Daily Archives: September 7, 2015

Day 48/164: Pasabar to Chiclayo – 113km

Up 700 meters, down 775 meters.

Not such a good sleep last night – just because a weird bunch of Lycra clad cyclists go to bed at 7pm does not mean the locals do. Quite a lot of talking and laughing, thankfully I had the iPod and ears muffs!

The soccer field has overhead lights, and these were on for a while, and then came back on at 5am.

When one of the riders woke up it was so light they thought they had overslept. Being so close to the equator there is not much time from dark to light in the morning, and light to dark at night. So usually we are getting up in the dark and going to bed in the dark.

As I don’t have my keys to lose every day I instead play “hunt for my overhead light” – if only I would put it in the same place each day! If I forget until it is dark more challenge is added to this by having to crawl around inside the tent going through everything with the light from the cell phone. My aim from now on is to put it in my toilet bag every morning (which I plan to do as soon as I find it).

To add variety today we had a team challenge, we had to get into a team of 4 and guess how long it will take to ride 25 kilometres-ish (maybe slightly more or less) without knowing the road and how much of today’s 700 meters climb is in it. I am in a combined NZ/OZ team called the Anzac biscuits. You can over estimate your time, but if you underestimate you’re out, and it’s based on the time that the last rider in the team crosses the line.  Given that we don’t know the gradient we are cautious and overestimate based on the expected speed of the slowest rider in the team (me).

It is for fun and there is no prize, but some of the teams are deadly serious and are warming up and have stripped everything off their bike. I considered if I should take off my panniers, but I already spend a few minutes each day trying to close my daily bag so that’s not an option anyway.

There was less gradient than we expected so we come in under our time. Going up the hill to the end I was feeling the pressure, was huffing and puffing and pushing as fast as I could. My team could hear me behind them, thankfully no one in my team was yelling at me to hurry up.

One of the teams had a rider who is also not great on hills who thought he was going to throw up, and in another team one of the riders was screaming and yelling at his team. Anyone would have thought there was serious prize money at stake.

The AZAC biscuits: Peter and me from New Zealand, Jackie and Brett from Australia

The ANZAC biscuits: L-R: Brett and Jackie from Australia, Peter and me from New Zealand

With this behind me, I set off for the rest of the ride. There were some ruins along the way, pyramids in Tucane built out of sandstone, that I stopped to have a look at. I need to google some info about them as everything I have seen written was in Spanish.

Me in front of the pyramids

Me in front of the pyramids

The pre Incan pyramids (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The pre Incan pyramids (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Detail of the Pre Incan pyramid (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Detail of the Pre Incan pyramid (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

The road is not good to ride on, the shoulder has numerous pot holes but the road has trucks, buses and Tuk Tuks everywhere. Even when you are on the shoulder they blare their horns at you. They are much more aggressive than Colombia and  Ecuador, with us and with each other. They are also less kind to animals, and there is a distressing amount of animal carnage at the roadside. Also distressing are the vultures feasting. I can just imagine vultures as the birds in the horror movie (called I think Birds). There is also rubbish everywhere again.

Because of the team challenge and the rest of the day not being a race day, most of the riders are riding in groups. The group I was with got stopped and questioned by the Policia – an interesting conversation when they did not speak English and none of us spoke Spanish. We showed them on our notes where we were going, they took photos of us and – we thought – drove off happily.

However about 5 kilometres up the road along came 3 Policia on motorcycles with their sirens going and one headed over to us. Once again a challenging conversation, and he did not seem very happy with us. We got an escort for the remaining 16 kilometres to camp. It was a bit scary as he seemed really grumpy and he had a gun. It was useful though in controlling the traffic, and he stopped the traffic at two intersections so we could go across. However we were very relieved when we got to camp to see Cristiano. We left Cristiano to deal with him and went thankfully inside the camp.

Cristiano said after being asked for his documentation and having his photo taken, the cop said he had been told to ensure we got safely to camp – by it turns out the cops in the car who had stopped us.

