Posts Tagged With: Cold

Day 4: Belfast, Ireland to Kilmarnock, Scotland

Up at 5am to be ready for bags to the truck at 5:30 and riders meeting at 5:45am. Getting the bikes out I was chatting to Sue and Duncan who are doing the ride on a tandem. They are from the USA. This is their first TDA ride but they have been riding a tandem since 2000. Duncan is about 6 foot and Sue is quite short so when they come to a stop Sue can’t actually put her feet on the ground. They had an accident on the last riding day and Duncan has sore ribs, hopefully he will be alright for riding today.

Also had a chat to Shirley and Dan, also from the USA. Shirley and Dan are doing the Africa ride in 2019 which goes from Cairo to Capetown. They are not going to do the whole ride, and are going to start in Nairobi. Another TDA friend of mine Jacqui from Australia did this last year and the photos were amazing. Shirley is trying to enlist me on the ride as well.

6am – off in a convoy for 6 km to the ferry. The ferry is a Stena line ferry and is about twice the size of the New Zealand Interislander ferry. The journey is two and a half hours and we dock at Cairnryan in Scotland.


Convoy to the ferry

The weather is cold and misty with a bit of drizzle and the forecast isn’t promising. To start up with we all line up for breakfast. To make it easy on the ferry catering staff we are all having exactly the same thing: 1 fried egg; bacon, hash brown, a sausage and a piece of Soda bread, and 2 slices of white toast plus tea or coffee. I didn’t eat the sausage or bacon but ate the rest as a long ride today. The tea or coffee was a bottomless cup which was good.

It would have been a good chance to catch up with the blog but unfortunately I didn’t have access to my bag again until tonight and can’t take the iPad on the bike. It was pretty boring sitting around on the boat and I got up a couple of times and walked around. In the gift shop I saw and bought a silly Scottish hat and amused myself taking photos of fellow riders wearing it.

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When we docked it was still misty and cold but not at this stage raining. We had been told to meet in a car park and a number of us were following Caitlin from TDA as we assumed he knew where to go, but it turned out he took us off in the wrong direction. It added a couple of kilometres before we got back to the car park. Esther TDA handed out some food to keep people going till lunch as it was already after 10 and we had 50 km to ride until the lunch spot.


On the road to Kilmarnock. Showers and thunderstorms around.

To start we had about 10 km of climbing which wasn’t too steep, mostly about a 6% gradient. As the road is long and straight I was not looking out for flags. I was riding with Brett but he is much better at hills than me so he disappeared into the distance. I had passed a few riders and then as I was riding along there was a couple of work trucks on a bridge which I had to swerve out to pass. I kept going and had a big hill climb and then down into a town. I checked my notes and it said “left at 31 km” so I went left but was a bit puzzling as I couldn’t see a bridge, but there hadn’t been any flags so off I went.

After a couple of kilometres and a few turns with no flagging I’m like “yep I’m lost” so I went into a petrol station to ask. So much easier in an English speaking country. They said to go back through the town and turn at about 7 km onto the A14 which I did. Once more no flagging but this is the A14 and it does have the right town name on it so off I went another substantial climb.

After another 7 km and still no other riders or flags I was getting really concerned and flagged down a motorist and asked directions. Just then another rider came up the hill from the other direction and the turn was just behind me. Thankfully I had managed to get back on track by another route, I hadn’t seen the flagging just behind me as it is set up to get the attraction off your eye on the right not the left.

Much relieved I discover I have now done an extra 21km, and am lucky as Rhonda was the last rider closely followed by the sweep, and if I had been a couple of minutes later they would have made the turn and I would have carried on down the road they had just come up on!

Lots of rolling countryside to lunch at 50 km – or 71 k for me! Brett was sitting waiting for at lunch wondering where I had got to. Remember the two trucks working on the bridge? Immediately after the bridge was a flagged turn to the left. Brett was waiting there but had popped into a bush and with having to swerve to miss the vans, I sailed on past.

After lunch we were riding along when Judy and Tim from New Zealand joined us from a side street. There was a traffic diversion after lunch and they had made a wrong turn and were heading off in the wrong direction when a van driver stopped and asked if they were with the group because if they were, they were heading off in the wrong direction. I could have done with the van driver earlier in the day myself!

