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From Forests To Steppe

It feels great to be on the road again! I continued north from Bariloche through the Seven Lakes District and enjoyed sunny days without any wind while cycling through dense forests, glassy lakes and rivers with plenty of trout.

Seven Lakes District

Mirror

I made stickers for the bike with the blog address while staying in Bariloche, and this is great to have when I meet people along the road who wants to follow my trip. Talking about stickers… I’ve seen plenty of www.ridingthespine.com-stickers at hostels etc. on my way. When I got to Bike Hostel in San Martin de los Andes, I met one of these guys, Goat, who turned out to be a funny dude. He and his friends went from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego in 3.5 years (carrying 10,000 stickers), on the smallest roads/paths they could find. They even kayaked from Panama to Colombia. Goat has a custom longtail bicycle with motorbike-wide tires to be able to deal with sand, snow and mud, and he always rides barefoot.

Bird

During the days in the saddle, there is often small things that amuses me. One day I found some crayfish in the river at which I was having lunch, and suddenly I turned it into a “crayfish party”. I only missed the snaps, and of course someone to eat with. One day, a bug hitchhiked on my leg for 7 km’s and probably enjoyed the view. While making my way up on some steep switchbacks, I met a group of friends who were doing a tour from Antofagasta to Ushuaia with veteran Citroën cars. In the service car, the guy was driving in a Hawaiian shirt and his wife sitting next to him wore a t-shirt with a viking saying “SWEDEN – The Land Of The Vikings”. Sweet mix!

Lovely shirts

Crayfish party!

Switchbacks

When I left Junín de los Andes, I knew that there would basically be no more touristic places until reaching Mendoza (1,111 km). Instead of continuing on Ruta 40 I went on the smaller roads 23 + 46 towards Zapala. Here, nearly all cars waved at me but that stopped as soon as I turned out on the Ruta 40 again. These roads were very nice, I saw the volcanoes Lanín and Villarrica from the top of a mountain pass where I camped. Later I cycled over a kind of altiplano through Argentina’s densest area of extinct volcanoes, and also experienced two 10-km-downhills without pedalling – awesome! During the first one I listened to Baz Luhrmann’s version of Wear Sunscreen and realized that the song (essay) makes a lot of sense, and that I live up to it quite well! During the second descent, I broke my old speed record and the new one is now 73 km/h!

Soon about to do 73 km/h

Volcano Lanín

Zapala, that’s where I am right now. This is a windy, sandy and dry place. The campground is only half finished because the new government didn’t have the same intentions as the old one. Still, it’s funny how they prioritized the construction of a huge swimming pool instead of a proper wind shield for the tents. This is a different side of Argentina, but I like it – and the people here are very friendly!

I will stay for a couple of days because I need to fix a few things. My rear derailleur somehow came into my rear wheel and got bent, as well as making the rim skew. I also need to visit the shoemaker to fix a broken shoe, and the locksmith to make a copy of my bike key that I broke while being inside the lock. Oh, that was actually a funny incident! I stopped at the gas station to get some fuel for my stove and happened to hit the key with my leg when getting off the bike. I tried to get the other part out of the lock for about 15 minutes without any success whatsoever. Then a random guy shows up, offering me some help. I barely had time to peel a banana until he managed to get the piece out! I wonder what he does during the night :-)