Posts Tagged With: Mum humour

Day 4: Belfast, Ireland to Kilmarnock, Scotland

Up at 5am to be ready for bags to the truck at 5:30 and riders meeting at 5:45am. Getting the bikes out I was chatting to Sue and Duncan who are doing the ride on a tandem. They are from the USA. This is their first TDA ride but they have been riding a tandem since 2000. Duncan is about 6 foot and Sue is quite short so when they come to a stop Sue can’t actually put her feet on the ground. They had an accident on the last riding day and Duncan has sore ribs, hopefully he will be alright for riding today.

Also had a chat to Shirley and Dan, also from the USA. Shirley and Dan are doing the Africa ride in 2019 which goes from Cairo to Capetown. They are not going to do the whole ride, and are going to start in Nairobi. Another TDA friend of mine Jacqui from Australia did this last year and the photos were amazing. Shirley is trying to enlist me on the ride as well.

6am – off in a convoy for 6 km to the ferry. The ferry is a Stena line ferry and is about twice the size of the New Zealand Interislander ferry. The journey is two and a half hours and we dock at Cairnryan in Scotland.

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Convoy to the ferry

The weather is cold and misty with a bit of drizzle and the forecast isn’t promising. To start up with we all line up for breakfast. To make it easy on the ferry catering staff we are all having exactly the same thing: 1 fried egg; bacon, hash brown, a sausage and a piece of Soda bread, and 2 slices of white toast plus tea or coffee. I didn’t eat the sausage or bacon but ate the rest as a long ride today. The tea or coffee was a bottomless cup which was good.

It would have been a good chance to catch up with the blog but unfortunately I didn’t have access to my bag again until tonight and can’t take the iPad on the bike. It was pretty boring sitting around on the boat and I got up a couple of times and walked around. In the gift shop I saw and bought a silly Scottish hat and amused myself taking photos of fellow riders wearing it.

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When we docked it was still misty and cold but not at this stage raining. We had been told to meet in a car park and a number of us were following Caitlin from TDA as we assumed he knew where to go, but it turned out he took us off in the wrong direction. It added a couple of kilometres before we got back to the car park. Esther TDA handed out some food to keep people going till lunch as it was already after 10 and we had 50 km to ride until the lunch spot.

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On the road to Kilmarnock. Showers and thunderstorms around.

To start we had about 10 km of climbing which wasn’t too steep, mostly about a 6% gradient. As the road is long and straight I was not looking out for flags. I was riding with Brett but he is much better at hills than me so he disappeared into the distance. I had passed a few riders and then as I was riding along there was a couple of work trucks on a bridge which I had to swerve out to pass. I kept going and had a big hill climb and then down into a town. I checked my notes and it said “left at 31 km” so I went left but was a bit puzzling as I couldn’t see a bridge, but there hadn’t been any flags so off I went.

After a couple of kilometres and a few turns with no flagging I’m like “yep I’m lost” so I went into a petrol station to ask. So much easier in an English speaking country. They said to go back through the town and turn at about 7 km onto the A14 which I did. Once more no flagging but this is the A14 and it does have the right town name on it so off I went another substantial climb.

After another 7 km and still no other riders or flags I was getting really concerned and flagged down a motorist and asked directions. Just then another rider came up the hill from the other direction and the turn was just behind me. Thankfully I had managed to get back on track by another route, I hadn’t seen the flagging just behind me as it is set up to get the attraction off your eye on the right not the left.

Much relieved I discover I have now done an extra 21km, and am lucky as Rhonda was the last rider closely followed by the sweep, and if I had been a couple of minutes later they would have made the turn and I would have carried on down the road they had just come up on!

Lots of rolling countryside to lunch at 50 km – or 71 k for me! Brett was sitting waiting for at lunch wondering where I had got to. Remember the two trucks working on the bridge? Immediately after the bridge was a flagged turn to the left. Brett was waiting there but had popped into a bush and with having to swerve to miss the vans, I sailed on past.

After lunch we were riding along when Judy and Tim from New Zealand joined us from a side street. There was a traffic diversion after lunch and they had made a wrong turn and were heading off in the wrong direction when a van driver stopped and asked if they were with the group because if they were, they were heading off in the wrong direction. I could have done with the van driver earlier in the day myself!

