Many apologies for the delay in the blog update of my ride to rio, turns out Bolivia and Peru have not discovered WI FI and if they do have it, i spend most of my time waiting for BBC sport to upload so I can check the football scores….worth the wait mind, to my surprise a toon win at last!
14/4-NazcaI-Toll booth- left Nazca before sunrise and began the 90km climb to the summit. I had read on a previous blog that it would take two days to reach the summit but when I got to 50k and the one and only restaurant inbetween I decided to kick on and felt I was fit enough to make it before dark. I could not have been more wrong, I got to a about 70k and my legs just went, the temperature dropped dramatically to -2 degrees and darkness loomed with the summitt still a good way off in the distance. The altitude also had a hold on me as I developed a banging headache, sickness and my heart was beating 10 to the dozen. I was pushing my bike for the last 10k, my legs acting like I had just had 10 pints, staggering all over the place and it was now complete darkness with not a soul in sight. I reached the top and decided that it was too cold to camp out so began to speed down the pass, my front light was broken so stayed as far left as possible so I would not end up of the edge….10km went on and nothing, the only light I could see was that of the llamas eyes in the fields to the right of me. I could no longer feel my hands and my teeth started to chatter.
Then, in the distance I saw a light an what looked like a toll both, I pulled up and quickly ran over to the lady in the booth, she took one look at me led me inside, gave me a hot coffee and a blanket and after a few phone calls and some begging in broken Spanish from me, she confirmed I could sleep in the toilet block! I got my sleeping bag out and lay it down next to the toilets for some shut eye and tried to ignore the sound of the truck drivers coming in and whispering ‘ah gringo’…
6/5-Liquipalca-Cochabamba-I am now cycling with a Mexican lad who is also peddling to the World Cup, so it has been great to have some company and a bit of footy banter. The previous night, through false promises from the police of a hostel down the road, we ended up sleeping on the classroom floor of a local school after arriving to an empty town with just a school and one shop, luckily we managed to persuade the headmistress to let us sleep on the floor and promised to be out before the bell went in the morning. We woke at 6am after a shocking night sleep, waking every hour, freezing cold and aching from the hard floor. We had a good breakfast that Hector (Mexican) had organized the night before with the lady from the only shop in town that was also a petrol station/restaurant/animal rescue/bar. The fried egg sandwich and coffee went down a treat and we stocked up before heading out into the cold and the 160kms of hills ahead of us. It was -4 when we left and neither of us could feel our feet or hands, the road headed up and up and was tough climbing all the way. We stopped what we thought was the top and had lunch, the people were wearing incredible hats and clothes, very colorful and good fun. We descended thinking the hills were over after advice from locals, however one thing I have learnt from cycling in Bolivia, don’t listen to a word they say as they probably haven’t even been on the road! Incredible predictions for distances, ranging from 30k to 400k to the next town!
We then started going up and up again and with still another 60k to go and the darkness looming I stopped Hector to make a plan of where we could sleep. With little to no explanation he told me knew the answer and as a truck went past he peddled like hell after it and clung onto the back, swaying side to side but flying up the hill. Seeing him go off into the distance I had no choice but give it a crack and although it would more than likely end up with me in hospital I got myself ready for the next vehicle. I waited for a truck to come and gave chase, my first grab failed but some how managed to cling on the second time as my panniers came perilously close the side of the truck as i swayed left to right. I finally managed to maintain my balance and my skinny left arm, although in agony, held on for the 5km climb, the driver cheering out the window all the way up!I arrived at the top exhausted to find a mexican with a beaming smile casually smoking a cigarette . We finally arrived into Cochabamba after cycling a good 15k in the dark in hectic traffic and we’re met by Franco, a contact of Hector’s through facebook who was going to host us and was waiting with his bike to take us to his house. He gave us a bed and some great local food and over dinner, after small talk about the day, Franco, a complete stranger to us both, stood up and announced that he had quit his job and he wanted to join us on our journey to Rio, glasses were raised and for now a Mexican, a Bolivian and a skinny Geordie will be heading for the World cup