Update re earthquake in Chile

Editor Update: Hi everyone – Kelly here, just thought I’d send out a quick update as I’ve had a few people asking about Mum and whether she’s anywhere near the earthquake in Chile.

Kaye is still in Peru, and according to the travel plan they should be somewhere between Nazca and Curahuasi, heading inland (and upwards!). They don’t head into Chile until November.

My last text from Kaye was Wednesday night (NZ time), she had gotten to camp but was expecting to not have any cell coverage for the next two days. As I write this (8:45pm Thursday NZ time) it is 3:45 am in Peru. Hopefully I’ll hear from Kaye tomorrow, if I do I will update you all 🙂

The red marker is approximately where Kaye currently is

The red marker is approximately where Kaye currently is

Categories: Information | 2 Comments

South American Epic: Section 3

To give you an overview of the next section of the ride:



The Experience

Quito, at 2,800m, the highest capital city in the world, is the jumping-off point for one of the longest and most dramatic sections on the South American Epic – Volcano Alley. If your section begins here, make sure to arrive a few days early to get used to the altitude and enjoy the local nightlife.

Leaving the city we head east, with views of the Antisana, Surnaco and, if we are lucky, Cotopaxi volcanoes. We nudge past 4000m before dropping 3500m in the next 200kms as we skirt the edge of the Amazon basin, ending up in the southern city of Loja for a rest day and perhaps a glimpse of its famous fiesta of the Virgen del Cisne.

Two days later we cross into Peru, the third country on the South American Epic. Here the riders will spin along the eastern edge of the Desierto de Sechura before spending a rest day on the Pacific coast in the beach town of Pascamayo, one of the continents best surfing spots. From there it is a spectacular climb up into the Cordillera Blanca where the cyclists can enjoy the atmosphere of Huarez and visit Huascarán National Park, a UNESCO World heritage site. Three days later and about 3000m lower, the riders will enter the Peruvian capital of Lima and complete this section.

Categories: Ecuador, Information, Peru, South American Epic | Leave a comment

South American Epic: Section 2

To give you an overview of the next section of the ride:

Stage 2

The Experiencestage2pic

After an enjoyable 2 rest days in Colombia’s capital, exploring its historic centre – La Candelaria – or indulging in a steaming mug of canelazo, our riders will begin a massive descent (almost 5000m in 2 days) into the Magdalena River valley. The next night will be spent gazing at millions of stars from the Desierto de la Tatacoa. Then we will climb up into the Cordillera Central where, after 2 challenging days of elevation gain, we can relax on a rest day in Parque Arquelogico San Augustin. Here riders can enjoy the 500 life-sized statues left by the little known ancient peoples or go whitewater rafting in the nearby Rio Magdalena.

Four more tough but beautiful days of cycling brings us to Ipiales, the border crossing into Ecuador and the home of the Santuario de Las Lajas, a spectacular neo-Gothic church and the destination for pilgrims in search of a miracle. Then it is another ascent to almost 4000m before we drop down into Ibbara for a refreshing Helados de paila, a local hand-made sorbet. Thence we cross the Equator and spin into the Ecuadorian capital of Quito, which marks the end of this section.

Categories: Columbia, Ecuador, Information, South American Epic | 1 Comment

General Update, and photos – 29 July 2015

There is very little smoking that I have seen so far in Colombia. A bit more in the city but probably less than 1 in 100 people, and in the country less than that.

However all the major food chains have made their way to the cities: Mc Donald’s, KFC, Subway, and Dunkin Donuts. Everywhere sells coke (cocola), and a local fizzy drink called Postobon, which is really sweet fizzy drink. Mostly the locals are slim but the obesity epidemic is starting to appear.

Interesting fact: 70% of the world’s species of birds live in South America.  Out of the city you see birds of all sizes and colours. There are also huge brightly colored butterflies – bright blue and crimson and multi colored, flying around.

The toilet situation is variable from outhouse, to toilets with no seats and hoses for washing, to systems that look like the ones at home. However despite where you are, you don’t put toilet paper in the toilet – you put it into a rubbish bin next to it which takes some getting used to.

Beside all the toilets are small containers to put the toilet paper into it. Some are closed lids with foot levers, but others like this are open. It takes quite a bit of getting used to.

Beside all the toilets are small containers to put the toilet paper into it. Some are closed lids with foot levers, but others like this are open. It takes quite a bit of getting used to.

Correction: Regardless of what I say on my blog, when I say feet I mean metres, sorry, so we have been climbing 2,000 metres not feet (Editor’s note: I have now gone back and corrected any references to distances in feet that I could find, but if you find any please let me know).