Lots more hills and a number of them were not rolling, the rain that had been threatening all day arrived, so on with the wet weather gear. But hey, only 20 km to go and a room not a tent at the end.

I was getting pretty tired and did not enjoy the last 20 km, my legs did not want to climb anymore hills, but kept chugging along and at 5:30pm we arrived at the Park Hotel. Nice big room at the hotel. So far the riding day hotels have been better than the rest days.

While we were waiting for dinner a group of us had a cold beer in the bar, and I was chatting to Mary from USA. Mary is a good rider and got to the hotel in the first few, but having done the ride also went and did a gym session. The only exercise I am interested in post ride is hand to mouth.

We were having dinner in a separate dinning room and we went there straight after the riders meeting at 6 pm. At 7 pm they finally bought out some bread rolls, I was about to start gnawing off my own arm by this stage.

We didn’t get the main until nearly 8pm! The food was nice, but way too slow. I had chicken liver pate and chickpea curry.

At dinner I was sitting next to Ross from USA, who along with having done the Orient express from Paris to Instanbul, he has also done the Silk route twice (Beijing to Istanbul)twice! He said he got sick the first time so went back to do it properly.

After dinner I decided I needed to catch up on the blog which is a couple of days behind. However, I couldn’t keep awake and woke myself up snoring a couple of times and called it a day.

Tomorrow we ride to Edinburgh and another rest day.

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

Day 2 of Sightseeing in Dublin – 28 May

This morning we had to change hotels, to the Arlington hotel, where all the  riders will be tonight. Plus this morning is the first riders meeting.

Leaving the hotel I was amused by a sign about Gin.

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At the meeting we got to meet the other riders and listened to the rules. We have 4 Greggs doing the ride! As well as Shirley and Dan and Michele and Tony, I also know Gregg and Laura who did the South American Colombia to Cusco. The meeting was meant to be 9:30 to 11:00am but it ran over as Gergo, the tour leader, was spouting the entire European cycling rules chapter and verse. At 11:15 I left the meeting as I had planned to meet Shellbe to do some more site seeing.

We went to see an exhibition in Stephens Mall featuring the potato famine, but when we got there we found it was £45 to get in and see a few photos so we decided not to. During the Potato famine 20% population was killed (over 1 million). The potatoes were no good to eat because of potato plight. Largely because of the potato famine the population  today is half of what it was in 1840, which was between 8.2 and 8.5 million. According to 2017 statistics the population is now 4.749 million. We did have a look around Stevens Green mall, it had an interesting layout.

We walked around Trinity College grounds (University ) but didn’t go into the library where the books are stacked from ground level up to 4 stories. We wanted to go and see the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript which contains the 4 gospels of the New Testament done by monks, but the line was huge so we decided not to.

We did go to Stephens Green Park, where instead of ducks in the lake it was mostly seagulls, and despite it being duckling season there was not a single duckling to be seen. I suspect the seagulls!

We walked through the town and stopped and had a cup of tea at a book shop that reminded me of the unity book shop in Wellington, on the way we saw a few buskers. There was a man playing spoons, we probably left just before the Morris dancers!

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We went to the Brazen Head, the oldest pub in Ireland, established in 1198. I had seafood chowder which was like vegetable soup with hunks of salmon. It was nice but nothing like the chowder I am used to. Shellbe had goat cheese salad. Shellbe got a text to say her flight was cancelled, and despite trying she couldn’t get another flight and ended up having to stay another night.

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Shellbe came out for dinner with Brett, Tony, Michele and I to a really nice restaurant called the Elephant and Castle restaurant. I had a really nice chilli burger. Then Shellbe went to an airport hotel and I did a last re-organisation of my bag, ready to start the ride tomorrow.

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Categories: The Pub Ride, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Day 13: Brixen, Italy to Innsbruck, Austria

94 km: 1,369 meters climbing and 1,426 meters down

The first 3 km was down a steep hill, then for the next 52 km it was mostly up. We went past vineyards and went mostly on bike paths. Some were paved, some were rocky, and some were steep with gradients up to 19%, with slippery stones so I got off and walked.

