Posts Tagged With: Cycling

Day 25: Friday 9 Dec ‚Äď Lake Hawea to Queenstown

94km to ride – 1,244 to climb and 1,241 down

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Last day’s climb!

It was a beautiful morning. There was no wind, the sun was shining and the lake looked stunning.

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Early morning on Lake Hawea (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Before breakfast we all met down at the lake in our Trans Oceania riders shirts to have a group photo. Well all of us that is apart from Dan, who apparently never wears the ride shirt, not even for the five minute for a group photo . . . each to their own.

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Group photo, before setting off for the final day of riding (Photo credit: TDA Facebook page)

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The group photo with the banner

In the photo the front riders are holding the Trans Oceania Ride Banner – or so it seems! Actually this has been photoshopped in as the actual banner disappeared during the trip. The riders in the front row just had to have their hands out as if they were holding it.

There were a number of group photos, plus a photo of Tony the tallest rider (6 ft 4) with his bike and Lani (about 5ft) and her bike, as well as a photo where Tony had lifted Lani onto his bike and her feet couldn’t touch the peddles!

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Anne has got her mountain bike with her and kindly offered to bring it to me and take my bike if my bike breaks down today. I felt much better reassured that one way or another I will be able to complete the ride as I set off.

The first few kilometres were rolling hills and then through Wanaka for a brief look at the town, then onto the Cardona pub for a coffee.

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Cardrona Hotel

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Coffee stop at Cardrona Hotel

Just before the pub is the Cardona Brewery, and along the fence are hundreds of bras. I found out after it’s for breast cancer awareness.

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Passing the Cardrona Distillery and the bra fence.

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Cardrona – or Bradrona? – Valley (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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Cardrona Valley (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

After the coffee stop the climbing for the day began – the Cardona Crown Range needed to be climbed ūüėź. The first few kms were not too bad, a steady upwards gradient but the last kilometre to the top my legs went on strike and I was off walking (I found out later so did at least half of the riders).

Lunch was at the top but I wasn’t hungry, and did not think about making anything to eat later as I had forgotten dinner wasn’t till 8 pm.

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At the top of the Crown Range, only 40km to the finish.

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Michele at the Crown Range summit (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook page)

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Sue on the Crown Range Pass (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

After lunch lots of downhill, firstly quite steep and then a big switch back. I have rim brakes so had to stop to let the rims cool half way down the hill.

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Switchbacks to zoom down (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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Crown Range pass (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Once down the bottom it was 5 km to Arrowtown where we stopped and had a drink with Sue at the Pub. With 20 km to go Tick Tock was still clicking and rattling along.

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Drinks stop in Arrowtown

I rode with Sue from Arrowtown, Brett rode ahead so he could take a photo of Sue finishing the ride. We are not having a convoy or finish line photo due to the difference in riding abilities – a few riders would have to wait for at least 2 -3 hours and the slowest would feel the pressure all day. Sue has achieved EFI (every f*cking inch) on this ride. This is great achievement as there were some really long hot days in the Australian section of this ride, plus a few days of pouring rain and floods.

Into Queenstown, yay we are here! Just a few steepish streets and then we made it to the¬†Earnslaw Lodge, the finish hotel. We needed to box the bike straight away as the owners won’t have them in the hotel unless they are boxed. Pretty reasonable really and saves doing it tomorrow.

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Arriving at the hotel in Queenstown

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Sue and Kaye celebrate! (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

We have a room with a lovely view over the lake and a balcony. We had 3 hours to relax, get cleaned up and over the road by 7 to the Copthorne, where we have a video presentation of the ride at 7pm and then dinner at 8pm.

The total kilometres for the trip was 2,278km, and climbed 23,628m. There were no serious injuries. Sue got EFI the whole trip, and of the riders who joined in Auckland Kevin, Charles, Bill, Michele, Tony, Chris, Linda, Brett and I rode EFI.

The Earnslaw is not right by the town center and I did not think about going down to town to get any food so by now I was starting to get hungry. The presentation was good, then there were a few speeches, and Sue was presented with her EFI medallion, plus we had all got together and signed a book of NZ photos for Sue in recognition of her EFI.

 

We had another group photo, and Dan who never wears the ride shirt was wearing it at dinner, so he managed to stick out again for the opposite reason!

We went up to dinner, which was nice food – pumpkin soup and a roll, salmon and mashed potatoes, a piece of broccoli, plus a panna cotta dessert, but not in right the quantity for hungry riders! We convinced the staff to give us another roll each which helped.

After dinner a few of us went to the hotel bar for another drink. People are starting to leave from tomorrow so we may not see them again unless we met up on another ride.

Then it was across the road to bed, no riding tomorrow but we do have to change hotels.

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Sunset over Earnslaw Lodge, from the arrival dinner.

Categories: Trans-Oceania | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 23: Wednesday 7 Dec – Fox Glacier to Haast

119km – 1,000 meters climbing and 1,150 down

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The last three days of riding!

The weather forecast for today was not good and it turned out to be correct. I woke up a few times during the night and could hear the rain pouring down.

In the morning it was on with all the wet and warm weather gear and off out into the weather. Yoav and Asia came in to say goodbye and wish us the best for today’s ride, they were sensibly going to have another rest day.

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Wet and rainy morning (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

The first 90 km was mostly flat with some rolling hills. At 25 km I had to wait at a one way bridge whilst work was being down, thankfully the workers took pity on us and let us across quickly. The rest of the day the traffic came in bursts, as it was all stopped at the bridge. There were no trucks and only one bus, and mostly camper vans and camper wagons.

At 62 km I stopped for coffee at a salmon farm, but did not look at the salmon as I was worried about getting cold. When we left the salmon farm the rain was very heavy. All the way to lunch at 77 km my coffee kept repeating on me which was not pleasant. I did not eat much at lunch as I was feeling a bit nauseous. Emily had boiled water and was making tea and coffee and also vegemite soup (I did not try it, I just had tea) which was greatly appreciated.

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Rainy and wet lunch stop (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook page)

There was a self supported rider – Ida – coming the other direction, so we waved her over to have something to eat and a warm drink. Ida said she had started cycling from Bluff 7 days earlier, she rode for 8 hours every day, and then camped at the side of the road if there was no campsite. Not sure that I would be brave enough to do that.

The one good thing about the rain is that it kept the bugs at bay, although there were a few sand flies hovering under the awning at lunch.

At Bruce Bay there are a stack of rocks and small boulders that passing tourists have written their name on, and now it has become an attraction. All different nationalities.

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The stones at Bruce Bay

Brett rode down here with a group at the beginning of 2015 and said it was a very nice ride, but with the rain and mist it was hard to see much of anything today.

At 92 km we had a hill climb for 6 km, the tail wind assisted us, then a big downhill then rolling hills, and flat the rest of the way to camp. At about 100 km I could hear my bike making a click click sound, but couldn’t see anything when I got off my bike to have a look. So I kept going, hoping it would get me to camp.

There were a number of signs along the way “Coffee in 8 km at Bruce Bay”, “Coffee in¬†2 km at Bruce Bay”, but once we got to Bruce Bay nothing was open – or even looked like coffee stop! Then as I got closer to camp the signs said “Whitebait fritters 3 km”, “Whitebait fritters 500 m”, “Whitebait fritters by the bridge” then “Whitebait fritters closed”. I would have stopped if they had been open.

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Outside the Haast Information Centre

Tonight we stayed at the Haast Top 10, I was really pleased I had a cabin and also it had a heater, shower and toilet, and jug. I was totally soaked so it was very good to get out of my wet clothes. The cabin was quickly turned into a Chinese laundry with wet weather gear drying on every available surface. I was still cold so crawled into bed to warm up and napped and read until dinner time.

I had a book emergency – I only had a few pages left and my next book was in my permanent bag which I wouldn’t get again until Friday. Luckily there was a book swap in reception. Not great pickings, three books about werewolves, two books written in German, a number of love stories, ¬†and a Jeffrey Archer book called “Mightier than the Sword” which seemed to be the best choice. I had just finished a book by Minette Walters called The shape of snakes which was better expected.

Micah looked at my bike for me. He straightened the derailleur and fixed a cable, and said it should get to Queenstown (approx 220 km) but after that I will need to take into to get the freewheel looked at. Hopefully it doesn’t just go like it did in Peru, if it does the bike is not ride-able.

Luckily there was a covered area where dinner could be cooked and eaten. Dinner was macaroni cheese with bacon with a crunchy top, and a walnut and apple and cucumber salad. The weather forecast predicts a fine day tomorrow so fingers crossed.  Tomorrow we have have 1,700 meters climbing including a steep climb through what is known as the Gates of Haast.

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Ship Creek

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Day 22: Monday 5 Dec ‚Äď Hari Hari to Fox Glacier

86km – 1,250 metres climing and 1,200 down.

The weather remained fine and warm, and not too windy. Today there were 4 hills, one at at about 8 km and the other 3 in a cluster between Franz Joseph and Fox Glacier, starting at 68 k and finishing at about 82k.

The first hill was quite kind, it went on for a while but was only about a 6% gradient, which meant the serious climbing would be in the final 3 hills. Not a lot of traffic early in the day, and as the day went on it was mainly buses and camper vans and wagons.

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I stopped at 30 k in Whataroa for coffee. I was amused to see a sign for the newest tourist attraction: fault line tours. I wonder how many tourists sign up for that.

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Wonder how popular this is?

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At the coffee stop in Whataroa

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Loved this sign at coffee stop at Whataroa

Lunch was quite early at 50 k . There were a couple of jokes as expected about not sitting in front of me etc.

Last night we had a conversation about silly things you do as children with contributions such as (these were not me) – holding onto an electric fence for the longest, getting electric shocks by touching your tongue against a wet telegraph pole etc. This conversation resumed at lunch. One of the rider’s Kevin has three children, the middle one is a bit of a trouble maker and one morning in Canada in sub zero conditions he convinced his older and younger sibling to lick a frozen pole. His wife came out of their driveway on the¬† way to work to find two of her children with their tongues stuck to the pole. She had to go back to the house to get water to get them unstuck.

Poor Justina – not only did I¬†throw an apple at her head yesterday, but when she got to camp and touched the fence it was electrified and she got a shock, and then this morning when she came out of her tent a fly flew into her mouth! She says bad things come in three’s so hopefully this is it.

After lunch it was 10km to Franz Joseph, where I stopped for a cup of tea before the big climb. I have been here before so did not feel the need to add to the day’s riding¬†by cycling¬†and then walking up to the glacier. I applied sunscreen, bulked up on water ,and set off.

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Leaving Franz Joseph (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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Leaving Franz Joseph (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

The climb was mostly ok but steep in a few places. I got off three times to catch my breath and have a drink of water. It was a good feeling to get to the top of the final hill and 5km downhill to Fox Glacier.

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On the climb between Franz Josef and Fox Glacier

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Made it to Fox Glacier!

We stayed at the Rain Forest Motel. For the first time on this trip we were sharing rest day accommodation. Thankfully it was Tony and Michele in with us.

Then it was time to unpack, have a shower, and relax for awhile, then up to town (approx 500 meters) for a look around, and food and drink. We decided on a place called The Last Kitchen with the plan that we would have a drink and a snack there, and then move. However the food was so delicious, and the staff so nice, we ended up staying there for the evening.

We started with green mussels in ginger, cream and coriander, a fried Camembert, and kumera wedges with cold beer. Guy, one of the other riders, joined us just after we had eaten our entrees. I was trying to decide between the blue cod battered fish or the lamb burger, as was Guy. We decided one of us would buy one and one would buy the other and halve it. Problem solved. The others all had the steak. The wine was a bottle of Aussie Malbec chosen because it was called La La Land. It was ok.

The conversation was very convivial until somehow¬†we got onto occupations, and Guy said he was retired but had worked for Monsanto (genetic engineering of crops), and then there was quite a heated discussion on the pros and cons of this. Possibly not all of us will be dinner companions by choice of Guy’s in the future. Guy did not stay around for long after he had eaten, but long enough to express surprise that we were getting a second bottle of wine (between four people).

When you are doing long rides you often see self supported riders, and they are also welcome to stop at the lunch truck for food and for dinner in camp. Last night a touring heavy laden couple arrived at Hari Hari, unfortunately after we had had dinner. Whilst sitting on the balcony at The Last Kitchen we saw them ride into town about 7pm, we waved out and called out good effort. We had found the hills challenging and we didn’t have heavily laden bikes to contend with.

They rode up the street and about that time the bugs started biting so as the motel was so close I went back for the bug spray. As I was coming out again the two riders rode around the corner and they recognized me from when we had called out to them before.¬† They had had trouble finding somewhere to stay and it had been suggested they try here as there were lots of cyclists. However it’s not a campsite so there are no amenities, and the motel owner said they could only stay here if we agreed and let them use our facilities. They seemed a nice enough couple so I handed them our key to have a shower and said when you are ready come back to the pub and we would shout them a drink.

Justina came back up to the pub with me, by this time the group had moved to a table with gas fire in the middle, so it was nice and warm – got to love those NZ summers. We had a good chat with the two tour cyclists. Yoav is from the Netherlands and Asia is from Poland, but they met and both work in America. Asia is a scientist working as NASA and Yoav is currently not working but his last job was as the Global Campaign Director for Earth Day. They carry two of everything – two tents, two cooking stoves etc. Asia says that way they are staying together because they want to, not out of necessity.

Then it was time to return to the motel, I went to bed happy with the thought that tomorrow was a rest day.

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Fox Glacier

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Fox Glacier

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Fox Glacier

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Fox Glacier

Categories: Trans-Oceania | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 10: Wednesday 23 Nov, Napier to Porangahau

Riding 120km – climbing 1150 meters, down 1050 meters

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Next stage into Wellington!

It was very warm today and sunny, with no wind first thing. We started off with an amazing breakfast cooked at the motel. As they don’t have a restaurant it was in the conference room. The chef and owner must have taken seriously that we ate a lot, as there was stacks of cereal and cooked food.

We have three new riders joining us for this section. TDA had an offer that people could do a section for free if they were interested to see what a TDA ride would be like. Joining us are Tim and his dad Steve. Tim has ridden with TDA before but is keeping his dad company, plus Veronica from Auckland.

Veronica sat at breakfast with Sue and I, asking lots of questions about TDA and the ride, and then wanted to know about other rides we had done. Once she heard we had done the South American ride she wanted to know all about it. I was trying to be polite but I was also trying to eat breakfast and get away on the bike before it got too hot out there.¬† So in answer to her question “How was it?”, my informative response was “Good” whilst shoving more food into my mouth. “What was good?” she asked. “Um, everything” I said.

I find it’s really hard to sum up the South American ride in a few words, especially when I’m¬†not interested in having the conversation in the first place. However Veronica did not pick up on my lack of interest in a conversation, and kept on asking questions. Thankfully it turns out I could ride faster than her so was able to evade any further questioning for the day. (By the end of the four days I had nicknamed her the wasp, as she kept coming at you with questions about everything).

We set out in the lovely sun, the first 8 km was bike trails. There are so many bike paths here leading off in all directions. Whilst we were on the winery tour yesterday a number of people arrived on bikes following bike trails to get there.

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Departing Napier on the coastal path

We rode on back roads from Napier all the way to Waipawa. It was really nice to be away from the traffic.

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A traffic jam on New Zealand back roads (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

I stopped in Waipawa for a drink . It was so hot I had already drunk both bottles of water. The cafe was happy for me to fill up my water bottles there.

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Home town in sight!

From Waipawa to Waipukurau we were on the main state highway which was not fun, so I was pleased to turn off to Porangahau. It was a nice country road with rolling hills, but then off course a gravel road thrown in, just because there is one. On the way I passed a sign for “Ugly Hills Road”, someone has a sense of humour and am only surprised TDA didn’t send us up it.

Christian (TDA) had said at the lunch stop that it’s pretty windy up on the gravel track so you can take the road instead, it’s an extra 11km. We decided to take the gravel road, well it was certainly steep, and the gravel was so thick in places you had to get off and walk. At the top it was so windy I was pushed off the bike twice, so I walked a bit. At the end of the gravel was a really steep tarmac road downhill. I was hoping that we would not have to ride up it in the morning.

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Old Hill Road, with gale force NW’er, cycling on gravel

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View from the gravel track (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Once I got down the hill it was just 5km on the flat to camp. When we got there we were surprised to see a rider who is slower than us, and who was at the lunch truck when we were there, was¬†at camp already. I said “It must have been a pretty good 11km stretch of road” and she told us Christian had it wrong, it wasn’t an extra 11km it was 11km instead of 8km so it was only 3km more. If I had known that I would have certainly have taken the road!

It was not a bad camp spot, it was sheltered, no shops or wifi but good showers.

It was about 4pm by the time I got to camp so I had a wee doze once I had put up my tent. That night for dinner we had pork chops, which the chef had managed to cook for nearly 30 people and were still tender, plus potato with rosemary in it and salad. We shared a bottle of Moana Malbeck Merlot with Michelle and Tony.

I was in my tent, tucked up in my sleeping bag, eyes closed, by 7:30pm.

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Looking down onto Porangahau (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

 

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Day 164/164: Tolhun to Ushuaia – 104km

Climbing 1460 meters and down 1560. No gravel apart from first couple of kilometres. Convoy last 4 kilometres into town.

It is hard to believe but after nearly six months the last riding day has arrived! There was frost on the grass this morning, but otherwise it was not too cold.

We have all been worried by the possible head wind today so wanted to set off early but unfortunately the TDA staff member responsible for getting the water boiling etc slept in (I suspect they may have partied on after we all went to bed last night, and why not).

Pretty scenery with a lovely lake and snow capped mountains again. Easy riding to lunch, a few rolling hills and one last 6 kilometre climb but it was not steep. The mountain pass we climbed was protecting us from the wind.

Last mountain pass of the trip, Passo Garibaldi. Coming up from Lago Fagnano and dropping down to the Beagle Channel (Photo credit: Brett's Facebook page)

Last mountain pass of the trip, Passo Garibaldi. Coming up from Lago Fagnano and dropping down to the Beagle Channel (Photo credit: Brett’s Facebook page)

The lunch included a number of treats not normally seen such as a cheese platter and biscuits.

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I did not stay around long as I got really cold having just climbed the 6 kilometres, and there was a bit of a wind as well. Also I was a bit worried that although the morning had been all right with the wind, any moment we could run into the Patagonian wind in all its glory and be down to 8 kilometres an hour.

Unbelievable very little wind, lots of up and downs but nothing significant, and despite the busy traffic the other drivers were tolerant of having to share the road –¬†apart from one truck driver.

Suddenly I was there at the sign to Ushuaia! However I could not quite remember where the convoy meeting place was. I had arrived first so I biked a couple of kilometres into the town, then decided I had gone too far. The traffic was even more crazy, so was on my way back when Cristiano and the yellow trucks passed me coming back from town also. The meeting place was by the sign at the start of town so I rode back up there. By this time other riders started coming in. Lots of laughter, cheers, photos etc.

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Riding into Ushuaia! 

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The Survivors that made it to Ushuaia! 

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The gals that rode all the way from Cartagena to Ushuaia! 

Once everyone was together and the police escorts had arrived we convoyed in. It was great having the police blocking off the road, and just riding straight through.

Waiting for the convoy to start

Waiting for the convoy to start

We had the finishing line down at the wharf and had some sparkling wine, photos and speeches.

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We were so luckily with the weather sunny and very little wind. We all had an individual photo and when it was my turn a dog appeared and got into the photo with me. There was also another dog that came and sat with me when we had the group photo coming into Ushuaia before it raced off back to its usual occupation chasing the cars as they left Ushuaia.

Me and my friendly dog

Me and my friendly dog

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I made it! All the way to Ushuaia!

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Waving the finish line flag! 

Brett and I at the finish line

Brett and me at the finish line

Then off to the hotel with the police escort. The hotel was on a hill with a steep climb, which we all thought was a fitting end for the last few kilometres of the ride.

Our hotel in Ushuaia

Our hotel in Ushuaia 

We all got cleaned up and started the process of cleaning and sorting gear to pack. Then off to the final dinner. The usual speeches and presentations for race winners, and those nine riders who had EFI (ridden every frickin inch of the trip). Plus photos etc.

We did our item which went down quite well. It did not seem late but it was 12:30 by the time the speeches/ presentations and dinner was over. Of course dinner did not start until 8pm, still early in South American time to eat.

Then back to the hotel to sleep, and no more riding!

Christiano and

Christiano and Ana (TDA staff)

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

Day 107/164: El Molino to Schaqui – 111 kilometres

Climbing 615 and down 690.

I decided this morning to pump up my tyre as I hadn’t for a week or so. When I took the cap off the first one the valve insert came out. I thought I had put it back in ok but 5 kilometres down the road I had a flat tyre. I thought it was just the valve and pumped up again and 2 minutes down the road it was flat again, so the tube needed to be changed (it is always the bike tyre!).

Today's route details  (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Today’s route details (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

The scenery was desert with mountain ranges today. We did 20 kilometres with a long gradual up hill and what looked like white arches away in the distance, but it was just the road going up and up. Bit of a headwind. Then we had ups and downs with quite a few hills and the road surface was quite uneven. Scenery was just kilometre after kilometre of desert.

The last 20 kilometres we turned right and the scenery was very pretty: flowers, trees, cacti in flower.

We had been going to ride 125 kilometres today and stay at a camp called “Quarry camp” which I was not¬†looking forward. I was envisaging rocks and barren, bleak surroundings. Thankfully I did not have to find out as we are now staying at 105 k instead at a campsite.

We stopped at a shop 5 kilometres before camp where we had a cold beer which we had to drink there (because of the bottles). We must have got there just before 1pm,¬†which is when siesta starts. The Siesta in Argentina starts at 1pm and shops open again anywhere from 6 pm to 8 pm. Most restaurants you can’t get anything to eat before¬†8pm.

At the camp on the white board it said to watch out for snakes eekkk!! Toliets but no showers! (day 3 without a shower).

There was a white staffordshire bull terrier at camp, a very nice natured dog. A few riders went for a swim in the river and were jumping off the cliff and she was howling with concern every time one did it. Unfortunately she had an awful skin condition like eczema (which Sue who was a vet says is caused by a mite and treatable) over most of her body which must cause her a lot of grief. I wish there was something I could do for her. Not sure if they have organizations like SPCA in Argentina. They do have dog charities in the bigger cites in Peru. Will need to google when I get some decent Wifi.

The campsite was quite peaceful until about 5pm when a number of motorcycle riders starting racing up and down and around a circuit that went around the camp. Thankfully it only lasted about an hour.

Dinner was chicken ginger sauce, brown rice and vegetable salad.

Australia bet Argentina in the semi final so Australia and NZ to play off in the final.

Today's Strava profile  (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Today’s Strava profile (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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

Day 87/164: Pazacamaya to Oruro – 113km

I decide to ride this morning as I am longer vomiting and I kept dinner down.  It is a cold morning at minus 1 degrees.  The sun comes out by 7 am so starts to get warmer rapidly and there were blue skies most of the day, a few fluffy clouds later in the day.  As we are quite high up in altitude (about 3900m) the clouds look like you could almost reach out and touch them.

I am a bit breathless so having to take¬†the ride quite slowly, thankfully no steep climbs.¬† We have long straight roads¬†most of the day with a slight up gradient and a strong head wind after lunch.¬† Once again quite barren countryside with tussocks, rocky hills, dry river beds, and lots of small farmlets, with people out watching small flocks of animals ‚Äď sheep, cows, and I saw one with a few alpaca in the mix as well.

View of scenery

View of scenery

View of scenery

View of scenery

When I got to camp I had completely lost my voice and lightheaded, due I realized to being dehydrated. Usually I am really good at drinking water, but today not sure why I did not drink any. So I drank two bottles full then dozed in my tent for a couple of hours, after which I felt a lot better.

Once again bush camping. To go to the toilet it is a 5 minute walk¬†across the field, to a mound of dirt visible from the main road. Thankfully not too busy ‚Äď not a great situation with gastro.

Two rider's tents at bush camp

Two rider’s tents at bush camp

Bush camp tonight 10km outside Oruro (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Bush camp tonight 10km outside Oruro (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

There was a hungry looking scrawny dog hanging around camp all afternoon, being shoed away by a number of riders. The dog’s patience however was rewarded. The TDA staff were barbecuing meat for dinner, and took their eyes off it for a moment. The dog was last seen heading off at great speed with a very large piece of steak hanging out of its mouth.

At the riders meeting the question was asked as to why, when we are next to a town of 250,000 people, are we bush camping with no amenities . We understand bush camping when there are no other options, but we are not convinced in this case that there was no other option. Also there are a number of people with gastro, and the lack of washing and toilet facilities is unpleasant, and potentially leading to further spread. No real reason was given other than it is hard to find camping options for this amount of people.

We had steak and salad for dinner.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid finished up in this area. Oruro was the last place they were seen jumping off a cliff into a lake.

Also Max from TDA told us at the riders meeting that there was a belief that the surrounding area is where Atlantis was. Will have to look into this on the next rest day.

Wonderful skies tonight (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Wonderful skies tonight (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Sunset in Oruro (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Sunset in Oruro (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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

Day 83/164: Huatajataja to La Paz – 83km

Climbing 600 metres, down 700.

It was pretty cold in the morning when we woke up, so I set off wearing all warm clothes. When I got about 3 kilometres down the road I could see why it was so cold, there was snow on all the surrounding mountain ranges.

IMG_4875

IMG_4877

Most of the way was a gradual up gradient, and a few road works. Past one road works was about 5 kilometres of corrugated surface, dust, and trucks and cars ‚Äď not great for asthma!

At about 70 kilometres we had been warned that there was a road block where protesters had blocked off the road, but cyclists should be allowed through. When we got there, the first road block looked like nothing ‚Äď just a few people sitting across the road. However after that there were about another 10 road blocks, about every 500 meters or so, each one bigger than the last. The protesters were ok with cyclists going through the blockades, but not vehicles. However the closer to the city the more militant they were becoming, and because of¬†this, instead of riding last 20 kilometres in a convey, we all met at 90 kilometres and were taken in a bus to La Paz.

Coming down into La Paz

Coming down into La Paz

Crazy city, people and vehicles, gridlocked traffic, fumes, mini vans darting in and out. 1.5 million people in a small space, the altiplano above, and a valley below.

We could not park outside the hotel so had to take our bikes and bags up a steep street to the hostel. By the time I got up the street each time I was breathless (La Paz is 3,800 meters in altitude). Then we find out there is no lift in the hotel and I am on the 5th floor! More huffing and puffing and stopping a couple of times each time on the way up.

After showering and sorting out laundry etc I went to have a look at the city. It was chaotic, hard to move on the side walk for the crush of people, plus both sides of the pavement had street vendors selling their wares. I was amused to see that the zebra crossings had people in zebra suits marshalling/assisting people across.

people dressed up as Zebras at the Zebra crossings in rush hour traffic to help people across. Unfortunately not a good photo

Caption from Kaye: People dressed up as Zebras at the Zebra crossings in rush hour traffic to help people across, unfortunately not a good photo.

I bought some water, found a cash machine (the first 3 declined to take my card) and headed back to the hotel.

Later on I went to a curry place ‚ÄúStar of India‚ÄĚ, that Lonely Planet said was pretty good. I had onion bhaji, which had a nice spicy sauce, chicken tikka masala (which was average), a really nice almond spice rice, and garlic nan that was not eatable: floury and hard. With a Bock beer which is Bolivian and much nicer than the other two I have tried so far. Plus a Bolivian Sauvignon Blanc which was pretty average. As always with Indian, I felt really full after.

Back to the hotel to sleep, and no alarm to set ūüėÄ

Categories: Bolivia, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , | 3 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 ‚ÄúGood boy‚ÄĚ 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.

13.1434930206.8-copacabana-bolivia

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 80/164: Puno to Juli – 83km

Climbing 175 meters, down 300.

It was cold coming out of the hotel, and had a maze of streets to negotiate through. Even though it was only 6:30am there was lots of traffic already. Once we got clear of Puno we had great views of the lake. It stretched out to the horizon, and was hard to believe that we are at 3,800 meters above sea level.

I am ok on the flat, but am still having problems with asthma and altitude on hills. My lungs have decided to add to the problem by producing lots of mucous. I am pleased that this week is going to be a relatively light riding week. 83 kilometres and not much climbing is just what I need at the moment. I rode with Shirley and Dan for about 20 kilometres but then stopped at some ruins.

All of a sudden my gear shifter on the left stopped working, so now I have small and large cog on the left and large only on the right. Not so easy for getting up hills! I managed ok for about 30 kilometres with an up gradient that was not steep, but had to get off half way up a hill in the town. It was either get off or fall off! Thankfully this was the last town before going downhill to camp.

We are camping at 3,750 metres, by the beach, thankfully not a dust camp. There is grass to pitch the tent on. Given that we were only biking 83 kilometres (although the climbing was at least double the 175 meters planned) I got to camp at midday. I cleaned my bike ready for bike clinic at 3pm, put up my tent, and dozed for a couple of hours in my tent.

View of beach camp

View of beach camp

Thankfully the problem with my bike is just a snapped gear cable, so I have a new one on, and the bike is ready to go again tomorrow.

Next I went to the medic clinic to discuss my asthma and altitude sickness etc. I am going to go off the altitude sickness pills as the effect wears off the longer you take them and they have side effects. When I am in La Paz I am going to go to a medical clinic, and get an asthma management plan. My asthma is starting to settle, but we are going to be going higher up in altitude again, so I need to be better prepared. I think I was lucky this time.

Dinner was hamburgers with buns, salad, and gherkins. It was warm here during the day, but the night was cold. I had both sleeping bag inners, my hat, long john top and bottom, socks and jacket and I was still cold! I will need to sort this in Lapaz, as I have been warned that Bolivia is going to be cold.

Camping on the shores of Lake Titicaca (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Camping on the shores of Lake Titicaca (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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

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

The sun sets on our camp (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The sun sets on our camp (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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