1,597km down, 12,044km to go – 1,000 meters up, 850 meters down.
We were woken early by the usual resident early rising roosters.
Today we had to first ride a 30 kilometre dirt road, then catch a ferry over the river – where have we heard that before? Thankfully it did not rain during the night, so the dirt road was not a quagmire! It was steep in places, and rocky and slippery though.
I thought I was the last along the road, and got to the ferry just as it was about to go across. Ray, who was on the ferry, said he had just missed it and had to wait about half an hour for it to return.
The river Magdalena was quite fast flowing, and the ferry used a series of cables strung across the water to get across. When we spoke to the TDA staff on the lunch truck they said when they took the truck across there was a tiny little lady who got to the other side and stood there looking lost. Luiz can speak Spanish so he asked her what she was doing, and it turned out she had to get 15 kilometres up the road so they gave her a lift. She was so tiny they had to lift her up into the truck, as she could not manage the steps.
Over the other side I stopped for more water and then rode off. It was a bit disconcerting as I had not heard when lunch was. It was really hot riding, the heat was reflecting off the tarmac – 44 degrees, and rolling hills, with barely any shade. It just seem to go on and on, with a bit of a head wind.
I got to 48 kilometres, I had stopped a couple of times in the shade and had stopped again and realised I was almost out of water. It was too hot to go on, and I had no idea where the sweep was, as I still thought I was the last rider. I sat there “thinking I can’t do this”. I had a wee sob and then thought “Well, no water, 44 degrees, best thing is just sit in the shade and wait, eventually the lunch truck will come back”.
About 5 minutes later I saw a riding coming and it was one of the younger guys, John, who gave me some water. John encouraged me to get moving. John was also nearly out of water. We rode about another kilometres and stopped at a house. John, who speaks some Spanish, asked for Aqua, which the family happily gave us from their boiled supply. We offered money but they would not take it. We decided to drink it if we needed to before we came to a drink shop.
About another kilometre later we came to really nice drink stop, with a lovely thatched roof to sit under. Just as we pulled up so did Aussie Jackie. Between us we drank about 10 drinks, plus bought water to refill our bottles. It turns out one of the other riders Rolf had had a tyre problem which took an hour to sort. A couple minutes later Rolf and then Erin the sweep rolled in. We sat under the shade not wanting to leave. A group of locals were there drinking whiskey and were encouraging John to have some.
Erin thought the lunch truck was about another 10 kilometres away. Off we went on one kilometre of asphalt, then off the main road and back onto a rocky, slippery, gravel road. Some school children yelled out cheerfully “Muchio loco” (very mad) – if I had the Spanish to I would have said “Yes I agree!”.
Jackie and I got to lunch to the relief of the crew, who had just packed up the truck to come back to find us (they were in a cell phone dead spot). Then Rolf arrive, but no Erin and John. Time passed and we started to get concerned then we heard them starting to cross the metal bridge (it had metal plates onto top of each other and when you ride over it makes a noise when you go from plate to plate). It turned out that as Erin got onto the asphalt her seat snapped off its pole, and she had had to ride the last 7 kilometres seatless!
By this time it was 1:30 pm, 44 degrees with 35 kilometres of gravel rocky slippery road, and 550 meters of climbing. I decided to catch the lunch truck to camp. I am pleased I did, as the riders who rode the whole day said the section from lunch was very tough.
The desert was stark but beautiful. There were really large cactus plants, trees and dirt. There were hills with dirt in patterns, and a few cows here and there.
We are staying at Saturno in the desert. I got to camp and had the usual stuff to do: set up my tent, do some washing, cold shower. I was feeling really itchy so at least the cold shower helped with that. I went to bed quite early and woke up really itchy and feeling dehydrated, so had a rehydration drink and some antihistamine.
They say that you should love all of God’s creatures, but I think roosters could be an exception. If I was making a list for the ark there would be no roosters. One starts, and then another, and then they have competition for who can go the longest at 2am!
Dinner was chicken, boiled beetroot and rice, and fruit salad.