We spent about 5km on one track that had slips, it was really steep and hard to navigate. When we got to the end of this track it had a barrier across and a sign that the track was closed!

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Coming out of the closed off bike path

The last 15 km to the Brenner pass / border was a rail trail – yay mostly 2.5% gradient and no more than 4% gradient.

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Beautiful rail trail – only 2.5% gradient.

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Passing through village of Vipiteno

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Scenery from the bike path to the Austrian border.

There were lots of cyclists going both ways, some independent touring with panniers, and others in groups, and a surprising number on E bikes.

On the whiteboard we had been told the profile of the day was up to the Pass and then downhill to Innsbruck.

When we started going down the road. it was really busy both ways. I have never seen so many cyclists and motorbikes. It was like it was the national “ride your motorbike” day.

We had about 15 km downhill, and then turned to the right and started climbing again! This was totally unexpected, and not at all welcome. I had pushed really hard in the morning in the belief that it was downhill in the afternoon.

I was hot and tired, and although the views were magnificent, I did not enjoy the next 15 km of steep (up to 17% gradient) up and downhills in the beating sun. Finally the 10 km downhill into Innsbruck.

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Into Austria, descending down to Innsbruck

Riding through the city to the hotel, I was very careful with the tram lines as they are just the right size to get your bike wheel into and get tipped off. Also the edges of the pavements, if you hit them the wrong way they can also tip you off your bike. Sadly this happened to Janice, one of the riders, just 300 meters from the hotel – she clipped the pavement, went down with a crash, broke her helmet and knocked herself out! Luckily she was riding with Cathy and Peter M who are both ED doctors.

After checking into the hotel we had a cold beer in the hotel bar, and chatted to the Aussie riders Kerry, Tony, Robert, Darry, Torpe and Alex. After this we went out for some dinner and went into a place called Stiftskeller. We ordered red wine and food, and it arrived within 5 minutes! It was actually nicer than I expected given the preparation time!

I had pork cooked in beer and shared a mixed salad with Brett – a different type of mixed salad than I have ever had before: sauerkraut, potato mash with onion, and grated carrot. It was pretty nice. We had a bottle of red wine Blaufrankisch 2014 Weingut Hansigley, which was pretty nice.

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Dinner menu and wine

On the way back to the hotel I noticed a balcony with a number of dummies dressed up like workers. The streets were pretty deserted at only 8 pm at night. We found out the next day it was because the previous day was a holiday. It was Corpus Christi (Roman Rite Liturgical solemnity celebrating Jesus Christ). Corpus Christi is the second Thursday after Whitsun (which is the 8th Sunday after Easter).

The hotel we are staying at is called the Hotel Central.

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Workmen & women figurines

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

Day 7: Sunday 20 Nov, Ohakune to Kurpipapango

132km to ride today, climbing 2,300 meters with 2,350 down.

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Today’s instructions

I had tired legs already from yesterday so took a while to warm up. The first 24 km was not too bad, bit of up but not steep and not windy.

We are doing part of the ride today called the Gentle Annie. This ride can be found in the Classic NZ cycle trails and goes from Taihape to Napier. The person who called it the Gentle Annie has a very sick sense of humour. The book notes it as challenging and it’s not wrong. However before we got onto this challenging ride TDA threw in a 8km stretch of gravel with some fairly steep ups.

I was determined today to take more photos. However when I stopped to take a photo from the top off the hill my camera decided to go into weird mode and kept saving something so I played around with it and ended up getting a continuous shot of my face looking increasing annoyed. I tried turning it off and on but I couldn’t stop it so I put away in disgust. I rode cautiously down the gravel.

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Start of the gravel road

Next we went out onto SH1 for 11km of lovely downwards gradient then turned at 58.7km into the Gentle Annie ride. The first 13 km was great, all downhill but it was running through my mind this is all going to have to be climbed back up!

Lunch at 71k was not so enjoyable with the knowledge that at 73km is a 18 km uphill climb. Some riders called it a day at lunch, while some rode the lunch truck to the lunch stop and then rode from there. The more foolhardy like myself decided to do the whole day.

There was amazing scenery so I checked what my camera was up to, it was still busily saving the grumpy photo of me, but battery was nearly flat so I turned off.

Well they call a bike a push bike because you can push it. I had a mixture of pushing and riding for the first 3 km of the climb, but then was able to stay on my bike to the peak. My garmin, which I know was fully charged, went flat at 80 km which was a real pain as I like to see how far I have come, and check the turns in the notes against the distance ridden.

At the top of the hill I had a sandwich and a drink. The lunch truck stopped on the way past and filled up my drink bottles. There are no shops today or tomorrow until we are nearly in Napier.

Less than two km downhill, then another 10k climb. The first bit was steep and my legs were not interested in riding so I pushed the bike the first 2km until the gradient eased and I climbed the rest.

Whilst walking I kept getting bomb dived by a magpie, who as soon as I turned my back to start walking would dive at me. At about one km there was another magpie in the ditch so maybe he was mad his friend had been killed, or maybe his friend had dive bombed a truck. In the end I saw a rock and biffed that at him and he left me alone (maybe his friend was killed by a rock). Later I found out he had followed some of the other riders for 5km.

I had a number of curious cows and sheep watch me make my way slowly up the hill. One cow was so interested she kept pace with me (not hard, she ambled) the length of the field.

At the top of the hill was a turn to keep following the Napier -Taihape Rd. The way I took was not flagged but I was pretty sure it was right, however after a very long downhill I was starting to worry that I may have gone the wrong way and may have to climb back up!

I was halfway up another hill when the lunch truck came back past checking on riders and seeing if anyone wanted to be picked up. Without the garmin I was thinking I had maybe 10km to go, so it was very daunting to hear I still had 23km with another big climb!!! I filled up my water bottles again, resisted looking at the comfortable seats in the truck, and set off again.

By this stage I was stuffed, my legs were becoming really heavy and each incline was like a steep climb. The next step climb I got to, once again I was off my bike and pushing. The last two riders behind me – Ray and Ursula (from Canada) passed me. Ursula also got off her bike but managed to walk up the hill without stopping.

By this stage I was walking, counting to 40 then stopping, then walking for another 40 count, then stopping, then walking for another 40 count, then stopping – all the way up 2km. I felt the hill was never going to end. I was thinking I wonder if my legs will simply stop working.

Then the inevitable happened – I was “swept”! The sweep is the TDA staff rider who rides at the back of the bunch to deal with any issues with riders. And if they catch up with you you’re ‘swept’ . I had hoped not to get swept on this ride.

Finally the top was reached and at last a downhill. It was fairly steep so I had to stop half way down as I have rim brakes and needed to stop to let them cool, as if they get too hot the heat of the rubbers squeezing the tyres can pop a tyre. The last thing I need at this stage is a flat, I think I would have buffed my bike onto the side of the road and walked to camp. Or as I saw once on the Round the Lake Taupo ride – someone rode into a tree.

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View of a gorge not far out of camp

At the bottom of the downhill was a bridge with a sign “2km to camp”. However anytime you see a bridge at the bottom of a downhill it generally means a climb back up. Well, the 2k was uphill but not much of a gradient, but at the speed and effort I was going you would have thought it was almost vertical. With the sweep behind me however there was no way I was going to get off my bike. Finally the turn to camp: 900 meters of shingle, thankfully with soft downward gradient to camp.

10 hours on the bike and I arrived at camp totally stuffed but wrapped to have made it. Brett waved me over where he had a chair waiting for me, took my bike and shoved a beer into my hand. Plus he had put my tent up for me 😀

Later Michelle told me that Brett had told them ‘When she arrives there will be no point talking to her, she will be like a mongrel dog until she has a cold beer’.

There were no shower facilities as it is a bush camp so I had a wet wipe wash. It is a nicer bush camp than I had been expecting. I was thinking wind blown, remote, covered in tussocks and no shelter, but it was actually sheltered with lots of trees.

We had been told there were three long drops so I was imagining smelly holes in the ground, but this is a army training site and there were three toilets in small buildings like port-a-loos but with a ventilation thing on top which meant they did not smell and because they did not smell there were no flies either.

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The long drop at bushcamp

Dinner was some lovely strips of tender lamb, couscous, green salad, and ratotue (tomato and vegetables mixed together, no idea how you spell it, it sounds like rat a tui). (Editor’s note: I think she means ratatouille 🙂 )

We had it with some Hawkes bay Merlot bought in Ohakune and travelled safety to camp tucked into Tony’s size 15 sneakers, which are just the right size for a bottle of wine.

Sadly then it was not off to bed as it was my night to get chosen for wash up duty. Each rider washes their own dishes, wash up duty is where you wash all the cooking stuff. Two lucky riders are chosen each night. It did not take long, and then off into my sleeping bag.

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Somewhere on the ride today

Categories: Trans-Oceania | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Day 84/164: Rest Day One in La Paz

It was nice not to have to get up and get on the bike. I decided not to have breakfast at the hotel as although I like all the riders it is also good to have some space. I had seen a really nice looking cafe the night before so decided to head there for breakfast. It was about 10am but was not open so I wandered along the street looking for another place.

The streets were as crowded as the day before, and traffic was as busy as ever. Despite looking for about 30 minutes I did not see anywhere that looked inviting, in the end went into a place that looked ok, as I was getting really hungry. I ordered what I thought was a toasted sandwich, and ended up with a stale bun with cooked chicken and lettuce. I have a no chicken rule when eating out as I can never be sure how it is cooked and stored, but I was hungry so ate it.

After this I looked around for a while. La Paz, like some of the other areas we have been in, has clusters shops together, like 15 shops where you can buy football clothes, 10 hardware shops, 11 spice shops etc. The Bolivians also believe that Alpaca foetuses protect your home from evil spirits, so there was a line of shops with those dangling from the rafters. I had a smile to myself imagining explaining to MAF why I was bringing one of those back into New Zealand.

As part of my lack of serious preparation for the trip I had assumed it would be mostly warm, so I had bought a two season sleeping bag with me, whilst I really need a four seasons. Plus my new cycling rain jacket that is meant to be water proof isn’t. So I have decided to buy an alpaca blanket, plus a new rain jacket. I am also on the lookout for a new daily bag as I have had enough of the daily struggle with frozen hands closing the clips. I got a blanket easily, but it took a while to find a jacket and bag. Lots of stores were selling outdoor gear, but no cyclists shops. In the end I got a red Gore-Tex  jacket, and a new 90 litre bag.

When I got back to the hotel I transferred my daily stuff into the new bag (which is a different shape and has a zip instead of clips) but it still doesn’t fit! We were told we can only have 2 x 90 litre bags but we have too much gear to fit! Talking to a few of the other riders during the day they have upgraded during the trip to 110 litre bags. So I will take the bag back to the shop and swap for the next size up. Later in the day the shop is shut for siesta, so I will go back tomorrow.

I spent the afternoon doing my new favourite pastime: dozing and catching up on emails. Then off to the halfway barbeque that night. The barbeque was at a hotel down the road where the TDA staff are staying. A number of riders had gone off to do a ride called The Death Road, so we were eating at 9pm to give them time to get back.

It was good to have a celebration but most people are pretty tired, so it ended pretty much as soon as we had eaten. A few younger riders headed off to find some night  life.

After the barbeque, heading down in the lift, I could feel another attack of gastro so headed up to my hotel and room as quickly as I could. Given the altitude of La Paz and my current asthma I get breathless very quickly, but thankfully got back to the room in time. Tomorrow I need to go to a clinic and get checked out.

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

Day 81/164: Juli to Copacabana* – 63km

Climbing 675 meters, down 674 meters

Another short ride today. We have the border crossing into Bolivia and you can never be confident it will go smoothly. The trucks are not allowed to cross where we do and have to go over 300 kilometres to the border by La Paz. Our daily bags were loaded onto a local truck so we would have our tents etc if the trucks were held up. Turns out it was luckily this plan was put in place, as the trucks were held up till the early hours of the following morning due to protest action in La Paz.

It was very cold getting up and having breakfast. The ride out of town was quite steep and I had to stop at about 3 kilometres to take clothes off as I was already too warm. There were great lake views.

One lady was moving her sheep and I had to laugh as a lamb was not following the plan and got threatened with a long stick. It must have had experience with the stick as it soon got back into line. One of the two sheep dogs ran at me barking, but it was not sure what to do when I said “Good boy” and it sort of made a groaning noise and ran off.

The border crossing went smoothly. The American riders had to pay about $160 USA dollars and provide heaps of documentation. Apparently it is payback for what Bolivian’s experience when they try to enter USA, but for everyone else it was straight forward.

We enter Bolivia (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

We enter Bolivia (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Once we got through the border the first thing I noticed was no tuk tuks. There were a number of Taxi vans and a few taxis. The traffic was quieter but this may change as we get further into Bolivia.

There was only 8 kilometres to Copacabana*, about 6 kilometres was a hill. Given the short riding day and the lack of complications at the border I was in Copacabana* by midday. I had some lunch in the village and then headed to camp.

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

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

View of Copacabana

View of Copacabana

We are staying at Samawi Hostel on the lake front (camping). There was not a lot of space for camping, and there were rooms available, so given how cold it gets at night I got a room. Alas: cold showers only, the whole of Copacabana is currently without power. Apparently this happens frequently as the grid gets over loaded. I caught up with some blogs and emails ready to send when I next have wifi, which will probably be in two days time in La Paz. Then I dozed the rest of the afternoon.

Our camping spot tonight (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Our camping spot tonight (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

The time difference has changed and we are now ahead an hour. At the rider’s meeting we found out about the trucks being held up in La Paz due to protest action. We were told there was a possibility that they may not get here at all. However there was a back up plan with local transport for our day bags and the cooking equipment. Fortunately the trucks did arrive in the early hours of the morning.

I am pleased I have a room as it was very cold eating dinner. When I got back to my room it was considerably warmer than outside. Alas, no nice hot water bottle, but the power did come back on at about 7pm.

Dinner was meat kebabs, a vegetable ragout (like a tomato paste vegetable stew but not sure how to spell it), various condiments, and pita bread.

Dinner is cooking (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Dinner is cooking (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

*Editor’s note: This is not THE Copacabana from that awesome song, as I was excitedly led to believe. Apparently there are TWO Copacabana’s – one in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and this one in Bolivia. So no Lola’s where Kaye is.

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Copacabana, Bolivia (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Copacabana Bolivia (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Copacabana Bolivia (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Sunset over lake Titicaca (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Sunset over lake Titicaca (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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

Day 17/164: Rest Day One in Bogota

Yay no roosters, no loud music, and yay being able to get dressed upright, and have a warm shower 🙂

I  skyped with my daughter Shellbe last night who is currently in Vietnam, it was great to catch up with her and all her news.

Writing my blog in bed this morning (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Writing my blog in bed this morning (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

I had to be downstairs at 9am to go and drop off the laundry. There was a laundry just up the road who will do it for you and charges by the kilogram. 24,000 pesos for 4 kilos, which is approximately $11 NZ.

I forgot to take my towel, so I will have to wash it by hand back at the hotel. Then off to the bike shop to get inner tubes, tyres and more brake pads (I suspect the two I bought with me will not be enough). I caught a taxi to the bike shop, which was about a 30 minutes taxi ride away. The traffic, even at this time of day, was gridlocked. The taxis though are surprisingly cheap – the trip cost 16,000 pesos which is less than $8 New Zealand dollars!

There was a group of four bike shops in a row. I managed to get everything I needed. I bought 6 inner tubes, 2 patch repair kits, as well as the tyres and brake pads. I paid by credit card and signed the receipt. When I left the shop they came running after me as they thought I had the signed copy. Who knows where it went, as I didn’t have it and they couldn’t find it. They wanted me to repay and sign another one, which I had no intention of doing, as it had already been approved electronically. Given the language barrier it was a bit like a scene from Faulty Towers! Eventually after I had turned out all the bags and pockets, and shaking my head each time I was offered a pen, they let it go.  There were a number of other riders also trying to get parts for their bikes, and some having real difficulty. Phil was having no luck getting what he needed to fix his two bottom gears.

I got a taxi back to the hotel to have something to eat, and skyped with Kelly and Lucy, and Lizzy and Xavier. It was great to have a good wifi signal.

View from our hotel window of the national museum (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

View from our hotel window of the national museum (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Then I went down to clean my bike and sort out the tyres etc. I discovered I had a heap of grass in the cluster and generally the bike was pretty caked with dirt. I got the new tyre on the back, so fingers crossed the issue with flats is sorted. I was not able to get the same type of tyre, so bought two different ones with a slightly smaller tread that I will use on the road. The ones currently on the bike are heavy and better for off-road, as slower on the paved road. I still have one brand new spare of these tyres.

Once the bike was sorted I went off to buy water and other supplies. I needed to get some more lip cream and went into what I thought was a pharmacy type shop and mimed lip stuff. Not surprisingly they had none as I was reassured after I came out that it was actually a pet store!

When I got back to the hotel I bumped into Phil who had just arrived back in a taxi. The bike shops were not able to help him, but would you believe the taxi had been a professional bike rider and managed to get his bike sorted.

I went for dinner at a meat barbecue type of place. On the way there I was looking at the tallest building which had a very colourful light display, including cyclists riding around the building and dolphins swimming. I was more concentrating on this than my surroundings, and got a hell of a fright when a small homeless man jumped up into my face and went boo! My reaction caused general merriment with the surrounding locals. Sue had an encounter of a different kind during the day, when she was in the Bolivar Plaza she was asked if she wanted some cocaine!  Sue is very partial to coke but not that variety!

Ever changing lights on a skyscraper (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Ever changing lights on a skyscraper (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Off to bed now, at 9:30pm.

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

And that’s a wrap!

To take the words from a previous ride: drat, somehow I must have missed a flag, because I found myself at the airport heading back to reality!

So after 80 days the epic tour is over and I am back in Wellington. All I can say about the flight home: long distance travel is ugly! I was sustained though by the knowledge that at the end of last flight I would be seeing my children and new grandson.

I was a bit worried on the flight from Auckland to Wellington as I could not stay awake. However once I got off the plane and saw most of my children and grandson waiting for me I had a new lease of life. Kelly, Daniel (my son in law), Shellbe, Lizzy and Xavier, and Dan (holding a huge bunch of flowers) were there to meet me. Tracey couldn’t get to the airport but she was at home waiting when we got there. Kelly had bought her work car, a 7 seater Odyssey, so we could all drive home together (with the exception of Daniel who kindly drove a separate car to carry all my stuff, such as a large bike box).

Proud Gran!

We got takeaways on the way and Dan had organized wine for the celebration. We had an enjoyable evening catching up.  I got to hold my grandson at the airport and then again at home. I finally got to see him with his eyes open.

Benji the Excellent Dog was very excited to see me, and not at all impressed when he was put quickly back outside when we had tea. The cat Boss had the usual cat reaction – you haven’t bothered to come home for three months so don’t expect any interest from me just because you’re here now.

I managed to stay up until 10pm, then it was nice to be getting into my own bed, no fly to have to zip up and down to get in and out, and to keep bugs out!  And an inside toilet, with paper and soap – luxury.

Writing this now it is 5am Saturday morning, I have been awake for awhile, it will take me a few days to get back into sync with the time zone. I am going to get up in a minute and go out to the kitchen and make a pot of TEA 🙂 and toast, and come back to bed. Two of the things I really missed when I was away were toast and being able to make a cup of tea whenever I wanted. Then if I don’t go back to sleep I will take Benji The Excellent Dog for a walk along the beach. Then it’s off to the hairdresser for me.

Benji the Excellent Dog

Then, would you believe, I will have to go out and look for a laundromat! How ironic! Our trusty washing machine chose this week to die. The repair man came yesterday and it is not fixable, but it did last 15 years in this busy household. Plus of course I will be buying a new machine today.

I am thinking of maybe going for a short ride today and a longer one tomorrow. Today I also need to get everything for the usual Sunday feast, unpack, and open three months of mail. At my request, my children have also saved me the magazines from the Saturday newspapers, so I will enjoy working through those. I will also of course be reading the Saturday Dominion Post – but only this week’s. Then Monday or Tuesday I will have a go at the Windmill Hill ride in Makara, and the Hungerford Road Hill.

Then I am back to work on Wednesday, and back to fitting in riding and training for the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge around my life, rather than the past three months of riding being my life. However it is helped by the arrival of day light savings time this weekend!

Thanks to you all for reading the blog, I have always enjoyed reading the comments posted. A huge thank you to the editor of this blog, my daughter Kelly, who has done an amazing job, adding  links to the places I have visited, and interpreting and correcting my creative spelling to ensure that my posts are actually readable. I am a challenged (I prefer the term creative) speller at the best of times, but with often poor lighting and the iPad adding its own interpretation of what I’m saying (which I did not always manage to notice and correct) – all I can say is “Kelly you have done an amazing job, thank you”.

This is the final bog for this epic adventure! However blogging will resume with the Bamboo Road ride, late 2013! This epic journey goes from Shanghai to Singapore over three months. I will have to be a sectional rider for this as won’t be able to take three months off again.

Thanks for reading! Some more photos will be posted on Facebook over the coming weeks. You can see them here: 100kayesadayfacebookpage.

(And if you are looking for another cycling adventure to read about, you could follow this one, the blog of a midwife who is cycling around Australia: www.gogirlaustralia.net.au)

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Day 74: Madrigal de la Vera to Malpartida de Plasencia – 88k

5,850km down: 375km to go Up 1,250 metres, down 1,150

To start off with the camp site had looked really quiet, but we did not realize how many permanent residents of the camp there were. Plus there was a football game with Real Madrid playing at 8:30pm, so the bar got busy, and a stream of people making all kinds of racket headed to the bar to watch the game. Oh great, I thought, another night of no sleep, but I must have been really tired as I went to sleep quite quickly. I woke up for awhile in the middle of the night but got off to sleep again until the rooster started. I did suggest this morning that one of the riders has a recording that they play for fun but no one owned up.

After sleeping two nights ago in a sleeping bag and wearing arm warmers first thing in the morning, the weather has got warmer again.  This morning it was about 8:30am by the time it was light enough for us to get out on the road.

Climbing

We went through a number of towns that ended in de la Vera (I must look up what that means, my best guess today is that de la Vera is the name of the mountain range we are travelling along). The most noteworthy of the de la Vera towns were:
1. Losar de la Vera – this town has heaps of poplar trees cut into interesting shapes, I kept expecting to see Edward Scissorhands at work
2. Jaraiz de la Vera – a really old town with crumbling stone walls etc, I will google it to see how old it is.

You can see the tree cuts up the street, in front a new type of shrine – cut into a tree

The campsite tonight is good. Good showers, toilets with seats and paper. There is still no soap but it has a really good washing area. And it has a bar with Wifi plus a small supermarket. So it is probably the best so far.

Tomorrow we ride to Cáceres and then have a rest day.

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Day 72: Madrid to Pelayos De La Presa – 83k

5,654km down: 571km to go

Once again I enjoyed sleeping in a bed. There was a bit of chaos leaving the hotel due to the single left, so by the time we finally left in the convoy the traffic was pretty gridlocked. We rode in the midst of it for about 6k, and then we went through the park by the Zoo for a couple of kilometres. I would have liked to have seen the Pandas again, but we went past ages before the Zoo opening time.

Traffic leaving Madrid

Not a lot to report about the ride today, it was fairly short, 83k with only one significant hill. The scenery was dry and hot.

Of great interest today we went past the NASA Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex. There are three sites in the world equidistant from each other: one in Canberra, Australia, the California Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in the United States, and this one in Spain. Where ever a satellite is it can be in communication, it takes two seconds to get or send a message to the moon, and it takes 79 minutes to send a messages to or from Mars.

Madrid NASA Deep Space Communication Complex

I wonder if any of the cows are secret agents?

The campsite tonight seems fairly deserted, so fingers crossed it will be quiet tonight. I discovered yesterday we have eight more riding days to Lisbon, including today, not seven like I thought.

Happy 50th Birthday Julie, I hope you had a great meal out!

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