30 January 2011

Back on Ruta 3

In the morning I left the estancia and had a choice to make. I could backtrack northwest along the paved Ruta 75 to Ruta 3, or follow the winding, but unpaved, Ruta 1 to pick up Ruta 3 further south. It would be probably 60 or 70 km of uncertain ripio. I was concerned not just about having to push the bike but how a day of pushing could slow me down and affect the supplies of water and food I needed to make the service station at Garayalde. I also feared a rack failure from all the water weight I would be carrying across the jarring roads, as well as the potential for a sidewall blowout in my tires.

I said goodbye to Guido and Andrea and headed back along Ruta 75. The wind was blowing hard and it was a long difficult ride in the wrong direction of where I wanted to go. I hated to ride back a road I had already ridden, but it was not ripio.

It was a cold wind but the day was hot and when at last I made Ruta 3 and turned south I saw storm clouds on the horizon. The wind was really blowing and it was all head-down-gut-it-out riding into a part head-wind and cross-wind from the southwest. I figured with my supply levels I needed to put in at least 80 km to comfortably make Garayalde in a couple days if this wind continued.

By late day I was destroyed, my butt hurt from the ripio riding of the previous day, and my legs were heavy and hardly turned the pedals. The skies had darkened and the storms were not far off and I pulled off on the roadside behind a thorn bush and put up the tent and pulled over the rain fly. I got inside and ate a package of cookies and quickly fell asleep. I had gone about 80 km.

The wind awoke me, massive gusts of cold wind slamming into the tent and bending it over. I frantically got up and tried to buttress the tent walls with my body. Then the rain pounded the tent and the gusts increased in strength, smashing the tent walls around me and I was certain it would not hold. The tent poles would bend and break, or the plastic hooks that attached the tent to the poles would be torn from from the tent seams. I took at look at the time. It was dark outside but only 8pm. The sun had yet to go down. Usually when the sun went down after 9pm the winds died down. I planned to hold the tent up until then.

But it was after 10pm and the wind had not lessened. The temperature had dropped and it was cold and I put on my thermal layer and wool sweater. I was too tired to hold the tent up through the night and zipped up my sleeping bag around me and hoped it would withstand the battering. I packed my gear into my panniers so that if the tent was destroyed the rains would not soak my things. I had my rain suit ready beside me and fell asleep. The rain and winds would beat on the tent throughout the night, but the tent held.


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