Day 25? #Rockovuelveacasa

Whew! The ride is complete – I was going to to say it’s over, but that doesn’t seem right. I’ve been bitten by the cycling bug so it will continue.

I’m a trekker. I like long adventures. 800km walks across Spain, 1400km rides across Argentina, 13,000km road trips through Mexico and Central America… many times these treks are personal pilgrimages. The allow me to be introspective and identify things in my life that need change or acknowledgement. Sometimes that realization doesn’t come until after the trip, but in this case it came fairly early. With this realization, I want to acknowledge a major part of my life – my wonderful wife @Ani who has been by my side through thick and thin for 30 years. A truly wonderful person whom I very much love and appreciate. THANK YOU Ani ❤️

Yesterday was the culmination of our trip. Guille had organized a parilla for us. It’s not just a BBQ, it’s a community event. Good food, good people, good stories throughout the night. I lasted till 0300 and gave up. Slept till 1030 which was a great reward for finishing the ride.

One thing I noticed about the ride vs training was the condition of my legs. I trained usually 50km four times a week with one ride getting longer and longer until I hit 100km. My legs constantly burned – for days after a ride. This wasn’t the case with the trip. My legs never hurt – even though I was carrying an extra 30kg of weight.

Another thing with training, is that I trained with temps between 15° and 23°. The coolest we rode with in the trip was 25° up to 41°. The heat was killer – especially on the hills. Not anything I could have trained for due to the seasonal difference.

End result is that the final days of the trip were a breeze – even though they were the longer days and we did nine days without a break, I tired but not exhausted at the end of the day.

The main thing I am recovering from now is the lack of sleep. There were days I only got 3 1/2 hours of sleep, and it was noticed on the ride.

I also learned what I like and don’t like about bike touring. While I am generally a destination oriented person, this long of a ride in such a short amount of time, and the high heat, didn’t allow for much tourism. We were unable to deviate from the route to see attractions due to schedule, heat and weather. I would like a more relaxed ride next time where there’s no real timeline and that would allow me to deviate as needed to see something of interest or just relax in a beautiful setting.

I have an idea of what I’d like my text ride to be and it’s about 1850 miles. Maybe something I’d do in 2021.

Here are some of my favorite pics of this trip – some of which have been posted before and some which have not.

There might be other trip posts but this is probably a closing post. Pizote Adventures will go back to my other project of my bus conversion project which is almost complete to a useable state.

Thanks for everyone following and providing comments and suggestions.

Day 26: #rockovuelveacasa

Today is our last day of travel from Puerto Iguazú to Buenos Aires. Just under 1400km.

We left on Jan 4th and arrive today. We stayed at a friends house last night in Campana and made record (for us) time to Tigre – 53km in 2hrs 10min. This included: ANOTHER FLAT for Guille on the same tire. 😂

We’re now enjoying a beer on the river bank looking out over all the rich folks and their yaghts.

We do have a schedule today – we have a parilla scheduled for 1930 tonight in BsAs. We have about 30km to go. That’s five hours – seems we could walk that.

The plan is to take the riverbank all the way to BsAs and just relax.

Day 21-23-: #rockovuelveacasa

1269km down – 73km or so to go – one more day

We made it to Gualeguaychú without getting dumped on by the storm but we were definitely soaked through due to the mist from precipitation and trucks passing us. The sand on the roads made a mess of the bikes and we spent the next day sitting by the river, having a low key beer, bike maintenance, laundry, and moving to a hotel closer to the ruta. Gualeguaychú is a city that I would return to, seems to be a nice place for relaxing, and artisanal beers.

Guille got a flat so that had to be remedied. The next morning, we didn’t need to set our alarm as at 0600 on the dot, the new tube blew and woke us all up.

Another tube goes into the rear tire.

We travel to a small Regional shop just south of Ceiba where we were greeted by 13 too many obnoxious dogs that barked for the sake of barking and didn’t stop. Susana the proprietor gives us stay to spend the night under an eve so we pitch our tents 20’ from the ruta – non-stop road noise. I didn’t sleep much.

The next morning (this morning) we wake up and I’m in a particularly foul mood do to not sleeping and we laugh it off. Then we discover Guille’s rear tire is flat again.

20km down the road, Guille’s rear tire went flat again. Down to his last tube. Before he could put his tools away, it blows. I give him my last tube (I actually gave him all of my tubes on the trip – yay for tubeless). We make the rest of the trip in record time to Campana in the province of Buenos Aires. We are 73ish km from the finish.

We spent a leisurely afternoon in the park, drank some beer, slept and went out for pizza.

One more day and we will have finished the biking portion of the trip.

