Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 171 (607km): Smell the wine

We eventually had to say goodbye to Carolina and her amazing peruvian cooking. So back onto Ruta 40 we go. We were happy to see that our tires were holding air. It was quite the manhandle to get those tires on the rims so Alberto was worried a tube may have been punctured.

The walking the tightrope technique is just as valid on the paved sections of Ruta 40 as it is on the unpaved sections. Until the road turned to dual lane highway it was ribbed for our riding pleasure. There was only a tiny track that was smooth. It was terrible. The bike felt like it was floating along the road as it wobbled, constantly hitting the ribs.
Nothing to see here
For the first time the sun wasn't as strong and we could completely see the mountains. The texture was amazing; they are very detailed and green.

We skipped out on Ruta 40 at San Juan and we were riding in wine country. I could smell the wine being made. There were trucks full of grapes and you could smell them as they drove along the road. It was a full-on assault of the senses.
Try the wine
Beautiful wine country
We were trying to follow the signs to La Rioja. We stopped for gas in Chepes and took a little break to have a snack. We checked our map and felt betrayed by the signs. It looked like they were sending us the long way around to La Rioja so we were going to skip it and take a different route. The problem is that the road selection now is vast but no route goes directly north. Then when we left the gas station we saw a sign for La Rioja so we followed it.
Lots of these signs in the North, which cracks me up since the Falkland Islands are predominantly inhabited by non-Argentinians
Everything was going well and then all I could see was blackness straight ahead of us. It was the darkest mass of clouds and rain I've seen on this entire trip. And then there was lightening too. It was crazy. Alberto assured me that the road would deviate from the path to the lightening. It started to rain a tiny bit and then yay, it deviated. We were going straight north and we were on the edge of the black clouds. To the left was blue sky and sunshine, above us and to our right was blackness. The nice thing was that the temperature dropped by like 10 degrees.
Staring into the blackness
Eventually the black clouds were long behind us and the temperature had risen back to 32 degrees. It was killer. We made it to La Rioja and followed a sign from the road for camping. The dirt road started off really sketchy, with garbage all over the place, but the camping turned out to be a huge facility and there was a German on a KTM near us. 
Camping; so hot
Our KTM neighbour; we were jealous of his set-up

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