Ride The Flavour (en)

Our last 400km in Argentina

Dec. 16th | 0 comments

Here we are again on the Argentine roads! Or should we rather AN argentine road, la ruta 9, that we will follow for 150 km to Purmamarca and its famous mountain of 7 colors…

Salta – Caldera – El Carmen – San El Salvador of Jujuy

San El Salvador of Jujuy, capital of the province of Jujuy… and last urban island before a 1000 km-ride in the remotest regions of Argentina, Chile and Bolivia. Last connection to internet, last money withdrawal, and especially last grocery shopping. We need to bring enough food for 2 weeks. We will find enough food and water as we go along until the Bolivian border, 400km away. Then will begin the laguna road, crossing the South Lipez of the Bolivia… And will disappear any point of substantial supplies for the following 300km. At least, this is what we think. 300 km that we should ride within ten days. So, to be prepared of any slowdowns, we’ve decided to carry enough food for 2 weeks:

– 3kg of oatmeal
– 4kg of rice
– 3kg of pasta
– 1 kg of polenta
– 10 cans of tuna (2.5 kg)
– 2L of tomato sauce
– 2kg of biscuits
– 1 kg of dried fruits
– 800g of powdered milk
–  powdered syrup
powdered soup
– stock cubes
(+ 2 litres of gasoline to cook everything)

Tadaaa! Suddenly, our bikes became 10kg heavier… and each now weighs  60kg, this is a new record! (and it will inevitably rise when we will have to fill all our water bottles in the laguna road…)

We leave the road 9 and hurtle with a strong back wind on the road 52 . Sharp braking, the turn brings us in front of the wind and the slope steepens. Don’t panic though, we have a “sweeper-dog”, that adopted us and decided to guide us until Purmamarca. A dog says “perro” in Spanish. It’s a girl; so “perra”. So be it, we will call you Pera, “peach”.

The words that we had heard when describing Purmamarca ranged from “super lindo” (super nice) and “hermosisimo” (incredibly beautiful). So we were rather disappointed when we laid eyes on this famous mountain of 7 colors…

No reason to make a mountain out of a molehill…

Whatever, Pera was here!

Before leaving Purmamarca, we buy coca leaves. People say that they mitigate the effects of altitude sickness… Because yes, we are now starting this tough climbing that will take us up to 4170 m high! Pera has given us the slip… She certainly felt that it would not be a easy task: Purmamarca is only 2200 m high… No less than 2000 m of ascent is awaiting us!

3 h and 15 km later (we let you calculate the average speed…), we arrive at Puerta de Lipan. On our knees. We are immediately sent away without any empathy by the only inhabitant of the village… Fortunately there is a school! It is locked but, after a few acrobatics, a small gap between the main gate and the roof gives us access to cold water for cooking… and hot water for having a shower!

Exhaustive view of Puerta de Lipan, on the right side of the picture

The next day is the hardest that we’ve lived until then. Puerta de Lipan is about 2800 m altitude… and after 7 h of climbing, for only 20km, we finally reach the pass. Exhausted. At the end, we stopped almost every km. But we have riden during the whole day under a beautiful sun, clouds were fleeing away from us. A few gusts even pushed from time to time. The ideal conditions. And what about the landscape! Splendid! Each pause was a delight.

Beefy, isn’t it ?!

That being said, our arrival at the summit brought a holy relief. The view was not that beautiful but the end of the fight was a shot of pure Fernet (an Italian alcohol, unavoidable in Argentina): happy, we are deliriously happy!

And here is our self-interview (in French). Comments made 30 sec after the arrival at the summit !

The descent is beautiful and leads us to our first salar (desert of salt), “Las Salinas Grandes” . The wind propels us and, despite the fatigue, we go through another 40km after the pass and reach Tres Posos. 5 minutes after our arrival at the village, we have already ordered our dinner. And an hour later, we fall asleep, sheltered from the wind in a garage tailored to our tent. What a day dear friends, what a day!

We ride the next day on a sawtooth road. Léo’s quote: ‘It’s as if we were seeing in HD!’ The air is pure and, indeed, the landscape appears to us incredibly sharp. Magnificent.

Llamas, undisputed masters of those high levels, raise their head and watch the originals who dare disturbing their insatiable quest for food.

At Sousques, we decide to take a rest day. A few km after our departure from Salta, Léo has felt a pain in the Achilles tendon, and over the kilometers this pain became more and more aching. Hopefuly this pause will be enough to get rid of it…

But that did not happen. When we leave Sousques, Leo’s Achilles tendon is still as painful. Two days later, we arrive at Paso de Jama, the frontier post between Argentina and Chile! Incredibly, an ultra modern gas station emerges from this small village surrounded by sand. And even more surprising: the service station has a WiFi access point. Léo finds out that his Achilles tendon pain is certainly due to a tendinitis. Recommended treatment: rest… Which is not exactly of the best timing since we are about to hit the laguna road. But there is something that might help: to go from Paso de Jama to the Bolivian border by hitchhiking.

The next day, we therefore decide to split: Leo finds a truck driver who agrees to bring him up to the Bolivian border, and Damien continues cycling. 2 days of rest for Léo, 2 days marked by a pass at 4830 m for Damien.

We both cross the border Bolivia and meet up at the first refuge of the road of the lagoons. Happy reunion. Léo’s Achilles tendon seems to have healed and a good night’s sleep will wipe away all fatigue from Damien’s body…

Tomorrow, we will ride side-by-side again, to face and admire the laguna road!

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