after few days of resting in hopes to align my exit with the next saturdays train, I luckily managed to open the freewheel and for now, solve the problem, thus requiring no zipties or string or fencewire.
the train was great but it was my time to hit the tracks
apart from few sections where the wooden cross planks (i think they have a name?) were exposed, it was all rideable and smooth going, somewhat fading into the imenseness of the andes in the distance
even with some wind blowing me off the tracks or needing to put a foot down it was all good. The critters were also nice to watch and try to film although these rabbits were surely a bit too wide-eyed, wonder what they have been munching on??
with two more days and the track being so good, i figured i could call an early camp along a planted area. Although these trees feel like invading the pampa and row by row an unnatural feature, they offer great wind protection. I even got a glimpse at those big mountains but did not dare to go on a bike ride out of the woods and into the wind in the evening as i had hoped
the way was good and a bit soft at times and there was nothing that can stop me, at least not on a bike
i heard about some disagreements with the locals and the train, where they did not want to run it and it is because of that that it doesnt do the whole el maiten-esquel traverse. With fingers crossed i hope that i wont run into any person telling me to turn around.
the wind roared and roared and i was pretty windswept - a certain state of mind that is just odd and off. Where it feels that i was not in control but unlike my two month ride (or walk) in the Puna, i had some earphones now and started blasting music, in this case a 3 hour mix of trance.
then a turn of the railtracks and i was on the way. The crosswind was not mostly from the back and i was flying down the tracks. I spooked an armadillo who hid into the bush. I was as fast as the condors and as agile as the guanacos, riding over thorn bushes, ground critter holes and wooden planks as if it was the perfect trail
then I found a good old card to call home for the night at one of the old rail stations.
the perfect escape from the wind and a good spot to watch the sunset
then it was a bit like a dream, i heard the whistle, i heard people running, cameras clicking. it was the train
The group of train enthusiasts i had met earlier had actually gone all the way out to here - over 50km of trainline instead of the saturday run of 15. There is a saying that the train doesnt stop for anything but this one stops, changes steam color and intensite and reverses on command. And in this world it is the only thing keeping it going, a step back through time for tourism but at the same time it is so wonderful and unique to see this century old machine still make its way through the argentinian pampa like it did back in the day and it still remains a significant part of these remote pampa settlements.
and just like a dream it was all gone in a puff of white smoke, leaving the silent pampa and clear skies behind
the morning ride was good but eventually the winds picked up and i rarely found interest in the surroundings, i watched guanacos dash away from great distances as if i was a puma and the birds curiously look at me before eventually flying away.
about my take 3 of trying to eat vegeterian and its just a bit challenging to make it work in such remote places where the minimercados might not have a really great variety of good food.
it was pretty but the combination of winds and even some sandy or too overgrown spots meant a lot of walking and not even getting close to where i should have, if i wanted to catch the saturday train on the move
maybe the wind had made me as blind and oblivious to the amazing surroundings like this old badger guy who did not even notice me coming until it was too late.
i set up exhausted wondering if i will ever make it to the train in time tomorrow
with an early start i chased my morning shadow and the funny walking birds through the fields of winds that never really stopped the whole night.
it was truly an endless ride and walk into the wind, with the crankset now in very bad condition and the chain constantly falling off. That little play that the mighty chilean mechanics of Pucon (el Pelao bicicleteria) left by forgetting a spacer has grown into something much worse, partly by not caring so much for it and partly by the fact that it was tensioned so much that i simply could not open it by myself (or by a bikeshop in the first argentinian town)
it was already past one as I approached Nahuel Pan train station but i had made it, the train was leaving in 5 minutes and i rode down the track to film it passing me by
it was against the wind but downhill ride into Esquel
where the train track faded into the city
and just like that, it was all done.
and maybe Fathorse the bike was done as well, as the crank bolt simply could not be removed.
but that may be postphoned a bit as I finally get to meet Pablo and his family of bulgarian descend with their grandfathers having travelled here from my home country to work on the rail track. They run a little take out restaurant and make the greatest food
it was great life for me like the dog Nena, next to the radiator with food and water nearby
and with Pablo´s insistance on looking for repairs scouring the bikeshops (the fancy ones with windows wont even look at the bike) and some of the shadiest parts of town to get a fix for the bike
a welder finally manages to remove the bold and we both give him a hug and thank him.
yeah and thats the easy part… what is next? we do a second round at the bikeshops but no-one wants to see it…
(violins, dramatic music, drums)…
more on the next update :)