Bulletin 20 (2)

July 2nd, 2015

Social Media & Emergency Contacts

Share Your Story via #southamericanepic

Some of you may be sharing your journey through South America with friends and family via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. It’s a great way to send quick words and photos out to the world from a smartphone or laptop. We suggest bringing an unlocked device so you can use a local SIM card. The 2015 tour will be using #southamericanepic as the official event hashtag. Use this in all your Instagram photos, tweets, and status updates to make it become part of the story line of the tour online. It will be used by staff and riders alike. Try it out and tell your family members to follow along on our adventure!

Our official 2015 event hashtag #southamericanepic

TDA accounts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tourdafrique
Instagram: http://instagram.com/tourdafrique
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tourdafrique

Are You Writing a Blog?

Beside using social networks, many people will also keep a blog to record the events of the tour in a journal format. Family and friends can subscribe to your blog and get alerts via email every time you post a new entry.

There are many free and very easy to use blogging programs to choose from. Try it out, your friends and family will appreciate it.

WordPressTumblrBloggerCrazy Guy on a BikeTravelPod

Here are a few articles that might also be helpful…

Starting Your First BlogHow Do I Start a Blog?10 Tips for Beginners

Emergency Contact

In case of an emergency at home, the best way for family and friends to reach you while you are biking will be through our email as this account is monitored almost 24 hours a day. Please inform your family and friends of the email address that has been sent to you.

Our head office phone number in Toronto is included in your information. From 10am to 6pm EST,  your loved ones can call with any questions they may have.

Also, our office gets regular phone calls and emails from the tour staff, so important messages can be relayed in either direction (Tour to Office or vice versa). Please note that these are primarily for important and urgent messages only. Family members can also follow our Twitter stream as we try to update it regularly from the field with action as it happens.

Rider Profiles on the Website

A few of you have not posted your beautiful pictures yet on our rider profile page. Please login to your MyTours account and upload your photo and description today! See those already uploaded here.

Categories: Bulletins, Information | 1 Comment

Bulletin #20 – Getting to the Hotel

June 24th, 2015

Airport Transfers

The tour is fast approaching and many of you will be flying to Cartagena in early July.  The hotel can provide a van transfer from the airport to the hotel.  The cost for this is $60USD. To arrange this you will need to email the hotel with your name, how many of you, airline, flight number and time of arrival.  You’ll also need to mention that you are booked in at the hotel and how many bikes you are travelling with.  You have been emailed the contact details for this request.

Categories: Bulletins | Leave a comment

Bulletin #19 (2) – Food & Water

June 17th, 2015

Food & Water

A note from the Chefs at TDA

During the South American Epic you will have the chance on rest days to experience many new foods. The local cuisine varies from country to country and even region to region.   You will see in the culinary traditions a mixture of indigenous and European influences.  Not only will the local food be a highlight but drinks such as Pisco, and the world class wines of Chile and Argentina are guaranteed to make you happy.  Whether a quinoa soup in the highlands of Bolivia or a steak cooked to perfection in Argentina.  Enjoy.

Camp Meals

Daily meals in our camps will be oriented towards meeting nutritional needs of riders who are exerting themselves beyond normal levels, but certainly taste is not forgotten. En route, we will source out as much variety of meats, vegetables, and fruits as possible. However, throughout the Tour there tends to be an ebb and flow to the fruits and vegetables available, as well as the quantities of them to be found. Do not expect all the fruit you can eat, and expect there to be many times when fresh salads are not possible. We try and create as much variety as possible, but expect to see the same meals from time to time. The Expedition passes through regions which are not blessed with successful agriculture, and where food choices we are accustomed to having at home, simply do not exist.

A few examples of camp Dinners previously served:

* Braised beef stew with green beans, carrots, onions, garlic and rice
* Beet salad, Tomato and cucumber salad
* Barbecued chicken with potato salad, and veggies
* Spaghetti bolognese
* Chili con carne
* Curried lentil stew and vegetables
* Soy and bean equivalents for vegetarians.

A few roadside Lunch examples:

* Tuna fish sandwiches
* Onion and tomato sandwiches
* Peanut butter and jam sandwiches
* Fresh fruits

A few camp Breakfast examples

* Oatmeal
* Muesli and Milk
* Breads, and spreads
* Hard boiled eggs

These above meals are what you should expect on the Expedition. We generally put limits on the amount of fruit each person receives to ensure that everyone gets some, but besides this the quantities of food (especially supper) will be enough to satisfy ferocious cycling appetites. If you have a food preference or dietary restrictions, the Expedition can be difficult at times, so we urge everyone to bring along vitamins or purchase snacks and other foods locally to compliment the meals to ensure you have a well-rounded diet.


Vegetarians will have a separate main dish prepared for them each night (unless, naturally, there is no meat option that night). Many vegetarians worry about their protein intake on the Expedition. Having consulted with Sports Nutritionists/Vegetarians who have ridden with TDA in the past, we can say that there is enough protein available in the Vegetarian menu. The key is to eat. A lot!

