Posts Tagged With: The locals

Day 10: Trieste to Maniago

123 km: 800 meters up and 430 down

This is the start of another four day section, and this was the easiest of the four days.

Instead of having to take notes from a whiteboard like previous trips, this trip we get them passed out in their already printed version. Some riders pour over them, highlighting certain bits, others – like me – shove them in their pocket to be taken out if needed if there is confusion about which way to go.

We started at 8am with a convoy, which was meant to be for 4 km but after 1.5 km most of the convoy was out of sight due to having to stop at the lights. As Gergo doesn’t flag or give notes for the convoy to ensure riders don’t go off on the their own, it was just by good luck and guessing that we managed to stay on the right track.

The first 18 km was along along the coast, then we turned inward and took the last view of the Adriatic Sea (the top of the Mediterranean). The next time we see the sea we will be in the Netherlands.

We went through a town called Palmanova, which is an excellent example of a star fort from the Renaissance. This was built by the Venetians in 1593. The whole town is walled, and there are only entrances/exits through the walls.

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An aerial view of Palmonova (picture source)

This is also where the Trans Europa ride we did in 2012 intersects with this ride, the Oydessy. In 2012, we came through here on the way to Venice.

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Walled town of Palmanova, inside the south gate

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Cathedral in Palmanova square

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North-west gate out of Palmanova, onwards to Amsterdam

There was a big market in the square with lots of stalls selling food, clothes, cooking ware, and lots of fresh flowers.

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Market square inside Palmanova

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Through the palace gate to the Villa Manin

Where we stopped for lunch there was a man trimming his hedge who was chatting away to all the riders, and telling to make sure that they stopped in the next town Mortegliano to see the biggest bell tower in Europe.

 

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The locals reckon this is the tallest bell tower in Europe, Mortegliano.

One of the TDA staff Ozgur had made homemade lemonade for lunch, which was very thirst quenching. It’s made from lemonade, honey, water and soda water.

 

In the afternoon the breeze from most of morning was replaced by beating sun, it was 35 degrees C and felt hotter.

There were lots of very long straights, broken up with interesting small towns. All the town were deserted and the shops were shut as it was siesta time.

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Beautiful riding today through the agricultural flat lands north of Venice.

Whilst going around a roundabout I was bit/stung by bug (through my riding top!). I wasn’t sure what it was, but took an antihistamine just in case it was a bee or a wasp. Luckily I did, as later that night when I had a look I had a big welt.

The last twenty km of the day seemed to go on and on, a bit of an uphill gradient, and into a bit of head wind.

Although we were riding towards the Dolomites, because of the heat haze we did not get a view of them until about 8 km before the end of the ride, where they slowly started to appear through the haze.

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Approaching Maniago and the end of the flatlands. Next 3 days climbing up to Passo del Brennero and entering Austria 🇦🇹

We got to the hotel at 5pm and found out dinner would not be until 8pm. To start off with I could not find my bag anywhere. I looked through the bags twice, and was starting to get really worried. I then went through the bags again, bag by bag. I had never noticed until now that my red bag is actually half black. The bottom half is black and it was upside down. Relieved, I went off to the room to get cleaned up.

The hotel room had a nice big bath so I had a relaxing soak and then I intended to have a quick nap, but ended up sleeping for two hours. I was more tired than I would have expected, as not much climbing, but we had had 9 hours in the sun and although there was not much climbing there was no real downhill, so we were constantly peddling all day.

Dinner was tomato pasta, grilled pork and potato, vanilla ice cream, washed down with sparkling water.  I had dinner with Brett, Miriam, Tom and Cathy.

Introducing

Tom and Miriam, retired they live in New York, and have 3 sons and one grandson. No pets. This is their 4th TDA tour. Miriam was a lawyer and then taught law, and Tom was an engineer.

Cathy is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She lives with her partner Peggy (who doesn’t like bike touring, so is not on the trip). They have no children and have a German short haired pointer. Cathy has done 2 previous TDA rides and is an ED doctor.

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Tom and Miriam on the left, Cathy on the right

Tomorrow is going to be a big day, 130 km and 2600 meters climbing and I am feeling a bit daunted. We are going to be climbing through the Dolomites.

