1,749 meters climbing and 1,860 down. Gravel all day.
I set off feeling daunted by the thought of another long day of gravel and horse flies. The first few kilometres the gravel was hard packed, so not too bad to ride on.
At 25 kilometres I was joined a small white dog with black tipped ears and a black patch over one eye. She just appeared out of the bush and started following me. I was quite concerned as there were no houses around and I was worried that she was lost.
Every time I tried to speed up and she fell behind, she barked and cried until I stopped for her. This meant that my average speed dropped to about 6.5 kilometres an hour. I stopped a few times at rivers so she could get a drink and a couple of times I soaked her with water, as it was really hot. I was not able to stop for long as every time I did I would be surrounded by a cloud of horse flies, thinking they had found a buffet.
I thought she had possibly got off the back of a ute when it stopped, or perhaps had followed other riders from Cochrane and got lost. While I was riding along I was trying to figure out what to do with her. Then I remembered that the next day the lunch truck was leaving us in the morning to follow a 1,000 kilometres trip around to met us in Argentina (because the trucks could not go on the ferries we were catching). This meant the lunch truck would be going back through Cochrane and they could drop her off. Even if she was not from there at least she could join the town strays, with a better chance of food than in the middle of nowhere.
At 53 kilometres she disappeared, she must have been totally exhausted and needed to rest. I spent a few minutes looking for her but then needed to go. It was 3:30pm by the time I got to the lunch truck as it was. Given the time with 55 kilometres still to go, I got the lunch truck to camp instead of riding. I am pleased I did as the last rider got in at 7.30pm (Sue) and the truck had to go back after that to get one rider who was still not in.
Sue asked me when she got in what I had done with the dog? The dog had followed Sue for a couple of kilometres and cried when Sue rode off, but she said she knew I was behind her and no doubt the dog would attach itself to me. A few of the other riders said they had also been followed before 25 kilometres by the dog. I spoke to Luis, the driver of the lunch truck, and if he sees her on the road tomorrow he will stop and pick her up and take her back to Cochrane on his way.
We are camping by a lake, and tomorrow morning we have to catch a ferry across the lake before we start our day of riding. Where we are camping there are a couple of abandoned buildings and one of them is inhabited by two puppies who look to be about 10-12 weeks. Like any puppy, they are full of mischief and the first thing I did was take two cycling shoes off them, much to their disappointment. I put them in my bag until I found who they belonged to, and made sure I left nothing out for the puppies to chew.
At about 8:30pm a car pulled up and the driver hopped out, shut the puppies in the house, and then drove off. The puppies then spent the rest of the evening, until everyone had stopped moving around, standing up on their back legs looking out the window, barking and trying to get attention. Thankfully they settled down and were quiet for the evening once everyone was asleep.
There was a female dog, with a injured front foot, hanging around who I think is the mum. After I saw her around the corner at the ferry dock chasing cars, I didn’t have to wonder how her foot was injured.