Posts Tagged With: Speed racer

Day 61/164: Pucusana to Cerro Azul – 117km

1,400 meters of climbing and 1,425 down. Including a 30 k dirt road.

The first part of the ride was pretty flat and fast going. I was getting up to 34 to 35 kilometre per hour on the straights and more going down the hills. I broke my speed limit, which I have not managed to break in 3 years, it was 56.8 now it is 58.7(no sniggers all you speedsters).

All good things come to an end: we came to the 30 kilometre dirt road. The 10 kilometres before lunch were pretty tough going, about 6.5 to 7 kilometres with rocks which were slippery. I was calculating how long this was going to take if it was all uphill.

At the lunch truck at 50 kilometres I did not stop for long, as I got cold very quickly once I had stopped. After lunch we did 2 kilometres up, and then yay it was downhill the rest of the 30 kilometres.

I am getting more confident going downhill, but was certainly shaken about by the rocks as I have no suspension on my bike. I nearly came off 3 times when I hit deep sand, but managed to stay on.

Once at the bottom we were onto paved roads again, but with lots of uneven surfaces. There were lots of carts laden up with maize or wood, with about four donkeys pulling each cart.

On the road to Cerro Azul

On the road to Cerro Azul

There are dogs of every make and description and ancestry here, from Great Danes, Dalmatians to Chihuahuas. We came round a corner and there was a dog in the middle of the road on its back, with its legs sticking up into the air!  Oh no not another dead dog! But no, it was just having a nap and suddenly jumped up, stretched, and wandered off.

The hotel we are staying (Hospedaje Espana) is a pretty basic hostel, but it has showers (cold water), cold beer, and the place we are staying is a very pretty little port. I went for a walk along the pier and the beach front.

For dinner was beef stew, rice and vegetable mix.

Donkey self feeder

Donkey self feeder

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Day 48/164: Pasabar to Chiclayo – 113km

Up 700 meters, down 775 meters.

Not such a good sleep last night – just because a weird bunch of Lycra clad cyclists go to bed at 7pm does not mean the locals do. Quite a lot of talking and laughing, thankfully I had the iPod and ears muffs!

The soccer field has overhead lights, and these were on for a while, and then came back on at 5am.

When one of the riders woke up it was so light they thought they had overslept. Being so close to the equator there is not much time from dark to light in the morning, and light to dark at night. So usually we are getting up in the dark and going to bed in the dark.

As I don’t have my keys to lose every day I instead play “hunt for my overhead light” – if only I would put it in the same place each day! If I forget until it is dark more challenge is added to this by having to crawl around inside the tent going through everything with the light from the cell phone. My aim from now on is to put it in my toilet bag every morning (which I plan to do as soon as I find it).

To add variety today we had a team challenge, we had to get into a team of 4 and guess how long it will take to ride 25 kilometres-ish (maybe slightly more or less) without knowing the road and how much of today’s 700 meters climb is in it. I am in a combined NZ/OZ team called the Anzac biscuits. You can over estimate your time, but if you underestimate you’re out, and it’s based on the time that the last rider in the team crosses the line.  Given that we don’t know the gradient we are cautious and overestimate based on the expected speed of the slowest rider in the team (me).

It is for fun and there is no prize, but some of the teams are deadly serious and are warming up and have stripped everything off their bike. I considered if I should take off my panniers, but I already spend a few minutes each day trying to close my daily bag so that’s not an option anyway.

There was less gradient than we expected so we come in under our time. Going up the hill to the end I was feeling the pressure, was huffing and puffing and pushing as fast as I could. My team could hear me behind them, thankfully no one in my team was yelling at me to hurry up.

One of the teams had a rider who is also not great on hills who thought he was going to throw up, and in another team one of the riders was screaming and yelling at his team. Anyone would have thought there was serious prize money at stake.

The AZAC biscuits: Peter and me from New Zealand, Jackie and Brett from Australia

The ANZAC biscuits: L-R: Brett and Jackie from Australia, Peter and me from New Zealand

With this behind me, I set off for the rest of the ride. There were some ruins along the way, pyramids in Tucane built out of sandstone, that I stopped to have a look at. I need to google some info about them as everything I have seen written was in Spanish.

Me in front of the pyramids

Me in front of the pyramids

The pre Incan pyramids (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The pre Incan pyramids (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Detail of the Pre Incan pyramid (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Detail of the Pre Incan pyramid (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

The road is not good to ride on, the shoulder has numerous pot holes but the road has trucks, buses and Tuk Tuks everywhere. Even when you are on the shoulder they blare their horns at you. They are much more aggressive than Colombia and  Ecuador, with us and with each other. They are also less kind to animals, and there is a distressing amount of animal carnage at the roadside. Also distressing are the vultures feasting. I can just imagine vultures as the birds in the horror movie (called I think Birds). There is also rubbish everywhere again.

