Monthly Archives: September 2015

Day 71/164: Abancay to Limatambo – 116.6km

Climbing 2,450 and down 2,150 meters

Today was tough. We started straight away into a steep climb, 250 meters up in the first 4 killometres. After about 10 kilometres the road became a switch back, which is easier as it was newer and built with a more consistent gradient.

I caught up with Michelle at about 14 kilometres and rode with her to lunch. The climb was 36 kilometres long, and with tired legs it seemed to take forever.

Views out of Abancay (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Views out of Abancay (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

One of the riders who is usually really fast is suffering from altitude, and chest and sinus cold, and is really slow. I don’t think he should be riding at all. Grant is one of the few riders who is still EFI (has riden the whole ride so far) and is not wanting to give up his EFI status. I remind him his health is  way more important than the ride, and he assures me he knows this and will stop if he thinks he needs to, but I am still worried.

There are roadworks at about 25 kilometres and the traffic is stopped, but we are allowed through and have an hour on the road with no traffic. However the traffic above us is then let through and after the first few cars go whizzing down, totally disregarding the speed limit of 30 kilometres, Michelle and I get off the road just in time. Bus and trucks come racing down the hill in both lanes, and one onto the shoulder where we were. Once the traffic has gone past we set off again.

Finally we get to 36 kilometres and the top of the hill. Once again we stop to put on warm weather gear before the descent. There is about a 20 kilometre downhill before lunch. Once again a problem with a number of dogs rushing out. When we get to lunch about 1pm we find that one of the riders, Chris, has been bitten on the way down the hill.

Heading down: more crazy switchbacks (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

On the road today (Photo credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

After lunch it is downhill for a while, with a few ups. Amazing scenery with the river way below and the cliffs on either side. We get to the bottom of the downhill and cross over the river. Now we have 25 kilometres with an uphill gradient. Some of it is not nearly as steep as it seems, but our legs are tired, and Michelle and I are struggling.

A shot of the river and more stunning scenery (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

A shot of the river and more stunning scenery (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

At 4 kilometres from camp we decide to stop for a beer (not from a fridge again, so it’s warm) and then set off again to camp. Once again a number of really aggressive dogs! One of the riders has bite marks on the heel of one his riding shoes.

We finally get to camp at 5:30pm. Taking out the hour for lunch and the beer, this was a 10 hour day riding – no wonder we are tired. I am starting to have trouble with asthma and have had to use the reliever a couple of times.

We only have 15 minutes to get up the tents before the riders meeting, after which it will be dark. In my hurry I forgot to clip one side of the top tent into its clip, which holds it off the under tent.

I rush off to the rider’s meeting, a number of people finish the ride this section:
Tony and Michelle from Oz (did Lima to Cusco)
Theo and Victor from the Netherlands (did Lima to Cusco)
Peter from USA (did Lima to Cusco)
Laura and Gregg from Canada (Quito to Cusco)
Pier from Sweden (Quito to Cusco)
We are getting two new riders in Cusco, not sure how far they are going.

Dinner was chops, broccoli, and rice.

Amazing views on today's ride (Photo credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Amazing views on today’s ride (Photo credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

We are camping at the Tarawasi Archaeological site, apparently originated by the Incas (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

We are camping at the Tarawasi Archaeological site, apparently originated by the Incas (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

We are camping at the Tarawasi Archaeological site, apparently originated by the Incas (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

We are camping at the Tarawasi Archaeological site, apparently originated by the Incas (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

And, here are some of the staff cooking steak for dinner. Peter and Jason (riders) are supervising (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

And, here are some of the staff cooking steak for dinner. Peter and Jason (riders) are supervising (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

Some views of the surrounding landscape. A beautiful setting (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Some views of the surrounding landscape. A beautiful setting (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

Some views of the surrounding landscape. A beautiful setting (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Some views of the surrounding landscape. A beautiful setting (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

 

tdaincan

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Day 70/164: Cortaruse to Abancay – 144km

1,500 meters climbing – 2300 meters down

This morning, at about 4:30am, a loud speaker starting blaring for about twenty minutes. At 6am all was revealed: the school children, the headmistress, and a number of parents arrived. The headmistress had arrived the night before about 8:30pm to get the gifts, and of course we were all well in bed by then.

The loud speaker message was “all children and available parents get down to the school soccer field at 6am today”.

