Posts Tagged With: Traffic

Day 17: Wednesday 30 Nov – Nelson to Murchison

152km today – 1,700 meters climbing and 1,600 meters down


It rained over night a few times but had stopped by 6am. The tent was wet but I carry a rubbish bag for this, to stop it getting everything else in my bag wet.

I was a bit daunted by the ride today, lots of climbing and a long way. Riding out of Nelson we followed mainly back roads, to keep away from the traffic.


Back roads from Nelson to Murchison

We stopped in Wakefield at approx 35 km for coffee. While drinking coffee Tony noticed my back wheel had gone flat. On closer inspection my tyre had a number of cuts in the tyre so tonight at camp I will need to change tyres. I decided to hope that it would get through the day with no further problems. To add to this, when packing without thinking I had picked up the spare mountain bike inner tubes from my bike shed, so guess what I had in my bike bag! Luckily Brett had a spare tube, and him and Tony kindly got my bike sorted while Michele and finished our coffee.

Next we turned off into quite a pleasant valley, but then the climb started. Clearly I had not paid much attention the previous night at rider’s meeting, as this climb was for the next 37km until 90km where it was mostly downhill. I was very daunted, not sure if I am up to this. This was not like the switch backs on the South American ride where it was pretty much a 5% gradient with a small flat bit at each end. This was the longest 37km of the trip so far.

At lunch at 71km there was none of joviality of the day before with 19 km of climbing to go. Thankfully not all of it was climbing, there were some downhills as well. Then yay at 90km, mostly downhill from there.

However at this point we were now back on the Kaikoura to Christchurch bypass route and trucks plus cars again. There were four in a row and some way too close. I am also not reassured by the gouges in the grass and knocked over fences when what was a clearly a heavy vehicle had come off the road. As before I would move right off when I got the chance, and was constantly looking behind me.

When you are going reasonably fast downhill the wind is whistling in your ears and you don’t always hear them. Even with all the precautions I got a few scares and rode off into a ditch once.

We stopped at the Owen Tavern at 133 km and spoke to a couple of truck drivers. They told us that there are 500 to 700 extra trucks a day on this road, and most of these drivers are not used to the road and are driving too fast for the road. Not reassuring news with 20 more kilometres on this road today and 13 kilometres tomorrow before we leave the Kaikoura – Christchurch traffic diversion.


Outside Owen Pub – Justina from Switzerland, From Canada: Bill in the bright yellow, Kelvin and Don

Off to camp, on the way caught up with Guy from Canada. It is his first TDA ride, and where he comes from there are no hills to mention, so as a consequence he is finding this ride very challenging. Plus Ray and Ursula also from Canada, this is about their 5th ride but the first time I have met them.


5km from camp my back tire started going flat again! I decided to pump it ip rather than change the tube. At 2km out it had to be pumped again and I was very relieved to ride into camp after 11.5 hours out on the bike.


Campsite (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook page)

It was quite a nice little camp ground, some old hydro huts for rent very cheaply, but as my tent was wet I wanted to put it up. There was a nice seating area covered with a roof and along one side with a nice view of the river. Also the home of lots of biting insects, my bushman’s insect repellent was popular. There were good kitchen facilities and Yarnez the chef excelled at dinner: roast lamb with roasted potato, gravy, mint sauce, asparagus and cabbage, capsicum, slaw  yum !!!! Not quite so yum that we succumbed to cask Mystique River Red wine. That was a mistake to only be made once.


Michele and Walli with Buller river in the background


Having a sign would make me suspect this had been a problem

Categories: Trans-Oceania | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Categories: Trans-Oceania | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 2 -Tuesday 15 November

115 kilometres- climbing 110k, down 130k

Thankfully when I woke up the rain had not yet started, but by the time I had nearly packed up the tent it was starting to spit. Luckily we had a covered space for breakfast with tables and chairs for breakfast. Yanez the cook had made stacks of French toast and one of the Canadian riders had bought a tub of real maple syrup, plus cereal and yoghurt.

After breakfast I put on my over shoes on, put on my rain jacket, and off we headed. I was riding with Michelle, Tony, and Brett. The first 44.5 kilometres of the day was flat with lots of left and right turns. Left was into the wind, and right it was behind you. When heading into the wind I kept thinking to myself “At least it’s not the 130 kilometre per hour wind and torrential rain that was happening in Wellington”.

We stopped at Paeroa for coffee, and then of course obligatory tourist stop by the big L&P bottle on the outskirts of town. For non-NZ blog readers, a factory in Paeroa used to make a drink called “Lemon & Paeroa” which was lemon with Paeroa spring water. Now it’s made by Coca Cola but is still a NZ favourite).


Brett and me at the L&P bottle in Paeroa

Then we headed off up the Karangahake Gorge. There was not much of a shoulder to ride in, and at times there was no shoulder and lots  of traffic. A friendly driver gave us an earful as they went past. Sue got a flat on a nasty bend but managed to find a safe bit off road to change it. Brett and Tony stopped to help whilst Michelle and I continued on.  Thankfully at 58.4 k we turned right to Waitawheta and had a nice quiet country road until 70.1 k where we turned onto SH2.

We were on SH2 for most of the rest of the day. It started pouring down , there was not much of a shoulder, and what shoulder there was a lot of it was taken up with raised white lines, which are not pleasant to ride on.  The trucks were whizzing past and spraying water all over us. One tanker came way too close to me.

Lunch was at 73.7 k, where there was a tarpaulin to sit under plus a nice selection of sandwich fillings. Is this really a TDA ride?

As soon as we stopped riding, even though I had layers of clothes,  over boots, water proof gloves and rainproof jacket, I started to feel cold. I had lost my water proof skull cap a few weeks ago, so I solved the problem by putting a shower cap over my merino wool skull cap. Almost Enid Sharpels looking but of course it wasn’t quite a hair net. Once my head was warm I started feeling warmer.

Off we went again into the pouring rain, with busy traffic and big trucks. There were often reasonable shoulders but they would disappear and all of a sudden you would be on a narrow piece of road with a large vehicle in each direction.

About this time I started regretting my lack of training. I kept meaning to increase my training but sadly I didn’t. The most I have been getting done over the past couple of months is two rides a week, of about two hours and about 50 k each. These rides had hills but not enough.

At 107 kilometres I was coming up a hill and I thought “I am not going to be able to get up this hill” – my legs have just about stopped working. I gritted my teeth and locked my eyes onto the Challenge Petrol Station sign up the top of the hill where I had decided to stop, and I managed to get up there.  It’s amazing what a nice hot chocolate and a 10 minute rest will do. While I found the going tough for the rest of the day I didn’t have another “I can’t do this” moment.

At 118 kilometres SH2 becomes like a motorway going into Tauranga, then add rush hour traffic, and having to cross lanes  – crazy!

At 125 kilometres we had to go right at the third exit of the roundabout, but to get to it we could either go off the track onto a bike path across the road, or ride about 1 kilometre on a bridge with two lanes, no shoulder and heaps of traffic . Michelle kept on going onto the bridge, but after waiting about 5 min the rest of us managed to get across the two lanes of rush hour traffic to the bike lane.

The bike lane took us off to the side of where we needed to go but we managed to work our way back to where we needed to be but no Michelle. We waited for awhile and when we didn’t see her we figured she had gone ahead so we set off for camp. It was mostly down hill from there to camp. Whilst I was riding I was thinking “I hope we don’t have to come back this way tomorrow”.

At 130.5 kilometres we arrived thankfully at camp. I was very pleased I had rung before and booked a cabin. Shared with Tony, Michelle and Brett. It was a nice camp with a laundry with washing machine and dryers, so was able to get our soaking wet bike gear dry.

There was also a covered space with tables and chairs, plus of course the lovely hot pools. But no Michelle at camp. We were reassured however that she had a cellphone plus also any local would give her directions so we headed off to the hot pools.  It turned out there were workmen at the roundabout and they had removed the orange flagging, so a few riders got lost. Michelle arrived in camp having done an extra 6 kilometres but one rider did an extra 20 kilometres – so a total of 150 kilometres!

