17000 from Matt Kelly on Vimeo.

Made it to 17,000 miles (27,400 km) on the odometer yesterday.  Why am I shouting?  It was so windy and I wanted to make sure I could be heard. And it really was that difficult to hold the camera still.

“Hello, welcome to 17,000 miles.  It is windy out here.  This is the second to last 500 mile update.  In 500 more miles I will be on the Tierra del Fuego island.  I’m in the middle of the Patagonian pampa.  That is all, goodbye.”

“Patagonian pampa” might be a contradiction; in Argentina, the pampa are the lowlands further north in the country. But I recall the word being used in countries like Ecuador and Peru to describe treeless plains, after all, the word comes from Quechua.

At any rate, the winds prevail from the west from the Andes, and since I have been travelling mostly southwest for the past week, I’ve had some nice assistance.  But it isn’t always easy!  The first 20 miles from Gobernador Gregores yesterday were mostly south (click here to see my route mapped out), with the wind to my side, which meant leaning into the wind and riding the bike at the same time.  During the odd lull in the wind, I’d find it hard to steer, as if my handlebars were crooked; after a while I had gotten used to using my body weight to lean and balance the bike.  I actually found it easiest to keep the bike moving, once you stop, trying to stand up was difficult.

The wind was easily as strong as when I decided I had to hitch in Tehuantepec, Mexico, after my bike and I tumbled into a ditch.  But yesterday the wind was steady and from my right, in Tehuantepec it came in gusts from the left, and the heavy truck traffic meant I couldn’t balance.

Finally I reached a left turn in the highway, and was pushed along at speeds of up to 30mph (50kmph).  I had been on the road for 2 hours already, and the prospect of 100 more miles was rather daunting, but I didn’t have much of an option, there is really very little out here and finding shelter would have been difficult.  I was swept along (save for the few times when the road turned back into the wind) and got to Comandante Piedrabuena just before dusk.  I fell asleep and could feel my body swaying back and forth as if I had just gotten off a boat.

This town is on a river, just a couple miles away is the Atlantic ocean, which I haven’t seen in over 9 months since Turbo, Colombia.  I think I’ll take another day off here, after all, I’ve got about 2 weeks to do just 500 miles, NBD (no big deal).

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