Posts Tagged With: Injuries

Day 21: Rest day in Heidelberg (23 June)

I enjoyed lying in, feeling a bit tender after yesterday’s ride, so am very pleased to have a rest day to recover.

At breakfast we were told that Graham is ok, but has a broken bone in his face and will most likely not be able to continue riding. Graham is going to be discharged from hospital later today. Caught up with Yvonne, and she is feeling much better.

After breakfast we looked at getting the hotel to do the laundry, but it really is only an option for people who just want a couple of items done. I worked out to get mine done it would have cost €70! So off we walked to the laundromat. To do both of ours at the laundromat it cost us €18 combined. I always take my iPad and do a bit of of catching up with the blog.

IMG_2913

Rest Day chores

IMG_0025 (1)_edited.jpg

Laundry price list from the hotel

This morning before breakfast, I had a messenger call with my 11 month grandson Jasper, and daughter Tracey. Jasper was very excited to see me, and kept trying to get into the iPad where I was. The day after I get home is Jasper’s first birthday celebration.

Walking through the city I noticed the number of apartments that have trees and shrubs on their balcony.

IMG_2909

Shrubs on apartment balconies

I have also noticed the increased rate of smoking, the cigarettes on display, cigarette advertising, and also there are a number of cigarette machines on the street in the villages and cities. I was a bit surprised as was thinking children could use these, but apparently you have to put ID with proof of age in before you can purchase.

IMG_2910

Street cigarette machine

After doing the laundry we had a drink at an outside cafe with John W, and then decided what do to for lunch. John wanted pasta, and Brett and and I decided on a picnic. We had a lovely lunch with a baguette roll, blue cheese, brie, small cake of dark chocolate, and a Bordeaux wine (we actually wanted a rosé, but there was no chilled wine to be had, so settled on the red). It was very relaxing to just sit and do nothing for awhile. Then back onto catching up with emails and the blog.

At 6 pm we went down to the hotel bar for a beer, while we waited for a couple of Brett’s friends from a previous tour, who we were going out for a meal with. As we were having a beer, Graham turned up looking bruised and battered. Graham has no memory of what happened, but there was no car involved. Graham suspects he hit the curb the wrong way.

He remembers coming to and having two locals helping him up. They asked him if he knew where he was and he said no. They then said “You’re in Germany, doing a bike ride from Athens to Amsterdam” (They got this off his riders plate on his bike), and he said “Don’t be stupid, why would I be doing something like that?”.

Graham is not sure what he will do as he has broken a cheek bone around the sinus, and is not allowed back on a bike for a couple of weeks. While a group of us were talking to Graham, Janice came in and I took a photo of him and her “The concussion twins”.

IMG_2919.JPG

Graham and Janice – the concussion twins

Also in the bar were Tim and Judy, also from Wellington NZ.

Just then Brett’s friends arrived. They met on the Aussie section of 2014 Trans-Oceania. Lydia is originally from Townsville, Queensland but is now living with Joachim in Germany. Joachim is German. Lydia is working as a Librarian and Joachim works in IT. They are both keen marathon runners and triathletes. John W also did this ride, and came for dinner. We went to a really nice Thai place, I didn’t get the name. I had tom yum soup – it was nice and spicy, and green curry which was very nice.

Then back to the hotel to pack and get ready for another 3 day stretch.

Introducing

Janice is from Townsville Queensland and this is her first TDA ride. She is retired, she worked as a student advisor counsellor at the University. Janice’s partner was going to come on the ride, but couldn’t get a health clearance to do it, so is doing the pilgrims work in Spain instead.

Tim and Judy are from Wellington NZ, they have 3 children and a labradoodle and a poodle. This is their second TDA ride. Tim is an actuary and Judy is a mother. They are heading off to Cuba for another two week ride after this trip.

IMG_2920

Tim and Judy

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 16: Garmisch-Partenkichen to Munich

103 k to ride with 409 meters to ride up and 603 meters down

95% of the day was on bike paths. The paths ranged from paved, to rubble through forest, fields along lakes, and towns.

