Posts Tagged With: River

Tuesday 4 July: Day 2 in London

Today was all about being a tourist, and seeing as much of London as possible in one day. First stop breakfast. For the first time I have not been concerned that I would not be able to find decent tea, as this is after all London. Unbelievable, endless teabags of every flavor known, apart from English Breakfast!! Luckily there was a twining tea called Every Day tea.

The buffet seemed a bit weird, no cereal or toast (or toaster) even though there were pots of marmalade and honey on the tables. I just assumed we had arrived after the rush, and had a croissant instead.

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Just before sunrise

After breakfast we got passes to the Original Tour Bus from the hotel, and headed to the stop to wait. Don’t ever get tickets for this bus – get tickets for the Big Bus, Golden Tours, or London Hop and Off – at least 3 each of these buses went past whilst we waited for the Original Bus to appear!

The bus was due at 10am, by 10:40 we were getting pretty frustrated, along with other people also waiting for this company, who like us were watching numerous other tour companies come and go in this time.

Finally the Original Bus arrived and off we went. We stayed on the bus for about and hour and half looking at the sights, and then we got off by Hyde Park and looked around the outside of Buckingham place and Westminster Abby.

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Buckingham Palace

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Westminster Big Ben

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Westminster Abbey

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Trafalgar Square

I got a photo of me in a red phone box with Big Ben in the distance, looked at the horses by 10 Downing Street, and at 10 Downing Street from the gate.

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Horse Guards

We saw theaters (Phantom of the Opera has been running non stop for thirty years), and London Taxis and double decker buses, and hordes of tourists. There are a number of places I wanted to go to but ran out of tourist enthusiasm, as well as time –  Platform 9 3/4, Harrods, to name but a couple).

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Victoria Tower Gardens

We got on a cruise to go up the Thames back to Tower Bridge, and got off at the Globe Theatre stop, and looked at it from the outside. After looking around this is also on the list for the next trip.

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Westminster. Parliament House under repair

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River cruise back downstream

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The London Eye

It was nearly 3pm and we had not had lunch so we went into a pub to try the pub pies. I had a Steak and Ale pie, which came with gravy, mushy peas and potato. The pie inside was nice, but the pastry was really tough. Shellbe said later this is usual for them, rather than it having been over cooked. Brett had a Beetroot and Camembert pie which was also pretty nice.

Then off to The Shard which has a viewing platform on the 68th floor, where you can get a pretty good view over London.

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View over the River Thames and the Tower Bridge from The Shard.

Then back to the hotel to get changed before going out for dinner. We had dinner with Shellbe, Brett’s nephew Ben who lives in London, and Brett’s stepson (also called Brett) who was in London for work.

We all met at Canary wharf at an Italian restaurant called Amerigo Vespucci. I had risotto with truffle and salad, it was really nice.  We went both ways on the metro, I am starting to get a bit more familiar with changing lines.

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Last night in London

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Editor’s note: The caption that came with this picture was “No miracles just don’t happen” . . . 

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Day 24: Koblenz to Cologne

108km, flat – the biggest climb today is a bridge

We had a problem with the flagging as we left the hotel and ended up going the wrong way, left and right along the river. Eventually we worked out that the flagging was wrong, ignored them, and headed straight, and then turned towards the river and picked it up further down on. We found out later that at least 10 of the other riders had the same problem.

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Crossing the Mosel River at Koblenz

Mostly today the riding was on bike paths, without a lot to see apart from fields, canals and the occasional village.

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Andenach

We went through one town with a lovely waterfront, so we stopped and took a couple of photos.

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Bad Breisig

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Bad Breisig

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Bad Breisig

Coming out of the town we went up and then under a railway pass, there were three young boys sitting on a bench. As we were looking for which way to go next, one of them pointed left. Given the amount of touring riders, he must have had to do that a few times in a short timeframe.

We went past an old house that was built in 3 sections, the earliest in the 1300.