Water Rations

During the South American Epic we will go through stretches where water becomes our most precious resource. Typically these areas are where we are bush camping often and experiencing hot temperatures.  There should never be a shortage of drinking water. However, where water resources are limited, rations on using water for cleaning oneself (in bush camps) will take effect. At times this can mean that everyone is allowed 1 water bottle full to rinse themselves off. Other times we will need to keep all of our water for drinking and cooking, and so no water will be allocated for washing.

Rider Dish Duty

On the Expedition each rider will be responsible for helping with camp dishes. Each rider is assigned to a group, usually 2 riders, and they will be responsible for dinner dishes the day of their turn. So, on average, it will be each group’s turn every 15 riding days, approx.


5 1/2 months is a long time to be eating one person’s food – especially when cooking facilities are limited and preparation time is short. The best thing you can do to better your experience is to get involved.  Organize a treat for the whole group, buy the chef a beer, do what needs to be done to keep yourself happy. This is not a “have-all” expedition- this is a mentally and physically challenging event and the best way to make sure it is a success is for us all to support each other.

Categories: Bulletins | Leave a comment

Bulletin #19 – Cartagena Schedule

June 9th, 2015

Cartagena Schedule

July 8th:

Bicycle mechanic available to assist riders with building their bikes. 2:00pm – 5:00pm

July 9th:

Bicycle mechanic available to assist riders with building their bikes. 9:00am – 11:00am

July 10th:

Rider briefing from 9:30am to 11:30am.

Bicycle mechanic available from 1:00pm to 3:00pm.

Permanent bag loading from 8:00pm – 8:30pm.

July 11th:

Early morning departure.  The epic adventure begins!

Categories: Bulletins | Leave a comment

Bulletin #18 – Are You Racing South America?

Are You Racing South America?

The South American Epic will be the world’s longest supported cycling tour. For some of you it will also be the world’s longest stage race (it will be more than 5 times as many stages as the Tour de France!). The race component is open to all participants. Many will prefer to go at their own speed and stop wherever they wish for snacks, photos, or to soak in their environement. But for those with a healthy competitive spirit, we are now busy planning the logistics of our race and we need your help.

Which of these options best describes your intentions with regards to racing?

(Reply to the email indicating your letter response)

  • A) I plan on racing the entire tour.
  • B) I plan to race 1 or 2 sections but not the full tour.
  • C) I plan to start as a racer and I will see how it goes.
  • D) I am only focussed on EFI and not on racing.
  • E) I am not racing.

We appreciate your responses soon so we can plan the racing component appropriately. The racers will receive race information closer to the start date.

Categories: Bulletins | 1 Comment

Bulletin #17 – Road Conditions

June 2nd, 2015

Road Conditions

The majority of the scouting on the trip has now been completed.  The general tire recommendations for your bicycles which were made in an earlier bulletin remain true.  However we’d like to give a few more details of the roads in each country.

The Undiscovered Country

For those doing the full tour or starting their sections in Colombia, we can not recommend highly enough that you put in some serious hours of cycling in the next month in preparation.  It is a very hilly, challenging start to the tour and the fitter you are the better time you will have and the healthier you will remain.  Approximately 75% of the route is paved, however a lot of the pavement is not smooth tarmac and will have some potholes, uneven surfaces or short stretches of gravel.  The unpaved portion of the route is hard packed dirt with rocks in areas.  You’ll need your wider tires for these stretches and your brakes should be in top shape for the descents.

Coffee and Cocoa

Very similar to the previous section, we will have about 75% paved roads.

Volcano Alley

We are looking at about 75% pavement with the main amount of off road being in the mountains of Peru north of Lima.

The Gringo Trail

This stretch is about 95% paved, however as we climb up out of Nazca towards Cusco we’ll face some detoriorating roads with gravel stretches, potholes etc…

Incan Highlands

We are lucky to cycle almost entirely on paved roads, including our journey past Lake Copacabana.

Cycling the Salt Flats

Approximately 60% of this section is paved.  The unpaved portions are a mix of quite rough rocky roads, and even some sandy stretches near the Salt Flats.  The Salt Flats themselves are unpaved but the surface is very smooth.

Across the Andes

This section is approximately 85% paved.  A good chunk of the portion that is not paved is a very tough stretch as we are getting closer to the Chilean border.  The paved stretches are for the most part well maintained and in good shape.

The Lake District

This section will have about 85% pavement, with most of the paved stretches in good condition.

Carretera Austral

This section has the most off road of the tour.  Approximately 55% is paved, with the rest being a mix of gravel, hard packed dirt and even a stretch of narrow trails when crossing the Chilean/Argentinian border!:)  You’ll spend a fair bit of this section on your wider tires.