IMG_2799

Bike path along Lake Starnberger

The last 25 km into Munich there were hundreds of bikers. These ranged from mountain bikers, families with babies in seats or carriages attached to the bike, other touring bikers, individual riders of all ages and sizes, and a number of them going really fast.

Along river Isar coming into Munich, there were so many people swimming and picnicking along the banks. About 25 km there was a raft full of people drinking, playing loud music, and even a barbecue on board.

A number of the cyclists were going really fast weaving in and out between other cyclists. It was the first time I have been more concerned I will come to harm from fellow cyclists rather than a car!

Some paths on the way in were steep up or downhill and some were very rocky rocky, and I would get off and walk. One bit you had to ride up over a bump, between a gap in the fence, which other riders seemed to be able to do with no trouble. I of course had to get off and wait for a gap. I commented to John W that I would never make a mountain biker, and one mountain bike rider who had waited for me to come through was laughing and agreed.

We got to Hotel Holiday Inn at 2pm, and the rooms were not ready so Brett, Graham, John and I (later joined by Tony) waited in the bar with a cold beer. This is Tony’s first TDA ride, he is from USA and is an organic farmer and hobby wine maker.

Riders leaving in Munich are Tom and Miriam, Walker, The Sydney Aussies (Tony, Kerry, Robert, Torpe (in the picture from yesterday with Daryl. Torpe is retired, he used to own a kitchen ware and related goods, store his real name is also Robert), Alex and Daryl), and Tony from USA

Interesting I was also somehow on the list as leaving the ride in Munich! I was asked when I wanted to box up my bike! Just as well that was quickly sorted, as otherwise I may have had no accommodation tomorrow night!

We had Dinner at restaurant called Wirtshaus In Der Au. First we had a wheat lager beer called Erich Sattler it was really nice. Then we had a Wine called Cronos red, with the house speciality which was Duck and pork crackling dumplings, sauerkraut, and gravy.

We had a really friendly waitress who had hitchhiked from Invercargill to Auckland, and commented that many friendly NZ males were happy for her to stay over at their places. I’m sure this had nothing to do with the fact she is young and pretty.

IMG_2808.JPG

Waitress at Wirtshaus In Der Au

Two weeks later I am still wearing plasters on two of the bites from the second riding day. I suspect they were sea lice which I reacted badly to, at least I don’t seem to be adding to the list of afflictions.

IMG_2800

A home on the shore of Lake Starnberger

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

Day 15: Innsbruck to Garmisch – Partenkirchen (aka GAP)

64 km of riding, with 815 meters up and 666 meters down

IMG_2768

Today’s ride

My arm and wrist is very painful today, which is most likely because like an idiot I stopped taking anti-inflammatory as I thought I no longer needed to take them. I am back on them now.

The first hour of riding was along flat bike paths, and we rode 21 km. The next 20 km took two and a half hours! This was spent pushing the bike up 17% gradients with slippery gravel, riding when able to and and pushing my bike down hill, with rockslides, gravel and some steep gradients.

IMG_2771

Pettnau, Austria

At some point we crossed into Germany, some of the other riders said it was when we went through a field full of cows with bells.  https://www.facebook.com/tdaglobalcycling/videos/10154728790261314/?pnref=story

IMG_2776

Tidy farmhouses in Krün, Germany

There are lots of other cyclists going both ways on the bike trails, some are friendly, some look like they are having a horrid time, and some ride two abreast and only swerve at the last minute back into single file, which is a bit nerve wracking.

The last 15 km on was mostly tar seal, so despite the 2 1/2 hours to do the 20 km we arrived at the hotel at just after one pm, to find the rooms were not ready. We got changed and walked into the city centre to catch up two of the riders, Daryl and Alex, at an Irish Bar. The Irish bar had the most amazing view of the Dolomites.

img_2783.jpg

At Garmisch- Partenkirchen – view of the Dolomites in the background

When we arrived the TV was on, playing the NZ national anthem then the Maori All Blacks did a Haka. It was quite nice hearing and seeing it over the other side of the world.

IMG_2780.JPG

Maori All Blacks on the TV at an Irish Bar

I had a lager and Brett had a Guinness and got given a bag of Guinness chips (or chippies as we call them), they were seriously delicious.

Daryl is one of the Aussie 6 from Sydney, and had been here a couple of weeks before the ride doing training. Daryl does ultra marathons where it goes over three days. Day one swim in the ocean 10 km and bike 150 km, day two bike 240 km, day three run 84 k (2 full marathons). Daryl is in his late 60s and the last one of these he did was last year, and he currently holds the record for his age group. This explains his incredulous look when he saw me sitting outside the hotel when he arrived. “Take the truck did you?” he asked, and when I said no he wanted know where I had passed him (the Aussie group stopped for coffee at the top of the second 20 k). Daryl is retired but was a stock broker.

Alex is also one of the Aussies group from Sydney, he is the oldest in the group at 74 but is a very strong rider, and often leads the Aussie peloton. Alex is also retired and had a career in some sort of advertising.

IMG_2731 (1)

Alex and Anthony

On the way back through town we stopped at a Chocolaterie called Amelie, it was amazing – so many different types of chocolate, and so many tasting platters! Yum!

IMG_2794

Chocolaterie Amelie

IMG_2788.JPG

Chocolaterie Amelie

Back to the hotel for a shower, and then we went to dinner where we had the most unfriendly waitress ever, and she stayed consistently unhelpful and unfriendly for the evening.

 

Initially I was sitting with Jeff and Dianne, Robert, Graham and Brett. However it was so noisy, and there was quite a long wait so Dianne and Jeff left to eat elsewhere. Robert is one of the Aussie 6, and I never got round to getting a photo of him. He is a psychiatrist who works both in private and public in Sydney.

Dinner was a nice tomato soup, followed by mushy vegetables and tough chicken, with lovely mushroom sauce, and fried potato medallions. Dessert was fresh fruit and sorbet, all served with a frowning, unfriendly waitress. The waitress asked where Jeff and Dianne had gone, and I said they were having problems with the noise and hearing. Her response was “People with hearing problems shouldn’t travel in groups”.

IMG_6743.JPG

Jeff and Dianne, with Miriam (in high vis)

Tomorrow we get into Munich, the end of this stage. A number of riders finish here, including Anthony the cardiologist and his wife Kerrie who is a maternity nurse, who provided assistance when I had the tachycardia the first day riding. I had been planning to get them a bottle of wine all trip and finally did so today. I gave up trying to explain to the wine waiter that I was buying it for another table, as I wasn’t getting anywhere, so just ordered it and when it arrived I took it over to them.

IMG_2729 (1).jpg

Kerrie (left), and Torpie and Darryl (in blue shirt)

We are staying at Mercure Hotel.

IMG_2772.JPG

Editor’s caption: I received no caption for this photo. Nor is there any mention of it in this blog entry. However, I am doing my due diligence and including it here for your enjoyment. 

 

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

Day 14: Rest day in Innsbruck (16 June)

It was nice to wake up today and not have to pull on the Lycra and head off on the bike. The biggest challenge today was trying to work out amongst the many selections which was black tea.

My arm and wrist was very sore when I woke up this morning, but I think this is most likely because of all the braking, especially on the downhill yesterday.

After breakfast the first job was laundry, followed by the continuing hunt for conditioner. On the way to the laundry we went past a shop selling shampoo etc so stopped in there on the way back. Success! I now have conditioner called Pfledge -Spulung, moisturiser, more sunscreen, plasters and a new toothbrush 👍.

IMG_2747.JPG

Golden Roof

Back to the hotel for a couple of hours to catch up on emails, blog and the news, then we went for a wander around before lunch in the old town.

IMG_2761.JPG

Inns River and Old Town

There were a number of street performers, a lady all dressed in silver with her dog with a hat and a plaster on his paw. Real or not, it evoked sympathy and cash, followed by the Headless man and Charlie Chapman.

1.jpg

The Silver Lady

IMG_2743.JPG

With the Headless Man and Charlie Chapman

2.JPG

Where’s the Silver Lady gone?!

There were a number of stores selling souvenirs, but nothing of enough interest to try and fit in my bag for the next three weeks.

We had lunch at a restaurant called the Golden Adler.  I had fish fettuccine which was with a fish called Bio Char. It was nice, not creamy like the fettuccine I am used to though. Brett had braised leg of lamb with cremolata, garlic sauce, polenta and vegetables.  We had a bottle of red wine: Kaiser Josef Blauer Zweigeit classic 2015 winery Philip Grass from the lower Austria region. This is the most common red wine grape in Austria.

IMG_2752

Lunch at Golden Adler

While we were eating a nun with twins turned up and settled them both into high chairs. One of the twin boys was very friendly, and kept engaging me in smiling and chatting. The mum said they were 12 months old but were born 12 weeks early. One of the boys was smaller at birth and is still smaller, he was not as friendly but I did get him smiling a few times with peek a boo, hiding my face behind a serviette. I felt quite honoured when the mum asked if she could leave the friendly twin with me while she took the other one off to change him.

IMG_2754.JPG

Gran “baby sitting” while mum changes other twin.

At the back of the restaurant outside the hotel, there was a wall list of names going back to the 1494 Kaifeng Maximilian the first century, two of note: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 1773 and Albert Chamus who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1952.

IMG_2755

The wall

After lunch we wandered around for a bit more, and saw a pretty pink bike with flowers and a basket – I thought if my daughter Kelly rode a bike, I think it would look like this. Then it was back to the hotel for a nap and a couple of messenger calls with two of my children Kelly (blog editor) and Tracey.

IMG_2763

Found a bike for Kelly 🙂

We caught up with Janice (who had fallen off her bike yesterday) and she had been and had a CT scan, and thankfully nothing ominous was found.

We had dinner at a restaurant called Ottoburg. It was really nice being able to sit outside and eat without having to worry about the gusts of Wellington wind. I had a really nice rack of lamb for dinner.

Afterwards it was back to the hotel to pack, and get ready for tomorrow.

IMG_2766.JPG

Central Plazas

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

Day 6: Sibenik to Pag Island

126 km – 1,200 meters climbing and descent

Today the first half was pretty easy riding, ups and downs along the coast, and reasonably cool. My legs were still feeling the benefit of the rest day in Split.

I drink about a bottle of water an hour which seems more than anyone else, which means having to stop and buy water a couple of times a day. So I decided if I am paying for water I may as well have sparkling. Interesting fact: the gas in the sparkling water and the motion of riding doesn’t work so well. No matter how tight your bottles are screwed shut, the gas builds up and pushes through the spout, and sprays your legs at regular intervals with trickles of water.

There are many beautiful coves with beautiful clear water, sandy beaches, boats at the shore, certainly this is a country to put on the list to come back to. The country is very clean, especially the hotels and the shops.

Lunch was at 65 km, then next 5 km was along the coast. We crossed a big bridge onto PAG Island. After this we spent about 20 km in the country side, with lots of long hot steady climbs. The country side is very much like Spain, lots of rock walls and olive trees, and hot.

IMG_2513

PAG Island Bridge

Then there was a three km down hill, which was followed by 26 km of what seemed like endless long clinbs and descents in the beating sun.

The landscape was very rocky, dry and barren. I am finding the bumps in the road hard on my arm, and my right foot felt like someone had shoved a knife into it. When the lunch truck came past 15 km before the end the temptation was great, but I resisted.

IMG_2514

Dry rocky lunar landscape

Finally we came to the township of Pag, there was a choice of left or right. The left was a steep long climb and the right was a short climb. Yay the flags showed go to the right!

Finally got to the hotel, a lovely place set right by the beach, called Hotel Frane.

IMG_2526.JPG

Hotel Frane

As soon as I got my gear up to the room, I was off to the beach for a swim. Amazing how different I felt after a swim and a shower. The room has a nice balcony which was great to dry the togs and air the riding shoes out.

IMG_2517.JPG

Room balcony at Hotel Frane

I am still having some problems with the bites from a previous swim in the ocean, and have to keep two of them covered, but whilst yucky they don’t look infected.

I look a bit like a crazy woman, I still have not been able to find any conditioner so my hair is all over the place, and despite putting sunscreen on frequently, my face is red.

Dinner was Chicken noodle soup and bread followed by an amazing platter with seabass, potatoes and veges, accompanied by fried squid rings, and octopus and rice. This was washed down with cold water as today was one of the two alcohol free days for the week. Dessert was a sticky cake thing, it looked nice but I was too full to eat.

IMG_2518.JPG

After a long hot 127km day – dinner for a starving cyclist

Tomorrow we have to catch 3 ferries.

 

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Day 5: Split to Sibenik

88km, 800 meters climbing and 800 meters descent, with no hill more than 80 meters in total

Not sure how it will go with riding, my arm feels better today than yesterday but is still very sore. I took 2 Panafon and an anti inflammatory, and headed down for breakfast.

Breakfasts generally consist of some sweet cereal, even if it’s rolled oats it’s full of little chocolate bits, so I stay away from it. Generally scrambled eggs or omelette , yoghurt, and a range of cake, meat, fruit, cheese, and bread and rolls, some days a toaster and juice. I generally have a yoghurt and toast if there is a toaster, or bread and cheese if there isn’t. Black tea is hard to locate, but thankfully I have a box so I bring a couple of bags with me each morning.

After breakfast we had to bring the bikes down the stairs from the 3rd floor which was a bit of a challenge with my arm, I had to carry the bike on the other side and stop after each flight.

At 8am we left in a convoy, only a 7km one today. Getting on and off my bike is difficult but possible, and I can use my brakes. My arm is uncomfortable – 4/10 on the pain scale but compared to sitting in a truck most of the day it is doable.

Riding along, having trouble getting on and off the bike and braking, I was thinking about my friend Wendy who had a very nasty accident a couple of years ago, which has left her with very limited use of her right hand – I had a small insight into her world.

IMG_2497.JPG

A town called Marina

Thankfully the riding today is easy, fresh legs, and no big hills. Before I know it we are at lunch. Beautiful spot for lunch, jaw dropping view, amazing harbours, clear blue water, sandy beaches. Every turn is more beautiful.

 

IMG_2500.JPG

Lunch stop

I found it a bit difficult going through the towns with the traffic lights, having to get on and off my bike, and the last few km had a couple of climbs but then a descent to the hotel along another promenade. We stayed at the Hotel Jadran, not as flash as the one in Split but pretty nice. The hotel is very dated, another place that would have been grand in its day. The carpet is worn but the room is small, clean, and comfortable.

There is quite a lot of noise outside which turns out be a basketball tournament which goes on until about midnight.

Before dinner we walked up and down the promenade looking at the boats and ships. They are all in beautiful order. They range from small to charter boats to ships.

IMG_2507

Sibenik Waterfront

Tonight I had dinner with Brett and John and Walker, both who rode with us on the Trans-Europa. John rode from St Petersburg to Barcelona, and Walker and his wife Carol joined us in Venice and rode to Lisbon.

Dinner was a vegetable soup, over cooked fish / over cooked chicken / mushed vegetables and cold chips, and a really nice lemon and strawberry ice cream.
Plus we shared a couple of bottles of chilled red wine, can’t remember the type.

 

I went to sleep with the loud music blasting.

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

Day 4: Rest day in Split

I slept off and on, there was a full-on party on the promenade most of the night. When this fizzled out the street cleaners took over.

My arm is pretty sore, it’s not too bad holding it straight, but as soon as I try to rotate it, ouch! Luckily this trip has a number of doctors: there are 3 ED doctors Kathy, John H, and Peter M, plus Tony the cardiologist. So when I went down to breakfast I pretty much picked the first doctor I saw, which was Peter M, and got a consult. Sure beats spending hours waiting around at medical clinics.

The consensus of Peter and John was there is no break at the wrist, and possibly a small crack in the radial head (which wouldn’t be plastered anyway) and badly sprained. Approx time to come right is about 10 days. Riding won’t make it any worse, and whether I can ride will depend how sore it is. Thankfully today is a rest day as I don’t think I would be able to ride with it today. Fingers crossed it is improved tomorrow.

Breakfast was an experience trying to do everything with my left hand. Amazing how difficult it is to use a spoon or butter toast with your non-dominant hand.

After breakfast Brett and I headed off to get the laundry, and then to a small supermarket. I have been trying to get some hair conditioner since I got to Bosnia but neither country appears to sell it. My hair is looking seriously messy! Back at the hotel I spent some time catching up with the blog (thankfully typing doesn’t require me to rotate my arm).

Then off to explore, we looked around for a while and then we went to a place called Chop for lunch. I chose the Angus Beef Burger and had major food envy as Brett chose Lamb chops and they looked amazing. Luckily Brett gave me one of the chops. Have a look at the photo, you will see what I mean. We had a very nice red Korlat Syrah.

IMG_2434

Next we went for a walk around in the old town, very interesting, lots of small alleys with the buildings very close together. Just about every alley had a few tables with sometimes the restaurants just inside, and sometimes a couple of streets away. You would see waiters weaving their way through the streets with food or empty plate.

IMG_2436.JPG

Old town

A huge underground shopping area, plus in the Diocletian’s palace in the vestibule were Dalmatian singers, stopping in between each song to hawk off their CD.

IMG_2478

IMG_2444.JPG

The Vestibule at southern end of the Peristil

I bought some sandals with slip resistant soles (something I should have done before I left NZ). I also bought a couple of presents for the grand babies, a plug, and could not resist a quick visit into the lolly shop.

IMG_2443.JPG

Cathedral tower rising above the Peristil

After this we went back out onto the promenade and a pirate looking ship caught my eye. My granddaughter Lucy likes dressing up as a pirate, and pirate stories, so I decided to have a look at the ship and take a photo. When we got up to it we were asked if we wanted to go on an hour and half cruise. We asked when it was sailing and “Now” was the response, so we hopped on board.

IMG_2475.JPG

We headed out along the coast for about 35 minutes, it was really nice being in the sun and the breeze. Then they stopped and said anyone who wants to go swimming now is your chance. I had no togs (or swimmers as they are called in Aussie) but with the beating sun and inviting looking clear blue water, it was an easy choice: off with the sunnies, hat, and shoes, and over the side.

img_2463.jpg

It was amazing warm water, we spent about 15 minutes swimming. It was a bit of mission to get back in the boat, as I had to go up a ladder which started at the water line. This required hauling up my body weight, but not being able to use one arm. Thankfully Brett went up first and gave me a helpful pull.

IMG_2465

IMG_2470

Heading back to the waterfront

Once we got back to shore we wandered around the old city some more. Whilst walking up on alley we noticed a sign “wine tasting”, so we stopped at Diocletian’s Wine House to try 3 Croatian wines.

IMG_2490.JPG
First was a white Kujundzusa, unfortunately I can’t make out the rest of the name on the photo. We tasted this with shrimp and feta
Second was a red Dingac Nikolica, we tasted this with prosciutto and cheese
Third was also a red, Bedalov Zinfandel. We tasted this with cheese and honey.

IMG_2488.JPG

 

This grape wine Zinfandel got a disease and was dying out in Croatia, there were only 25 vines left. Some of the wine makers took some of the surviving plants to other countries so the type of vine would have a chance to survive. 20 years ago the vine was bought successfully back from America and now this wine is made again Croatia.

While we were there, we asked about the sign that said they prepared traditional Dalmatian food. They prepare a dish called Peka, which is a famous Dalmatian dish prepared with meat or octopus and vegetables. The ingredients are placed in a covered pan and cooked in the embers of the fire. This type of cooking is often referred to as cripnja (under the bell) as the pans often have a bell shaped lid. As this is the only rest day in Croatia we booked in for this at 8pm.

We wandered around a bit more, then back to the hotel to tidy up and get ready for the next day.

At 8 pm on the dot we arrived back at Diocletian’s restaurant, ready for a new food experience. The Peka was good, it was very rich as the liquid content had reduced due to the long slow cooking. I thought it was just over onto the slight overdone side, but still enjoyed it. This was followed by a panna cotta with berries, also very nice but much thicker / denser than any panna cotta I have had before.

Then it was time to return to the hotel, another day riding tomorrow. Pretty noisy outside, but am pretty tired after last night so hopefully will sleep ok.

IMG_2492.JPG

Diocletian’s Palace

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

Day 41/164: Yantzaza to Loja – 104km

2,732 up and 1,537 down . 104 k

I enjoyed getting up and not having to get dressed in the tent.

Out of the past 6 riding days I have ridden 3 full days, but today I decided with a 2,732 metre climb that I was only going to ride to lunch, which was about 60 kilometres. The first 40 kilometres were rolling hills. I was pushing myself to go as fast as I could. Two riders, Jos and Jason, who are faster than me came past and I decided I was going to stay with them till 25 kilometres. A few times they got away on me, but I managed to catch up each time.

At 25.7 kilometres I let them go, caught my breath, had a drink and carried on. At 40 kilometres we started to climb. When I got to lunch I decided I had done enough and was going to stick with my plan to stop there. I am really pleased I did, as the climb went on for another 28 kilometres. It was steep, it got overcast, then it got misty, then it poured. A couple of the riders flagged down a ute for lift. Others arrived at the hotel wet and cold. A number of the riders were chased by aggressive dogs. One was bitten, and one had her saddle bag attacked!

On the road this morning (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

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

There were some treacherous bits on the downhill, and one bit where the road dropped at one point about a foot. Sadly one of the riders – Phil from NZ – came off his bike here at speed. Thankfully one of the other riders was just behind him and made sure Phil was not moved, and organized the ambulance and contacted TDA staff etc. Phil has facial fractures and some swelling on the brain, and had to have burr holes (small drill holes into his skull) to relieve the pressure.

Phil’s condition was listed as serious but stable. Thankfully Loja, the town we were going to, was only about 10 kilometres away and has a pretty good hospital with a neurosurgeon etc. As you would expect, we were all pretty shocked and subdued, but relieved that it looked pretty definite that Phil will make a full recovery. However we are thinking that sadly it is unlikely that he be re-joining us on this tour. Phil is well liked and well known for wearing brightly coloured bike clothing, including stripy socks and a hats. Just this morning we had had photo taken as we were both wearing our NZ riding tops (Editor’s note: unfortunately the photos were of terrible quality due to “it being misty”, but luckily I managed to at least get a pic of Phil from Sue’s blog).

Picture of me and Phil in our NZ riding tops.

Picture of me and Phil in our NZ riding tops

Phil modelling a new outfit today (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Phil modelling a new outfit today (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

In the town where we are staying, it is the night of the annual religious pilgrimage where locals walk 70 kilometres carrying a statue of the Virgin Mary. This pilgrimage has gone on for over two centuries. When they get here they will gather in the Centre Plaza to have speeches, fireworks and other celebrations, and a church service tomorrow.

The first thing when I got to the hotel was to find my daily bag which had been unloaded from the truck but was missing in action. Luckily I located it. For some reason the hotel staff had put my bag and 3 other riders bags separately in a different space – they must not have realised how many bags were being off loaded and when they realised they would not all fit in the original space they put the others somewhere else.

Next step was a shower and to get my laundry sorted, and then a snack and a beer. The laundry place a couple of blocks away is much cheaper than the hotel, and assured us our laundry would be back tomorrow.

The hotel we are staying at is called The Howard Johnson Hotel, which is part of a chain internationally, but is not one that is in NZ. It’s very nice, but the service is patchy, although friendly. We have a rest day tomorrow 😀

Heading off to have dinner with Sue and Jackie (Oz), we realised when we tried to get a taxi that they were all full of locals heading off to the square for the festivities. We did manage to flag one down eventually and went in search of a restaurant that served wine. A lot of the smaller places just serve food. We all had fillet mignon which was nice but I did not manage to convey “rare” successfully. The desert menu looked tempting but it turned out all but one of the deserts were not available.

We caught a taxi back to the hotel and had desert in the hotel restaurant. They served the most amazingly delicious chocolate soufflé . Then off to bed, with no further news re Phil.

Tomorrow the plan is to have a look around the town, and buy more riding glasses. I lost a pair a few days ago, and the next day broke my spare pair.

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

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

A local tourist spot on the road today (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

A local tourist spot on the road today (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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

Day 22: Warsaw to Smardzewice – 145k

1,912km down: 4,313km to go.

We set off at 7am to avoid the traffic out of Warsaw, it also helped that it was a Sunday. The biggest hazard on the road on the early part of the day was people going to church, walking three across along the road. 98% of the population are Roman Catholic and there are a lot of churches so lots of opportunity for meandering church goers. I was riding initially with Shirley and John, as Daphne was still not well. It was really, really hot today even when we got out of the hotel at 7am. We stopped for a drink after a couple of hours and I bought a bottle of cold water and tipped it over my head! Lunch was at 75k, another bottle of water over the head. It was so hot that I did not really want to eat but had a sandwich, but did not make a takeaway one (silly me).

After lunch it was hotter, and uphill. My bike was sounding so loud people were turning around to look! I had chatted with Ciran who looks after the bikes (during day he alternates the lunch truck with riding sweep) and he said it was not doing any damage. It seemed a really, really, really, really, long way today, I was really pleased to get to camp! I will have to get used to riding in the heat as it is just going to get hotter and hotter as we head south. It was so hot today that I have a heat rash on the front of my legs, at least that’s what I figure it is as it is not itchy, but I covered it in chamois cream after the shower as well.

Everyone else is tenting tonight, but Walli and I have got a room – at a cost of $15 NZ. I want to give the bug bites a good chance to heal before taking on new ones. Also because of the heat we are leaving at 7am again tomorrow, so it is much easier to get dressed and apply the many lotions in a room, and not have to pack up the tent etc.

Miles has rejoined us and his arm looks much better, it is nearly healed. Danya and Yarn had a great time in Warsaw with Yarn’s relatives. Danya can only speak about 10 Polish words. The Grandad came to our hotel a couple of times and seemed a very nice man. Danya said she was amazed at his energy and he nearly walked them off their feet yesterday. She thought he maybe taking it easy today but no he had a full itinerary planned once he said goodbye to them at the hotel (he came this morning about 6:30am to see them off). Danya’s injuries are healing well. Talking about injuries, I managed to get my daily accident over and done with before 6:30am today by walking the wrong way into the revolving door at the hotel.

Ciran has now fixed my bike, so it should be easier to ride and a lot more peaceful tomorrow. We have bike shop at 4:30pm every day and we are meant to help work on our bikes however when I offered to help Ciran said it would be easier for him to do it by himself and told me to go and have a rest. I’m sure that this was not influenced at all by me having taken my speedometer to him for the first 10 days every morning for him to set. I don’t know what I was doing wrong but it just would not set for me. I don’t have this problem with my one on my other bike. He had to turn it off and restart it each time. I have it sorted now! It could also have been influenced by my question “What is the bottom bracket?” when I was told it was loose.

Anyway I got to have a shower, do my washing and sort stuff while my bike was being fixed. I bought him beer and we were both happy. Not only did my bike have a problem with the bottom bracket, but also the head set and the front hub! Must be all the dirt and bone shaking roads we have been on.

Categories: Cycling trip | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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.

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