Posts Tagged With: Rolling hills

Day 25: Friday 9 Dec – Lake Hawea to Queenstown

94km to ride – 1,244 to climb and 1,241 down



Last day’s climb!

It was a beautiful morning. There was no wind, the sun was shining and the lake looked stunning.


Early morning on Lake Hawea (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Before breakfast we all met down at the lake in our Trans Oceania riders shirts to have a group photo. Well all of us that is apart from Dan, who apparently never wears the ride shirt, not even for the five minute for a group photo . . . each to their own.


Group photo, before setting off for the final day of riding (Photo credit: TDA Facebook page)


The group photo with the banner

In the photo the front riders are holding the Trans Oceania Ride Banner – or so it seems! Actually this has been photoshopped in as the actual banner disappeared during the trip. The riders in the front row just had to have their hands out as if they were holding it.

There were a number of group photos, plus a photo of Tony the tallest rider (6 ft 4) with his bike and Lani (about 5ft) and her bike, as well as a photo where Tony had lifted Lani onto his bike and her feet couldn’t touch the peddles!


Anne has got her mountain bike with her and kindly offered to bring it to me and take my bike if my bike breaks down today. I felt much better reassured that one way or another I will be able to complete the ride as I set off.

The first few kilometres were rolling hills and then through Wanaka for a brief look at the town, then onto the Cardona pub for a coffee.


Cardrona Hotel


Coffee stop at Cardrona Hotel

Just before the pub is the Cardona Brewery, and along the fence are hundreds of bras. I found out after it’s for breast cancer awareness.


Passing the Cardrona Distillery and the bra fence.


Cardrona – or Bradrona? – Valley (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)


Cardrona Valley (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

After the coffee stop the climbing for the day began – the Cardona Crown Range needed to be climbed 😐. The first few kms were not too bad, a steady upwards gradient but the last kilometre to the top my legs went on strike and I was off walking (I found out later so did at least half of the riders).

Lunch was at the top but I wasn’t hungry, and did not think about making anything to eat later as I had forgotten dinner wasn’t till 8 pm.


At the top of the Crown Range, only 40km to the finish.


Michele at the Crown Range summit (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook page)


Sue on the Crown Range Pass (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

After lunch lots of downhill, firstly quite steep and then a big switch back. I have rim brakes so had to stop to let the rims cool half way down the hill.


Switchbacks to zoom down (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)


Crown Range pass (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Once down the bottom it was 5 km to Arrowtown where we stopped and had a drink with Sue at the Pub. With 20 km to go Tick Tock was still clicking and rattling along.


Drinks stop in Arrowtown

I rode with Sue from Arrowtown, Brett rode ahead so he could take a photo of Sue finishing the ride. We are not having a convoy or finish line photo due to the difference in riding abilities – a few riders would have to wait for at least 2 -3 hours and the slowest would feel the pressure all day. Sue has achieved EFI (every f*cking inch) on this ride. This is great achievement as there were some really long hot days in the Australian section of this ride, plus a few days of pouring rain and floods.

Into Queenstown, yay we are here! Just a few steepish streets and then we made it to the Earnslaw Lodge, the finish hotel. We needed to box the bike straight away as the owners won’t have them in the hotel unless they are boxed. Pretty reasonable really and saves doing it tomorrow.


Arriving at the hotel in Queenstown


Sue and Kaye celebrate! (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

We have a room with a lovely view over the lake and a balcony. We had 3 hours to relax, get cleaned up and over the road by 7 to the Copthorne, where we have a video presentation of the ride at 7pm and then dinner at 8pm.

The total kilometres for the trip was 2,278km, and climbed 23,628m. There were no serious injuries. Sue got EFI the whole trip, and of the riders who joined in Auckland Kevin, Charles, Bill, Michele, Tony, Chris, Linda, Brett and I rode EFI.

The Earnslaw is not right by the town center and I did not think about going down to town to get any food so by now I was starting to get hungry. The presentation was good, then there were a few speeches, and Sue was presented with her EFI medallion, plus we had all got together and signed a book of NZ photos for Sue in recognition of her EFI.


