Cycling Chile/Argentina '04 | El Calafate Index Day 16 Day 18
      Day 17: Puerto Rubio -> Somewhere Ruta 40 54KM Wild, Wild, Westerlies

Not a peaceful night at all. The shed door creaked all night; generators in the back were really loud. Early in the morning, Brian kept hearing footsteps and saw things moving outside. Terrified, he peeked out and found a mule pacing in the wind.

We took off soon as we got up. No time and no water for coffee. By the sign of a river, we finally located ourselves on the map. There should be only 20km of ripio left before we would join the paved road and there was a sign for hostel on our map at the intersection.

Dreaming about hot coffee, enough water, and some kind of cake, we pushed on in the wind, now blowing from the side. The ripio was not terrible, but when we came to the intersection, we found nothing but a mangy outpost with no food, no services, only a cranky old man inside and some chew-up bones in a dog bowl outside. What a huge disappointment.

We badly needed some water. The old man agreed to offer us some. Only then that we realized we were already in Argentina and didn't have any Argentinian peso. We exchanged a bag of pasta and a wedge of chocolate to fill all our bottles.

The wind was simply brutal. We could not go over 6kph on flat pavement. Then 5kph. For hours we battled with wind I had never felt before. Brian tried to push as hard as he could to let me stay in his draft. Even so, I got blown to the side of the road many times. At one point, we were both in the lowest gear and could barely move above 3kph. Every hour or so, we would find a guard rail where we could duck behind the embankment for a bit of shelter from the wind. But every time we stopped, it got harder and harder to start.

About 28km after we got on the paved road, we came to a detour where traffic was directed left to a ripio. "No way." said Brian. "There is no way I'll ride ripio with this xxxxing wind." We knew it was paved all the way to Calafate, so, we pushed across the road barrier and onto the closed road.

At this point, the wind was so bad that I had to use my brakes to stop the bike from flying down-wind when I stopped. Riding was pretty much sheer torture. Less than 10k on the closed road, we saw another guard rail and stopped for a break. This time, neither of us wanted to move anymore. Even it was not even 4pm. The wind had totally consumed us.

We pitched our tent on the least windy spot down the slope. There were three worlds out there. Inside our tent, it was nice. Behind the embankment, it was not too windy but cold. And then you had the one up on the road, harsh, nasty, relentless wind at 100kph and very, very cold.

Once in a while, we could hear cars in the distance. The main road must not be far away. With water we got this morning, we made an instant meshed potato for a late lunch. Then, we shut the crazy windy world out of our tent, took a much needed nap, woke up, and were ready to eat again. Spaghetti sounds nice.

Index Day 16 Day 18