Change of plans – Guandacol to Jachal (108k/22,382k, 2,200 ft)

(October 6 – written by Dave)

As you can see, we did not have a rest day in Guandacol today as planned.  We were all set to until about 9PM last night when I checked the weather forecast for the next three days.  There are severe wind warnings for the San Juan area on Monday and Tuesday.  And bad news for us, the forecast had the wind coming from the due south – the direction we were planning to head.  There was a little good news in the forecast however, today and tomorrow’s winds were supposed to be northeastish and not as strong.  So, we made a last minute change of plans, riding today and moving the rest days out to when the forecast is not as good for riding.

It was a wee bit stressful having changed plans so late in the day/night but we are in Argentina and one good thing about having the mid-day siesta is that the shops stay open late into the night.  At 10:40, I went to the small tienda across the street from our hotel and managed to buy enough food to get us through today without issue.  We got to bed a little late however, as we were not really in “get ready to ride” mode when we made the change.

Patagonia beer - not too bad

My first Argentinean beer – a Patagonia no less

Last night we got the hotel to move our brekkie to 7:30, instead of the “rest day” plan of 8:30.  I’m not sure they really figured out why we were leaving early but they smiled, made us brekkie and were nice enough to see us off in the morning with a wave and a smile.  We were the only hotel guests, and perhaps the only hotel guests in all of town.  It was a very quiet night.

We had nice blue skies and almost no wind starting out.  The road was slightly uphill and sort of a giant rollercoaster.  And by rollercoaster I don’t mean it climbed and descended.  For some reason, they laid the road right on the ground in a straight line, without filling or digging for any of the multitude of streams than come off the hills.  We went up and down for a good 60 miles.  When it rains, clearly many of the down bits would be flooded as the road was built on the creek beds.  There was no traffic but watching Nancy ride ahead of me, disappear, reappear, disappear, reappear, well, you got the idea that the road would have really been not all that safe with traffic, much less fast moving traffic that wasn’t paying attention.  But not to worry, there was no traffic at all.  And neither of us got seasick riding the ups and downs, so all’s well that ends well.

Nancy changing

Nancy stripping off layers – it was warm today – nice

San Juan state line

A new state today as well

Road 3

The roller coaster looking back

Road 2

Nancy riding the waves

We had lunch at police checkpoint at the 75k mark just as we left Ruta 40 for and headed through a gap in the range to our right, on Ruta 149.  The sole police officer working there came out to say hi and tell us how narrow and steep the road we were planning to take was but we kind of knew this already.  Had it not been for a group of motorcyclists, we would have even less traffic on this road than we did Ruta 40.

Lunch at the police station

Lunch in the shade

Ruta 149 ended up being another one of those amazing northern Argentina multi-coloured canyons, super narrow, very colourful and a road that really had no business being built where it was.  We like these roads because all the traffic in a hurry takes the faster new roads and the narrowness means any traffic going our way has to slow down.  And of course, the views were great.  We stopped quite a bit for photos so you get another red rock overdose again today.

Road we climbed

Crazy road

Road in the rocks 1

More – you can see the guardrail above as well as the wall

Interesting rocks

All nature made

Climbing the rocks

Nancy cruising up the grade

Looking back 1

Looking back from the top of the first steep pitch

Looking back 2

Our road and the river below, it was so steep that we were almost directly above where we’d ridden

Road in the rocks 3

Inca wall perhaps

The climbs in the canyon were quite steep but pretty short so that they really didn’t bother us. At the far end of the canyon, you burst out into this lush valley, complete with a reservoir, lots of green farm land and even a view of the snow capped Andes.  It was generally uphill and the winds were not helping us at this point but we knew we only had a short distance to ride to reach Jachal.

Nancy at the top

Nancy looking bright at the top

Lake at end of canyon 1

Busting through the canyon to the other side

Mate and kettle

A teapot and mate cup on the edge of town – mate is important here

Once is town we headed for our first choice hotel, which is really not a hotel but rather an apartment.  It could sleep 4, has a full kitchen, two TVs, two AC units and yes, a bidet.  It is called an Apart Hotel and we may just look for more of them as we work our way south.  It is nice to cook your own dinner and finish well before the restaurants open on the main square.  The hotel name is Haulta Picum for those heading this way – it would be better value with 4 people but it’s still within our budget so we are happy (the exchange rate here is just great for us now).

Door of the day

Door of the day for my older sister (Pamela)

We are not sure how far we are riding tomorrow.  At 100k there is a roadhouse where we think we can camp.  At 160k, there is the big country town of San Juan.  We’ve rather not ride the full 160k but there is more downhill than up and the winds are supposed to be at our backs.  And the wind storm forecast for Monday and Tuesday is still holding – so no riding those days at all might be a good option.  We are going to leave early and just see how the day goes.  We know that we can ride 160k if we have to but we also know that we’ll be shattered at the end.  Rest days will follow in San Juan, whenever we get there.  And from there, it is only 2 days to Mendoza –wow, Mendoza seemed impossibly far away only a few months ago…

10 thoughts on “Change of plans – Guandacol to Jachal (108k/22,382k, 2,200 ft)

  1. I love the door of the day (of course) and am wondering what the word Pamela means in Argentina since this is the second one you’ve posted. Studying the origin, Pamela is a made-up name of the heroine in the book ‘Arcadia’, by Sir Philip Sidney, an Englishman, in the 1580’s. He may have made it up from two Greek words for “all honey” or “all sweetness” but none of that points to it showing up in Argentina on big signs!!! If you find out anything about its popularity down there, let me know! Maybe there were some English women (or Americans) who settled there in the last century.

    It sounds sensible to ride when there isn’t wind and enjoy some days off when it’s windy and dusty. Ride on!

  2. Wow! The roads were crazy and scenery spectacular today. Hope you have a nice tailwind tomorrow, followed by a couple of rest days.

  3. Beautiful scenery today! I’m glad you had pics of the roller coaster road, you weren’t kidding! Have a good day tomorrow!

  4. That wavy road is quite something. I cannot imagine trying to drive a vehicle on that at any speed. Dave, did you run up the hill to take that first picture of Nancy on the road below or did the road you were riding loop around and above her? Enjoyed the interesting and colorful rock formations. Hope you come up with a good riding schedule to deal with the wind storm.

  5. Looks lovely, even with the Roller coaster Road. Hope you have stayed ahead of the windy weather! Nice to be warm, too.

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