Some general comments and info I have not put in previous blog updates:
I like my new tent much better than the last one. It’s a MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2. There are 3 other riders with a Hubba Hubba tent also. The tent has a feeling of spaciousness because it has a pole that goes across the top diagonally, as well as the length – this makes it seem bigger than it is. In the last tent it felt like the walls were closing in on me. The one issue is putting it down in the wet, it is really hard to get the poles to unfold. I will have to come up with a solution before it gets frosty as well.
Offers of help
I have had a number of helpful locals stop and offer to give me and my bike a lift as I am struggling up yet another hill, including a couple of large trucks who have just stopped going uphill – blocking traffic while they converse. The people are really interested in having a discussion, which so far is limited on my part to:
Hello – halo (don’t pronounce the h)
Buenos Dias – good morning
Buenos noches – goodnight
Gracias – thank you
Muchas gracias – very much appreciated
I como esta – how are you
Aqua – water
And of course “No Spaino” – no speak Spanish
So it’s pretty limited but a lot more than when I got here!
Most of the local people have no idea where New Zealand is, and a couple of times after trying to explain, I apologize but I have to admit to this: I have said I am from Australia. Sorry but I would rather be considered an Aussie than being from America!!
The daily life when not on a rest day
Alarm at 5am, pack up everything into the daily bag, organize water and snacks, sunscreen etc for the day onto the bike.
Riders update at 5:45 with anything new for the day or changes to the route.
Breakfast at 6am – cereal, bread, fruit sometimes boiled eggs, sometimes porridge , tea and coffee.
Apply sunscreen, bug screen and on the road by 7am.
The lunch truck is generally half to two-thirds of the way to the next campsite.
I generally have one or two stops to refill water (am drinking about 7 litres each morning and afternoon) – and then consequently stops to pee. Plus reapply sunscreen at least once.
Lunch truck has sandwiches – generally only white bread by the time I get there, with meat, cheese, fruit, water. I stay clear of the meat as has been out for a while by the time I get there. Watermelon is delicious when you arrive hot and thirsty. I fill my water bottles and reapply bug and sunscreen.
The idea is to limit the lunch stop to less than 10 minutes and not sit down – otherwise your legs start to seize up and then it’s 20 minutes riding before they warm up again.
I stop once or twice as in the morning for water, sunscreen etc, and of course it goes without saying: stop and look at interesting sights.
Then into camp which is anywhere between 2pm and dark (6:30pm).
If there are showers then I’ll have a shower, otherwise it’s wet wipes and reapplying bug spray.
After that I sort out my gear, clean my clothes if possible, check over my bike, put up the tent, and get ready for the next day.
On a good day I have an hour or so to drink tea and rest. Other days I spend with the bike mechanic sorting out the day’s bike issues.
We have another rider’s meeting at 5:45pm to discuss the next day and any issues from that day. We all take down the directions for the next day’s route, and also take a photo of it with our phone as a back up.
Dinner is at 6pm. Then the plan is to have either Spanish lessons, or a basic bike workshop, but with the extended days and issues we have had so far on the trip, these have not happened, apart from one Spanish lesson.
We have been having really long and challenging days but the days for the tour staff have been much longer. They are still sorting out the trucks and cleaning up well into the night and are up at the same time or before us in the morning.
Generally I am in my tent attempting to sleep by 7:30 pm. Then the next day it starts again.
The other riders
I still don’t know everyone’s names, by best count there are 30 people doing the whole ride, plus a number of section riders.
Most of the riders have done at least one TDA tour before so had some understanding of what to expect.
There are five woman planning on do the whole ride:
- Sue – a retired vet, age 59 from England, who has already done the South African ride: Cairo to Cape Town this year.
- Annegrete – age 59 from Denmark, who has done the tran Oceania and one other ride. She is currently planning to finish about Santiago but may change her mind)
- Jacquline – who is from South Africa but spends half the year in Sweden, and has done a couple of previous rides.
- Johanna (Jo) – from Melbourne, I am pretty sure this is her first TDA ride but she has done other riding tours.
- And of course me.
Team New Zealand
From left: Phil is from Christchurch, he has done one previous ride – the South Africa ride, and Peter is from Palmerston North, he has done one previous ride – the trans Europa (not the same year as me).
On this ride there is a race component, and Phil will often win – if he doesn’t win, he is still in the first 3. He is missing the bottom two gears (where I have spent most of this ride) and still manages to win.
Today there was a speed trial from Camp 27 kilometres over a 2,000 meter climb and Team NZ was well represented with 1st place going to Phil and 3rd to Peter. Sadly the woman’s team of one is not of the same standard.