Daily Archives: September 27, 2015

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)

Categories: Peru, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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)

Categories: Peru, South American Epic | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments