With confidence growing and time getting short, I knew that I had to try that run from Nueva Italia to Carapeguá. Unpaved roads were calling my name. Last Sunday was another beautiful but cold day so, after a ridiculously long four hour church service and the 45 minute bus ride to and fro, I headed off just before 3 pm. Two and a half hours of sun left in the day - should be enough.
I gassed up and aired up and headed off, unprepared just like the last time. But at least it wasn´t going to rain.
On the way to Nueva Italia:
and then, after Nueva Italia, the pavement ended and the empedrado began. I wondered how long it would take for the rock road to end and the deep sand to take over.
For the next 10 km, the road was mostly like this:
with scenes like these.
Then, after 10 km, there was evidence of new construction but a dirt and sand road for a while. They built a couple of new bridges to replace the old ones.
It continued like that for a while. The rock road was intermittent, with some construction evident. 50 kph or 30 mph was a comfortable speed and it was going quite well. Here are some more images of the trip.
There were far more motorcycles than cars and the bikes were faster. I was definitely not alone, since I didn´t see even one Japanese bike.
Then, after 33 km (21 miles) of rocks and sand and motorcycle, the pavement picked up again. That little bike and I had done it!
You have to watch, though. The paved road turns and you follow the sand to figure out when.
I had to continue out Route 1, of course. The sun hadn´t set and I was still too warm - suffering is part of a good life, right? So I turned right when I hit the main road and kept on going past the sunset.
all the way out to km marker 125 past Quindy. I didn´t have any extra clothing and the sunset meant that the temperature was dropping fast so I turned and headed for home. I stopped in Quindy on the street for a quick asadito de pollo and headed off to the next town. I had 110 km or about 70 miles to go. I found a big egg carton in the garbage to put in front of my jacket to help with the wind and continued on. This time, the cold in the darkness was particularly unpleasant since I had no visuals to distract me so I stayed behind the slow moving trucks and stopped whenever I felt like it. Often.
I stopped at the Frutería Paraguarí again and had another café con leche. Quite good, but the foam wasn´t brown and it wasn´t as fabulous as the last time. Then I drank some hot water, hit the bathroom and headed for home. 50 km more and I was home. 230 km total and another successful ride. No mechanical failures yet after 2100 km on this new bike.
Just before bed, my wife´s dad told me that I had a flatted. A slow leak on the rear tire. Thanks be to God that it wasn´t on the road. I might have to think about carrying tools and a spare tube next time. Maybe even extra clothing.