Graffiti is everywhere, same as in Santiago


Making full use of the space in the car (In Bogota)


Side view of the same car


The man sells dog clothes – note the boots on the dog

Picture of a building in Bolivar square in the historical part of the city don't know what it is called

Caption from Kaye: “Picture of a building in Bolivar square in the historical part of the city, don’t know what it is called”


Name of the church in the next picture


The church


Tim and Rhonda who are leaving the tour here in Bogota

Editors Note: Below are photos that I’ve just found from Kaye, that I hadn’t posted earlier. Oops, sorry bout that: 

Dad and daughters on a bike in San Marcos

Dad and daughters on a bike in San Marcos

Tyres for sale at local supermarket in San Marcos

Tyres for sale at local supermarket in San Marcos

Car in San Marcos

Car in San Marcos

Our equivalent to Telecom: Movistar technicians in San Marcos

Our equivalent to Telecom: Movistar technicians in San Marcos

Tour staff buying 5 trolleys of food to keep us going to the next rest day in San Marcos

Tour staff buying 5 trolleys of food to keep us going to the next rest day in San Marcos

My lunch date in San Marcos

My lunch date in San Marcos

Washing on roof of Art hotel in Medellin

Washing on roof of Art hotel in Medellin

View of Medellin from roof of Art hotel

View of Medellin from roof of Art hotel

View from roof of Art hotel Medellin the building in the foreground has King Kong painted on it

View from roof of Art hotel Medellin the building in the foreground has King Kong painted on it

Categories: Columbia, Information, South American Epic | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

General Update – 21 July 2015

Some general comments and info I have not put in previous blog updates:

I like my new tent much better than the last one. It’s a MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2. There are 3 other riders with a Hubba Hubba tent also. The tent has a feeling of spaciousness because it has a pole that goes across the top diagonally, as well as the length – this makes it seem bigger than it is. In the last tent it felt like the walls were closing in on me. The one issue is putting it down in the wet, it is really hard to get the poles to unfold. I will have to come up with a solution before it gets frosty as well.

Offers of help
I have had a number of helpful locals stop and offer to give me and my bike a lift as I am struggling up yet another hill, including a couple of large trucks who have just stopped going uphill – blocking traffic while they converse. The people are really interested in having a discussion, which so far is limited on my part to:
Hello – halo (don’t pronounce the h)
Buenos Dias – good morning
Buenos noches – goodnight
Gracias – thank you
Muchas gracias – very much appreciated
I como esta – how are you
Aqua – water
And of course “No Spaino” – no speak Spanish
So it’s pretty limited but a lot more than when I got here!

Most of the local people have no idea where New Zealand is, and a couple of times after trying to explain, I apologize but I have to admit to this: I have said I am from Australia. Sorry but I would rather be considered an Aussie than being from America!!

The daily life when not on a rest day
Alarm at 5am, pack up everything into the daily bag, organize water and snacks, sunscreen etc for the day onto the bike.
Riders update at 5:45 with anything new for the day or changes to the route.
Breakfast at 6am – cereal, bread, fruit sometimes boiled eggs, sometimes porridge , tea and coffee.
Apply sunscreen, bug screen and on the road by 7am.

The lunch truck is generally half to two-thirds of the way to the next campsite.

I generally have one or two stops to refill water (am drinking about 7 litres each morning and afternoon) – and then consequently stops to pee. Plus reapply sunscreen at least once.

Lunch truck has sandwiches – generally only white bread by the time I get there, with meat, cheese, fruit, water. I stay clear of the meat as has been out for a while by the time I get there. Watermelon is delicious when you arrive hot and thirsty. I fill my water bottles and reapply bug and sunscreen.

The idea is to limit the lunch stop to less than 10 minutes and not sit down – otherwise your legs start to seize up and then it’s 20 minutes riding before they warm up again.

I stop once or twice as in the morning for water, sunscreen etc, and of course it goes without saying: stop and look at interesting sights.

Then into camp which is anywhere between 2pm and dark (6:30pm).

If there are showers then I’ll have a shower, otherwise it’s wet wipes and reapplying bug spray.

After that I sort out my gear, clean my clothes if possible, check over my bike, put up the tent, and get ready for the next day.

On a good day I have an hour or so to drink tea and rest. Other days I spend with the bike mechanic sorting out the day’s bike issues.

We have another rider’s meeting at 5:45pm to discuss the next day and any issues from that day. We all take down the directions for the next day’s route, and also take a photo of it with our phone as a back up.

Dinner is at 6pm. Then the plan is to have either Spanish lessons, or a basic bike workshop, but with the extended days and issues we have had so far on the trip, these have not happened, apart from one Spanish lesson.

We have been having really long and challenging days but the days for the tour staff have been much longer. They are still sorting out the trucks and cleaning up well into the night and are up at the same time or before us in the morning.

Generally I am in my tent attempting to sleep by 7:30 pm. Then the next day it starts again.

The other riders

I still don’t know everyone’s names, by best count there are 30 people doing the whole ride, plus a number of section riders.

Most of the riders have done at least one TDA tour before so had some understanding of what to expect.

There are five woman planning on do the whole ride:

  • Sue – a retired vet, age 59 from England, who has already done the South African ride: Cairo to Cape Town this year.
  • Annegrete – age 59 from Denmark, who has done the tran Oceania and one other ride. She is currently planning to finish about Santiago but may change her mind)
  • Jacquline – who is from South Africa but spends half the year in Sweden, and has done a couple of previous rides.
  • Johanna (Jo) – from Melbourne, I am pretty sure this is her first TDA ride but she has done other riding tours.
  • And of course me.

Team New Zealand

The New Zealand team

The New Zealand riders

From left: Phil is from Christchurch, he has done one previous ride – the South Africa ride, and Peter is from Palmerston North, he has done one previous ride – the trans Europa (not the same year as me).

On this ride there is a race component, and Phil will often win – if he doesn’t win, he is still in the first 3. He is missing the bottom two gears (where I have spent most of this ride) and still manages to win.

Today there was a speed trial from Camp 27 kilometres over a 2,000 meter climb and Team NZ was well represented with 1st place going to Phil and 3rd to Peter. Sadly the woman’s team of one is not of the same standard.

Made it to Medellin!

Made it to Medellin! From left – Jo, Sue, and Kaye (Photo credit: Sue’s Facebook page)

Categories: Information, South American Epic | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

South American Epic: Section 1

Just to give you a bit of an overview of the first section that I’ll be riding:

Section 1

Section 1 (2)


The Experience
For many years the beautiful country of Colombia was avoided by travellers as it suffered through civil war. Times have changed for the better and we are excited to start the South American Epic Bicycle Expedition in this magical land. Mountains, jungles, waterfalls, coffee, beaches and thriving cities are just a few of this country’s gifts.

This 14,000km cycling extravaganza begins in the stunning colonial jewel of Cartagena whose old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We bike down the coast, stopping for cervezas in Tolu’s seaside bars. Turning inland, we’ll then cross cattle pastures and rushing rivers before beginning to climb up into the stunning Sierra de San Lucas Mountains. Following little known backroads we emerge at 1500m above sea level in the city of Medellin, where the cyclists will enjoy a well-deserved rest day.

From Medellin, we spin east and spend a night at Guatape, next to a man-made resevoir, before speeding downhill and across the impressive Rio Magdalena, which drains about 1/4 of Colombia’s area. Then it is a challenging climb up into the Cordillera Oriental, including one 2000m ascent over 50kms. For their efforts, the cyclists will be rewarded by Zipaquira, a beautiful historic town featuring the Salt Cathedral, an underground Roman Catholic church built within the tunnels of a salt mine. The next day, a Sunday, the SA Epic riders will have the opportunity to join local Bogota cyclists as they enjoy their weekly Ciclovia, with many of the city’s streets closed to motor traffic, a fitting end to this exciting and rewarding section.

Categories: Columbia, Information, South American Epic | 1 Comment

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


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 #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

Here we go again!

In 42 sleeps, I am off again on another adventure – this time heading off on the South American Epic. I will be gone for almost 6 months, cycling from Columbia to Argentina, covering 13,641 kilometres – on road and off!

My generous daughter Kelly has agreed to ‘curate’ this blog again, so I am hoping to keep you all up to date with my travels, experiences, and mishaps.

In preparation for my trip, Kelly has given the blog a bit of a makeover, and included a page of information about the new trip. Over the coming couple of weeks, in the lead up to heading off, I will be posting some of the “bulletins” of information we have been getting from the tour company, to give you an idea of the preparation that goes into the trip, as well as what to expect.

