Los Malditos 73 - the infamous damned 73kms of Ruta 40
Los Malditos 73 is a stretch of the Ruta 40 that the highway maintenance forgot about. Its not only gravel, but sometimes deep and rutted gravel and has the added challenge of savage sidewinds and gusts that Patagonia is renown for. It is known to catch riders out and kill bikes! It's also unavoidable as there are no other roads to get to Ushuaia unless you head way out east and take Ruta 3.
...After getting the locking nut on Becs bike sorted we high tailed it down Ruta 40 toward Gobernador Gregors.
It was an incredibly long and flat section of road surrounded by nothingness and desert.
At Bajo de Caracoles gas station - the one with a million travellers stickers! we met a couple from Argentina who had just don't the Los Malditos 73 and told us how terrible it was. We had also seen photos of a fellow traveller who had fallen on the road and cracked his engine casing. We (okay Bec!) were worried!
Both our bikes were succumbing to the distant travelled and the vibrations from the gravel sections of the road that we were travelling and about half way along this road nick front mudguard finally gave up and snapped off.
We found a great hotel in Gobernador Gregors who's owner not only leant us a water blaster to wash off the dirt from the Carreterra Austral but also help Nick patch (okay bodge!) his mudguard back together with a metal plate, wire and rivets. Bec also patched hers up with gaffer tape as best she could.
The sky that night was moody and ominous! Tomorrow we had to tackle the Damned 73!
We headed off early before the winds really kicked in. The road was indeed rutted and deep in places and the gravel that round river bed style rock that tyres find difficult to grip to.
It was however manageable as long as you kept your head up and stayed in your rut. It almost caught Bec out once but she kept on the bike!
At the next service station we came across another rider on the same bike as us ...we found out later that night he and his wife had been thrown from their bike ...but luckily were okay!
At lunch time we came across a beautiful azure blue lake and stopped to take photos of a group of tame foxes used to tourists and the treats they had!
We rode on a bit longer and Nick shot down a side road and the through a farmer field to park up next to the lake for an impromptu picnic.
That night we made it to El Calafate, a tourist town on the other edge of the lake we picnicked on.
12th March and we took a ride out to the very impressive Perito Moreno Glacier ...one of the few glaciers in the world today that is advancing and not retreating.
its a whopping 30kms long and 5kms wide!
Strange to think that the last Glacier we saw was in Alaska ...it really dawned on us then exactly how far we had travelled ...and how much our hair had grown and greyed!