Route 16

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It is 815km long way from Resistencia to Salta. Most of the part you have to cross the Chaco province, which is also known as the “Green Hell” because of it’s weather conditions.

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1st DAY (117,81km): I wake up in the hotel in Resistencia at 7a.m. It is the cheapest hotel here (10e), but for it’s price it is one of the bests I’ve been. Last night I went to bed early, because usually I start cycling in the very mornings. This time though I don’t rush anywhere. I eat breakfast and go to cyber net to make some blog postings. Then I change the chain and finally check-out at 11.30a.m.

It’s sunny Thursday noon, when I reach the big road (Ruta 16). This day I was thinking just to cycle to the camping area 40km away from Resistencia, but it is still too soon for stopping when I pass the camping site. I have enough food and water with me (5,5 liters) so I decide to continue as far as I see another spot for camping.

The traffic is annoying, because the road is very narrow and there are too many truck using it. Often I have to  “flee” on the unpaved or grassy side. “Next 800km of this” -I think in my mind.

The sun is slowly setting down and still no sign of camping areas. What I usually need is just enough space for a tent beside a road, but it also needs to look safe. So far all the ground is just fenced, so I start to get worried. I stop once just to check one bad looking spot, but there I get eaten by mosquitoes. Another place just before dark has huge ants walking around.

There is a small town called Machagai 15km away, which I’m forced to cycle in the dark. My light is very good though. Even so good, that the passing cars blink at me to ask me to put the “long lights” off. Of course I can not. There are lots of insects flying into my face after dark, so I have to keep my hand infront of my mouth.

After 45min I finally reach the town, and see a furniture shops with nice grass ground.

There are some workers carrying furnitures to the shop, so I ask them if I can camp on their property. They are very helpful, tell me where to camp and offer me some water to clean myself.

2nd DAY (123,94km): I wake up and pack my stuff before sunrise. At 6.55a.m I’m already on the road when there is some light. Traffic is still annoyingly heavy.

I arrive to Saenz Peña before noon. I need to buy some bread, so I cycle to the centre. This is the biggest town on my way, and I’m surprised how big it is. There are also many hotels and a camping site, but again it’s too early for stopping. So I buy some good pastries and get back to the main road.

Sun gets burning hot after 10a.m so I need to always put some sun block to protect my skin. Otherwise the weather is comfortable and around 28 degrees.

30km after Saenz Peña the road 16 splits into two big roads. Ruta16 continues straight, but most of the heavy traffic turns left! Hoorrraayy!!!! I finally get on a quiet well paved road! I’m super excited that I can finally listen to my Nokia mp3-player. Usually I listen to music if the traffic is mild and road is flat. Now it’s perfect.

My day gets even more perfect, when I reach Pampa del Infierno. There is a Shell gas station with a good map (see picture), free wi-fi and just next to it a free municipal camping site (with toilets and shower)! It’s still two hours before dark but I’m so happy for this discovery, that I just set up a tent and chill out before bed time.

3rd DAY (233,01km): I’m very excited of the new day, but I start cycling no sooner than 8a.m. There are two towns ahead of me, one after 183km and another after 233km. Because of the time I try to reach the closer one.

But my feet feel good. The wind is in my tail. The asphalt is smooth and traffic very mild. And I’m full of energy. I raise my hopes for the town further on.

I divide my day into 40km sections and see how it goes. First section I do at 21,5km average, but the next one is already 22,5km. I’m speeding up even though the road is slightly uphill (you couldn’t tell if you didn’t know).

I make very short pit stops, after every 40km maybe 5-10mins of peeing and eating. Super fast cycling and effective stops make me reach the closer town at 5p.m. I know that sun is setting around 7p.m, so I try to make it to the next town. My body is getting tired, the road is getting worse, but my mind wants to reach the next town.

The last 33km is kind a struggling, but I manage to get to the town just before darkness. I find the only hotel in town, have a shower, eat some pizza and enjoy the amazing long distance I did with a crappy Superman Returns-movie. The longest distance I did in one day (from sunrise to sunset) was in Sweden – 260km.

