It's been a while since we have written but a lot has been going on.
After a 20 hour bus ride, we arrived on the East Coast of Patagonia into a beach city called Puerto Madryn. It's the base for a lot of beaches that provide the best diving and marine life viewing in Argentina.
We were stoked to be able to finally re-assemble our bikes (its bazillions of times easier to ride around with all of our stuff attached to a machine with wheels than it is to drag around our bikes around in their bags). It had been since we got rained out in Volcan since our bikes had been out, and unfortuneately we had packed them up in a bit of a rush. Both chains had been put away wet, and one had gotten jammed into a bad spot in the bag, and was now rusted and bent. Then the real tradgedy struck.. I had somehow forgotten one of my front panniers in Cordoba. This predicated a flurry of disappointing phone calls which resulted in me having to purchase a new pannier and have it sent to Bariloche, where we'd be in a couple of weeks. Crossing my fingers its there when we get there. Fortuneately it was empty so I didnt really lose anything valuable other than the ability to haul stuff safely on the front of my bike...
Once that stress had passed, we maneuvered to the campsite, got set up, and headed out for the town. There were two large stages set up, one a bikini contest, and the other, closer in was a concert. Too hungry to effectively enjoy either we skipped past the crowds blocking the streets and settled into a fine mexican restaurant (very rare in Argentina from what we've seen) and gobbled down some needed nutrients, caught the last three songs of the concert and meandered along the beach back to our campsite. The next day we took a short ride (14km) down a gravel road to 'Punto Lomo' - Which I think literally translated means "Loin Point". The ride was rough, bouncy, and had patches of deep sand. Additionally it was one of the hottest days on record and we headed out around 1pm.. sweaty dirty ride for sure. Punto Lomo is a sea lion colony thats been protected by the government, and we happened to hit low tide when the sea lions were sun basking, so we got a pretty good show. When I hear the sea lions belching, screaming, and moaning, I close my eyes and imagine I'm in a frat house. Someday I'd like to invent a sea lion saddle and ride around in the ocean like a merman.
After punto lomo we headed back to Puerto Madryn for some much needed beach time. There is a high regard for butt floss suits round these parts, but I did get a big kick out of seeing this guys ball sack:
The next day we hit the road with a plan to travel south to Punto Tombo to see a Penguin Colony. The ride started out uneventful, with a mild climb out of town to connect with route 3. Route 3 seemed pretty busy to us on the ride in, but its hard to gauge busyness from inside a bus as compared to what it'll be like when actually riding on the road. Needless to say it was worse than we thought.. 3 inches of shoulder if we were lucky, with 55-60mph traffic blowing by, two lanes full of vehicles in both directions and some crosswinds. About 5 km down the road, I noticed that they were building an additional two lane highway parallel to route 3. I can only assume they plan on making this a four lane road, which it desparately needed. So here we were on three inches of shoulder, staring at two lanes of unused, brand new highway. After weighing the risks we decided that jumping the median and riding on the unoccupied highway probably wouldnt get us into *too* much trouble if we got caught. Worst case would be a fine or a ticket or something.. well worth the risk.
We jumped the median and were immediately smiling and satisfied with our decision. We were riding in the best bike lane on earth with no traffic, and the wind even seemed to be at our backs.
There were moments on this road that made us nervous. An occasional construction truck would bear down on us, and we'd tense up, waiting to see what consequences we were to face, only to have the truck blow by without so much as a wave. I interpreted these signs to mean "Exciting" though I think they were supposed to be a cautionary sign:
We made it about 30km before we hit the point where they were still building the road, jumped back on route 3 and nervously made it to Trelew (with a nice downhill ride in there - I hit 61kph according to my GPS...). We rolled over to Rawson, stopped into the state tourism office to find camping, and were innundated with rapid spanish from a very excited fellow. - He used to be on the Argentine Cycling team, and was really excited to see us on our bikes.. we really wanted to keep talking, but we had about 30 minutes before sunset.. He sent us to Playa Union, another 6km from where we were, but there was a nice jogger/cyclist path the whole way, and there were easy, giant signs directing us to the campground.. exactly what we needed when we were tired and hungry after a long days riding in the heat.