Last night we were offered 3 options for riding today: 1 – ride 200 miles of gravel on Route 40 and 150 miles of pavement, 2 – ride 40 Route 40 gravel miles and 220 paved, or 3 – 180 paved miles. My immediate thought was that I wanted to experience as much of historic Route 40 as possible. Considering I had spent $500 to put knobby tires on the V-Strom, this would help me get my money’s worth. At breakfast, when Chuck, an excellent road and superb off-road rider said that he was going to take option #2, I started to have 2nd thoughts. Rain was coming in from the south and option 1 went farther south. The first day that we had done 70 miles of gravel in gale force wind had left me exhausted. What if we would have that wind for 200 miles? Furthermore, my left shoulder has not totally recovered from the abuse it got that day.
My decision was final when I asked Chuck if I could ride with him. We enjoy a very similar pace on the pavement. I knew I’d be slower than Chuck in the gravel. He was OK with that and off we went. What a fantastic ride we had! By the edge of town, the increasing sprinkles had me believing that I should have worn my rain suit so we suited up. Within 10 miles, all showers were gone and we had beautiful, fluffy clouds in the sky and minimal wind. When we got to Route 40, the gravel was firm. I felt comfortable at between 38 and 60 mph. I didn’t have to eat Chuck’s dust for long! Fortunately, he took breaks for photos and for me to catch up. Just when I was feeling so smug for my bravery on riding the gravel, I passed a tandem bicycle. Now that couple has guts!
Arriving at El Calafate in early afternoon, we decided to have lunch and ride to the Perito Moreno Glacier. Originally mentioned as an option for one of our 2 rest days in El Calafate, we took the opportunity to use the beautiful weather for viewing the glacier. As we enjoyed pizza at a sidewalk cafe, up rode Bob and Greg from Arizona. Bob is riding solo around the world, in 2-3 week chunks over several years. Greg rented a bike in Santiago and off they went. The 4 of us leaned into the twisties of Los Glaciers National Park and arrived at the magnificent Perito Moreno Glacier, the 3rd largest glacier in the world. The beauty warranted the long hike in riding boots and clothes to get close to its face where glacial calving entertained us for nearly 2 hours.
18-Jan C Rio Gallegos – Glacier Perito Moreno – El Calafate 350 miles
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