We had another group photo, and Dan who never wears the ride shirt was wearing it at dinner, so he managed to stick out again for the opposite reason!

We went up to dinner, which was nice food – pumpkin soup and a roll, salmon and mashed potatoes, a piece of broccoli, plus a panna cotta dessert, but not in right the quantity for hungry riders! We convinced the staff to give us another roll each which helped.

After dinner a few of us went to the hotel bar for another drink. People are starting to leave from tomorrow so we may not see them again unless we met up on another ride.

Then it was across the road to bed, no riding tomorrow but we do have to change hotels.


Sunset over Earnslaw Lodge, from the arrival dinner.

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Day 23: Wednesday 7 Dec – Fox Glacier to Haast

119km – 1,000 meters climbing and 1,150 down


The last three days of riding!

The weather forecast for today was not good and it turned out to be correct. I woke up a few times during the night and could hear the rain pouring down.

In the morning it was on with all the wet and warm weather gear and off out into the weather. Yoav and Asia came in to say goodbye and wish us the best for today’s ride, they were sensibly going to have another rest day.


Wet and rainy morning (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

The first 90 km was mostly flat with some rolling hills. At 25 km I had to wait at a one way bridge whilst work was being down, thankfully the workers took pity on us and let us across quickly. The rest of the day the traffic came in bursts, as it was all stopped at the bridge. There were no trucks and only one bus, and mostly camper vans and camper wagons.

At 62 km I stopped for coffee at a salmon farm, but did not look at the salmon as I was worried about getting cold. When we left the salmon farm the rain was very heavy. All the way to lunch at 77 km my coffee kept repeating on me which was not pleasant. I did not eat much at lunch as I was feeling a bit nauseous. Emily had boiled water and was making tea and coffee and also vegemite soup (I did not try it, I just had tea) which was greatly appreciated.


Rainy and wet lunch stop (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook page)

There was a self supported rider – Ida – coming the other direction, so we waved her over to have something to eat and a warm drink. Ida said she had started cycling from Bluff 7 days earlier, she rode for 8 hours every day, and then camped at the side of the road if there was no campsite. Not sure that I would be brave enough to do that.

The one good thing about the rain is that it kept the bugs at bay, although there were a few sand flies hovering under the awning at lunch.

At Bruce Bay there are a stack of rocks and small boulders that passing tourists have written their name on, and now it has become an attraction. All different nationalities.


The stones at Bruce Bay

Brett rode down here with a group at the beginning of 2015 and said it was a very nice ride, but with the rain and mist it was hard to see much of anything today.

At 92 km we had a hill climb for 6 km, the tail wind assisted us, then a big downhill then rolling hills, and flat the rest of the way to camp. At about 100 km I could hear my bike making a click click sound, but couldn’t see anything when I got off my bike to have a look. So I kept going, hoping it would get me to camp.

There were a number of signs along the way “Coffee in 8 km at Bruce Bay”, “Coffee in 2 km at Bruce Bay”, but once we got to Bruce Bay nothing was open – or even looked like coffee stop! Then as I got closer to camp the signs said “Whitebait fritters 3 km”, “Whitebait fritters 500 m”, “Whitebait fritters by the bridge” then “Whitebait fritters closed”. I would have stopped if they had been open.


Outside the Haast Information Centre

Tonight we stayed at the Haast Top 10, I was really pleased I had a cabin and also it had a heater, shower and toilet, and jug. I was totally soaked so it was very good to get out of my wet clothes. The cabin was quickly turned into a Chinese laundry with wet weather gear drying on every available surface. I was still cold so crawled into bed to warm up and napped and read until dinner time.

I had a book emergency – I only had a few pages left and my next book was in my permanent bag which I wouldn’t get again until Friday. Luckily there was a book swap in reception. Not great pickings, three books about werewolves, two books written in German, a number of love stories,  and a Jeffrey Archer book called “Mightier than the Sword” which seemed to be the best choice. I had just finished a book by Minette Walters called The shape of snakes which was better expected.

