I crawled into bed totally & utterly satisfied and shattered in equal measure! I'd spent the day battling the wind, cycling mainly into either a headwind or side wind. Despite being back on tarmac, 95km had taken 8.5 hours.
It was my first full day experiencing the Patagonia wind across the Argentinian plains. Initially I was so glad it'd be my first and last day as the side wind threw me into the opposite side of the road a few times, having to get off and walk my bike. But the satisfaction of making progress, no matter how small, when cycling into the wind was strangely rewarding. That feeling of beating the wind!
Rob, a cyclist I'd met the day before, had dangled a carrot of hitchhiking for the last 34km into El Calafate. A strip famous for headwind that not everyone apparently makes, depending on how strong it is on any given day. But I was determined to finish the day on bike... or at least give it a proper go first.
As I cycled into El Calafate, I shouted a big wahoooo for myself (I think the driver of the tourist bus by the side of road might have assumed another loco gringo). It'd been a long day but I'd made it.
It was my last day of cycling. Tomorrow I wouldn't be putting the same cycling clothes back on and I wasn't quite ready. I wanted to keep cycling, head further south and embrace the winds and see more of the crazy open expanse. But spending more time exploring up north had then meant I'd need to stop cycling slightly earlier to start making my way back to Santiago.
The trip hasn't been a solo one at all in the end. The Carretera Austral (and beyond) is a much busier road that I realised it'd be and I've been lucky, meeting so many amazing people and some new friends for life.
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