Having had less than three hours of sleep I did not feel good. I wasn’t sure I was heading the right way out of Chilecito and asked a man if I was on Ruta 40. He smiled and said that I was. But the road was heading west towards the mountains. It couldn’t be right. I asked another man and he said he didn’t know where Ruta 40 was. How could he not know? A couple of students didn’t know either. It was as if the town of Chilecito was conspiring against me. A woman with a cleft palate seemed to know but I couldn’t understand her. I rode down side streets just trying to head north, figuring eventually I would find Ruta 40 out of town and after being chased by a few dogs I did find it.
There was a long descent out of town into a valley between the Famatina and Velasco ranges of mountains. Then the road ascended gradually until the pueblo of Pituil. I stopped there and had a sandwich and coffee at the only kiosk in town.
Ruta 40 turned westward toward the Sierra de Velasco and after a gradual climb I began descending towards the mountains. At the base of these mountains was the town of Schagul and then a series of other town all set beside each other along Ruta 40 heading north. The zonda really began to blow down along this range and it was hard going.
I slowly made it to Alpasinche and turned off onto Ruta 60 westward. There was a stretch of ripio on Ruta 40 to the north past Belen that I had decided to avoid. Pictures I had seen of sandy portions of that road looked impassable for the Bike Friday.
Ruta 60 was slightly downhill but into the wind making any riding difficult and I pulled off the road behind some trees and pitched the tent. I could blow down this stretch tomorrow morning before the wind began. There was no need to struggle through it today. The zonda was still blowing when the sun went down. I heated water for a bowl of oatmeal and ate it with some bread and pate.