As we went along the Rhine we had one cruise ship “Ms Emily Bronte” keeping up with us. I googled the ship name later and found she has only been sailing since Feb 17. 

Today we only saw a couple of castles, unlike the past two days.

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Boy on his bike on the river bike path.

When we got into Cologne, we found we had to go to another hotel to store our bikes, in Hotel Martin across the road. It was a huge hotel that had shops in the foyer.

The WIFI is hopeless, I can not log on and will probably have to find somewhere to send emails. Probably the number one frustration on a trip is if you can’t get WIFI. First world problem really.

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Arriving in Cologne

Brett and I went to have dinner at El Chango, the number one steak place on trip advisor in Cologne. It was pretty delicious. The steaks came in 200 gram to 500 gram with sauce, baked potatoes and vegetables.

To start we had a beer, which came in the smallest beer glasses I have ever seen. Apparently this is to keep the beer fresh. Then we had a nice Argentinian Malbec red.

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At the Argentinian Steakhouse

We are staying at Hotel Malzmuhle, which is apparently also a brewery but it is shut today. There are photos of Bill Clinton on the wall, apparently he stayed here.

When I got back from dinner thankfully I managed to log onto the internet, which was lucky as the next day there were still people who had not managed to log on.

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Riverside at Benthurm

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Day 23: Mainz to Koblenz

101 km today, all flat

We have stayed in 3 IBIS hotels this trip, and this one has a new rule that you are meant to automatically know about. When you get breakfast, you are meant to use a tray, which most people did as it easier. IBIS is the only place that had trays, but at this IBIS after breakfast you are meant to take your tray to a rack at the side of the restaurant, and place it with the dirty dishes on it. We were unaware of this, and also where the rack was, until Tim tried to leave the restaurant and the waitress blocked his way until he had taken his tray to the rack!

As we have been riding through Germany we have noticed that as you come out of the towns there are lots of little garden allotments with small sheds, growing veggies and sometimes flowers. There are often chairs and children’s toys. These must be for people who live in apartments and have no gardens. Not sure if they buy them, lease them. or go in an allocation draw.

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Small private gardens just on the outskirts of German towns.

About 30k into the ride today, suddenly the cyclists were no longer using the bike lanes and were all over the road riding 3-4 abreast. I was concerned to see a small child aged about three riding at least 300 meters in front of her parents on a main highway. Then I realised the road was closed. I later found out it’s an annual event, the last Sunday in June the road is closed both side of the Rhine for 65 km from Rudesheim and Bingen to Koblenz.

There were hundreds of cyclists on road bikes, mountain bikes, tandems, and trikes with carriages containing children and pets. Skaters, Segway riders, the occasional serious cyclist trying to get in the weekend training, and one lone jogger . There were Grandparents, families, and teens, interspersed with biking tourists.

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Both sides of the Rhein roads closed to traffic for 40km. Great riding with thousands out.

Also on the way into every town they had cake stalls, small markets, and beer stands. A very carnival atmosphere.

 

There were lots of ships going up and down the Rhine, carrying coal, scrap, containers, cruises and small boats. There were a number of the ships carrying scrap and coal pushing another ship carrying the same. In one instance, one was called Bermuda and the other was called Triangle.

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Bermuda / Triangle

The stretch we are riding is the upper middle Rhine river, a 65 km stretch is a UNESCO world heritage site as it has more castles per square mile than anywhere else in the world. Castles were built on the river to get a toll from the passing boats.

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Castle on the river at Stolzenfels

There are 40 hilltop castles and fortresses built over a 1,000 year period in this 65 km stretch, and 65 villages. The steep hillsides have been terraced and growing grapes for 1,000 years. Many are ruins as they were either abandoned, or destroyed, and left as picturesque ruins in the 17th century wars. The 19th century onwards has seen restoration and reconstruction taken place. Even railway tunnels had castle designs on the outside.

On archways into towns there is documentation of previous floods, the worse being 28.11.1882, where the flood nearly reached the top of the archway.

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Rhens town gate showing Rhein flood heights over 200 years.

At the Lunch stop you could see two castles just from where I was sitting.

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Lunch stop at Sankt Goar an der Loreley.

Next to the lunch stop the local fire brigade were doing their part for the local fundraising, and were selling Kaffee and Kuchen (coffee and cake).

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Me and a 🔥 man.

At 61 km, we went past the rocks of Lorelei where legend has it the ghost of a young woman, who leapt to her death in the Rhine, sits and combs her golden hair and sings and lures seamen to their death.

 

One one house on the river bank there was a statue of a stork on the outside with tiny baby clothes hanging next to it, and the date of the arrival of the new baby (Pepe).

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New baby (Pepe) arrival.

We went off the road to one very pretty village called Oberwesel to have a look around, and got talking to couple of self touring riders called Louise and  Brian from Norwich. They started in Switzerland and are finishing in Amsterdam. Brian had two water bottles on his bike, and a wine rack made for bikes from Topeak.

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Louise and Brian from Norwich, UK.

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Town of Oberwesel

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Town of Oberwesel

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The narrows at Oberwesel

We are staying at yet another IBIS, so dinner was at a restaurant not the hotel. As we were walking to dinner, there was a group with man in a wheelchair moving very slowly in front of us. I checked no one was on the adjacent bike path, so we walked out to go around the group. As soon as we did a German couple raced up to us, the woman with her face screwed up like she had just sucked on a lemon, and had a go at us for being on the bike path. I suggested perhaps they could get a life.

At the dinner we were crammed into the corner of an otherwise empty restaurant, but were not allowed to sit at any of the other tables.

We had dinner with John W, Graham, Yvonne, and Scott. Dinner was asparagus soup (we think. If not it was possibly potato soup), hard fried chicken, and a nasty hamburger pattie (I didn’t eat it), and white rice which I also didn’t eat, and chips. Dessert was ice cream. I had sparkling water.

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Riding through Boppard

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Day 22: Heidelberg to Mainz

101 km, 150 meters 👍 up

Yvonne is better and back riding. Poor Graham is not looking forward to be confined to the truck.

Thankfully there was no convoy out of the city. Not long into the ride we went past the city zoom and they have glass fences into a couple of enclosures. In one of them was a nest with storks – adults and babies . It was really great to see storks again.

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Stork chicks on the nest at Heidelberg Zoo

We followed a range of bike paths for the day, through fields and villages, and then the most of the rest of the day was along the river Rhine.

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Negotiating some single track

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Rheine village

The path was often very uneven with cobblestones, which are hard to ride on. We saw a number of river cruise ships, and other river ships carrying coal and oil and scrap metal. The ships were going approx 20 km/hr, so we often kept up with them for quite awhile.

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Rhine River traffic in Neirstein

There were lots of sandy areas on the river shore, and lots of people having picnics along the shore. There were a number of other cyclists, quite a few doing self supported touring.

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Riverside village called “Worms”

Just after the lunch stop, we had to ride across some fields and then change to another bike path. Just at the intersection there was a house with lots of ornaments, a seat covered with knitting, and a bike with a knitted jersey.

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Cosy bike

Riding along the river the path weaved in and out, at times right by the river and at other times running parallel through fields. Brett was riding in front and he followed the path round a hedge, I followed him and was nearly hit by a car. The car had swerved to avoid Brett and crossed over to my side of the road. I wrenched my bike to the left, and gave my sore arm a huge jolt which was quite painful. Thankfully no other damage.

We left the river and rode through a town, and then came out into a vineyard that we rode through for the next 10 km, it was beautiful.  Apart from the bit we were riding on, it was very hilly and the grapes were planted in terraces stretching up the hills. They had a number of tractors with covered carts on the back that seated about 10 -12 people, full of people wine tasting. You could hear the people laughing and could see a number of these winding their way up the hill. It looked like fun.

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Coming through the vineyards approaching Mainz.

The last 15 km was back on the river, and then through the town to another IBIS hotel. Thankfully a slightly bigger room than yesterday.

There was a building over the road that had a large grass roof. On the list of chores for the owner: mow the roof!

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Mainz township – building with grass on top

We had dinner at a place around the corner from the hotel, as IBIS doesn’t serve dinner. I had dinner with Brett, Judy and Tim, Ed, John J, and Cathy. Dinner was Liverwurst soup – it looked horrid and tasted nasty and didn’t eat it; a lovely fresh salad; and totally unexpected: a really nice piece of salmon with sauce, spinach and rice. Dessert was ice cream and strudel. I didn’t eat the strudel as the one in Croatia has spoiled me for ones that are not as nice. Sparkling water.

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Mainz

Introducing

John H is from Victoria, Canada. He is a retired ED doctor who worked in Seattle. He is married and this is his second TDA ride.

Ed is from New York, he owned Liquor store, is retired now. He has no children and has done one TDA ride before.

John Hemm

Dr John H and Dr Peter H were both at Med school together

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Edward and Brett: Heidelberg to Mainz

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Day 16: Garmisch-Partenkichen to Munich

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

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

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Bike path along Lake Starnberger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Waitress at Wirtshaus In Der Au

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

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A home on the shore of Lake Starnberger

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Day 21: Sunday 4 Dec – Greymouth to Hari Hari

112km today – 800 meters climbing, 750 down.

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

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

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

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Shared bridge (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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

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

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Concrete armchair at Hokitika

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Driftwood armchair

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

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Interesting shop front in Ross

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Interesting house in Ross

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hari Hari plane plaque

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Hari Hari’s claim to fame

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

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

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Getting my yellow card

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Trying to explain / defend my actions

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

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Getting close to Hari Hari

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Day 5: San Marcos to Caucasia – 122km

428 km down: 13,213 km to go

I set off from the hotel at 6:30am thinking “122 kilometres with 65 kilometres off road, how bad could it be?”.

Well. It had rained constantly overnight and the dirt road was actually a dirt bath. The first 3 to 4 kilometres were ok, but then it was followed by a section where the mud was so thick and wet you could not ride and you could not push your bike either. Every time you tried, you got 10 meters and then had to spend 5 minutes pulling mud out of the front and back tyres and chain of the bike.

The mud road

The mud road

A couple of times along the track the locals helped us out and hosed down our bikes. There was about 3 kilometres where the only option was to carry your bike. My bike is 18 kilos, plus the panniers that kept trying to fall off at every opportunity, though they were also hooked around my bike chain and locked so I couldn’t actually lose them. I would get about 30 meters carrying the bike and have to stop then go another 30 meters and so on. Thankfully the temperature was kinder than previous days, it was only 26 degrees.

A local hosing down my bike

A local hosing down the bikes (Photo credit: Sue’s Facebook page)

The locals all waved and smiled at us as we went past, and were probably thinking “Stupid foreigners, why the heck don’t they use the main road!”.

After a while there were bits you could ride but I still had to keep jumping off whenever it got to a muddy bit, sometimes 20 meters, sometimes 50, then we got to some stretches where you could ride 200 to 300 meters. I fell off a number of times and was caked in mud, mainly by thinking the mud was harder than it was and over balancing when my bike slipped. I soon learnt not to try and steer when this happened.

Ironic, I thought I bought my bike here for it to carry me, not the other way round! After a stretch of a few kilometres where it started to get better I was feeling hopeful, then I saw riders carrying their bikes over a 500 metre stretch that was a quagmire. Luckily after this it improved again.

The quagmire

Carrying your bike was the only way to go (Photo credit: Sue’s Facebook page)

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Stopped for a quick drink – yes, I am as exhausted as I look (Photo credit: Sue’s Facebook page)

We had to go 35 kilometres and then catch a canoe to the other side for 2000 pesos, which is about 1 New Zealand Dollar. When we got there, there were heaps of locals collected to watch the entertainment, and the local children were fundraising by washing our bikes for 2000 pesos each. They were most enthusiastic and you had to stop them from rushing off with the panniers still attached.

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The kids washing the bikes (Photo credit: Sue’s Facebook page)

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Locals on the river bank watching us

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Canoe loading in progress (Photo credit: Sue’s Facebook page)

Then across on the canoe – which was more of a long boat – to the other side, about 50 meters. Once we got to the other side it was narrow, windy, muddy and at times steep. I decided to walk as I had fallen off enough for the day, and because of this I lost contact with the other two riders who I had come across in the canoe with.

Thankfully it started getting a bit easier and less narrow, however then I came to another river and another canoe, and this was not in my notes! I started to get that sick feeling that I was lost. I pointed down the river rather than across and the two ferryman shook their heads and pointed to the canoe. I was still dubious, so they decided for me by pulling my bike on board.

Sitting on the canoe I could feel my bottom lip start to tremble and then tears slide out of my eyes as I was really worried that I was going the wrong way. “Stop being a baby”, I told myself “I’m sure the locals know what they’re doing”.

Over the other side I biked about 5 kilometres feeling a bit worried, and then came to a house where the road curved. There was Christiano, the tour leader, who had to come to the first point that there was vehicle access, as he knew that we would be worried that there was a second canoe crossing. I was so pleased to see him I burst into tears and hugged him.

Off again, more dirt roads, another 35 kilometres to go, thankfully only had to get off on average every 500 metres. My cleats and clips were so clogged with mud that I could not clip them in, and it got very wearying trying to balance my shoes on top. I tried washing them a few times in puddles without much success.

I seemed to ride forever and just when I thought “Ok I have missed a turn”, I came to a more built up area (5 to 6 houses) and then thankfully hard tarmac and there was the lunch truck! I could not believe it was 3:50pm! 9 hours for 65 kilometres and still 55 to go.

I had a quick lunch, once again the local children washed the bike for 2000 pesos. My bike was clucking and clacking and I could not get into the biggest gear. I managed to get another 35 kilometres but it gets dark at 6ish, and I did not have my light or reflector as I had no reason to think it would be needed that morning.

After 35 kilometres I made the call that I wouldn’t get another 20 kilometres before it got dark. By this time I was on a main highway with lots of trucks, and motorbikes zooming along on the shoulder.

I decided to stop at the toll booth where it is well lit – and there are Policia – to wait for the truck to pick me up. I asked the policia man if I could sit there, he seemed agreeable although after I had been there for about 45 minutes in the dark he tried to ask me what I was up to – in Spanish. After no success there was a huddle of the policia and then about 10 minutes later another man arrived and sat down next to me and asked if I spoke English. I told him what was happening, he spoke to the Policia and all was fine. I was pleased I had bought my bug cream in my pannier, as I was there for another 30 minutes.

It was 8pm by the time we got to camp. A number of riders only got to lunch and one of the riders Asha had lost his rear derailer, and was up for ages repairing his bike.

It was a tired lot putting up tents in the dark (my headlight batteries ran out of course!), sorting our bikes and getting the mud off (2 showers for all the riders – but thankfully there were showers at all!).

Sue had broken 7 spokes on her bike and another rider and I had wrecked our riding shoes (both of us had old shoes). I have been wearing my new riding shoes as walking shoes on rest days to try and break them in so I don’t get my feet covered with blisters. The clips are inserted into the sole, and then you put a cover over the sole.

When I got onto the truck I had both panniers and my bike chain lock, but I haven’t seen my bike chain lock since. Last time I was on the truck I had got on with 2 water bottles now I only have one. I am carrying water in my panniers, and will buy a new chain and lock when I see a bike store.

This one photo pretty much sums up the day. This isn't posed - it's where Sue fell off her bike Photo credit: Sue's Facebook page

This one photo pretty much sums up the day. This isn’t posed – it’s where Sue and her bike landed when she fell off.
Photo credit: Sue’s Facebook page

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