Micah looked at my bike for me. He straightened the derailleur and fixed a cable, and said it should get to Queenstown (approx 220 km) but after that I will need to take into to get the freewheel looked at. Hopefully it doesn’t just go like it did in Peru, if it does the bike is not ride-able.

Luckily there was a covered area where dinner could be cooked and eaten. Dinner was macaroni cheese with bacon with a crunchy top, and a walnut and apple and cucumber salad. The weather forecast predicts a fine day tomorrow so fingers crossed.  Tomorrow we have have 1,700 meters climbing including a steep climb through what is known as the Gates of Haast.


Ship Creek

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Day 20: Saturday 3 Dec – Westport to Greymouth

103km to ride today – 1,450 meters climbing up and down.

This morning breakfast was in the motel car park.  The TDA staff had set up the tables as usual, boiled water for tea and coffee, and put out cereal and yoghurt. Yarnez the chef also had bought filled pastries – bacon and egg or chicken and mushroom.


Breakfast in the motel carpark. Bob from Canada in the front of the photo

I set off today feeling pretty positive about the ride – good distance, not much climbing, and feeling the benefit of the rest day. I need to focus on doing more stretching as I have a bit of tightness behind my knee.

There was no wind but despite the weather forecast saying no rain, rain looked imminent.

As I was riding along I saw a number of Weka crossing the road, and suddenly the stories from the other riders of seeing kiwis crossing the road made sense. If you did not really know what a Kiwi looked like and its habitat, you could get confused. Weka are brown, about the right size, but of course they have different feathers and a much shorter bill (not to mention living in the grassland and being out in the daylight).


The “Kiwi” out in daylight

What an amazing ride today, the West Coast is so pretty. The coastline is a bit wild and rocky which I much prefer compared to pristine white sandy beaches.


Great riding along coast today on SH6

The hills were generally kind (no more than 5% gradient) or they had a good downhill and you could get up most of the next hill for free.


Another hill to climb

It rained not long after leaving camp, but only for about 5 minutes, so I didn’t stop and put on wet weather gear. However at 26 km it started again and got quite heavy so I stopped and put on my coat. Thankfully the rain stopped after about 30 minutes and held off for the rest of the day.


Coming into Punakaiki

At 55km we came to the Punakaiki Rocks, also known as pancake rocks because the rocks are layered, they get limestone in between the rocky layer which gets compressed and gives it the pancake look.


Editors Caption: Despite mentioning these amazing rocks, Kaye neglected to send me any photos, so here’s a photo from Sue’s blog

Lunch was at 74 km, it was nice to stop knowing 75% of the ride for the day was complete.


The beach at the lunch stop


The beach at lunch stop – showing how big the pebbles are (Editor’s note: Yet Kaye sent me not one, but TWO photos of the beach at the lunch stop, which she failed to even mention in her writing . . . )

When we arrived at camp two of the TDA staff were whacking themselves with fly swats, they were being bitten quite badly by small bugs. Dan, one of the other riders, was also bring bitten, but although they swarmed around my face they left me alone (due to my daily application of Bushman’s Friend insect repellant).

At about 90 km I realised I was not enjoying the ride as much and then I realised the wind was back. Luckily I only had a few more km to camp.

Tonight we stayed at the Greymouth Top 10 Holiday Park. It was a pretty nice camp, the biggest I have stayed in. It has a number of toilet blocks, heaps of camper wagon parks, tent sites and cabins and motels.

As it was looking like rain was quite likely, we asked how much it would cost to upgrade from a tent site to a basic cabin. $17 we were told. We thought that was pretty cheap, $17 each, but no it was $17 for the cabin. No need to even think about it, why would you not.

Unfortunately about an hour after we arrived a bunch of young guys arrived, full of Saturday night or holiday joy, and they are in the same block of cabins. Hopefully they are going out but if not that’s why I bring the iPod on these trips.

Tonight for dinner we had chicken casserole with rice, with nuts and cranberries, plus salad, with a shared bottle of Obsidian Montepulciano from Waiheke Island.

After dinner I was talking to Kevin from Canada. Kevin and his wife started a raw food dog company a number of years ago. They sell to the top end of the market and import venison and lamb from NZ for their dog food. I asked Kevin how he got into this and it was because he had bought some food for his dog that was contaminated, and the dog nearly died. So they started making their own, then friends started buying it, and it just grew from there.

After dinner I went for a walk along the beach. The beach was really stony and had lots of interesting coloured stones. Now time for an early night, and off again in the am.


Beautiful ride today

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Day 16: Tuesday 29 Nov – Picton to Nelson

113km to ride today – 1,650 meters of climbing 1,600 meters down.

Emily the tour leader described it as “rolling hills and two bitches”.


Today’s ride

Our new rider Justina thankfully had her gear and bike arrive so was ready to set off with everyone this morning. It was nice weather to ride in, not much wind and not too hot.

The first part of the ride was along Queen Charlotte Drive, which is part of the famous Forrest GrapeRide and the less well known but extremely enjoyable Gourmet Grazer Ride.


View of the Sounds (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook page)

There were some interesting mail boxes to look at as we rode along. There was a bit of earthquake damage to the road in places.


Interesting letterboxes

I was amused to see a sign for a “Live Stock Psychologist”, not sure of the significance of the pair of gum boots under the sign.


Not sure what the gumboots signfy

I stopped at 35km for coffee at Havlock, then back onto what was a really busy road. It was much more busy than usual because of the earthquake, all the traffic that would have gone down Kaikoura is on this road, plus there even more increased traffic because the railway line is also out of action.


Earthquake damaged road

It was quite daunting when trucks coming from both directions pass right by you. As always, some drivers are pretty good and some are either ignorant or deliberately come too close. Where ever possible I got right off the road until they had passed.

At 65km was the first big hill, then downhill to lunch at 70km. The next hill was one that Emily referred to as the second ‘bitch’, it was at 83km, and seemed to stretch on for ever.


Lunch stop (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook)

Almost at the top there was a pine tree randomly decorated as a Christmas tree, with a naivety scene at the foot. It was a good reason to stop and take a picture.


Random Christmas tree

There was a huge downhill with no shoulder, so I pulled over a number of times to let trucks past and was constantly looking over my shoulder. I was very pleased to get down the bottom.

Over the past three weeks I have noticed there are a few riders that I see a lot during the day. I am reasonably fast on the flat but still a bit slow going up hill or down steep slopes. I generally see Kelvin, Bill, and Charles, numerous times in a day. The other morning when leaving camp, instead of saying “have a good ride”, Kelvin said “See you 14 or so times on the way”.

It’s Kelvin’s first TDA ride. Kelvin is from Canada and owns a dog food making company. I don’t know much about Bill other than he drinks two 500 ml bottles of juice each morning, and he likes cake. Charles is also from Canada, and is a university academic of some sort. He has done a few other TDA rides and has endless energy, he buzzes past me with frequency making cheerful comments.

Bill is convinced he saw a Kiwi today, in the middle of the day crossing the road in a farmland area. As all New Zealander’s know this is unlikely, almost certainly impossible. For non-New Zealanders: Kiwis come out at night, live in the bush and 99.9% of people can live their whole life with never seeing one in the wild. (Editor’s disclaimer: not sure if this statistic is a true fact). 

After the big downhill we rode along the coast into Nelson, around the outskirts of town and then out of town to the Maitai Valley Motor Camp.


Cycling towards Nelson (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)


Cycling towards Nelson (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

I nearly went the wrong way as there is also a camp in Maitai Valley Rd called Brookland.
I felt a bit uneasy as I had gone through two roundabouts with no flagging, so called into a dairy and asked the owner, who told me I was going in the wrong direction. Then we had quite a long conversation about the Brookland camp being empty, and she was going to petition the council to get it opened to accommodate the homeless people in Nelson. Apparently because of the house price increase, and the knock on effect of increased rents, there are a number of families living in tents. I have to say living in a tent with a family would be really tough going especially in the cold and wet. Hopefully she is successful and the community gets behind her.