The Dolomites are the mountain range located in north-eastern Italy, and form part of the Southern Limestone alps. The Dolomites are also known by the name The Pale Mountains, they take this name from the carbonate rock dolomite. The rock was named for the 18th century French mineralogist Deodat Gratel de Dolomieu (1750 to 1801) who was the first to describe the mineral.

The Dolomites are renown for skiing, mountain climbing, cycling, and BASE jumping.

The first week in July is the Maratona dles Dolomites, where in a single day, road bikers climb all 7 mountain passes.

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Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Day 86/164: La Paz to Pacasmayo – 104km

1350 meters climbing, 1250 down

The first thing to do in the morning was drag the bags down the steps and then down the road to the truck. Everything fitted in my new bag but I still need to do some work on the packing system to make it easier. It was quite cold but I am pleased with my new jacket, plus have the usual other warm clothing.

The breakfast is not at the hotel where we are staying but down the road where the street party was. I am not feeling at all hungry (due to gastro) but with 104 kilometres plus climbing I made myself eat. I managed to get down two cups of tea and some bread roll with peanut butter on. Then a sudden dash to the bathroom to bring it back up. So not riding today after all.

A bit depressing to be in the truck on the first day of a new section. It does however save me having to ride through the aftermath of the street party. Broken glass and rubbish were strewn everywhere. The female riders were warned to ride in pairs are there were a number of drunks still lurching around the streets.

Three of the riders are staying in La Paz longer:

  • Jean from French Canada has lost his passport,
  • Marina’s boyfriend Guillaume (both also from French Canada) has joined her in La Paz to do the La Paz to Salta section. Guillaume has experienced every rider’s worst fear: he arrived in La Paz but so far no bike!
  • One of the other rider’s Mike had his iPhone pick pocketed last night. When he went to the Police station to report it the police station was closed. Apparently it is not open on Saturday nights!

The riders had to ride 26 kilometres out of town, doing most of the 1,350 meters climb in chaotic traffic then basically flat riding to camp. There was lots of traffic with the added extra of having to go through a large market with the usual swarm of taxis and mini vans starting in and out with no regards for traffic rules or cyclists.

The scenery reminded me of the desert road in North Island New Zealand: barren, tussocks, and mountains in the background. I left La Paz in the lunch truck but I got into the dinner truck when it came past and got to camp about 11am.

The camp was uninspiring, a bare concrete soccer field right in the open in middle of town!  A bush camp with no bush! A bush camp also means no showers and no toilets.

Soccer camp in middle of town

Soccer camp in middle of town

This camp also has no shade but the TDA staff have bought a bought a new shade canopy so the riders can at least sit under it in the shade in the afternoon.

Riders sitting in awning to get out of the sun.

Riders sitting in awning to get out of the sun.

To go to the toilet the instructions on the whiteboard said: “Take a spade and walk down the road to a tunnel to the other side” – this is about 5 minutes’ walk, and hardly a safe option at night, even without the packs of 7 to 9 dogs that lurk around the camp all day.

A number of locals took the opportunity of driving slowly past to look at us – no doubt we would do the same if a bunch of Bolivians suddenly camped in the middle of our town square on a soccer field! A few came over and had photos with us.

I dozed in my tent most the afternoon, and whilst I have gastro I have not vomited again.

Whilst in La Paz I took my prescription to the pharmacy and got prednisone. As they did not keep the prescription I got two lots. I have not started taking it, I am still using the reliever but not enough I don’t think to start prednisone. My lips are still causing problems, as with a number of the riders, which we are putting down as due to the altitude.

For dinner we had chicken, macaroni cheese and salad. I had a small helping which hopefully I will keep down. There were dogs barking and fighting most of the night, and I had to get up 7 times during the night with gastro, so not a lot of sleep. However, I was warm with my new alpaca blanket.

Some camped out on the field (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Some camped out on the field (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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

Day 77/164: San Pedro to Ayariri – 124km

Climbing 1,300 meters – down 1,400.

I coughed quite a lot during the night so in the morning I added myself to the list of riders going in the lunch truck. My lip is still a problem and am covering it with lip sun protection. A number of the riders are the same. Gastro is making its way through the camp again so a number of the riders on the truck are on it for this. Sue is still unwell and does not expect to be riding again until after the next rest day.

It was quite cold in the morning but not as cold as it gets here. The cattle are put in the barn overnight so I suspect it gets well below freezing.

