Monday, February 7, 2011

Saturday 5 Feb: ripio woes, paved road woo!

In the morning we got to continue the descent we'd started the previous evening. Nice smooth ripio more a hard mud surface than gravel. Soon we were at the floor of the valley and heading towards the cerro Castillo peaks that stand above their namesake Villa. Again, impressive granite jags encrusted in snow, clear against the blue sky of what was turning into a pretty warm day after a chill night.

Before reaching the town we had to clear one last climb. Not a massive one, but reasonable job which was.rewarded with a nice view over Lago Verde (which is indeed quite green). Then it was one last descent and into the town, which promised to meet us with a return to paved roads. What a nightmare descent though! The full width of the road was deep in very loose gravel, and very steep in places. Perhaps a lightly loaded solo bike could get down it OK, but heavily loaded tandem was not ideal! With only one grazed elbow (and associated hole in jersey) I think we got of quite lightly.

When we reached the turning for the "manos" caves we'd been considering walking out to we decided to skip, as that detour would just prolong the ripio pain. Two more turns and we were on the paved road. Never has that small thing felt so good!

The town is very small and the supermarket was shut for lunch, but Emma spotted a great little diner by the road, constructed from two old buses with a 'knock through' connection in their middles. A couple burgers, fries, and a large bottle of coke later and we were feeling back on top form. So we had some icecream too.

The road north out of cerro Castillo follows a 12km climb, half of it on switch backs. Hard work in the hot afternoon sun, but great cycling with sun (and wind!)  on our backs and amazing views. At the saddle summit we were rewarded with 10km of easy descent through the mountain peaks before turning up along side another stream. Just after Emma mentioned it was half five and where should we think about stopping, a sign appeared for a campsite in half a k. Ideal. It's part of the national park, well sheltered amongst the trees of a small valley and hot showers and a camp fire make for a great end to a tough but overall enjoyable day on the road!

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