We gave them the presents, and the delight of the children was moving. Stuff our children would just take for granted would be provided as part of the school sports equipment were met with clapping and jumping with delight! Soccer balls, basket balls, tennis rackets, skipping ropes, pens, crayons etc. Then they sung us a number of songs, it was great.

Presentation to school kids at Cotaruse

Presentation to school kids at Cotaruse

The school's principal showed up a 6am with 30 or so kids (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

The school’s principal showed up a 6am with 30 or so kids (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

The kids jumped up and down when Britten pulled the gifts out of the bag (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

The kids jumped up and down when Britten pulled the gifts out of the bag (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

The kids jumped up and down when Britten pulled the gifts out of the bag (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

The kids jumped up and down when Britten pulled the gifts out of the bag (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

School kids

We set off knowing we had downhill to start, but none of us expected about 100 kilometres of really great downhill, then about 20 kilometres of a downhill gradient with a few climbs, and then twenty kilometres up.

The scenery on the downhill was spectacular: high cliffs, rocky faces, the river, and unfortunately a few territorial dogs who rushed out at a few of the riders.

Scenery along the river (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Scenery along the river (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

Scenery along the river (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Scenery along the river (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

A shot of the gorge we cycled through (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

A shot of the gorge we cycled through (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

Tonight we are staying at Hotel Sirlie. Pleased to be staying at a hotel and not have to put the tent up and down. Plus the first shower for three days. Thankfully the bikes were across the road and not on the roof of the hotel.

I am still suffering from gastro a bit, but have a better appetite at least. Still two more days riding this section to go.

Dinner was stew of some sort again with rice. Managed to spill gravy all over myself.

Am really looking forward to getting to Cusco: three days rest 😀 😀 😀 😀

One of the towns we passed through (Casinchihua). The main street and the highway are one and the same, so the big rigs going through town fill up the street (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

One of the towns we passed through (Casinchihua). The main street and the highway are one and the same, so the big rigs going through town fill up the street (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

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Day 69/164: Lake camp to Cotaruse – 110km

Climbing 1,250 meters – down 2,300 meters

Thankfully no snow or gastro overnight, but it is bitterly cold – less than zero degrees. Trying to do things with numb hands makes everything take longer! Trying to get cold hands and gloves to work together is also not terribly successful. I am dressed for riding in long johns, long bike pants, icebreaker top, long john top, bike top, bike silk balaclava, hat, socks, water proof socks, thermal gloves, and I am freezing. Having breakfast and washing your plates is painful.

A number of riders are quite unwell and are going on the truck which looks so tempting I almost give in. Cathy became so unwell during the night she has a swollen face, and has had to be taken to a lower altitude.

Morning at the Lake camp (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Morning at the Lake camp (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

I set off, it is bitterly cold and my hands are frozen. I was finding it hard to get my hands to adjust the gears. I would have cried if I wasn’t worried that my tears would freeze on my face. I rode the first five kilometres trying not to ride over my bottom lip, and finally my hands started to warm up. Then the next five kilometres I had the stinging as feeling returned to them. I am sure a black cloud was oozing out around me, such was my lack of joy to be in this moment! Then I came round a corner, the sun had come up, the temperature was climbing, and there were hundreds of alpacas. There were white ones, brown ones, black and white ones, and baby ones. They look so gormless when they look at you, it is impossible not to smile (Editor’s note: I wonder if their ‘gormlessness’ reminded Kaye of Benji 🙂 )

An alpaca (Photo credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

An alpaca (Photo credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

I sat and watched them for a while as they were crossing from one side of the highway to the other. The trucks and buses are used to them but there are a few close calls with the cars.

I set off again warmer and happier, still finding the climbing difficult due to the altitude.

I got to the top of the climb (4,515 meters high) and then a 9 kilometre downhill. Unfortunately I was not paying attention at the rider’s meeting as was too cold, and did not hear about the 7 kilometres climb after that –starting at 4,200 meters in altitude. Suffice to say the morning was the most miserable ride so far I have ever had. I had to stop about every 500 meters going up the 7 kilometres. Lunch is usually about halfway so expected it would be about the top of this climb, which was at the 57 kilometre point.