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

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

Beautiful sunrise this morning (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Beautiful sunrise this morning (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

For the past two weeks the Peruvians have been wearing traditional dress. The woman wear like a bowler hat, a long hooped skirt, and a jacket and blouse. They carry stuff on their back in a brightly striped blanket. This includes babies, clothes, sticks etc.

A couple in their traditional dress

Traditional Peruvian dress

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The cloth back packs are amazing – they expand (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Photo shoot with a local

Photo shoot with a local at lunch (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

The lunch truck stopped at 65 kilometres, so I only had about 58 kilometres to ride. After helping set up for lunch I set off about 9:30am. It was mostly a slight up gradient with a bit of a head wind. I took my time and got to the hotel about 2pm. We are staying at Hotel Lumansa.

Preparing lunch (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Preparing lunch (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Puno - TDA

Curious rosy-cheeked kids join us at lunch (Photo and caption credit: TDA Global Cycling Facebook page)

It was nice to have a bed, toilet, and a shower. Some of the other rooms only had a toilet (and of course a bed). I had a look around the town, it had an amazing old church. That night in the town square there was a parade with a band and marching girls, small children dancing, etc.

The Church in Ayaviri

The Church in Ayaviri

Dinner was spag bol with fresh salad again and garlic bread (April is becoming quite popular as the chef).

April the new chef is here with us for a month( Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

April the new chef is here with us for a month (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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

Day 74/164: Rest Day Two in Cusco

I slept in again, had breakfast and then went off to have a massage I had booked at 10am.

Along with general exhaustion I have
1. A really sore neck on the left hand side, I can’t even turn it
2. Altitude sickness, still really breathless and have coughing fits
3. Gastro related to the altitude medication, or the anti inflammatory medication for the neck
4. My bottom lip has big cracks in it even though I have been constantly covering it with lip sun block
5. A pressure area on my butt, thankfully the skin is not broken
6. Asthma, related I think to the altitude.

All in all the three rest days are badly needed. A number of the riders have organized tours to go to Machu Picchu but I decided not to. I was really conflicted as I am so close but in the end decided that I need to look after myself if I want to manage the whole of this ride. Sue went with a group of 7 of the riders, up on the early morning train, got to the main gates and was inside for ten minutes and collapsed. Sue was taken back to the hotel they had booked there and slept for 18 hours (which equates to a USD $750 sleep). Four of the other riders who went have also come back unwell, mostly with gastro related symptoms.

The massage (80 soles) was great, the masseuse really knew her stuff and spent ages on the left side of my neck and back. I had lots of knots. She would work on them for a few minutes and then do another area, but kept coming back. As I left I could already feel the difference.

Next off to get my hair cut and buy some sandals, mine have finally fallen apart. As I was walking up the street looking for sandals a pleasant seeming young man stopped me and asked me if I was from New Zealand. When I said yes he said “Wellington?” which I of course said yes. He then asked if I wanted anything for my hike, which is why most people come here. When I said no I am biking he changed to ‘did I need shoes, Lycra etc’. I assured him I had everything I needed. So then he asked me if I want some Charlie, blow or clean cut. I was a bit stunned and found myself shaking his hand saying ” I appreciate you asking but I am ok”. Weird, so I figure Charlie is heroine? Blow is cocaine? But ‘clean cut’? Crystal meth? Any ideas?

I managed to find some sandals finally in my size, a number of shops had sandals I like but not big enough to fit my feet. After this I had some lunch, bought some really warm multi colored socks, and went on the city bus tour. It was raining to start off with so I sat downstairs, but as soon as the rain stopped I moved upstairs, better for taking photos.

We went up quite a steep hill and I jokingly said to one of the other riders “I bet we come out this way”. No need they assured me, the main road leads straight out of Cusco.

View of Cusco from top of hill

View of Cusco from the top of hill

We stopped at a statue of Jesus that was donated to the people of Cusco by the Palestine government in recognition of the shelter given to the Jews in the second world war.

Rest day two in Cusco . The Jesus statue from the Palestine Govt to the people of Cusco for providing sanctuary to the Hews in world war 2

The Jesus statue

After this the tour went to an Alpaca clothing factory. I bought a dorky looking, but really warm hat. Hopefully the socks and the hat will make a difference at cold camps.

On top of your bus in Cusco rest day two ( with my warm bed hat)

On top of tour bus in Cusco with my warm hat

We saw some Inca ruins that were a ceremonial centre and temple to the sun called Saqsaywaman.  The rocks were fitted together, some weighing up to 130 tons. The Spaniards took a number of the rocks from here for buildings in the town.

Photo of Sagsay waman in Cusco

Photo of Saqsaywaman in Cusco

Another view of Sagsay waman in Cusco

Another view of Saqsaywaman

Sun temple in Cusco

Sun temple in Cusco

On the tour I also learned that 70% of the adult population in Cusco work in the tourist industry, and the average monthly wage is $750 soles.

After the tour I saw two of my favorite riders Shirley and Dan from the USA sitting in a boutique beer bar so I joined them for a beer.

Dan, Shirley and Brett and boutique beer bar in Cusco

Brett, Shirley and Dan at a boutique beer bar in Cusco

I could not stay long as I was meeting Rebecca, a friend of Kelly’s, for dinner. Rebecca comments regularly on my blog, and has been travelling through Peru the same time as me, but only arriving in each place just after I left, so it was a good chance to catch up.

I met Rebecca in the lobby of my hotel and we headed off to a Peruvian restaurant “The Andean Grill” that was recommended when we went past on the tour. It was quite nice, I had fillet migon again, was nice had garlic in the sauce. Rebeca had lomas saltardo which is a Peruvian spiced stew. We traded stories about all the different places we had been. Rebecca has been on a number of Intrepid Tours all over the world. It was a good evening. Rebecca heads off next to walk the Inca trail.

Earlier when I had arrived at the hotel after the tour, I was greeted by the news that Eriberto, one of the full tour riders, was throwing in the towel and heading home the next day. “Too cold and too hard” was his reason. I was quite startled as he is one of the better riders and had given no prior indication that he was even thinking of doing this. However he is very cheerful about it and has booked his flights and will be home where he lives near Venice in less than two days, he tells us “drinking good coffee, red wine, enjoying fresh pasta and being warm”.

After dinner I went back to the hotel I tried skyping my son Dan, but the connection was really bad so I will try again tomorrow. Off to bed, last rest day tomorrow.

Water fountain in Cusco

Water fountain in Cusco

Interesting mural in Cusco

Interesting mural in Cusco

Small boy who waved and calked out whilst on your bus in Cusco

Small boy who waved and called out whilst on tour bus in Cusco

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

Day 73/164: Rest Day One in Cusco

It was nice to wake up and not have to get on a bike. I slept in and got down to breakfast at about 9am. I am feeling not so great so the plan is to take it pretty easy today.

I checked emails and did a couple of updates on the blog. I went to a book shop that sold English books and got a book about the Inca history.

I need get some sandals do had a half-hearted look at a couple of shops. I had a look through the market, it’s really big.

It seems really strange to be back in a place where there are so many non-Peruvian people. This place is a real tourist Mecca. Lots of people come here as part of a tour or to pick up a tour to Machu Puhcu.

I watched some children playing football with a coke bottle and some other children playing with stones. I guess children are children everywhere. There are a number of children playing quietly in the corners where their parents are selling good, paintings, jewellery, hats etc. Everywhere you go you are constantly asked if you want to buy this or that. The sellers don’t follow you down the street though, and they do not actually come inside bars and restaurants. So if you sit at a table outside you are fair game.

I did book a massage for tomorrow, will try anything to unfreeze my neck. I had a hamburger for tea at a pub just round the corner, and then back to the hotel for an early night.

This is what happens when a bunch of cyclists show up and stay in your hotel.   We're in a beautiful little hotel, so what do we do?  Hang our tents and laundry out everywhere to dry.  Honestly, this is a pretty little courtyard (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

This is what happens when a bunch of cyclists show up and stay in your hotel. We’re in a beautiful little hotel, so what do we do? Hang our tents and laundry out everywhere to dry. Honestly, this is a pretty little courtyard (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

Street hotel in Cusco (the street is the same name as the hotel)

Street hotel in Cusco (the street is the same name as the hotel)

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

Day 70/164: Cortaruse to Abancay – 144km

1,500 meters climbing – 2300 meters down

This morning, at about 4:30am, a loud speaker starting blaring for about twenty minutes. At 6am all was revealed: the school children, the headmistress, and a number of parents arrived. The headmistress had arrived the night before about 8:30pm to get the gifts, and of course we were all well in bed by then.

