Posts Tagged With: Traffic

Day 46/164: Las Lomas to Chulucanas – 84km (or not!)

Up 500 meters, down 645 meters.

We were going to be bush camping (no running water, shower or toilets) on a soccer field in Chulucanas. The soccer fields here are dry patches of dirt, so with the short day we weren’t motivated to rush to camp. I rode with Jackie for the day.

There are so many dogs here, most places seem to have at least two, plus there are strays in between towns, scavenging through the rubbish that is dumped there. I assume they are strays as they look underfed. A number of the dogs out the front of houses also look like they could do with a few good meals.

The road is full of tuk tuks, and carts and horses, if it wasn’t for the occasional motorbike and car you could easily think it was a 100 years ago.

We came to a town called Tambo Grande, it was crazy – tuk tuks darting everywhere, people, roadworks, unpaved roads, and traffic shooting out from everywhere, with very little – if any – regard for the traffic rules.

Tambo Grande (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Tambo Grande (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Not surprisingly in the chaos Jackie and I missed a flag at a roundabout. Luckily Jackie realized pretty quickly, and we made our way back again to the roundabout and got back onto the right road. A couple of quite aggressive dogs rushed, out but thankfully a local on a motorbike cut them off.

Turning left at the Farmers Statue  (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Turning left at the Farmers Statue (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

We stopped for a drink and less than 5 kilometres later we were at the lunch truck at 9:15 am! The first riders were through before 8am. Today is going to be even shorter than planned as we are not staying at the soccer field any more, we are now stopping at 76 kilometres, at a proper campsite with showers/ toilets, a restaurant, and grass rather than dirt :D.

After lunch the road was basically flat, and before lunch there was not much climbing. The climbing must be between the 76km and the 85km we were meant to be doing today.

We came across a dip in the road with water in it, but thankfully we had seen locals going off road on a dirt road around it, as it looked pretty deep. There were two more dips like this, one with an off road option while the other looked really shallow. Luckily Jackie rode right to the very left of it and I followed her – four riders who went through the middle came off their bikes as it was slimy and slippery.

We went through a few quiet sleepy towns where even the dogs did not raise their heads from their dozing as we went through. Then we came to another crazy busy town, once again tuk tuks everywhere.

At the outskirts we came across one of the riders – Chris – whose chain had got caught in his cassette. We could not get it out so suggested that he and his bike got in a Tuk tuk and followed us to camp. The only problem is we did not know the name of the camp, or exactly how far it was, as we were originally going to be biking 83 kilometres and staying on a dirt soccer field, however Cristiano has found a better option at 76 kilometres yay! So off we went with Chris holding onto his bike. Thankfully it was only a few kilometres.

We got to camp, it was great – grass, a large covered restaurant area, and a pool. Certainly different than what we had been expecting (aka dreading).

My bike has started to make worrying noises and is getting harder to shift gears, so it went to bike clinic today and had something done with a bearing, and the gears adjusted, plus a check over, so hopefully it will not be as noisy. Jackie said she did not have to check if I was behind her, she could hear me!

We have had a change of route, instead of going through the mountains in Peru we are going to follow the coast. This is because there are no suitable places to camp for such a large group in the mountains, even bush camping. I am secretly quite delighted as I was not looking forward to altitude problems again. Another positive is we also pick up another rest day in Pacasmayo at the end of 7 days riding by the Pacific Ocean 😀

Dinner was pork stew, Israel couscous, and beans.

Tuk Tuk birthing station in Tampo Grande (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Tuk Tuk birthing station in Tambo Grande (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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

Day 16/164: La Vega to Bogota – 60 kilometres

1,271 km down: 12,370 km to go (End of Stage 1)

We had to get up at 4:30 as getting into a large city is always difficult. Having been awake most of the night with the music and with the puncture issues, I decided to forgo riding 60 kilometres, including a 2,000 metre speed trial up hill, and the convoy into Bogota.  A convoy is difficult enough anyway when you are one of the slowest riders, without an almost 100% certainty of a flat tyre or two. So, I decided to ride in the truck.

We got to the lunch spot and set up lunch, by the time we had finished it was about an hour before the first riders were expected. The road we were on is a main road into Bogota, and one that the local cyclists use for training, and it is Sunday. Cycling is big in Bogota and there were hundreds of cyclists out that morning.  There was a constant stream of pelotons (groups of cyclists) individuals, dads and sons etc. Most were brightly dressed in cycle gear, but some were in jeans. The bikes ranged from top of the line to old.

The 30 kilometres ended up being 27 kilometres due to parking availability. I wandered about 500 metres down the hill. I was watching one cyclist with a very old bike that had a rusty chain, and it broke twice within a couple of hundred metres. I tried to convey to him that there was a bike mechanic just round the corner who could help, but it was lost in translation.  As the riders were expecting to do another couple of kilometres I stayed where I was, letting them know the finish was just around the corner.

After they had all come in and rode off again to the convoy spot I was helping clear up lunch, watched by a couple of hopeful local dogs. As we were going into two rest days and left overs needed to be chucked, they became very happy local dogs, with a big bowl of shredded chicken tipped out for them.

Once we got the truck packed we headed off to the convoy spot. The constant stream of local cyclists continued. Outside every cafe and coke stop there were dozens of bike. The convoy start was by a big café, inside were about 40 cyclists as well as the TDA riders.

Amazing atmosphere at the cafe (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Riders congregate at the cafe (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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Amazing atmosphere at the cafe (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

We had three cyclists from Bogota to help led the convoy. We had a TDA truck at the front of the cyclists, and another TDA truck behind. The traffic, as you would expect in a city of over 7 million, was crazy but much more tolerant than Wellington drivers.

