25 January 2011

On Ruta 3 (65 km to Sierra Grande)

It was cold at dawn. It was sunny and the wind was blowing a gale out of the southeast. To the south there were dark clouds. The storms from the night before had remained in the area. I packed up and paid for the two nights and rode out of town.

It was like riding into a dust storm with the wind and I wore sunglasses to protect me eyes but I could barely control the bike. On Ruta 3 the wind was blowing part head wind and cross wind. Huge gusts would catch the bike and throw me off the road down the gravel embankment, or catch the backend and begin to push the bike out from under me. I rode slowly but the wind was devastating.

It was difficult dangerous riding with just the wind, but then the trucks would pass and whip up huge streams of swirling air that would pull you towards them and then push you away. I was trying to ride a narrow sliver of pavement along the white line of the roadside, but I couldn’t hold it. At least the wind was blowing me down the embankment instead of into traffic, but the trucks made it too dangerous and I pulled off and rode on the gravel shoulder. It was harder riding but I had more room to fight the wind on the gravel and I did not have to worry about the trucks. Now the wind gusts pushed down the embankment and into the scrub.

Then I hit the storms. A few drops were quickly a driving rain and with nothing to prop the bike up against while I dug out my rain gear the wind knocked the bike over and down the embankment into the sand. The rear panniers fell off and I was covered in mud by the time I got my full rain suit on and got the bike loaded. Any part of the bike that wasn’t muddy soon was when I got back on the road and the trucks began to pass and blast me with muddy water.

It was very challenging riding but I was warm and dry inside my rain gear and after I had slowly gone 15 km the wind blew the storm north and the sun came out and it was warmer. The wind died down some. It was still tough riding but I felt more comfortable and was able to pick up the pace. But I was exhausted.

I saw a good camping spot off behind some thicker scrub and thorn bushes where my tent would not be visible from the road. I pulled off and put up the tent and cooked a soup for dinner and ate a peach and some cookies. I had gone 70 km. I figured I had another 60 km to Sierra Grande which I planned to do in the morning before lunch. I would get on the road early and ahead of the wind.


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