Stopping often for photos & wondering where the lunch truck is - we're hungry and tired (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Stopping often for photos & wondering where the lunch truck is – we’re hungry and tired (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

I had two attacks of gastro on this 7 kilometre and was pretty sure I was hoping to ride the lunch truck to camp. However the lunch truck was not at the summit. I was not too concerned as there was a downhill but then it started climbing again. I did a couple of climbs, stopping often and then thought I am hitting the wall. I checked my phone, the time was 1pm so I had been riding for about 7 hours.

I stopped and ate some Oreo biscuits that I keep as an emergency supply. Then I continued on riding, getting off, riding etc. I finally got to the lunch truck at 75 kilometres. Clearly the effects of altitude on the riders had not been factored into today. I decided not to discuss this at the time as I was feeling pretty grumpy, though it turns out a number of other riders had had a go at the staff about this.

Leaving from lunch for Cotaruse

Leaving from lunch for Cotaruse

Given that there was only 35 kilometres to go, and there was a lot of downhill to come, I decided to continue. When the first 10 kilometres was rolling hills and then a climb I was starting to regret this choice. Thankfully at that point I came to a huge downhill switchback, and then more downhill all the way to camp.

Up a bit and then a spectacular downhill - the craziest switchbacks (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Up a bit and then a spectacular downhill – the craziest switchbacks (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

We are camping on a school soccer field. The school asked for donations of useful items rather than money, so we have bought sports equipment etc.

There were a number of children all watching everything we did with great interest, peering inside tents etc and wanting to take photos of us. Plus a few hopeful village dogs keeping a watchful eye on the dinner preparations.

A bunch of schoolgirls watching Marina set up her tent (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

A bunch of schoolgirls watching Marina set up her tent (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

Thankfully we are at 2,900 meters in altitude so it was a lot warmer than last night.

Dinner was beef and lentil stew, cauliflower, and rice.

Through a canyon (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Through a canyon (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

Coffee stop on road to Cotaruse School

Coffee stop on road to Cotaruse School

Main Street - Cotaruse (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Main Street – Cotaruse (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

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Day 68/164: Puquio to Lake Camp – 56km

Climbing 1,470 meters, down 525. Climbing up to and bush camping at a lake at 4,200.

The gastro is back! But I think it is related to the altitude rather than a bug. I am also feeling queasy and breathless, so when I set off I was not sure I would make it to the lunch truck.

We are climbing all day and going up to 4,200 meters again. Getting out of Puquio was a huge switch back for about 23 kilometres that just stretched on for ever in the distance and was very daunting.

A morning shot of Puquio just before we left (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

A morning shot of Puquio just before we left (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

I set off slowly and made my way up the never ending switch back, which of course did end and then was replaced by long up hills stretching for ever with big winding curves, and a head wind half the time. I have no idea how many times I stopped but I finally made it to the lunch truck.

Climbing out of town - more switchbacks. A view of the town from one of the loops (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Climbing out of town – more switchbacks. A view of the town from one of the loops
(Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

Having got to the lunch truck I decided I may as well try to make the rest of the day. I rode the afternoon with Michelle, who was also finding it hard going. The afternoon was straighter roads, with some climbs and some rolling hills. Finally we made it to the turn, and walked our bikes on the sand and dirt until the last rise before camp and rode in.

The top of our ride and our camp are on the Antiplano (High Plateau). Here's a lake, well above the treeline (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

The top of our ride and our camp are on the Antiplano (High Plateau). Here’s a lake, well above the treeline (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

It was 2:30 pm and already cold. It was windy and bleak. It took two people to put up the tents otherwise the wind would tear them out of your hands. There were no washing facilities, so after I got the tent up, I had a wet wipe wash, and then put as much warm clothing as possible.

I have 5 layers on top including my jacket, two hats, gloves, long john’s, pants and socks, and am warm inside the tent. I stay there until it is time for the riders meeting. For some reason as we are all shivering in the cold by the truck (as there is no shelter) the TDA guide decides we have to wait until all the riders turn up before starting the meeting, then also decides to give the longest explanation ever about the next day’s ride which is basically turn right onto the main road for 110 kilometres!

It is freezing. We have to take our gloves off before we can get served dinner, even though the staff ladle the food onto our plate. I am sure the cold is clouding my views, but it was the worst meal I have had ever. I don’t like white rice, white pasta, or potato, especially when over-cooked, stodgy, or in the case of the potatoes lumpy (and often partially raw).

I do understand that this is the most economical food to serve, and knew this would make up a significant portion of the meals. Tonight however, when faced by a stack of stodgy totally over cooked food, which was apparently risotto, meat stew of some red meat description too tough to eat or decide what it was, all 3 small pieces swimming in gravy, and stir fried cucumber (I think). I took one mouthful and scraped my plate contents into the bin, washed my plate, and went to bed. I was in bed by 6:20pm. Due to the altitude I have been struggling to eat as I have no appetite .

At breakfast I usually manage tea and porridge, but it not really enough for 4 to 7 hours biking before lunch (usually I have a peanut butter sandwich as well). I try to take a banana, which I also don’t like, but is very good for easy to digest food. For lunch I usually have another peanut butter and jam sandwich as I keep away from all the left over food, or food that would usually be in a fridge. Then at dinner I don’t eat the rice/pasta/potato, so I am starting to think about what I need to do to supplement my diet. I also used to think I was not a fussy eater but I realize I actually am. I keep thinking I will get hungry enough to eat the rice/ pasta/potato but I don’t. Luckily I was well padded when I arrived, so I have plenty stored to see me through.

I got into my sleeping bag thinking I hope it does not rain or snow during the night. Cristiano spoke to some workmen further up the road who said it had snowed there the night before. The wind was buffeting the tent and I slept intermittently. The worst thing is being nice and warm in the sleeping bag but having to get up during the night. Also every time I turned over or got up I get breathless.

As we are told to keep well hydrated, it is a vicious circle: drinking leads to getting up more. Thus tonight was a “Why am I doing this again?” moment!!!!

Here's our camp. The ominous looking clouds are NOT rain clouds. Luckily, no snow (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Here’s our camp. The ominous looking clouds are NOT rain clouds. Luckily, no snow (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

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Day 67/164: Pampa Galeras Camp to Puquio – 87km

Today was up 1,375 meters and down 1820, and climbing to over 4,100 meters in altitude.

The reason for the shorter day yesterday was the climb would have been over 3,200 meters, so Cristiano made the call to set up a bush camp at a suitable place 20 kilometres earlier. Today was the easiest day of the 7 day stretch, so the 20 kilometres was added today.

A cold bunch of cyclists having breakfast (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

A cold bunch of cyclists having breakfast (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

The first 29 kilometres to the summit was hard as we were climbing to over 4,200 meters in altitude. Thankfully the altitude medication appears to be helping. Even so I had to get off my bike a few times to catch my breath before going on again. Each time I got off was less than a minute. I tried walking but that made me just as breathless.

I stopped at the summit and had a look around, and then put my warm clothes back on for a 25 kilometre descent. I was really please not to be biking up this side, the gradient is steeper than the other side. It was quite cold going down.

As I have rim brakes and I like to brake a lot, I stopped a couple of times to admire the view and check the rims were not too hot. At the bottom of the climb was the lunch truck. Then two more climbs, plus a 10 kilometre downhill into Puquio.

Heading down the valley there is a large difference in the landscape. It is rockier, rougher and greener (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Heading down the valley there is a large difference in the landscape. It is rockier, rougher and greener (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

A great ride down into the valley on another windy, switchback filled road (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

A great ride down into the valley on another windy, switchback filled road (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

Puquio is in the valley so we will have a climb tomorrow first thing. We are staying at Coralia Hotel, which is pretty run down and has no guest facilities apart from rooms, but it has a bed, a hot shower, and I don’t have to put up the tent. The bikes had to go up to the roof up, three sets of very steep stairs, which is not easy wearing cleats (biking shoes). I nearly fell backwards on the last flight.

I went into the town for a drink. For the past couple of days most of the places have only had drinks at room temperature, and it was the same today. At the place I stopped I was sitting down and a wee girl about 3 years old, who was the child of the owners, ran over and hopped up on my knee. She sat there chattering away to me for a while, and showing me her collection of bottle tops, which was really cute.

The main square of Piquo (Photo credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

The main square of Piquo (Photo credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

This stage from Lima to Cusco is going to be extremely challenging: 7 days of riding, climbing, altitude, and cold. I am wanting to do all of everyday. I must be making progress as I am no longer asked in the morning by the TDA staff if I am going in the lunch truck.

Dinner: stewed beef, I think, potatoes and beans.

