Almost, but not Quite: Buta Ranquil – Zapala

Tuesday 7 November

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Tuesday started foggy, but soon enough the fog lifted and the sun was out for a bit. Most of the time it stayed cloudy.

Today would be a big climbing day, so soon enough I found myself on a decently sized hill. After climbing that I descended to a small valley, only to start climbing a bigger hill soon after. On this first downhill I met a German couple going the other way. After a brief chat about our routes and what lay ahead, we continued on our way. The man wished me “gute Reise und immer Rückenwind”. I wished them the same, but noted we couldn’t both get it.

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A Rite of Passage: Malargüe – Buta Ranquil

Friday 3 November

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Friday’s ride is relatively short at 65 km, but it includes a climb up to about 2000 meters before descending to Bardas Blancas. Indeed the climb started soon enough, but it wasn’t too hard. There were some steep sections interleaved with easier climbs and even some downhill. The weather was sunny with little wind and the scenery was very beautiful.

The only downside is that I forgot to take the big bottle of apple juice out of the fridge in my apartment. I later learned that I also left my shampoo in the shower there. And the next day I lost my camera’s lens cap in my room. All not super important and/or easy to replace, but maybe I should pay more attention.

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A Shortcut to What? Mendoza – Malargüe

Sunday 29 October

On Sunday morning I had a lazy start. I had made a pretty big mess of my room over two busy rest days. I had bought some new stuff that needed to find a place and I wanted to reorganise some other things. Thus packing my bags took longer than usual, as I’m normally pretty efficient about putting everything in its fixed place. I’ve had enough practice after all.

Then I noticed that the rear light on the bike wasn’t working and I tried to fix it. I thought my fix had failed, but later I saw the light was actually working. Tape and tie wraps for the win! All in all it was 10:45 when I left.

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Take it Easy: San Juan – Mendoza

A few days before reaching San Juan the bite valve of my Camelbak broke when a dog was a little too interested in my bike and gear. It generally still works fine, but occasionally it leaks and I may lose a lot of water. Thankfully that hasn’t happened on the road so far, but it did at the end of the day. In San Juan I went looking for a replacement. I tried two outdoor stores and a bike shop and they all had the same option: buy a whole new bladder of a local brand. This wasn’t what I wanted, so I just tried to glue it shut and hope that will stick – literally.

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Cuarenta Is Sixty Six: La Rioja – San Juan

That sounds like an extremely bad Spanish lesson, cuarenta means forty after all. But it’s not a language lesson, this is about culture. More on that later. First we go back to the events following my arrival in La Rioja.

Tuesday 17 October

The first few hours of Tuesday afternoon I spent in my air-conditioned room, updating the blog and taking care of some other online business. I left at 16:00, since I hadn’t eaten since the ice cream before noon. As soon as I walked out I was hit by the oppressive heat, so I quickly walked to a rather fancy bar, where I had an excellent burger and a large beer.

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Here Comes the Sun: S.M. de Tucumán – La Rioja

Friday 13 October

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Friday started at 10 after a very meager breakfast at the hostel, which is normal here. A cup of tea, a glass of carbonated water and a few small pieces of bread is usually all you get.

It took about 20 km to get out of town with much stop and go at traffic lights. The Ruta Provincial was initially quite busy, later less so. The ride is easy so far. It was still cloudy in the morning, but the sun came out a bit in the afternoon. The predictions say that the coming days will be very hot.

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Born to Be Wild: S.S. de Jujuy – S.M. de Tucumán

Sunday 8 October

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Sunday was not my day. The day started by trying to find my way out of San Salvador de Jujuy. I had to cross a busy highway interchange to get to the road I wanted to take, Ruta 66. After crossing some foot bridges I finally got where I wanted to be. Initially there were collector roads running parallel to the highway on either side, so I rode those.

Then suddenly they stopped. The highway was a busy motorway at this point and it didn’t look very attractive to ride. I looked on my map and saw another road going in the same direction, so I took that. This was a good gravel road and all was fine.

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A New Hope: La Quiaca – S.S. de Jujuy

The bus ride from Uyuni to Villazón was long and uncomfortable. I wasn’t told that we had to change buses once in the middle of the night and the road was extremely bumpy, so sleeping wasn’t really an option. We got dropped off at the new Villazón bus terminal at 3 in the morning. Thus I had to wait for the sun to rise and also for the border crossing to open at 6.

Thursday 5 October

I arrived at the border shortly after 6, and after exchanging my remaining Bolivianos for Argentinian Pesos the crossing was easy. The lady at the counter asked me where I was going. Looking at the big sign I could see from there, I answered “Erm, Ushuaia?” The sign read:

a La Quiaca
Ushuaia 5121 km

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South America 2017-2018: The Plan

After successfully completing my PhD I’m going on a bike tour in South America. I fly to La Paz, Bolivia on Tuesday the 19th of September and I will return from Buenos Aires on Thursday the 11th of January of 2018. This means I have almost 4 months in South America.

What happens in between is still open, though the plan is to cycle south from La Paz, visiting among others:

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