28 January 2011

On Ruta 75 (35 km to Punta Tombo)

I left the campground at Rawson early and went to the Oficina de Tourismo along the beach and received directions for how to get back onto Ruta 3. It satisfied me that I would not need to go back the way I had come, but I would need to fight a strong headwind. Before crossing the bridge over the Rio Chubut I stopped at a service station and the attendant told me the next stop before Comodoro Rivadavia would be a petrol station at Garaylde. It was at the half way point of the 390 kms between Comodoro Rivadavia and Trelew and there was nothing else.

Beach at Rawson

I had the water and food to make it but I also wanted to stop at the Punta Tombo preserve of 500,000 migrating penguins. My map indicated a long, winding provincial road back to the park east of Ruta 3. I had believed these roads were gravel and sand (ripio) but was told by the gas station attendant the way to Punta Tombo was now paved.

First sign for Ushuaia

I rode back into Trelew from the south to get to Ruta 3 and then beyond the city into a series of tough climbs through a bright, white sand gorge. It was rugged and the wind fought against me on the ascents and descents and then, up a final climb, pushing it hard in my lowest gear, it was flat again at the top for as long as I could see and the wind blew from across the plains even harder. My legs were still heavy from the day before and the riding was very difficult despite the road being well-shouldered and flat. The wind could crush your spirit when you were not at full strength and I was really suffering and grinding forward. The distances between kilometer markers felt longer than they had ever been.

I stopped at a large sign of a penguin and an arrow for Punta Tombo and a newly asphalted road to the east. The road did not appear on my map. I had planned to take a road much further ahead. A sign indicated it was just 60 km to the penguin colony.  A new road must have been put down and I turned onto it, grateful that the wind now a cross wind and somewhat behind me and with the sun going down I was now riding easier.

Sad Mountain

A car pulled up alongside me and a woman held out a glass to me. It was 7Up and we stopped in the middle of the road and she poured me cup after cup asking if I wanted more. The cold beverage tasted delicious and I could feel the sugar entering my bloodstream and she poured until the 2 liter bottle was finished and I thanked her.

The road descended slowly to the southeast past a lone mountain on the plains called Montaña Triste ("Sad Mountain") and the wind beat me back whenever the road turned south. I thought I might try for Punta Tombo but I did not know if there was a place for camping there. I pulled off at a sandy spot behind a ridge of trees at the base of a hill and set up camp. I figured I was 35 km from the penguins. I had a bag of cereal and a liter of milk and watched the sheep grazing on the hills behind me. By the time the sun was down I was asleep.


Riley said...


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