Finally on the road after our fuel and money crisis we continued our journey. still on Ruta 40 heading north. No surprises there.
We knew that we were approaching a stretch of road that was unpaved for over 50km. Neither of us were looking forward to it but Clair in particular was not.
We didn’t know we were heading for one of the hardest days of all. Having finally gotten out of Buta Ranquil, hours later than planned, we were once again faced with riding through the hottest part of the day. There is next to no shade to be had so once moving, the only option is to keep on moving. We had planned to get going early because of we knew we were going to be slow on the ripio section.
However the road leading to the rough bit was quite nice and so we made good progress. Once we hit the ripio though we found it to be some of the worst we had ridden. The washboard was awful and felt like it was shaking the bikes to an early demise. I later realised that I had forgotten to soften the suspension. I had set it harder for speed on the tarmac. Sorry Clair!!!!
We pressed on, keeping 30 – 40 kmh up though, thinking that a maximum of two hours would see us through. 15 km along we were flagged down by another biker, an Argentinian who looked exhausted and asked us how much further he had to go. In return we asked him and he said 50km. 50km? we had done 15, the map said maybe 54km in total. Oh well, we carried on. the road got worse and the wind picked up as it was getting into mid afternoon, helpfully adding another dimension to the difficulty. Clairs elbows were bad. I can always tell how bad by how evasive she is in answering my questions about them.
At 54 km, the ripio turned into roadworks which explained the other bikers 50km statement. Initially it wasn’t too bad but as we went along it became mile after mile of 6 inch deep gravel. We were getting slower and slower and needing to take more breaks.
Clair had reached her physical limit, she was in agony but she had no choice but to continue and so she did. I have to admit that when the going gets tough she really can get going. I could hear the pain in her voice, every bump, every unexpected twist to the bars gave her another dose of agony. I think what made it harder was not knowing when it would end. I am so proud of her.
Having started the day as we did, late, then getting onto the tough part at the worst time of day we probably had the hardest day we have had. Eventually it did end though and after nearly 70km, it had taken us four hours to complete the gravel section.
Clair often points out that one of the ways we are very different is that if we do something hard, I get a great sense of self satisfaction from it where as she is just glad it’s over and doesn’t want to repeat it and when things get tough, like any couple, we can end up bickering and arguing. Helmet intercoms help with this! I highly recommend them for allowing any argument to keep going.
At the end of the roadworks though, I certainly felt an immense sense of satisfaction. The bikes were ok, we were ok, our marriage was reasonably ok. However, when the road finally reverted back to tarmac, we were now faced with a hard wind from our left so speed was still down as we gritted our teeth.
There was a small town, Bardas Blancas only a few km further on and I knew there was a hostel but we had no cash and couldn’t stop there so we still had another 70 km to Malargue.
On entering Malargue we were hot and tired. Clair has found a hostel but when we got there they had no double bed, only bunks. Somehow we turned this lack of preferred habitation into a blazing row in front of the owners and then I had a flounce and pulled my ‘hard done to face’ and rode off to find a hotel.
Marriage is hard! I think I prefer gravel roads and mountains!
Oh well. It all worked out ok in the end, the hotel was very nice and they had secure parking for the bikes but the moral of the story is to make sure you have enough cash. I wonder if we will learn from it.
Oh, don’t lose your Kindle reader. That’s another lesson to learn……