It’s raining heavily for a few hours daily, mostly late afternoon. We set off and sections of the road have been flooded out
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
Further on the road turns to dirt and we head through small villages
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
So we have to reverse course, loosing 40 minutes. A nice ride though
For riders who want to avoid this
An extremely strange building in San Jose
With interesting nouveau or deco doors
The next section of road, maybe 50 miles, was frequently washed out. We maybe had 10 or more of these nice small stream crossings
One or two deeper than others. Always good juvenile fun
For one section there were snowy peaks maybe 25 miles away
And onto fast easy ripio
Into some hills again. Great riding
To a small village and a fantastic lunch spot in the shade. Heaven really
Followed by more pretty escarpments
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
Through another river canyon
And then problems. To the west rain clouds are building fast
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.
Through small hills
Another very different landscape
To a lake outside of town before the sun dropped behind the mountains
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
By 10 it was packed
Then a procession of thousands walked through the town and around the Plaza to the cathedral carrying an icon
Then it was in front of me
This was the holy night of St. Nicholas, the protector and patron saint of travellers.