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Expect the Unexpected

On a roll: Part 1

Expect the unexpected - It’s a simple enough mantra to banner over a bike trip, but it holds so true. Bikes make us see more, hear more, smell more - and in turn, the chances of the unexpected grow alongside.

After a 14hr flight, 8hr transit and 18hr bus trip, we de-boxed the bikes and rolled victoriously out of La Rioja. 2 hours later we sailed down this infinity road with an urgent tailwind, clear skies and the whole road to ourselves. 7 straight kilometres with no cars and huge smiles - to say it was a special moment doesn’t cut it. Everything here is on steroids, it seems - big roads, big distances, big winds, big sun and big grins. Argentinian big.

We planned not to plan. Get the kit right, and then wing it. So with the prospect of a new continent, I’d obsessed. 5 weeks of gear to carry, and a hunger to push out some proper kilometres in the process. Check, pack, re-check. Box it all up and roll. The rest now just happens - we go where the road takes us.

 

My wingman Giles, however, had not shared my packing obsession. "If I don't have it, it's too late now and we can make it up as we go", were his reassuring words as we set out for the airport. Visions of spending my first week trailing from remote bike shop to backstreet mechanic flashed before me. Through luck or premonition, though, save a few pit stops to tinker with a bike caught unawares by a new continent, we did just fine.

The first week started with a tailwind from heaven and ended with a headwind from hell. One of my hardest days on a bike - a battering 40kmh direct headwind for 110km, with no respite from sun nor wind. It plays with each of your senses in turn. We had to cover our faces to ease the windblast - both of us giving it full beans just to push ahead.

 An inspiring 15 minutes in this photo, where a flock of green parrots flew alongside us into wind; a welcome distraction from the wind tunnel.

As quickly as the headwinds and open tundras subside, we found ourselves in verdant, green national parks of jawdropping beauty – this was just east of Huaco off the Ruta 40 and took our breath away. All colours, just as we saw them. No filters, no people, no flat roads.

One week and 1000km into my five-week trip, and with my wingman about to head home, I’d soon be riding solo on my way south to Chile and the Southern Alps.

 

In Part 2 Howard meets the ‘Water Angels’, an early morning wheel sucker. Follow our Instagram and Twitter for Parts 2 and 3 of this amazing journey.

 

Words by Howard @pedalpilots Instagram

 

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