The views were still fantastic, but the road sadly changed back to Ripio. Not just rough this time, but made worse by the fact they were widening and improving over 200+km. This somehow meant they had to make it worse first. All I can do is suggest that this is like cycling on a soft sandy, shingle beach with 50kg in tow.
Another early start. I had 120 km of paved roads ahead and I wanted to get them all covered ASAP. I didn´t set off until 8:30, due to slow breakfast. I had to take the opportunity when it arose!
I sped off, but was to be held up by road works. Still after a few hours I was making 25kmph and by lunch time I made Route 7 and Maniguales.Again I stocked up on provisions. More tuna, pasta, empanadas and the all important box of wine and case of beer (6pack).
The trailer was heavy, and I dreamed of Empanadas and a Cool beer, whilst I moved ever northwards along very quiet roads.
I made camp. Shortly after a group of gauchos passed droving cattle up the road. They cracked their whips and the dogs, collies, made sure the cattle knew they were to be obeyed! Soon after Orlsks from Basque country turned up on a Harley Davidson. We talked a while before I hit the sack. I set off at 7am. There was a slim chance that I might catch up with Bert. I struggled onwards through the bad roads. By lunch time I met Chris on his motorbike with his wife. They asked if I was with the other guy! I was closing in. He was over an hour away, over a very loose 600m pass. The heat and dust were terrible.
I´d hoped to cycle ~45km, but it turned out that every time I asked how far Quelat was it got further away! I made the 85+km and killer hill as the Aussies has described it, to find the park rangers were very reluctant to let me in. The park was out of water due to the long hot spell. The spanish came in real handy here! I persuaded them I was with the Dutch guy, Bert. I was let in. I had caught him up, as much as a surprise to Bert as myself. I had pasta and soup with Tuna.