Day 19-20: #rockovuelveacasa

It’s been a run of days and a lot of kilometers. Some highlights:

As in many countries, there are roadside attractions to try and get tourists to stop and part with their hard earned cash. Argentina is not an exception. They have what are called Regionales or local handicrafts, art and food. For the last 250km or so we have been passing large yellow and black signs advertising preserved meats (of all sorts) for a place called Regionales Maria. We finally got there and were… underwhelmed. There were better places on the road that we saw. Here they just sold Knick-knacks and preserved meats. Nothing else for the kiddos to be entertained with.

We stopped in Concordia to visit with some friends of Guille. Absolutely fantastic people. Friendly, fun to talk with and hospitality above and beyond.

The idea was to spend a down day in Concordia but there was a storm approaching and the next two legs were long with few places to stay in between. We left Concordia the next morning and avoided all rain. Then big rain events were forecast for the following two days. From Concordia to Colón was the longest day yet at 118km, and quite hot in the later part of the day.

From Colón, our next stop was to be (still might be) Gualeguaychú. Another 100km day. But the forecast was rain all day long. We looked outside and the clouds were high but dark skies on the horizon. We decided to make a run for it and travel 30km to Concepción de Uruguay and see what the weather was like when we got there. We got some droplets on us but made good time. The last 5km was a great thunder and lightning show. The last 500m we got dumped on but you couldn’t tell the difference between the sweat and rain on our clothes. Taking refuge at a gas station, we are currently waiting out the storm. Right now there seems to be a respite but a heavy cell is on its way. It might skirt us to the north which will allow us to continue on to Gualeguaychú – where we will have a down day as we’ve been going for seven days straight now.

Day 18: #rockovuelveacasa

After the storm, I realized I was missing my hat. I had to go searching for it. Lucky for me, I found it about 50m in a field caught up on some grass. The wind had blown it off the bike.

All of my panniers, the bike and worst of all the chain were coated in a sandy mud that was blown up and onto the bike in the storm. Even though the bike was under cover, it got everywhere. We had to do some maintenance and clean the chains and wipe down the bikes, but the panniers need to get a thorough cleaning – later.

We got to our destination at a service station and I found out that there was a hotel there (Guille wasn’t telling me about it 🤨). So I got the room. We showered, did laundry and promptly crashed for a three hour siesta.

It was a good day and we had favorable winds after I asked Gouchito Gil for winds against my back.

Day 17: #rockovuelveacasa – Caught by a storm…

Today we got a early start which got delayed at the get go. As we were putting the trailer back on Guille’s bike, we noticed part of the hitch was broken and there would be no going forward without repairing it. I happened to be facing the room and noticed that there was a stick welder in the corner with an electrode on it. 15 minutes later it was repaired and likely stronger than the original piece.

We were trying to outrun a storm which was forecasted to bring high winds and rain around 1000hrs. We got to our original destination with heavy winds coming from all directions early and before the storm. We decided to push on an additional 25km. We had a nice tail wind and made good time but not before we got rained on twice. Each time we got rained on, we were dry again within 15 minutes.

As we rolled in to our first potential stop, there was a storm front moving in pretty quickly. It was like a wave that just rolled over itself. Not five minutes after we got in, this video was taken.

The storm is here and we have planted ourselves in the little gas station shop eying anything that can be made into a dinner. I got dibs on the sandwich. Guille got the bag of peanuts.

Day 14-16: #rockovuelveacasa

Day 14: #rockovuelveacasa

We were lucky enough to have skirted the rain storm in Virasorro to Santo Tomé. The forecast had for days of heavy rain. Seems that once we got south a bit, it was just overcast.

The road from Santo Tomé to Alvear was fairly easy but long – a solitary flat ride through the plains and pantano of 91km. We had a slight tailwind which made pedaling fairly easy.

The solitary nature of the endless plains patched with pine or eucalyptus groves destined for the paper mills was also patched by pantanos. I’m used to quite a bit of road kill in California, but the roadkill of this area was quite the novelty. We passed several yacare or caimán that were leathery carpets on the side of the road ranging in size from one to two meters although they can grow up to three meters – 9 feet. The other novelty roadkill were capybara. I first learned of capybara from one of my favorite childhood books – Capyboppy. I kept an eye out for live ones – alas, I only say dead ones – usually in the inflated Shrek-style ballon form where I wanted to steer clear as they seemed to be at their bursting point – and that would be a real mess.

We rolled into town around noon so we sheltered from the heat for four hours in the local YPF gas station diner – they are air conditioned.

Around 1600hrs, we headed into town to find the bank, and a hotel that would let us stay with Rocko. We found the two banks, but they were both national banks and don’t work with my debit card. Now I’m down to my last $1000 ($16USD) and the prospects for getting cash in the next few days are almost zero. We were turned away from the hotels we checked so we headed back to the YPF. On the way we passed the bus terminal. Not air conditioned, but a shelter against any possible rain. About 1830, I called a hotel and they had space for us and Rocko – we were off… went to the grocery store, had a pizza and slept well.

