My brain felt like it was going to implode on the long haul from Ushuaia to Peninsula de Valdéz. The monotonous, desolate and curveless nearly two thousand kilometers of empty tundra on Ruta 3 caused near hallucinations and frequent attacks of fatigue cured only by naps along the highway and blaring ‘high quality’ pop through tinny sounding headphones. I couldn’t hear the music through the noise of the wind, so I made up words for songs, singing like a crazed maniac into the amphitheater of my helmet. “This is ground control to major Tom! Nuh nuh nuh nuuuuh nuuh nuh. This is ground control to major Tom! Dah duh deeh nuh nuh take your pills and nuh nuuuuh, tin can above the wooorld” (Thanks for keeping me awake, David Bowie).
Other times, I’d look down a long stretch of road seeking signs of life, and would see a section of the road just in front start stretching itself out in front of my eyes like I was in some kind of trippy vortex, getting further and further away while the land directly next to me rushed by, expanding infinitely into the distance. A strange trick of the landscape, or was this road actually expanding, gaining speed, like the expansion of the Universe itself? Sometimes I’d see glimmering mirages in the distance, dancing waves of fog, or clouds at the horizon that looked to be bending with the curve of the Earth.
The mind numbing ride was broken every now and then by totally unexpected wildlife in this desert like landscape. Detours took us down sandy tracks to “Loberías” and the coast, where blubbery beach bodies lay strewn along the pebbles by the hundreds.
When animals weren’t around to gawk at (or to gawk at you), we frolicked in pebble dunes, played in the sand, and generally tried to keep our bikes upright.
Finally arriving at a national reserve on the Peninsula de Valdez near Puerto Madryn, it was time to take a few days off to relax and do some bike maintenance.