Posts Tagged With: Lunch truck

Day 2: Dundalk to Belfast – 95km

Today we had a 95.3km to ride, with another rest day at the end to look forward to.

To start the ride was busy but then we got out into the country which was beautiful. Coming through a town we nearly missed the turn as we were busy looking at a big Cathedral. It was nice to turn off out off the traffic.


There was meant to be 800 meters in climbing but was actually over 1,100 by the end of the day. Some of the climbs seemed to go on and on.

At one stage we had a big downhill and unfortunately missed a left hand turn, one of the other riders spotted us going the wrong way and took off after us which was very nice of him. Bruce is from USA, he and his wife Becky did the South American ride last year, will be interesting to catch up with them and share stories.

We had a border collie following the riders energetically for about 10 km, he didn’t stay with me as I was too slow for him. Every now and then I would see him as he came back from a farm driveway where I think he gone to get a drink of water. At the 10 k mark he stopped and turned for home. I wonder how many times a day he does this stretch. From memory they are the dogs who need the most exercise.

The lunch truck had stopped at a lovely spot by a river and I was reluctant to leave. As always the first couple of kilometers were hard to get the legs moving again. Not helped by quite a steep climb to start.


We had a nice path from about 10 kilometers from the town and arrived at The Hotel Ramada Encore about 5pm.



We met Michele and Tony at 6pm and headed of for beer and food. First stop the Duke of York Hotel where we chatted with Dean from California and Joe from Canada. We then went to the Northam Whig restaurant for dinner which was very nice, found out later it was a 4 star. I had a very nice steak.


We could all feel the days ride catching up so after dinner back to the hotel.



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

Day 11: Maniago to Cortina d’amezzo

The whiteboard said 120 km, with 2600 meters up and 1100 meters down. I was not sure what the gradient was going to be and was a bit daunted as we set off from the hotel.

We pretty much started climbing straight away, with some sections not so steep. At about 15 km I realised I must not have done the top on one of my water bottles up properly as I have lost it. Hopefully we will pass a shop so I can refill the bottle I have.

We seemed to go up and up and up and up, some tough gradient. At about 30 km we had some very pretty lakes and not much of a gradient for awhile, but then the climb began again. We had a couple of small tunnels, so it was nice and cool inside. At an average speed of approx ten km/hr this was going to be a long day.


Old rail trail

We passed through a number of villages, and all the houses had impressive stock piles of wood ready for next winter.

At 52 km we went through quite a long tunnel, but it had gaps on the side and way below it was a very pretty town. We had a fantastic 10 km downhill to the town, then climbed up to turn and leave the main road, to go along a side road along the river to the lunch stop.


Big climb Day. Check out Kaye’s eyes “WTF have you got for me around the corner you bastard hill?”

At 1:30 pm, after 5 and a half hours riding, I got to lunch. By this stage I had climbed 1,330 meters with only 68.5 km ridden. At this stage, looking at my riding speed I wouldn’t get to the finish until 8 pm. Taking into account my cold and my sore arm, we decided Brett would ride ahead and I would take the truck.

The only problem with that idea, is that on this trip there is a lack of infrastructure and the truck can only take 4 riders – and 6 riders wanted a ride. We tried to order a taxi, not but not surprisingly a driver from Cortina (60 km away) was not keen to come to pick up people from a ‘river’, with not great directions and language barrier.

The next option was to get the dinner truck (the one that goes straight to the hotel and flags the route to come back) which meant a couple of hours wait. Then this wait would be even longer as Gergo, who was driving the dinner truck, had to go and pick up Tony who had come off his bike. We were not clear about why he couldn’t then continue to come and get two of us. So then we had a bit of a standoff: none of the 6 of us now want to start riding, as another hour has past and we will be looking at arriving at 9pm instead of 8pm.

Without any other solution apart from two of us riding, and not wanting to be involved in deciding who that will be, I asked John W if he is prepared to hitch hike with me.

John W and I set off taking our helmets (but not our bikes as they can go on the rack on the back of the truck) with us to hitchhike. To start we had to walk back the 3 km to where we left the main road – while wearing our cycling shoes.

Luckily once we got there the 12th car stopped for us. The male driver was Italian and spoke no English, he wasn’t going as far as Cortina but agreed to give us a lift to where he was going. He wanted to know where our bikes were, but with the language barrier we were not able to explain.  We did manage to convey that we had accommodation in Cortina, and John knew how to say it was a beautiful country.

We thought at least if we get to a town we will be better off. Well bless this man, there may have been a language barrier but he took us into the middle of a town about 20 km from where he had picked us up, and dropped us off at a bus stop. We offered him money but he wouldn’t take any.

So there we are at the bus stop trying unsuccessfully to read the bus timetable in Italian, when a bus turned up.
We asked the driver “do you go to Cortina?”
“No” he said “3 minutes”, then got out of his bus, locked it, and went across the road!
So then John and I are wondering does he mean he drives the bus to Cortina but not for 3 minutes?
Well exactly 3 minutes later the bus to Cortina arrived! To say we were happy would be an understatement! The bus took us to Cortina and dropped us off in the centre of town at the bus stop. Then we just had to find the hotel! Would you believe, right there in front of us: orange flagging  tape! Which we followed the 2.5 km to the hotel.

We arrived at the hotel at exactly the same time as a Brett, who had of course made excellent time not having to wait for me.

Tony, the rider who came off his bike, was unharmed but broke the hanger for the derailer and had no spare! Luckily the bike shop in Cortina, whilst not having the correct one for his bike, managed to fashion one to fit.

On arriving at the hotel I immediately had a cold beer with John W, Brett and Walker (all four of us did the Trans Europa in 2012).


Safe arrival beers: 2 riders, 2 hitch hikers!!!

Afterwards, I had dinner with John, Walker, Brett and Graham. We had pasta with tomato sauce, Chicken schnitzel  (nasty and dry), Strudel and ice cream, and Red wine called Pinot Nero

The Hotel we are staying at is called Menardi Hotel.


View from the balcony

Walker and his Wife Carol – both retired
Walker and Carol did the 2nd half of the 2012 TransEuropa
They are from USA. Walker was an investment banker and Carol a music teacher. Carol is on a singing tour (she is in a choir) of the UK, whilst Walker is doing the ride. They have 3 children and 2 grandchildren, no cats or dogs.

John W and Marilyn (doesn’t ride), they have 2 sons, no pets
John is an almost retired university professor from Vancouver, he still does some consulting. This is his 4th TDA ride.



1956 Olympic ski run

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

Day 1: Sarajevo to Mostar – 132km

132 km today: 1,100 up and 1,500 down.

I was very relieved when I woke up to find out that it was 1,100 metres climbing, not 2,000 meters.


Today’s whiteboard (Editor’s note: Just casually a mention of landmines!! Kaye neglected to mention that part) 

To start it was a convoy for the first 15 km out of town. We rode right along Snipers Alley almost all the way to the airport. It was quite sobering to think that just over 20 years ago there were snipers targeting this area.

In the morning it was quite cool, but by 10 am it was sweltering. I had not done enough training, but two weeks before I left I had comfortably climbed Makara Hill at home, which is over 2 km with a reasonable gradient. So 30 km into the ride I was surprised to find I was struggling to get up a 4% gradient. First off I thought I must be dehydrated so I drank more water. Then I had to get off a couple of times.

Finally I got to the top and started down quite a steep decline. Halfway down I stopped to let my rims cool down (rims can get hot enough to pop your tyre with rim brakes). At this stage I became aware of my heart rate being unusually fast. The next 20 km to lunch was pretty much all downhill so I decided to keep going to lunch.

After sitting for about 10 minutes at lunch I took my pulse, it was 140 with some ectopic (extra) beats (a normal heart rate is 60 – 100). One of the other riders Kerry is a nurse so I asked her to check my pulse, she was concerned, then it turns out her husband Antony is a cardiologist, so she got him to check too.  He said my pulse wasn’t usual, but hopefully would correct itself, but no riding until my pulse was normal. So on day one (!!!) it was into the lunch truck for me.


