Posts Tagged With: Lunch truck

Day 28/164: Sibundoy to Pasto – 78km

2,224km down: 11,417km to go. 2,525 metres up, 1,322 metres down

I decided to go in the lunch truck for the morning and ride from lunch. The gradient was really steep in the morning with some quite big climbs. In the truck at the first town I saw a dog who looked like BenBen trotting along, I got hit with a huge wave of homesickness, missing my children, grandbabies and Ben. I had a few silent tears which thankfully no one noticed.

As well as being steep, there were also road works and it had been raining and the road was wet with thick mud. It started to pour down and I was very pleased that I was in the truck!

There were quite a lot of policia and military around. There has been a spike of rebel activity. At a number of places they had 44 gallon drums set up in a zig zag that you had to drive through. I guess these would slow any speeding vehicles down. Plus there were a lot of trucks being searched and road blocks.

We found a space for lunch at about 50 kilometres and pulled over. We had to go right to the other side of town to find a space. We set up the lunch, which was difficult in the pouring rain, but we managed to get everything under the awning.

I have a brand new riding rainproof jacket, but the zip is not working properly, and it has torn from the seam twice. I spent about an hour trying to get the zip up, I finally got it up by using a fork! I just have to remember not to undo it, which is very frustrating. Equally frustrating is my new cycle shoes – the sole is separating from the shoe! I will try gluing on the rest day if I can get it dry enough, but suspect I will have to get another riding jacket. I will certainly be complaining about it when I get home as it was over $300 dollars so I expect better quality.

The rain cleared and I was just thinking about asking for my bike to be got down when the first riders arrived, they were frozen! Phil from New Zealand did not have nearly enough warm clothes on. I ended up giving him all my warm gear, including my riding jacket. So no riding today for me! Another rider came in and I covered them up in my Kathmandu jacket. Most of the riders did not have adequate wet weather clothing with them. As well as the rain, being up at higher altitude also makes it cold.

The little shop next to where we were parked was selling coffee to the riders, then they lit a fire out the back of their shop. There were a number of riders huddled around the fire. The family had a number of photos taken with the riders. When we left they were all smiles and shook lots of hands.


The family that looked after the riders

There was a wee boy (about 2 and half) who gave me a hug and a kiss. I love the way small children meld their whole body against you. Sue and two of the other riders were caught in the rain and were given shelter by a local family until the downpour stopped. The locals continue to surprise and impress with their kindness.


The toddler that gave me the hug and kiss

Seeking shelter

Seeking shelter till the rain stops (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

We are staying a place called Restaurant Cobra. The camp was interesting, there was a big room like a hall where we could put up our tents. Most riders did this but a small group headed off into the nearest town to a hotel.

Camping "inside" (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Camping “inside” (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

The camp had a restaurant and had some amazing braziers with charcoal in them dotted around the restaurant. These were very popular, each one had a group of riders huddled around it.

Huddled round the fires to warm up (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Huddled round the braziers to warm up (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

The restaurant sold a very nice warm red wine, that tasted like mulled wine. It hit the spot on a cold overcast day. It was really cold during the night, hopefully because of the cold concrete floor. I had my jacket and hat on and it was still cold!  There were four showers and they were hot but they were too hot! Is there no pleasing us? But it was too hot to do anything but try and grab handfuls of water to sprinkle on yourself.

Dinner was pork stew, potato and boiled zucchini. These was a chat at dinner about making sure that people had correct clothing, and a comment that a couple of the riders were on the brink of dangerous hypothermia.

Camp tonight (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Camp tonight (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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

Day 26/164: San Augustine to Mocoa – 161km

2,061km down: 11,580km to go. 2,250 meters up and 3,450 meters down.

We had a bit of a slow start leaving the hotel as the breakfast was at the hotel, and the staff are not used to feeding a large number of people, especially all in one go. A number of people left early – probably about a third of the riders – without breakfast. There was some bread and spread put there by the TDA staff and people made sandwiches.  I decided to ride in the truck to lunch then ride the 80 kilometres and 1,000 meters remaining climb.

Today's route profile (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Today’s route profile (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

The day was drizzly and over cast when we left, and rained on and off all day. It was not quite heavy enough to put on a jacket, and when the sun came out again you soon dried out. Rolling hills but some good descents, but like previously you don’t want to go too fast as there are a lot of pot holes in the roads. This area must get a lot of rain as there are a lot of landslides, water pouring down from the hills, and the rivers are full and fast flowing.

Road detour due to massive landslide (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Road detour due to massive landslide (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

I stopped at about 35 kilometres to get some lunch as it was too early when I left where the lunch truck was parked. I went into a road side cafe and one of the truckies was eating soup which looked quite nice. I asked how much and said I would like some. 6,000 pesos seemed reasonable, so out came the soup followed by a huge plate of beans, rice and chicken! Inadvertently I was having the day special again.

I got to camp about 2:30, it was a nice feeling to get here and know that I still have plenty of energy
and could have gone further without any trouble. The camp is basic, you have the choice of paying extra for a room in a dormitory (my idea of hell) or tenting. There is one shower with no door, facing two toilets, also without doors! One way of getting to know your fellow riders really well.

Wet and muddy ground at camp (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Wet and muddy ground at camp (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

We are back down to under 1,000 meters so bugs galore again. I bought some different bug spray in San Agustin so hopefully it is more effective, as I am only just getting over the last feeding frenzy in Anapoima.

Tomorrow we are on gravel again, sealed until 15 kilometres then 70 kilometres is meant to be hard packed dirt/gravel. Hopefully it does not pour tonight!

Dinner tonight was beef stir fry.

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

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

Three pups watch us cycle by

Three pups watch us cycle by (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

All downhill to begin with (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

All downhill to begin with (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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

Day 23/164: Hobo to Timana – 112km

1,814km down: 11,827km to go. 1,880 metres up, 1,520 metres down

I was awake a bit in the night – a mixture of dogs barking, gastro bug, and truck drivers coming in and out and their trucks idling for a few minutes to warm up. The trucks here don’t seem to have sleeping compartments in the cabs. There are rooms attached to a number of the restaurants and petrol stations for the drivers to stop. This place has about 18 rooms, and with the attraction of air con and en-suites, I am sure it will soon become a favourite spot for the truckies.

I was pleased I had a room with an ensuite and did not have rush to and from the tent in the dark.

So my revised plans for today are to hydrate really well, and focus on making it to lunch. I set off into a bit of a head wind, but it was nice and cool – the top temp was 30 degrees 😀

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

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

I had a nice warm up with a few rolling hills, before the 7 kilometre climb at 13 kilometres. I got up the hill with only stopping and walking once. At the top I stopped for a freshly squeezed orange juice. After I had drunk it I thought that maybe it was not the best idea with my current upset stomach, but it was too late.

Juice stop at the top of the hill (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Juice stop at the top of the hill (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

There were amazing views at the top – I even took a couple of photos!


Editor’s Caption: Photo credit: Kaye! (And it’s not blurry!)


Editor’s Caption: Photo credit: Kaye! (And it’s not blurry!)

Today’s plan is basically follow the main road, and not even I should be able to get lost. All went well until I got to Giganto, where there was a choice of directions and no flag, and the turn did not marry up with my notes. (I must get my speedometer re calibrated). When it doubt I think it’s best to choose the one that looks most like the main route. 100 meters along I was stopped by a couple in a car who stopped me and shooed me down a side street. They then followed me in their car to the end of it to make sure I turned left. I was pretty confident they knew what they were doing as they were pointing to my rider number plate.

I followed the road out of town – but still no flags! I checked my maps and it said I was heading in the right direction. I got to a hill at 37 kilometres and started to doubt it, as according to my notes the climb was actually meant to be a reasonable downhill. Just then Britten, who was the sweep for the day, arrived and confirmed we were on the right road.

Soon enough the climb arrived but it had lots of downs and the gradient was not too steep, and it was not too hot. I managed to get through the climbs on my bike – progress finally, while the lower temperature, asphalt, and not being at high altitude all certainly help, overall I am definitely getting better at sustained climbing.

I decided not to push what was an enjoyable ride, and stop at lunch. There were two policia sitting watching the whole time. Luiz said when he arrived he asked the lady who was running the shop next to the big parking lot if he could park the lunch truck there, and she refused. One of the two policia, who overheard, shouted “I am Horrace, and I say they can park where they want”. No wonder she was stony faced when I went in to buy a cold drink.

I helped clean up lunch and rode back with the lunch truck.

We are staying at the Municipal pool complex in Timana. Where we are camping there is a pool and a large grass area and a couple of soccer fields.

The municpal pool ( (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

The municpal pool (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

There is the choice of camping in an area under a thatched roof with loud pumping music or on the grass where small children are playing soccer and riding bikes. I chose the field. There are three showers, but only one of them works, and three shared toilets. At least the shower is so cold no one is interested in staying in it too long.

The thatched roof many chose to sleep under (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

The thatched roof many chose to sleep under (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

It is Sunday today, and the local village has a few stalls. A couple quickly clicked on to coming here and selling to a hungry bunch of bikers. There was one very cute wee girl going around sharing her small packet of what tasted like very small bread sticks, but bite sized.

Two Columbian girls (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Two young girls at the markets (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

I think I am not hydrating properly – too much water and not enough rehydration drink. I have concentrated today on two bottles of water followed by a bottle with half a sports rehydration tablet and feel better for it. I suspect I also need to eat more as generally am not eating between breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is ok when it is two to three hours, but not if it is six – the problem is I don’t get hungry. I will buy snacks in San Augustine and trial them on the next segment.

Tonight for dinner was chorizos, a cabbage based stir fry with cooked radish (which was actually pretty good) and pasta.

Hobo t

Hobo to Timana


Hobo to Timana

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

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

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

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

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

Day 22/164: Tatacoa to Hobo – 105km

1,702 km down: 11,939km to go. Up 1,230 metres, down 1,010

I was feeling very weary after being kept awake by roosters and being itchy, so decided to have an easy day and go in the lunch truck to lunch.

The white lunch bus setting off in the morning (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

The white lunch bus setting off in the morning (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

There was great scenery going through the desert. We then went through a couple of small villages and a large town, before heading back to the country side.

Scenery this morning (Sue's blog)

Scenery this morning (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

We stopped and set up lunch by a Tepel petrol station. We started to set up and were asked to move further back. We had been setting up (includes getting out the table, chopping up stuff for lunch, organizing water etc) for about 45 min when the petrol station attendant said to Luiz that his boss wanted to talk to him. We all thought “What now, do we have to move again!?”. Turned out the boss was just interested in what we were up to, and wanted a chat.

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

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

There was a small dog lurking around who was most happy to eat the scraps. He had a mangled ear which was a bit raw, and a raw spot on the top of his head. I thought about getting a bowl and some salty water but was not sure if that would do more harm than good to only do it once. My list of dogs I would have adopted is growing!

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

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

After everything was done I set off on my bike with only 40 kilometres to ride and no dirt roads. I had a great ride. When I went through the town of Hobo I decided to stop at a Terpel petrol station for a drink, but I didn’t see the gaps in the concrete about the size of railway tracks until it was too late – over I went. Luckily the pannier saved me from too much damage, just some minor bruising and discomfort.  I got back onto the bike and rode out the other side of the town to where we were staying.

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

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

We stayed at a place called Restaurant el Aeropurto. I got there at mid day, almost like winning a rest day 🙂

The place was only a month old. There were grounds out the back where we could out up tents, plus they have a complex of rooms with ensuites and air con for 25 pesos for the room. So far I have tented every night except rest nights, but this was too good to pass up, and I was in like a rat up a drain pipe.

New buildings at camp (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

New buildings at camp (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

There were two beds in my room and my plan was to tell Sue that I had a room and she was welcome to the other bed.  I had not had lunch at the lunch truck as it was too early. I had a plate of fish soup and then a shower, and then I fell asleep until nearly 6pm, by which time Sue had already put her tent up.

One of the staff at the place was a young girl who had a wee one month old baby. She worked all day whilst the baby slept under the counter, getting breastfed as required. She was still there at work with the baby when I went to bed at 8pm. Long day for a young mum.

Dinner was beef stew, mashed potato, and really crunchy green beans. I am feeling really refreshed and am planning to ride the whole day tomorrow.

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

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

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

Day 19/164: Bogota to Anapoima – 85km

1,356km down: 12,285km to go

Three new riders have joined the group:
Franzwar (not how you spell his name but that’s how it sounds, he’s from France) he has done sections of other rides and is doing a couple of sections of this one (Editor’s note: I’m assuming Mum means “François”)
Mario – a young German guym this is his first TDA ride doing the whole ride
Rosa – from the Netherlands here for 3 weeks has done the South African ride before.

Rosa at the market lunch stop (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Rosa at the market lunch stop (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

We are staying at El Molino camp in Anapoima tonight.

We left in a convoy of course, as we were coming out of a large city. It was threatening to rain, and would you believe there is a public transport strike happening.

We had a police escort. I decided to ride in the the lunch truck until lunch, which was meant to be at 29 kilometres, and then ride the rest of the way – about another 90k. The convoy took over 2 hours through the crazy traffic.

The police escort then dropped us off at the Terpel petrol station as planned and the instructions for riders, regarding distance and turning etc started from there. Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans! The problem was it was the wrong Terpel station and the person who had mapped out the route was not with the convoy. So chaos ensued as the directions and the road were not matching!

Trying to figure out which way to go (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Trying to figure out which way to go (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Luckily the riders realized pretty quickly and re grouped and contacted Christiano, and they were redirected and it only added another 10k to their ride. The truck however went really wrong, and by the time the TDA staff realized and back tracked, the riders had already passed the 29k mark.

The lunch truck was following the riders, and trying to overtake riders going down a narrow steep dirt road. It was not till we got to 52 kilometres that we had passed enough riders to make it worthwhile stopping for lunch.

I decided to still ride as there was approximately another 40 kilometres so I hopped on my bike. The first 15 kilometres was down and up the same terrain as before lunch – windy, narrow, dirt and occasionally rocky. This certainly was part of the 15% of the time I knew I would wish I had bought a mountain bike.

After this was about 10 kilometres of uphill, reasonably steep gradient. It was boiling hot and I was huffing and puffing. I am still not coping with altitude, and generally not being fit enough. I finally got to the open road with a reasonable down, and then some rolling hills.

Just before camp I came across Paul, one of the other riders, walking his bike down the hill. Paul’s brakes had failed quite a while before but luckily he was not harmed. Paul commented that it was a peculiar brand of torture having a bike you could only ride up the hills.

I got to camp and set up my tent, but did not realize I had put it on too steep a slope. I didn’t realise until I went to bed, and then I did not want to try and move it in the dark, which as it turns out would have been a better option. I kept waking up uncomfortably hunched at the bottom on the tent. Between the roosters that started at 2 am, the heat, and the trucks, I did not get a lot of sleep.

We had Spaghetti Bolognese for tea.

Tonight's campsite (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Tonight’s camp-site (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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Day 15/164: Viani to La Vega – 72 km

1,211 km down: 12,430 km to go – 1,800 metres up, 1,300 metres down

My tyre was still up in the morning, so I crossed my fingers that the problem was solved. I decided to ride the lunch truck to lunch, as I was fed up with getting into camp late with only just enough time to put up my tent, eat, and crash into bed. Plus I was very weary as I had been kept awake quite a bit of the night by the local pub across the road where they partied on until about 2:30 in the morning, then the roosters and the dogs took over. There were a few grumpy riders in the morning. I figured “Hey, it was Friday night and the locals have the right to do as they usually do”. But added to the last few days, I decided to listen to my body.

Off we went in the truck. We went up and up and had the most spectacular views of the mountains covered in snow. Colombia is a very hilly country, without much flat land so far. We went past a petrol station and there was a horse just sitting and chilling in the forecourt. Ray, one of the truck regulars, commented that the horse was there so that if there was no gas you can continue on horseback.

Certainly the animals here are very road wise and I have only seen two dead domestic animals at the roadside so far. You see locals heading off to work with their horses following them along a main road, not bring led or held at all. There are lots of cows grazing untethered on the roadside as well. Endless dogs happily trotting along the road, and crossing at will, happily preoccupied with their doggy business. There does not seem to be any regulations or a pound truck cruising around. The dogs seem in reasonable health and happy. So far I have not seen a dog fight. If I come back in the next life as a dog, I would like to be a dog in Colombia.

The roads are variable, you get a well paved bit then for no reason it becomes rocky gravel, and then paved road again. There are a lot of areas where there have been landslides and there is only one lane. This becomes a challenge with trucks, mostly the drivers are excellent but there is always the occasional few bad ones, then when both don’t give way, a line of trucks backing is no easy feat!

The one place where the roads are in pristine condition though is 50 meters before and after the toll booths. We go through an average of at least one toll booth a day (bikes don’t have to pay). The road can have numerous pot holes and gravel for a couple of kilometres before and after. At every toll booth there are people selling food and drinks. Often there is a person in a wheelchair or on crutches asking for donations. There is only one per toll booth, almost regularly. You have to wonder if they have to pay for the place!

Today was a very busy section for trucks, endless trucks going both ways, sometimes 10 in a row. I was pleased not to be riding this bit.

I had seen a few locals taking milk urns on their horses or motor bikes, today I saw one with the urns in a wheel barrow. It’s amazing what the locals transport on a motor bike – fridges, wood, whole families, pigs etc.

We had been going for about 40 kilometres when Luis the truck driver got a phone call telling him to stop before 40 kilometres for lunch, as after that there was nowhere to park. It would have been really difficult to turn around because of the traffic so they decided to keep going.

We went for about another kilometre and they saw a local’s house with quite a big front section, so asked the family if we could park there. The family kindly agreed. I don’t think they were quite so happy a couple of minutes later when one of the hydraulic pipes burst in the truck and sprayed fluid all over their concrete!  As Luis and Alejandro (bike mechanic) were busy with trying to sort this out, Ray, John (another truck regular) and I got the lunch ready before we rode off.

I had the job of cutting up left over chicken, helped by the family pets – two dogs and the cat – who happily took care of the chicken skin for me. Luis had managed by this time to get hold of a local truck mechanic who came and fixed the problem.


Dog and cat at lunch time (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Off I went for 35 kilometres, 900 meters of uphill. I managed to ride most of it but did have to get off a few times. I have discovered that one of my problems is that I try to ride up hills too fast. My experience of hills is hills that go for 3 kilometres, not 30, and I am starting to realize that you just can’t attack them the same.  There was mostly paved with some sections of rocky and gravel, sometimes two meters and sometimes a kilometre or so.

I hot to about 30 kilometres and I got another freaking flat tyre!!!! Same tyre! Bloody hell! Starting to lose my sense of humour! I had to find a safe space to change the tyre so had to walk for a bit. I spied a piece of flat lawn that looked possible, by what looked like a house. Joy of joy to find it was a shop and I could have a cold drink first. A couple of the other riders were there, once again we checked the tyre and rim. The consensus is that there is a small shaft of glass or wire that you can’t see or feel, that pushes out when the tyre is warm and it pops the tube. I will take the tyre to a bike shop in Bogota and if nothing can be found I will bin the tyre and replace it.

Off again, temperature rising up to 38 degrees again, but thankfully not far to go. I had to go through the town and then a kilometre out of town and turn right, and go about a kilometre up the road.  The kilometre up the road took for ever, it was so hot I was going from tree shade to the shade.

Putting up the tent was done in stages due to the heat. It was nice to be in camp by 2pm and I spent the afternoon sitting by the pool, chatting to other riders, and catching up with the blog. No internet again for the 5th day in a row, even though there was meant to be I could not log on, but at least I caught up a few days and saved in draft.


Relaxing by the pool

Relaxing by the pool (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)


The pool where we stayed (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

I went to lock up my bike and found I had yet another flat. I decided I was not going to ride the next day in the convey into Bogota – it’s bad enough being a slower rider holding the convoy up, without getting flat tyres as well.

Rider's meeting

Rider’s meeting (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

I went to bed about 7:30 but had trouble getting to sleep. There was a youth/ church/sports or something group making lots of noise. This music went on until 4:30 in the morning. They were shouting, laughing, drumming, playing music etc. It was harder to cope with than the night before, which had been a constant beat. I did have my earplugs in but it did not shut out the noise completely. We had  to get up at 4:30 so we could be in Bogota by 2pm.

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Day 14/164: Libano to Viani – 105 km

1,139 km down: 12,502 km to go

Of course climbing again today – 2,000 meters again! But with a big downhill as well. The consensus amongst the rides (who between them have done all the rides) is that this is harder than any of the other ride. Apparently this ride makes the South Africa ride look like a walk in the park.

Today's route and profile (Photo and caption credit: Sue's Facebook page)

Today’s route and profile (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s Facebook page)

I patched the tyre before I left camp, as I don’t have any of the right inner tubes. I asked a few riders if they had a spare but there had been a number of flat tyres and everyone I spoke to either only had one themselves or their tube would not fit. So I set off thinking “hopefully it will hold for the day”.

The first 40 kilometres were great: rolling hills, and a massive downhill of about 20 kilometres. You could not go too fast though as every few kilometres there would be a bump or gravel, or it would suddenly get rocky and stoney.