I arrived at the camp, put up my tent and had a wee nap until dinner. Dinner was beef stir fry , vegetables and noodles plus a roast vege salad. Yanez the chef said he had made the noodles because in South Africa, where he and Emily are from, you have noodles on your birthday for good luck for the next year.

Brett shared a really nice bottle of red with Michele, Tony and I – The Obsidian from Waiheke Island. It was an interesting mix of grapes: 40% cab sav, 28 % merlot, 13% cab franc, 13% petti verdott and 6% Malbec. All these variety of grapes were grown on Waiheke Island (a small island off Auckland). It was seriously nice wine.

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Day 6 – Saturday 19 November: Taupo to Ohakune

Today we have 1950 meters to climb, 1300 down and 145 km to ride. This is like doing the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge bike ride, without the training!

Sadly the day is overcast and drizzly, and the overseas riders are not going to be able to see the Great Lake at its best, and good -or any- views of the mountains.


Setting off ready for the rain, wearing my merino cap covered with a shower cap to keep head warm and dry

For those of you who have done the Taupo ride the ride today is stage 4 and half of stage 3. And for those of you who have done the Round the Mountain run it is most of stage 5 then stages 6, 7, 8 and 9.

So understandably daunted I set off. The first 18 km to Hatepe Hill was fairly gentle. Hatepe Hill was a climb but the worst bit was having no shoulder and riding up a passing lane. Thankfully a Saturday and thankfully no trucks in both lanes at the same time.

Sadly no Great Lake view at 22.3 km as promised in the notes, due to weather. I had been a bit nervous about the 4 km of tight turns and no shoulder but struck it lucky and only had one car pass during this bit.


Road between Taupo and Turangi

I stopped for coffee and a sandwich in Turangi plus went to the bike shop and got a rear reflector (another thing I forgot to pack).

The 11 km from Turangi to the turn off to National Park was fairly easy riding, once again relieved it is Saturday. Then once we turned onto SH46 the climb begun. It was pretty much all climbing from 60 km to 100 km and it seemed endless. There would have been nice views if it wasn’t pouring and misty. I was pleased that I had booked a cabin as something to look forward to at the end of what was going to be a long day.

Lunch was at 71 km, I did not stay long as I did not want to get cold and still had 76 km (!!) to ride to camp. A number of riders called it a day at this point and rode in the lunch truck to camp. As I rode off I was thinking they were the most sensible ones.

From 71km to 100km it seemed endless, then I started thinking about how Emily (tour leader) said most of the climb is between 50 and 100 km but there wasn’t much climbing from 50 to 60 km, what if she meant 60 to 110km?? Thankfully it was mostly over at 100km, after that there were rolling hills but no more sustained uphill.

I remembered a steep climb under the Makatote historical steel bridge but actually on the bike you got most of the uphill for free from the momentum in speed built up on the way down. My garmin (Editor’s note: this is the bike computer tracking thing) decided to go flat at 130 km even though I had charged it, maybe I took it off the charge too early.


Makatote Historical Steel Trestle Bridge

I was very pleased to see the Ohakune Top 10 Holiday park after over 8 hours on the bike. And yay no tent to put up. I had booked a cabin called a Gypsy Cabin which was just a bunk bed and a light switch but much better than tenting in the wet. When I arrived I was amused to see it looked like a gypsy wagon.


Photo of gypsy cabin

I had a shower and then went off to the Montieth’s Pub for a cold beer. The pub was nice, comfy couches in front of a warm fire. It was hard to get up to go back to camp to sit outside for dinner. There are only 11 days to summer, but I was in full winter clothing in order to be warm at camp.

Dinner was butter chicken with paneer cheese, cashews, and cardamom rice and coriander, onion, tomatoes and green pepper ratia, plus a green salad and a bottle of Hawkes Bay HaHa Merlot kindly shared by Michele amongst four of us.

Then it was off to bed trying to block out thoughts of the next days ride.

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Day 76/164: Cusco to San Pedro – 158km

Climbing 1,900 meters – down 1,775

I had lots of weird dreams about riding and did not sleep that well. It poured during the night and I was dreading the morning. Thankfully at about 4am the rain stopped. It would have been a misery riding all day in the rain.

Max (TDA) said the first 5 kilometres were up, then a 30 kilometre downhill. Not sure what he used for his calculations but it was about 10 kilometres up. It was cold and quite steep and I walked pretty much all of the first 5 kilometres. I was breathless due to the altitude and asthma. Thankfully I got to the top then quite a steep descent. It was really cold. I stopped and put all of my warm clothing on.

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

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

The view from lunch today (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The view from lunch today (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

The rest of the day was rolling hills, with a couple of short climbs. It was a long day riding, it was 5pm by the time I got to camp, so about 10 1/2 hours riding. I couldn’t push myself because of the asthma so going up any hills is pretty slow. We are staying in a field at the back of a restaurant.

About two hours before the end of the ride I was coming into a town and three boys ran out from a bridge and grabbed my bike and pannier and demanded money. They would not let it go. They were aged about 8 to 9. In the end I got off my bike. There may be a language barrier but they got the message that I was not giving them money and to bug off. It was pretty scary though, and I was pleased they weren’t any older. If they had have been, I would probably have given them money. It’s the first time in South America that children have been anything but friendly.

I got to camp and set up my tent, and was just in time for the riders meeting and dinner. We have a new chef for a month called April, as the usual chef Mark has a month off. The dinner was chicken pasta and fresh salad.

I am starting to realize that I have not taken being asthmatic seriously enough. The problem is generally it is so well controlled that most people don’t even know I have asthma. I can go a year or two without using the reliever at all. Unfortunately I did not factor in what happens when it is not well controlled, which is occasionally as a result of a viral illness. So I have no peak flow and no steroid medication with me. I have doubled my dose of preventer, and am carrying my reliever in my pocket when riding. Today I have used it about 7 times. As well as being breathless I am also coughing and bringing up phlegm. All in all not ideal. I spoke to Erin the medic to check it was what I thought: my airways bring over excited as a result of either (or both) asthma and altitude.

We are going to be at altitude for a while still – probably at least a month – so hopefully it will settle down.

Tomorrow we are going to be climbing back over 4,500 meters again in the morning. Given that I am sure the altitude is what is driving the asthma I am considering not doing the climb and taking the lunch truck to lunch. Disappointing to be back in the truck but I am realizing that I need to take my asthma a bit more seriously.

Love the terrain around here (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Love the terrain around here (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Lovely evening light (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Lovely evening light (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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

Day 68/164: Puquio to Lake Camp – 56km

Climbing 1,470 meters, down 525. Climbing up to and bush camping at a lake at 4,200.

The gastro is back! But I think it is related to the altitude rather than a bug. I am also feeling queasy and breathless, so when I set off I was not sure I would make it to the lunch truck.

We are climbing all day and going up to 4,200 meters again. Getting out of Puquio was a huge switch back for about 23 kilometres that just stretched on for ever in the distance and was very daunting.

A morning shot of Puquio just before we left (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

A morning shot of Puquio just before we left (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

I set off slowly and made my way up the never ending switch back, which of course did end and then was replaced by long up hills stretching for ever with big winding curves, and a head wind half the time. I have no idea how many times I stopped but I finally made it to the lunch truck.

Climbing out of town - more switchbacks. A view of the town from one of the loops (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Climbing out of town – more switchbacks. A view of the town from one of the loops
(Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

Having got to the lunch truck I decided I may as well try to make the rest of the day. I rode the afternoon with Michelle, who was also finding it hard going. The afternoon was straighter roads, with some climbs and some rolling hills. Finally we made it to the turn, and walked our bikes on the sand and dirt until the last rise before camp and rode in.

The top of our ride and our camp are on the Antiplano (High Plateau). Here's a lake, well above the treeline (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

The top of our ride and our camp are on the Antiplano (High Plateau). Here’s a lake, well above the treeline (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

It was 2:30 pm and already cold. It was windy and bleak. It took two people to put up the tents otherwise the wind would tear them out of your hands. There were no washing facilities, so after I got the tent up, I had a wet wipe wash, and then put as much warm clothing as possible.

I have 5 layers on top including my jacket, two hats, gloves, long john’s, pants and socks, and am warm inside the tent. I stay there until it is time for the riders meeting. For some reason as we are all shivering in the cold by the truck (as there is no shelter) the TDA guide decides we have to wait until all the riders turn up before starting the meeting, then also decides to give the longest explanation ever about the next day’s ride which is basically turn right onto the main road for 110 kilometres!

It is freezing. We have to take our gloves off before we can get served dinner, even though the staff ladle the food onto our plate. I am sure the cold is clouding my views, but it was the worst meal I have had ever. I don’t like white rice, white pasta, or potato, especially when over-cooked, stodgy, or in the case of the potatoes lumpy (and often partially raw).

I do understand that this is the most economical food to serve, and knew this would make up a significant portion of the meals. Tonight however, when faced by a stack of stodgy totally over cooked food, which was apparently risotto, meat stew of some red meat description too tough to eat or decide what it was, all 3 small pieces swimming in gravy, and stir fried cucumber (I think). I took one mouthful and scraped my plate contents into the bin, washed my plate, and went to bed. I was in bed by 6:20pm. Due to the altitude I have been struggling to eat as I have no appetite .

At breakfast I usually manage tea and porridge, but it not really enough for 4 to 7 hours biking before lunch (usually I have a peanut butter sandwich as well). I try to take a banana, which I also don’t like, but is very good for easy to digest food. For lunch I usually have another peanut butter and jam sandwich as I keep away from all the left over food, or food that would usually be in a fridge. Then at dinner I don’t eat the rice/pasta/potato, so I am starting to think about what I need to do to supplement my diet. I also used to think I was not a fussy eater but I realize I actually am. I keep thinking I will get hungry enough to eat the rice/ pasta/potato but I don’t. Luckily I was well padded when I arrived, so I have plenty stored to see me through.

I got into my sleeping bag thinking I hope it does not rain or snow during the night. Cristiano spoke to some workmen further up the road who said it had snowed there the night before. The wind was buffeting the tent and I slept intermittently. The worst thing is being nice and warm in the sleeping bag but having to get up during the night. Also every time I turned over or got up I get breathless.

As we are told to keep well hydrated, it is a vicious circle: drinking leads to getting up more. Thus tonight was a “Why am I doing this again?” moment!!!!

Here's our camp. The ominous looking clouds are NOT rain clouds. Luckily, no snow (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Here’s our camp. The ominous looking clouds are NOT rain clouds. Luckily, no snow (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

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Day 64/164: Santiago Ica to Nazca – 124 kilometres

1,300 up and 1,300 down

A cold morning again once more, again about 8 degrees. It was really foggy and hard to see and lots of trucks and cars. I was wearing my high viz stuff.

All of a sudden after about an hour the fog cleared, bright blue skies, hot sun, temperature jumped up 10 degrees in an hour.

I started the ride looking forward to the rest day but feeling a bit daunted by the 13 kilometre hill at 57 kilometres that was in our riders briefing. I got to 53 kilometres, stopped and bought a drink, had some fruit, reapplied sunscreen, and got mentally geared up for the challenge! I got to the hill, went up about 4 kilometres, then the rest of it was down 😀 :D.

Nice little downhill chunk just before the lunch truck (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Nice little downhill chunk just before the lunch truck
(Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

I got to lunch and could see another hill stretching up into the distance – I was thinking that hopefully it is not like the hill before the last rest day, which turned out to be 15 kilometres.

Great spot for lunch - an abandoned roadside restaurant (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Great spot for lunch – an abandoned roadside restaurant (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

I left the lunch spot with Michelle and Tony. Thankfully the hill was about 4 kilometres up, and then down again. After about 5 kilometres Tony got a flat, and said to Michelle for us to head off and he would catch up.