Overlooking the dam at Ostrozac before lunch

The ride after lunch was pretty scenic, stunning green lake and pancake mountains, but also contained a number of the numerous tunnels in this and the first section of the ride,  some short, some long, some well lit, and some in total darkness. The worst one today was 600 meters unlit with the road surface uneven.  To add to this, the traffic was heavy and there was very little shoulder.


Afternoon along the gorge, more tunnels and river reflections

The Bosnian war also affected Mostar. Mostar is a world heritage site because of the 15 and 16 century architecture. Of most note the Mostar bridge, which was once the biggest man-made arch in the world. This bridge and many other buildings were destroyed in the conflict, but the Mostar bridge has been completely rebuilt. Link:


Photo credit:

I am still not used to the novelty of all hotels. No tent to put when you arrive in camp, plus all the dinners are in a restaurant.

My room is tiny, just enough space for a bed and a couple of bags, but it has an ensuite, you can stand up inside it, and it doesn’t have to be packed up in the morning! Antony checked my pulse again when I arrived, it was down to 90 so heading in the right direction.

Dinner was at 7 in the restaurant. It started with a salad, then a chicken and noodle soup, followed by a meat platter with potato. Plus a dessert that I didn’t eat, which was a date pudding smothered in honey, it looked nice but I was full.

Strictly water for dinner tonight for me: no alcohol, coffee, or tea, or any other stimulant. I’m thinking it was possibly the really strong cup of coffee I had this morning that was the culprit for my increased heart rate.

Off to bed and asleep by 9. I slept really well until 6 am, so am getting adjusted to the time change.

Addition to day:
My pulse was back to a normal resting 60 beats a minute when I woke up, and I rode all day without a problem. I plan stay away from really strong coffee in future.


Sarajevo Cathedral of Jesus’ Sacred Heart (Editor’s note: I think this was supposed to go with yesterday’s post. My bad).

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

Day 77/164: San Pedro to Ayariri – 124km

Climbing 1,300 meters – down 1,400.

I coughed quite a lot during the night so in the morning I added myself to the list of riders going in the lunch truck. My lip is still a problem and am covering it with lip sun protection. A number of the riders are the same. Gastro is making its way through the camp again so a number of the riders on the truck are on it for this. Sue is still unwell and does not expect to be riding again until after the next rest day.

It was quite cold in the morning but not as cold as it gets here. The cattle are put in the barn overnight so I suspect it gets well below freezing.

Waiting for the lunch bus this morning (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Waiting for the lunch bus this morning (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Beautiful sunrise this morning (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Beautiful sunrise this morning (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

For the past two weeks the Peruvians have been wearing traditional dress. The woman wear like a bowler hat, a long hooped skirt, and a jacket and blouse. They carry stuff on their back in a brightly striped blanket. This includes babies, clothes, sticks etc.

A couple in their traditional dress

Traditional Peruvian dress


The cloth back packs are amazing – they expand (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Photo shoot with a local

Photo shoot with a local at lunch (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

The lunch truck stopped at 65 kilometres, so I only had about 58 kilometres to ride. After helping set up for lunch I set off about 9:30am. It was mostly a slight up gradient with a bit of a head wind. I took my time and got to the hotel about 2pm. We are staying at Hotel Lumansa.

Preparing lunch (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Preparing lunch (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Puno - TDA

Curious rosy-cheeked kids join us at lunch (Photo and caption credit: TDA Global Cycling Facebook page)

It was nice to have a bed, toilet, and a shower. Some of the other rooms only had a toilet (and of course a bed). I had a look around the town, it had an amazing old church. That night in the town square there was a parade with a band and marching girls, small children dancing, etc.

The Church in Ayaviri

The Church in Ayaviri

Dinner was spag bol with fresh salad again and garlic bread (April is becoming quite popular as the chef).

