Piedra del Aguila - The thirteenth step ... Six months in South America - CycleBlaze

November 6, 2022 to November 7, 2022

Piedra del Aguila

Sunday 6th November 2022

Headwinds,  heat and hills were predicted for today and that is what we got.  Thankfully the RN237 wasn't as busy as two days ago but it still had a good sprinkling of idiot drivers.  A week or two ago I had started thinking that Argentinian drivers had improved since we were last here but the drivers down here in Patagonia are no different to how we remembered them to be.

Leaving Picun Ranch, Jorge and Maria's place just outside Picun Leafu.
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After a slight rise the plains stretched out in front of us.
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The route was flat for most of the first half and we tried to conserve our energy as we rode into the headwind.  Two climbs came after the plains, both just short of two hundred meters ascent but by the time we reached them the temperature was already around thirty degrees.  This week seems to have been unusually hot for Patagonia, much hotter in fact than further north in Argentina.

At the eighty kilometer mark we took a break outside the bus shelter at the turn off to Santo Tomas.  A dilapidated old Fiat Uno with a young family inside pulled up and the mother hopped out and gave us two bottles of ice cold water.  In the heat of the day this was the best act of kindness we could hope for.

As we approached the last climb I glanced across to the west.  Was I seeing what I thought I was seeing ?  Yes, it was our first view of the Andes.  Even better, from the top of the climb we could just see Volcan Lanin although it was too far away to get a photograph..

The Andes visible in the background.
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At full zoom.
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The downhill into Piedra del Aguila was a welcome relief, even though we had to take refuge on the gravel shoulder a few times to let traffic past.  We stopped at the service station at the entrance to the town to make a few phone calls to arrange accommodation, finally securing an apartment on the far end of town.  It hadn't been cleaned yet so we headed to the restaurant at the YPF service station so Leigh could enjoy an ice cream while we waited.

We were too tired to cook supper but luckily we still had a couple of egg mayonnaise sandwiches left over from the ride. Early to bed.

Monday 7th November 2022

Piedra del Aguila is town that seems to exist to a large extent on the traffic passing through to the tourist areas of San Carlos de Bariloche, Junin de los Andes, Junin de los Andes and further south into Patagonia.  Next to our digs is a row of fast food joints all selling the same "home made" hamburguesas, empanadas and milanesas.  The restaurants at the two service stations on either end of the town look identical to others in the rest of the world and are full of passing traffic taking a break from the long road between further north and the tourist areas south-west of here.

Its redeeming feature is that it is surrounded by some beautiful rocky hills which are in stark contrast to the arid plains that surround it.

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We have had a very restful day here.  We have a couple of nights of wildcamping ahead of us on our way to Junin de los Andes with the first of the big climbs facing us tomorrow.  The past two months of cycling have mostly been to get us across the pampas so that we can enjoy Patagonia and, to me, this is where it really begins.

Today's ride: 99 km (61 miles)
Total: 3,301 km (2,050 miles)

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