To Mendoza; pushing through the pampa.

Paso Pino Hachado-Chos Malal-Volcan Tromen-Malargue-Old Ruta 40-Mendoza

In an effort to claw my way back to date, I’m leapfrogging through blog posts at the moment – squeezing in what I can between recent work projects and accruing northerly miles. As such, there’s still an instalment of El Huevito’s Adventures to slot in, and a some thoughts on Santiago and its wonderful murals. But in the meantime, this last solitary stint covers the push across the Argentinian pampa to Mendoza.

Rewinding back in time and place, a definite power move was required to fracture the mental inertia I’d been feeling in Santiago, and inspire myself to bus back south to where Sage, Nancy and I had left off. (This Trans-American ride may have become a convoluted confusion in terms of direction, but it’s my intentions to at least fill in the missing pieces of its jigsaw.)

As it is, I’m glad to have done it. Thanks to a few ripio alternatives, the thousand or so kilometres to Mendoza went by with relative ease, even if those cavernously empty pampas stretches gave my fragile mind a thorough workover. Bolt straight roads, sparse settlements, hazy skies and ochre hues: this is a journey for lovers of hermetic riding. Fortunately, I had no shortage of misshapen clouds to keep me company, as well as moments of blissful desert camping, a fireball sunrise, the stunning dirt detour to Volcan Tromen… and a few dozen podcasts to maintain my sanity, easing the path out of Patagonia. At last.

And to anyone debating the merits of a northerly or southerly trajectory across the region… I can categorically say: I’m extremely glad I was riding south the majority of my time Patagonia, given the stiff headwinds I encountered over the week. Not that I can really bemoan them. I’ve been graced with such freewheeling tailwinds to Ushuaia that I’ll most likely be in debt for some time to come. That’s the yin and yang of bicycle touring: one man’s headwind is another man’s tailwind…

I’ve included more photos below than strictly are necessary, in an attempt to convey the moments of beauty within the metronome-like monotony of the ride. And while I can’t claim it was my favourite stretch of the journey so far – especially given the high ratio of pavement – there’s certainly a sense of peace and inner calm to be found out on the long and lonely roads of the Argentinian pampa.

As ever, thanks to the Pikes on Bikes for their excellent route notes and insights in the search for the Andean road less travelled.

If you would like to keep up with where I am between blog entries, I try and keep my While Out Riding Facebook page regularly updated – along with posting extra photos and gear ponderings. You can find it here. Occasionally, I pop some pictures up on Instagram too. 




















































IMG_9497-2 IMG_9489

15 thoughts on “To Mendoza; pushing through the pampa.

    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      Larry is rolling along nicely. I like it.

      I’ve not yet needed to replace the front tyre – the original Knard is still doing ok, so I hope to eek out another thousand clicks or more.

  1. Susie Moberly

    Spectacular scenery and stunning photography. I almost felt I was there and feeling the mood! Loved the sunsets, sun rise, clouds and low light and those trucks! Beautiful spirit house! Always enjoy your write ups. You are amazing. John and Joannie must be soooo proud of you. Happy biking and kiss that adorable Sage on his feet for me! Sending best wishes. Be safe. Love X

    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      I will be sure to kiss Sage’s perfect little feet as soon as I see him in September (-:

  2. Cindy Fisher

    Love your posts, I’ve been following since a cycling friend told me about them. I was in Santiago back in January of this year participating in a mosaic mural project in Puente Alto, and I was wondering if the mosaic murals there are what you were referring to with this comment “…and some thoughts on Santiago and its wonderful murals.” While the metro project murals were a 2 year endeavor created by an AMAZING team of Chilean artists, the mosaics on the wall of the Municipal building in Puente ALto were done in 2 weeks by 60 artists from around the world + the aforementioned Chilean mosaicists. IF these were the murals of Santiago you were referring to!!!

  3. Cass Gilbert Post author

    Thanks for your comment Cindy. Unfortunately, I didn’t know about the mosaic project – I’ve just done some digging around, and it looks fantastic.

    I was actually referring to the artistic district of Yungay and the Museo Cielo Abierto in San Miguel. 35 murals: 4 stories high and 12 metres wide…

  4. Matthew Walker

    Must remind myself to not look at this blog when i’m at work (like now!), my mind wanders so much. I love the amount of lenticular clouds you have captured too, pretty rare to see here in the UK…i like the way they mark the summits of invisible airscapes.

  5. Oliver

    Holy moly Cass, I am speechless as always! I think my imagination has turned your blog into fabulous coffee table book in the making and every time I get notified by a new post I just sit down, sip some marvel and inspiration and get wonderfully lost. Perfect reminder again that I need to write you an email soon enquiring about a wee idea.
    You take care and keep some new pages coming… 😉

  6. Stefan Stuntz

    Hi Cass.

    Just wanted to say a quick hello and massive thanks for your cool route ideas in south america. I am currently more or less following your tracks from Colombia southward. Travelling quite light with a real mountainbike though, so I am trying to add serious single track to the mix whenever I find some, eg




    Currently sitting in Cuenca, next major single track hotspot is quite likely far away in Huaraz/Peru I suppose. If you have any additional ideas (besides your blog) on where I could find some real mountain biking fun (or maybe some local contacts), I d be glad to know.

    The trip is online as well (who isnt these days): . Its all in German and includes loads of mountain bike mumbo jumbo… but hey… the pictures are still pretty… I guess. I am doing things a bit differently and try to post multiple times per day right from the trail as much as possible.

    Thanks again for your route and greetings from Cuenca/Ecuador,

    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      Sounds great, Stefan!

      Well, I know there’s a whole bunch of mtb stuff in and around Cuenca. The guys there recommended me a cool route to ride to Loja, but I was running out time. Go by the Specialized shop, they were really friendly. I’m sure several of the mtb shops in the city would be a good source of info for singletrack – as I recall, a bunch of nice ones were all close by.

      Good luck!

  7. Anna

    Did you find some new podcasts to add to your podlibrary? I remember you asking somewhere for suggestions. I think you need to reembrace your Britishness – the BBC do some pretty good ones and I noticed your list was pretty USish.


    The History of the World in 100 Objects. (Old, but good. Should still be available online, I think.)
    In Our Time. (Pompous, and still celebrating the glory of the Empire. A mixed bag but some very interesting stuff on Science, Philosophy, Culture, History with a capital S, P, C and H.)
    BBC Documentaries. (Some excellent stuff here.)
    The Food Programme. (This can be torture if you happen to be hungry.)
    From Our Own Correspondent. (This was a suggestion from Harriet Pike. Good current affairs.)
    Start the Week. (Another from HP.)
    Desert Island Discs. (HP again. Some young Brit said this reminded him of his mother. It’s been going for 70 years or so. But I like it.)
    Writers and Company. (From the CBC. Great for learning about interesting authors you’ve never heard of.)
    The Science Show (From ABC, so kind of Australian in focus sometimes but pretty interesting, nonetheless.)
    Living Planet. (For depressing updates on environmental matters from some German broadcasting organisation. It started to get me down, though, after a while.)

    I think that’s it. I’d welcome any suggestions in return.

    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      Thanks for the suggestions, I’ll get downloading (except for the food one, that might drive me crazy)… I subscribe to a lot of the BBC stuff, but for some reason, I veer more in the direction of NPR.
      I issued a plea on my Facebook page (which you can access, even if you don’t have a Facebook account).

      Scroll down to June 3rd. Lots of ideas… My current favourites are Snap Judgement and TED Radio Hour (rather than the talks), though it’s hard to usurp the folks at Radio Lab.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.