Posts Tagged With: Hot

Day 18: Munich to Dillingen an der Donau

We had 120 km to ride, with 577 meters up and 690 meters down

We have one new rider who joined us in Munich – Catrina – who has come to ride the last section with her husband Peter M, who has done the whole ride. Peter has done one other and Catrina did a section. They are from Seattle and have two children. Peter is an ED doc (he examined my wrist) and Catrina is a pathologist. Catrina is riding a bike she bought here and has not ridden it before.

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Peter and Catrina

To start off today was the dreaded convoy, for 14 km. We did not leave the hotel until 8:20am and it was after 9:30am before we were free to ride off by ourselves.

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Convoy out of Munich

Lots of bikers commuting to work, lots of them parents with babies and toddlers in carriages, front and back seats.

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Frustrating I had a message from the the blog editor just as I was leaving, to say she had never received the blog for 12 June, but she did get my short version of the notes I jot down in the iPad at the end of each day.  No record in my sent box, very annoying as I remember doing it, it had quite a lot of detail. Never mind I will have to do again. Nowhere near as frustrating as in Bolivia where I lost 10 days worth, that were sent and disappeared into the ether, also with no trace in my sent mail.

About 30 km out of Munich, we came to Dachau concentration camp memorial garden. This was the first of the concentration camps and the model for later camps. Overall 200,000 people (Jews, political prisoners, and other so called ‘undesirables’)  were detained here from as early as 1933, and 40,000 died.

Today we are mainly on bike paths. I was looking forward to getting onto bike paths and away from the traffic, however they were frustrating as within the space of 10 k you can change paths 5 times, and it was starting to feel like a navigating challenge rather than a bike challenge.

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Bike path Altomunster

During the day we rode through many fields of crops, through farmland, and through shady forest areas. We also crossed the Danube River (which I did not notice at the time as it was only a stream).

25 km from the end of the ride we had a thunderstorm, huge drops of rain pelleted down, but it was so hot it was a relief.

The traffic here is such that they are happy to stop and give you the right of way, even when it isn’t yours, they even stop on the highway when they can see you are struggling to cross. No tooting or monstering you from behind (sitting right on your back tyre almost).

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BMW headquarters

When we got to the hotel we were a bit underwhelmed by the exterior, not helped by the scaffolding as it was being painted. It was a tired old place, but the staff were friendly and it was clean.

Dinner was delayed as one of the riders was not in. It turned out it had taken Peter and his wife until 4pm to get to lunch (65 k) and then Catrina got the lunch truck, and Peter continued from there. It was just after 7pm when he got in – a long day!

Dinner was potato and ham soup, crumbed Pork with croquettes and sauce, and dessert was Ice cream Sundaes. We had dinner with John, and mine was washed down with copious glasses of cold sparkling  water.

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Aichach

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Aichach

We had a balcony, but it looked out to a yard and was too hot to go out into. No aircon again, and once again very hot trying to get to sleep. Plus there was quite a lot of noise – it sounded like people jumping on the floor or banging on the walls. Once I fell asleep, I slept quite well.

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Hotel Dillinger Hof balcony

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Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 17: Rest day in Munich (19 June)

During the night I got lost in the bathroom! I went in and closed the door, and the light was on the outside! As I was half asleep I was disorientated, and it took a few moments to realise that if I could feel the toilet, then the door must be right in front of me.

The room, whilst it had no air con, it did have good black curtains, so I didn’t wake up till about 7am.

I went and had breakfast and spoke to a few of the riders who were leaving, and then caught up on some emails, the news, and the blog. As we had only be riding two days and the next segment is only 3 days, we decided not to do any laundry as we have enough clothes to last.

Then I headed off with Brett (we were joined later by Graham) to the Hofbräuhaus House, for a steins and sausages. The litre stein is so big it took two hands to pick it up and drink.

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Hofbräuhaus Brewery

There was a walking tour, that most of the TDA riders seemed to be on, filing past us making comments about NZers and Aussies and beer. The hall was huge – it seats 3,500 people! There was a traditional band playing, luckily only in short intervals as they were very loud.

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Hofbräuhaus Brewery

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Outside Hofbräuhaus Brewery

Then it was time to go back to the hotel and have a nap to wear off the effects of the beer. I am finding it really hard to remember to watch out for the bike paths that are half of most of the pavements. The bikers ride really fast, and you could be seriously hurt if you were knocked into by one.

On the way back we stopped near the hotel at a handmade ice cream shop called “True and 12” and tried the ice cream. It was ok but I didn’t think it was as good as the ice cream you can get in NZ. This was the only time we came past when there wasn’t a long queue. Last night when we were riding into Munich, there were about 35 people queued along the street.

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Pots and Pans Reindeer (Editor’s note: This is all the information I have about this picture)

For dinner, we went to an Afghanistan restaurant called “Chopan – am Gasteig” which was close by. The dish I had was “Qabili Palau” which is the national dish, it was fantastic, very nicely spiced.

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At Chopan – am Gasteig

We had a bottle of Rose with it that was very drinkable, plus two bottles of sparkling water.

Then back to the hotel to get ready for another hot night, even with the window open, and another’s day riding tomorrow.

Introducing 3 TDA staff:

Caitlin from Canada is the bike mechanic for the trip, plus rides sweep or does flags
Balaz is from Hungary, his background is IT and economics. He is usually on the lunch truck but sometimes is sweep
Ozgur from Turkey, his background is an engineer, who does the either flags or sweeps, and occasionally does the lunch truck.

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From left: Caitlin, Balaz, Ozgur

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At Hofbräuhaus Brewery

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 10: Trieste to Maniago

123 km: 800 meters up and 430 down

This is the start of another four day section, and this was the easiest of the four days.

Instead of having to take notes from a whiteboard like previous trips, this trip we get them passed out in their already printed version. Some riders pour over them, highlighting certain bits, others – like me – shove them in their pocket to be taken out if needed if there is confusion about which way to go.

We started at 8am with a convoy, which was meant to be for 4 km but after 1.5 km most of the convoy was out of sight due to having to stop at the lights. As Gergo doesn’t flag or give notes for the convoy to ensure riders don’t go off on the their own, it was just by good luck and guessing that we managed to stay on the right track.

The first 18 km was along along the coast, then we turned inward and took the last view of the Adriatic Sea (the top of the Mediterranean). The next time we see the sea we will be in the Netherlands.

We went through a town called Palmanova, which is an excellent example of a star fort from the Renaissance. This was built by the Venetians in 1593. The whole town is walled, and there are only entrances/exits through the walls.

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An aerial view of Palmonova (picture source)

This is also where the Trans Europa ride we did in 2012 intersects with this ride, the Oydessy. In 2012, we came through here on the way to Venice.

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Walled town of Palmanova, inside the south gate

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Cathedral in Palmanova square

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North-west gate out of Palmanova, onwards to Amsterdam

There was a big market in the square with lots of stalls selling food, clothes, cooking ware, and lots of fresh flowers.

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Market square inside Palmanova

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Through the palace gate to the Villa Manin

Where we stopped for lunch there was a man trimming his hedge who was chatting away to all the riders, and telling to make sure that they stopped in the next town Mortegliano to see the biggest bell tower in Europe.

 

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The locals reckon this is the tallest bell tower in Europe, Mortegliano.

One of the TDA staff Ozgur had made homemade lemonade for lunch, which was very thirst quenching. It’s made from lemonade, honey, water and soda water.

 

In the afternoon the breeze from most of morning was replaced by beating sun, it was 35 degrees C and felt hotter.

There were lots of very long straights, broken up with interesting small towns. All the town were deserted and the shops were shut as it was siesta time.

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Beautiful riding today through the agricultural flat lands north of Venice.

Whilst going around a roundabout I was bit/stung by bug (through my riding top!). I wasn’t sure what it was, but took an antihistamine just in case it was a bee or a wasp. Luckily I did, as later that night when I had a look I had a big welt.

The last twenty km of the day seemed to go on and on, a bit of an uphill gradient, and into a bit of head wind.

Although we were riding towards the Dolomites, because of the heat haze we did not get a view of them until about 8 km before the end of the ride, where they slowly started to appear through the haze.

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Approaching Maniago and the end of the flatlands. Next 3 days climbing up to Passo del Brennero and entering Austria 🇦🇹

We got to the hotel at 5pm and found out dinner would not be until 8pm. To start off with I could not find my bag anywhere. I looked through the bags twice, and was starting to get really worried. I then went through the bags again, bag by bag. I had never noticed until now that my red bag is actually half black. The bottom half is black and it was upside down. Relieved, I went off to the room to get cleaned up.

The hotel room had a nice big bath so I had a relaxing soak and then I intended to have a quick nap, but ended up sleeping for two hours. I was more tired than I would have expected, as not much climbing, but we had had 9 hours in the sun and although there was not much climbing there was no real downhill, so we were constantly peddling all day.

Dinner was tomato pasta, grilled pork and potato, vanilla ice cream, washed down with sparkling water.  I had dinner with Brett, Miriam, Tom and Cathy.

Introducing

Tom and Miriam, retired they live in New York, and have 3 sons and one grandson. No pets. This is their 4th TDA tour. Miriam was a lawyer and then taught law, and Tom was an engineer.

Cathy is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She lives with her partner Peggy (who doesn’t like bike touring, so is not on the trip). They have no children and have a German short haired pointer. Cathy has done 2 previous TDA rides and is an ED doctor.

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Tom and Miriam on the left, Cathy on the right

Tomorrow is going to be a big day, 130 km and 2600 meters climbing and I am feeling a bit daunted. We are going to be climbing through the Dolomites.

The Dolomites are the mountain range located in north-eastern Italy, and form part of the Southern Limestone alps. The Dolomites are also known by the name The Pale Mountains, they take this name from the carbonate rock dolomite. The rock was named for the 18th century French mineralogist Deodat Gratel de Dolomieu (1750 to 1801) who was the first to describe the mineral.

The Dolomites are renown for skiing, mountain climbing, cycling, and BASE jumping.

The first week in July is the Maratona dles Dolomites, where in a single day, road bikers climb all 7 mountain passes.

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Day 21: Sunday 4 Dec – Greymouth to Hari Hari

112km today – 800 meters climbing, 750 down.

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The weather remained fine and today should be a relatively easy day, not much climbing , not a long distance, and not much rain.

We had the choice of the highway, or following a bike trail which would keep us off the main road but would add about 35 km and the surface was gravel and possibly not hard packed. Given it was a Sunday I decided the traffic would be lighter so chose the road.
There was probably only three trucks the whole day and they were milk tankers which would work 24/7, but also quite a few buses.

At 12 km we came to the last remaining shared bridge in NZ, which is shared by cars and trains, and until recently by cyclists. Thankfully when they created the bike trail they clipped a bike lane to the bridge.

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Shared bridge (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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The bike path on the side of the bridge (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

At 36 km we stopped in Hokitika for coffee, and we went down to the beach. There is a concrete armchair down there that looks just like a real arm chair. Outside the coffee shop was a big arm chair made of driftwood, pretty impressive, wouldn’t mind two of them on my deck at home.

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Concrete armchair at Hokitika

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Driftwood armchair

The ride was mainly rolling hills with some climbs but nothing significant. Stopped in a town called Ross for a drink and took a couple of pictures of a house and a general store with car number plates all over them.

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Interesting shop front in Ross

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Interesting house in Ross

The person in front of me at the shop was a local and had their shopping entered onto a card. To start off with I thought the guy behind the counter must be writing down all the purchases, but then realised the local was putting his stuff “on tick” (buy now, pay later – usually pay day). This took me back to my childhood where we would be sent to the corner store to get stuff “on tick”. Every now and again the shop keeper would say ‘Tell your mum she needs to come and see me”. Looking back that must have been when the tab was getting too high and he wanted to be paid, but he always gave us what we had come in for.

Lunch wasn’t until 82 km so I was getting pretty hungry by the time we got there. I had a sandwich and then an apple. I decided rather than throw my core in the rubbish bin, that as it was organic, I would throw it into the bush. Unfortunately I didn’t think about my terrible aim and actually threw it straight at Justina’s head! Oops ! It gave her a hell of a fright. I apologized profusely and she was ok, and thankfully it had not hit her eye or anything. Imagine the ACC report! Note to self: put all food scraps in the bin, always!

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Justina from Poland, works Switzerland. It’s her first TDA tour.

The afternoon saw some amazing rivers, and it got pretty hot. We were pretty happy to arrive in Hari Hari even more happy to find the Hari Hari Hotel open and we could sit inside and have a cold beer. I also bought Justina a drink as continued demonstration of remorse.

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A well deserved cold beer at Hari Hari pub, with (from left) Tony, Michele, Don, Walli and Brett

At the camp we also managed to get a room with a shower so we didn’t have to compete for the one female shower with the other riders.

Hari Hari’s claim to fame is that it was where the first pilot to fly solo Trans-Tasman landed. Upside down in a swamp! Guy Menzies told his parents he was flying to Perth and left them an envelope to open after he had gone, telling them he was flying to New Zealand. He had to land at Hari Hari as was out of fuel but did not realise it was a swamp, he thought it was flat ground. He walked away with only a few scratches.

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Hari Hari plane plaque

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Hari Hari’s claim to fame

Every riding day, before dinner, we have a riders meeting. At the start of tonight’s meeting, Emily (tour leader) said with a totally straight face “First of all, we have to deal with the serious matter of an assault on another rider. Kaye, you have been yellow carded” and handed me a yellow card. Emily said 3 more yellow cards and I would be off the trip.

The majority of the riders had already heard about the incident, and thought it was very funny. For the rest of the evening I had people sitting in front of me and then saying “Oh that’s right, not safe here” and moving etc – all in good fun. Justina has ridden past me a couple of times since then with her arm over her face.

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Getting my yellow card

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Trying to explain / defend my actions

Dinner that night was sausages with onion and gravy , smashed potato, broccolini and cheese sauce and sauerkraut. Plus fruit cake with custard and cream. Washed down with a shared bottle of Craggy Farm Merlot.

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Getting close to Hari Hari

Categories: Trans-Oceania | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Day 54/164: Guadalupito to La Gramita – 113km

1,100 meters up – 1,100 meters down

The roadworks went on for most of the night. The next day the stretch of road outside was three-quarters finished. Even though this is only the third day of riding I am really pleased that we have a rest day tomorrow.

The scenery is pretty much identical from yesterday: desert, hills, sand, wind, and once the cloud cover goes at 11:30am it is hot. Stark, but in a way it is strangely beautiful first thing in the morning, with fresh legs, and before the wind picks up and sun hits.

Dirt track to avoid a narrow tunnel (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Dirt track to avoid a narrow tunnel (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Once again there is a separate highway for much of the morning that we can ride on, which keeps us away from the traffic. We were told at the rider’s meeting last night that the place we are staying at is very quiet.

The lunch bus

The lunch bus (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

The view from lunch today

The view from lunch today

The ride after lunch was hard, uphill through endless desert with a head wind. My two year old inner voice was running a negative commentary about this being the back side of nowhere, whilst my adult voice was trying to be positive about the scenery. The two year got the upper hand when I saw from a distance where we were staying: 3 kilometres in the distance down a dirt track to a small town that did not look appealing on initial viewing.

I stopped at the restaurant on the main road, and had a cold beer to deal with the dust in my throat, and tried the ceviche (raw fish) which is a speciality here. Both were delicious. Then I set off to find the hotel.

We are staying at the Las Aldas Hotel, which was actually ok, small cabins but no power switches or wifi. Plus no cash machines which was not expected, and they don’t take credit cards. To add to my joy everything here is really expensive! Captive market. We had to order dinner on arrival which was “Do you want the meal of the day or not”.

I am not sharing with Sue as she has really bad gastro and, unlike me normally, I have said I am not prepared to catch it again so I am rooming with Emma, a 22 year old nursing student on her summer break from England. Emma joined us in Loja.

After sitting sulking on the deck of the cabin, in a hammock looking at the beautiful view, I got over myself and appreciated the stunning scenery.

A little touch of paradise for the next two nights (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

A little touch of paradise for the next two nights (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

As I had very little cash thankfully one of the other riders paid for my meal. Hopefully there will be a cash machine in the town although this looks extremely doubtful! Will worry about this tomorrow.

The meal was meant to be at 7pm and finally arrived at about 8:15pm. I thought I was having chicken but for some reason some of the riders had been allocated fish. I was happy, as fish was the better choice.

So after a long day in the sun and wind, plus red wine, I went off to bed for an early night, and happily no 5am start tomorrow.

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

Day 45/164: Macara to Las Lomas – 61km

Up 600 meters (turned out to be 700), and down 1,100 meters.

I had a reasonable sleep, with the usual roosters dawn chorus competition of course – but at least they waited until about 5am!

We had a nice short day, allowing plenty of time for the border crossing. We set off about 6:30am with 9 kilometres to ride to the border. School is back in and at 6:30 the children are arriving for school. A number of utes and small trucks arrive with their back-trays crammed with school children.

Welcome to Peru - where the old bridge used to be (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Welcome to Peru – where the old bridge used to be (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Getting out of Ecuador was pretty quick, then across to the Peru border counter. This took ages as they had a network issue, so the line seemed to hardly move.

The queue for Immigration (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The queue for Immigration (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Waiting at the border (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Waiting at the border (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

While we were waiting in the line we noticed a puppy that was about 4-5 months wake up, stretch, then wander over and start gnawing on the handle bars of one of the rider’s bike. When the puppy was yelled at he moved down to the saddle bag and started gnawing that, and when yelled at again he slinked off to find mischief elsewhere.

Then a healthy adult goat appears and wanders up and down the road chewing on plants.

Finally the queue starts to move and our passports are stamped. We still have to wait around for the dinner truck to go through in case they want to search the bags, so we go to get a drink while we wait. Next thing Mr Goat appears again, and trots into a restaurant across the road confidently like he has a reservation! Then suddenly he see the owner, and he’s off down the road at rapid speed with the owner throwing stones after him. I suspect he has had enough success in the past with this manoeuvre to make the risk worthwhile. The dinner truck is waved through and we are off.

Welcome to Peru, on the new bridge (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Welcome to Peru, on the new bridge (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Immediately you can tell we are in a differently country, the people look different, the houses are different, and there no yellow taxis. There are Tuk Tuk’s galore (motorbike in front and covered seats behind) as well as some white ute taxis. The country is very dry here, you can tell we are not far from the desert with cactus and dry dirt roads, and houses without grass.

A Tuk Tuk

A Tuk Tuk

The local taxis (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The local taxis (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

The people are more friendly than in Ecuador. A number smiled and waved at us. There are a number of loose donkeys grazing at the side of the road, and herds of goats. Unlike in Ecuador they are not tied up.

We had rolling hills which are great as you can get up the hill quite a way with the momentum from coming down. As it was only a 60 kilometre ride I was pushing myself to go as fast as I could. I am also concentrating on changing to smallest gears as late as possible and changing up as soon as I can. On rolling hills you can do this as you know you will soon have the downhill to recover.

There are lots of dogs, at one shop I saw about 11 dogs, and some quite large dogs, milling around. Thankfully none so far (bar one very small dog with big dog aspirations) have been aggressive.

The town where we are staying is basically a town square with some surrounding shops. It is very hot and dry. We are staying tonight at Salon Communal Santa Isabel, which is the community centre, so tent city again! But the other option is outside in the beating down sun, on a patch of dirt, in 38 degrees heat and possibly will get hotter.

Tent City

Tent City

A number of the locals have lined up outside the building to watch our goings on with great interest. There are adults sitting on the tuk tuks, and children milling around the door.

Taxi drivers watching us (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Taxi drivers watching us (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Passers by stop to watch (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Passers by stop to watch (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

After getting the tent sorted I went off into town to find a cash flow, and a cold beer. The cash flow worked ok, thankfully, as I suspect it is the only one in this town. I have had some problems in some other towns where some cash flow machines don’t work and others do. The machine only gave $100 dollar notes which are too big to cash in most of the shops. So I went into the bank, which has an interesting system where you don’t queue in a line or at the teller, you sit in a seat and as each person gets served you move up one seat.

Playing musical chairs at the bank (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Playing musical chairs at the bank (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

I had a cold beer and then returned to the camp site to get my clothes to have a shower – the restaurant down the road was letting us use their shower. The restaurant also has wifi. I had a shower, but despite trying a number of times did not manage to get onto the wifi.

The place where we are staying has no running water, and the toilet has to be flushed by using a bucket, and pulling the water up from a well.

By dinner time there were about 30 townspeople gathered around watching us eat with great interest.

Dinner was Israeli couscous, beef stew, and broccoli.

Locals watching dinner preparation

Locals watching dinner preparation

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

Day 39/164: Mendze to Marianita

The plan is to ride about 100 kilometres, and Cristano will scout out a camp, as doing the rest of yesterday and today’s ride is too much. Especially as we still have a number of riders suffering from gastro.

I slept quite well on the stage, but with unknown riding and climbing I decided to go in the lunch truck to lunch and ride from there. We had two climbs before lunch and one after. The one after was not that steep but it went on for about 25 kilometres! My legs were tired from the day before so I decided to start from lunch. 54 kilometres with a 25 kilometres hill would be plenty for me today. I was on my bike for 4 hours.

The first bit of the ride was a 15 kilometres downhill with great scenery. Then the climb. Well, it certainly went on and on and it was hot – it got up to 36 degrees! The summit had 2 false tops but finally I got to the top and coasted down to the campsite.

We are staying at a place called Marianita. We are camped on a large netball court, with a large roof overhead. One of the locals has set up an impromptu shop with beer, homemade lemonade and food.

No cellphone service again and no wifi. I got to camp at 2pm so had time to catch up on washing and get it dry. We had chicken and rice for dinner and vegetable stir fry.

The locals put on an impromptu show for us of their local dances. We gave a koha (donation) in appreciation.

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

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 30: Ipiales to Ibarra (or not) – 143km

I have got hit by the gastro bug again. I have been really careful about hand washing and don’t eat the meat left over from dinner at lunch the next day, so not sure what else I can do. Apart from not eat any food that contains meat prepared at the small roadside cafes.

My plan was to ride half a day today, given that it was 143 kilometres and substantial climbing.  At breakfast Australian Jackie said a group of them were planning to go on to Quito that afternoon to get an additional rest day there, and did I want to come? I considered this long and hard, and a micro second later said count me in. I think I could do with an additional rest day, plus tomorrow’s riding is also going to be long – another 143 kilometres, and up up up.

The plan was we would ride to lunch in the lunch truck, and then bike to camp, get washed and catch a taxi van to Quito. However, we had to cross the border into Ecuador first. The border crossing took quite a while, not for any reason other than the logistics of 45 people crossing (including TDA crew). By the time we all got across, it was after 9am.

500m to the border with Ecuador (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

500 metres to the border with Ecuador (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

000km to the Ecuador border, on the Pan American Highway (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

0 km to the Ecuador border, on the Pan American Highway (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Filing in border cards in advance (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Filing in border cards in advance (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

The plan for going to Quito changed, it was decided that we would go straight from the border to Quito and not ride at all today. I was in with this plan, as I was still having gastro issues. Then we hit a road block – the TDA staff would not unload our daily bags for us to take. A couple of the riders got a bit heated and TDA were standing firm (to be fair to TDA, loading and unloading 40 bags takes a while and they had already lost a lot of time that day at the border). Luckily a reasonable compromise was reached – we would follow the dinner truck (which has the daily bags) to camp, get the bags there and then go onto Quito.

Our bikes were loaded also onto the dinner truck. Thankfully the taxi driver was obliging and agreed with this plan. Also thankfully the dinner truck does not move very fast, as the top speed of the taxi van was about 60 kilometres. It was nice to be riding in a taxi where I was not constantly terrified, although a few oncoming drivers cut their overtaking very close.

The beautiful countryside (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

The beautiful countryside (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Lots of agriculture (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Lots of agriculture (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Riding in the taxi I was very pleased not to be riding, as the hills were steep, and the temperature was hot. We were back in desert like conditions. The 143 kilometres to camp at 60 kilometres an hour took until lunchtime. Once we got there, we had lunch at the campsite cafe whilst waiting for the bags to be unloaded (which we helped with when the TDA crew were ready of course).

The camp was by a big lagoon and was very pretty, but there was no one swimming as the temp in the water was 11 degrees. Being a Sunday there were lots of locals and heaps of cyclists. After lunch we got back in the taxi van, and drove another 143 k to Quito. We finally got to Quito about 3:30 pm.

The driver thought he knew the way to the hotel, but after driving around for about 30 minutes he realized he didn’t. We flagged down a taxi, luckily a couple of the group speak really good Spanish, and it was agreed we would follow the taxi to the hotel (for $5 USA). We were about 15 minutes from the hotel.

The total cost of the taxi van ride, 286 kilometres from the Colombian/Ecuador border was USA $250, split between 8 people. Considering it had taken most of the day this is really cheap. A number of us also gave him our Colombian Pesos, and we bought him lunch. It would be interesting to know what he made of us, following the dinner truck to get our bags and not cycling etc.

The Plaza International Hotel sounds pretty flash! It is not. It may have been in the early 19 hundreds, but is now pretty run down. Australian Jackie and I shared a room which was very basic – no air conditioning or heating. The shower had missing tiles, and you have to run the water for 10 minutes before it became hot. But there is plenty of hot water, the staff are very friendly, the beds are comfortable – we have one each, and have an ensuite. Plus the hotel does laundry for USD $1 per 1/2 kilo which is pretty cheap. My stack cost $7 which is about NZ $10.50 NZ. Also the prices are cheap – it was USD $43 for 2 for the night.

Hotel plaza international in Quito

Hotel Plaza International

On a Sunday not much is open at night. All 8 of us, plus Ruth (who is the wife of Henry, the TDA owner, and had been here for a few days) set off to find something to eat. We went down to an area that Ruth said was popular with tourists. On the way we got talking to a lady Sabrina from California, who joined us for dinner. Sabrina imports hand made goods from here. We found a nice looking place for dinner. Reasonable looking menu, and as my gastro had settled I decided rather unwisely to have red wine and filet mignon, which was really nice. A few of the riders were heading off to a bar after dinner but I joined the group heading back to the hotel. It was nice to go to bed knowing I did not have to get up at 5am.

View from the road today (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

View from the road today (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

On the way down to camp (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

On the way down to camp (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

More cyclists! (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

More cyclists! (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Small Ecuadorain town (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Small Ecuadorain town (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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

Day 21/164: Prado to Tatacoa – 95km

1,597km down, 12,044km to go – 1,000 meters up, 850 meters down.

We were woken early by the usual resident early rising roosters.

Today we had to first ride a 30 kilometre dirt road, then catch a ferry over the river – where have we heard that before? Thankfully it did not rain during the night, so the dirt road was not a quagmire! It was steep in places, and rocky and slippery though.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

I thought I was the last along the road, and got to the ferry just as it was about to go across. Ray, who was on the ferry, said he had just missed it and had to wait about half an hour for it to return.

The river Magdalena was quite fast flowing, and the ferry used a series of cables strung across the water to get across. When we spoke to the TDA staff on the lunch truck they said when they took the truck across there was a tiny little lady who got to the other side and stood there looking lost. Luiz can speak Spanish so he asked her what she was doing, and it turned out she had to get 15 kilometres up the road so they gave her a lift. She was so tiny they had to lift her up into the truck, as she could not manage the steps.

The ferry (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

The ferry (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Over the other side I stopped for more water and then rode off. It was a bit disconcerting as I had not heard when lunch was. It was really hot riding, the heat was reflecting off the tarmac – 44 degrees, and rolling hills, with barely any shade. It just seem to go on and on, with a bit of a head wind.

I got to 48 kilometres, I had stopped a couple of times in the shade and had stopped again and realised I was almost out of water. It was too hot to go on, and I had no idea where the sweep was, as I still thought I was the last rider. I sat there “thinking I can’t do this”. I had a wee sob and then thought “Well, no water, 44 degrees, best thing is just sit in the shade and wait, eventually the lunch truck will come back”.

About 5 minutes later I saw a riding coming and it was one of the younger guys, John, who gave me some water. John encouraged me to get moving. John was also nearly out of water. We rode about another kilometres and stopped at a house. John, who speaks some Spanish, asked for Aqua, which the family happily gave us from their boiled supply. We offered money but they would not take it. We decided to drink it if we needed to before we came to a drink shop.

About another kilometre later we came to really nice drink stop, with a lovely thatched roof to sit under. Just as we pulled up so did Aussie Jackie. Between us we drank about 10 drinks, plus bought water to refill our bottles. It turns out one of the other riders Rolf had had a tyre problem which took an hour to sort. A couple minutes later Rolf and then Erin the sweep rolled in. We sat under the shade not wanting to leave. A group of locals were there drinking whiskey and were encouraging John to have some.

Erin thought the lunch truck was about another 10 kilometres away. Off we went on one kilometre of asphalt, then off the main road and back onto a rocky, slippery, gravel road. Some school children yelled out cheerfully “Muchio loco” (very mad) – if I had the Spanish to I would have said “Yes I agree!”.

Local school children (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Local school children (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Jackie and I got to lunch to the relief of the crew, who had just packed up the truck to come back to find us (they were in a cell phone dead spot). Then Rolf arrive, but no Erin and John.  Time passed and we started to get concerned then we heard them starting to cross the metal bridge (it had metal plates onto top of each other and when you ride over it makes a noise when you go from plate to plate). It turned out that as Erin got onto the asphalt her seat snapped off its pole, and she had had to ride the last 7 kilometres seatless!

By this time it was 1:30 pm, 44 degrees with 35 kilometres of gravel rocky slippery road, and 550 meters of climbing. I decided to catch the lunch truck to camp. I am pleased I did, as the riders who rode the whole day said the section from lunch was very tough.

The desert was stark but beautiful. There were really large cactus plants, trees and dirt. There were hills with dirt in patterns, and a few cows here and there.

Becoming more desert like (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Becoming more desert like (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Fantastic views in the desert (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Fantastic views in the desert (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Giant cacti (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Giant cacti (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

We are staying at Saturno in the desert. I got to camp and had the usual stuff to do: set up my tent, do some washing, cold shower. I was feeling really itchy so at least the cold shower helped with that. I went to bed quite early and woke up really itchy and feeling dehydrated, so had a rehydration drink and some antihistamine.

The finish flag at camp (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

The finish flag at camp (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

They say that you should love all of God’s creatures, but I think roosters could be an exception. If I was making a list for the ark there would be no roosters. One starts, and then another, and then they have competition for who can go the longest at 2am!

Dinner was chicken, boiled beetroot and rice, and fruit salad.

A tunnel on today's ride (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

A tunnel on today’s ride (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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