Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Road to Salta - Part 5

Tuesday 10th

The day starts well. Where the map shows rack destroying ripio, we find a construction crew laying fresh new tarmac, and we make good speed along virgin black. It´s untouched by other wheels - we are the first.

It couldn't´t last and after a few kilometers, the fresh becomes too fresh as the tar softens and our wheels sink. But not before spraying our bikes and legs with sticky tar goo. We have to ride the ripio at the roadside and now spray gravel and dust at the goo, which continues to be sticky. Suddenly the tarmac ends and we stop for a cleanup.



Tar is hard to clean....



At least we have the consolation that our tyre tracks will forever be part of Ruta Cuarenta (route 40).

This is the (clean) face of a man who´s bike has mudguards. Dani - this is not funny. Mudguards are now on my shopping list for future tours.



The land changes as we ascend. 6 metre cacti sprout from Martian red soil carved and cut in tortured sculpture.



We hit ripio again and start to climb the pass proper. It´s a bottom gear grind as we crawl ant like to the summit.



Dani dwarfed by the landscape as he toils upwards....



The view from the top....



And looking back down....



We stop at an abandoned building to recover, eat, and put on layers for the descent. The next valley yawns before us and the road is a riot of high speed ripio as we squirm and skid the 1000 metres back down.



Just as we spot a campsite, we see a 4x4 make a U-turn, turn to follow us and slow down beside me - I fear the worst. Only to see a grinning face deliver a large bag of bread through the window to me as I ride. Without a word the driver zoomed off. We camp just short of Chilecito and eat and again give thanks to the cycle gods. Tomorrow we find an aluminium welder...

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