Monthly Archives: June 2015

Bulletin #19 (2) – Food & Water

June 17th, 2015

Food & Water

A note from the Chefs at TDA

During the South American Epic you will have the chance on rest days to experience many new foods. The local cuisine varies from country to country and even region to region.   You will see in the culinary traditions a mixture of indigenous and European influences.  Not only will the local food be a highlight but drinks such as Pisco, and the world class wines of Chile and Argentina are guaranteed to make you happy.  Whether a quinoa soup in the highlands of Bolivia or a steak cooked to perfection in Argentina.  Enjoy.

Camp Meals

Daily meals in our camps will be oriented towards meeting nutritional needs of riders who are exerting themselves beyond normal levels, but certainly taste is not forgotten. En route, we will source out as much variety of meats, vegetables, and fruits as possible. However, throughout the Tour there tends to be an ebb and flow to the fruits and vegetables available, as well as the quantities of them to be found. Do not expect all the fruit you can eat, and expect there to be many times when fresh salads are not possible. We try and create as much variety as possible, but expect to see the same meals from time to time. The Expedition passes through regions which are not blessed with successful agriculture, and where food choices we are accustomed to having at home, simply do not exist.

A few examples of camp Dinners previously served:

* Braised beef stew with green beans, carrots, onions, garlic and rice
* Beet salad, Tomato and cucumber salad
* Barbecued chicken with potato salad, and veggies
* Spaghetti bolognese
* Chili con carne
* Curried lentil stew and vegetables
* Soy and bean equivalents for vegetarians.

A few roadside Lunch examples:

* Tuna fish sandwiches
* Onion and tomato sandwiches
* Peanut butter and jam sandwiches
* Fresh fruits

A few camp Breakfast examples

* Oatmeal
* Muesli and Milk
* Breads, and spreads
* Hard boiled eggs

These above meals are what you should expect on the Expedition. We generally put limits on the amount of fruit each person receives to ensure that everyone gets some, but besides this the quantities of food (especially supper) will be enough to satisfy ferocious cycling appetites. If you have a food preference or dietary restrictions, the Expedition can be difficult at times, so we urge everyone to bring along vitamins or purchase snacks and other foods locally to compliment the meals to ensure you have a well-rounded diet.

Vegetarians

Vegetarians will have a separate main dish prepared for them each night (unless, naturally, there is no meat option that night). Many vegetarians worry about their protein intake on the Expedition. Having consulted with Sports Nutritionists/Vegetarians who have ridden with TDA in the past, we can say that there is enough protein available in the Vegetarian menu. The key is to eat. A lot!

Water Rations

During the South American Epic we will go through stretches where water becomes our most precious resource. Typically these areas are where we are bush camping often and experiencing hot temperatures.  There should never be a shortage of drinking water. However, where water resources are limited, rations on using water for cleaning oneself (in bush camps) will take effect. At times this can mean that everyone is allowed 1 water bottle full to rinse themselves off. Other times we will need to keep all of our water for drinking and cooking, and so no water will be allocated for washing.

Rider Dish Duty

On the Expedition each rider will be responsible for helping with camp dishes. Each rider is assigned to a group, usually 2 riders, and they will be responsible for dinner dishes the day of their turn. So, on average, it will be each group’s turn every 15 riding days, approx.

Participation

5 1/2 months is a long time to be eating one person’s food – especially when cooking facilities are limited and preparation time is short. The best thing you can do to better your experience is to get involved.  Organize a treat for the whole group, buy the chef a beer, do what needs to be done to keep yourself happy. This is not a “have-all” expedition- this is a mentally and physically challenging event and the best way to make sure it is a success is for us all to support each other.

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Four sleeps to go!

Four more sleeps to go, and still so much to be done – even though I have been working away on my list for weeks! So pleased that I actually started when I did.

Plus you always forget about the things that go wrong that aren’t on the list – such as the override keys for the garage going missing, the locks on the boat shed seizing, the roof developing a leak and the alarm playing up on the car etc etc, however yesterday I bought the last couple of items on the list and learnt how to download photos from my new camera onto my iPad. Sadly I am sure I will have to email Kelly at least once to run through it again with me.

