(October 7 – written by Dave)
We made it! 100 miles, all the way to San Juan. Woohoo.
It was actually a good day. The wind eventually came up and yes, it was behind us. We had some downhill and made it to San Juan before tomorrow’s forecasted sand storm. I’m not sure how bad the storm will be, but we don’t really care as we’ll be staying here for the next two days and giving it a chance to blow through.
We left our hotel at about 7:10 and even got to see a bit of the sunrise as we started out on the highway heading south. The road surface was mixed today, some bumpy, some smooth but traffic was very light and we could ride out in the traffic lane all that we needed to. We didn’t make very many stops as momentum took us and the scenery cooperated – as in there weren’t many reasons to stop for photos.
We stopped once for a bio break and to strip off some clothing. Nancy headed for the bushes down the embankment – at which point I said, “don’t go down there, the ground is muddy”. She kept going and came back up the bank with muddy shoes. “I told you so…” is always more fun for the person delivering the message. I delivered it with great joy – and then I cleaned Nancy’s shoes off for her.
I mentioned the scenery. Today was like going to your favourite team’s stadium for a home game, when they were playing an away game. That is, there was not much to see and no one is selling hotdogs. The scenery was boring and the first chance we had to buy anything was at the 100k mark when we reached the junction at Talacasto. Our initial plan was to stop here for the day but we arrived at 11:30, way too early to stop. And there was that little thing with the tailwind – who in their right mind would stop now?
After our lunch break we headed back out into the wind and were having a great time when we saw a cyclist coming the other way. Meet, Gonzalo from Spain and Argentina. He had stopped to get out of the wind and rest. He was working very hard to go 10 KPH, we were working not so hard to go 30 KPH. But boy, you wouldn’t know it from his attitude. He had to be one of the friendliest, most enthusiastic people we’ve ever met – riding into the wind or not. We got back out into the tailwind with huge smiles on our faces – thanks mate, champion spirit!
The last 20k were a little harder as we were starting to tire while the wind did its best to keep our spirits moving. There was some road construction coming into town but being Sunday, they were not working and we passed it without issue. Just when we needed it, right on the edge of town, an ice-cream shop appeared and we had a pick-me-up milkshake.
We picked out a couple places to stay and headed off only to find them all closed for siesta. I eventually found a hotel but it only had two nights available. Then Nancy took up the search and found a better hotel that also had a room free for three nights – the Del Bono Suites. Nice room with a kitchenette even, so we have our own little fridge and a couple of burners if we feel inspired to cook something (not tonight, that’s for sure). We were both tired but really stoked for riding a proper century today. It was our third century of the trip but the last one was back on June 12, 2017. The wind helped but however you measure it, that’s a pretty good effort for a couple old farts.
As noted, we are sleeping in tomorrow and probably not riding again until Wednesday. In 9 days, we’ve covered close to 920k. Until the last 100k we pretty much had wind on the nose trying to push us back to Bolivia. We survived to enjoy today and now weary legs are winning out. Rest, laundry and a making a plan for Mendoza are the biggest efforts we will make for the next couple days…