Because of the team challenge and the rest of the day not being a race day, most of the riders are riding in groups. The group I was with got stopped and questioned by the Policia – an interesting conversation when they did not speak English and none of us spoke Spanish. We showed them on our notes where we were going, they took photos of us and – we thought – drove off happily.

However about 5 kilometres up the road along came 3 Policia on motorcycles with their sirens going and one headed over to us. Once again a challenging conversation, and he did not seem very happy with us. We got an escort for the remaining 16 kilometres to camp. It was a bit scary as he seemed really grumpy and he had a gun. It was useful though in controlling the traffic, and he stopped the traffic at two intersections so we could go across. However we were very relieved when we got to camp to see Cristiano. We left Cristiano to deal with him and went thankfully inside the camp.

Cristiano said after being asked for his documentation and having his photo taken, the cop said he had been told to ensure we got safely to camp – by it turns out the cops in the car who had stopped us.

The place we are staying has rooms at a reasonable price so a lot of the riders got one. Nice to have a room to myself, and not have to pack up the tent in the morning, and be able to get dressed standing. As it turns out also thankfully to stop being savaged by bugs. I put two types of spray on for dinner and still got bitten. In the morning I got bitten through my bike shorts and riding top as well.

This place is meant to have wifi but like the place in Las Lomas I could not get onto it. So rather than get frustrated I decided to turn the iPad off. Hopefully the hotel for the rest day will have good wifi.

I am looking forward to the rest day. Even though the days have been shorter and not much climbing, I have never ridden 7 days in a row before, and the legs are getting weary.

Dinner was goat curry, couscous, coleslaw.

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

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

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

Day 68: Molina de Aragon to Sacedon – 109k

5,448km down: 777km to go

How nice it was to wake up in a bed, even though for some reason mine had a plastic undersheet, so it crinkled every time I turned over, but I still slept well. Breakfast was amazing, fresh fruit, TOAST, homemade cake, meat platters, juice, proper coffee, plus freshly made omelettes. The lady came out and said “Anyone like an omelette?” and eight rider’s hands went up instantly. We were joking that next time the tour books in there the owner will say “Ok, 8 riders? That equals food for 18” and charge accordingly. The people running the place were really friendly and we all thought it was fantastic. We all left rested, well fed, and happy. I think it would have been a different scenario if we had stayed on a sports ground (aka piece of dirt) and had to use one shower between us, like was originally planned.

On the way out of town there was an amazing monastery, I took a photo but it doesn’t show how big it is. The fence goes for ages around a hill, and there are also buildings at the back.

Monastery on the hill

Christiano talks about how this tour is not just physically testing, but also psychological testing. Not only do you have to get along with a group of riders you have never met, staying at campsites with other noisy campers that stay up until the wee hours, barking dogs, enthusiastic roosters, heat, and bugs. But added to this, you have no idea of the day ahead, no idea how high or long the hills are, unlike when you do your usual route at home, so you are always holding a bit in reserve in case you get the killer hill. But it also adds to the fun, as like today you have fairly low expectations and end up with one of the best rides of the tour.

It was really cold this morning once we had left the hotel, it was only 7 degrees, and of course having rationalized my panniers my jacket was in my daily bag that had left in the truck already. The hotel was really warm, so the cold was unexpected. Thinking about it later though the hotel had really thick concrete walls which would hold in the heat. (I have now pulled my jacket out ready for tomorrow morning).

We rode the first 70k around the perimeter of a national park called Parque Natural Alto Tajo. It was very scenic, with trees, cliffs, and even a deer running across the road. Plus there was a very pretty river / pond area. Amazingly enough, you are allowed to take dogs on a leash and have them in the camping grounds, so long as they are tied up. Actually if I had not said already, having dogs at the camping grounds is very common (not just the owners but also the campers), plus often a number of pretty feral looking cats!

Riding through Parque Natural Alto Tajo

The orange arrow shows the place we were

I warmed up on the first hill about 6k, up but then we had a downhill that went for about 10k, under trees and in a gully. By the time we got to the bottom I was freezing and looking forward to an uphill! Pinch me but it’s true!

After going up for about one kilometre we came to a sunny bit and stopped and looked around. We were lucky enough to see 17 condors or eagles – there is a difference of opinion amongst the riders. It was fantastic, we stayed there for ages watching them soar and glide. Two came and had a closer look at us, but then soared away again.

If you look really carefully, the back dots are the eagles/condors

The ride until lunch was great, some ups but also good downs. My legs felt better than I had expected, even though they are stiff when I walk, they are ok on the bike.

