Cycling The Globe

A Cycle Touring Expedition Around The World

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Day 1316, Tinogasta – Belén: Rough Roads

Posted by Thomas Andersen Posted on Jun - 01 - 2014

Distance: 72.68 km
Ride time: 6:24:04
Average: 11.35 km/h
Total: 26438 km

After I had passed the “Ruta Intransitable” sign yesterday I though it was slightly overstated. At least I had been able to cycle the first 20 km without problems. Today I would realize that the sign had some meaning after all.

In the valley the road had been wide but sandy. Now that it was climbing towards a pass it got very narrow and the surface continued to get worse and worse.

A few more turns up the road, and I had to give up cycling. I was now pushing the bike over the worst sections as I wondered when the last time a car or motorbike had been here. I could see some tracks from a small car, but I had not seen a single vehicle of any kind since I left Tinogasta yesterday afternoon.

As I continued to push my bike up towards the pass at 1875 meter I was no longer in doubt – this was the worst road I had ever cycled!

Descending on the other side of the pass was not much faster than coming up, as I still mostly had to push the bike. It was already mid afternoon, and the progress was much slower than I had anticipated. Unfortunately my water was now slowly running out as well. On the whole trip this was about the worst place this could happen, as I still hadn’t seen any cars for more than a day now.

The solution to the water problem came as I passed a small shrine for Difunta Correa. According to the legend, a young woman named Deolinda Correa’s husband was sent to war. The woman set off across the pampas with her child, looking for her husband. As she was running out of water, she set her son to her breast and, miraculously, he survived. Today Deolinda is remembered with small alters containing bottles of water alongside the roads in Argentina. I pass these alters almost everyday, and today I was happy to find 5 litres of water at the shrine. I don’t know how long time the water had been there, but I helped myself to a couple of liters and continued pushing the bike down the rough roads.

In the late afternoon I could finally see the next valley down there at the foot of the pass. The road improved somewhat, and an hour later I rejoined Ruta 40 and was back on a paved road again – partly relieved, but at the same time also with that strong “yes I did it” feeling.

In Belén I celebrated being back in civilization with an ice cream at the square. With all the pushing I’m not sure I saved much time taking the short cut through the mountains, but it had been a beautiful and very quiet two days out there.

Categories: Argentina
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4 Responses so far.

  1. Tony Graham says:

    Wow, what rough looking roads but what an adventure!

  2. Thomas says:

    Yes Tony.. those roads were tough, even on my Scott MTB. Glad I was not on the Bianchi though 🙂

  3. Tony Graham says:

    Thomas, I think I’d be pushing even my “mighty” Thorn Nomad over that track.
    Forgot to say earlier, what an amazing looking ice cream 😉

  4. […] save me 50 km of cycling, but I had to pay in terms of a rather horrible road. It was not as bad as this road I took in Argentina a few months ago, but it came […]