Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wednesday 9 Feb: getting hotter

Last night's forestry campsite was well sheltered from the morning sun in amongst the trees, so we started off later than we otherwise might have, and feeling slightly chill. It only took a few miles down the road to start to really feel the heat as it was approaching 11am. Very grateful for the 20 km of paved road we had remaining we made good progress winding between snow capped mountains, it seeming impossible to be looking at snow whilst being so hot.

As threatened by the map, the paved road ran out all to soon, and then we had the prospect of another 30km of ripio to the next town. To our disappointment we saw the tell tale signs of roadworks on this section. Given good ripio is worse than a UK temporary road surface, you can try and imagine what a temporary ripio surface entails.

Just like yesterday, as we stopped for lunch a van came past dropping off the work crew for their afternoon's stint.

This turned out to be a really long section. For the main part it was loose sand with a thick layer of even looser rocks atop. Not great fun. Takes as much of my skiing as cycling skill set to negotiate, down side being tandems are not really designed for skiing.

Then we hit the area where the real work was happening. First sand being rolled out on a steep hill. No option but to walk that. Then we reached a part where they were ploughing up the old road. Literally. Although Emma said it was more harrowing than ploughing, and I tended to agree with that sentiment.

Finally past all that, we stopped at a stream to recover and I used the "Marmotte" method (as seen on alp d'huez last year) of removing hat and shirt and soaking them in the cold mountain water. Wonderful! And even removed some of the sweat and ripio dust stains too.

We toiled through another 5km when we were met with a most unexpected yet agreeable sight: a sign declaring "pavemento a 100m". So new it is not on any of our maps, this sailed us through the remaining 10 miles to the town of Villa Amengual, where we bought much needed icecreams, fizzy drinks and juice.

Some 10k before the town we'd passed a most attractive campsite of the shore of a Lago Torres, which we'd reluctantly skipped past as we wanted to get to shops (you can just see the lake in the photo). We now wondered if we'd find anything else, or would be wild camping behind a bush somewhere.  A short climb out of town got us to a most wonderful descent down into the gorge of the next river - still on glorious paved road - and Emma spied a camping sign so we took the opportunity for hot showers and early finish. Maybe we'll start sooner tomorrow to try and get some miles in before the midday heat!

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