Welcome Bay Hot Springs are very close to Te Puke where my dad lived with my step mother Lynne. Dad sadly died 6 years ago but Lynne still lives in Te Puke, so she came to visit at the camp to visit.

I had got two small holes in my gloves and had forgotten to bring needle and thread, so I text Lynne and asked her to bring this with her. Lynne not only bought the needle and thread but sewed the gloves up as well. Unlike me, who spends about 10 minutes trying to thread a needle with glasses, Lynne just does it straight away and doesn’t even wear glasses! Pretty good vision for a pensioner.

I had arranged for Lynne to stay  with us for dinner. We had a very nice beef stew with potatoes and a salad with kale, tomato, feta and olives, yum. Plus Lynne had bought two bottles of red wine which went down well with the group. It was good to catch up with Lynne, and she enjoyed meeting people she had read about in my blog, especially Sue and Walli.

A few of the riders had approached Emily, the tour leader, about how uncomfortable they were with the SH traffic and lack of shoulders. We discussed alternative routes and luckily Lynne was there to give local knowledge of the alternative roads.

At 8pm I was suddenly very tired, so Lynne set off home and I crashed into bed.

Categories: Trans-Oceania | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Day 1 -Monday 14 November

Auckland to Miranda Hot Pools – Climbing 1,000 meters and down 1,000 metres.

The weather was fine but windy – luckily a tail wind mostly. I was up at 6am and packing bags. It was a bit of a worry finding out about the earthquake, thankfully my family and friends are all ok. I didn’t really have anything to put in my rest day bag as have managed to fit everything into my every day bag, including the pillow.


Bags all packed: Almost everything for the next month is in my daily bag on the bottom, the permanent bag (which we only get on rest days) is on the top and is just about empty

We all had breakfast at the hotel restaurant and then set off to navigate the Auckland traffic! It was rush hour but luckily it was coming the other way.

It was a nice surprise to find Peter from NZ who did part of the South American trip is joining us for the first four days.

We made it out of Auckland ok after stopping at numerous traffic lights. First stop was at 41k for coffee, then 51k for for fresh Cleveland oysters. Brett and I shared some nice fresh oysters with a squeeze of lemon, yum!



Lunch was at 66k, by 61k I was feeling pretty hungry and had a 4k climb. I got cramp in my calves and had to get off my bike, I walked a bit and got back on and got cramp again! Then when I got off my bike I could hardly walk either, so I hobbled to the top of the hill doing a mixture of walking and riding. Thankfully the cramp did not return after that. When I got to lunch I did not stay too long as I did not want to cool down and start to stiffen up.

From lunch it was up hill and I struggled a bit, feeling annoyed that I had not trained more but then luckily we got down to the Firth of Thames and it was pretty flat all the way to camp.

We are staying at Miranda Hot Pools camp. It has nice amenities including a hairdryer in the toilet and shower block. Plus of course the hot pools.

My first job was to put up the tent. You would think after putting it up for five and half months in South America this would have been a breeze. Sadly not so. It took me awhile to work out which bit went where, I was pleased it was not pouring with rain. Then after a shower I had a nice soak in the hot pool, followed by a rest before dinner.

There are four TDA staff compared to the 12 on the South American ride, all are new to me, including I am pleased to say the cook. We had a lovely meal of fresh salmon, asparagus, and a fresh salad of kale, capsicum, pineapple and tomatoes (could have done without the pineapple but at least it was fresh) plus couscous which normally I leave but it went straight down tonight. All the plates and cups and cooking gear is really clean, much more hygienic than the previous trip, fingers crossed it continues.

This ride started in Darwin and the group rode down to Sydney then flew across to Auckland. Sue, who I rode the South American ride with, has done from Darwin and joined us in Auckland.

Other riders I have ridden with before are:
Walli from the Trans Europa Epic
Michelle, Tony, Chris, Linda, and Peter – from the South American Epic
Plus Brett who has done both rides with me.

