Daily Archives: November 3, 2015

South American Epic: Section 6

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South American Epic: Section 5

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Day 95/164: Atocha to Bush camp in Tapiza – 117km

Climbing 1,960 – down 2,490 meters

I decided not to ride today as I am still sore from falling yesterday. If it was pavement I would have ridden but the thought of corrugated, rocky and sandy surfaces, I decided not to risk getting 5 kilometres into the ride being really sore and then having to get another 40 or so kilometres to lunch.

The dinner truck was finally pulled out at about 12:30 am and needs repair, not sure how long it will take. There is a bus to replace it today and tomorrow until the border.

The replacement bus for a day or two

The replacement bus for a day or two (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Max (TDA) has gone ahead today into Argentina to find another vehicle from the border. The TDA staff were up late last night sorting this all out and as always up early (they get up an hour before us at 4:30 am to get things rolling for the day). They are also generally still packing up the day for nearly an hour after we have retired to our tents. In addition they don’t just have one role. Apart from the chef (April) they all take turns at being the sweep (riding behind the last rider), preparing the food, packing and unpacking the trucks, being on the lunch truck, and then designated roles such as medic and bike mechanic).

This latest incident has added more work as now stuff has to be packed into a new vehicle and there is such a lot of stuff. Cooking equipment, outside stoves, pits and pans, plates, gas bottles, food for days, rider’s daily bags, rubbish bins, cleaning equipment, etc etc. It took quite a long time. The riders not riding at all today plus a number of TDA staff had to also get into this bus. With everything that had to be done it was after 9:30 by the time we left town.

Breakfast in the sunshine (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Breakfast in the sunshine (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

The terrain was as tough as expected, not only was there corrugated surfaces and sand but there were also some steep climbs. Given that from Uyuni to 30 kilometres from the town we stayed at last night it is a new road being built you would think that would not have 12% gradients. The new roads being built in Peru were all a consistent 4 to 5%, achieved by having switch backs.

A tough track for us out of town (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

A tough track for us out of town (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

We passed a few riders still not at a lunch stop on the way. We stopped at the lunch stop it was over 4,000 meters altitude with a freezing cold wind gusting through. I am pleased not to be out there riding.  The roads are steep and narrow but the bus driver must have driven it numerous times as I was not once concerned about safety (and I can be a nervous passenger).

As yesterday there was great scenery in the afternoon with steep gorges and cliffs again.  Plus a mountain range in the background.

Stunning scenery (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Stunning scenery (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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

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

We arrived at the campsite, a soccer field again, in a village, bush camping again. However this soccer field has grass and a number of weeping willow trees surrounding it. We have dropped to 3,100 meters in altitude and it is a lot warmer.

Tonight's campsite (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Tonight’s campsite (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

After helping unload the bus and putting up my tent, I enjoyed sitting by my tent in the sun, being warm! Tomorrow is 30 kilometres of corrugated surface and sand, but then it is paved so I plan to be back out riding.

Dinner tonight t-bone steak, potatoes, honey carrots, and broccoli salad.

Cold in the shade at camp (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Cold in the shade at camp (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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Day 94/164: Uyuni to Atocha – 104km

The plan was 95 kilometres, climbing 560 and down 490, and staying in old mine site at Chocaya but we ended up 103 kilometres and staying at school soccer field in Atocha.

I woke up this morning in a bad space, I really did not want to ride – in fact I had had enough of the trip. I was not looking foward to 6 more nights of bush camping. I am sick of having asthma and being at altitude, the cold and the wind, and suffering altitude related symptoms.

Also contributing to my lack of joy is my daughter Shellbe arrives home from an overseas tomorrow and I am not going to be there. I am suffering from acute homesickness missing family and friends. Usually when one of the children arrive home from overseas I am busy organizing a family feast of favorite foods and looking forward to a family celebration. Instead I am heading off to ride 100 kilometres of corrugated dirt and sand. If I had known just what a horrid day of riding it was going to be I may not have got out of bed. I was sad thinking about home, and rode the first couple of hours with the occasional tear and sniffle.

It’s hard to describe riding over a corrugated surface (not on a mountain bike), you feel like your whole body is being shacked apart with the vibration and jarring. This went on for kilometre after kilometre, interrupted by thick deep sand that you were unable to ride through.

A sand trap to catch out the unwary (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

A sand trap to catch out the unwary (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

This was interspersed with speeding cars, trucks, and buses that blew clouds of sand up around you. I came off in one sand pile as I did not realize how deep it was and did not manage to unclip in time, but was not hurt. The scenery in the morning was uninspiring and all in all I was not enjoying being in the moment.

Lots of dust when vehicles go past

Lots of dust when vehicles go past (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Off we go after stopping for a snack

Off we go after stopping for a snack (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Me riding today

Me riding today (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

At last some downhill to really enjoy

At last some downhill to really enjoy (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

In the afternoon we went through some awesome scenery with deep gorges and some steep descents. Unfortunately I hit a rock the wrong way near the bottom of one descent and lost control of the bike. I managed to fall onto the bar of my bike and land with my shoulder against the cliff. Overall a lucky escape, but a long 25 kilometres to camp especially over the continuing corrugated surfaces. So I did lots of riding standing.

On our way to camp

On our way to camp (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

On our way to camp

On our way to camp (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

At 95 kilometres we were meet by Sharita who advised we were no longer staying at the planned site as it was too exposed, and there was some chemical run off from the old mine. So we biked another 8 kilometres to the next town where we were staying on a schools soccer field. Thankfully this was following a river and much smoother riding. I noted the dinner truck sitting at the previously planned site, but did not really think about it. When I got to camp I found out it was stuck there.

It was quite late when I got to camp so I only had enough time to get my tent up before it was time for rider’s meeting. The dinner truck hopefully would be pulled out that night, but it looked like it needed repair so TDA staff were looking into the options for tomorrow. A huge amount of work by the TDA staff transferring all the gear out the dinner truck into the lunch truck and ute and ferrying it back to here, along with setting up camp and cooking dinner as usual.

Eating dinner at our school campsite

Eating dinner at our school campsite (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Tomorrow the ride is 85 kilometres with a corrugated surface, sandy, and a lot of climbing . I will see how I feel in the morning but currently I am sore from the fall and not sure if I will be riding.

Dinner was barbeque chicken, salad, salsa and rice.

Amazing track to our new campsite

Amazing track to our new campsite (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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