April the new chef is here with us for a month( Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

April the new chef is here with us for a month (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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

Day 52/164: Pacasmayo to Huanchaco – 112km

680 meters up, 700 down

The hotel had got really well organized for breakfast, when I got down there it was all set up with rolls and fruit and plates on the table, and a buffet arrangement with eggs and cheese and meat at one end of the restaurant, and coffee on a table at the other end.

I set off about 6:30 feeling well rested with legs that were almost feeling fresh. I got to about 12 kilometres and started to get really bad stomach cramps, and a few kilometres later had to jump off my bike and was sick.

I also had a quick trip later into a sugar cane plantation later. I was pleased that the meal the night before had been so meagre. I felt much better after I had been sick, but I was not enjoying battling the headwind. I got passed by a peloton at about 20 kilometres and jumped on the back.

I stayed with it until lunch (about another 40 kilometres). It’s unbelievable how much less work it is to cover the same distance, but you don’t get to see much of the scenery as you have to be constantly watching the rider in front so that you don’t run into their wheel.

I left the peloton at lunch and set off feeling ok. Up until lunch we had been on a busy highway and going through desert type surroundings, sand hills, sand dunes and wind. Just before lunch we turned off the main road and then went along a much quieter road through sugar cane fields.

After lunch it was much of the same but at 85 kilometres my chain and pedals lost all traction, my chain was just spinning, as my freewheel or free hub had broken. I had never heard of this part before and it was not on the list of parts we needed to bring (as it is unusual for it to go, but I found out later mine is the third this trip and we are only in week 8).

So faced with a choice of sitting in the hot sun on the side of the road and being bug lunch or continue walking, I kept walking. I came to 95 kilometres which was the start of the 20 kilometre dirt road along the beach, and for some reason I just felt uneasy going to a deserted spot where I could not ride off quickly, so I decided to wait there for the lunch truck. I covered myself in bug spray, apart from the tops of my hands where of course I was bitten.

The lunch truck came past and stopped with the thumbs down signal from me 😦 I had said to Luiz at lunch no more lunch truck for me for the next couple of weeks! Ha!

The last 20km today is a dirt track (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The last 20km today was a dirt track (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

I was quite worried about my wheel as we were in the middle of nowhere, and I was thinking I would probably be off riding until Lima to be able to find the parts. If this had happened in Columbia and I was facing 5 days not riding I would have been secretly delighted, but given the change of riding conditions I am not. Luiz – the lunch truck driver / bike mechanic – assures me he and Antonio will sort out a plan to keep me on the road.

The dirt road is very corrugated and windy, and the riders still riding don’t look like they are having a great time.

The town we arrived in is very pretty, with a nice coast and lots of restaurants and is very touristy. We are staying at Hostal Camping Naylamp.

The sea view from outside our camping site  (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The sea view from outside our camping site (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

A small garden to camp in (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

A small garden to camp in (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

I get showered etc and Cristiano advises that there is a family who live nearby who have hosted over 2,000 cyclists through hot showers (the cyclist equivalent of couch surfing). The family is coming for dinner at camp and the husband is sorting out getting my part and a new seat for one of the other riders.

Also organized for the day is a local blind man who does massages. 30 soles ($15) for one hour! I am first in line and get a massage for nearly one and a half hours 😀 It feels really good to get the knots in my back and neck sorted. Afterwards I went for a walk up through the town.

They have straw canoes / surfboards that you paddle out to the waves, kneeling on it, with a paddle. A few people are out doing this. It’s high tide and the waves are splashing onto the road. It’s the most touristy place I have been since Cartagena.

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

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

Once again people are selling hats and sun glasses etc (plus lots of small straw canoes) On my way back I saw Ray from USA sitting in one of the bars on the waterfront so I joined him for a drink. Ray and I are two of the slowest riders and we both try to beat each other to lunch or camp. Ray likes rum and coke so is always looking for a place that sells them. We had a good conversation about places he is going to visit in South America with his wife. Ray’s wife is not into cycling, but Ray is thinking about back packing and buses. Suddenly we realize we are missing the rider’s meeting and take off for camp.

The entrance to our campsite  (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The entrance to our campsite (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

The family who take in the cyclists are there for dinner, and the wife has baked four chocolate cakes – $5 a slice, bound not to last long around a bunch of hungry cyclists! The cake was delicious, very moist.

The local family who host passing cyclists  (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The local family who host passing cyclists (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Peruvian chocolate cake for desert tonight (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Peruvian chocolate cake for desert tonight (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Luiz and Antoni tell me it’s all sorted, they will have me on the road tomorrow. After dinner Luiz comes over and tells me they (via the cycling family man) have found me a brand new hub that contains the freewheel for $100 soles ( about NZ $50) is that ok? I am rapt. The only issue is that they need to re-spoke my wheel as well as fit the new hub, so tomorrow they have another wheel I can ride on. Sounds pretty good to me, so a few beers coming up for the bike mechanics over the next few days.

A small garden to camp in (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

A small garden to camp in (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Camp kitchen tonight  (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Camp kitchen tonight (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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

Day 43/164: Loja to Catacocha – 99 km

Up 2,135 meters; down 2,430 meters.

It was very nice to have a sit down breakfast in the restaurant. I went in the lunch truck to lunch as planned, helped to set up lunch and then set off. I did not have lunch as it was only 9am.

The lunch truck had parked part of the way up a long climb. The first 8 kilometres was an uphill climb, and I was pretty pleased with the way I got up it. Then it was rolling hills, a couple of big downhills, then back to rolling hills all the way to camp.

Top of the first 500m hill (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Top of the first 500m hill (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Up along the top of the ridge it was pretty windy, and I nearly got blown out onto the road a couple of times. I got off my bike at one stage as it was so windy.  The view was fantastic, just mountains stretching away from both sides of the road as far as I could see. As we have seven days riding and I don’t know if I will be able to charge my phone at all, I did not take any photos of the view but hopefully Sue took her usual number of photos. It was great riding with the glorious views and the gradient not too steep.

Looking back from where we've come (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Looking back from where we’ve come (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Up up up and up (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Up up up and up (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

I got to camp about midday. Just before the camp I had a standoff with a dog. I had my bike between us and every time I took a step backwards he would rush at me snarling! Luckily a local lady saw what was happening and threw stones at him and he ran away.

We are staying at San Jorge x Aquatic Centre. It was built as an aquatic centre and had three empty pools. Sadly it was not well used by the local population and now is shut. The caretakers did fill up the small pool for us.

Tonight's camp swimming pool (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Tonight’s camp swimming pool (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

I got a nice spot to camp up on a mezzanine floor with a good breeze. Given it was only mid day I went to get a coke instead of a beer. The coke was warm, the beer was icy cold! So no need to guess what my choice was.

On the way to the camp there was not really anywhere to get food apart from just before the camp, and I decided to wait until camp to get something.  Usually at camp there is a restaurant, or a local who has set up shop and cooks. Today there was nothing, and I could not be bothered riding uphill into town, but was now hungry as I had missed lunch.  I made do with peanuts and a couple of Oreo biscuits.

I did some washing as there was plenty of time to dry clothes, chatted to some other riders, and caught up on a couple of days with the blog.

At the rider’s meeting just before dinner we got an update on Phil. Most likely Phil will get airlifted to Quito tomorrow and his son from New Zealand will also come there. The hospital in Quito is bigger and better equipped. Phil is talking, but still very confused, but certainly he will recover. It’s early days yet to know how much, if anything, the head injury will affect him. We are all going to either wear orange clothing or put orange flagging tape on our helmets to keep Phil with us as we continue on our journey sadly without him.

Dinner was spag bol, fettucine and salad.

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

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

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

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 35/164: Archidona to Puyo – 86km

2,832 km down: 10,809 km to go. Up 1,280 metres, down 960 metres.

After a nice night in an air conditioned unit I woke up feeling ready to go. It had poured down during the night and I was very pleased that I was not in a tent! I had a dream during the night that there was a snake under my bed and I could not go back to sleep without checking (silly I know but then a lot of fears are silly).

It was pouring down still when we left. I guess that’s why it’s called the Amazon rain forest! The ride was 86 kilometres with rolling hills, and apart from some gearing problems I was riding quite well (I was having trouble shifting between gears).

A rainy day on the road today (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

A rainy day on the road today (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

And the rain keeps coming (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

And the rain keeps coming (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

I was not too worried about the pouring rain as I much prefer that to beating heat any day. I stopped at about 30 kilometres and had coffee, and then because they did not sell any water, for some reason I decided to have a pineapple drink. The next twenty kilometres were good and I was actually ahead of some of the riders. Then at 48 kilometres I got to a 6 kilometre climb. I got 2 kilometres up and started feeling dreadful – I was breathless, lightheaded, dizzy, and could not walk more than 10 steps so decided to sit down.

About 5 minutes later Erin who was the sweep turned up, and suggested I lie down as I looked really pale. My pulse was going flat out and I was thinking “What the heck is wrong with me? It’s not hot and I’m not at altitude!”. I sat there for about another 10 minutes and then decided to see if I could walk the remaining 4 kilometres to the lunch truck.

About 5 minutes after I started walking I started vomiting up the pineapple drink, and then had another bout of gastro. No wonder my body decided it was not interested in biking up the hill. Finally I got to the lunch truck! I was soaked and ironically given that I am lending warm weather gear to a number of riders all the time, I only had an ice break singlet, arm warmers and an emergency blanket (like a huge sheet of aluminium foil but much stronger). So back in the lunch truck again to camp!

We are staying at a place called Hosteria Finca El Pigual. To get to the hosteria you go across a suspension bridge, but the TDA trucks are too big for the bridge. The trucks had to follow a roundabout route that went up slippery gravel roads and through bush to get there.

We have breakfast and dinner included here, plus you can buy food at the bar. After I had had a shower etc I went to the restaurant as I had not had lunch!  Order straight away said the riders in there. Some of them had waited for nearly an hour to get their food. You could not pay at the bar, you had to sign a room docket which then went to the front office, and you had to pay there. The hamburger was very nice, but I had to repeatedly ask before I got the beer I had ordered with it.

The lunch and dinner truck parked at the hotel The finish flag at the Hosteria (Photo credit: Hotel's Facebook page)

The lunch and dinner truck parked at the hotel (Photo credit: Hosteria Finca El Piguel’s Facebook page)

That night we were having a party to celebrate crossing the equator. The theme of the party was Rubik’s Cube where you come dressed in all the different colors of the rubric cube and then the aim is to be dressed in one color by the end by swapping clothes! I went up to the shops to buy some cheap stuff like a hat , ribbons etc to swap.

The meal at the restaurant was between 7:30 to 9pm, and the party after. Mostly the riders are in bed by 730 pm! We all arrived at the restaurant at 7:30 and waited and waited and eventually the food arrived . It was turkey, cold frozen vegetables, and hard chips. A number of people tried to order wine but they had run out after selling about 8 bottles during the day and did not seem to have a lot of interest in getting more. I had got a bottle when I arrived which I shared with a couple of people.

While we were waiting for the party to start, various riders gave up and drifted off to bed. The room where the party was planned was still getting ready, and there was still no wine. We got some wine up the road and got back to find at least the room for the party was open. It was interesting to see various riders dressed up in all different colors, but no one swapped any clothes.

The rubik's party (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The rubik’s party (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Peter from NZ and I got most of the people up at one stage to do a dancing snake (where you put your hands on the hips of the person in front and dance in a line snaking around the room) (Editor’s note: I think Kaye is talking about a conga line, haha).

A waiter arrived with some wine. I am not sure how much he sold as we had sorted out wine for ourselves by that time. This was about 10pm, and we had been told for over 3 hours the restaurant was going to get more wine! I went off to bed about 11:00pm and drank lots of water to address the not such good quality red wine (vino tinto).

Tomorrow an adventure tour to the Jungle!

Sue and me at the Rubik's party (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Sue and me at the Rubik’s party (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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

Day 34/164: Papallacta to Archidona – 113km

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

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

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

The white board today warned:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 33/164: Quito to Papallacta – 65k

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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