2015-12-17 Bahia Blanca to Buenos Aires


  • Distance: 664 km (412 miles)
  • Max Elevation: 400 m (1314 feet)
  • Min Elevation: -4 m (-14 feet)
  • Ascent: 710 m (2330 feet)
  • Descent: 756 m (2482 feet)


Today was mostly just another (but last) long highway day trying to get to Buenos Aires. However, something interesting did happen. Something fairly unbelievable that I am going to tell a anti-embellished version to make it more believable. Details are important so I am going to do my best to try and paint a scene here…sorry for the verbosity and lack of proof reading.

Riding along secondary highway loaded with semi-trucks and some car traffic. There are two lanes, one in each direction. A narrow shoulder on both sides then a grassy slope that starts off gradual and then quickly drops down 6-8’…perfect for rolling a car but that’s off topic. The grass isn’t off topic though. There’s a lot of it and long grass doesn’t exactly provide lots of traction. The slope is steep enough that when I stopped to take breaks I always opted to find a gravel turnout instead of going down into the grass ditch for fear of having trouble getting back out.

I’m riding along this highway for many miles. It’s very green, very open and not many trees. You can always tell when you are approaching a town because there will be a lot of very tall evergreens that look like they don’t belong that I presume were planted there to cut some of the wind around the town. The ride is uneventful. I get into a rhythm of stopping every 100 km for a small bite of my sandwich, to clean my visor (lots of bugs) and to rotate ear plugs (100 km with, 100 km without) as they bother my ears. I also have been switching between podcasts and music. This rhythm has finally made the long miles tolerable.

Now I’m getting close. Less than 150 km until Buenos Aires. I’m starting to consider the time I’ll be getting in assuming smooth sailing. Then all of the sudden I see stopped vehicles. It’s so straight and flat it takes me a while to get up to them. Seems like a weird place to have traffic…I assume there is an accident or a police or military checkpoint that is backed up. I start cruising by the trucks in the oncoming lane as it’s a passing section. Man there are a lot of trucks. Then oddly I start passing some cars too. I figured they’d be going around too if it was a cargo check point. So I switch to the shoulder and slow down. Still passing hundreds of trucks. For miles and miles, more trucks. Now people are out of their vehicles. No shirts and lawn chairs in the shadow of their trucks. Careful not to run any legs over I continue in the shoulder. Now there are some cars in the shoulder as well. When they get stuck I try and go around in the grass…it’s tough to keep the bike from sliding all the way down…takes a fair amount of sliding around to get it to go back up but I am impatient and the cars are crawling in the shoulder. I go back to the other side of the road. Only a small number of cars going the other way and no trucks so I think it must be blocked. I continue on. Still more trucks. Now I’ve been riding for a solid 30 mins and still haven’t reached the front. Finally I stop and ask someone what’s going on. He says that the protestors have cut the road…at least that’s what I understand from his Spanish through my helmet and ear plugs. He says that there is no way around. I shrug and say, “even for me?”. He says that I might get around in the grass but with a big smile as if to say, you’d be crazy. I look at my GPS and I don’t see an alternate road…not without going back hundreds of miles. I could wait but I’m not a patient person.

Finally I reach the front. I’m standing up and slowly approaching accessing what I see. I don’t have a lot of time to decide what to do. They see me coming. Here’s what I see. A make shift fence covering both lanes, both shoulders and part of the grass. This fence is held up by wooden stakes and it’s some kind of white tarp like material. Trash, cars, barbwire, truck tires and fires in front and behind the fence. Many protesters up front just behind this barricade. Behind the first wave of protesters is about 100 meters of mostly empty road with protesters loosely scattered around. I can’t see the back from up front but it looks more sparse and easy to negotiate. I decide that if I can get by the first wave I can get through.

What looks like the most amp’d protester and a few around him see what I am thinking and are waving their arms in a way that is clearly telling me not to try. I cut right, towards the grass. A protestor is rolling a recently lit truck tire towards the front of the barricade and I can see he is already diverting towards me. I pop around the fence trying to keep from hitting the steep part of the grass. I lose traction but stay on the throttle and squirt back up on the pavement of the shoulder and on the other side of the barrier. Obstacle 1 down. Obstacle 2 is the flaming truck tire being rolled at me…hardly a worry as he doesn’t lead me enough and a blip of throttle puts me well clear of it…it must roll down the grassy hill behind me. Now the hardest part, the wall of people. They are drunk, they are angry and I already can tell what they are going to do. I head straight at a group at a speed not to kill anyone but to give me a chance of staying up if they are dumb enough to get under a wheel. At the last second I swerve to a gap and a guy grabs at my handle bar and I rip the throttle and he gets hand guard and can only tug my handlebars a little. Now I assume they are running after me but I’m going a solid 15mph now and I know they won’t catch me. Now I can see the back. There is another wall of protesters and two police vehicles and maybe 3 police officers. They are out numbered and more just observing but their cars are forming a road block on the other side.

What I decide to do next might seem odd but I think it worked in my favor. I need to get these people on my side, I need them to think I’m crazy enough to run them over and I need them to realize that I’m not a local. By now my adeline is pumping as is my heart, I’m still standing and following a fist pump I rip one of the better wheelies I’ve done in my life complete with a wave from my front wheel from left to right to left. This is met with cheers from the protesters as the less densely packed back half of the protest don’t attempt in anyway to impede my progress. I approach the police barricade vehicles at an angle so I wouldn’t have to swerve or slow down and the cops simply give me a wave like they are waving me through. On the other side there are bunch of spectators and so I give them a 2nd gear wheelie until I bounce off the rev limiter and the front end comes down as I speed off down the road.

Now that the dust has settled all the scenarios of not making it through play through my head. The ones where any angry drunken mob maul me as the 3 outnumbered police officers watch thinking to themselves, “what did he think was going to happen?”. Not a second after this thought goes through my mind another one does as I approach a police check point. They’ve setup on this side to stop people getting stuck. I thought maybe the others would have radioed to stop me and give me a hard time but they too just wave me through…I guess either they don’t care or they don’t have radios. A little further down at the next round about there’s another set of police…they too wave me through. Then it’s clear sailing all the way to Buenos!



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