Climbing 1,160 meters – down 1,560 meters
Thankfully no sign of snakes or scorpions! The ride out was not as bad as I had imagined, as the sand was easier to ride down than up. However a lot of the surface was corrugated and a few riders lost drink bottles and rear lights on the way down. Sue lost her drink bottle holder as well!
Off we went, initially the riding was pretty easy, a few ups and then a long stretch of flat. At 37.2 kilometres we had to turn left at a y intersection, and I could see a hill stretching up into the distance. What I did not know was it was a 15 kilometre hill of mostly up! This would have been usual info to have had regarding being able to make it to the 90 kilometre mark by 11am.
As I did not know it was 15 kilometres up, I expected at every turn that I was at the top. Not sure whether it would have been better or worse to have known. I am getting up hills much better and I made it to the top without stopping.
About 5 kilometres up the hill the dinner truck came past and said the convoy point was now at 76 kilometres, so I was pretty sure I would make it. If we are not there on time the trucks will come back for us.
I am not spinning my legs as quickly as I am building up more strength, and not always in the smallest gear. Of the 15 kilometres about 2 kilometres was downhill before the actual top. I thought a couple of times I was at the top when I wasn’t. It was a bit foggy, and I put my high viz vest on. Finally go to the top of the hill and went flying down for about 10 kilometres.
The ride from the bottom of the hill to the convoy point was the pits! There were dogs, debris, taxis and mini vans darting in and out in front of you, cutting you off, pulling out in front of you, hooting and tooting at you. There was about 2 kilometres with no shoulder – that was quite scary. Thankfully at this point two other riders caught up with me, and I rode the rest of the way to the convoy point with them. The traffic is a bit better with a group than a lone rider.
As always despite the pressure to get to a certain spot by a certain time, it was ages before we set off. I had lunch and then milled around with the other riders, waiting for the three remaining riders to come in. Finally we were ready for a 50 kilometre convoy. The traffic is chaotic.
We had a land rover with the local guide, Cristano in his ute, 2 TDA staff in the front, and 1 at the back. Plus the two trucks at the back and the riders in between. Still we had taxis and cars trying to cut through the middle.
The local guide, instead of having us in the slowest lane, had us in the fast lane so at least we were protected from buses, taxis, and vans darting in and out of the road shoulder to pick up and drop off passengers.
Overall the convoy went really well until about 40 kilometres where we ran into a bottleneck due to a huge food fair. This took about 45 minutes to get clear of.
We arrived at the hotel (Hotel Villa Santa) finally about 4pm, all hanging out for a shower, fresh clothes, a nice meal and a bed to sleep in. Unfortunately with about 50 people hitting the showers at the same time the hot water system did not cope. Luckily it come warm again about an hour later.
We went to a really nice restaurant up the road and had a fantastic steak. It was a 400 gram Argentinean beef, cooked perfectly. The other option was 600 grams. I am pleased I did not get that, as hungry as I was I couldn’t finish the 400 gram. This may of course have been affected by cold beer in the chilled glass to start, with the basket of warm crusty bread, real butter, and pesto. I shared a really nice Argentinean Syrah / Merlot as well. Food heaven.
Went happily back to the hotel looking forward to the rest day and no 5am alarm.