11/04 Happy Birthday Shane! He’s my only nephew and sadly I hardly ever get to see him. Today is his 18th birthday.

Found another way of getting south without having to ride into San Juan. It worked out pretty well and there were even a couple places to grab cold drinks on the way. The winds were very strong again. It seems like they get just a little worse every day.

Tomorrow might be a rest day. The place I’m staying tonight is right on the highway but it’s very quiet and the restaurant stays open all day. It’s nice to be able to eat whenever I want. Tomorrow is Saturday and even though riding into Mendoza should take me 2 days with the headwinds, I could easily get mad at something and ride the entire way. Then I’d be riding around for hours because everything is full.

Elevation Profile
GPX track

The area around Mendoza is a huge wine producing region.

The area around Mendoza is a huge wine producing region.

If it wasn't for irrigation the land would all be desert.

If it wasn’t for irrigation the land would all be desert.

More shrines.

More shrines.

Water!  There's a stupid dog swimming in it but it's hard to see.

Water! There’s a stupid dog swimming in it but it’s hard to see.

Mood:Good Weather:Sunny/Hot
Wind:Strong Wind Direction:Headwind
Avg Speed:10.5 mph (16.9 km/h) Top Speed:15 mph (24.1 km/h)
Avg Grade:1% Max Grade:6%
Total Ascent:478 ft (145.7 m) Max Elevation:1985 ft (605 m)
Distance:39.69 mi (63.9 km) Total Distance:22710 mi (36548.2 km)

Comments 3 Comments »

11/03 I’m not actually in San Juan but close enough. I’m in a “campground” maybe a mile east of the city limits. Getting this close to San Juan wasn’t the plan but things never end up quite like you’d expect.

The problem started in the town of Caucete which is about 10 miles back down the road. That was where I’d been planning on spending the night. Unfortunately it’s probably the hardest place to find just about anything because they have trees growing right up against all the buildings so you can’t see the signs. To make matters worse they stuck the bike/motorcycle/scooter lane in the middle of the road so it was hard to watch all the road activity and look at anything else.

I shouldn’t have had to go looking because one of the three other cyclists I met on the road before town guided me over to a hospedaje (generally the cheapest accommodation type). He called the owner on his cell and the lady quoted him a price of 200 pesos ($47 US). He left and I waited for her to show up thinking I could talk her down to 150 pesos which is still ridiculously high for a town with zero going on and it being a Thursday night. The lady never showed up though. Two twenty year guys did. They saw a gringo and I could almost see the dollar signs light up in their eyes. They said the price was 250 pesos so I held up my hand to show them a zero so they knew how much they were getting now and left.

I asked a few people if there was a place to sleep and they all said somewhere different and none of them knew where to find the place the last person told me about. Finally I just got fed up and left. San Juan was only another 16 miles and since I’d only ridden 53 miles, 45 of it into strong headwinds with temperatures hitting 110F and sunset only an hour away, I thought why not ride some more.

This campground is a recreation area/church of sorts but the layout leaves a lot to be desired. The few camp sites are all at the front by the very busy road. Truck traffic is 24/7 so why they picked that area considering how big the property is I’ll never know. The price to camp was 10 pesos on the sign coming in but I was told 25 pesos. I can’t understand half of what people are saying in Argentina so I just paid it. I’m sure it was a good excuse whatever it was. Reminds me of the saying, ‘If you have enough money to travel, you have enough money to get screwed.’ I picked a spot in the back thinking it would be quiet but now it’s 1am and dozens of cars have been showing up for a late night soccer game a couple hundred yards from my tent.

Vallecito was another town I was thinking about stopping in but that was a typical mess. A couple people pointed further into town and said there was a hotel. Finally I found it (no signs even on the front of the building) but she wanted 250 pesos so I left. I spotted a hosteria/restaurant (with a sign!) but the guy seemed like a jerk and said they had no rooms. About half a dozen dogs came charging at me when I was riding down the main street forcing me to stop. At least the useless idiots running the restaurants where the dogs came from got a nice show when I stopped to let loose a couple rocks. The town has kind of a cool story behind it but honestly I’m happy to just forget I’ve ever been there.