Day 15: a short ride of 45km to Guaviraví. A little town of less than 70 people. It was an easy ride and we got in around 10:30 as we slept in.

The town was dead. As we found out later, people get up at 0530 and are back in their home by 10:30 and stay there until around 1700hrs when the temperatures come down. Then it seems everyone comes out on the streets until midnight.

Today was a treat for us. Guille, Leila and Larry stopped by here on the way north and were very well received – and invited back. So we stopped and were once again well received. They had just butchered a lamb and wanted to share with us. So we all participated in the parilla of Cordero and pollo.

This parilla is a social event where many come out and participate. There are two focuses with the parilla – meat and camaraderie. Once cooked, the Cordero and pollo was placed on a piece of cardboard and the 10-12 people participating all jumped in and ate on the communal table. Implements of choice were hands and fingers but forks and knives were provided for those who wanted to stab the pieces of meat and cut them rather than grab and tear. There is something primal about sharing a meal in this fashion. Some might say it’s barbaric or low cast but I personally think it’s an elevated form of social participation. I feel privileged to have been invited and to have participated with these people.

Day 16: down day In Guaviraví

Today, our down day, we woke up at 0530 and went to Paso de Los Libres to go to the bank, pharmacy and a few other errands. On the way back, we were invited to have lunch at the mayor’s mother’s house and were very well received and enjoyed the welcome nature of this group of people. Kind souls they are.

An afternoon of doing little to nothing: sitting in the hammock, washing a few items of clothes, and minor maintenance on the bikes.

Tomorrow we head out for a moderate distance ride with a storm in the forecast. We’ll see what happens tomorrow if anything happens weather wise.

Personal reflection: this trip had me out of my comfort zone on many fronts. I am an introverted person and this social interaction, while it’s something I wish came naturally, I am pretty awkward at. It forces me to socialize and meet people and learn about different cultures – which is one thing I strive for. But at this level, I would never reach out on my own. I feel blessed for this opportunity and while it’s a difficult trip, I am having a good time and will always remember it. While it might not seem it due to my writing style, I have no complaints. Waiting at a gas station diner allows us to talk with many different people from many different walks of life. The trip, the bikes and Rocko provide an ice breaker to talk with strangers.

Not knowing if we will stay in a hotel or a bus stop on the side of the highway is part of the un-plan. We get up and pedal then we figure it out. For many (including myself) this is foreign and can be overwhelming. But it’s also rich in new and different experiences that I would normally not find myself in. I am lucky to have a guide and instigator in all of this in my Brother Guille. As mentioned in an earlier post, this trip is turning out to be an unexpected pilgrimage of sorts for me and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Day 12. #Rockovuelveacasa

We left very early In the morning from San Jose to Virasorros. The ride was short – 45km. Because we left so early, we were able to beat the heat. It was also a milestone of sorts, we passed through the entire province of Missiones and entered Corrientes.

We got settled in the municipal gym where they had real beds and showers. Not hotel real, but real enough. As the day wore on, the heat kept going up and up. Around 1600hrs, the clouds rolled in and dumped – in true tropical rain storm fashion with lots of lightning and thunder.

We hung out for another hour and then ventured a couple of blocks to the supermarket, a pizza shop and an ice cream shop. There goes another kg of ice cream.

All in all it was a good day. The ride and rain storm afterwards were the highlights.

Day 13: Virasorro to Santo Tomé 69km (plus another 10km around town)

We didn’t sleep well last night so got ready at five. We were worried about the rain forecast from last night – four days of tropical rain storm. We didn’t want to get stuck in Virasorro for four days – so we got out early. It ended up being the nicest ride. It was about 24°C, low overcast and a slight breeze. We finished the distance in just over three hours. We were in town by 10:30.

We went into town to look for a place to stay. The gym was closed as were the three hotels we checked. We decided to go get something to eat instead. Had a decent meal albeit too much.

We then headed down to the river with the idea to cool off. As we reached the river – I was in the lead, there were a group of men drinking. I just rode past and went to look at the river. Next thing I know is that Guille road right up to them and joked about “no dollars here, the central bank has them all…”. Afterwards, he tells me they pegged me… ME!!! 😉 as a gringo with $$ and while their intentions were not known, it might have gone the wrong way.

So the river, it’s the Uruguay River forming the border between Argentina and Brazil. About 140m wide at this point with Brazil on the other side. It was pretty and all with fisherman in their launches going up and down the river, but as a closer look was taken, it was quite dirty. Lots of broken glass and plastic in the river. I opted not to go in and hung back with the bikes. Rocko and Guille on the other hand went right in.

We then headed back to the Ruta and look for a hotel – we found one and were told they would be there in 10 minutes. As we waited, a car pulled up and a family piled out. They had seen us on Facebook and on the Ruta earlier that morning and wanted to give Rocko some food and take a picture.

A few minutes later and we got a nice refreshing cool shower and are just hanging out.

It was a good day today.