This was the start of the much hyped Siete Lagos Route. Seven Lakes in 120 kilometers. In the high season the route is loaded with tourers, buses, backpackers, etc.
Out of the 120 km there is 43 km left of gravel road that is under construction to be paved. Along this trip we had some other bike tourers that had bikes and tires similar to our that had a very challenging time on this gravel because as it is under construction the gravel was soft and the washboard was rough. After chatting and getting tips from our great hosts at the Italian Hostel in Villa La Angostura, we decided to tackle most of the gravel road the 1st day, camp at a great lakeside spot about 64 km in, and then have a paved ride the next day into San Martin de Los Andes.
We set off from the hostel at noon after sleeping in, eating a big egg scramble, and after Ryan thankfully rigged a much needed mirror to my handlebars. I had lost the housing for my helmet mirror and it was a bit nerve-racking to not see semi-trucks and buses approaching to gauge how much time I had to potentially get into the gravel shoulder.
On the onset, the first 20 km were like butter as the roads were paved and the Sunday traffic was pretty light, super calm winds and sunnier skies than we had seen in a few days. After we hit gravel, we were welcomed by some sharp climbs and decents with large rock intermixed with sandy gravel, which made it really arduous to climb and equally tough decend without skidding and wiping out. Throughout the day, we would go through waves of slogs through gravel such as this and then smooth, relatively easy rides on harder packed dirt. We took a lot of breaks, ate a lot of snacks and took our time. Ryan cranked the house music on our mini-speaker, making the slogs much more tolerable. We made it to a great campspot along the river at Pichi Traful by 6:30 with plenty of time to spare before dark. The best welcomed suprise of the day was that we were only passed by two tour buses! The onset of off-season in the fall was a great time to ride this route, although the next day we had some rougher weather that made us think otherwise for a couple hours of the ride. We were tired but all in all, it was a great day and easier than expected.
Dinner - Coconut Curry and veggies with Ramen. Ramen has been great for the touring food when we dress it up with more than the msg.
Camp highlight - Flocks of beatiful green parrots in the trees. They are beautiful, but man, they are friggen loud!