We´re behind schedule. And to make things worse, Salta has moved. It was only 1000kilometres away when we left Mendoza, we look again and it´s now closer to 1300kms. Should have planned this a bit better. And maybe checked a map...
We need to make up time so we hatch the plan to ride for the next 24hrs straight. Actually Michael and I thought it would be a good idea to attempt this back in Mendoza. Dani was never keen (for obvious reasons - it´s insane) and it´s taken us a few days to convince him.... Today is the day.....
We start well as the road undulates into the forever....
Roadside shrines with water bottle paths....
We even get a couple of downhills as we ride down into San Blas de Los Sauces, a collection of about 10 villages all joined together in a beautiful green valley.
60km/h action shot from the bike....
Then the road passes through a deep valley where rivers drain across the road. Most are dry now, but the going gets tough as every couple of hundred metres the road drops 10m, runs across a rough drainage channel before rising sharply 10m back up. We cross maybe 150 channels with about 10 still flowing water. It´s exhausting.
Then Michael gets a puncture.
Then a second.... but we carry on in the growing gloom as the sun sets. Spectacularly!
Full dark now, we see the lights from 2 towns in the next valley and check the map. They can only be Londres and Belem which are 65 and 85 kilometres away! It´s amazing how far you can see here and we ride and ride without ever seeming to get closer.
The temperature plummets to around freezing as Michael gets his third puncture and spirits are low as we stop and cool down as he makes frustrated repairs.
65kms later riding into Londres the temperature suddenly plummets. In the space of 300 metres it goes from zero to maybe minus 15 degrees!! I´ve never experienced anything like this and by the time we stop and don extra garments (maybe 2 minutes) I have lost all feeling in fingers and toes.
Michael dresses for battle....
And gets his 4th puncture riding into Belem. He´s definitely not happy now! We pull into a petrol station to make yet more repairs, when, from nowhere a man appears in front of us asking if we need a hotel.
"We have tents" reply we.
"Camp in the Plaza" encourages he.
"On who´s permission?" ask we.
"On mine" assures he.
"Who are you?" enquire we.
He only turns out to be the director of Tourism for the town. What he says goes around here. He just happens to be passing at 3am after a late session of playstation. We turn to discuss options for a second while he promptly disappears back into the night without trace. To our tired minds we wonder if it really happened and he was ever there. We turn to the evidence - his business card nestled snuggly in Dani´s cold hand. Those cycle gods do move in mysterious ways....
We gratefully take up his offer and find ourself pitching tents on the town´s main plaza and cooking pasta at 4am in the morning.
We never made the 24hrs, but managed to do 190kms on tough roads and rode for 16 hours. And Dani is still talking to us. We failed, but I guess it´s just good training for the next attempt.....
Saturday, June 28, 2008
The Road to Salta - Part 7
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