16 January 2011


The storms lasted through the night and it was raining when I awoke. The mosquito population had grown at the top of the tent inside the rainfly and hundreds were now also perched along the tent shell. I started the killing. I crushed mosquito after mosquito between the tent wall and the rain fly. Then I slapped the sides the tent, drawing down the mosquitoes massed at the top, and I crushed each of them. I killed mosquitoes for a half hour and after I had killed them all, my tent covered in crushed mosquitoes, the rains had let up.

I packed my panniers inside the tent and put on my full rain suit (jacket, pants, and booties), more to protect me from the mosquitoes I knew were waiting outside than any coming rain, and got out to take the tent down. Hundreds of mosquitoes attacked my face and I swatted at them and ran around my camp site as I worked. I packed the tent soaking wet and quickly loaded the bike and rode out of the balneario.

Dressed in my baggy yellow rain suit I must have looked ridiculous and the towns people that were awake stared and would not talk to me as I passed. At the edge of town before the intersection with 51 I saw a pack of 15 dogs. They had not seen me yet and I looked down the sidestreets thinking I might go around them, but I saw only muddy dirt roads. The pack had split to either side of the street and I picked up a head of speed and then one saw me and began his chase, and then a few others, but I had too much speed going and I broke through before the pack had decided to give chase as a unit, and with my heart racing and my legs shakey, I rode through to the rotonda and back onto 51 towards Bahia Blanca.

I stopped at a petrol station for a coffee and a hot proscuitto and cheese sandwich. A woman approached my table and we began to talk and in fact her brother lived in Nice, France. She spoke good French and liked to speak it and I understood her perfectly but when I tried to talk my responses came out in a mixture of Spanish and French. She gave me the address of a hostel in western Patagonia that her cousin operated and I said that I would try to get there.

I had seen hills beyond Coronel Pringles to the south and back on the road I was riding towards them. They were rolling hills to start but then the wind picked up from the south and I was downshifting to ascend them. The hills steepened and the wind strengthened and now the ascents were more difficult and I had to drop a chainring.

My right quad was bothering me and I hoped to rest on the descents but because of the wind the descents became tougher than the ascents. The wind would hit me with a blast at the top of the hills and was ferocious on the downside blowing up from the valleys, and I was unable to coast down and even had to downshift from my ascending gear to fight down the hill. And the wind would only gather in strength through the day.

Lago Paso Piedras

I rode over 10 hours and covered 86km to Cabildo. At the end a cross wind pushing me out into the road made it almost too dangerous to control the bike with the trucks passing. I had a Coke at a hamburger stand at the toll both befor Cabildo and the man there smiled and told me this wind was nothing. It would be double in Patagonia, he said. 80km south of here I would learn about another sort of wind. 

el viento

I rode into Cabildo but it was Sunday evening and nothing was open in the little town. There was no municipal park to camp in and I rode back out and found a dirt path back from the main road and set up my tent there. I had two bags of cookies, a box of juice, and a lot of water, but I was too tired to eat much and I went to sleep.


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