Alpasinche to Belén
Average speed: 14.7mph
Moving time: 3h49
Door to door: 4h30
Surprisingly, after our intruder last night, we both had a good night sleep under the stars.
We had decided that our best bet to watch the England Scotland match would be to get to Belén, the biggest town in the area for 2 o’clock. Unfortunately this meant being on the road by 8.30 cycling steadily uphill with headwinds and rain in our face.
Both exhausted but happy to have made it to Belén we searched in vain for the rugby, only finding women’s beach rugby between Argentina and Chile. To be honest this was a much better watch...
We had planned to leave Belén but none of the shops opened until 6pm and we couldn’t leave without more gas so ended up having to stay in a hostel.
DAY FIFTY ONE
Belén to 5 miles on from Campo Arenal Airport (2,500 m.a.s.l)
Distance: 65 miles
Average speed: 14.9
Moving time: 4 hours 19
Door to door: 6 hours 30
Probably the worst sound for a cyclist to wake up to, apart from lorries on the hard shoulder, is the sound of torrential rain that threatened to make our day a living hell!
Having been told by a fruit seller we were completely crazy to get going we ventured back onto Ruta 40, in the knowledge that we would be cycling uphill all day in the rain!
Miracles however do happen and after a morning of heavy rain suddenly outcame the sun and the strongest tailwinds we’ve had all trip :) After amusing ourselves at the Belén sign we began the steady climb up the valley, which actually felt like going downhill the wind was so strong.
All in all it was then a successful day as the climb we had been dreading wasn’t too bad and we found an amazing camp spot nestled in the sand dunes at 2,500 metres.
DAY FIFTY TWO
5 miles on from Campo Arenal airport to Cafayate
Average speed: 14.6mph
Moving time: 6h22
Door to door: 10h25
After another amazing night under the stars, which were maybe the best we’ve seen so far given we were 30 miles from the nearest village, we were soon on our way making good progress on what would be our last day on Ruta 40.
However, much like last time when we left this magnificent road it thought back and our gradual descent into Cafayate became a tiresome mission as the wind again built through out the day, this time straight in our face and the worst we’ve encountered since Patagonia.
Despite this we had a great day cycling through small villages, waving at the locals as we went by and stopping at nearly every mini mercado we saw to keep our energy levels high enough to battle the fierce headwinds.
Reaching the valley around Cafayate was a huge reward as we cycled through endless vineyards set in the backdrop of huge mountains.
After battling headwinds for 94 miles we were finally able to enjoy a much deserved beef lomo and a glass of Malbec in the lovely town of Cafayate.
DAY FIFTY THREE
Cafayate to Parador Las Abritas camping
Average speed: 14mph
Moving time: 3h02
Door to door: 3h50
After the waiter had forced a whole litre and a half of Malbec on us the night before we made a slightly slower start out of Cafayate then we would have liked, punished in return that the afternoon winds were in full flow by the time we hit the road.
Much like when we said goodbye to Ruta 40 near El Chaten la Ruta 68 gave us a cruel welcome seriously testing our tired bodies and heads.
Again however the incredible scenery was enough to sustain our energy on the slow climb out of Cafayate, with the road winding through valleys that were like nothing we had ever seen before.
For 30 miles we were enclosed either side by huge red mountains, that had been chiselled by years of constant winds that we were experiencing to represent the most incredible sight.
Sadly the night closed in on us and we had to race the last few miles to our campsite, where we were greeted by not one but two puppies and two full bags of pasta!!
DAY FIFTY FOUR
Parador Las Abritas camping to Salta
Average speed: 15.9mph
Moving time: 4h45
Door to door: 6h30
Both so excited to get to Salta to get to the emergency brownies sent to us by Billy Clark we hit the road quickly, breaking the day up into three 25 mile chunks.
First 25 miles done before 10am then a coffee in a tourist pack petrol station. Second 25 miles done before inhaling some food in El Carril. The final 25 miles flew by as we made it to Salta in no time. Both just so happy to have made it after what feels like a pretty big milestone on our long journey north.
To cap things off the parcel had made it from England and we were rewarded for our efforts with some of the best brownies we have ever tasted!
DAY FIFTY FIVE