Pacific to Atlantic

Lucinda and I had to go back Buenos Aires to prepare for a big flight west. Although you’d think this would be a shorter thing to do from Santiago, Lucinda’s welfare is my top priority. There’s a freight forwarder in BA who has a great reputation for handling bikes well so we went there, despite the additional hassle.

So here’s the route we took, right across South America (and thanks Dan for showing me how to group these tracks)
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Not many pictures or story for this very long track. There’s an explanation at the bottom of the post.

The first leg is back over the Christo Redentor pass between Chile and Argentina. We’ve been here before but it’s colder this time.

Out of Santiago we climb into the Andes

This time we climb rather than descend the famous switchbacks. It’s like climbing a wall. Poor contrast in this pic, you’ll probably have to click on it

Serious road engineering. There’s been progress since we were last here

To the border, but there’s a problem. Both countries immigration/aduana are now in the same building. Last time they were miles apart. I need a gap where neither border can see me for a few minutes. This will present difficulties down the road, but nothing that can’t be finessed. I can’t explain what yet, but nothing too weird

Through the equally famous tunnel. It goes the whole way under the mountain ahead

Through smaller tunnels

Through valleys

And across the plains to Mendoza.

I haven’t done a restaurant review before. But I wandered into this small place and had my best meal in 20 months. The food has been not-so-hot for a long time. I’ll explain another time. Three courses and a bottle of Torrontes for 350 pesos, about $37 US. A lot of money here. Stop here at GPS coordinates S32 53.508 W68 50.861

The ride between Mendoza and San Luis was boring. And it rained. I didn’t take a single photo.

Just outside of San Luis there’s the small town of Potrero de los Funes in some hills which appear surprisingly in the great plain of central Argentina. You see that little road here? It’s a racetrack

Lucinda has never been on a track before and wants us to try it. It’ll  be romantic, she says.

The track at Potrero de los Funes looks like this

Stuck in the middle of anywhere, 100’s of miles from anything, the Potrero de los Funes Circuit, a 6.3km track was inaugurated in 2008, and hosts local Formula Renault, TC2000 and FIA GT Championships, among other stuff. So it’s a serious circuit. From above it looks like this

And on race day it looks like this

We get up early the first day

We roll out onto the track. Take a couple of laps warming her tires up.

Start in pole position
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Into the first corner nice and easy
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Out onto a long stretch
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Approaching the next right
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A left
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Etc etc

Race to the finish
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Then on to Cordoba.

Up into cold mountains

Pretty ridge running

A section of track
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There were huge Cotoneasters roadside

And a good orange shrub I couldn’t ID

Pampas on the hillsides. Normally they’re on the flats

A small Silene

The summit was a bare rocky plain that ran for a few miles

With small ponds everywhere

And down to rich green pastures

Lucinda poses in the middle of a roundabout

We arrived late into Cordoba and left early so no pictures.

As it happens my Garmin GPS has been a nightmare for the last few days. I do all the tricks I’ve learned over the last 20 months and nothing I can do can bring it back to sanity. I won’t bore you with the details but despite Garmin insisting it’s not a hardware problem I’ll be replacing it down the road. In the interim I have to use it as a map, not a GPS. Here’s an example of it’s routing skills. The road is in red, the purple is the recommended route. Nuts

Or a particularly bad moment. It wants us to follow the purple line! So we ignore it and follow the hard map background, just like stone-age times.

Nothing but grief from this useless thing since it first lost its mind back in Savanna, Georgia. And Garmin support is useless.

The next two days were a fast ride over flat farmland through Rosario to Buenos Aires

This is one of the biggest roads in Argentina. I would never normally ride on such a thing

But truth be told, my mind has moved beyond South America. We’ve been here long enough and we want a change.

So I take this enormous road and let my thoughts wander to wondering where in the world I’ll find my next adventure. Lucinda and I have a much clearer idea about the big picture now. It’s taken me a long time to come to some conclusions about why I’m doing this, but the picture is clearer. I can now see more than just where, I’m beginning to see why and how.

Adding to this clearer picture is the realization that Lucinda and I are riding well together. I haven’t dropped her once in a technical riding situation in South America. I’ve dropped her hitting a traffic barrier outside Lima (I had a similar surprise in Leon, Nicaragua) and we’ve had the standard drop manuevering-at-walking-speed in sand or mud when I’ve put my foot down to find nothing there.

So combined with some new ideas about goals, we’re in a happy place right now.

Or we thought we’d finished here, but a nice thing happened on our way to do a bike/paperwork chore: Uruguay.

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