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.