Climbing 1620 meters, down 362.
Thankfully today has blue skies and is not too windy to start. I have warm riding gear and more clothes in the pannier. Also a reflective jacket, flashing tail light, and head lamp as we are going through 6 tunnels.
My hairy friend is still outside the hotel and I felt bad riding off and leaving him. I rode fast so he would not get any ideas about coming with me.
Stunning scenery: snow on the mountains, huge mountain ranges. We rode past the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere: Cerro Aconcagua, 6959 meters high (Everest is 8800). It was covered in cloud but I stayed there for an hour and the clouds cleared briefly, long enough to get some really good photos.
Due to the concern about possible riding conditions the staff had organized hot soup at the Lunch stop, at a restaurant. We are also having dinner at a restaurant across the road from the hostel, because they can’t take any food across the border, including things like peanut butter and sauces etc.
This is a major route and there are lots of trucks. The first 25 kilometres there was no shoulder and the gravel was very soft, a bit hairy when there was a truck coming in both directions. Thankfully only one truck drove a bit close to me and a number of other riders, but thankfully not close enough to cause any one an injury.
There is lots of snow on mountains and some down to road level. Even though the weather conditions are not as bad as the past few days, it is still not warm.
The tunnels are ok, apart from the last one, they are very short and you can see the other end.
The last one was scary, it was about 500 meters long but seemed longer. The tunnel lights were broken and the headlight did not really provide enough light and it was really hard to see.
Then we heard a truck coming and were riding as fast as we could. There were also holes which luckily we avoided, and ice! One of the riders Annagrete slipped in the tunnel on ice, and Sue’s bike went down a hole, but luckily neither of them were hurt.
In Las Cuevas there is snow on the foot path, and later while we are having dinner it started snowing. In the hostel we are stacked up to 8 in a room, thankfully I am in a room of 4 (better than being in a tent with snow!).
We are staying at 3,100 meters in a hostel. At the hostel we were talking to Pablo – worker/owner? – and when he found out I am from New Zealand, he told me he went to NZ for the last rugby World Cup, and toured NZ in a camper van. “Beautiful country”.
The dinner at the restaurant was an empanada, pasta with meat and fruit salad. It was ok, was nice to be warm, and sitting inside watching the snow outside.
Tomorrow we have to get a bus the 7 kilometres to the border, as there is a tunnel we are not able to ride through on bikes.