The loud speaker message was “all children and available parents get down to the school soccer field at 6am today”.

We gave them the presents, and the delight of the children was moving. Stuff our children would just take for granted would be provided as part of the school sports equipment were met with clapping and jumping with delight! Soccer balls, basket balls, tennis rackets, skipping ropes, pens, crayons etc. Then they sung us a number of songs, it was great.

Presentation to school kids at Cotaruse

Presentation to school kids at Cotaruse

The school's principal showed up a 6am with 30 or so kids (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

The school’s principal showed up a 6am with 30 or so kids (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

The kids jumped up and down when Britten pulled the gifts out of the bag (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

The kids jumped up and down when Britten pulled the gifts out of the bag (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

The kids jumped up and down when Britten pulled the gifts out of the bag (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

The kids jumped up and down when Britten pulled the gifts out of the bag (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

School kids

We set off knowing we had downhill to start, but none of us expected about 100 kilometres of really great downhill, then about 20 kilometres of a downhill gradient with a few climbs, and then twenty kilometres up.

The scenery on the downhill was spectacular: high cliffs, rocky faces, the river, and unfortunately a few territorial dogs who rushed out at a few of the riders.

Scenery along the river (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Scenery along the river (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

Scenery along the river (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Scenery along the river (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

A shot of the gorge we cycled through (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

A shot of the gorge we cycled through (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

Tonight we are staying at Hotel Sirlie. Pleased to be staying at a hotel and not have to put the tent up and down. Plus the first shower for three days. Thankfully the bikes were across the road and not on the roof of the hotel.

I am still suffering from gastro a bit, but have a better appetite at least. Still two more days riding this section to go.

Dinner was stew of some sort again with rice. Managed to spill gravy all over myself.

Am really looking forward to getting to Cusco: three days rest 😀 😀 😀 😀

One of the towns we passed through (Casinchihua). The main street and the highway are one and the same, so the big rigs going through town fill up the street (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

One of the towns we passed through (Casinchihua). The main street and the highway are one and the same, so the big rigs going through town fill up the street (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

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

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 67/164: Pampa Galeras Camp to Puquio – 87km

Today was up 1,375 meters and down 1820, and climbing to over 4,100 meters in altitude.

The reason for the shorter day yesterday was the climb would have been over 3,200 meters, so Cristiano made the call to set up a bush camp at a suitable place 20 kilometres earlier. Today was the easiest day of the 7 day stretch, so the 20 kilometres was added today.

A cold bunch of cyclists having breakfast (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

A cold bunch of cyclists having breakfast (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

The first 29 kilometres to the summit was hard as we were climbing to over 4,200 meters in altitude. Thankfully the altitude medication appears to be helping. Even so I had to get off my bike a few times to catch my breath before going on again. Each time I got off was less than a minute. I tried walking but that made me just as breathless.

I stopped at the summit and had a look around, and then put my warm clothes back on for a 25 kilometre descent. I was really please not to be biking up this side, the gradient is steeper than the other side. It was quite cold going down.

As I have rim brakes and I like to brake a lot, I stopped a couple of times to admire the view and check the rims were not too hot. At the bottom of the climb was the lunch truck. Then two more climbs, plus a 10 kilometre downhill into Puquio.

Heading down the valley there is a large difference in the landscape. It is rockier, rougher and greener (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Heading down the valley there is a large difference in the landscape. It is rockier, rougher and greener (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

A great ride down into the valley on another windy, switchback filled road (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

A great ride down into the valley on another windy, switchback filled road (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

Puquio is in the valley so we will have a climb tomorrow first thing. We are staying at Coralia Hotel, which is pretty run down and has no guest facilities apart from rooms, but it has a bed, a hot shower, and I don’t have to put up the tent. The bikes had to go up to the roof up, three sets of very steep stairs, which is not easy wearing cleats (biking shoes). I nearly fell backwards on the last flight.

I went into the town for a drink. For the past couple of days most of the places have only had drinks at room temperature, and it was the same today. At the place I stopped I was sitting down and a wee girl about 3 years old, who was the child of the owners, ran over and hopped up on my knee. She sat there chattering away to me for a while, and showing me her collection of bottle tops, which was really cute.

The main square of Piquo (Photo credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

The main square of Piquo (Photo credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

This stage from Lima to Cusco is going to be extremely challenging: 7 days of riding, climbing, altitude, and cold. I am wanting to do all of everyday. I must be making progress as I am no longer asked in the morning by the TDA staff if I am going in the lunch truck.

Dinner: stewed beef, I think, potatoes and beans.

There is a lot of agriculture in the valley. It seems like they clear the fields of loose rock by building fences with them (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

There is a lot of agriculture in the valley. It seems like they clear the fields of loose rock by building fences with them (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

This is a view of the far side of the valley showing farms perched on the mountainside. There were a couple of small villages over there, although we couldn't see any obvious road access. (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

This is a view of the far side of the valley showing farms perched on the mountainside. There were a couple of small villages over there, although we couldn’t see any obvious road access (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

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

Day 47/164: Hulucanas to Pasbar – 102km

Up 750 meters, and down 750 meters

Unless things change again, tonight we really are staying on a soccer field. I slept really well, probably the best since I started this ride. Regardless of the time I go to bed on a riding day – usually around 7 – I still never want to get up at 5am. Last night there were no roosters, no dogs, and it was not too hot or cold.

At the rider’s meeting last night Cristiano told us that Phil has now been evacuated from Loja and is in Lima finally. Hopefully he will make good progress and soon be able to return home. As expected with head trauma he is a bit confused, and whilst he can hold a conversation about having been injured he then will finish off his reply with “Now I have short day riding today, and I need to find my helmet and shoes”. A number of the riders are wearing orange (Phil wore lots of orange), and those that don’t have any orange have orange flagging tape on their bike or helmet, as a way of keeping Phil with us as we make our way to Ushuaia.

Today and yesterday it was overcast when we headed off and almost looked like rain but this clears midday and then the sun blazes down. Where we are staying tonight it has not rained since 2008!

One benefit of the short riding with no climbing is we have been getting to camp by midday. Mind you, it’s a bit disconcerting getting to the lunch truck at 9:30am. It also makes it a long time until dinner at 6pm. Most of the riders have a meal in between, plus the cook has been making soup every riding day since we left Quito and this helps bridge the gap as well.

Top of today's main climb at lunch time (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Top of today’s main climb at lunch time (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Peru is hot and very, very, dry where we are. There are numerous dry river beds and the towns are all buildings on dirt. There is a lot of rubbish around also, not in the towns so much but in between, dumped in bags on the side of the road.

On the road in rural Northern Peru (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

On the road in rural Northern Peru (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Today I rode about 30 kilometres with Mark and Nelson in a pacing line. Sort of like a peloton. We took turns being at the front pulling, and the riders behind get the benefit of some wind shield and drafting. I have not had much experience at this and find it hard to get close enough to the rider in front to benefit. Apparently I need to cut the distance I stay behind the rider in front by about two-thirds. All practice and experience. Given the shorter days I am pushing myself harder.

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

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

Where we are staying is a soccer field but thankfully not dirt. We are on concrete, but it there is no shade and it is only midday when I get to camp. The cloud has lifted and it is hot! Thankfully three of the locals have shops in their houses so we followed the shade from shop to shop. When I say ‘shop’ I mean they have a freezer with drinks and a few things you can buy, and generally will cook chips and eggs (fried or scrambled).

Often though it takes about 45 minutes from the time of order to arrival, and there can be some tension over whose order is whose. Also at times more arrives than what was ordered, but there is always someone willing to eat more.

It is one of the rider’s birthday today – Jos from South Africa – and he has organized beer, cheese, crackers and olives. There was a big container of crackers and cheese, and two of olives, but they were gone in no time.

As a couple of days ago, we have a number of the locals watching us with great interest. At the rider’s meeting we sat on the tiered seating at the soccer field, and we had a back row of local people who sat through the meeting, and watched us eating. They are probably going to have to restock their shops tomorrow as 45 hungry riders can eat and drink a lot between midday and 6pm.

The soccer pitch where tent city is tonight (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The soccer pitch where tent city is tonight (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

First good sunset of the trip tonight (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

First good sunset of the trip tonight (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

The sun continues sinking very fast (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The sun continues sinking very fast (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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

Day 45/164: Macara to Las Lomas – 61km

Up 600 meters (turned out to be 700), and down 1,100 meters.

