When thinking of legendary roads, many come to mind: Route 66, Dalton Highway, Blue Ridge Parkway, Swartzburg Pass in South Africa, to name a few. They are known for their history, scenic beauty, and/or riding and driving difficulty.
Ruta 40, at 3000 miles, is Argentina’s longest road and is one which fits all categories. When we were in Ushuaia, I bought a bumper sticker that I thought was funny. In upside down Spanish type it said, “If you can read this, please turn me over.” Today we rode 190 miles of Ruta 40.
We started out on beautiful pavement. After coffee, several of us opted for a side trip to Los Glaciers National Park. There we got a taste of the road to come complete with loose stones, water crossings and potholes. It is impossible to scan a water filled pothole and determine whether it is the type perfect for photographing a great splash or a tire swallowing, rim bending, throw the bike and rider to the ground pothole. When we returned to Ruta 40, we were greeted by the legendary awful road conditions. Our daily route notes for today said, “WARNING! Beware of mounds of gravel and take care to ride within your ability.”
Despite the surface that varied from imbedded rocks resembling the lunar surface to loose stones, I was moving along fairly well. Unfortunately, Julian crashed, not critically damaging his bike but injuring his back and critically damaging his self confidence. A few miles farther down the road, there was significant, intimate contact between my front tire and an imbedded rock. Down went the tire. Fortunately, I stayed vertical and waited for Jeff and the support van to install a tube to compensate for my seriously bent rim.
21-Jan Friday El Calafate-Tres Lagos-La Angostura 190 miles
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