Lots more hills and a number of them were not rolling, the rain that had been threatening all day arrived, so on with the wet weather gear. But hey, only 20 km to go and a room not a tent at the end.

I was getting pretty tired and did not enjoy the last 20 km, my legs did not want to climb anymore hills, but kept chugging along and at 5:30pm we arrived at the Park Hotel. Nice big room at the hotel. So far the riding day hotels have been better than the rest days.

While we were waiting for dinner a group of us had a cold beer in the bar, and I was chatting to Mary from USA. Mary is a good rider and got to the hotel in the first few, but having done the ride also went and did a gym session. The only exercise I am interested in post ride is hand to mouth.

We were having dinner in a separate dinning room and we went there straight after the riders meeting at 6 pm. At 7 pm they finally bought out some bread rolls, I was about to start gnawing off my own arm by this stage.

We didn’t get the main until nearly 8pm! The food was nice, but way too slow. I had chicken liver pate and chickpea curry.

At dinner I was sitting next to Ross from USA, who along with having done the Orient express from Paris to Instanbul, he has also done the Silk route twice (Beijing to Istanbul)twice! He said he got sick the first time so went back to do it properly.

After dinner I decided I needed to catch up on the blog which is a couple of days behind. However, I couldn’t keep awake and woke myself up snoring a couple of times and called it a day.

Tomorrow we ride to Edinburgh and another rest day.

Categories: The Pub Ride, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 1: Dublin to Dundalk – 80km

We are off! After a week of not riding I am itching to get out on the road.

We have 80.2 km to ride today, the first 10 km in a convoy. First of all we ride to the temple bar for the group photo, and then we are on our way. Perfect weather – not too hot, not too cold. As usual a lot of stopping and starting getting out of town then after what seems like forever we are free to ride off at our own speed.

The countryside is very pretty, lots of rolling hills, very green – it rains a lot here. We saw a sign that there was a castle so we rode down the drive way to Bellingham Castle. However the gates were locked as it is a private residence and only open sometimes. It was a huge place, imagine the cleaning and the power bill.

We are staying at the Crown Plaza which is about 3 k out of Dundalk and we didn’t go into see the town.

When we came down for dinner it was windy and cold, and we were surprised to hear we would be eating outside, especially given it’s a large hotel. When we mentioned it was really cold to Gergo, the tour leader, he was like “so get a coat”.

Thankfully common sense prevailed and the staff moved all the tables inside. Henry Hold, the company founder and owner, is along for the first half of the trip and possibly he was responsible for the change of setting, or Gergo’s wife Esther. Regardless of how the change occurred, we were all really relieved as it would have been an evening to be endured rather than enjoyed.

The meal was great, I had a very nice goat cheese tart as an entrée, and writing the blog four days later I can’t remember what I had as a main but remember it was nice.

Tomorrow we ride to Belfast and then a rest day the day after.

Categories: The Pub Ride, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Day 13: Saturday 26 Nov – Martinborough to Wellington

97km, 900 approx up and down

It was gale force wind during the night so I was very pleased to be in a cabin. There was a group of guys down the back of the camp for some sort of bloke weekend away. They were quite rowdy at the beginning of the night but then thankfully headed off out.

At 12:30am the morons were back, driving through the camp blasting their car horn and laughing and talking. In the morning I was amused to see one of their tents had collapsed on them and they were still in it fast asleep (evidenced by the loud snoring coming from it). I’m not sure if one of the other campers had removed their pegs, or it was just bad putting-up-tent technique.

It was cold and blustery eating breakfast, so I was off on the bike as quickly as possible.


Wellington is on the other side of that hill (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

The 16km ride to Featherston was pretty windy, but it was nothing compared to when we turned at Featherston to go down the Western Lake Road. The wind was so strong it was all I could do to hold my bike on the road. At least three times I got pushed over onto the gravel.


Weather on the Featherston Side

It was looking like it was going to rain at any moment. I rode past the Wasp noting that she had no bike bag and was wearing just a biking top and short shorts. I asked her about wet weather gear and she said she didn’t have any. I rode along feeling really worried and annoyed. Worried because she could get exposure, and annoyed because all the riders were warned about changeable conditions and annoyed that if I or anyone else came across her and she was cold and wet we would have to share our clothing and put ourselves at risk also.

The TDA truck went past just before the turn off to the incline, checking on riders and it parked by the incline start. I went up and told them that the Wasp had no wet weather gear, that I was seriously worried if she went up the incline dressed as she was, and that I was passing the responsibility to them.

Off up the Rimutaka Incline. It’s an old railway track between Featherston and Wellington. In the past a fell engine pulled the train up the Featherston side and it was a normal train down the other.


Single track into the start of the Incline

The gradient going up from Featherston is a bit steeper and rocky, plus the wind was blowing with gusto at us.

At near the top is a gully you have to go up and down where there used to a bridge. This part is known as Siberia as it is so bleak and cold with wind gusts. This was a site of a serious accident when the wind was so strong it pushed a fell engine carriage off the tracks and sadly four children died.


Siberia – in the wind and rain (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)


No bridge left so we have to go down and back up (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)


Before one of the tunnels on the Rimutaka Incline

Through the final (third) tunnel on the way up the wind was roaring through the tunnel.
We got out to the other side to find it was bucketing down. Thankfully there was a shelter up the top where we were able to get changed into our wet weather gear.


Long tunnel to The Summit Sat 26 Nov

With the rain and the wind and down gradient for about 10km (a lot of it quite exposed) I was feeling relieved that I told the TDA staff about the Wasp’s lack of wet weather clothing. (I found out later that she got the TDA truck over the hill to lunch, by which time it had stopped raining).

It poured all the way down the incline. At times the rain felt like needles going into your face (the only exposed skin). I was warm as I had a coat, hat, thermal gloves, and over pants – but I couldn’t find my overshoes, drat. I had one plastic bag so put it over one foot. There were about 8 riders all pulling on their wet weather gear.


Riding on the Rimutaka incline

Once we got to the bottom of the incline it stopped raining. We followed a bike path along the Hutt river to lunch, and then all the way to Petone. It took much longer than going straight down SH2 but it meant not worrying about traffic and was something new to me.

It bought us out at the end of the Petone Esplanade which runs along the sea front. We followed this, then back to SH2, then the old Hutt road into Wellington.


Peeling off muddy gear at Petone on bike path. Nearly into Wellington.

We stayed at the Apollo Court Motels in Marjorie Banks Street. It was very central, 2 minutes walk from Courtney Place, and an easy walk to the rest of the city.

I got cleaned up, as there was mud over the bike, my clothes, my bike bag and shoes, so it took a while to clean up. Then it was time to go and meet my son Dan for dinner. Dan lives in a mid city apartment.

We stopped and got cheese and wine on the way (Pepperjack Shiraz, plus Castello blue and white cheese, and a fresh French stick). When we got there Dan bought out a bottle of champagne to celebrate that he had finished his University year with First Class Honors and a grade point average that gives him an automatic PH.D. Scholarship. It was very exciting news and well earned as Dan has worked extremely hard this year. I am very proud of him.


Celebrating with my son Dan

We decided to go to Great India in Manners Street for dinner. I have been there a few times and always like the food, plus acoustically it’s great as well. After dinner I said goodbye to Dan as he was working the next morning so he was not interested into continuing on to the Havana Bar with Brett and I.

We met Michele, Tony and Walli in Cuba Mall and went off to the Havana Bar. It was pretty busy but as we walked though the bar a group got up and left and we were able to jump into their just vacated spot. I enjoyed a couple of very nice ParrotDog Pilsners – a local Wellington brewery. Having had wine at Dan’s flat and with dinner I was feeling the effects, hence returning to beer.

We stayed there for a couple of hours then decided to make our way home. I decided that, as it was very close to our motel and totally different to Havana, I should also take my friends to the Welsh Bar that is in Courtney Place. Walli decided wisely to leave us at this stage.

It certainly was a very different atmosphere – quite crowded but the crowd was friendly and they had quite a good singer so we stayed for awhile. It was about 12:30 by the time we got home.

I went to sleep feeling very happy with Dan’s news, and excited and looking forward to be catching up with three of my other children and my three grandchildren the next day.


Sun out before the storm


Rimutaka Incline before the storm

Categories: Trans-Oceania | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Day 82/164: Copacabana to Huatajata – 65km

Climbing up and down 950 meters.

It was not as cold as yesterday morning, but still not warm. The first two kilometres out of the camp I walked as it was up steep streets on cobblestones and the air temperature was cold. No point making the asthma worse.

Looking back down at Copacabana (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Looking back down at Copacabana (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

After this was a climb of about 15 kilometres then gradual up, with some down for a further twenty kilometres. At 40 kilometres we had to catch a ferry.

Getting off the ferry.

Getting off the ferry.

After the ferry we stopped at the town to get a drink. There was a dog there like my dog Benji (a Wheaten terrier). I called to him and he came over for a pat, next thing he was on the seat next to me, then on my knee. I had a very nice hug for a few minutes. There are a surprising number of Wheaten terrier descents in South America.

Dog friend

Dog friend

Dog friend getting clsoer

Dog friend getting clsoer

Another dog who thinks he's a lap dog!

Another dog who thinks he’s a lap dog!

Then up another climb but only about 5 kilometres to the lunch stop. Amazing views. Lake Titicaca is huge,
it is so big you can see all the other side. It changes color all the time from grey to blue to turquoise.  The views are breath taking.

Hungry dog at lunch with view of Lake Titicaca in the background

Hungry dog at lunch with view of Lake Titicaca in the background

View from lunch at the top of the hill (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

View from lunch at the top of the hill (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Although it is cold at night it is warm during the day, although there can be a cold wind. We are in Bolivia for 16 days, and most of it will get bush camping, at altitude, and very cold as soon as the sun goes down. There is snow all around on the mountains here already.

After lunch it was downhill and rolling hills. I got to camp about 2pm as I took my time enjoying the views on the way. We are staying at a hotel under reconstruction. There are no rooms available but there is a bar / restaurant. We have the choice of camping outside, on the first floor with the bikes, or in the enclosed pool area. I chose the pool area as it was nice and warm, and had a toilet.

After having a shower (warm water :)) and putting up the tent, once again I dozed quite a bit of the afternoon. I am using these shorter days to rest and recuperate as there are many long hard days to come. Tomorrow we reach La Paz and the half way point in kilometres for the tour: 6,700. There is talk of a halfway point party in La Paz the second night we are there. We have two rest days in La Paz. The first rest day about 17 of the riders are going off to do a ride called the Death Road. Approximately two riders a year die doing this ride. I’m not one of the 17 going:
1. I am going to rest on the rest days, not ride a bike
2. I am not good on steep down hills, especially on a bike I will never had riden before.

At the rider’s meeting tonight we were told that the route may change tomorrow from 85 kilometres to add an extra 30 kilometres, but not additional climbing. This us to take us to the south of La Paz which will be easier to enter the city with the traffic . The traffic is apparently crazy and either way there will be a convoy. Cristiano, the Tour Leader, is leaving us in La Paz to take a holiday, and is not returning until Santiago about the 8 November. We have another tour leader coming – Sharrita – who has lead a few other tours.

Tonight for dinner we had Chicken chow mein with rice and noodle salad, plus fresh fruit salad.

Coming down the hill to the ferry

Coming down the hill to the ferry

Rider's meeting (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Rider’s meeting (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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

Day 81/164: Juli to Copacabana* – 63km

Climbing 675 meters, down 674 meters

Another short ride today. We have the border crossing into Bolivia and you can never be confident it will go smoothly. The trucks are not allowed to cross where we do and have to go over 300 kilometres to the border by La Paz. Our daily bags were loaded onto a local truck so we would have our tents etc if the trucks were held up. Turns out it was luckily this plan was put in place, as the trucks were held up till the early hours of the following morning due to protest action in La Paz.

It was very cold getting up and having breakfast. The ride out of town was quite steep and I had to stop at about 3 kilometres to take clothes off as I was already too warm. There were great lake views.

One lady was moving her sheep and I had to laugh as a lamb was not following the plan and got threatened with a long stick. It must have had experience with the stick as it soon got back into line. One of the two sheep dogs ran at me barking, but it was not sure what to do when I said “Good boy” and it sort of made a groaning noise and ran off.

The border crossing went smoothly. The American riders had to pay about $160 USA dollars and provide heaps of documentation. Apparently it is payback for what Bolivian’s experience when they try to enter USA, but for everyone else it was straight forward.

We enter Bolivia (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

We enter Bolivia (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Once we got through the border the first thing I noticed was no tuk tuks. There were a number of Taxi vans and a few taxis. The traffic was quieter but this may change as we get further into Bolivia.

There was only 8 kilometres to Copacabana*, about 6 kilometres was a hill. Given the short riding day and the lack of complications at the border I was in Copacabana* by midday. I had some lunch in the village and then headed to camp.

On the road to Copacabana (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

On the road to Copacabana (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

View of Copacabana

View of Copacabana

We are staying at Samawi Hostel on the lake front (camping). There was not a lot of space for camping, and there were rooms available, so given how cold it gets at night I got a room. Alas: cold showers only, the whole of Copacabana is currently without power. Apparently this happens frequently as the grid gets over loaded. I caught up with some blogs and emails ready to send when I next have wifi, which will probably be in two days time in La Paz. Then I dozed the rest of the afternoon.

Our camping spot tonight (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Our camping spot tonight (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

The time difference has changed and we are now ahead an hour. At the rider’s meeting we found out about the trucks being held up in La Paz due to protest action. We were told there was a possibility that they may not get here at all. However there was a back up plan with local transport for our day bags and the cooking equipment. Fortunately the trucks did arrive in the early hours of the morning.

I am pleased I have a room as it was very cold eating dinner. When I got back to my room it was considerably warmer than outside. Alas, no nice hot water bottle, but the power did come back on at about 7pm.

Dinner was meat kebabs, a vegetable ragout (like a tomato paste vegetable stew but not sure how to spell it), various condiments, and pita bread.

Dinner is cooking (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Dinner is cooking (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

*Editor’s note: This is not THE Copacabana from that awesome song, as I was excitedly led to believe. Apparently there are TWO Copacabana’s – one in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and this one in Bolivia. So no Lola’s where Kaye is.


Copacabana, Bolivia (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Copacabana Bolivia (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Copacabana Bolivia (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Sunset over lake Titicaca (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Sunset over lake Titicaca (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Categories: Bolivia, Peru, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 78/164: Ayaviri to Puno – 142km

Climbing 1,000 meters – down 1,380

It was quite cold in the morning so well dressed to start. I am still suffering from altitude, asthma and wind/sun chaffed lips. To start off with I had my silk balaclava over my mouth to protect my lips but also to stop the cold air which aggravates my asthma. Thankfully to start there was no steep climb, just a gradual up with some rolling hills. It is frustrating to be going up the last bit of the hills in granny gear (the easiest gear) and still huffing and puffing like a steam train.

SacredvalleyLunch was half way at 71 kilometres, and on the menu was toasted sandwiches that Adrian (TDA) was cooking in a fry pan. I am liking the change in food with a new chef. As usual a collection of hopeful local dogs were watching the proceedings with great interest. They will be lucky today as we are going into a rest day tomorrow and everything that is opened is thrown out. Plus Adrian is as soft with dogs as me.

Adrian cooks us fried sandwiches for lunch (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Adrian cooks us fried sandwiches for lunch (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Lunch spot today (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Lunch spot today (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

After lunch we had to go through a town called Juliaca, we were told it was busy and there were road works. It was insane! The roundabout was being reconstructed but it was still being used by the traffic. No one was following the road rules and no one (apart from most truckies) gave any thought to the rights of cyclists. Of course we had to get across lanes of traffic, it was chaos. Then we had approximately 5 kilometres of a main road under reconstruction, also with huge pot holes, gravel, dirt, and traffic coming at you from all directions. It was a relief to get to the other side of it.

Then long straights with a slight up gradient and a headwind. The last 10 kilometres there was a 7 kilometre uphill which I found hard going. Then 3 kilometres down a steep gradient into Puno.

The roads are under construction in Puno (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The roads are under construction in Puno (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Puno is as much as a tourist spot as Cusco. Once again lots of white faces and street vendors. We are staying at a hotel called the Intiqa Hotel. It is owned by an Indian tribe. Nice shower and a bath in the room and the hotel does laundry :D.

Puno is a tourist spot because of Lake Titicaca: 280 meters deep at 3,800 meters altitude, it is the highest navigable lake in the world. It is famous for its floating islands. There are hundreds of them. The islands are made of reeds woven together and the islands can last a hundred years. Some Peruvians live on them all year round and fish for a living. Generally these are the islands a while from the shore. There is a hotel on one of the floating Islands and on other islands you can go for a day trip and have lunch in a family’s home. Others are show pieces for tourists. Lake Titicaca shares a border with Peru and Bolivia.

Lake Titicaca from Puno (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Lake Titicaca from Puno (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

There are numerous restaurants close to the hotel. I went to one that had a blazing Pizza oven. Not because I felt like Pizza but because it looked warm and inviting. It gets really cold here as soon as the sun goes down. I had the restaurant speciality smoke trout, it was not as good as the NZ trout but was ok.

Back to the hotel where they had bought hot water bottles round for everyone’s bed. Was very cosy hopping into a bed that had a hot water bottle in it. Reminded me of being a child.

Lake Titicaca (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Lake Titicaca (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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

Day 69/164: Lake camp to Cotaruse – 110km

Climbing 1,250 meters – down 2,300 meters

Thankfully no snow or gastro overnight, but it is bitterly cold – less than zero degrees. Trying to do things with numb hands makes everything take longer! Trying to get cold hands and gloves to work together is also not terribly successful. I am dressed for riding in long johns, long bike pants, icebreaker top, long john top, bike top, bike silk balaclava, hat, socks, water proof socks, thermal gloves, and I am freezing. Having breakfast and washing your plates is painful.

A number of riders are quite unwell and are going on the truck which looks so tempting I almost give in. Cathy became so unwell during the night she has a swollen face, and has had to be taken to a lower altitude.

Morning at the Lake camp (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Morning at the Lake camp (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

I set off, it is bitterly cold and my hands are frozen. I was finding it hard to get my hands to adjust the gears. I would have cried if I wasn’t worried that my tears would freeze on my face. I rode the first five kilometres trying not to ride over my bottom lip, and finally my hands started to warm up. Then the next five kilometres I had the stinging as feeling returned to them. I am sure a black cloud was oozing out around me, such was my lack of joy to be in this moment! Then I came round a corner, the sun had come up, the temperature was climbing, and there were hundreds of alpacas. There were white ones, brown ones, black and white ones, and baby ones. They look so gormless when they look at you, it is impossible not to smile (Editor’s note: I wonder if their ‘gormlessness’ reminded Kaye of Benji 🙂 )

An alpaca (Photo credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

An alpaca (Photo credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

I sat and watched them for a while as they were crossing from one side of the highway to the other. The trucks and buses are used to them but there are a few close calls with the cars.

I set off again warmer and happier, still finding the climbing difficult due to the altitude.

I got to the top of the climb (4,515 meters high) and then a 9 kilometre downhill. Unfortunately I was not paying attention at the rider’s meeting as was too cold, and did not hear about the 7 kilometres climb after that –starting at 4,200 meters in altitude. Suffice to say the morning was the most miserable ride so far I have ever had. I had to stop about every 500 meters going up the 7 kilometres. Lunch is usually about halfway so expected it would be about the top of this climb, which was at the 57 kilometre point.

Stopping often for photos & wondering where the lunch truck is - we're hungry and tired (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Stopping often for photos & wondering where the lunch truck is – we’re hungry and tired (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

I had two attacks of gastro on this 7 kilometre and was pretty sure I was hoping to ride the lunch truck to camp. However the lunch truck was not at the summit. I was not too concerned as there was a downhill but then it started climbing again. I did a couple of climbs, stopping often and then thought I am hitting the wall. I checked my phone, the time was 1pm so I had been riding for about 7 hours.

I stopped and ate some Oreo biscuits that I keep as an emergency supply. Then I continued on riding, getting off, riding etc. I finally got to the lunch truck at 75 kilometres. Clearly the effects of altitude on the riders had not been factored into today. I decided not to discuss this at the time as I was feeling pretty grumpy, though it turns out a number of other riders had had a go at the staff about this.

Leaving from lunch for Cotaruse

Leaving from lunch for Cotaruse

Given that there was only 35 kilometres to go, and there was a lot of downhill to come, I decided to continue. When the first 10 kilometres was rolling hills and then a climb I was starting to regret this choice. Thankfully at that point I came to a huge downhill switchback, and then more downhill all the way to camp.

Up a bit and then a spectacular downhill - the craziest switchbacks (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Up a bit and then a spectacular downhill – the craziest switchbacks (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

We are camping on a school soccer field. The school asked for donations of useful items rather than money, so we have bought sports equipment etc.

There were a number of children all watching everything we did with great interest, peering inside tents etc and wanting to take photos of us. Plus a few hopeful village dogs keeping a watchful eye on the dinner preparations.

A bunch of schoolgirls watching Marina set up her tent (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

A bunch of schoolgirls watching Marina set up her tent (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

Thankfully we are at 2,900 meters in altitude so it was a lot warmer than last night.

Dinner was beef and lentil stew, cauliflower, and rice.

Through a canyon (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Through a canyon (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

Coffee stop on road to Cotaruse School

Coffee stop on road to Cotaruse School

Main Street - Cotaruse (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Main Street – Cotaruse (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

Categories: Peru, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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)

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Day 34/164: Papallacta to Archidona – 113km

(Editors note: apologies for the delay/mix up with posting this blog, I had some technical difficulties!)

2,746km down: 10,895km to go. 1113 metres up – 3,517 metres down 😀

Tonight we will be staying at Bromelias Amazon Lodge, which is 500 meters above sea level, and they have rooms for $20 with air con and an ensuite. From a bleak, cold camp, to the Amazon Jungle! Instead of being cold we will be hot.

The white board today warned:

  • Landslides
  • Gravel
  • Broken roads
  • Potholes
  • Construction
  • Narrow shoulders

They did not mention trucks, rain, and cold. However I was in the truck again!! Clearly I did not cross my fingers hard enough, I was up in the middle of the night with stomach spasms. Of course my anti spasmodic medication is in my permanent bag (note to self: put all medication in my daily bag).

I did not sleep that well as the police came in to camp during the night with their sirens going, three times. The polica here seem to drive with their sirens and lights flashing as a matter of course. Yesterday at camp, during the day, two policia turned up a couple of times with the siren and light flashing. The first time we were like “Oh no, something has happened to one of the riders!”. But they were just here for coffee! (last night they must have just been on their usual circuit, as the coffee place was shut). Plus dogs barking and of course the roosters! (my very favourite critters). Plus I was up during the night with gastro. This morning my stomach cramps were really bad, and it was difficult to get my bag and tent packed. I managed and got everything over to the truck.

I got a cup of tea and sat in the corner. All of a sudden it just got too much for me, and my tear ducts got flushed again! I decided enough is enough, and I am now on medication. Jodi the medic went past and she got me some antispasmodic medication. So another day in the truck. First of all the lunch truck, and hopefully I can then get picked up by the dinner truck when it goes past, as at the camp tonight there are rooms and it will be warm.

Looking back up into the mist and pouring rain (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Looking back up into the mist and pouring rain (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

We parked up at the summit for lunch. The rain and mist cleared and the sun came out and it was warm.

View from the top of today's hill (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

View from the top of today’s hill (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

What a view (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

What a view (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

I did get to change to the dinner truck and got to camp at 11:30 am 😀 😀

As we came down the 3,517 meters it got warmer and warmer. I saw one of the locals re-thatching the roof, if I had not been in the bus I would have liked to have stopped and watched.

Down and down we go in to the Amazon (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Down and down we go in to the Amazon (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

At the summit we saw a sign “Welcome to the Amazon” and half way down the hill we saw a sign “Beware of crocodiles”.