The rest of the ride was rolling hills with a few steeper climbs – it was really hot! The desert stretched away on both sides, and although we were riding well the day seemed to drag. Tony caught us up about 5 kilometres out from Nazca, and then was riding too fast for us to stay with him.

When we got to town the lunch truck passed us and went round a roundabout so without looking for flags we followed. Thankfully Luiz noticed us behind him and and stopped and said he was going for ice and we needed to go back to the roundabout and turn left! It turned out our mistake meant we did not go past some raised road markers that two other rides fell off on. Sue fell and grazed her arm and broke her helmet in 3 places.

We got to the hotel, nice rooms, quite big, a few were still having doors hung when we arrived! We are staying Nazca Oasis Hotel.

Thankfully the hotel does laundry so just needed to sort out gear and then shower and relax.

We had beer at the bar and paid as we went, but the girl who served us kept asking for our room number and name. This was all being written in scraps of paper and given to the guy at reception. I was highly suspicious that this was going to translate into being charged twice, so I got Luiz to speak to the guy at reception, and got the scraps of paper for our table back.

A group of us decided to head off into town for dinner. We went to the reception to order two taxis. After waiting for ages an unmarked car turned up and took one car full  into town. Then after about 15 minutes it arrived back for the rest. We reckon it was a relative of the guy at reception.

We managed to regroup in town, and went to a nice looking restaurant. By this stage it was 7:30 and we were getting pretty hungry. By the time our order was taken and the food arrived it was nearly 8pm. We were looking with envy at those eating. Alex, a young guy from the UK who joined us in Lima, looked a bit nervous when his food came out at least 5 minutes before anyone else’s and we were all staring at it. The food was good, I had steak stuffed with cheese and mushrooms.

There are no tuk tuk’s in Nazca but plenty of beat up old cars, with or without signs, stopping to provide rides.

It was nice to get into clean sheets, with no alarm set for the morning.

Endless road and dunes and then mountains as we continue along.  They planted splindly little trees along each side of the road for about 50 km.  Don't know if they are surviving (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Endless road and dunes and then mountains as we continue along. They planted splindly little trees along each side of the road for about 50 km. Don’t know if they are surviving (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

Typical mountains in this area.  Dead tree along the road (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Typical mountains in this area. Dead tree along the road (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

A view of Rio Grande.  We came down through the pass on the far side and are going up on this side(Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

A view of Rio Grande. We came down through the pass on the far side and are going up on this side (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

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Day 63/164: Paracas to Santiago Ica – 93 kilometres

900 meters climbing, and 900 meters down.

It was very cold this morning, 8 degrees, I was wearing warm gear.

The ride was pretty much rolling hills with long stretches, with a slight gradient, but with a head wind. The kind of riding I do really well. I was riding in a peloton with Shirley and Dan.

All of a sudden I heard a really weird noise from the back of my bike, and stopped to look. I had a screw stuck from one side to the other. In the time that I stopped the tyre went flat. Dan helped change it, he is really fast at changing tyres.

While we were there a bunch of riders going the other way stopped for a chat. A group of youngish guys (late 20’s?) from USA, UK, Italy and France. The one from Italy had been riding for two years. They were all self-supporting and heading to Pisco, and enjoying the tail wind.

Tyre changed, we set off again and soon came to the lunch stop.

After lunch I rode with Michelle and Tony from lunch to camp. At only 93 kilometres and no real climbing it was like a day off. We were at camp by midday. We are saying at Santiago Ica Camp.

After setting up the tents we sat around the pool chatting, and having a couple of cold beers.

I packed about 11 pairs of reading glasses to take on this trip – not expensive ones, just the two dollar shop ones, and would you believe I have none left? The arm fell off one yesterday, and could not be fixed, and today I knelt on my last good pair in my tent. Now I have one lens and sticking tape in the middle. Fingers crossed I can buy some in Nazca on our next rest day!

Dinner tonight was chicken, rice and asparagus.

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