Posts Tagged With: Sulking

Day 69/164: Lake camp to Cotaruse – 110km

Climbing 1,250 meters – down 2,300 meters

Thankfully no snow or gastro overnight, but it is bitterly cold – less than zero degrees. Trying to do things with numb hands makes everything take longer! Trying to get cold hands and gloves to work together is also not terribly successful. I am dressed for riding in long johns, long bike pants, icebreaker top, long john top, bike top, bike silk balaclava, hat, socks, water proof socks, thermal gloves, and I am freezing. Having breakfast and washing your plates is painful.

A number of riders are quite unwell and are going on the truck which looks so tempting I almost give in. Cathy became so unwell during the night she has a swollen face, and has had to be taken to a lower altitude.

Morning at the Lake camp (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Morning at the Lake camp (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

I set off, it is bitterly cold and my hands are frozen. I was finding it hard to get my hands to adjust the gears. I would have cried if I wasn’t worried that my tears would freeze on my face. I rode the first five kilometres trying not to ride over my bottom lip, and finally my hands started to warm up. Then the next five kilometres I had the stinging as feeling returned to them. I am sure a black cloud was oozing out around me, such was my lack of joy to be in this moment! Then I came round a corner, the sun had come up, the temperature was climbing, and there were hundreds of alpacas. There were white ones, brown ones, black and white ones, and baby ones. They look so gormless when they look at you, it is impossible not to smile (Editor’s note: I wonder if their ‘gormlessness’ reminded Kaye of Benji 🙂 )

An alpaca (Photo credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

An alpaca (Photo credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

I sat and watched them for a while as they were crossing from one side of the highway to the other. The trucks and buses are used to them but there are a few close calls with the cars.

I set off again warmer and happier, still finding the climbing difficult due to the altitude.

I got to the top of the climb (4,515 meters high) and then a 9 kilometre downhill. Unfortunately I was not paying attention at the rider’s meeting as was too cold, and did not hear about the 7 kilometres climb after that –starting at 4,200 meters in altitude. Suffice to say the morning was the most miserable ride so far I have ever had. I had to stop about every 500 meters going up the 7 kilometres. Lunch is usually about halfway so expected it would be about the top of this climb, which was at the 57 kilometre point.

Stopping often for photos & wondering where the lunch truck is - we're hungry and tired (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Stopping often for photos & wondering where the lunch truck is – we’re hungry and tired (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

I had two attacks of gastro on this 7 kilometre and was pretty sure I was hoping to ride the lunch truck to camp. However the lunch truck was not at the summit. I was not too concerned as there was a downhill but then it started climbing again. I did a couple of climbs, stopping often and then thought I am hitting the wall. I checked my phone, the time was 1pm so I had been riding for about 7 hours.

I stopped and ate some Oreo biscuits that I keep as an emergency supply. Then I continued on riding, getting off, riding etc. I finally got to the lunch truck at 75 kilometres. Clearly the effects of altitude on the riders had not been factored into today. I decided not to discuss this at the time as I was feeling pretty grumpy, though it turns out a number of other riders had had a go at the staff about this.

Leaving from lunch for Cotaruse

Leaving from lunch for Cotaruse

Given that there was only 35 kilometres to go, and there was a lot of downhill to come, I decided to continue. When the first 10 kilometres was rolling hills and then a climb I was starting to regret this choice. Thankfully at that point I came to a huge downhill switchback, and then more downhill all the way to camp.

Up a bit and then a spectacular downhill - the craziest switchbacks (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Up a bit and then a spectacular downhill – the craziest switchbacks (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

We are camping on a school soccer field. The school asked for donations of useful items rather than money, so we have bought sports equipment etc.

There were a number of children all watching everything we did with great interest, peering inside tents etc and wanting to take photos of us. Plus a few hopeful village dogs keeping a watchful eye on the dinner preparations.

A bunch of schoolgirls watching Marina set up her tent (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

A bunch of schoolgirls watching Marina set up her tent (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

Thankfully we are at 2,900 meters in altitude so it was a lot warmer than last night.