I headed off to the tent for an early night. It’s meant to start raining tonight and rain for the next two days, so I have rung ahead to the next place we stay, the Welcome Bay Camp and Hot Pools, and booked their last remaining cabin for tomorrow. It’s not so bad to pack up a tent when it’s raining, or put one up in the rain, but it’s pretty miserable if it’s raining at both ends.

One of the riders is tracking her rides with “Strava” which is quite interesting to see – here is the clip of today’s ride.

Categories: Trans-Oceania, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

November 13th – Tourist in Auckland

Today I woke up quite early and headed off to have breakfast, then back at 10am for the riders meeting. It was great to see Sue, Wali, Michelle, Tony, Chris and Linda again, plus meet the other riders whose names I will get to know.


I am not sure that I have trained enough and am feeling fat, so the prospect of continuous days riding in NZ is a bit daunting. Also it looks like the weather may not be great. On the plus side for the first five nights we have hot pools each night, and there are only three riding days till the first rest day.

Our first three days of riding

Our first three days of riding

Tomorrow we have the joys of navigating our way out of Auckland to look forward to, with turns every kilometre or less. At least the traffic will mostly be coming into Auckland not going out.

The whiteboard instructions for leaving Auckland

The whiteboard instructions for leaving Auckland

Tomorrow we are staying in Miranda at the hot springs and we go past a fresh oyster shop (yum) on the way.

I went to a really nice restaurant called The Depot for lunch with Brett, Michelle and Tony, and we shared a range of small plates. The food was really good. So good that when we met up as a group for dinner and Sue really wanted to go to The Depot we happily went again.

Lunch with Michelle and Tony and Brett at The Depot

Lunch with Michelle and Tony and Brett at The Depot

This afternoon we went up the Sky Tower and watched a brave – or crazy! – young guy do the SkyJump! You free fall until just about at the end – 192 metres! Not for me.

Sky City Tower

The Sky City Tower at 328 metres tall it is the tallest man-made structure in the Southern Hemisphere, and 25th tallest tower in the world.

View from Sky Tower - Auckland withRangitoto Island in the background

View from Sky Tower – Auckland with Rangitoto Island in the background

Now I am sorting out my bags, trying to work out what I can do without until the rest day – not much and I am trying to make sure I can still fit my pillow in. Then it will be an early night as we have a 6am start to get up and out of here.

Categories: Cycling trip, Trans-Oceania | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Day 72/164: Limatambo to Cusco – 76km

1,500 meters climbing, 950 down.

During the night it poured, and that small omission I made yesterday with clipping the tent? Well, the whole floor of the tent got soaked along with most of my gear 😦 😦 :(. Thankfully not my electronics as they were safely in my bag, but I use a packing cell of clothes as a pillow, so I am not sure if I will have anything to wear in Cusco!

I wrapped everything that was wet in black plastic bags, and will deal with it in Cusco!  I said goodbye at breakfast to those who are leaving, in case I don’t get to see them again.

I set off from camp thinking to myself “Only 76 kilometres standing between me and three rest days!”. The first five kilometres was pretty tough as the gradient was quite steep, thankfully it improved. I caught up with Michelle at about 10 kilometres and rode with her. Luckily there were some parts of the hill that were pretty reasonable riding.

 A view of Limbatamo and yesterday's valley that we pedalled up (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

A view of Limatambo and yesterday’s valley that we pedalled up (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

I had thought the main hill was 20 kilometres, we passed Sue and she thought it was 15 kilometres, which would have been great as we were nearly at 15 kilometres. We were all wrong: it was actually 25 kilometres.

Finally we got to the top and Michelle yells out “Yay!”. I try to yell as well but I don’t have any spare breathe, oops my asthma is worse than I thought. I used the reliever a couple of times, and then it was downhill to lunch.

The lunch truck party, playing oldies on the stereo (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

The lunch truck party, playing oldies on the stereo (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

After lunch I rode with Michelle and Tony, only 36 kilometres to go! There was a bit of a headwind and some more hills but the thought of getting to the hotel and a warm shower kept us going.

Up the hill for the final climb and down on the other side. Our first view of the main part of Cusco. The red earth, tile roofs and brown bricks make for a drab scene (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Up the hill for the final climb and down on the other side. Our first view of the main part of Cusco. The red earth, tile roofs and brown bricks make for a drab scene (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

At 8 kilometres out, we were on the outskirts of town, it was dirty rubbish bags, mangy dogs, mud, buses, taxi vans, pot holes, gravel and a steep gradient. Once we got to the city, getting to the hotel was chaos –  the traffic was everywhere.

Trying to manage the traffic, and look out for flags and potholes was very challenging. I was lucky there were three of us navigating, as I would have got lost if I had been on my own. Finally we got to the hotel, to my amazement in one piece.

Getting through Cusco to our hotel was a bit of a challenge. Lots of turns combined with steep, rough cobbled streets made it exciting. One of the streets had a vegetable market. It made for lots of dodging bodies and produce (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Getting through Cusco to our hotel was a bit of a challenge. Lots of turns combined with steep, rough cobbled streets made it exciting. One of the streets had a vegetable market. It made for lots of dodging bodies and produce (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

We're nearing the hotel. Here's the Mercado San Pedro (Market) (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Nearing the hotel. Here’s the Mercado San Pedro (Market) (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

We are staying at Hotel Garcilaso in Cusco for three days 🙂 🙂 :).The hotel is old but situated right in the middle of the tourist hub. The staff are very helpful and friendly. Like a number of the riders I am not in the best shape, I think it’s a case of being exhausted. I have a burnt and bleeding lip, pressure areas on the butt, gastro, asthma, altitude breathlessness, and an annoying cough, plus my neck has frozen on the left side. I think the three day’s rest has come just in time.

Grant – the rider I was concerned about the other day – went to a private clinic and is on penicillin injections for a chest infection. Other riders have a mixture of problems.

I got changed, got some water etc. I had dinner with Tony and Michelle at a nice restaurant (the name escapes me) to celebrate them having finished the section, and completed all of it! I am also feeling pretty pleased to have completed all of it. I had filet mignon, fettucine, fresh salad, and a glass of red wine. Then back to the hotel to bed.

Yay, no 5am start tomorrow or the next two days.


We made it! Park the bikes, unload and shower, and it's off down the street for some grub. This is the Plaza San Francisco (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

We made it! Park the bikes, unload and shower, and it’s off down the street for some grub. This is the Plaza San Francisco (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

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

Day 60/164: Lima to Pucusana – 58km

Climbing 480 meters, down 555 meters.

Tonight we are staying at Hospedaje Puerto Escondido, it is a hostel as TDA could not find any other accommodation. We are of course all devastated by not having to set up our tents.

More good news, as we are the on the South side of Lima we don’t have to ride in a convoy out of the city.

We had breakfast at the hotel. Only problem is there are 10 floors but only one lift! The lift can fit 4 people and there are about 45 of us including staff. Nothing for it but to walk up. Well, if I had not already realized how fit I was getting I would now: 10 floors of stairs, no problem – I was barely even breathing harder than normal 🙂

We left the hotel in groups. Riding in Peru is difficult at the best of times, let alone in rush hour traffic. Thankfully we are riding away from Lima as the traffic is hideous! Riding in the group are two of the new riders, Tony and Michelle from Tasmania. They are doing the section from Lima to Cusco, then doing part of the Macha Picchu trail. They have a good sense of humour and I think we are going to get along well.

With today only being 58 kilometres and 480 meters of climbing, it feels like a rest day. Needless to say lunch will be where we are staying.

After we got off the Pan American highway it was a lot less stressful. Only one hill of any significance and that was less than 2 kilometres.  We rolled into Pucusana at about 9:30am, way too early for lunch so we went for a look around the town.

Checking out the harbour (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Checking out the harbour (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

It is a really pretty little port town, small dinghies, fishing boats, and one fishing ship. On the water front are lots of hopeful pelicans and other sea birds (oyster catchers, herons, pacific gulls) plus dogs of every type and description and breed.

