our lists of things to see and do grows longer and the time remaining shorter. And with that perhaps it is time to go find some dinner.

And so goes our first rest day in Salta. Tomorrow I put on my new odometer purchased today and grease the bottom bracket bearing. 2000 kilometers thus far in a month. Every day we head south on a most interesting ride. As with the great divide. Eat sleep ride and repeat. As it have noted several times I am awed and honored to be able to do this. As Rob from bike dreams said a few days ago “there are no easy days on the Andes Trail” and I am finding that true. But then if it was easy where would be the challenge. Risking oneself is to risk failure but not risking or trying is to fail.