The shortest way to get to Mendoza is to go back 10 miles and turn right before Caucete. I hate to backtrack that far so we’ll see what happens in the morning. Maybe I’ll run into my three new friends again.

I’ll have to stay on my toes heading into Mendoza. I’ve heard of a couple cases where some punk kids tried to rob cyclists riding into the city from the north.

Elevation Profile
GPX track

Best bike path I've ever seen.  It ran 14 miles from Vallecito to Caucete.

Best bike path I’ve ever seen. It ran 14 miles from Vallecito to Caucete.

There were 4 or 5 bike shelters along the path (no water but that would have been crazy).

There were 4 or 5 bike shelters along the path (no water but that would have been crazy).

There were even helpful signs to tell about the local wildlife.

There were even helpful signs to tell about the local wildlife.

My 3 new friends from Caucete.

My 3 new friends from Caucete.

The campground next to the road.

The campground next to the road.

Comments Comments Off on 2 miles E of Bermejo, AR to San Juan, AR (1934 ft)

11/02 The town of Chepes wasn’t a bad place to spend the night after leaving Portezuelo. There are a couple little restaurants across from the Shell gas station and a surprisingly large supermarket. The Shell station stayed open during the 1pm until 6pm siesta when everything else in town closed (even the supermarket). There are a couple hosterias going for 80 pesos and up.

Rode through some blazing hot desert after Chepes with temperatures hitting 115 F. Water is available at a tiny store in Mascasin and at the turnoff to Marayes where there’s a restaurant (no other supplies and the menu was just a sandwich, albeit a delicious one).

The winds have proven to be very consistent. They consistently blow in my face regardless of my direction of travel. I’m usually off the road by 3pm which is about when they start getting really bad. They haven’t even been calming down at night.

The truckers are a riot. Almost all of them wave, some even going so far as to take their hands off the wheel and pump both fists in the air while yelling words of encouragement out the window. The enthusiasm might be partially explained by the joint I saw one long haul trucker puffing on as he was coming toward me. 🙂

Found a secluded camping spot a little ways off the highway on a dirt track. It’s so isolated I even skipped the fly over the tent. Still need the mesh because the flies are thick thanks to a lot of unidentified crap (goats probably). The barbwire fence running along both sides of the road disappeared going through the Salina de Mascasin and hasn’t reappeared. There are no buildings from what I can see but people have been back here chopping limbs off the trees. I’m amazed they don’t have more fires because everything is bone dry and the ground is covered in dry grass, shrubs and tree branches.

Elevation Profile
GPX track

Finally some hills.

Finally some hills.

Nothingness

Nothingness

Little prickly but not too bad.

Little prickly but not too bad.

Comments Comments Off on Portezuelo, AR to 2 miles E of Bermejo, AR (1728 ft)

10/31 Happy Halloween! Not sure how big of an event this holiday is down here but so far its been quiet. Maybe later I’ll get some visitors to my tent. Hope they like bread and maybe a cookie.

Camped behind a gas station in the little village of Portezuelo. Best internet I’ve had in Argentina so far. 🙂 There’s even a few picnic tables and shade trees to sleep under and the gas station is stocked with beer and food.

Stayed at a hotel (the only one) in Patquia last night. Sunday is by far the worst day to pull into a populated area because not only is everything closed for the 12pm – 6pm siesta, most things stay closed even after that. I didn’t really need anything I suppose but a beer after riding in 100F heat all day is nice.

Scenery is very much semi-arid with lot’s of thorny trees, thorny bushes, thorny plants and zero water. There are quite a few colorful birds but they are too fast for pics. Mostly parrots. Traffic is very light on the road. Extra water is needed thanks to high heat and no places to stock up. San Ramon did have a couple small stores and a restaurant. The stretch after La Rioja was deserted aside from a police checkstop halfway to Patquia. They might have some extra water.

Tossed out the 9dBi antenna on the wifi adapter I brought from Florida. Not sure what happened to it but it couldn’t pick up signals even in the same building. The other antenna works incredibly well and I use it 99% of the time anyway so it’s no loss.

Elevation Profile
GPX track

Local grass cutting service.

Local grass cutting service.

Lot's of memorials.

Lot’s of memorials.

Camping behind the gas station.

Camping behind the gas station.

Comments 3 Comments »