There is a lot of agriculture in the valley. It seems like they clear the fields of loose rock by building fences with them (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

There is a lot of agriculture in the valley. It seems like they clear the fields of loose rock by building fences with them (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

This is a view of the far side of the valley showing farms perched on the mountainside. There were a couple of small villages over there, although we couldn't see any obvious road access. (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

This is a view of the far side of the valley showing farms perched on the mountainside. There were a couple of small villages over there, although we couldn’t see any obvious road access (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

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Day 66/164: Nazca to Pampa Galeras Camp – 90km

Climbing up 3,200 meters; down 100 meters (surely there is a missing zero?).

I am feeling quite daunted at the thought of today’s climb: 90 kilometres up, and getting up in altitude also, so I decided to add a couple more kilometres by missing the first flag. Thankfully some of the other riders did the same thing and we noticed quite quickly.

The climb for the first 30 kilometres was a series of switch backs, then just a road that kept curving and going up and up.

A photo of the winding road today  (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

A photo of the winding road today (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

Lunch was unexpectedly early at 38 kilometres, and we were given the welcome news that instead of 90 kilometres we were riding 70 kilometres 😀 😀 :D. At an average of 7.5 kilometres and hour this is nearly three hours less climbing!

The lunch truck today (Photo credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

The lunch truck today (Photo credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

At about 2,900 meters up the altitude starting taking effect. The scenery was stunning, but very hard to truly appreciate when you are gasping for breath.

I stopped at every shop for more water, and one PowerAde, and reapplied sunscreen countless times. I started taking altitude sickness pills today (which I should have started two days ago, oops!) and they say to avoid excessive exposure to sunlight. Well from 6:30am to 3pm I was out in the sun. Eight and a half hours climbing up a hill.

I was very pleased to get to camp. I got my tent up, sorted out my gear, had a wet wipe bath, and had a nap. In total I climbed up 2,192 meters.

The change in the distance was because it would have been more than a 3,200 meter climb, and the 20 kilometres we did not do today will be added to tomorrow’s ride.

It’s cold once the sun goes, I have a few layers on including a hat and gloves.

Dinner was chicken, pasta, and stir fry veges.

Bush camp - basically a cleared lot beside the road.  Dusty!  (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Bush camp – basically a cleared lot beside the road. Dusty! (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

Bush camp - basically a cleared lot beside the road.  Dusty!  (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Bush camp – basically a cleared lot beside the road. Dusty! (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

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Day 65/164: Rest day in Nazca

I have organized to go flying over the Nazca lines today. I am starting to regret this, thinking of small planes and motion sickness. However the only way to see them is in the air.

These lines were built over hundreds of years and anthropologists are still trying to work out the reasoning behind them. There are lines that are pictures of hummingbirds, whales, families, and an astronaut (or as one line of thought goes – an alien). There are other lines that are geometrical shapes and then lines straight and diagonal that line them up. This is really impressive having been done from the ground over hundreds of miles.

The lines were plotted by the line creators, who put stakes in the ground and then joined them with string. Then other workers came and cleared the stones and a layer of dirt. The stones were placed at the outside of the lines which helped protect them from the wind. The language of these people has gone but the lines remain.

Also as they were dependent on water, they suffered drought and practiced human sacrifice. This is not yet fully understood whether it was people from other tribes or from within their own. Also they discovered they could get water deep below the surface of the desert and created huge wells with steps in a circle going down. They also built quite sophisticated irrigation systems for their crops.

With flying in mind, I had a plain breakfast of rolls and tea. (Editor’s note: Love the seamless change of topic here 🙂

A group of us were picked up at the hotel at 8:30am  to go to the airport, once again in a beat up old car.

When we arrived at the airport we had to pay departure tax of $20 sole, and watch a video about the history of the lines. Then set off for the 55 minute flight!

I had my camera with me but only managed to take about three photos, as every time I looked down and tried to focus the camera the motion sickness started to creep in.

It did not help that the plane was a six seater and the pilot was showing passengers on both sides of the plane each of the lines, so lot of banking and rolling.

The lines were amazing and I am really pleased I saw them. It was also great to see the vastness of the desert, and see the road we had rode in on. I managed to keep the motion sickness at bay whilst on the plane, but had the bag on my knee just in case!

Nazca Lines

Nazca Lines

Nazca lines

Nazca lines

The Hummingbird

The Hummingbird

Nazca lines

Nazca lines

The very small plane

The very small plane

I got back onto the ground and was waiting to be picked up, when I was still feeling very queasy and then lost my breakfast into a garden. Probably just as well, as would not have been good if it had been in the driver’s car.

