It was time to head South towards San Carlos de Bariloche.
Looking at the map I saw there was a chunk of Ruta 40 marked in white only which the code said meant the road was unmade. So I decided to book a hotel at Malargue, North of the said section.
The ride down was only slightly eventful. Leaving Mendoza, Ruta 40 is a dual carriageway which takes you as far as Tunuyan. The only thing of note was this statue on the roundabout at the end of the dual carriageway:
The road continued Southward without any drama until I got to Pareditas. Here one map indicated Ruta 40 continuing South on a paved road – showing red all the way. My other map showed it entirely in white i.e. unmade. However, there was a paved road designated Ruta 40 heading South although in the spirit of compromise it advised that the paved bit would end in 60 km. I thought I’d take a chance.
The paved bit was great but after 30 km it was barred – although you could see the tarmac heading into the distance – and a “Desvio” – Diversion – was signposted to the left. This was unmade but didn’t look too bad:
I started when it became clear that there was a hard surface underneath but it was covered in sand of different depths, and you couldn’t tell where the deep bits were until the front wheel decided to tuck under. With tyres more suited to off roading I probably would have been OK, but I chickened out and retreated.
This involved a detour from Pareditas by heading South East on Ruta 142 to San Rafael and the South West on Ruta 101 to El Sosneado, to pick up Ruta 40 to Malargue.
It was an easy run to San Rafael but when I got to the turn onto the 101 I was met with this:
A member of the Gendarmerie – yes they use the same term as the French for their Police – explained that they were conducting blasting operations on the road and it would be shut for 90 minutes or so.
So I refuelled and got an ice cream in San Rafael and when the 90 minutes was up the road was reopened and we all got on our way and the rest of my ride to Malargue was uneventful.
Here is the route for the day:
The following day was to be a different story.