Shrinking The Planet – One Ride At A Time

Archive for August 8, 2012

Ride To The End Of The World – Fin del Mundo (Part 3)

Filled to the brim with Aurelia’s tasty empanadas, we wobbled over to the bikes for another few hours riding.  We were quickly on the gravel and entered a national forest which winded its way alongside some beautiful mountains.  We were at times completely covered by canopies of trees that made it appear that it was early evening as we traversed patches of mud from rain that hadn’t dried from who knows how long ago.  Still it was great riding and the air smelled clean and fresh if not a bit humid even in the chill of the shadows.

We bumped along happily until we hit our first stretch of construction.  The road was completely closed and what little traffic there was sat and waited while the graders, backhoes, loaders and dump trucks did their work.  Some of the delays were quite short, just a minute or two, others were half an hour long or so.  The work being done was quite impressive with large stone walls being created by sorting, fitting and piling rocks into “cages” of gigantic chicken wire like boxes.  The rocks were well placed and there were few gaps between them.  It looked as though they had been cemented together when in fact they had only been sorted and piled into the wire.

By the way, if you don’t know, click on any one of the pictures in the gallery below and it will open that picture into a full size picture and then you can click your way through the remainder of the pictures in either direction in full size.

What is really nice about being on a long adventure ride is that you really don’t “have” to be anywhere other than to get to the place where you are going to lay your head for the night.  So it was no big deal for us to wait for the construction to finish.  We had the opportunity to chat with other folks waiting in line and walk around a bit, take in the sights and enjoy the fresh air.  So these little “impositions” in actuality increased the adventure of the trip somewhat.  We met new people and saw sights that we might have bypassed if we had not been held up by the delays.

When we had cleared the last construction delay of the day, we were almost at the end of the forest and had the opportunity to turn the speed up a bit.  The problem was that it was extremely dusty.  Plumes of solid grey arose from the bikes tires and when a car or a truck (think construction vehicle) came from the opposite direction, it was a complete grey out for a significant length of time.

The dust rose in giant plumes with cauliflower heads that rose quickly and seemed to hang in front of you refusing to return to the earth from which they had sprung.  Entering them was like diving into a vat of grey water.  At first it yielded to your presence as your body left its impression on the face of the cloud.  However, almost immediately, the cloud would recover its form and envelope you in a murky and misty grey nothingness where forward vision was all but lost.  Our best bet for forward navigation was to look slightly forward and down for the road surface was about the only clear sight to be seen with everything else appearing only as ghostly shadows.  Not a pleasant thought when you know that construction vehicles may be coming from the other direction.

Luckily for us, the heavy dust continued for only 10 miles or so, and the road turned more to the hard gravel surface it had been earlier in the day.  That was a good thing since it was already getting later in the afternoon , the sun was starting to obscure vision and we’d rather not end up riding in the dark.  We had come across too many wild and roaming cattle, horses, goats, sheep and dogs to feel comfortable riding with such reduced visibility.

We were determined to get to our stop for the night before dark but not so determined as to dismiss the beauty of the surrounding area.  We were crossing a modern concrete and steel bridge when we noticed the old wooden bridge that it had replaced.  It had been a multiple span bridge and the center span had long since fallen into the river.  But the remaining spans framed by the mountains in the background and the still water, created a picture opportunity that could not be missed.  So we stopped and got off the bikes to take some pictures of the awesome sight before us.  While we stood on the modern technology of the concrete and steel bridge, the beauty and grace of the old bridge still reflected its brilliance upon the land.

After some oohing and ahhhing, we were back on the bikes only to come across a bridge that combined the two mediums of the new and old bridge we had recently passed.  This one was composed of concrete and steel, yet had wooden decking and so combined the two eras together.  Once again it made for a nice picture and of course we had to get one of us crossing the bridge over the River Mayo.

This day was becoming rather memorable for its sights and lack thereof in the dust.  But sunlight was indeed running out and we needed to get to our room for the night in San Carlos de Bariloche.  We did not know what our little room was going to look like, and when we finally arrived it was nearly dark so we weren’t able to see what our digs for the night looked like from the outside.  Let’s just say we were not disappointed.  We’ll tell you all about it in Part 4.