Patagonia day 7-8: Villa Santa Lucia to La Junta

January 4, 2020. 69 km. (plus a rest day on the 5th)

Today was an easy day, mostly downhill, to La Junta. I had already made a reservation at a Hosteria in La Junta - otherwise it might have been a good idea to keep going to the next town to make the next couple days a bit shorter. Oh well.

I left camp before John, and the day of cycling was pretty calm. There were lots of rolling hills, a few larger bridges over larger rivers, lots of pastures and farm animals (mostly cows, plus some sheep and goats), and the usual rows of mountains behind them.

La Junta, like Cochrane, has a really nice central square with benches and well tended landscaping. When I got there there was a hoard of boys on bicycles having fun going over a few wooded jumps they had set up. I like the prominance of the central squares in these small Patagonian towns.

The most dramatic thing that happened today is that a few km from La Junta something in my drivetrain started feeling grindy, and occasionally making an unpleasant noise. I couldn’t figure out what it was in the moment, and it didn’t make the bike unrideable, so I made it to the hostel and decided to try to figure out out on my rest day. I ended up spending much of my rainy Sunday trying to diagnose the problem. It seemed like the belt wasn’t well aligned with the sprocket. It also seemed odd that an alignment problem would manifest after a substantial amount of riding. I sent an email to Firefly, and they said it could be a known issue with a difference in manufacturing tolerances between Gates and Rohloff (with a not-functionally-essential fix involving being sent a part).

Spoiler alert from the future: the problem didn’t get worse (and I think actually got better) over the next couple days of riding. But it was pretty nervewracking in the moment. Perhaps I’ve just gotten used to a totally perfectly running bike and even small changes seem major. Hopefully nothing else comes of it.

Bronwyn Woods