After the downhill there was actually flat land for a few kilometres – the first flat land for days! I was enjoying riding along until I got my first flat tyre for the day.  Again the back tyre. I was changing this when two of the other riders, John and Asha, stopped to help. Once again I carefully checked the tyre – nothing! I checked the rim etc, no reason that could be seen. I thought perhaps the patch had lifted so I took it off and re patched.

Back on my way for another 2 kilometres, before another flat tyre, this time I changed it myself! Off again, another 5 kilometres, flat tyre again. I had to find a safe place to stop – 1) off the road and 2) out of the beating sun – 38 degrees!  So I walked to a safe spot, propped my bike up, it unbalanced and I cut my hand catching it. I could feel tears pricking at my eyes.

Just then Tom and Rhonda rode past and said the sweep was just behind them. In about 2 minutes Adrian pulled up and once again checked the tyre and rim, and found nothing. We re-patched it, and Adrian has a really good pump so good pressure in. While we were doing this a local with a ute stopped and offered a ride into the next town.

Off again, stopped about 3 kilometres up the road for some more water and caught up with Tim and Rhonda. The man at the shop noticed I was hot and gave me a fan to use, then gave me lessons in how to use it properly!

Off again, christ it was hot. Due to the flat tyres I was starting a 60 kilometre climb in the heat of the day. Got up another two kilometres and then another bloody flat – the rear tyre again!!!!

This time Adrian stretched one of my smaller inner tubes into the tyre. Then I began a mixture of walking and riding, and catching my breath, and taking breaks in the shade. I came around one corner and came across Tim and Rhonda who had decided enough was enough. They were either going to wait for the lunch truck to come back and get them, or try and get a lift.

Tim and Rhonda are leaving in Bogeta which is about two weeks earlier than they were planning to, because it is too hard. They are the oldest riders here, and although they have done other rides, this ride is harder than expected. It’s a shame as they are a lovely couple. One of the other riders said Tim was instrumental in the design of the first ever TDA ride.

I had the sweep behind me which always makes me feel bad about stopping and being so slow. In the end we decided that he would ride to the lunch truck and then get it to come back when all the other riders had had lunch. I kept going up and up, walking, stopping, panting, riding, sitting, almost out of water.

I decided if I ran out of water I was going to just sit in a cool shady place and wait. Down to the last bit of water and warming up to this plan and around the corner I came across a shop. I drank two bottles of water straight off and bought two more to fill up my water bottles.

I was just about to head off when a ute pulls up with Tim and Rhonda who were getting a lift to lunch – sadly no room for one more! So, up and off again, more of the same: riding, panting, walking, sitting etc.

I got to about another 5 kilometres from where I saw Rhonda and Tim and came across Ray sitting on a chair at a local’s house. I went over to talk to him and he said the hill went up another 15 kilometres and he was waiting for the lunch truck to come back. As it is hard for the truck to stop I decided to wait with him. I asked the man if I could sit down by pointing to the chair and he said I could. He was not over friendly – he was probably wondering what was next. About 15 minutes later the lunch truck arrives!

On my last trip I did not go in the lunch truck to or from lunch at all, and today I have not even made lunch. I am pushing myself as far as I can but the body is not obeying! I am reassured that everyone is finding it tough, but I am disappointed not to be completing days. A mixture of day after day of climbing, the heat, the altitude, being overweight, a heavier bike, and not enough training. Two things for sure: I will be much fitter at the end of this, and I suspect I will be much lighter.

Off to camp in the lunch truck again with Ray, Rhonda, and Tim. We got to camp and I set up my tent etc etc. Tyre was still up. Had a cold shower again.

Where we were camped it turned out it was in front of a bar, and it was Friday night. The locals partied until about 2:30 am, with loud music and enthusiasm. It reminded me of the camp sites in Italy and France. Like there, you just have to remind yourself that no doubt in your younger days you also kept people awake, partying into the small hours, and it’s their home and we are the weird foreigners occupying their space.

I slept intermittently. Once the music stopped, the roosters across town had a crowing contest, and then the dogs joined in. On a positive note, it did not rain and my tyre was still up when I went to bed.

Roadside shrine at about 600m up the hill (Photo and caption credit: Sue's Facebook page)

Roadside shrine at about 600 metres up the hill (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s Facebook page)

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