4th DAY (113,57km): Doing so long distance the day before, I plan to arrive to Salta in 6 days. This would mean around 110km each day from now on. 110km is not much, but Salta is situated 1200m above the sea level, which can be demanding.

Yet because of the “easier” amount I start pedaling at 8.30a.m. However, easier doesn’t turn out to be so easy. The wind changes it’s direction to a head wind and the asphalt gets poor. Interesting fact is, that my speed record this day doesn’t exceed the AVERAGE speed of the previous day.

Anyways, this day doesn’t bring anything special on road. There are some dead animals eaten by condors so their bones are just left. Dead lizard was also rather disturbing sight.

I get to J.Gonzalez IV. by 5.30p.m and ask around for a camping site. Apparently there is none, but I’m told I can camp behind one gas station. There are lots of trucks parked there, but I find a place to put my tent. I make some soup on my stove and try to get some sleep.

The night is not so good. There is some sort of celebration in the town with fireworks and loud music. It also starts to rain.

5th DAY (118,05km): I wake up at 7a.m, but it still rains. The worst thing is to pack your stuff in rain, so I decide to wait. The rain stops at 9a.m, but the sky looks like it’s going to rain the whole day.

I pack my stuff and eat my breakfast under the roof ot the gas station. The sky is looking bad, but it’s not raining. At 10a.m I make my move and hit the road.

As I proceed, weather is clearing up and the sun comes out occasionaly. So I feel positive despite the bad paving. My only concern is my food supply, because I ate almost everything for the breakfast. Lukcily after 80km a nice gas station appears out of nowhere. I eat a tasty sandwhich and continue onwards.

685km is already behind me, when ruta 16 unites with ruta 34. Ruta 34 is with heavy traffic again but it has four lanes. Also the scenery gets magnificent. Green hills and mountains after long flat part looks outstanding. I ride only 18km of this road before I have to turn to this small village to get some more food.

Lumbera is a perfect village. It’s population is like the one from the movies, with one tooth grandpas and picturesque houses. The mountains in the backround and clear sky completes the perfect image. I find a shop which is a window you have to ask for what you want. I buy some food and after eating I decide to camp at the local police station. Local men gather around to play some football to the field closeby before it gets dark after which I fall asleep.

6th DAY (104,41km): I sleep well, and wake up full of good energy. The sky is clear so I know today is going to be a good day. I have only some 100km to Salta, so I know it’s enough to cycle 10km per hour to reach it before dark.I also know that it will be uphill most of the way.

Uphills or not, the views are great and the road awesome. My average speed starts with 11km per hour, but increases as the day goes on. At some point I just joke to myself if I could increase my average speed all the way to Salta, but this joke becomes like a challenge.

Every 10km I check the average speed and try to beat the last 10km average speed. And despite the continous uphill I manage to do it. As I reach Salta my average speed goes up to 16,85km/h which is amusingly the same avg.speed for my whole trip so far from Germany.

So my fellow readers, I managed to reach Salta safe and sound in 6 days. I’m relaxing here for three nights and then continue towards Chile. This ruta will go over 4000m passes, so it will be also very interesting.

Cheerio!

ps. my blog post about Paraguay on ovi is here and my stay in Curitiba on travel2help is here

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6 Comments

  1. J
    Posted April 14, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Your trip sounds very interesting! Keep it safe and keep on writing well. By the way, have you concidered writing a book about your trip?

    • Posted April 14, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Gracias! I have to get back home before I can really think of anything else. I want to do a picture gallery somewhere for sure.

  2. Posted April 14, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

    hi lukas,
    as you know i’m on my way by now (close to cz boarder!), and reading your ruta 16 story is extremely inspiring and motivating. i like that average speed game!
    let me read more of that stuff!
    cheers,
    herbert

    • Posted April 14, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Excellent. Commenting your blog asks for some german site subscription… but I’ll drop you a line to your email now and then.
      Say hi to CZ from me!

  3. Posted April 19, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Yippee-ki-yay!!!!

    Crazy rider!! Keep on!! Much respect!

    • Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

      John:Hans Hans Hans, uuups— no bullets! What do yo think that I’m an idiot?
      Elevator rings…
      Hans: You were saying?

      Ho Ho Ho!

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