I had a reasonable sleep, with the usual roosters dawn chorus competition of course – but at least they waited until about 5am!

We had a nice short day, allowing plenty of time for the border crossing. We set off about 6:30am with 9 kilometres to ride to the border. School is back in and at 6:30 the children are arriving for school. A number of utes and small trucks arrive with their back-trays crammed with school children.

Welcome to Peru - where the old bridge used to be (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Welcome to Peru – where the old bridge used to be (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Getting out of Ecuador was pretty quick, then across to the Peru border counter. This took ages as they had a network issue, so the line seemed to hardly move.

The queue for Immigration (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The queue for Immigration (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Waiting at the border (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Waiting at the border (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

While we were waiting in the line we noticed a puppy that was about 4-5 months wake up, stretch, then wander over and start gnawing on the handle bars of one of the rider’s bike. When the puppy was yelled at he moved down to the saddle bag and started gnawing that, and when yelled at again he slinked off to find mischief elsewhere.

Then a healthy adult goat appears and wanders up and down the road chewing on plants.

Finally the queue starts to move and our passports are stamped. We still have to wait around for the dinner truck to go through in case they want to search the bags, so we go to get a drink while we wait. Next thing Mr Goat appears again, and trots into a restaurant across the road confidently like he has a reservation! Then suddenly he see the owner, and he’s off down the road at rapid speed with the owner throwing stones after him. I suspect he has had enough success in the past with this manoeuvre to make the risk worthwhile. The dinner truck is waved through and we are off.

Welcome to Peru, on the new bridge (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Welcome to Peru, on the new bridge (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Immediately you can tell we are in a differently country, the people look different, the houses are different, and there no yellow taxis. There are Tuk Tuk’s galore (motorbike in front and covered seats behind) as well as some white ute taxis. The country is very dry here, you can tell we are not far from the desert with cactus and dry dirt roads, and houses without grass.

A Tuk Tuk

A Tuk Tuk

The local taxis (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The local taxis (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

The people are more friendly than in Ecuador. A number smiled and waved at us. There are a number of loose donkeys grazing at the side of the road, and herds of goats. Unlike in Ecuador they are not tied up.

We had rolling hills which are great as you can get up the hill quite a way with the momentum from coming down. As it was only a 60 kilometre ride I was pushing myself to go as fast as I could. I am also concentrating on changing to smallest gears as late as possible and changing up as soon as I can. On rolling hills you can do this as you know you will soon have the downhill to recover.

There are lots of dogs, at one shop I saw about 11 dogs, and some quite large dogs, milling around. Thankfully none so far (bar one very small dog with big dog aspirations) have been aggressive.

The town where we are staying is basically a town square with some surrounding shops. It is very hot and dry. We are staying tonight at Salon Communal Santa Isabel, which is the community centre, so tent city again! But the other option is outside in the beating down sun, on a patch of dirt, in 38 degrees heat and possibly will get hotter.

Tent City

Tent City

A number of the locals have lined up outside the building to watch our goings on with great interest. There are adults sitting on the tuk tuks, and children milling around the door.

Taxi drivers watching us (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Taxi drivers watching us (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Passers by stop to watch (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Passers by stop to watch (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

After getting the tent sorted I went off into town to find a cash flow, and a cold beer. The cash flow worked ok, thankfully, as I suspect it is the only one in this town. I have had some problems in some other towns where some cash flow machines don’t work and others do. The machine only gave $100 dollar notes which are too big to cash in most of the shops. So I went into the bank, which has an interesting system where you don’t queue in a line or at the teller, you sit in a seat and as each person gets served you move up one seat.

Playing musical chairs at the bank (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Playing musical chairs at the bank (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

I had a cold beer and then returned to the camp site to get my clothes to have a shower – the restaurant down the road was letting us use their shower. The restaurant also has wifi. I had a shower, but despite trying a number of times did not manage to get onto the wifi.

The place where we are staying has no running water, and the toilet has to be flushed by using a bucket, and pulling the water up from a well.

By dinner time there were about 30 townspeople gathered around watching us eat with great interest.

Dinner was Israeli couscous, beef stew, and broccoli.

Locals watching dinner preparation

Locals watching dinner preparation

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