I have learnt a few things from last time – this time I am not going to:

  • Work until the day before I leave (which ended up being well into most of the night before)
  • Leave packing until 15 minutes before I have to go to the airport (due to frantically trying to finish of work stuff before I went). Suffice to say it did not work well, and some very important items were left behind
  • Just chuck things into my bag – I am going to use a list to pack by, now there is a novel idea, bet no one else has ever thought of that! This way I won’t leave key items behind.
  • Cheap out on getting a good tent – this time I am going to take a tent that is suitable for the trip, seeming as I will be spending a lot of the trip in it – I’m even going to take a mallet for the tent pegs.

In fact, this time I have actually made a four page list of all the things I need to do and buy, and have been steadily working my way through it.

I can’t believe there are only 42 sleeps to go – and 50 until my trip starts!

I am looking forward to making more new friends

I am looking forward to making more new friends

Categories: Cycling trip, Information, Preparations | Tags: , | 8 Comments

And that’s a wrap!

To take the words from a previous ride: drat, somehow I must have missed a flag, because I found myself at the airport heading back to reality!

So after 80 days the epic tour is over and I am back in Wellington. All I can say about the flight home: long distance travel is ugly! I was sustained though by the knowledge that at the end of last flight I would be seeing my children and new grandson.

I was a bit worried on the flight from Auckland to Wellington as I could not stay awake. However once I got off the plane and saw most of my children and grandson waiting for me I had a new lease of life. Kelly, Daniel (my son in law), Shellbe, Lizzy and Xavier, and Dan (holding a huge bunch of flowers) were there to meet me. Tracey couldn’t get to the airport but she was at home waiting when we got there. Kelly had bought her work car, a 7 seater Odyssey, so we could all drive home together (with the exception of Daniel who kindly drove a separate car to carry all my stuff, such as a large bike box).

Proud Gran!

We got takeaways on the way and Dan had organized wine for the celebration. We had an enjoyable evening catching up.  I got to hold my grandson at the airport and then again at home. I finally got to see him with his eyes open.

Benji the Excellent Dog was very excited to see me, and not at all impressed when he was put quickly back outside when we had tea. The cat Boss had the usual cat reaction – you haven’t bothered to come home for three months so don’t expect any interest from me just because you’re here now.

I managed to stay up until 10pm, then it was nice to be getting into my own bed, no fly to have to zip up and down to get in and out, and to keep bugs out!  And an inside toilet, with paper and soap – luxury.

Writing this now it is 5am Saturday morning, I have been awake for awhile, it will take me a few days to get back into sync with the time zone. I am going to get up in a minute and go out to the kitchen and make a pot of TEA 🙂 and toast, and come back to bed. Two of the things I really missed when I was away were toast and being able to make a cup of tea whenever I wanted. Then if I don’t go back to sleep I will take Benji The Excellent Dog for a walk along the beach. Then it’s off to the hairdresser for me.

Benji the Excellent Dog

Then, would you believe, I will have to go out and look for a laundromat! How ironic! Our trusty washing machine chose this week to die. The repair man came yesterday and it is not fixable, but it did last 15 years in this busy household. Plus of course I will be buying a new machine today.

I am thinking of maybe going for a short ride today and a longer one tomorrow. Today I also need to get everything for the usual Sunday feast, unpack, and open three months of mail. At my request, my children have also saved me the magazines from the Saturday newspapers, so I will enjoy working through those. I will also of course be reading the Saturday Dominion Post – but only this week’s. Then Monday or Tuesday I will have a go at the Windmill Hill ride in Makara, and the Hungerford Road Hill.

Then I am back to work on Wednesday, and back to fitting in riding and training for the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge around my life, rather than the past three months of riding being my life. However it is helped by the arrival of day light savings time this weekend!

Thanks to you all for reading the blog, I have always enjoyed reading the comments posted. A huge thank you to the editor of this blog, my daughter Kelly, who has done an amazing job, adding  links to the places I have visited, and interpreting and correcting my creative spelling to ensure that my posts are actually readable. I am a challenged (I prefer the term creative) speller at the best of times, but with often poor lighting and the iPad adding its own interpretation of what I’m saying (which I did not always manage to notice and correct) – all I can say is “Kelly you have done an amazing job, thank you”.

This is the final bog for this epic adventure! However blogging will resume with the Bamboo Road ride, late 2013! This epic journey goes from Shanghai to Singapore over three months. I will have to be a sectional rider for this as won’t be able to take three months off again.

Thanks for reading! Some more photos will be posted on Facebook over the coming weeks. You can see them here: 100kayesadayfacebookpage.

(And if you are looking for another cycling adventure to read about, you could follow this one, the blog of a midwife who is cycling around Australia:

Categories: Information | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments