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.
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.
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.