2,045 meters climbing and 2,091 down. Gravel all day.
Nice weather again today. I had very tired legs from the slipping and sliding on the gravel yesterday.
Today I don’t think there was more than 5 kilometres of flat road all day. It was just constantly up and down. The uphills and the downhills seemed to go on forever. The downhills were often worse than the uphills with thick loose gravel. I spent quite a bit of today getting off and walking patches of the treacherous gravel.
By the end of the day I was over riding, and gravel, and false summits on hills. We had been told that there was 1,700 meters of climbing but there was over 2,000.
On tarmac 2,000 meters of climbing is totally different than gravel, especially treacherous loose gravel! At 99 kilometres having climbed to what I thought was the top of a hill, I could feel tears not far off when I came round the corner and could see the road still heading up and up into the distance!
Just then an alpaca popped out of the bush and trotted up the road in front of me for about 5 minutes, then stood on the side of the road on a small rise, watching me with great interest as I rode wearily passed. Thankfully this cheered me up, and I managed the rest of the ride in better spirits. Helped by a cold drink at 112 kilometres, before the final 4 kilometres to camp.
The area that we are in from the start of the Carratera Austral through the rest of Chile and Argentina is called Patagonia, and it is beautiful. I always thought NZ, particularly the South Island, was beautiful but this area takes it to another level. Thousands of kilometres of lakes, mountains, rivers, forests – all breathtaking beautiful.
Not at all beautiful is the horse fly that I met for the first and then numerous times today! Initially I was not concerned as they hovered around me, as they were just flies. Flies are a nuisance but they don’t bite! Ha! As I found out that, last statement is not true – these flies bite. They put their tongue in to get blood and it stings.
These flies are persistent, they try crawling into your ears and eyes. They get into your hair through the gaps in your helmet. As you are trying to concentrate on getting up a steep hill they bombard you.
They bite through clothing! Nothing quite like going downhill with one sitting your arm stinging you through your arm warmer, and you can’t take you other hand off the handlebars to swat it because you will come off your bike!
They can also fly really fast. I had one keep up with me and land on me for a nice snack when I was going 25 kilometres an hour downhill. I thought this was pretty fast, but one of the other riders Chris W said he had one keep up with him at 45 kilometres an hour! At least at camp that night I was able to swot them if they managed to get their tongue into me.
I was on the bike for nearly 11 hours today. I was totally underwhelmed to find that dinner was 1 sausage, white rice and zucchini and tomato stew! Luckily Sue did not want her sausage as it was a bit spicy for her, and said she right now she would love a sandwich. I had a left over peanut butter sandwich that I made at lunch to take with me that she was delighted to receive. It’s amazing what you are delighted to eat after many hours on a bike and a lack of sufficient food.
Hooray for the cheer-up alpaca – I think we all need one of those, will it fit in your panniers?