It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of the country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. But you remember them as they actually are, while in a motorcar only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.
11 October 2014 117 kilometer 450 meter climb
The exact opposite of yesterday. Awoke at 5:30 thought I would attempt internet and got on right away but could not post anything. Did get a text out to Jeanne but early yet. Did find a response a bit later wishing me a good ride today. She had not heard about yesterday except to see the email about the visa. Amazing how words can affect one even when they are not meant to. My spirits were already good but the message reiterated my good day.
Breakfast was so so. Again we overwhelmed the hotel. Had delayed breakfast till 8 am and still slow. Muesli cereal and coffee.
The off we went and it was wondrous. Perhaps one of the better days of cycling I have had. Out into a wide valley generally flat but climbed about 200 meters over 80 kilometers. Group of about 20 fell into a pelaton for nearly 25 kilometer then a few broke off racing ahead and a few fell back. Left at 9 and arrived at the lunch truck beside the road 56 kilometers into ride at 11:15. And I felt great just being able to keep up even working forward until last 5 k actually was in lead with Hardy. I felt pushed along by the group behind. An amazing feeling. Must have been quite a sight this group of Lycra clad bicyclists moving down the road.
Traffic was light mostly trucks and buses but almost everyone polite. If they could not pass they waited patiently behind the pelaton until safe to pass often cheering us on then.
After lunch took off at noon and found myself in another pelaton but this time I found myself leading Joost and Rien, probably what I consider the best cyclist in the group. I thought this is crazy I can never keep this up and dropped back to join Jorg, Mario, and Michelle and we just cruised the afternoon.
I believe many would find the ride boring as basically flat and straight. I found it exciting to view the horizon and see it coming up, eventually we reached it as the climb began. But not bad 200 meters over 20 kilometers. A delightful ride stopping at the top for a banana.
Once the pass was reached we entered a geologic playground. Down through this valley with amazing formations along the way. Reminded me of Bryce Canyon, but very different.
Then this amazing camp in a small canyon beside the road. There is a house with a family here including goats, sheep and chickens but lots of room. After arrival hiked down the small embankment and took a warm bath in the creek. Now just a relaxing afternoon.
. Well yesterday was amazing and so was today. But in entirely different ways. One never knows how things will turn out. The profile said 155 kilometers with only a few hundred meters ascent but ending up nearly 2000 meters lower. We left the altoplano and altitude which everyone has been looking forward to. Now down low about 1600 meters. Springtime leaves are out, some green grass, horses (apparently horses do not do altitude, whereas donkeys do).
The as noted the elevation profile for the day was down down down. Only problem is at 40 k the headwinds picked up. 40-50 kilometer an hour. One unmentioned person arrived at lunch truck and just broke down crying, they were so tired. Ok they took the truck to camp another 90 kilometers, reassured by all we all felt that way at times. I certainly have felt that way.
But we got into a pelaton group of 8 people and rode side by side 4 people in length for the rest of day. We would alternate lead about every kilometer in a big circle, left front would rotate to front right then when tired fall back one space with second left moving up front to face the wind. When you got 2nd 3rd or at the back it was a bit restful until you began to work your way forward on the left. This went on kilometer after kilometer. For the most part traffic was good, as yesterday often waiting behind until safe to pass. An occasional driver was a bit angry, but we had no choice. Like everywhere some people are in a hurry to get to the end of the day.
The problem with all this is I am used to cycling alone and was a bit nerve wracking for me trying to stay inches from the person in front and to the side. Pedal, brake pedal, brake. Do not touch them.
Did stop at a village for a mid afternoon snack. I am very tired of soda and cookies, but that is what is available. Need the quick calories for a boost. Mind you I am tough, but sodas are above what I can do. Leaves a bad taste, but like I said it is energy. And today a hill came up shortly after when I wish I had more energy. I am not a hill climber. Part way up I had fallen back about a hundred meters. Jon Willan fell back and said just stay on his wheel which I did and he pulled me to the top breaking the wind for me. Then a 30 kilometer descent without wind winding down the switchbacks at about 55 kph. Sweet. Then a good ride to camp.
And camp is not a bush camp defined as no amenities. This one not only has bathrooms, but showers and a swimming pool. And the have office has good wifi thus was able to post the blog about politics from several days ago. I have heard campgrounds are expected to have wifi now but never experienced it.
And as Rob, one of directors of bike dreams, said tonight we will eat as usual at 6 although the Argentinians eat at 11. It is Sunday and as usual it is a day off, hence families and friends come here and barbecue, play futball, swim and enjoy themselves. The disco next to campground played until about midnight.
Interesting as there are some trees here with incredible red flowers and some with some yellow ones. Final kilometers heard flocks of birds in trees. Someone said they were parakeets and I believe it, although have not seen any.
And noted Argentina is different than Bolivia. Thus far in small ways. No garbage along the roads. Remember Bolivia is a very poor country. Wifi tonight was best I have experienced in South America. Cars are a little nicer and architecture changing subtlety. Not quite as much adobe but one or two days does not say anything. And am looking forward to a real Argentinian steak, after all this place is noted for its meat. And the wine has been good but the Bolivian wine was also excellent.
Crossed the Tropic of Capricorn so officially have left the tropics I guess.