Bill Weidenfeller

Home: Naples, FL

Hobbies: Biking, Tennis

 

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ExpeditionPLUS

Rails to Trails Conservancy

America by Bike

Bicycling Across the High Andes

03-01-2009 - 04-07-2009
 
read interview
 
Welcome to the most exciting bicycling expedition in the world! This trip is everything you've
ever wanted in an adventure bike tour: exhilarating climbs and descents; spectacular colors and mountain/volcano scenery; welcoming people and towns; biking at 4600 meters (15,091 feet) above sea level; paved roads; crossing the High Andes plateau; a side trip for 2 nights into Bolivia to visit colorful geysers, lagoons and get deeper into the famous Andean Plateau; long mileage through the Pampas at the end of the tour. ExperiencePlus! has been planning this trip for more than a year and we have found the perfect route to pedal the High Andes.
 
Scenery on this tour will vary from desert and rock formations to sepctacular mountains to great salt flats to colorful canyons to cactus-covered hills and pre-Colombian ruins to the great Pampas expanses. Sights will include Chilean mines, colorful Andean villages, Bolivian geysers and volcanoes, Incan ruins, Jesuit estancias, famous colonial cities, Uruguayan beaches and everything in between. We'll travel through three countries--Chile, Argentina and Uruguay--before finishing in one of the most famous cities of the world, Buenos Aires. Join us on this first-of-its-kind expedition across one of the most magnificent mountain ranges in the world!
 

Interview with Bill Weidenfeller

        The following interview appeared in the "ExpeditionPLUS" newsletter.

Name:  Bill Weidenfeller

Age:  64...and holding!

Bill, when and more importantly, how did this madness for crossing continents begin?  Early in 2004, I made a decision that changed my life.  As an inexperienced cyclist I committed to a bicycle ride across America. My wife, Betty, had recently died after a long battle with cancer, and I was searching for a way in which to memorialize her life, find inner peace, and to help others in some way.  I was off!

I cycled from California to Maine, 3796 miles in 52 days, and raised approximately $50,000 for the American Cancer Society.  I found a way to "start over, but cherish the past", and had experienced the challenge and adventure of a lifetime. I became an impassioned cyclist.  I then rode the length of the Mississippi River the next year, and in 2006 completed the second ride across America.  The 2007 the ExpeditionPlus! continental ride from St. Petersburg to Istanbul was magnificent in every respect.  I was hooked on the joys of long distance cycling!

Do friends, family join you for these rides or do you travel alone?   I went by myself on the first ride, but I never felt alone. I had such overwhelming support from family and friends, and made such lasting friendships along the way that I always felt a part of a team. On every bicycle trip since, I have joined with friends, met mainly on previous rides, or family. 

You have ridden across the US twice; did you use the same route.   No, the Cross Country Challenge in 2004 was across the center of the country, over the Sierras, the Rockies and through the "heartland" of America.  The Across America-North ride in 2006 began on the Oregon coast, rolled through the Cascades, the northern plains states, the upper Midwest and onto the New Hampshire coast. Both routes were challenging, eventful, and brought a lifetime of wonderful memories.

You also maintain a blog of your rides, http://www.bikingwithbill.org/.  What inspires you to blog at the end of a long ride?   I began blogging to keep family, friends and supporters to my ACS fund raising ride apprized of my progress. (Believe it or not, I had some "doubters" of my ability to finish!).  I have continued to post my daily website journal entries and photos on every ride since.  I enjoy the "responsibility to report", and I am continually thankful that I have a "record" of the journey that I  am able to  relive at leisure.  Some days it IS a challenge to take the time to publish, but I view it as a responsibility I took on.  "Just do it" becomes my mantra.

In your application you said, "you must do it" (the High Andes Expedition) is it possible to explain why?   Easy!  This is a cross Continent journey!  This is BIG!   Sometimes I can become a bit “single focused” when there is something I want to do. This is one of those things—I MUST DO.  Imagine crossing the ANDES on a bike, experiencing the cities, countryside and cultures of Chile, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Argentina (and dancing the tango in Buenos Aires!)  Can’t wait!

There seems to be a gap between cyclists who consider themselves cycle tourists and those who race—how do you categorize yourself?    It is clear, I am a touring cyclist.  I began too late to consider racing.  However, I do feel competitive juices when I bike.  I want to do “personal bests” in terms of distance and times.  I want to climb higher, go faster, maintain speeds longer etc.  But nothing beats the joy of just riding a bike with friends through new and interesting landscapes.  I am a proud and happy touring cyclist!

How do you train for these long rides?  There is no substitute for long hours on the bike—day after day.  I also think a cross-training sport such as tennis is helpful in keeping fit and active—and it’s fun!  In the gym, I take spin classes and some weight training, which I’m sure pay dividends on the road.

Magical things seem to happen to cyclists on the road—can you share a couple of stories with us?   I have seen a lot of things happen on the road.  I have heard many stories.  Some are amazing, some amusing, and all too personal or long to tell here.  Many are heart- warming and inspirational…and private.  Long distance cyclists are "themselves" on the road. You get to know them—you are with them for long hours and sometimes days and weeks on end.  The comeraderie is strong and lasting.  Any stories I could tell would be of outstanding people doing incredible things with their lives.

What do you do for fun when you aren’t riding your bike?   I am an avid, competitive tennis player. I love to read, am a serious French student, and continue to work on behalf of the American Cancer Society.  I particularly enjoy and receive great satisfaction in my volunteer work with Special Olympics, coaching "my special athletes" in tennis and cycling.

What questions do you wish we would have asked, and how would you have answered?     
What has cycling meant to me?

Recently, on a rest day during a group ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway, I had time to reflect on the many ways CYCLING has made a positive impact on my life. I wrote on my website that day the following:
• Having biked in 36 states and 14 countries, cycling is responsible for my visiting and experiencing incredible sights, places and cultures, otherwise unknown to me.
• It has allowed me to have close friendships with interesting, active and wonderful people.
• Cycling has made me healthier and fit, more conscious of how I treat my body to promote good health.
• It has provided challenge after challenge—on and off the bike.
• By dedicating certain long distance rides in support of a charity or cause, such as the American Cancer Society and Rails- to- Trails Conservancy, I feel I have benefited others in a meaningful way.

I have enjoyed life immensely through these cycling adventures, and plan to continue on this path for as long as I am able.

 



 
  • Posted: Tue, 7 April 2009

    COLONIA del SACREMENTO to BUENOS AIRES

     

     

     

                                 CELEBRATION  IN  BUENOS  AIRES

     

       YEAH!  I MADE IT!  The “Celebratory Salute” with the bike overhead was the best way I could think of to commemorate the crossing of the finish line in Buenos Aires. 

     

     

       Forty days after arriving in Santiago Chile, we have now completed the journey in Buenos Aires.  Our trip statistics show 2000 miles (3300 km) of cycling, 75,000 feet of climbing (WOW!), and well over 120 hours in the saddle.

     

     

       I feel a proud sense of accomplishment for having successfully “gone the distance” on this difficult expedition.  Few have tried, and few have completed a journey such as this.  The challenges of cycling at 16,000 feet above sea level, climbing over the Andes Mountains, and then across the Atacama Desert, the Pampas, and the farmlands of Uruguay was an adventure of a lifetime!

     

     

       Buenos Aires is known as “a city of immigrants”.  There were 2 Italians, 1 Argentine, 1 Mexican, 1 Scotsman, and 7 Americans who were very happy to arrive here today by boat…our cycling crew, who entered by ferry from Uruguay to mark the culmination of  our “Amazing Adventure” across South America.  Certainly, we are not here to stay, in fact we are anxious to return home after a most successful bicycling expedition, but we intend to celebrate our accomplishments in this great cosmopolitan city of 10 million people for a few days.

     

     

     

     

       At 8:30 this morning, following a group photo in Colonia, we boarded the Silvia Ana ferry for the crossing of the Rio de la Plata to Buenos Aires.  Stacking our bikes in the belly of the boat, as demonstrated by Polo and Mary, we proceeded to our comfortable lounge seating for the 1 hour “sailing”.

     

     

       On arrival in B.A. we did what all cyclists SHOULD DO!  We took a 4 hour guided tour of some of the city’s most popular neighborhoods and famous sites on BICYCLES!  Trying to stay together as best we could to ride in a group, we navigated some of the toughest terrain one can find…..busy, bustling, big city streets.

