15.01.17 Mendoza, Argentina to Malargue, Argentina
Heading off this morning, we had 350 (217 miles) km to ride, and Google Maps had a predicted time of 4 hours.
Paul had previously researched the route following Ruta 40, as I previously mentioned, to look for any areas that weren’t tarmacked. We knew today’s route was to take us on a detour around a part of unpaved Ruta 40.
We had had a discussion yesterday about what roads we were going on, and it seemed to make sense, although Paul did say, I thought we were to go on the RN143 as well as RN144.
Hmm, all went swimmingly well: we had followed the road from the city of Mendoza, on some dual carriageway, and then down to single. Ruta 40 was fairly busy, but ok. Then came our turn off to head for RN144, it was wonderful, 26 blissful miles of riding alone, with the snow topped mountains for company. That was until we reached the barrels cordoning off the road, saying ‘road in construction, no entry!’. We are beginning to understand that when an Argentinian map says there is a road, that’s because they hope one might be there at some point in the future!
We started onto a gravel track by the side of the tarmac, signposted Malargue, our destination, but soon decided that with 76km to ride to the turning, it was going to take an awfully long time. Perhaps 3 hours. Alternatively we could return the 26 miles, and take the longer route via RN143/RN144. This we did, the RN143 was a never ending road, that seemed to be heading away from our destination. However, we reached our point to turn for the RN144, and found a quick place for a bite to eat.
The woman in the shop told Paul it was the correct way, even though the tiny road we were on at this point seemed like it would head nowhere. We set off following the instructions…….. It didn’t head nowhere, no, it took us on a gravel road through the town’s rubbish dump! I could also see a river coming on the map, and I imagined a bridge- I was wrong, we were soon doing a river crossing, which was well judged enough by Paul to make sure I didn’t have to get out and push in the water. This was followed up by a quick sideways skid across the mud on the other side, and whoop, whoop, before we knew it we were onto the RN144. We looked at each other in amazement.
The RN144 was a much nicer road, and took us up over some small hills, where people were pick-nicking in the shade of willow trees at the side of the road. There were fresh snowy mountain views, and even some spectacular salt flats to enjoy.
We made a few more stops to pace ourselves, and finally arrived at our stop 8 hours after we began. We made a supermarket dash for dinner, and are now looking forward to a good rest tonight.