A little more than 450 kilometer lies between us and the next village when we cycle out of Fiambalá. And various high altitude passes are in between, with Paso San Francisco being the highest with 4774 meter. Breathtaking.
The wind is totally coming from the wrong direction and ultra strong, which keeps are pace very slow. Starting at 1500 meter it takes us 3,5 days to reach Paso San Francisco and one day we just have to stop at noon and hide in one of the refugios, because the wind is just too strong and cold to continue. Right in the face, terribly strong and ice and ice cold. It’s impossible to continue, even walking with our bicycles is not working… Sand is blowing in our faces and it feels like a thousands needles. My cheeks are red, dry and they glow. I have tears in my eyes because of the wind. It’s a tough job being a world cyclist with mountain aspirations! What the hell are we doing?? I finally reach the top of the pass, almost can’t breath because of all the emotions I’m feeling, I feel like hyperventilating. Once, we cycled a 5200 meter pass in India, but in t-shirt! Here, it’s already below zero, that refugio at the top is a life-saver. Elmar makes some soup to warm up, my fingers and toes are hurting. We need to continue, can’t sleep here. And it’s downhill from here, right? Right…, except the wind wants to blow us back to the top! We can’t make it to the next refugio and we set up our tent in a ditch. We’re so tired and cold, we just lay in our sleeping bags, trying to get warm. Elmar makes tea and pasta, but 5 minutes later I have to throw up. It’s like that for the next couple of hours, a horrible night.
Yes, cycling here is not easy, but we made it!
“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” – Sir Edmund Hillary