Dinner was beef and lentil stew, cauliflower, and rice.

Through a canyon (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Through a canyon (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

Coffee stop on road to Cotaruse School

Coffee stop on road to Cotaruse School

Main Street - Cotaruse (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Main Street – Cotaruse (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

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

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)

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

Day 57/164: Bermejo Beach to Lomas de Lachay – 126km

Climbing 1,715 meters and down 1,415

There was a dog barking most of the night – protecting his territory from the invaders – so I only slept in patches. There is dust over and in everything. I shook out the tent and sleeping bed as best as I could. I am not keen on beach camping again. No doubt we will though at sometime in this tour.

Another 3 kilometre dirt track back to the highway, then deserts, dust, heat, headwind (Groundhog Day! Again!). This time to add a bit of interest, and to miss another crazy town, we did a two kilometre off road stretch on dirt, through where the locals dump their rubbish.

Making my way through the rubbish on the backroad from Bermejo Beach to Lomas de Lachay

Making my way through the rubbish on the back road from Bermejo Beach to Lomas de Lachay

Every day it starts off overcast and the cloud suddenly lifts at about 11:30am, then the temperature suddenly can shoot up over 10 degrees. It is also when the wind really picks up.

The Pan American Highway (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The Pan American Highway (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Not much to say about the riding today as it was pretty similar to the last few days. There was one uphill that went on and on, every time I thought I was getting to the top I wasn’t. When I finally got to the top I was hoping for a nice downhill, but we had another few kilometres of a slightly up gradient, then finally a couple of kilometres down.

Tonight we are staying at a national park. While riding I was trying to remind myself that while the images this is invoking are images of national parks in NZ, this may very well be a national park of sand!

We get to the turn off, according to our notes it is meant to be about 3 kilometres up a dirt road to camp!
It’s not – it is 6.5 kilometres and a lot of it not rideable due to the streams of cars coming down, and the soft sand. The final kilometre is down a steep track into the valley we are staying.

I arrive feeling grumpy – no showers; toilets have no running water, just a hole in ground with a seat; the whiteboard says watch out for snakes and scorpions, don’t leave your tent or bag open! Eeeekkkk! And no beer!

About 11 riders are going into Lima a day early to get an additional rest day (and miss the 50 plus kilometre convoy tomorrow morning). Once I put up my tent, wiped the tent, my sleeping bag and mat, and everything else, with wet wipes, and had a wet wipe wash I was feeling a lot better.

The national park is not forest, but it has grass and shrubs and trees further up the hills. It gets cold quite quickly once the sun goes. It is 4:30pm, and I already have a thick jacket and a hat on. I am trying not to get paranoid about snakes. I had an email from Shellbe who is currently volunteering in Sri Lanka – they have snakes slithering around the streets!

Lomas de Lachay Reserve (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Lomas de Lachay Reserve (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Lomas de Lachay Reserve (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Lomas de Lachay Reserve (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

At the riders meeting we get an update on Phil – yay he has been discharged from hospital and is staying in Lima for a few days. However the family have asked that we don’t visit as he is still a bit confused due to the head injury. We are sorry we won’t get to see him but a number of us have already decided to visit him in New Zealand in a few months, and hopefully organize a short bike ride with him.

Tomorrow we have a 50 to 60 kilometre convoy – the distance is not finalized yet.

Lima has 9 million people and is no more cyclist friendly that anywhere else in Peru. We are asked if any of us want to go in the lunch truck, and are told there is a cut off to be at the convoy  point. Given that there is only 1,160 meters to climb in the whole day, I am confident I can make it to the convey start before the cut off.

The camp is really quiet because of riders who have left the tour, and those who have gone into Lima early.

Thinking about Peru, I have been a bit harsh, there are some places I would come back to: Pacasmayo where we had the two rest days, and the town the next day Huanchaco.

Looking down at our camp (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Looking down at our camp (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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