     

     

     

     

        

       With our tour guide at the lead we cycled along the waterfront in Puerto Madera, the “hip”, new and most expensive neighborhood in which to live in B.A.  It was once the major port in the city, but now displays high rise apartments, converted warehouses and chic hotels and restaurants.

     

     

       We stopped for lunch in the colorful La Boca area, home to the Boca Juniors soccer team: “the best soccer team in the world”, as Javier reminded us.  It was then on to the hotel with stops at the Plaza de Mayo, the Pink House (Argentina’s White House) and the Legislature Building.

     

     

         

     

     

       Our “farewell dinner” at Siga de Vaca  (Follow the Cow) was a steak lover’s feast of all you can eat and drink.  We received our Certificate of Acheivement from ExpeditionPLUS and recounted the stories and happenings of our weeks of riding together.

     

       It was a great group of riders, a terrific and interesting “course” across South America, and, for me, one of life’s great experiences!

     

            Ciao,

             Bill

  • Posted: Sun, 5 April 2009

    CARMELO to COLONIA del SACREMENTO

     

     

     

                                           PALM  SUNDAY  in  URUGUAY

     

     

       Monica, Fritz, and I got a late start on the last day of serious cycling before we enter Buenos Aires tomorrow.  We were the “sweep team” that followed the others by at least 2 hours.  We had good reason to be delayed.

     

     

     

     

       It is Palm Sunday today, so Fritz and I joined the parishioners of Carmelo, Uruguay in the manner that the day is observed in Catholic South America.  We were informed by a nun that the mass is preceded by a procession that begins at Santuario del Carmen, located 6 blocks from the main church on the town square.

     

     

     

     

       We went there, were given olive branches to hold, and joined a nearly 2 block long crowd of people on a reverent march to the main church for the Palm Sunday mass.  It was an interesting and impressive experience in the culture of our neighbors to the South.

     

     

       It was nearly noon when the 3 of us left Carmelo for the 78 km (49 mile) bike ride to Colonia del Sacremento.  We immediately met 2 fit local cyclists who were training for their next Ironman competition.  We stayed with them for awhile and talked, before they moved up the pace and we separated.  We also passed a peloton of cyclists headed back to Carmelo who were probably on a club training ride.  Their support car followed them.

     

     

       We were surrounded by rolling hills, beautiful farm land (now mostly harvested), and the greenest of fields you can imagine.  That unique BLUE SKY was also on full display.  It was a great bike ride.

     

     

       Ruta 21 was our country highway for this quiet Sunday ride to Colonia.  We stopped at the 30 and 60 km marks to eat our empanada lunch.

     

     

       We made very good time maintaining a quick pace all the way.  At the edge of Colonia we came to the brown and massive Rio de la Plata.  Way off at the point where the river meets the horizon, we could make out the tall buildings of Buenos Aires.  Tomorrow morning we cyclists board a ferry for transport across the Rio de la Plata and into B.A.  We then have a short bike ride through the city to our hotel---and the completion of our High Andes Adventure and cross continental trek.

     

     

       Monica Price, the chief guide on our trip and President of Experience PLUS tour company, stood with me for a photo upon reaching the river near the end of our ride today.  We had fun---and some great cycling!

     

     

       Colonia del Sacremento is a popular tourist city and recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The city was founded by the Portuguese in 1680.  A fortress overlooking the river is well preserved, as are many structures demonstrating the architecture of the Portuguese colonial style.

     

             Ciao,

              Bill

     

     

     

  • Posted: Sat, 4 April 2009

    MERCEDES to CARMELO

     

     

     

                                     REACHING the RIO de la PLATA

     

     

       It was raining hard at breakfast this morning, and a check of several internet websites for the weather forecasts stated unequivocally that rain and wind would continue all day.  We were given the option to not bike in the rain the 110 km (65 miles) to Carmelo, but take a bus at noon instead.  Dan and I opted for that choice, as we had enough riding in the rain yesterday.

     

     

       Those that biked got LUCKY, and I clearly made my decision not to ride on bad information.  The rain ceased shortly after the cyclists left Mercedes.  It did start again en route, but not for long before clearing entirely. A photo of Polo on the road.

     

     

       On early arrival in Carmelo, where the Rio Uruguay flows into the Rio de la Plata, we took the opportunity to take a long walk exploring the town and river.

     

     

       Rio de la Plata (River of Silver) gets its name from the route that was used to transport silver from the mines in Peru to the ports in Buenos Aires. 

     

     

       The river and beaches are just a short walk from our hotel.  Dan and I stopped at a beach front “resto-bar” for a quick lunch.  The beach was deserted --- it is off season, and the river looked too brown to be inviting to swimmers.

     

     

     

     

     

       We saw some interesting local sights in Carmelo.

     

       The tennis players on red clay courts perked my interest in some “cross training”.  I can’t wait to get back to tennis when I get back to Florida.

     

         Ciao,

          Bill

     

     

     

  • Posted: Fri, 3 April 2009

    COLON, ARGENTINA to MERCEDES, URUGUAY

     

     

     

                                                 VIVA  URUGUAY

     

     

       Today marked the entry into our 4th country in South America on our cross continent cycling trek.

     

     

     

     

       On a major bridge spanning the Rio Uruguay, we crossed from Argentina to Uruguay.  Our group was cleared through customs/immigration and we were off on a 150 km (93 mile) ride to the city of Mercedes, directly to the south.

     

     

       A dark sky and thunder in the distance signaled our misfortune.  As we waited for the rain to fall, it was clear that there was little difference in the landscape in Uruguay from our previous days rides.  Cattle and horses grazing, even a gaucho was spotted from time to time, farm land and a continuum of rolling hills under dark skies was what we focused on all day. 

     

     

       The rain fell hard with lightning and crashing thunder.  We absorbed it for a time, and then saw a gas station where we took shelter until it stopped.  It remained cloudy and windy for the balance of the day, but we missed anymore major rainfall.

     

     

       The weather, a flat tire, poor road surface at times, and the wind held us back during the first half of the ride. Then conditions improved for Dan and me during the final 75 km.  The hills seemed to flatten out, we had a tailwind, and the road surface was excellent.  We cranked!

     

     

       It was interesting for me, an old paper industry guy, to see miles of beautifully pruned and spaced eucalyptus plantations on both sides of the road. Many logging trucks passed fully loaded with wood for the pulp and paper mills in Uruguay.

     

     

       After crossing the Rio Negro we were in Mercedes, our destination city.  It was a long day in the saddle—8 hours from start to finish—6 hours riding the highways and byways of Uruguay.

     

        Ciao,

        Bill

      ps

     


      Here is a photo of our entertainment during dinner last night in Colon.

  • Posted: Thu, 2 April 2009

    ROSARIO del TALA to COLON

     

     

     

                                   COLON,  ON  THE  RIO  URUGUAY

     

     

       A change in plans was made today to allow us to enter Uruguay as a group in the morning, and in favor of a better hotel.  It had us cycling to the town of Colon, Argentina.   Colon sits on the banks of the Uruguay River, which forms the border between Argentina and Uruguay.  We begin our 3 days of cycling in Uruguay tomorrow…Then it is on to Buenos Aires and a celebratory glass of Champagne!  

     

     

       Our 120 km (75 mile) ride was, for me, “unremarkable” in all respects.  I was certainly not in top form today.  In fact, I fell off the back of the fast pace line at about 60 km into this morning’s ride.  That meant I would ride alone for the second half of the ride---and into the wind.  So be it!  Some days you just don’t have it!

     

     

       It was not at all scenic, including the substitution of those beautiful BLUE SKIES of yesterday with solid gray. I was afraid it might rain at times as I could hear thunder coming from the black sky to the south, It did not.

     

     

       The road was in bad shape again for 25 km at the start. but truck traffic was less threatening today.  The “fly boys” in cars do occasionally back us off the road, as they pass a line of trucks at once and take over our side of the road.  The only thing you can do is get off the road…and we did.

     

     

     

     

     

       The one stop today on our 75 mile route was at the Posta del Palacio, a roadside gift shop---complete with a hammock for Dan.

     

     

       The final 20-30 km were on a busy highway.  However, we had a wide shoulder.

     

     

     

    Unfortunately, Argentina is essentially a poor country.  There is no way to hide that.  We see many primitive homes, buildings in disrepair, and many old cars on the road.  There are also many signs of prosperity in the big cities, but the countryside still struggles economically.

     

     

       The hotel is entered by way of a long dirt road.  One wonders on the approach at what is in store for us.  It is a very pleasing hacienda style motel with pool and spa.

     

     

       Everyone but Michele enjoyed the amenities.  He tuned the bikes.  They are always in top shape.

     

     

       Ciao,

         Bill

             

  • Posted: Wed, 1 April 2009

    ROSARIO/VICTORIA to ROSARIO del TALA

     

     

     

                                                        ENTRE  RIOS

     

     

       Entre Rios means “between rivers”.  It is the name of the fertile province of Argentina that lies between the Parana River and the Uruguay River, which forms the border with Uruguay.  We will be in Uruguay in 2 days.  Yea!

     

     

     

     

     

       We left Rosario early this morning by TAXI, a rather unusual start to a 112 km (70 mile) cycling day.  But it was necessary to transport the bikes by van and the cyclists by taxis because a 60 km bridge and causeway over the Parana River and its delta was at the beginning of our route today.  Bicycles are not permitted on the bridge, so we had a pleasant and scenic ride to Victoria, Argentina on the other side of the marshy, green and expansive delta wetlands.  Most of this marshland is government land, but we did see herds of cattle grazing from time to time.  The roadway past the bridge was on an elevated dike.

     

     

       In Victoria we got on the bikes and began our 70 mile ride to Rosario del Tala.  It began with rolling hills through lush, green farmland.  The farms were smaller and privately owned, rather than the hugh commercial plots on the pampas.

     

     

       The blue sky and cloud formations topped off the scenery.  We remarked that it looked a lot like Wisconsin, a pleasant change to the soybean fields of the pampas.  Fritz spoke of the “cooling breeze” in our faces in the morning.  Dan and I countered in the afternoon with some choice words after the “breeze” had intensified to a rather strong and steady headwind. 

     

     

     

     

     

       Some fancy ranch gates were interesting to see as we passed by.  Two cowboys on horses stopped to talk with us about our cross continent journey (en espanol with Fritz).

     

     

       We again had trouble with trucks on these narrow roads!  I had 4 “bailouts” today!  Some truckers just drive us off the road!  It is unbelievable!

     

     

       We got a “whiff” of the cattle every now and then.  I must say they were very good looking beef cattle.  I guess that is what you expect with Argentine cattle.

     

     

         A new sight to me –at least while cycling—was the parade of large, hairy teranchilla spiders crossing the road.  We are told the search for females inspires these ugly males to take great risks with on-coming trucks, cars, and bike traffic to pursue their quest. Are the females also this ugly?

     

     

       Bad road conditions plagued us today for a stretch.  A construction crew had taken down the old highway to the bumpiest dirt road imaginable.  Fritz and I checked for chipped teeth at the conclusion of the road work.

     

     

       The welcoming sign in Rosario del Tala came no too soon.  We have a nice, clean hotel run by Ukrainians in this small farm town.

     

     

       Yes, FINALLY I met a real GAUCHO!

     

              Ciao,

              Bill

  • Posted: Tue, 31 March 2009

    ROSARIO REST DAY




                                                     "PACU"  FISH 




    Rosario, Argentina’s 3rd largest city, is “rarely visited by travelers” according to my guide books.  Well, we are here, we like it, and were ready to explore it on a rest day.  Our original plans to take a BICYCLE TOUR of the city this morning were cancelled due to heavy rain.  So, ExpeditionPLUS hired a bus and guide to take us on the city tour. 

     

     

       One time hometown to Che Guevara, Rosario (population 1.5 million) is now the base for many rock musicians and modern artists.  It is located on the Rio Parana, which flows east to join the Rio Uruguay, forming the Rio de la Plata and ultimately flows to the Atlantic Ocean.  It is therefore one of the most important export centers in the country. 

     

     

       We began our tour on “Bulvar Ironio” with its wide grassy median and classic old French style homes.  These are now mainly converted to medical buildings, museums and law offices. Before moving on to Ave. Pelligrini, a main shopping area, we stopped at the grand Independence Park.  It is a park not unlike Central Park in New York, as it covers 72 city blocks and contains a museum, sports facilities, lakes and green spaces for the citizens of the city.  It also has a day/date flower bed that is changed daily. The soccer stadium for Newell’s Old Boys professional team is part of the sports complex here. The “other” team in town is Rosario-Central, bitter rivals for the loyalty of local fans.

     

     

      

     

     

     

       We visited the Monument to the History and Independence of Argentina. It is a memorial to General Belgrano who designed the nation’s flag in blue and white with the symbol of the Inca sun in the middle.  It is said that the color blue is reminiscent of the BLUE sky in Rosario. 

     

    The Cathedral of Rosario honors the “Virgen de Rosario (Virgin of the Rosary), for whom the city is named.

     

     

     

       On the banks of the Parana River we saw the 60 km bridge that passes over the river and then above miles of marsh and wetlands.  We will be transported by van over this bridge tomorrow (no bicycles allowed) before we begin our daily bike ride.

     

    A highlight of the day was our lunch together at a restaurant in the La Florida section of the city where we enjoyed a grand feast of river fish.  In my case it was the Pacu  fish—different but delicious!

     

     

       Resting in Rosario,

     

              Bill

      

      

     












  • Posted: Mon, 30 March 2009

    CRUZ ALTA to ROSARIO

     

     

     

                                              PEDALING  THE  PAMPAS

     

     

       Cycling our last day on the pampas of Argentina was summed up in the understated words of our friend Walter, “It was not one of my TOP 3 biking days”.  It may not even have been in the TOP 20---on this trip!

     

     

       It was not the fault of the pampas itself.  It was again the TRUCKS…and the unsafe condition produced by the combination of a narrow road and fast moving cars and especially heavy trucks with cyclists trying to SHARE THE ROAD! We had to “bail out”, that is pull quickly off the road from time to time, to avoid a potential accident.  There is just not enough room to accommodate 2 passing trucks and a cyclist on the same road.

     

     

     

       In the many towns we passed through today the heavy trucks have made deep grooves or furrows in the roads.  With the absence of real gauchos for us to see, it may be that they have now all become truck drivers.

     

     

       I must admit now that there is much to appreciate in the pampas after all. There is a certain beauty in its vastness, its history, and the culture of the gauchos that arose from it.  And I respect the importance the region  holds to Argentina and the world.

     

     

       We were riding east from downtown Cruz Alta to Rosario a distance of 130 km (80 miles).  Rosario is the big city on the banks of a hugh wetland that forms the Parana River.  A slight “pampero wind” gave us no trouble as we left Cordoba Province and entered Santa Fe (Holy Faith) Province.

     

     

       Fritz, Dan and I got a kick out of a sign along the way.  As if we didn’t have enough to worry about with the TRUCKS…the sign tells us, “On days of heavy rain, this area FLOODS”.

     

     

       ExpeditionPLUS, our guide company, told us to stop at a gas station in Perez, Argentina at the 110 km mark.  We were to enter the city of Rosario as a GROUP, for safety reasons.  We had a ride leader, a sweep, and the van with a window sign, “PRECAUCION ! Cyclistas en el Camino “ (Cyclists on the road).  The last 15 km was through 50 city blocks in Rosario traffic.  We managed to stay together and arrive safely at the Estacion Callao  Hotel.

     

     

       I rode in with my friends, and neighbors most nights in the hotels, the Martins from Centerville, Utah.  They have truly traveled the world on their bikes.  They have previously crossed South America through Patagonia, biked Europe from St Petersburg, Russia to Istanbul, Turkey, and completed numerous other biking adventures in Europe and North America.  Good folks!

     

     

       Rosario, Argentina’s 3rd largest city, is “rarely visited by travelers” according to my guide books.  Well, we are here…and we like it…we are happy to be here and look forward to dinner out tonight and a rest day tomorrow.

     

     

       Guess what we plan to do here on our rest day?  Check in tomorrow for details and photos!  

     

          Ciao,

           Bill

  • Posted: Sun, 29 March 2009

    JUSTINIANO POSSE to CRUZ ALTA

     

     

     

                                               MEETING  THE  MAYOR

     

     

       We had a short and (mostly) sweet “cruise” to Cruz Alta, only 85 km (53 miles) due east of Justiniano Posse.  It took just a little over 3 hours on a bright Sunday morning to complete the ride on ruta 6; or perhaps that should be TRUCK ROUTE 6!  There were just too many big double trailer trucks zooming by in both directions for my liking.

     

     

       I biked alone for an hour after Javier, Fritz and Dan rode off behind a giant farm tractor and were pulled along effortlessly in its wake.  Now that is drafting!

     

     

       Bob and Walter cruised past me at the 25 km mark, as they usually do.  They can surely make cycling look easy!

     

     

     

     

     

       Large fields of agriultural land were again in view all morning long, some had already been harvested. Grain storage silos in the town of Monte Buey, and the ruts in the road in Inriville caused by heavy trucks demonstrated the agricultural base to the commerce in this pampas region.

     

     

       “A river runs through it”—the pampas, that is—near the town of Los Sergentes.  We also noticed a statue of a gaucho in the town park there.  I should have stopped for a photo.  It was the only gaucho we saw all day.

     

     

       At 11:30 am we entered the town of Cruz Alta, which means “High Cross”, as the town sits atop the high ground in the region. I took a photo of the statue as you enter this city of 7000 wondering what story the engraved depictions told.  I found out the correct answer “straight from the horse’s mouth”---the Mayor of Cruz Alta, who met us at our hotel as we arrived.  The statue, Mayor Diego Passerini said, shows the 4 ethnic cultures involved in the history of the city: the Indians, the Conquistadors, the subsequent descendents of these groups, and the finally the immigrants from Europe.  The Mayor enjoyed sharing his knowledge of the town’s history with us, and is coming back later today to take us on a local tour. I’ll be there.

     

     

       Have you ever wondered why we never get lost while cycling these long distance days?  How do we get to our hotel in the middle of a large city without a missed turn? Do we constantly check maps or written instructions?  NO!  We simply follow the ARROWS painted in crushed chalk on the roadways.  Our guides go out before we do and squirt powered chalk from a bicycle water bottle in the form of an arrow onto the road.  It is foolproof ..at least so far!

     

              Bill

     

             

  • Posted: Sat, 28 March 2009

    RIO TERCERO to JUSTINIANO POSSE

     

     

     

     

                                 105 MILES OF ARGENTINE PAMPAS

     

     

       It was not at all what I had expected.  I began today’s 170 km (105 mile) ride with a “Hollywood” mindset of what the Pampas of Argentina would be like.  I pictured large estancias with beautiful horses grazing, Angus beef cattle being herded by gauchos on horseback, grassy fields and lazy country roads.  Where in the world did I get those images and expectations?

     

     

       The REALITY is closer to Kansas!  For 7 hours of biking we saw agricultural fields “as far as the eye can see” in all directions.  Soybeans were the principal crop on HUGH commercial farms, but there was plenty of corn, sorghum, and alfalfa as well.  We saw only a few herds of cattle grazing.  And instead of the lazy country roads, we found a busy major highway (ruta 6) with too many double trailer trucks and too many “low flying automobiles”.  Let’s just say, “It was not the prettiest bike ride we have ever been on” (but it was one of the longest!)  It was my 50th Century ride since 2004 (yes, I count them.)

     

     

       The travel books define the pampas as a land of small towns and large farms.  These fertile plains covering almost 300,000 square miles are the economic heart of Argentina producing agricultural products and much of the beef for which Argentina is famous.

     

     

       We passed through many small towns populated with grain silos and processing plants—and TRUCKS!  The roads we traveled were as flat as Alligator Alley in Florida, complete with the wind all day.  One long section of the highway was all chopped up and pot-holed.  I’m just saying….not every day is ride in the park.  I guess bad roads are just part of the deal. 

     

     

       By noon today we could feel the 90 degree heat. We often doused our heads with water to stay cool.  We had lunch in a eucalyptus grove in a community park in the town of Ticino—where we saw in the distance our ONLY GAUCHO of the day!

     

     

    At the 120 km mark we stopped at a road side café where Javier was holding court (and buying ice cream) with his grandmother and her friends from the area.

     

     

       Tired, hot, and ready for a shower we entered the town of Justiniano Posse (I have no explanation for such an unusually name) and our hotel located on a 4 corners outside of town.  Oh well, tonight we have the Argentina vs. Venezuela soccer game on TV.

     

     

       We will spend a few more days on the pampas.  Maybe my “Hollywood” version is still out there!

     

          Ciao,

           Bill