SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER
So who pissed off the weather gods? I knew that the road north of Carlos Pellegrini would only be passable if it was dry. On the original scout I got stuck in the mud, lost one of my shoes and had to wait for two hours at a nearby farm for the men to return from working the fields so they could pull me out with their tractor. But five days ago I returned to the infamous hwy 40, to check it out while scouting a new route through the Missiones province in Northern Argentina. The road was smooth and hard-packed, in fact the sun-baked clay was probably a faster surface than some of the paved roads we’ve travelled.
The new route was incredible. From Foz we travelled to Eldorado, 25 de Mayo and Itacaruare, none of which are real tourist destinations but as a cycling route it was a beautiful linkage. It wasn’t flat but no lung burners and the rural countryside was spectacular. We rolled through agricultural villages and along the shores of the Rio Uruguay. For the first 3 days it was sunshine, blacktop and tailwinds. Our campsites were nothing fancy, but the warm showers, green grass and cooking shelters were all the luxuries we needed. And our hosts were all friendly and hospitable. In these small towns the locals get so excited to have an adventurous group of gringos share their home for an evening.
On day 4 things changed, the weather changed, the two short sections of dirt tracks had dissolved with the torrents of the early morn. The mud-fest was anticipated but this was not mud. The clay adhered to everything. Upon completion of the stage one rider asked, “does anyone know how much Argentina weighs? … just pick up my bike cuz I’ve been carrying half the country for the last 35km”, as he smiled I noticed there was even dirt in his teeth. Brakes stopped working, but it didn’t matter because your wheel wouldn’t spin anyways. Shades became mudguards and the myriad of colourful spandex all took on the same shade of ochre.
Miles and I were desperately trying to find a more sheltered alternate to our intended swamp camp and the day just kept getting weirder and weirder. At one point we were debating squatters rights with a local vagrant at an abandoned schoolhouse and next we were being warned about highway 40 from a gas station attendant when an emu walked out from behind the pumps and stared us down. I’m disappointed that we did not make it to ibera park but the clients were thankful for the dry accommodations here in Mercedes.
Things are not getting any easier. Tomorrow will be the longest stage of the tour so far, 176km and the forecast is for headwind. Soon we will enter Uruguay and then take a boat from Colonia to Buenos Aires for some well deserved days of rest. B.A. is one of the most metropolitan cities on this continent. We will have a few days to enjoy the food, art, music, shopping and maybe even time for a tango lesson.
Leave a Comment for "Mudfest"