to La Rioja

At last, onto Ruta 40, at least mostly.

The day’s track
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It’s raining heavily for a few hours daily, mostly late afternoon. We set off and sections of the road have been flooded out
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This is wine country, about which I know nothing. Riders often go on wine tours here but I’m not hugely interested, unfortunately. The vineyards fill the valley for miles
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Further on the road turns to dirt and we head through small villages
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We try to avoid riding through San Jose and get stopped at a mud channel. I walk it to see if it’s rideable but the mud nearly takes my boots off. About 15 feet of mud on each side and a channel. The way to take this would at speed but it would remain a % shot, hence backing off. One downside of being solo is having to scrape together some wisdom at times like this
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So we have to reverse course, loosing 40 minutes. A nice ride though
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For riders who want to avoid this
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An extremely strange building in San Jose
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With interesting nouveau or deco doors
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The next section of road, maybe 50 miles, was frequently washed out. We maybe had 10 or more of these nice small stream crossings
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One or two deeper than others. Always good juvenile fun
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For one section there were snowy peaks maybe 25 miles away
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Across plains
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And onto fast easy ripio
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Into some hills again. Great riding
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To a small village and a fantastic lunch spot in the shade. Heaven really
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Followed by more pretty escarpments
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I don’t post pictures of roadsides shrines (by families to people who’ve died on the road here) but in Argentina they’re very different. Bottles of wine and red flags are the tradition
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Through another river canyon
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And then problems. To the west rain clouds are building fast
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At this point I have a choice. My original route goes to Chilecito. But there’s a big town, La Rioja to the east about 75 miles, which is about the same distance so I head for it.

Outside of town it greens up.
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Through small hills
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Another very different landscape
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To a lake outside of town before the sun dropped behind the mountains
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I rode around town for a long time looking for a place for Lucinda and eventually found an evil hole. Not again, no toilet seat, no hot water, a bed that you kept clothed to sleep in.

It had been a very long day. 100 miles of washout, some ripio, another 200 miles of over 100 degree heat and I was wasted. But the streets were full of people and I wanted to see what was going on. Wandering around, the Plaza de Armas was filling up with people

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By 10 it was packed
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Then a procession of thousands walked through the town and around the Plaza to the cathedral carrying an icon
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Then it was in front of me
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This was the holy night of St. Nicholas, the protector and patron saint of travellers.

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