8 to 10 April Kms travelled – 2,513
An early start again, and a nice send off from the Patagonian Welsh community saw me on my way. I have taken local advice, that mirrors the writings of other travellers, by trying to beat the wind through rising before the sun and hitting the road at dawn with the aim of getting the required mileage done before lunch. The wind is at its worst in the afternoon, when the sun causes a greater thermal effect, adding real impetus to the constant west to east blast. Even in the mornings you need to ride safe, and try to anticipate areas where gusts can take you off line. You think the winds can´t be as bad as people say. They are. Really.
I´m heading to Comodoro Rivadavia this day on the Atlantic coast on a largely unspectacular landscape. So unremarkable in fact, that I am lost to find anything notable to record here. One thing I have noticed is that each day I spend heading south, the plant life is changing more than the landscape itself. Yesterday there were trees, today only waist high shrubs. Over the next two days, these will shrink even further to knee high scrub, and then to impoverished grasses struggling to reach sufficient height to feed some of the local wildlife.
Idris at a fuel oasis
The road itself (3) is still of good quality, but as I approached the last 20 kms or so before entering Comodoro I saw hills beckoning. Great! At last some more interesting riding... be careful what you wish for! In fact that stretch was the hardest ride of the day, as the capricious wind failed to decide when and from where it would make its presence known. But boy when it did decide to say hello, it did so with real gusto!
The city itself is dominated by the local oil industry and proved to be considerably more expensive than anticipated, by far the most costly stay to date. There is gold in them there hills – black gold.
One advantage was that the town seems to reside in its own little mirco-climate with temperatures reaching some 26 degrees in the afternoon - but with a sharp drop at night. After a lovely sung mass at the local Cathedral (it was Easter) I did manage to have one chat with a chap who had fitted a 50cc motor to his mountain bike, and was out in the street testing the brakes! When the local police took interest, he made his less than swift getaway, leaving me to shoot the breeze with the local law – who had in fact just finished their shift, were waiting for their bus, and were only interested in the mechanics of his invention.
Early again, the next day south started with the worst road conditions to date through the series of small hills that are a feature of this region. Around 130 kms south of Comodoro presents a series of roadworks, pressure ridges, potholes, and badly patched roads to the extent that my progress was severely restricted. There were even short patches of (bad) gravel roads, where makeshift diversions had been improvised around new construction. As with earlier road works I have encountered, this looks like it will be some time before it will be completed.
I never thought I would be so happy to see a return to the long straight flat smooth roads – but that is what I had for the rest of the day. I even had the lightest wind so far, which meant for some smooth sailing and the opportunity to gain lost ground. I also started to encounter more wildlife, though unfortunately much of it was spread over the tarmac like strawberry jam over burnt toast. Sad as it was to see such wonderful creatures lost in this way, the roadkill did serve as a constant reminder to this adventure bike rider to watch the roadsides. I saw guanacos aplenty, choikes (like little ostriches, which when feeding looked just like the plantlife!), rabbits and grey foxes. I also saw mora (a type of eagle) – or possibly caranchos (also a bird of prey) – taking advantage of the repast served up by passing traffic.
Early afternoon and I was rolling into Puerto San Julian and up to the local tourist information office where I was met by a lovely lady who positively buzzed with enthusiasm over Idris. If the bike wasn´t already red, it would have been after the fuss that was made over it. XT660Z Tenere Dragons are not available in this part of the world. She also provided a wealth of information about the local area, and rung around to secure me a really good deal on a room at a sea front hotel – with secure parking around the back (which she insisted was not needed, as locals don´t often even lock their doors). I was the only visitor, and had a pleasant few hours wandering around the local sights in the nice little town, with the most spectacular sunset over the bay. Check out the replica boat and the sight of the first mass said in the Americas.
Idris and Eduardo
The next day was an easy ride down into Rio Gallegos, with (yet again) some very nice conversations mostly taking place at the petrol stations. We are now in the south and the cost of fuel has dropped considerably, being offset by most other things being more expensive. I was fortunate to be met in town by Eduardo, a tourism student and fellow ABR (KLR650). I´d been in touch with him for a while through the Horizons website (see link on the right), with his regular updates on weather in the south etc being of great value. I was treated to a tour of the town and to dinner! Great company again and further evidence of Argentinean hospitality. Cheers buddy, and best of luck with the work plans.
Thought for the day
I know I have previously mentioned the scale of this country – it being the 7th largest in the world – but these roads seem to go on forever. You can see countryside like this in many parts of the world, including the UK. You can experience this sort of weather too. But it is the scale of this place that staggers. Day after day, the roads just go on and on, that is until they end... but that is a story for next time.
These blog entries are being reposted from Pat's website [link] in an effort to draw more attention to his fundraising efforts with UNICEF. You can help Pat reach his goal here [link] as he continues to ride throughout the Americas. Follow along daily for updates.