27/12/2019 Simon ‘Wardy’ Ward is nomadonanomad

I’m sitting in my hotel room in Viedma, preparing to continue heading north and hoping for more favourable winds, and also much less in the way of sand, and I thought about my last post which has caught up to where I am right now. Also I’m still undecided as to where I will head for after I arrive in Bahia Blanca, eta Wednesday afternoon if the forecast holds true. So I’ve decided to throw together a collection of thoughts and photos that I’ve not used before. It may come out as a bit of a mess which is why I’ve entitled this post as I have. Let’s see what I can come up with, again, in a very random way.

I’ve also been told that in the last few posts that I’ve sounded a bit despondent, so this is an attempt to lighten the mood somewhat. No, not despondent because I knew there were going to be tough times. One of my thoughts is always that if something is so easy then what’s the point of doing it? Also, after the difficult times I have stuff to write about and tell the stories and I can, with hindsight, laugh about it myself. If it was all downhill, downwind with a wonderful smooth, wide shoulder to ride on it would get a bit boring eventually, although a few days of that now would be ok with me! One thing that has happened is that the desert is no more and the pampas has returned. Now the pampas is just as boring from a scenery point of view but I do get to play a game I came up with during my first 1,000 kms from Buenos Aries. The game is called ‘moo’ and that’s what I call out to all the cattle in the fields. (Little things please little minds, I know) European cattle just don’t react but here they all, and I mean all, look up. The last one to look up is ‘it’. Sometimes they even run away which gives me a giggle.

In the desert they have vicunas. When I first saw them they were miles away, they are very timid, and I thought they were llamas. I eventually got a better look at some and realised they were not as stocky in their build as llamas, but still couldn’t get close to them to take photos. At the gas station where I made the decision to turn around and head north I did eventually get really close to a vicuna, as it was on my plate! I had asked for a menu and was told ‘milanesa’, and that was it. I asked if it was chicken and the guy told me vicuna. No choice, that was it. Made me think about Monty Python, ‘how do you want your vicuna? Fried or boiled!’

So here goes with the mash up………………

Photo. 1,002 kms from Buenos Aries. I was, of course, hoping to get a picture of the bike resting against the 1,000km sign on Ruta 3, but it’s been nicked! As have 998, 999 and 1,001. Later on the same fate had befallen 1,500 and it got me thinking, because I’m like that, there may be a potential business lurking in there somewhere. How about getting a load of these signs made up and selling them by the roadside? If they’re being stolen they must have a value right?

Photo. It’s possible I have posted this before, but it still makes me laugh. Bahia Blanca is only a city so a potato snack should come first.

Photos. Loved this! In the town of Coronel Pringles, and the sign even lights up at night. I got some strange looks when taking the photos. I, personally, would have been a touch more subtle, and definitely less rude, in naming the place. Something along the lines of ‘Well it’s not an ice cream shop is it, tosspot?’ Would have needed a bigger sign though.

Photo. Fancy dress parties taken care of in the future. I was staying at a mate’s place in Northampton when I noticed the hat. Dead ringer for Walter White of Breaking Bad fame eh? (I have since got rid of the goatee)

Photo. Serge(86) and Madeleine(84) 15kms from Nantes, France. Serge showed me a pitch for the tent very late one evening. Madeleine showed up 10 minutes later with food and water and invited me for breakfast in the morning. When I showed up after a great night’s sleep in the tent, Serge had got the coffee on and Madeleine came down the stairs on an electric stairlift and explained that her hip wasn’t up to taking the stairs these days. Over breakfast I explained to them that I used to live in Laos and it transpired that one of their family lived in Vietnam. Madeleine was so excited to get an atlas to show me where their relative lived that she bounded up the stairs like Usain Bolt! It just goes to show, never underestimate old folks!

Photo. Bilsen, from Brazil, aged 23, but living and working in northern Spain as a chef. He found me pushing the bike up a steep and never ending hill trying to get to a town called Eugi. I hadn’t realised that it was so long and so steep and was not in a good frame of mind and thinking I would have to wild camp in bear and wolf country. He’d only bought the car 3 days earlier and was very proud of it, and while I was trying to find the tool to split the bike in half he got it in the car, back seats folded down, in one piece. We closed the hatchback with bungee cords and off we went. Great young man, thanks Bilsen, you were a star.

Photo. Fulbrook on the Oxfordshire/Gloucestershire border. The garden of the Carpenter’s Arms if I remember correctly. My first day on the bike in full touring mode and my first pub stop after only about 12 miles and I was totally knackered. When I put the bike together I forgot to do one important thing and was left with only gears 9 to 13 inclusive. Add to that the 60 kgs that it all weighed. (It’s now down to 50 and I’m 7 kgs lighter as well!) The rucksack on the back meant getting on was tough but getting off with any finesse was nigh on impossible, but doesn’t it look clean? I can absolutely assure you it’s not like that now.

Photo. After reaching Malaga from my starting point in Roscoff I had promised myself a decent hotel as a reward. As I rode into the city I realised that turning up on the bike in the state it was in, to a good hotel, was not a great idea. It just so happened that I came across a car wash of the variety where you get to play with a hand held power washer. The bags were removed and the bike got a thorough going over. I even got my microfibre towel wet and cleaned the panniers. Could do with finding another place like it now.

Photo. ‘Ding dong merrily on high’. Yes, it’s Christmas morning at around 5.00am with the sun just about to come over the horizon. I’m wild camping about 85kms from Bahia Blanca and wondering if anywhere will be open when I roll into town at about 11.00am. Beautiful spot, not a soul for miles.

Photos. Christmas was spent alone, but not New Year’s Eve. With Gustavo, Karina and family in Carmen de Patagones, across the river from Viedma. I caught up with them again just last night. Wonderful people.

One quickie that has no photo. I went to buy some extra factor 50 the other day from a farmacia in, I think, Las Grutas. There was a weighing machine so while I was waiting my turn I stepped on it. It told me I was 75 kgs. Not a chance buster, if it had said 85 I might have believed it but it does need some adjustment. I like the old joke about the machine that speaks your weight and says, ‘one person at a time please’ when you get on it!

Ok, that’s it for now, hope you enjoyed the mash up. Thanks as always for reading this far and may your God go with you.

Simon ‘Wardy’ Ward.

3 Responses

  • Loki

    Outstanding work mate!
    I had a great train ride today getting caught up on your adventures. Alice had the most extreme breakdown I’ve ever seen on some Patagonian ripio so I can picture it very clearly!
    Keep it up mate!

    • Thanks for that Loki and great to hear from you. You can breathe more easily now it’s not likely that I’m going to turn up at your door! I do hope all is good for you both and Portugal is working out well. I will definitely try to keep it up I’m just hoping that the stuff I see is more worthy of some photos. Take care both and again thanks for the great comments! Wardy.

  • 27/1 comments

    I like your “moo” game. Not something I’ve thought of! Those lonely long days mean you have to do something to keep you occupied. I tend to do Maths problems and working out arrival times, ave speed in mph/kph during the day/ trip that sort of thing. But then i always have been a numbers guy.

    I like your idea of selling the distance markers too. Ive followed the tour de france a couple of times and the direction markers and roundabout signs get nicked as soon as the riders pass through. There a post race caravan thats supposed to collect them but they lose between 10-30% every day!

    Loved the Pharmacia Bastard signs. I was thinking the same.myself when my missus got stung for £18 for some antibiotics in Vietnam.

    Just a word of caution… Be careful of using a pressure washer on the bottom bracket. It’s sealed but won’t be against high pressure jets. Water inside will do it no good at all. Not seen many Strava posts for a while …


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