CÃ³rdoba to random bush camp on Los Gigantes
85km to Los Gigantes and our bush camp in the middle the Sierra de Córdoba. It’s quite beautiful here but for some of us it wasn’t fully appreciated until we got to camp because of the brutal wind conditions we rode through for the last 25 kilometers.
The day started out warm in Córdoba and full of scenic promise. It’s our first real scenic and hilly ride since leaving Buenos Aires and everyone was upbeat and enjoying the morning ride. We ride through lovely towns like San Roque with its beautiful shoreline and rocky cliff sides and through Tanti where we have lunch and the usual après-lunch coffee stop. The morning ride really energizes me for the afternoon ride as well as the upcoming days in the Sierras and the looming Andes. After lunch we expect to ride 25-30km of dirt road, up hill. Okay fine, it’ll take us longer than usual but it’s still early and it’s a gorgeous day of blue sky and great vistas. Two kilometers into the dirt road Jessica, Hans and I find “Brujas” a tiny and charming teahouse where we enjoy coffee, tea and a wee rest before tackling the remainder of the Sierras.
The dirt road was actually fine to ride, simply fine gravel and sand like dirt, some annoying rocks but not too much traffic and the grades weren’t bad at all. The Sierras aren’t that high, we’re at around 1,750 meters at the camp and there are lots of winding switchbacks to get you up. It was the wind. It was raging. I’ve ridden and raced in extremely high winds before but this was grueling. I was hurled into the ditch three times by the winds (aided by fatigue and a serious case of bonking too though I’ll admit) My hands were painful from holding the handle bars too tightly to stay in as much a straight line as possible and upright, my lips and mouth were parched from the dust and lack of water and my right calf was on the verge of cramping for the last 5km. It was so strong we couldn’t go faster than 6kph. There was a tiny but blissful downhill part to the camp on down which we were pushing hard and only going 13kph. But it didn’t matter, we were home.
So, at the end of the day 85km took Jessica and me 5 hours and 45 minutes with an elevation gain of about 1,200 meters from Cordoba. It was truly the toughest 25km of my life, as much physically as emotionally. I wanted to scream and burst into tears several times but I just looked over at Jessica and we both just laughed at the utter ridiculousness of our situation. Seeing the defeated look on my face in camp Dirk confidently says “In 20 minutes you’ll feel much better, no problem.” “Do you promise?” I ask earnestly, “Yes” he replies definitively. And you know what? He was right. The pain, fatigue and frustration always go away and are soon replaced with “Wow, I made it, we’re here and it’s really beautiful. Awesome!” Now we just have to do it all again tomorrow and the next day- awesome.
– Hannah Spence