Posts Tagged With: Road works

Day 54/164: Guadalupito to La Gramita – 113km

1,100 meters up – 1,100 meters down

The roadworks went on for most of the night. The next day the stretch of road outside was three-quarters finished. Even though this is only the third day of riding I am really pleased that we have a rest day tomorrow.

The scenery is pretty much identical from yesterday: desert, hills, sand, wind, and once the cloud cover goes at 11:30am it is hot. Stark, but in a way it is strangely beautiful first thing in the morning, with fresh legs, and before the wind picks up and sun hits.

Dirt track to avoid a narrow tunnel (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Dirt track to avoid a narrow tunnel (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Once again there is a separate highway for much of the morning that we can ride on, which keeps us away from the traffic. We were told at the rider’s meeting last night that the place we are staying at is very quiet.

The lunch bus

The lunch bus (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

The view from lunch today

The view from lunch today

The ride after lunch was hard, uphill through endless desert with a head wind. My two year old inner voice was running a negative commentary about this being the back side of nowhere, whilst my adult voice was trying to be positive about the scenery. The two year got the upper hand when I saw from a distance where we were staying: 3 kilometres in the distance down a dirt track to a small town that did not look appealing on initial viewing.

I stopped at the restaurant on the main road, and had a cold beer to deal with the dust in my throat, and tried the ceviche (raw fish) which is a speciality here. Both were delicious. Then I set off to find the hotel.

We are staying at the Las Aldas Hotel, which was actually ok, small cabins but no power switches or wifi. Plus no cash machines which was not expected, and they don’t take credit cards. To add to my joy everything here is really expensive! Captive market. We had to order dinner on arrival which was “Do you want the meal of the day or not”.

I am not sharing with Sue as she has really bad gastro and, unlike me normally, I have said I am not prepared to catch it again so I am rooming with Emma, a 22 year old nursing student on her summer break from England. Emma joined us in Loja.

After sitting sulking on the deck of the cabin, in a hammock looking at the beautiful view, I got over myself and appreciated the stunning scenery.

A little touch of paradise for the next two nights (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

A little touch of paradise for the next two nights (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

As I had very little cash thankfully one of the other riders paid for my meal. Hopefully there will be a cash machine in the town although this looks extremely doubtful! Will worry about this tomorrow.

The meal was meant to be at 7pm and finally arrived at about 8:15pm. I thought I was having chicken but for some reason some of the riders had been allocated fish. I was happy, as fish was the better choice.

So after a long day in the sun and wind, plus red wine, I went off to bed for an early night, and happily no 5am start tomorrow.

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

Day 20/164: Anapoima to Prado – 146km

1,502 km down: 12,139 to go (1,200 metres up, 1,600 metres down today)

When I was putting my tent down I did not realise that but not only were there a couple of large ant mounds near the tent (which I had seen and kept away from) but there was also some netting above the tent and there were ants all over it. I must have brushed up against it, as I got ants all inside my riding shirt. The biting sort! Ouch! I quickly changed my shirt.

I set off feeling reasonably good, and aiming to ride the whole day. There were some rolling hills to begin. I stopped at 16 kilometres for a freshly squeezed orange juice. They squeeze it while you wait – 2000 pesos (approximately a dollar) for a glass.

Orange juice

Juice stop (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

At 16.9 kilometres I missed a turn – I’m not sure if there was a truck parked across the road or whether I just wasn’t paying attention. After 7 kilometres I realised I had gone the wrong way and back tracked, adding 14 kilometres.  I learned from my last trip not to try and work out (aka guess) how you could meet up with the right road again, as this led to the time I got really lost on my last trip but thankfully was saved by Bobby and her bright red sports car, who delivered me safely to camp.

The next bit was rolling hills on a back road through a village and farmland. Quite a lot of the road was gravel and bumpy and rocky.  Due to having made the wrong turn, I had the sweep behind me as I was now the last rider (two other riders also missed this turn but they are faster than me). We then came out to a main highway, after about 5 kilometres I had to go over an abandoned bridge, and then connect with another highway. It was really hot, with a headwind, and was hard going. By this stage I had done about 90 kilometres – but only 76 of the planned ride.

Luckily lunch was at 78 kilometres, a very welcome sight. Two of the other riders were stopping at lunch and taking the lunch truck back to camp. I considered stopping also as it was so hot! But I decided that I really wanted to ride the whole ride so I had something thing to eat and carried on. I had 67 kilometres to go – not including the 14 extra due to getting lost.

It was so hot it, was beating down and not a lot of shade. I saw the first couple of flags ok but then, would you believe it, I missed a turn again!!!! I have discovered my speedo is slightly out, as it is set it for the size of tyres I have but not the width/ thickness, so this is throwing the measurements out just enough to cause an issue – especially for with someone already challenged with directions.

I asked a couple of locals and they assured me I was going the correct way to Neiva – they were right, just not the way I should have been going. The road went on and on, and the heat just kept glaring down on me. It dawned on me that I was probably lost again especially as there was meant to be more downhill than uphill and I was mostly going up.

Over one of the many rivers (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Over one of the many rivers (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

I went to a service station to buy water, and it is the first petrol station I have come across that only sells petrol. I decided to ring Christaino to see which direction I should go, as I was not sure where I had gone wrong .I could not believe it but my phone was nearly flat! It had been showing full charge that morning.

I rang Christiano but he could not hear me but said to text him., which I did but got no response . I was sitting there thinking “What next?” and thinking how I would love to see Bobby and her little red sports car, when I remembered that my son Daniel had kindly downloaded all the maps where I was going onto my phone and my iPad.

I had enough phone battery to get the map app up and it showed me where I was (thanks Dan xx). It also showed me that I was on my way to Saidane, which I was pretty sure from my notes was a town I needed to go through, but as my writing is not very legible even to me I was not 100% sure. Note to self: have better handwriting! Off I went and yay it was the right town and joy such joy there were flags!   🙂 🙂 🙂

I stopped, had some more water, and set off again. At this stage I had done 148 kilometres and still had 30 kilometres to go but at least I was on the right road.

And then there were road works! Thick, wet, dirt roads, hard to ride on, especially with tired legs. There was a water truck laying down more water. I was behind it so I was getting covered in mud as well. The water truck driver jumped off his truck, gave me water without any prompting from me, smiled, and drove off again. They have water here in plastic packets as well as in bottles, this was a plastic packet.

The road was going on and on and I was starting to worry that it would get dark before I got to camp. I decided I would make the call at the next town, and if I needed to I would catch a taxi to camp. 152 kilometres on the clock at this stage and then suddenly in front of me I see Christano and his partner Anna driving towards me in the ute 🙂 🙂 🙂

Christiano had decided to come and find me and see if I was ok. The text I sent had not got through to his phone either. Turns out from where I had missed the flag I had done a bigger loop to Saidane than the way that was planned. I was very very pleased to see Christiano and Anna.

Back at camp I noticed there were a few mosquitos so plied bug spray liberally after my very cold shower. It did not help, I am covered in bites – most people are even those who don’t usually get bitten. It didn’t help that I had one in my tent for part of the night who waited until I went to sleep before feasting. I heard it at 2am and located it.  Now I am trying really hard not to itch, and taking antihistamine.

The view from Sue's tent at the campsite (Photo credit: SUe's blog)

The view from Sue’s tent at the camp site (Photo credit: SUe’s blog)

I plugged my phone into the charge bank when I got to camp, and then discovered a couple of hours later that the charge bank was totally flat. Either it is dead or more likely I forgot to check it was plugged in properly when I charged it in Bogota.

I got the phone charged just enough to text my daughter Kelly like I do every day when I get to camp. I must have accidentally pressed a button to ring her, as a few minutes later my phone told me I had a missed call. I tried to ring back (thinking she had rung me, and worried that there was something wrong) but the phone decided there was no service. I went up into the camp ground into the main building and charged the phone for 45 min. I text Kelly that I had service and she could ring me back, and then realised that it was me accidentally pressing ring to her, so she didn’t need to ring. I made sure I had enough battery to last the next day.

Dinner was pork stew, beans and plantain. Plantain is in the banana family, and depending on how you cook it, it is either all right or horrid. Boiled and mashed is nasty, but these were partly baked and ok.
I am not going to be a convert though.

One of the riders missed the turn for the camp and clocked up 200 kilometres today!

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