One of the riders got a flat and him and his bike had to be hauled up into the truck. Then another rider’s bike broke – he is still on track for EFI, so the sweep gave him her bike and then the sweep and the broken bike had to be hauled into the truck.

The riders got to a bike only lane (Bogota shuts off inner lanes on Sundays, the same as Medellin, for public use, only Bogota started this). There is a complicated one way system in the city and we ended up going around one part twice, taking about an hour due to traffic.

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Convoy into Bogotá (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Finally we got to the hotel which is Hotel IBIS. The riders got there well before us. We collected our daily and permanent bags and set off to get into a warm shower. Warm shower – the joy! Then into my only remaining clean clothes. Just as well Sue and I get on, as we have a really small room. The beds are two twins pushed very close together, and not a lot of other space.

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The hotel room Sue and I are sharing at the Hotel IBIS in Bogota (Photo credit is obviously Kaye, as it is blurry again)

A group of us went to an Italian restaurant just around the corner called Archie’s – found out later it was a chain. The food was good, I had a medium pizza with jalapeños and anchovies, it was delicious. I also had some red wine.

My plan for the next two days:
Monday – laundry and sorting bike and bike gear
Tuesday – a tourist.

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

Day 1: Cartagena to Finca – 90k

90km down: 13,551km to go

The group!  (Photo credit: Tour De Afrique Instagram)

The group official start photo!
(Photo credit: Tour De Afrique Instagram)

We left the hotel and rode the first 20 kilometres in a convoy, then after that we rode at our own speed. It was so hot, it got up to 36 degrees! I’m not really used to the trip bike, have not done enough training, and am carrying too much weight – it’s not a great combination.

Official start photo!

Official start photo! (photo credit: Sue)

There was crazy traffic – big trucks, lots of scooters, horses, donkeys pulling wagons, people on motor bikes with long pieces of wood and chairs etc, whole families on the same bike. I saw milk urns being brought out to the road by a donkey. About every kilometre there were people selling mangos and water. There were quite a few check points and tolls, but bikes are able to go through for free. With the mangos you couldn’t buy just one you had to buy about 20 and I am already carrying enough weight with my gear on the bike. Every three kilometres or so there would be a highway bar run by locals with beer, water, and homemade lemonade. I bought a bit of water to pour over my head. The sun was beating down and there was a slight breeze but not enough to offset the heat. I stopped to put on sunscreen, but forgot to do my legs the first time I reapplied sunscreen and will need to wear leg warmers tomorrow to cover the sun burn on my legs but my arms were fine. Lunch stop was at the 60 kilometre point, I could quite happily have stayed there. Broke the afternoon into two stages.

Lunch stop (photo again stolen from Sue's Facebook page)

Lunch stop (photo credit: Sue)

I finally got to camp and it was still so freaking hot. We stayed at a farm for the night. There were so many chickens, chicks, ducklings, dogs and puppies, a donkey, one cat and – it turns out – roosters.

Arriving at camp

Arriving at camp (photo credit: Sue)

When I got there I had a sleep and woke up drenched. The camp was by a main highway and with the heat and the trucks it was hard to sleep. The rosters started about 4:30am and then the dogs and then the donkey chimed in. No one asked this morning “Did you sleep well?”. Some of the riders who have done a number of rides said it was the worse night they had ever had. I lay in my tent, dripping with sweat and thinking “Seriously, I want to do this because??”.

Categories: Columbia, Cycling trip, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Day 48: Bobbio to Genoa – 97k

3,870km down: 2,355km to go

Everyone woke up a bit jaded due to the lack of sleep! We are all looking forward to it being a rest day tomorrow.

We set off with the knowledge we had a 56k climb before lunch. I was a bit apprehensive but it was actually ok. It was up, up, up, but just when you thought you could not pedal another inch it would go up for another couple of minutes and then you’d get a downhill. I got to lunch ok, and thought it was all downhill from there, but after one downhill we started going up again, a quite steep hill but thankfully this was the last significant up of the day.

Summit of 56k hill before downhill to Genoa

Up until lunch at 58k it was quite quiet, we went through some nice sleepy towns straight after lunch and then we went through a tunnel. When we came out on the other side it was like going into another universe. We came into a town called Galieta, it was chaos. Narrow streets, people having coffee sitting outside shops, vans, cars, dogs, shops, it was very busy – they must have been all getting the shopping done before the siesta.

The houses were perched on the hillside, one house I could see was five stories high but very narrow. In the distance on top of the hills you see old castles. We rode through the small villages also of Moranego, Sella, Villamezana, and Canassolo. Unfortunately my camera was flat so I don’t have any photos.

My speed coming down hills is slowly improving, and I’m getting better at cornering as well. Still to break my record of 56kph though. Some of the turns on the downhill were quite tight, and there were cars and trucks in both directions.

View coming into Genoa

When we got down into Genoa I could not believe all the motorbikes and scooters, they were everywhere and they don’t appear to either know or follow any kind of road rules. Riding a bike through these cities takes a bit of nerve and faith – faith that the drivers will not actually hit you. I have learnt you have to move into the traffic with hand signals but don’t stop to turn and look at the drivers because if you look at them they know you’ve seen them and they won’t give way – even when they should! Coming into a busy intersection and going through without making eye contact is not an action to repeat at home, but it’s the only option here!

Scooters in Genoa

We are staying at the Hermitage Hotel, it’s not as flash as it sounds, but there is air conditioning, no noisy partying families, and a comfortable bed – even if it is single.

I tried to post the box home but guess what – Genoa post offices are shut all Friday afternoon! So my first stop was laundry, then we went out to tea at a nice seaside restaurant, I can’t remember the name – Osterio something!  The Wifi is patchy at the hotel so I am not sure how much I will get done on emails. Yay, we have a sleep-in in the morning.

Categories: Cycling trip | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment