Posts Tagged With: Feeling sick

Day 75/164: Rest Day Three in Cusco

I am having problems with the wifi, no doubt it is over loaded by all the riders. I was not able to log on much of the day. When I could, I could only get a connection in the hotel lobby and could not get Skype to connect at all. It is most frustrating when there are limited days you have access to wifi and then it does not work.

I am still having problems with breathing related to altitude and asthma, and my lip does not appear to healing quickly. I had quite a lazy day today catching up on the blog, as I had got a bit behind. At most of camps lately there have been only picnic chairs and no lighting. With quite long days I am not getting anything done on the blog before dinner, and then it is dark and cold so I am not inclined to do any in my tent.

I went to the bike shop that the mechanic Luiz said sells shimano bike parts. I have been having trouble with my left pedal with my foot suddenly shooting out for no reason, which could cause a nasty mishap. I have new pedals on my bike.

Apart from that I repackaged my bags, read a book, and not much else. I went back to the same restaurant for dinner as the first night here “The Incantra” and had a really nice pasta dish with anchovies, olives, fresh tomatoes sauce, and parmesan. It could have done with a bit of heat but otherwise delicious. The pasta was fresh, and I had a nice green salad, and a glass of red wine.

I am trying not to think about tomorrow: 158 kilometres at altitude, with 1,900 meters of climbing. Yesterday 30 kilometres was added to what was a 128 kilometre ride with less climbing, to take us on a dog leg through a sacred valley (called The Sacred Valley) and miss the traffic. We have a number of unwell riders with one or more of the following: gastro, chest infection, altitude issues, asthma. There is concern that we are being pushed too hard.

Editor’s note: I asked Mum if TDA have done this ride before and had so many people quit / sick etc, and she said that the last South American trip was much shorter and went the other way, and did not cover as many countries.

Town gate in Cusco

Town gate in Cusco

Old Church n Cusco

Old Church in Cusco

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

Day 74/164: Rest Day Two in Cusco

I slept in again, had breakfast and then went off to have a massage I had booked at 10am.

Along with general exhaustion I have
1. A really sore neck on the left hand side, I can’t even turn it
2. Altitude sickness, still really breathless and have coughing fits
3. Gastro related to the altitude medication, or the anti inflammatory medication for the neck
4. My bottom lip has big cracks in it even though I have been constantly covering it with lip sun block
5. A pressure area on my butt, thankfully the skin is not broken
6. Asthma, related I think to the altitude.

All in all the three rest days are badly needed. A number of the riders have organized tours to go to Machu Picchu but I decided not to. I was really conflicted as I am so close but in the end decided that I need to look after myself if I want to manage the whole of this ride. Sue went with a group of 7 of the riders, up on the early morning train, got to the main gates and was inside for ten minutes and collapsed. Sue was taken back to the hotel they had booked there and slept for 18 hours (which equates to a USD $750 sleep). Four of the other riders who went have also come back unwell, mostly with gastro related symptoms.

The massage (80 soles) was great, the masseuse really knew her stuff and spent ages on the left side of my neck and back. I had lots of knots. She would work on them for a few minutes and then do another area, but kept coming back. As I left I could already feel the difference.

Next off to get my hair cut and buy some sandals, mine have finally fallen apart. As I was walking up the street looking for sandals a pleasant seeming young man stopped me and asked me if I was from New Zealand. When I said yes he said “Wellington?” which I of course said yes. He then asked if I wanted anything for my hike, which is why most people come here. When I said no I am biking he changed to ‘did I need shoes, Lycra etc’. I assured him I had everything I needed. So then he asked me if I want some Charlie, blow or clean cut. I was a bit stunned and found myself shaking his hand saying ” I appreciate you asking but I am ok”. Weird, so I figure Charlie is heroine? Blow is cocaine? But ‘clean cut’? Crystal meth? Any ideas?

I managed to find some sandals finally in my size, a number of shops had sandals I like but not big enough to fit my feet. After this I had some lunch, bought some really warm multi colored socks, and went on the city bus tour. It was raining to start off with so I sat downstairs, but as soon as the rain stopped I moved upstairs, better for taking photos.

We went up quite a steep hill and I jokingly said to one of the other riders “I bet we come out this way”. No need they assured me, the main road leads straight out of Cusco.

View of Cusco from top of hill

View of Cusco from the top of hill

We stopped at a statue of Jesus that was donated to the people of Cusco by the Palestine government in recognition of the shelter given to the Jews in the second world war.

Rest day two in Cusco . The Jesus statue from the Palestine Govt to the people of Cusco for providing sanctuary to the Hews in world war 2

The Jesus statue

After this the tour went to an Alpaca clothing factory. I bought a dorky looking, but really warm hat. Hopefully the socks and the hat will make a difference at cold camps.

On top of your bus in Cusco rest day two ( with my warm bed hat)

On top of tour bus in Cusco with my warm hat

We saw some Inca ruins that were a ceremonial centre and temple to the sun called Saqsaywaman.  The rocks were fitted together, some weighing up to 130 tons. The Spaniards took a number of the rocks from here for buildings in the town.

Photo of Sagsay waman in Cusco

Photo of Saqsaywaman in Cusco

Another view of Sagsay waman in Cusco

Another view of Saqsaywaman

Sun temple in Cusco

Sun temple in Cusco

On the tour I also learned that 70% of the adult population in Cusco work in the tourist industry, and the average monthly wage is $750 soles.

After the tour I saw two of my favorite riders Shirley and Dan from the USA sitting in a boutique beer bar so I joined them for a beer.

Dan, Shirley and Brett and boutique beer bar in Cusco

Brett, Shirley and Dan at a boutique beer bar in Cusco

I could not stay long as I was meeting Rebecca, a friend of Kelly’s, for dinner. Rebecca comments regularly on my blog, and has been travelling through Peru the same time as me, but only arriving in each place just after I left, so it was a good chance to catch up.

I met Rebecca in the lobby of my hotel and we headed off to a Peruvian restaurant “The Andean Grill” that was recommended when we went past on the tour. It was quite nice, I had fillet migon again, was nice had garlic in the sauce. Rebeca had lomas saltardo which is a Peruvian spiced stew. We traded stories about all the different places we had been. Rebecca has been on a number of Intrepid Tours all over the world. It was a good evening. Rebecca heads off next to walk the Inca trail.

Earlier when I had arrived at the hotel after the tour, I was greeted by the news that Eriberto, one of the full tour riders, was throwing in the towel and heading home the next day. “Too cold and too hard” was his reason. I was quite startled as he is one of the better riders and had given no prior indication that he was even thinking of doing this. However he is very cheerful about it and has booked his flights and will be home where he lives near Venice in less than two days, he tells us “drinking good coffee, red wine, enjoying fresh pasta and being warm”.

After dinner I went back to the hotel I tried skyping my son Dan, but the connection was really bad so I will try again tomorrow. Off to bed, last rest day tomorrow.

Water fountain in Cusco

Water fountain in Cusco

Interesting mural in Cusco

Interesting mural in Cusco

Small boy who waved and calked out whilst on your bus in Cusco

Small boy who waved and called out whilst on tour bus in Cusco

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

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 35: Szomathely to Moravče – 90k

2,912km down: 3,313km to go.

There were only three hills of note today, one was a 12% gradient with a stop sign down the bottom of the start of it, that which I couldn’t get a run up it.

Today started off with nice cool weather, with a threat of rain during the day. Luckily the group I was riding with managed to stay just in the middle of it and avoid getting wet – some of the riders got soaked. We could tell it had been raining as the road was soaked. One of the tour guides comes from Hungary so was able to tell us some of the key sites to look out for.

In Jak there was a beautiful old church built in the 12th century usual style, in that the outside and the inside are all stone.

The church, all made of stone.

There was a 12th century bell tower in Pankasz on a little hill in a village. It had a thatched roof and an old bell.

Bell Tower

Thatched roof of the bell tower

We crossed the boarder into Slovenia just at the end of the ride. We are staying at a huge camp site tonight, and we are tenting again. We could have gotten a room but it would have been 100 euros just for the night so I decided not to. I might have reconsidered this if it had been pouring with rain when I got here, like it was for some of the other riders. I got to the camp site at about 1pm; I then put up my tent, and also put up Walli’s tent, as Walli gets in at least a couple of hours after me. I went to have a shower and when I came out it was pouring with rain.

I was feeling a bit tired, and thought I may be coming down with the cold that is going though the riders but was hopeful that I wasn’t. I decided to have a nap, and slept on and off for the afternoon. When Walli got in it was pouring, so it was lucky I had already put up her tent. While writing this the weather is fine, but it looks like it could rain again.

A topic you don’t usually discuss on blogs is toilets, but given the ones here they deserve a mention. In the past two countries (Hungary and Slovakia) the toilets all have pull cords instead of flushing buttons. There is also no soap, although this has been common to all of the camp sites as well until now. The toilets have been dark and not very clean looking, but the most unusual part is there is no toilet paper in the stalls. It is kept in one central place outside the toilet. It is questionable whether the toilets are ever cleaned as they are full of spiders etc. Also often there are no separate showers so you have to shower in a line. Well today we have separate showers, hot water, toilets with paper, soap, toilet seat covers and music. Plus a board where it noted that it had been cleaned every two hours.

We only have 60k to ride tomorrow, I am highly suspicious that there will be big hills.

Categories: Cycling trip | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Day 29: Turany to Banska Stiavnica – 110k

2,471km down: 3,754km to go.

Highways 50,65 51/525 plus back roads, 1,500 metres up and down

The past couple of nights I have had a return of my inner ear problem (Labyrinthitis) but by the morning it had been gone. Not this morning. I woke up at 2:30am to go to the bathroom; I lurched there and back like I was drunk. I lay down and hoped it would settle by the morning. The medication is yet another thing I forgot to bring, and it is of course a prescription medicine. It has been a couple of years since the last bout, but no excuse as I have had it on and off for years.

Unfortunately it had not gone by the morning, and the rain had arrived. I thought about riding in the truck for the day but I suffer from car sickness at the best of times, the thought of going in the truck through the back roads, winding up and down, was an even worse option than riding. As long as I did not look down, by the time I set off I was not too bad, but had rotten nausea. I felt I was safe to ride, and if at any time I didn’t I would have stopped and organized to be picked up. Even with the light dizziness I was not the rider that managed to just ride off the road into a ditch – more about this later.

We had been told by the tour guys that this was going to be a tough riding day, and they were not exaggerating. The 70k morning ride to lunch was just about constantly up 12 and 14 percent hills, just climbing. The rain cleared and then it got hot. I was starting to feel better but felt dizzy if I had to look into my panniers (side bags) and for some reason going up steep hills I look down. No idea why but it resulted in me having to get off and walk most of the way up a couple of them.

At 42k I made a wrong turn but thankfully I realized after a couple of kilometres and no flags. So far – touch wood – my wrong turns have resulted in only a few extra kilometres. The record for the tour so far is 50k – pleased it was not me! I started to feel a bit better, and the nausea started to settle a bit as well.

The climb into lunch was 6k and started in a cobble paved street but thankfully soon was just paved road. The road went up and up – a great view but very pleased to see the lunch truck.

After lunch we rode up another couple of kilometres of slight climb, then a 12k downhill. Because I was not sure what was coming around the corner, and some of it was uneven with pot holes, and there were cars, walkers and then in middle of it all a bus, I was constantly braking, so my hands were sore at the end of it.

There are lots of fruit trees all along the sides of the roads, laden with fruit which is dropping all over the ground – apples, plums and a purple berry. The cows here wear bells around their necks. There are still bus routes just about every road we take, but the bus shelters are not as nice, they are often rusty (not as inviting for a quick lie down). There are cobblestone streets galore, and churches of course, but I have not seen before the narrow streets with the houses opening straight onto them with no front yard.

After the downhill there was flat road for about 2k then it was back to climbing and the heat and the wind were back. The wind had lost track of us when we crossed the border, but now it was back. At one point I resorted to sitting in a rusty bus stop and pouring water over my head. I was riding behind Brian when I thought he was pulling off the road, next thing I know he had ridden into a ditch! He said he was just thinking “I wonder what’s in the ditch” and he lost attention for a moment and in he went.

At this stage the climb was getting steeper, it was really hot, and I had run out of water. We went through two small towns that had shops like dairies, but they were shut, must be because it is Sunday? I walked part of the way up one hill, then rode another bit, then I hit the wall, the nausea was back and with less than 4k to go I decided to walk up the final hill. I got to the top of the hill with a numbers of stops (cleats are not great for walking, as well as being stuffed).

The final bit to the rest stop was downhill (12 percent gradient down, thankfully not up!) then cobblestones again but steep! I had a degree of difficulty trying to ride down rough steep cobblestones!

Yay, I arrived at the hotel. I was not able to look down to take off bags or lock my bike but thankfully Ciran was around and he did it for me. I am pleased to be staying in a hotel tonight even though it is not a rest day. I got up to the room and lay down for awhile. Gen who is a Doctor had told me antihistamine pills have a similar effect to Stemetil, so I took one and had a sleep. When I woke up I felt a lot better, just so long as I didn’t do any sudden head movements.

The town we are staying at is a UNESCO site due to the old streets and buildings. I have not had a look it today apart from what I saw on the way in. Tomorrow is a shorter day about 75k, with hills still – especially the first third, but not as bad as today. So depending on how I feel in the morning I might have a look around before I leave.

The hotel is really nice, Hotel Kerling. We had dinner in a restaurant, first a nice meat and noodle broth and then a kind of chicken schnitzel with salad and chips, and an endless jug of cold water. Plus the hotel has Wifi so have been able to send through updates for past two days and today.

Not all the riders are riding all the days, or if they do they get a lift with the lunch truck to lunch stop and ride from there, or ride to the lunch stop and then go in the truck to camp. Although I came in at the back of the field today, there were four riders ahead of me, and of the remaining 12: 1 did not ride today, 2 got a lift to the lunch stop (one then caught the lunch truck again as it went past because it was so hot), 2 that were behind me got a lift the final bit. So overall although it was a slow day, I am still pleased with it.

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Day 19: Nowograd to Pułtusk – 113k

1,702km down: 4,523km to go.

The day started off with good news. We had thought it was going to be a 130k ride, then we were told it was 123, then we were updated this morning – the route was actually only 113k.

Daphne was not well so I started riding with John and Shirley. I got about 15k up the road and had to make a quick dash into the trees, then again soon after. At this point John sensibly rode off and Shirley and I rode the day together, with me stopping a few more times along the way. I had chicken liver with pasta and a cream sauce the night before, and although I did not eat much of it I wonder if it disagreed with me.

To start off the day was overcast and cool and then it drizzled slightly. It was flat or slightly down most of morning. Just before lunch the weather cleared up then it was really hot! Same type of land as the day before: farmland, shrines, small villages, churches. In the afternoon there was a bit of uphill but not really anything substantial.

There was an interesting site set in the middle of the forest, I would not have been surprised to see a hobbit or two. Talking about seeing a hobbit, there have been lots of animal signs, first for moose, then the bobcat, then deer today. Whilst on the outskirts of town I saw a deer race across the road not far ahead of me. And just before turning onto the road to the camp I saw a squirrel at the side of the road. They are much smaller than I had imagined – I had always thought (for no good reason) that they were about the size of a possum. As Brett said they are like a rat but with a tail, and actually yes they are.

I had been hearing a clack clack noise on my bike so at lunch Ciaran removed the reflector from the front. The clack clack continued so I thought it was the Speedo as the bit on the wheel where the screw is stopped working, and I have not been able to get another so far.

The lunch truck, photo from the blog of another rider on the trip

I had my daily accident at the town just near the end of the day. We were just about to get back on the road by a crossing when an idiot on a motor bike roared through blowing his horn at the people on the crossing who jumped out of his way. I got distracted and forgot when I leant over to take my foot out and over I went. First time I have done that for awhile, luckily no damage apart from a slightly sore knee.

The last couple of kilometres was the old favourite: sandy dirt road. I arrived at camp hot, sticky, and badly in need of a shower. When the tour guys had checked out the camp the night before they had said it was pretty much deserted. On the way down the drive we noticed a few older women painting in the field but did not think anything of it. Well it turned out there was a painting retreat and the camp was full of artists. A couple were in that European style – dressed in not very much at all, although they had an awful lot to cover.

We had hoped to get cabins but it was tents again. The bugs are really vicious over here, it does not matter what sort of spray I use, they find the one spot not covered. They bite through your clothes. I keep reading the warning on the spray-bottle that says excessive use is dangerous. Hopefully that means weeks not days at a time. So I am covered in various lumps and bumps and bruises. Putting on all the various lotions after a shower and in the morning is becoming quite a task: anti rub, anti itch, insect spray, sun screen, chapstick stuff etc.

At camp there were only about two power outlets available and 19 riders wanting access, so my phone ended up only being charged for an hour.

I was lucky enough to get Yarn to upload my photos for me. Yarn was also trying to sort out Skype for me as mine will not recognize my password. At the same time we were helping Danya craft an email to her parents about her injuries, that would not be too alarming. So we coached her with starting it “I have minor injuries from an accident on my bike, the cut on my face is not disfiguring” etc.

We had moved outside, but the Internet connection was pretty patchy, you could only really get it inside the bar/restaurant. The artists were having their meal in the restaurant so Yarn suggested waiting until we could go back inside again. After awhile I thought I would show Gen my photos. I opened my iPad and there was nothing! I took it and charged it for an hour but still nothing. I took it to Yarn who tried his connection and tried charging (and he checked it was turned on etc) still nothing. Yarn was at a loss and could only suggest I try it in the morning as sometimes you just have to leave them for a couple of hours. He said if we had no luck then we could take it to the iPad shop in Warsaw (we arrive there tomorrow). The screen was completely blank – nothing!

I was upset as I had been looking forward to being able to finally send photos, I was not looking forward to trying to get an iPad fixed overseas, I was tired due to the lack of sleep the night before, I was covered in insect bites, I had been feeling off colour all day, and I had come off my bike. It was all too much, so I retreated to my tent for the night. Thankfully everyone knew I had been unwell so thought nothing of it.

Unfortunately as mentioned earlier my phone did not get well charged, I had music on with head phones but the battery went dead about 8:30pm. Sadly the artists enjoyed sitting outside talking and having a sing song much longer than that.

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