ARGENTINA: PUERTO MADRYN — VIEDMA — BAHIA BLANCA — CORONEL DORREGO — SANTA CLARA DEL MAR — LA PLATA
Sometimes it is all about the riding, sometimes it is all about the landscape, sometimes it is all about the people. Once I hit the Atlantic there is no option but to turn north on Ruta 3 and that leaves just one of those three things for my enjoyment — the people.
In Viedma, I stay with Marco, Andrea and their daughter Anita, after contacting them through Warm Showers, a hospitality network for cycle tourists.
In Bahia Blanca, I spend a couple of nights with Diego and Natalia, a couple who spent their honeymoon on bicycles in Missiones, a choice both their families considered dangerously eccentric.
I detour into the unremarkable town of Coronel Dorrego in pouring rain with high hopes of a hot shower and a warm dry place to sleep with the bomberos.* But the bomberos, it turns out, aren’t keen to host a passing cyclist and so I leave town, as dusk falls, to search for a dry spot to pitch a tent.
Then I get a flat tire. It’s just one of those days.
As I repair the puncture by the roadside out of range of the spray raised by the wheels of passing trucks I spy a track leading through an open gate to a group of trees which obviously shelter a couple of buildings. I decide to try my luck again so I ride up to what turns out to be a once handsome building in a current state of sad dilapidation. A dog barks hysterically and a young man emerges. He immediately grasps the situation and before long I am warming myself by the wood burning stove while Juan continues to paint the kitchen.
THE RAILWAY LINE
Eventually, late in the afternoon, I leave the farmhouse. Given the torrential rain that been falling the decision to strike away from the highway onto a dirt road that follows an old railway line might not be a choice everyone would make. But given speeding trucks on narrow wet tarmac vs. mud… well, to me, there’s only one option.
Finally, after two and a half weeks of largely uninspired riding, I arrive in La Plata, a university town about 70 kilometres out of Buenos Aires where I plan to have a well earned rest before taking on the capital.
A SUNDAY RIDE
In many ways I am a reluctant cyclist. I consider cycling transport and I don’t generally do it for entertainment. But since other people see me as a cyclist I do sometime get roped into going for a ride.
On the way back through La Plata we pass by a melancholy memorial to the excesses of Argentina’s ugly political past.
*bomberos = firemen