The place we are staying has rooms at a reasonable price so a lot of the riders got one. Nice to have a room to myself, and not have to pack up the tent in the morning, and be able to get dressed standing. As it turns out also thankfully to stop being savaged by bugs. I put two types of spray on for dinner and still got bitten. In the morning I got bitten through my bike shorts and riding top as well.

This place is meant to have wifi but like the place in Las Lomas I could not get onto it. So rather than get frustrated I decided to turn the iPad off. Hopefully the hotel for the rest day will have good wifi.

I am looking forward to the rest day. Even though the days have been shorter and not much climbing, I have never ridden 7 days in a row before, and the legs are getting weary.

Dinner was goat curry, couscous, coleslaw.

On the road today (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

On the road today (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Categories: Peru, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 47/164: Hulucanas to Pasbar – 102km

Up 750 meters, and down 750 meters

Unless things change again, tonight we really are staying on a soccer field. I slept really well, probably the best since I started this ride. Regardless of the time I go to bed on a riding day – usually around 7 – I still never want to get up at 5am. Last night there were no roosters, no dogs, and it was not too hot or cold.

At the rider’s meeting last night Cristiano told us that Phil has now been evacuated from Loja and is in Lima finally. Hopefully he will make good progress and soon be able to return home. As expected with head trauma he is a bit confused, and whilst he can hold a conversation about having been injured he then will finish off his reply with “Now I have short day riding today, and I need to find my helmet and shoes”. A number of the riders are wearing orange (Phil wore lots of orange), and those that don’t have any orange have orange flagging tape on their bike or helmet, as a way of keeping Phil with us as we make our way to Ushuaia.

Today and yesterday it was overcast when we headed off and almost looked like rain but this clears midday and then the sun blazes down. Where we are staying tonight it has not rained since 2008!

One benefit of the short riding with no climbing is we have been getting to camp by midday. Mind you, it’s a bit disconcerting getting to the lunch truck at 9:30am. It also makes it a long time until dinner at 6pm. Most of the riders have a meal in between, plus the cook has been making soup every riding day since we left Quito and this helps bridge the gap as well.

Top of today's main climb at lunch time (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Top of today’s main climb at lunch time (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Peru is hot and very, very, dry where we are. There are numerous dry river beds and the towns are all buildings on dirt. There is a lot of rubbish around also, not in the towns so much but in between, dumped in bags on the side of the road.

On the road in rural Northern Peru (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

On the road in rural Northern Peru (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Today I rode about 30 kilometres with Mark and Nelson in a pacing line. Sort of like a peloton. We took turns being at the front pulling, and the riders behind get the benefit of some wind shield and drafting. I have not had much experience at this and find it hard to get close enough to the rider in front to benefit. Apparently I need to cut the distance I stay behind the rider in front by about two-thirds. All practice and experience. Given the shorter days I am pushing myself harder.

On the road today (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

On the road today (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Where we are staying is a soccer field but thankfully not dirt. We are on concrete, but it there is no shade and it is only midday when I get to camp. The cloud has lifted and it is hot! Thankfully three of the locals have shops in their houses so we followed the shade from shop to shop. When I say ‘shop’ I mean they have a freezer with drinks and a few things you can buy, and generally will cook chips and eggs (fried or scrambled).

Often though it takes about 45 minutes from the time of order to arrival, and there can be some tension over whose order is whose. Also at times more arrives than what was ordered, but there is always someone willing to eat more.

It is one of the rider’s birthday today – Jos from South Africa – and he has organized beer, cheese, crackers and olives. There was a big container of crackers and cheese, and two of olives, but they were gone in no time.

As a couple of days ago, we have a number of the locals watching us with great interest. At the rider’s meeting we sat on the tiered seating at the soccer field, and we had a back row of local people who sat through the meeting, and watched us eating. They are probably going to have to restock their shops tomorrow as 45 hungry riders can eat and drink a lot between midday and 6pm.

The soccer pitch where tent city is tonight (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The soccer pitch where tent city is tonight (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

First good sunset of the trip tonight (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

First good sunset of the trip tonight (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

The sun continues sinking very fast (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The sun continues sinking very fast (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Categories: Peru, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment