South on the famous Ruta 40
In Argentina you don't find coke machines... Hot water Mate machine.
Peaceful camp spot in Lago Roca near El Calafate.
Turquoise water of Lago Argentino
The long stretch of this famous road starts from way north of Argentina close to the border of Bolivia and goes all the way along the Andes in the Pampa to Rio Gallegos in the south. Almost 80 % of it is unpaved and down south its a challenge for adventurers on 2 wheels.
I rode a long section of it up north from Salta to Mendoza. Then continued to ride it from San Carlos de Bariloche south. You always here stories about this famous road when you run into cyclist or motor bikers. - The wind!! is the main thing. Just like in Bolivia, the sandy and rocky sections put you to test with your ability of riding. But here...down south there is an even harder factor to deal with, it is the famous Patagonia winds!
Winds down here come mostly from the west - northwest and blows at an average of 100 kms per hour! If you're lucky you will have some coming from behind you, but when it's a cross wind.... it is the hardest riding you can imagine. The roads being "ripio" - gravel - sure don't help making it a test of your ability. I have sailed 10 000 kms of sea in 1998 from Thailand to Greece under hurricane winds, tacking left and right, leaning at 45 degrees while sailing. I never imagined I would be doing the same on my motorbike! The winds are so strong that you are constantly leaning at 30 to 45 degree angle. If you're not careful! it will throw you right off the road!!! good thing there is barely any traffic. Even taking a piss is a challenge!! no matter where you aim... you will get it. And of course I ran out of gas in the worst places when I needed to refill with my reserves, half of the gas would end up on me or all over my bike. So after 3 days of this... you end up smelling like piss and gas... I call my new Patagonia perfume...
I Left Esquel after an amazing week of climbing in La Buitrera. The road was great, nice pavement, but the winds where warming me up for the south. My plan was to ride the 1150 kms stretch to El Calafate. The more south I rode, the more challenging it got. Gas is another issue, you need to carry extra gas for the long sections of no mans land. Some as long as 400kms with nothing in between! Not a place to run out of gas or break down. But thanks to my good old DR, it didn't let me down and didn't crash! (I've heard many stories of other riders crashing their bikes on this road!)
One morning after leaving my camp. The winds were calm so I was psyked to leave early to get going before the winds picked up... but wasn't too long before the winds came.... so long for the calm, it doesn't happen down here! Down the road - now 170kms from nothing to the north or nothing to the south. I noticed a truck stopped in the middle of the road. I stopped to see 2 guys sleeping inside. They had lost the transmission or something, the back wheel was all bent sideways. Nothing to do, they couldn't drive anymore. It was also a rental truck!! 2 Israelis stuck in the middle of no man land! One guy had gone to the next town - 170 kms away to find help while the 2 others slept in the truck. I offered them some food, they they told me they had enough. Wished them good luck and rode off in the wind. Poor guys, I wonder if they are still there today! One thing is Ruta 40 isn't a place to get stuck.
I managed to make it safe and sound to El Calafate without eating too much dirt or crashing. I'm now in the heart of the Patagonia, to the north the famous Fitz Roy peaks of El Chalten and to the south Torres Del Paine. El Calafate is a beautiful little town on the edge the amazing turquoise Lago Argentino.
I will be trekking a week in Torres del Paine before riding to the end of the road in Ushuaia, then ride back up to spend some time in El Chalten climbing and trekking before making my way back to the north... one more time on ruta 40 until I cross over to Chile to ride the Carretera Austral - route 7.
So plenty of adventures to come.... stay tuned!
One thing you appreciate on route 40.. is these nice small stretches of pavement!
My camp outside Rio Mayo... a town in the middle of nowhere. Sheltered behind this small wall to stay away from the wind.
Even the cows get blown upside down!!
Long stretches of dirt - rocky road, and 100 mile per hour winds!!
I wouldn't be surprised the wind blew this thing in the fence and killed it! One of many strange things you see on route 40.
The only thing missing in this photo... is the wind!!
I ran into this Belgium guy on his bicycle riding all the way south to north on route 40. Talk about traveling light!!! He told me the night before where he slept, someone had stolen his bike - the only thing he has! - and eventually he found it in the bush.