We are now in “el oriente” which translates into Ecuador’s strip of the Amazon basin. At the camp site there is a picture of all the types of birds we may see here. They are so colourful and include Toucan parrots (the type that were at the hotel in Cartagena).

Editor's note: I don't really have to say who took this photo do I?

Editor’s note: I don’t really have to say who took this photo do I?

When we got to camp it was about 25 degrees, there is a pool, and rooms with ensuites and air con, and laundry – $2 for 12 items 😀

Writing up my blog at camp (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Writing up my blog at camp (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

It is lucky that we left Quito when we did. There has been done protester action today with a general strike. Thousands of people marched to Quito and roads were closed by protesters putting trees across the road and burning tyres. The action has closed stretches of the Pan American highway and shut down transport in the city.  The main issue is the president Rafael Correa wants to bring in legislation that the presidential term can be indefinite. Currently it is 10 years and his term is due to expire in 2017.

I am feeling a lot better, hopefully bye bye gastro and I can ride tomorrow.

Last night for dinner we had Spag Bol and stewed apples with a crunchy oatmeal topping, tonight was chicken and vegetable skewers, and rice.

One of my favourite critters (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

One of my favourite critters (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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

Day 33/164: Quito to Papallacta – 65k

2,633km down: 11,008km to go

The route for today is 65 kilometres – 1,858 metres up and 1,550 metres down. It does not sound like much but we are already at 2,800 meters and the plan is to go up to 4,050 meters, and camp at 3,900 meters! We are staying at Termal Santa Catalina.

When I went to bed I was planning on riding from lunch. Given the altitude there is no way I can do the whole day. I can only walk two steps and then stop for a breath, it would take me a week. As it turns out I did not need to worry about the ride, as my gastro returned with a vengeance during the night. So the truck for me again!

The riders did not have to convoy out of Quito, and the first 20 kilometres was on paved, reasonably flat, road and then the climb began. At 30 kilometres they had to turn off the highway onto a dirt road which was rocky, slippery, drizzling, windy and cold. We stopped for lunch 7 kilometres before the summit. Everyone was cold, and a number of riders still do not have enough cold weather gear. Yesterday I lent my rain jacket and rain pants, arm warmers and two hats!

Leaving Quito in the sunshine (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Leaving Quito in the sunshine (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Looking down at the main highway (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Looking down at the main highway (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

The rain, mist and cold arrives (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The rain, mist and cold arrives (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

I was pleased when the dinner truck stopped at the lunch stop, and I was able to go in that straight to camp, as it is boring sitting in the lunch truck especially when you can’t help.

I was not so pleased when I got to camp! What a bleak cold place. It was overcast, drizzling and cold. And of course no rooms! (Just our tents). One of the TDA staff suggested I go into the restaurant and get warm. Ha! That was just as cold as outside, there were no windows and I could not get the person who worked there to come to the counter, so I could not even get a hot drink (apparently there were problems all day with getting any service).

I slunk outside again and decided to put my tent up. Once that was done I decided I should put up the tent for one of the other riders who puts my tent up for me if it is getting late and I am not yet in camp. So those who know me, and my ability to put up tents the first time by myself, will already be smirking!

First of all I got it out and laid it out on the ground . . . Hmm, where do the poles go?! I turned the tent over a few times and finally found the channels where the poles go in. In they go, or not! as it turns out. I got one half way in and it came apart and I tried to put it together still inside but no success. I took it out again. I got both poles in but the tent was inside out or something – both poles were about 10 centimetres apart. Start again, this time I got them in the right way and the tent looked almost like it should. I put the tent pegs in and left the mallet for if it needed a bit of tidying up, and decided it was as good as it was going to get.

Cold and wet camp tonight (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Cold and wet camp tonight (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

I slept most of the afternoon and then got up for the riders meeting and dinner. I didn’t not eat very much and was back in bed at 6:50pm. Fingers crossed my gastro has cleared up by morning as I would like to actually be riding some of this section.

I was very cold in the tent and had on long johns, ice breaker tops, hat, and jacket! I need to get a bivy sack and a thermal liner for my sleeping bag.

We get to over 4,000m again today (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

We get to over 4,000m again today (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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