The rest of my 3,000km ride south was pretty much what I expected- long days with the infamous Patagoinian winds throwing me around the road and nothing much at all for views.
The early mornings did offer some fantastic colours, but once the sun finally dragged itself completely into the sky, its bland light washed out all the colours it had previously highlighted. The day was then left to watching my own creeping shadow as it slowly made its way from one side of the road to the other.
The one break in the monotony was the little roadside shrines that seemed to crop up, without obvious reason, fairly often. The favorites were the ones bedecked in red and dedicated to Gauchito Gil , while those sporting stacks of bottles of water for Difunta Correa ran second. I might not be a religious person, but these simple shrines I could understand- they were an idea of faith I could respect. Exploring their differences and surreptitiously watching the occasional visitor who arrived while I was there gave me a sense of the local beliefs that any number of tours around a grand cathedral never could.
Another thing that changed as I moved south was the weather. Well, no- that’s not right; the weather didn’t really change, it was the temperature that changed. Every morning the ice along the edges of puddles was deeper and thicker, the powdering of frost on my bike slowly became ice, and the howling wind forced me to put ever more layers on as it became colder.
It was right before the Chilean border, under a bitterly cold blue sky, that I met the first rider who had been forced to turn back. He’d been riding south when the freezing rain had started to collect enough ice on his bike that he couldn’t ride. After waiting a couple of days he decided to turn back since he had to make a shipping date in BA.
Since the weather was cold, but dry, I decided to keep moving south. Then I met the next riders. These were an older couple riding two-up on an RT. They had been able to deal with the weather, but black ice had nearly dropped them a few times so they decided to turn back.
Riding south after these encounters I was worried. There was no way I was going to skip ‘dotting my i’ by riding to Ushuaia, but I was also beginning to be concerned about just how long it might take me to get there.
Waiting on the coast for the ferry to Tierra del Fuego certainly didn’t do anything to make me feel better.