01 February 2011

Comodoro Rivadavia

There was no wind at first light and I packed quickly and got on the road. It was cold again and I wore my leg warmers, booties, wool sweater, thermal layer and yellow rain jacket. This must be the start of the colder temperatures, I thought.

I wanted to ride hard before the wind awoke and to camp within 45 kilometers of Comodoro Rivadavia. It would leave me an easier day tomorrow, even with strong winds, to make the city. My knees were sore from pounding it out into the wind and a saddle sore caused by the ripio was producing a sharp pain, but I was riding strong and turning it hard on my large chain ring.

I was pumping out 10 kilometer blocks at a pace I had not done for many days and before 10am I had gone 80 kilometers. There remained over 100 kilometers to Comodoro and the wind had begun as a light breezing crosswind from the west. I did another 20 kilometers and stopped at an abandoned building, a pueblo marked on the map as Pico Salamanca. I sat against a cement wall and ate my last apple, finished a package of cookies and drank some water and unrolled my ground pad and took a nap.

The wind woke me and it was really blowing. It would be a tough 40 kilometers to reach my goal for the day. The map indicated Ruta 3 veered westward into the wind but then, 40 kilometers out of Comodoro Rivadavia, it turned back southeasterly. The wind then would be nearly a tailwind. There might even be a descent into the city. I began to consider that if I could struggle through the next 40 kilometers I might catch a tailwind and maybe a descent, and I could make Comodoro today and eat dinner in a restaurant there and take a hot shower at a hotel and tomorrow I would not have to ride. These ideas inspired me and I hopped on the bike with renewed vigor. I could fight the wind another 40 kilometers. I had done it before.

It was hard riding, but I was accustomed to it now, and head down, sipping water every 10 kilometers and eating cookies, I counted off the kilometers until the road turned. At the turn I had the wind and upshifted to my large chain ring and began to push it. It was not a pure tailwind but it was close enough and then ahead the road dropped into a gorge out of the scrub and out onto a windblown dusty, scrub-less plain.

I was pushing it hard and around a turn the flat plain broke into a series of deep gorges and I could see the ocean beyond and the plain had eroded to form mountains. I upshifted to my highest gear and was flying down the steeply dropping road, excited by the view and the descent, passing trucks, and gunning it hard for Comodoro.

The descent was long and fast and lasted over 30 kilometers and I coasted into the outskirts of the city and pedaled over the smaller hills, the mountains on my right, the ocean to my left. Then I was riding in heavy traffic on a narrow shoulder along a cliff that fell off to the water, cars and trucks speeding by me, until I rode into the city center.

Comodoro Rivadavia is an expensive city by Argentine standards as a result of the oil work that happens in the area and the cheapest lodging I could find was a room with a shared bath at a hospedaje for 100 pesos a night. I booked two nights and went and found a cash machine and sat down at an Italian restaurant and ordered a pizza, a salad and a large Quilmes. It felt wonderful to have cash in my pocket and access to so much food that I could pay someone to prepare for me, and that I would not need to ride the bicycle tomorrow. I ate quickly and felt happily dazed from the beer. I could have eaten more, but was too tired, too tired even to take a shower when I returned to the hospedaje, and I went to sleep. I had ridden 185 kilometers.


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