Looking at the huge mound of stuff on my floor I have no idea how it will fit into 2 x 90 litre bags, and also am not sure it will be under the weight limit. I have looked through and there is nothing I can leave behind.  I need to take bike parts, tyre tubes, medications (the amount is insane, I will take photos for you), I need wet weather gear (for sleet, rain and possibly snow!), a sleeping bag, a tent, a mat, torch, camera, iPad, head light, bike gear, camp gear, cloths for rest days – – – the list goes on and on! Into two bags it has to go or I can’t take it!  I might need to dig out my wand or go to Ollivanders.

I have 3 days left at work and more than 3 days’ worth of work to do.  I have to at least write down everything in my head about the 19 items still on my to do list, so that someone else can actually do them.

I have had lots of lovely catch ups with family and friends, and a couple more to squeeze in. It has been lovely to have my daughter Shellbe home from Australia for a couple of weeks before she heads off on the same day as me on her trip to Asia. Plus my daughter Tracey was over for a few days over the weekend as well, which was lovely too. Lots of family dinners to add to the memory banks to sustain me whilst away.

I have not trained enough and am carrying too much weight, I expect to suffer for this for the first few weeks but nothing that can be done about that now.

So off to work and onto the list.

Things to do and buy before the big trip!

Things to do and buy before the big trip!

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Bulletin #19 – Cartagena Schedule

June 9th, 2015

Cartagena Schedule

July 8th:

Bicycle mechanic available to assist riders with building their bikes. 2:00pm – 5:00pm

July 9th:

Bicycle mechanic available to assist riders with building their bikes. 9:00am – 11:00am

July 10th:

Rider briefing from 9:30am to 11:30am.

Bicycle mechanic available from 1:00pm to 3:00pm.

Permanent bag loading from 8:00pm – 8:30pm.

July 11th:

Early morning departure.  The epic adventure begins!

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Bulletin #18 – Are You Racing South America?

Are You Racing South America?

The South American Epic will be the world’s longest supported cycling tour. For some of you it will also be the world’s longest stage race (it will be more than 5 times as many stages as the Tour de France!). The race component is open to all participants. Many will prefer to go at their own speed and stop wherever they wish for snacks, photos, or to soak in their environement. But for those with a healthy competitive spirit, we are now busy planning the logistics of our race and we need your help.

Which of these options best describes your intentions with regards to racing?

(Reply to the email indicating your letter response)

  • A) I plan on racing the entire tour.
  • B) I plan to race 1 or 2 sections but not the full tour.
  • C) I plan to start as a racer and I will see how it goes.
  • D) I am only focussed on EFI and not on racing.
  • E) I am not racing.

We appreciate your responses soon so we can plan the racing component appropriately. The racers will receive race information closer to the start date.

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Bulletin #17 – Road Conditions

June 2nd, 2015

Road Conditions

The majority of the scouting on the trip has now been completed.  The general tire recommendations for your bicycles which were made in an earlier bulletin remain true.  However we’d like to give a few more details of the roads in each country.

The Undiscovered Country

For those doing the full tour or starting their sections in Colombia, we can not recommend highly enough that you put in some serious hours of cycling in the next month in preparation.  It is a very hilly, challenging start to the tour and the fitter you are the better time you will have and the healthier you will remain.  Approximately 75% of the route is paved, however a lot of the pavement is not smooth tarmac and will have some potholes, uneven surfaces or short stretches of gravel.  The unpaved portion of the route is hard packed dirt with rocks in areas.  You’ll need your wider tires for these stretches and your brakes should be in top shape for the descents.

Coffee and Cocoa

Very similar to the previous section, we will have about 75% paved roads.

Volcano Alley

We are looking at about 75% pavement with the main amount of off road being in the mountains of Peru north of Lima.

The Gringo Trail

This stretch is about 95% paved, however as we climb up out of Nazca towards Cusco we’ll face some detoriorating roads with gravel stretches, potholes etc…

Incan Highlands

We are lucky to cycle almost entirely on paved roads, including our journey past Lake Copacabana.

Cycling the Salt Flats

Approximately 60% of this section is paved.  The unpaved portions are a mix of quite rough rocky roads, and even some sandy stretches near the Salt Flats.  The Salt Flats themselves are unpaved but the surface is very smooth.

Across the Andes

This section is approximately 85% paved.  A good chunk of the portion that is not paved is a very tough stretch as we are getting closer to the Chilean border.  The paved stretches are for the most part well maintained and in good shape.

The Lake District

This section will have about 85% pavement, with most of the paved stretches in good condition.

Carretera Austral

This section has the most off road of the tour.  Approximately 55% is paved, with the rest being a mix of gravel, hard packed dirt and even a stretch of narrow trails when crossing the Chilean/Argentinian border!:)  You’ll spend a fair bit of this section on your wider tires.

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Bulletin #16 – Finish Line Hotel

May 14th, 2015

Finish Line Hotel Ushuaia

In Ushuaia, the South American Epic will spend its last night in the comfort of the Hotel Ushuaia. The evening of our arrival, Monday, December 21st, is included in your entry fee. For additional nights, please contact the hotel directly and mention that you are part of the Cycling Tour Group.

Reservations: +54 (0) 2901-430671
E-mail: reservas@hotelushuaia.com.ar
Address: : Comodoro, Augusto Lasserre 933, Ushuaia – Tierra del Fuego.

If you are thinking of speding a few days in this unique city, here are some suggestions on things to do.

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Bulletin #15 – Money on Tour

May 12th, 2015

Money on Tour

During the South American Epic you will need access to funds for your food the night before rest days and on rest days, snacks and drinks along the cycling route, spare bike parts if needed, and for any touristic sites you may visit along the way or souvenirs you may purchase. Please refer to your TDA Tours 101 info kit for more details regarding money, and what additional expenses you can expect.

Bringing a debit card which has either the “Cirrus” or “Plus” systems is a good idea; ATM’s are common in all of the rest day locations along the route.  So while you can access local currency funds in each country the location and timing of the ATM may mean that for the first stretch within a country you will not have access to an ATM.

It is also wise to bring a credit card.  This will be accepted in larger establishments throughout the Tour.

The best way to bring cash on tour is in the form of U.S.A. currency.  This is accepted everywhere that there are exchange services.  Try to bring bills that are newer than 2006.  Pre 2006 bills are sometimes not accepted (due to higher likelihood of counterfeits)  It’s a good idea to bring a mix of bill values, such as $20 and $50 bills.  For full tour participants we recommend bringing $1000 – $2000 in cash.

Once on tour, it is not advisable to walk around or cycle with all of your cash funds.  We recommend keeping the majority of your cash along with your passport in your permanent bag on the tour vehicle.

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Bulletin #14 – Navigation, Maps and GPS

April 27th, 2015

Directions

The Tour Leader will draw or write out the directions on a whiteboard each evening, give the address/phone number of the next day’s destination, and discuss this information during each day’s rider briefing.  Most cyclists write down the information in a notebook, or for the tech savvy they can take a photo of the whiteboard with their smartphone that they can stop and look at during the days ride.

Even with this information you will still need to use your own skills to get from point A to point B. You are often going to find yourself asking directions along the way (if you don’t speak any Spanish then your charades skills will come in handy) and pulling out your maps to help you stay oriented. Navigation is a skill that not all of us have, so everyone should ride with a partner at least for the first few days. Where it is feasible to do so, we will provide additional navigational aids like flagging tape.

Some parts of the route we are doing for the first time and the adventure quotient is higher than on trips which we have run many times; meaning we will face more unknowns and the chance for last minute adjustments to the route is higher.

Maps

We highly recommend that you bring some maps (paper or digital) of the countries that we will be traveling through. Please remember that we will be helping you by providing an overview of each day’s route, but it is up to you to navigate your way through the day. Below, you will find a short list of some recommended maps.