Harbour at Pucusana

Harbour at Pucusana

Pelicans at the port in Pucusana

Pelicans at the port in Pucusana

Pucusana Harbour (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Pucusana Harbour (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Picturesque harbour in Pucusana (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Picturesque harbour in Pucusana (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Pucusana (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Pucusana (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Pelican on a tin roof (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Pelican on a tin roof (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

A couple of cute dogs (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

A couple of cute dogs (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

We wandered around for a while, and then went back to the hostel to have lunch and get changed etc. It was still only 10:30 so not that hungry.

We were greeted by the news that one of the riders – Fred from USA – had fallen off his bike that morning. Fred had got his water bottle out to squirt a dog and hit a bump and lost his balance and hit his head, his helmet broke in 3 places and he hurt his arm. He was now off to the hospital having X-rays etc. Fingers crossed he is not too badly injured.

After a shower and catching up some of us headed back to down to the port and looked around some more. We stopped at a restaurant, had a cold beer and a fish sandwich. I was toying with the idea of going out on one of the boat trips around the harbour. It was $40 soles for 40 minutes. I get sea sickness, but I really wanted to see the sea lions. I decided to risk it.

I did feel a bit nauseous but it was worth it. I saw a really large colony of sea lions, then a rock with 3 young bulls, then another small colony. There were heaps of birds, a few sea lions in the water, and some huge brightly coloured crabs.

A boat load of other cyclists (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

A boat load of other cyclists (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Seals on the rocks (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Seals on the rocks (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog) (Editors note: I am told these are in fact sea lions)

Seals on the rocks (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Seals on the rocks (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog) (Editors note: I am told these are in fact sea lions)

A king pelican, the biggest of them all (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

A king pelican, the biggest of them all (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Can you spot the island with the white house on it (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Can you spot the island with the white house on it (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

At the entrance to the harbour was a house that looked like a boat, amazing location and for sale.

The "house boat"

The “house boat”

I was feeling a bit green after the boat ride so went back to the hostel. There was a huge dog fight, but thankfully none of the dogs seemed to be hurt.

At the riders meeting the update on Fred was that sadly he has a chip out of his elbow and needs surgery, so he maybe out of the rest of the trip. It depends on his insurance company whether he has the surgery in Lima or back in the States. We are all a bit sad to see both Bob and Fred leaving us unexpectedly. Hopefully Fred may be able to join us towards the end of the trip, depending on how his recovery goes.

Dinner was spaghetti bolognese, pasta, and salad.

In the market (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

In the market (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Local scene (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Local scene (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Love this boat (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Love this boat (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

View over the habour from the hill top (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

View over the habour from the hill top (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

View from our hostel roof (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

View from our hostel roof (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)


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

Day 58/164: Lomas de Lachay to Lima – 123km

Climbing 1,160 meters – down 1,560 meters

Thankfully no sign of snakes or scorpions! The ride out was not as bad as I had imagined, as the sand was easier to ride down than up. However a lot of the surface was corrugated and a few riders lost drink bottles and rear lights on the way down. Sue lost her drink bottle holder as well!

Today's route details (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Today’s route details (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Off we went, initially the riding was pretty easy, a few ups and then a long stretch of flat. At 37.2 kilometres we had to turn left at a y intersection, and I could see a hill stretching up into the distance. What I did not know was it was a 15 kilometre hill of mostly up! This would have been usual info to have had regarding being able to make it to the 90 kilometre mark by 11am.

As I did not know it was 15 kilometres up, I expected at every turn that I was at the top. Not sure whether it would have been better or worse to have known. I am getting up hills much better and I made it to the top without stopping.

About 5 kilometres up the hill the dinner truck came past and said the convoy point was now at 76 kilometres, so I was pretty sure I would make it. If we are not there on time the trucks will come back for us.

I am not spinning my legs as quickly as I am building up more strength, and not always in the smallest gear. Of the 15 kilometres about 2 kilometres was downhill before the actual top. I thought a couple of times I was at the top when I wasn’t. It was a bit foggy, and I put my high viz vest on. Finally go to the top of the hill and went flying down for about 10 kilometres.

The ride from the bottom of the hill to the convoy point was the pits! There were dogs, debris, taxis and mini vans darting in and out in front of you, cutting you off, pulling out in front of you, hooting and tooting at you. There was about 2 kilometres with no shoulder – that was quite scary. Thankfully at this point two other riders caught up with me, and I rode the rest of the way to the convoy point with them. The traffic is a bit better with a group than a lone rider.

As always despite the pressure to get to a certain spot by a certain time, it was ages before we set off. I had lunch and then milled around with the other riders, waiting for the three remaining riders to come in. Finally we were ready for a 50 kilometre convoy. The traffic is chaotic.

We had a land rover with the local guide, Cristano in his ute, 2 TDA staff in the front, and 1 at the back. Plus the two trucks at the back and the riders in between. Still we had taxis and cars trying to cut through the middle.

The local guide, instead of having us in the slowest lane, had us in the fast lane so at least we were protected from buses, taxis, and vans darting in and out of the road shoulder to pick up and drop off passengers.

Overall the convoy went really well until about 40 kilometres where we ran into a bottleneck due to a huge food fair. This took about 45 minutes to get clear of.

We arrived at the hotel (Hotel Villa Santa) finally about 4pm, all hanging out for a shower, fresh clothes, a nice meal and a bed to sleep in. Unfortunately with about 50 people hitting the showers at the same time the hot water system did not cope. Luckily it come warm again about an hour later.

Covered in oil at the end of a long day (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Covered in oil at the end of a long day (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

We went to a really nice restaurant up the road and had a fantastic steak. It was a 400 gram Argentinean beef, cooked perfectly. The other option was 600 grams. I am pleased I did not get that, as hungry as I was I couldn’t finish the 400 gram. This may of course have been affected by cold beer in the chilled glass to start, with the basket of warm crusty bread, real butter, and pesto. I shared a really nice Argentinean Syrah / Merlot as well. Food heaven.

Went happily back to the hotel looking forward to the rest day and no 5am alarm.

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

Day 56/164: La Gramita to Bermejo Beach – 125km

1,925 meters up and 1,925 meters down

Tonight we are camping again, on the white board it says “Beach camping” which sounds quite pleasant.

When our alarms go at 5am the lights are not working in the room, so out come the headlights again. Thankfully about 10 minutes later the lights come on.  We are not having breakfast in the restaurant this morning, the TDA staff have set up breakfast outside by the truck thankfully, as with the speed of the service yesterday we would still have been here mid-morning.

To get back to the main road we have to go 3 kilometres back up the dirt road, then off again through endless desert, sandhills, rock mountains and the occasional shacks at the side of the road. We are following the coast and get some glimpses of it. Mostly the riding is rolling hills, with a few reasonable ups followed by some good downs.

There are a number of chicken farms along the way, huge big long structures with white roofs to reflect the sun. Apparently they get the sea water from under the sand, and the sand filters the salt out of it.

The road shoulder is really shitty to ride on. Some of the day we again have our own not quite finished highway, which is great. The rest of the day we are trying to share with the traffic. The truck drivers are really good, they toot hello as they pass us and go over to the other lane whenever they can, or honk loudly if there is no room and we need to go onto the shoulder. The buses give us no space, regardless of whether they could move into the other lane or not, and the cars and taxi honk in an unfriendly way as they race past.

There is still rubbish, other debris and a distressing number of dead animals littering the shoulder. So far Peru is the bottom on my list of places I would come back to.

The desert any day so far in Peru

The desert any day so far in Peru

I got to 123 kilometres and the turn off was another dirt road. This one was a most delightful mixture (not) of corrugated surface, soft sand that I can’t ride in, or slippery rocks.

The “Beach camp” is not as pleasant as it sounded. It is now referred to by the riders as “Dust camp”. Within 5 minutes of the tent being up, even with the fly shut, there is a layer of dust over everything. It gets into everything.

A dusty sort of campsite (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

A dusty sort of campsite (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Thankfully the locals have put together an impromptu shop and are selling snacks and cold beer.  The Peruvians, as well as having a dislike of cyclists, also see tourists as a chance to charge outrageous prices (when there are no alternative options). I pay a premium price for a beer and then I get no change – so I am now paying nearly double the usual rate. The vendor advises he can’t make the change from the note I have given him, and I have no other smaller change. Whilst I don’t know a lot of Spanish his message is clear enough – either pay this outrageous amount or go without. With a throat full of sand, I pay.