I had taken my broken glasses with me as figured it would be easier to ask where to go for new ones. I showed the driver, he nodded and smiled and took me to a shop in town, which turned out to be an optician. Luckily I managed to convey that I just needed them for reading, and got two pairs for $20 sole each. The spare pair is now in a case. I will still need to get more so am keeping a look out for a street vendor.

After this I was hungry having lost breakfast. I had a sandwich, then off to the supermarket for supplies and back to the hotel. I ended up having to get Ponds moisturizer as it was the only one that I was sure was actually moisturizer.

I spent the afternoon sending photos, which was really frustrating as the Internet was really slow, and going through my gear. I am having lots of problems trying to shut my day bag, so was trying to take stuff out plus put more warm clothes in. Net result was I got the warm clothes in and some stuff out, and it is still just as hard to shut.

I decided to have dinner at the hotel rather than go into town again. Out of curiosity I chose pork steak, which ended up being like schnitzel but not crumbed, rice, an egg, and my favourite: plantain – oh well, I had a good meal last night.

Then an early night as we have a big day tomorrow – 90 kilometres, all uphill climbing from 400 meters to 3,200 meters!

A whole pile of lines and trapezoids (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

A whole pile of lines and trapezoids (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

The Astronaut (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

The Astronaut (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

This is a general shot of the valley.  Lots of agriculture and a dry river.  A lot of the lines have been affected by water flows, whenever it happens  (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

This is a general shot of the valley. Lots of agriculture and a dry river. A lot of the lines have been affected by water flows, whenever it happens (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

nazca lines

nazca lines2

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Day 64/164: Santiago Ica to Nazca – 124 kilometres

1,300 up and 1,300 down

A cold morning again once more, again about 8 degrees. It was really foggy and hard to see and lots of trucks and cars. I was wearing my high viz stuff.

All of a sudden after about an hour the fog cleared, bright blue skies, hot sun, temperature jumped up 10 degrees in an hour.

I started the ride looking forward to the rest day but feeling a bit daunted by the 13 kilometre hill at 57 kilometres that was in our riders briefing. I got to 53 kilometres, stopped and bought a drink, had some fruit, reapplied sunscreen, and got mentally geared up for the challenge! I got to the hill, went up about 4 kilometres, then the rest of it was down 😀 :D.

Nice little downhill chunk just before the lunch truck (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Nice little downhill chunk just before the lunch truck
(Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

I got to lunch and could see another hill stretching up into the distance – I was thinking that hopefully it is not like the hill before the last rest day, which turned out to be 15 kilometres.

Great spot for lunch - an abandoned roadside restaurant (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Great spot for lunch – an abandoned roadside restaurant (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

I left the lunch spot with Michelle and Tony. Thankfully the hill was about 4 kilometres up, and then down again. After about 5 kilometres Tony got a flat, and said to Michelle for us to head off and he would catch up.

The rest of the ride was rolling hills with a few steeper climbs – it was really hot! The desert stretched away on both sides, and although we were riding well the day seemed to drag. Tony caught us up about 5 kilometres out from Nazca, and then was riding too fast for us to stay with him.

When we got to town the lunch truck passed us and went round a roundabout so without looking for flags we followed. Thankfully Luiz noticed us behind him and and stopped and said he was going for ice and we needed to go back to the roundabout and turn left! It turned out our mistake meant we did not go past some raised road markers that two other rides fell off on. Sue fell and grazed her arm and broke her helmet in 3 places.

We got to the hotel, nice rooms, quite big, a few were still having doors hung when we arrived! We are staying Nazca Oasis Hotel.

Thankfully the hotel does laundry so just needed to sort out gear and then shower and relax.

We had beer at the bar and paid as we went, but the girl who served us kept asking for our room number and name. This was all being written in scraps of paper and given to the guy at reception. I was highly suspicious that this was going to translate into being charged twice, so I got Luiz to speak to the guy at reception, and got the scraps of paper for our table back.

A group of us decided to head off into town for dinner. We went to the reception to order two taxis. After waiting for ages an unmarked car turned up and took one car full  into town. Then after about 15 minutes it arrived back for the rest. We reckon it was a relative of the guy at reception.