These and other maps can be found at:

http://www.omnimap.com

There are also many other online map retailers or check around for a map store or bookstore in your area.

Here are some suggestions of maps…

  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Peru
  • Bolivia
  • Argentina
  • Chile

GPS

Having a GPS computer on your bicycle is a great gadget to have.  It will record all your ride details very accurately (with no wires to worry about)  This includes measurements like elevation, which a standard cycle computer will not include.  Battery life is not so long on these but by bringing a solar charger or extra battery packs that you can charge the computer through you should be able to get from rest day to rest day, where you can recharge all your devices again at the accommodations we stay at.

Companies like Garmin sell Navigation maps that you can upload to your GPS device for South America, though some of the smaller roads we follow may not be accurately depicted.

Another option for finding digital maps for those more GPS inclined is to try Open Street Maps, http://www.openstreetmaps.org   This is the wikipedia of digital maps.  Many of their maps are downloadable for Garmin devices.

Using Googlemaps on your smartphone is also an option.  To do this you’ll need to have an unlocked smartphone and purchase a sim card with data.  You should be able to purchase this in most of the countries along our route.

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Bulletin #13 – Route Itinerary

April 7th, 2015

Route Itinerary

You can follow this link to see the itinerary for the upcoming South American Epic.  Please note that there will likely still be small changes made to this schedule.  The section dates though will not change in terms of when to book flights for joining/leaving the tour.

Yellow Fever Certificate

One of our staff recently entered Bolivia by air in La Paz and immigration requested to see her Yellow Fever vaccination record, which she had.  Depending on what country you are from and where you have travelled in the last year they may request to see proof of the Yellow Fever vaccination when we enter through the land border with Peru during the tour.  For that reason we highly recommend you get this vaccine and bring your vaccination record to show if required.  Not having this could result in being refused entry to Bolivia.

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Bulletin #12 – Accommodations

April 14th, 2015

Accommodations

The Tour is split between 3 main types of accommodation; indoor accommodation, wilderness camps and organized camps. 

On the vast majority of rest days we will stay indoors. By indoors we mean hotels, but it can also mean a hostel. Our goal for all of these is for them to be clean and comfortable – and most of them are. However depending on the area some will be more basic than others.

Wilderness camps (we refer to them also as bush camps) are pretty much as they sound. We pull off the road and camp in a field or bit of desert etc. There are no facilities, so we rely on our own water supplies and food.  We provide shovels for going to the bathroom, the tour leader will give further description of the technique of this once the tour has started. The experience in these camps is as varied as the different landscapes on the route. Some are in forested locations with lots of shade and maybe a stream nearby to wash off in. Others can be right beside the highway in the desert sand with only the shade from our canopies. Be ready to enjoy the best of them and persevere through the toughest of them.

What we call an organized campsite varies from the occasional “official” campsite where they exist, to the more common campsite beside a restaurant/truck stop/in a school field, etc.  The majority of these have running water, toilets and sometimes showers.

Here are a few tips for when we stay indoors:

Type of Room: In any given hotel we may have a variety of rooms ranging from air-conditioned suites to standard rooms. That means that in many cases, not everyone will have the same class of room. We will do our best to balance out the better rooms over the course of the tour and ask you to be both understanding and generous regarding rooming assignments.

Beds: We attempt to book twin bed rooms for those sharing that are not couples, but occasionally you may end up with one double bed instead to share with your assigned roommate. It may also happen that we have triple rooms or another type of dorm room. This is only done when absolutely necessary and no other options present themselves.

Location: In some places it may turn out that we occupy two separate hotels depending on the size of the group.

Roomies: If you wish to be placed with another rider for the trip, please email us with your choice.

Room charges: If you use the telephone, take a meal, drink or charge anything to your room, please make sure to settle the bill with the hotel the night before we depart as to not create any delays during our checkout.

Baggage: Remember to always check your rooms…and then check it again. Once we have all left town, it will be very difficult for you to retrieve any items left behind.

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