LIGHTER BIKE, HEAVIER MOOD

Sadly, the sense of calm that had descended over me was short-lived as, on the relatively short run to San Carlos de Bariloche the next morning, no fewer than three lorries or coaches proceeded to run me off the road with totally unnecessary overtaking manoeuvres.  My despair turned into rage, only to be somewhat mollified by a large quantity of baked goods from the first panadería that I came to!  Again somewhat unimpressed by the touristy and super-expensive Bariloche, I headed out of town to Colonia Suiza and the relatively good value campsite of Camping Ser for a few days of decompression and blog writing!

I discovered whilst I was there that US friends, Scott and Sue, who I had met back in Cusco the first time I went there (by bus), were nearby and, lo and behold, I bumped into them shortly after leaving town.  They had effectively had a six-week head start on me but various side trips (and probably their love of craft beers) had slowed their progress enough for me to catch them.  It was fun to catch up, having ridden very similar routes on our respective journeys South, and together we rode on and found a lovely riverside campsite at Kaleuche del Manso, a few kilometres off the Ruta 40.

The next day we climbed two small hills and then rolled downhill into the two of El Bolsón.  Scott and Sue had been there a few days before with some visiting friends and had high praise for the food and beer on offer at the local market, so we made a plan to meet up that afternoon. With a thirst for beer, I went to meet them, only to discover that they had already done the rounds of the market and there was a town-wide ban on the sale of alcohol in place that day!  It was a poignant and admirable move – to remember a kid killed by a drunk driver a year previously – but somewhat frustrating.  It did, however, give me a good excuse to stay another day there so we could properly sample the local craft ales the next day!

Late leaving town the next morning, after the now almost inevitable recollection of having forgotten to hard-boil eggs bought the day before, and running some errands in town, I was behind Scott and Sue.  Shortly after leaving town, however, I ran into Mirko and Ina, who had been part of the crew in Mendoza for Christmas, so we had a quick catch-up.  I then put my (mildly hungover) head down and pushed on.  The previous day’s beer-drinking had definitely left me somewhat short of energy though and, by mid-Afternoon, I was ready to stop.  At that moment, I realised that I was only a few kilometres from (the real) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s cabin!  It was renovated a little a few years back but stands open to the public, with nobody guarding it or taking entrance fees.  Lifting my bike over the fence that is meant to just let pedestrians through, I pedalled up to the cabin and had a look around.  A couple were exploring it and taking photos.  I figured I would wait around nearby and see if any locals turned up to check on the place.  A few groups of people arrived to look around, but nothing more, and shortly before sunset I wheeled my bike inside and set up camp!  One more group of people showed up shortly after, scaring the hell out of us all, but they soon left me to myself.  My only company was a horse chewing on grass outside and the bats who lived inside the cabin.  Fortunately, I’ve no problem with bats, as long as they don’t bite me(!), so after cooking up dinner, I was able to happily bed down in this most memorable of locations!

Not wanting to be clocked again, I woke early and got onto the road shortly after sunrise…

I passed through Cholila and then, after a few kilometres, the asphalt gave way to ripio and soon I entered Los Alerces National Park. It was lovely to ride through some old forest…

4 Comments

  1. You’ve inspired us! Jess and I are planning our first bike packing trip. Definitely going to try and keep it light (also, on full sus behemoths, so…). Might have to get a 360 cam too!

    1. Haha, awesome! Great to hear it. Yep, you’d be amazed with how little stuff you actually need! I’m jealous of the options that you have near you for cool routes! Would really like to ride the Baja divide (http://www.bikepacking.com/routes/baja-divide/) some time – need to upgrade to a fat bike first though 😉
      As for the 360 cam (I’ve got a Ricoh Theta S), it’s brilliant – no composition of shots, just smile, press the button and move on!

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