Villa El Blanco - The thirteenth step ... Six months in South America - CycleBlaze

November 25, 2022

Villa El Blanco

Another chilly morning but it warmed up quite quickly.  We hit the road after ten thirty, one of our latest starts, with no real idea as to where we would spend the night.  The road out of El Bolsón was really busy and I was getting pretty grumpy with some of the less accommodating drivers but as the morning wore on the traffic levels decreased and I started to relax.  A rather rough paved shoulder appeared as we entered Chubut Province and this also helped although in places the shoulder was very broken and sometimes completely destroyed.

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After a long descent into El Hoya we started climbing up to Epuyen. A few kilometers before the town we had to make a call.  Should we take the fork down to Lago Epuyen and camp there for the night or carry on and see what else we could find?  We knew that in Villa El Blanco we could sleep at the casa de ciclistas - the owner had met us in El Bolsón yesterday while we were looking for a campground and invited us to spend a night there.  So we carried on.

We stopped and had our lunch in the shade of some pine trees just before the service station outside Epuyen.  The Claro signal here was close to nonexistent so after lunch we abused the WiFi at the service station and tried, without luck, to find some accommodation.  We took this as a sign that we should carry on so we set off on the climb to the plateau where the RN71 splits off Ruta Cuarenta.

Just before the junction we came upon an Uruguayan lass and. Brazilian guy who we heading for the casa de ciclistas as well and we leap Frogger each other a few times over the last twenty odd kilometers.

The wind that had up, until the junction, been in our favour now turned into a strong headwind and the last fifteen kilometers on particular were a hard slog.  By the time we got to Cholila Ranch we felt we deserved a reward and so we downed one of the most expensive beers I have ever drunk at the cute bat and museum.

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Cholila Ranch is where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid built a cottage and lived between 1901 and 1905.  To quote loosely from Wikipedia:

They departed from [New York] to Buenos Aires, Argentina aboard the British steamer Herminius on February 20, 1901 along with [the Sundance Kid]'s companion Etta Place. Cassidy posed as James Ryan, Place's fictitious brother. They settled in a four-room log cabin on a 15,000-acre (61 km2) ranch that they purchased on the east bank of the Rio Blanco near Cholila, just east of the Andes in the Chubut.

A letter Butch wrote from Cholila to Elza Lay's mother-in-law in Utah, dated August 10, 1902. The letter cites "our little family of 3" living in a 4 room house with 300 cattle, 1500 sheep, and 28 horses.

The casa de ciclistas was only a couple of kilometers further on and we were met by the wonderful owners, Jorge and Mariela.  What they have built here is a work of love and cycle tourists are so fortunate that places like this exist.

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We have pitched our tent on the front yard.  A hot shower and a cold beer - life is good.

Today's ride: 73 km (45 miles)
Total: 3,943 km (2,449 miles)

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