We managed to regroup in town, and went to a nice looking restaurant. By this stage it was 7:30 and we were getting pretty hungry. By the time our order was taken and the food arrived it was nearly 8pm. We were looking with envy at those eating. Alex, a young guy from the UK who joined us in Lima, looked a bit nervous when his food came out at least 5 minutes before anyone else’s and we were all staring at it. The food was good, I had steak stuffed with cheese and mushrooms.

There are no tuk tuk’s in Nazca but plenty of beat up old cars, with or without signs, stopping to provide rides.

It was nice to get into clean sheets, with no alarm set for the morning.

Endless road and dunes and then mountains as we continue along.  They planted splindly little trees along each side of the road for about 50 km.  Don't know if they are surviving (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Endless road and dunes and then mountains as we continue along. They planted splindly little trees along each side of the road for about 50 km. Don’t know if they are surviving (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

Typical mountains in this area.  Dead tree along the road (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Typical mountains in this area. Dead tree along the road (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

A view of Rio Grande.  We came down through the pass on the far side and are going up on this side(Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

A view of Rio Grande. We came down through the pass on the far side and are going up on this side (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

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Day 63/164: Paracas to Santiago Ica – 93 kilometres

900 meters climbing, and 900 meters down.

It was very cold this morning, 8 degrees, I was wearing warm gear.

The ride was pretty much rolling hills with long stretches, with a slight gradient, but with a head wind. The kind of riding I do really well. I was riding in a peloton with Shirley and Dan.

All of a sudden I heard a really weird noise from the back of my bike, and stopped to look. I had a screw stuck from one side to the other. In the time that I stopped the tyre went flat. Dan helped change it, he is really fast at changing tyres.

While we were there a bunch of riders going the other way stopped for a chat. A group of youngish guys (late 20’s?) from USA, UK, Italy and France. The one from Italy had been riding for two years. They were all self-supporting and heading to Pisco, and enjoying the tail wind.

Tyre changed, we set off again and soon came to the lunch stop.

After lunch I rode with Michelle and Tony from lunch to camp. At only 93 kilometres and no real climbing it was like a day off. We were at camp by midday. We are saying at Santiago Ica Camp.

After setting up the tents we sat around the pool chatting, and having a couple of cold beers.

I packed about 11 pairs of reading glasses to take on this trip – not expensive ones, just the two dollar shop ones, and would you believe I have none left? The arm fell off one yesterday, and could not be fixed, and today I knelt on my last good pair in my tent. Now I have one lens and sticking tape in the middle. Fingers crossed I can buy some in Nazca on our next rest day!

Dinner tonight was chicken, rice and asparagus.

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Day 62/164: Cerru Azul to Paracas – 130km

1,000 meters climbing and 1,000 meters down.

We were going to be staying at Reserva national de Paracas at 135 kilometres (bush camping in a National Park) but instead this was changed at lunch to 115 kilometres in Paracas.

Today is a non-race day, instead it is a team challenge day. We had to get into teams of approximately 5, with at least one team member who joined in Lima, and team members from at least two continents.

The challenges were
1. Form a human pyramid with a scenic backdrop
2. Have a photo of each team member doing what they like to do
3. A tasteful picture of a Catholic icon
4. The team enjoying grapes
5. The team enjoying something sweet and sour
6. The team interacting with the locals.

We had a great day getting the challenges completed. We had a dog in our pyramid with a backdrop of the beach.

My photo of what I like to do was feeding a dog.

Feeding the dog in Pisco

Feeding the dog in Pisco

Our sweet and sour was Piscos in Pisco – I abstained. We had the Piscos in Pisco as we figured there should be bonus points attached to that. Thankfully not everyone had to have one, and Pisco was only 25 kilometres from where we were staying.

For interacting with the locals we did wine tasting, and then took a picture at a road side shop of a grandmother and her grandson (who was 3 like my grandson).  Ray from Missouri who was in the team speaks reasonably good Spanish, and was able to have a conversation with the grandmother. As we rode away from the shop I could not help thinking how different this grandmother’s life is than the grandmother at the shop.

With having to do 20 kilometres less than expected we did not even mind the unexpected 5 kilometre dirt road. The riding today was pretty easy going, as we were taking our time.

We got to camp in time to air the tent and do some washing. Dinner tonight was steak! First time that has appeared for dinner, big pieces and cooked medium or well done and salad.

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