03/01/2019 Simon ‘Wardy’ Ward is nomadonanomad
The start of the New Year, and what will it hold? For me I had decided to leave Viedma on New Year’s Day as there was a change in the wind direction. First problem was that it was for just one day after which it would be right into me at 40 kph. Second problem was that it’s 180 kilometres to San Antonio Oeste and I can’t ride that in a day so would have to find a place to wild camp. That wouldn’t be easy as for the last 200 or so kms. the vegetation has changed from pampas to desert, i.e. grass has become thorns and they are brutal. They would easily puncture a tyre and I don’t want to come off the bike onto these things.
Going through my mind was how far would I be able to make it knowing that the next day, even 40 or 50 kms. would be purgatory. I had a massive number of different targets going through my mind but it was absolutely certain that I was going to have to better my personal best of 113 kms. That excited me somewhat but to know that I have to do it, and probably a lot more would be useful, is a bit of a concern. Will bits of me fall off etc?
Just to make matters worse the breakfast at the hotel wouldn’t start until 8.00am as it was a holiday, so I would only be able to get on the road by about 9.00am. A couple of hours earlier would have been better, and the Champagne from the previous evening wasn’t going to help much. The odds were stacked against me! The good thing was that the wind, although not much more than a breeze was helping and I got stuck into the task ahead of me.
25kms whizzed by and I stopped for a couple of minutes to get water and a snack. Then another 25 kms and in reasonable time too. Then the numbers start to increase and I still feel pretty good but I haven’t made a firm decision as to how far I’m going to go as you never know when you’re going to ‘hit the wall’. Then the wind started to change and was now across with some gusts hindering my progress rather than helping. Then I stopped for a quick break, leant my bike against a road sign and got stung by a wasp. I was glad it was only once as there was a nest in the metalwork. At least it cut my break short!
Photo. Propped my bike against this post and sat down for a break. I left the music playing and the wasps obviously didn’t like it. Note to self, wasps don’t like Pink Floyd!
Then I got past the 100km mark and was closing in on the magic 114kms to mark my new best but feeling like it wouldn’t be much more as my energy was not there. Suddenly a car pulled alongside and a carton of chocolate milk was waved in my face. Bingo! Small car, big family and Dad, Garcia was a keen cyclist. Even the chocolate milk had been in a cool box and was ice cold. We chatted for 5 minutes, took pictures and they wished me well.
Photo. Garcia, keen cyclist and generous donor of wonderfully chilled chocolate milk. Great bloke who definitely lifted my spirits.
As soon as they left I got stuck into that milk and it was gorgeous. During our short chat the wind had calmed and was behind me again. Things were looking up. Garcia had suggested that I turn off the Nacional Ruta 3 and head towards San Antonio Este. I would be able to camp on the beach as lots of other folks would be doing. Only problem was that it was another 50 odd kms and I didn’t know if I was up to it.
Photo. This was on the opposite side of the road and shows how far I’ve made it from Buenos Aries and also from Viedma just that morning. I did go on quite a bit further that day…….
Well it was very late in the day, around 7.45pm, but I made it to that beach. I was then able to enjoy a couple of litres of a new, to me, dark beer taken from an ice-cold glass. The wind had really sprung up suddenly and the bar owner told me he was closing up and I should pitch my tent in the lee of his bar as it was going to blow a gale that night. He left and I had a brainwave. Why bother pitching the tent when I could sleep on his deck?
Photo. A 1 litre bottle of dark beer served in an ice-cold glass. Nectar!
Photo. Enrique the bar owner, Daniel his twin brother, and yours truly. End of a long but very satisfying day.
Photo. Start a new year as you mean to go on. It feels a bit on the soft side stopping in hotels and hostels. My first bivvy of 2019!
I actually had the most wonderful night’s sleep helped by the dark beer, oh and I nearly forgot to mention the satisfaction of my new personal best of 170kms!!!!!!! I was as proud as a proud thing could be, the only downside is that it’s highly unlikely I will ever go close to that again. Circumstances meant it had to happen. One thing I can say is that the first few pedal strokes the next morning were agony but that feeling left me very quickly, it was when the wind got going an hour or so later that brought me firmly back to earth. 64kms that day and it was twice as hard as my new record.
Forecast regarding the wind means a couple of days in Las Grutas. Starting to wonder if I will make it to Ushuaia. I know I have the miles/kilometres in my legs if conditions are half decent, but when the wind is hindering progress it makes it, not only hard but dangerous as crosswinds can blow you off the road, or worse, into traffic. I might be mad but I’m not daft!
Thanks as always for reading this far and may your God go with you.
Simon ‘Wardy’ Ward.