Categories: Bulletins, Cycling trip, Information, Preparations | Leave a comment

Bulletin #16 – Finish Line Hotel

May 14th, 2015

Finish Line Hotel Ushuaia

In Ushuaia, the South American Epic will spend its last night in the comfort of the Hotel Ushuaia. The evening of our arrival, Monday, December 21st, is included in your entry fee. For additional nights, please contact the hotel directly and mention that you are part of the Cycling Tour Group.

Reservations: +54 (0) 2901-430671
E-mail: reservas@hotelushuaia.com.ar
Address: : Comodoro, Augusto Lasserre 933, Ushuaia – Tierra del Fuego.

If you are thinking of speding a few days in this unique city, here are some suggestions on things to do.

Categories: Bulletins | Leave a comment

Bulletin #15 – Money on Tour

May 12th, 2015

Money on Tour

During the South American Epic you will need access to funds for your food the night before rest days and on rest days, snacks and drinks along the cycling route, spare bike parts if needed, and for any touristic sites you may visit along the way or souvenirs you may purchase. Please refer to your TDA Tours 101 info kit for more details regarding money, and what additional expenses you can expect.

Bringing a debit card which has either the “Cirrus” or “Plus” systems is a good idea; ATM’s are common in all of the rest day locations along the route.  So while you can access local currency funds in each country the location and timing of the ATM may mean that for the first stretch within a country you will not have access to an ATM.

It is also wise to bring a credit card.  This will be accepted in larger establishments throughout the Tour.

The best way to bring cash on tour is in the form of U.S.A. currency.  This is accepted everywhere that there are exchange services.  Try to bring bills that are newer than 2006.  Pre 2006 bills are sometimes not accepted (due to higher likelihood of counterfeits)  It’s a good idea to bring a mix of bill values, such as $20 and $50 bills.  For full tour participants we recommend bringing $1000 – $2000 in cash.

Once on tour, it is not advisable to walk around or cycle with all of your cash funds.  We recommend keeping the majority of your cash along with your passport in your permanent bag on the tour vehicle.

Categories: Bulletins | Leave a comment

Bulletin #14 – Navigation, Maps and GPS

April 27th, 2015


The Tour Leader will draw or write out the directions on a whiteboard each evening, give the address/phone number of the next day’s destination, and discuss this information during each day’s rider briefing.  Most cyclists write down the information in a notebook, or for the tech savvy they can take a photo of the whiteboard with their smartphone that they can stop and look at during the days ride.

Even with this information you will still need to use your own skills to get from point A to point B. You are often going to find yourself asking directions along the way (if you don’t speak any Spanish then your charades skills will come in handy) and pulling out your maps to help you stay oriented. Navigation is a skill that not all of us have, so everyone should ride with a partner at least for the first few days. Where it is feasible to do so, we will provide additional navigational aids like flagging tape.

Some parts of the route we are doing for the first time and the adventure quotient is higher than on trips which we have run many times; meaning we will face more unknowns and the chance for last minute adjustments to the route is higher.


We highly recommend that you bring some maps (paper or digital) of the countries that we will be traveling through. Please remember that we will be helping you by providing an overview of each day’s route, but it is up to you to navigate your way through the day. Below, you will find a short list of some recommended maps.

These and other maps can be found at:


There are also many other online map retailers or check around for a map store or bookstore in your area.

Here are some suggestions of maps…

  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Peru
  • Bolivia
  • Argentina
  • Chile


Having a GPS computer on your bicycle is a great gadget to have.  It will record all your ride details very accurately (with no wires to worry about)  This includes measurements like elevation, which a standard cycle computer will not include.  Battery life is not so long on these but by bringing a solar charger or extra battery packs that you can charge the computer through you should be able to get from rest day to rest day, where you can recharge all your devices again at the accommodations we stay at.

Companies like Garmin sell Navigation maps that you can upload to your GPS device for South America, though some of the smaller roads we follow may not be accurately depicted.

Another option for finding digital maps for those more GPS inclined is to try Open Street Maps, http://www.openstreetmaps.org   This is the wikipedia of digital maps.  Many of their maps are downloadable for Garmin devices.

Using Googlemaps on your smartphone is also an option.  To do this you’ll need to have an unlocked smartphone and purchase a sim card with data.  You should be able to purchase this in most of the countries along our route.

Categories: Bulletins | Leave a comment

Bulletin #13 – Route Itinerary

April 7th, 2015

Route Itinerary

You can follow this link to see the itinerary for the upcoming South American Epic.  Please note that there will likely still be small changes made to this schedule.  The section dates though will not change in terms of when to book flights for joining/leaving the tour.

Yellow Fever Certificate

One of our staff recently entered Bolivia by air in La Paz and immigration requested to see her Yellow Fever vaccination record, which she had.  Depending on what country you are from and where you have travelled in the last year they may request to see proof of the Yellow Fever vaccination when we enter through the land border with Peru during the tour.  For that reason we highly recommend you get this vaccine and bring your vaccination record to show if required.  Not having this could result in being refused entry to Bolivia.

Categories: Bulletins | Leave a comment