After lunch we had a couple of fantastic down hills, and then we had some rolling hills.  With the wind assisting me I hit 51kph pedalling uphill. It certainly helps the more speed you can pick up, the less work it is to get up it. I have still not broken my downhill record, I have got to 56kph a number of times this trip, today included, but still have not broken through the 56kph barrier.

The road we were riding on that had the great rollers was called Paso De Ganada. Then we made a right turn and crikey, at the end of the road were two big hills with the wind now against us! My legs were tired but being only 10k from the camp gave me the needed energy to push up the hills. All the hills today were honest hills, up 1,321, but down 1,671 🙂

We are staying at a camp site called Camping Ecomillans, back to dirt again but only one night back in a tent and then three nights in Madrid. While we are in Madrid we are going to go to a restaurant called Botin which is the oldest restaurant in the world. Yes very touristy, but it has to be done, we have booked already. I also want to go and see the flamenco dancers.

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Day 28: Oravice to Turany- 85k

2,361km down: 3,864km to go.

I slept fitfully as it was hot and I had to get up a number of times. I looked at my phone in the morning and thought it said 6:20am so I woke Walli up and told her we were late and that we had 10 minutes to get dressed and get our bags over to the truck. I went outside to check the weather, all the tents were still up. “Hmm, strange” I thought and went back and checked the phone, 5:25am – oops. I told Walli that she actually had another hour of sleep. Amazingly she hopped back into bed, turned over, and was out to it again, man she has a gift. As said previously she lies down at night, shuts her eyes, and is gone until the morning.

It was nice and cool in the morning; I wore arm warmers for the first time for awhile. After breakfast I set off straight away to try and get as much done as possible before the day got hot!

I rode straight out of camp into a hill that was about 4ks up, my legs were not happy but I just took my time. At the top there was a field with about 100 storks in it, this was in a clearing in the forest, they must come to it to get frogs etc. It was misty but streaks of sun and really was very pretty looking down into the valley.

After a short down gradient we went along what I thought was nearly the top, then we started to climb again, there was a sign “4% gradient” which I did not think too much about as I can get up much steeper hills. All I can say is either someone has a sense of humour or there was a 1 missing from before the 4, because oh my god was it steep! I got halfway up it and it leveled off for a short bit so I took the chance to unclip my cleats and get off and walk. The bit just before it leveled off I was not sure I would get up and also knew I was going so slowly that would not be able to unclip the cleats either.

After this there was another small downhill, then along another ridge, then once again climbing up for 5k approximately, steady grinding, followed by 6k downhill. However this was steep and my hands were very sore from braking at the end of it. On this hill I was passed by Brian and Scott on the way up and John on the way down. I did get up to 52k on the way down at times, but to give you an example of other riders speed downhill, Michele clocked 84k.

After that the ride to lunch was rollers, I managed to get to the lunch truck first (for the first – and no doubt last – time). After lunch it was good riding – some up but nothing significant, 3k on a dirt road that I got off and walked a bit as it was steep and uneven on the down bits, back roads around a town and then onto the E50 highway for the last 15k, which was mostly downhill gradient and small hills.

By the time I got to the turn off to camp no one had passed me so with only 1.4k to go I booted it. I got to camp first, once again no doubt the first and only time. I certainly had comments from a number of other riders such as did you have rocket fuel for breakfast.

Once again I got a cabin, very basic and small, just two beds and a small table but with an outside porch and just across from toilet – although outside but close with a concrete path.

We are in Slovakia now and the big difference is that the level of English spoken is less, neither of the owners of the last two camps spoke any English, to get a cabin is quite a mission. Today the lady owner was convinced I wanted to pay for my space in the camp site, but we got there in the end. I had to fill in a guest form but had forgotten to take my glasses and could not see it enough to fill in, so was thinking “Blast, I will have to go and get them” (I can ride my bike for hours but hate having to walk an extra 3 or so minutes!). Luckily the owners husband noticed I was having trouble and gave me his to use and even more lucky – they worked.

Also, none of the hotels we have stayed at have had a laundry but this place does, so I was able to get my washing done. To aid communication I took the bag full of washing and soap powder to the office and pointed. She did try to give me instructions but gave up and came over and started the machine for me. This was lucky as the washer had a steel container that you had to clip and unclip which could have caused me some problems.

Neither of the past two places have had Wifi either, so I have been doing this and saving to the outbox, I am hoping the emails will not disappear when I close it, and also wishing I had tried this when I had only done the first day!

I have had a lazy afternoon, and am looking forward to dinner which is another hour away. When I got to the lunch truck I was not very hungry and did not make a takeaway sandwich as camp was only 30k from lunch . However I have since found out I got to the lunch truck at 10am so it’s quite a long time from then until dinner around 6pm. I could ride the 1.4k into the village and back but will wait as only an hour to go now.

I am pleased that I got to the camp at 11:40am, that was good going with some significant climbs in there.

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