Chas and cactus at the ruins in Tilcara
Herb north of Tilcara

Day 2 of our tour was the first we’d actually get some riding in. All the gear we’d brought – pedals and seats – were fitted and we made adjustments. I’d sent my bicycle geometry in advance and aside from fitting the pedals and seat, I didn’t have to adjust anything. Later it would be clear the headset had some issues and they would eventually replace it but it wasn’t a major problem. Just maybe a little unnerving to hear that thing rattle every once in awhile when the going got bumpy.

Our first day of riding was a pretty easy one from a level of effort perspective. Ultimately our landing point for the day would be Purmamarca and but because that wasn’t very far away and it’d be interesting to say we’d made it to the Tropic of Capricorn we first rode north till we got to the sign that marked the Tropic of Capricorn and then turned around and headed back south.

There aren’t that many paved main roads up in that part of the world. The road we traveled was a pretty major road. There wasn’t a ton of traffic but there was enough traffic to make you a little nervous. It became clear early on that Argentine drivers don’t give cyclists all that much room. Certainly it was less room than I typically get around Austin except in rare instances. That a significant chunk of the traffic was gigantic double decker buses crusing along at high speed made such encounters pretty unnerving. More than a few times I pulled it off the road and into the gravel shoulder when I heard or saw one of these buses coming. The gravel shoulder isn’t ridable for a road bike so this amounted to coming to a full stop when they went by.

There were fully loaded cyclists out on the same road that day. They were riding in a pack and generally on mountain bikes with panniers so not hard to catch and pass. I stopped and snagged a picture of them along with Herb, one of the guys on our ride. They were in it for the long haul. My Spanish is non-existent and their English was not so good so I had a hard time recognizing where they said they were going.

The early part of the ride went north and winds were light. Neither lasted all that long. We circled back once we hit the Tropic of Capricorn and headed south to Purmamarca. The winds picked up and what was otherwise a slight downhill into Purmamarca turned into real work against the winds.

Chas at Tropic of Capricorn