Jackie was meant to be leaving tomorrow but she has decided to go a day early. One of the other riders who is also leaving in Lima decides to go as well – neither of them are keen to have dust through everything they own as their final trip experience.

We say good bye to Australian Jacqui (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

We say good bye to Australian Jacqui (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

One of the locals has agreed for a price to take them to Lima but after keeping them waiting for nearly 2 hours, he decides he wants more, and then decides not to take them at all. Cristano manages to organize another option, this all takes place over a number of hours. Then the car finally arrives but can’t fit the bike boxes on so needs to go off and get rope. By this time one of the other riders decides to go to Lima a couple of days early also. They finally set off with the Jackie’s bike box on top of the car, Peter is in Lima for a few days so will get his off the TDA truck there. They did get there all safely, bike box included.

Dinner that night was really nice: kebabs, hot potato salad, and chicken.

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

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

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

Day 53/164: Huanchaco to Guadalupito – 123km

1,325 meters up – 1,345 meters down

I left on my bike with a borrowed back wheel – Britten one of the TDA staff also has a cyclo-cross but is on leave for 5 days so I have his wheel. My wheel will be re-spoked today and back on my bike tomorrow.

Heading off out of town I was distressed to see two dead dogs, both the result of road accidents, in quick succession – thankfully I didn’t see the accidents. One of the dogs was not young, and I wondered if maybe it had got hard of hearing as it got older. I wonder whether they were cared about dogs, and if their owners would be looking for them which is sad, but even sadder if they were strays that no one would care about, and they would just stay there.

On the notes we had been warned to look out for debris between 8 to 18 kilometres, and there was debris on the side of the road. The notes, however, had not said watch out for the really crazy town where you will be in rush hour traffic. The mini vans (taxis) will stop right in front of you and then drive out into you, none use their indicator, but they all make good use of their horn!

Thankfully I got through the town intact, then there were a few climbs up and down.

There was quite a bit of construction and everywhere there was they have young girls waving red flags to slow the traffic down – not that the traffic took any notice. What a boring job standing there all day, maybe you have to spend 3 months doing this before you can move onto another job?

After lunch the scenery changed back to desert, with hills of boulders, and a head wind. Not much of a road shoulder, and lots of trucks and buses!

A view of the desert on pretty much any day in Peru

A view of the desert on pretty much any day in Peru

At 92 kilometres, Cathy and I caught up with another cyclist John who is feeling ill, gastro again. Sue is also not riding today, with gastro so bad that she has to hold onto a rubbish bag. John did not feel like walking or riding, so we waited for the lunch truck to come along and pick him up. The hour looking up at the hill we had to climb was a bit off-putting but I resisted the temptation to jump onto the truck also when it arrived.

After we saw John safely onto the bus we set off again up the hill, then down into a head wind. The highway is two lanes, but running parallel there is a new two lane highway stil under construction but fully bike rideable. We stayed on this highway all the way to camp. Every now and then we had to get off the bike and clamber over the barriers that are there to stop the general traffic using it as well.

Unlike Colombia and Ecuador where there was a certain tolerance for cyclists, here the Peruvian motorists don’t think we should be on the road at all! It does not help that there are hardly any cyclists here and those you do see are not recreational cyclists slowly going along the shoulder of the road. This is where the motorists believe we should be and they toot angrily at us!

The problem with the shoulder of the road is it has holes, rubbish, deal animals and tuk tuks – so not good riding.

After the downhill there was about 15 kilometres riding along a straight that never seemed to end, into a head wind. Finally we got to the camp, staying at Bungalows Gemma. The highway finished just at the front of the camp, we jokingly said “hopefully they will not be working all night! Well, ha! By the next morning this stretch was nearly finished as there was pounding of the road, and trucks and heavy machinery going until about 2am. Guess it made a change from roosters, dogs, and bars.

A view of the desert, pretty much any day in Peru

Another view of the desert, pretty much any day in Peru

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