Yesterday…passing a sumo wrestler riding a bicycle in his underpants heading or Mendoza ?

Okay, a sumo on a bike.. I must admit it was a little unusual to pass a guy riding his bicycle in the heat of the day clan only in his briefs. Hair up in a kind of bun and some extra weight made me think he looked like a sumo wrestler who had been through “America’s Biggest Loser.”

Some unsportsmanlike behavior yesterday caused the director to cancel our timing yesterday.  Several racers left early.  I was a little disappointed by their actions and the wasted effort.  Plus I am still needing to recover from days of timed stages.

Unfortunately there are participants who don’t ride when the going gets tough and then stay up keeping others awake.  I don’t care whether they choose to ride but I do care if they prevent me from resting.

Looks like that has improved now that I have expressed my opinion about this to Rob who is in charge.  I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that there are some very  inconsiderate individuals (adults) on this epic journey.  Amazing behavior.    It reminds me of the maturity of middle school children I taught for 30 years. They have an excuse of age.

Common memorials to legendary Robin hood figure who purportedly took from the Spanish and gave to the poor folks...named Cauchile Gil
Common memorials to legendary Robin hood figure who purportedly took from the Spanish and gave to the poor folks…named Cauchile Gil
Guanaco herd during flat repair during descent yesterday 10/28
Guanaco herd during flat repair during descent yesterday 10/28
Similar to vicuna.  Bulkier bodies.
Similar to vicuna. Bulkier bodies.
On way down to Mendoza
On way down to Mendoza

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Hardy from Germany
Hardy from Germany
Alfred my competition
Alfred my competition
4000 km more.. all I can do is my best.. not always sure about that
4000 km more.. all I can do is my best.. not always sure about that

With timing of stages every day my recovery seems somewhat limited. 

Deceased LA Difunta Cortes.. legend has it she died trying to reach her sick husband while traveling through the desert.  She was said to have been found with her baby still alive feeding from her ever full breast.  Considered miraculous.  As a popular saint passers leave offerings of bottles of water
Deceased LA Difunta Cortes.. legend has it she died trying to reach her sick husband while traveling through the desert. She was said to have been found with her baby still alive feeding from her ever full breast. Considered miraculous. As a popular saint passers leave offerings of bottles of water
I start out fairly well but I can’t sustain my cadence or speed.

I am aware of this and really can’t offer any significant competition to the other racers.  I just do my best and let it be.  They certainly don’t mind.

At times there were long endless hot stretches of road that were so straight you could see where you  would be much later on especially if it was going up.  Just a matter of enduring.

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Not the solution
Not the solution
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Stage 66 Brutal is the best description.

When I think back on that ride I am reminded of another stage back in Peru.  That was the stage to Cerro de Pasco which was also brutal.  Cerro de Pasco was incredibly cold.  As I recall one cyclist suffered from hypothermia.  In the case of stage 66 it was the 35 km dirt/sand road which lead up what seemed to be a never ending ascent to a remote police station called Tocota.  My speed was probably only around 7 km/h.   The sandy conditions required considerable effort and attention to the track I chose.   Apparently the police keep a check on illegal hunting of  the guanaco which are similar to the vicuna.

Upon reaching Tocota I was badly dehydrated and totally exhausted.  I was done. My mistake was pouring water from my bottle over my neck to cool down. What a prize.

Sunrise at To Cato Police Station
Sunrise at To Cato Police Station

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10\23 stage 64 bushcamp at village vila union … nice climb today mountains of sandstone red from iron ore..

Road was closed due to construction.. so support vehicles could not pass. No timing today so I enjoyed the views a little more. Some condors sited as I climbed.

Pretty warm out and the camp is a dump at best. :-)

Sandstone during climb
Sandstone during climb
Cacti and sandstone
Cacti and sandstone
!!
!!
Roadside memorials sometimes honor a good deed.. note the water bottles.. apparently this person assisted someone who was dying from dehydration
Roadside memorials sometimes honor a good deed.. note the water bottles.. apparently this person assisted someone who was dying from dehydration
Note the pile of plastic water bottles
Note the pile of plastic water bottles
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Another town, maybe Chilecito,  maybe not..

okay so maybe it’s not Peru or Bolivia

I’m missing the lifestyle from before. Is is more like what I am accoustomed to. Towns don’t even have internet cafes. I assume everyone has their own PC and service.

As I rode alon a canyon a few days ago..
As I rode alon a canyon a few days ago..
Parrots
Parrots
Gee'. Hot and straightforward
Gee’. Hot and straightforward
Mirage in road due to refracted light... Bridgett photo.. I'm too busy racing..  oh well
Mirage in road due to refracted light…
Bridgett photo.. I’m too busy racing.. oh well
Viva Argentina ..  I guess..
Viva Argentina .. I guess..

Ah, Spring and wine country..

break while waiting for support truck to pass in order to find bushcamp quite calor out..40 C or more
break while waiting for support truck to pass in order to find bushcamp
quite calor out..40 C or more
bushcamp stage 58 tarptent home while camping
bushcamp stage 58
tarptent home while camping
12222222
along river in Grand Canyon of Argentia
along river in Grand Canyon of Argentia
Green parrots along river
Green parrots along river
parrot nests
parrot nests
signs of spring two days ago  minus bromeliads
signs of spring two days ago minus bromeliads
Just getting into wine country... Cafayate.. camped just outside of town
Just getting into wine country… Cafayate..
camped just outside of town

Stage 56

Rein and Joost....strong riders
Rein and Joost….strong riders
Stage 56.. 9:00 am start. 150 km I tried to make some space but looked back to find Joost on my rear wheel. At about 80 km I sweared on the road by mistake and ended up on his wheel. We raced on and when I saw the lunch truck I decided not to stop. We both continued pushing all the way to the end at a campground with the same finish time of 13:58. Quite the drain on me. Tomorrow is a half stage race.

It started out as a very relaxed peleoton of about 20 cyclists..,.

going into Tupiza along riverbed
going into Tupiza along riverbed
maintenace in Tupiza
maintenace in Tupiza
I had just remarked to the cyclist next to me that I was curious as what would happen since it was a timed stage to the lunch truck between 50 and 60 km away.

At about 20 Km Patrick shot by, someone else broke away and I followed the chase. I ended up in front and split off but the line and they sped up causing me to miss the draft. The same thing happened to Alfred. I later learned that the group from the Netherlands had planned it that way so that Patrick was uld have a better chance of winning. That’s racing. And it worked.

From blogs of Michelle and Terry:

Michelle’s and Terry’s blog which ties into your post. Love the racing tactics – just like the tour…
I know the internet is slow there, so I don’t know if you see their postings or not

Michelle –
Patrick is leaving us in a few days time in Salta and there is whispers in the peloton that they are going to try and let Patrick win the stage today but this will be getting the better of James. Much to my surprise, James is riding in the pack today, he is tired. I have never seen in him in the pack (but that doesn’t mean much as normally not with this group anyway). I find the tactics amusing and interesting as I have never been exposed to such things before. Patrick drops right back to the very back of the twenty odd person group. Rein, James, Alfred, the strong riders are at the front. Deidrick who only cares about winning is in the middle. Joost moves to the outside and blocks Deidrick in so he can’t chase when Patrick makes a break for it (I only figure this out in hindsight). 20km in and 40km to lunch Patrick launches and makes a break for it. Joost stays where he is for a few minutes before chasing to help Patrick. James sees Patrick powering off and he chases. Alfred and Rein who don’t know what the plan is, also make a break for it to chase down James. These guys love this stuff. Terry also goes after them to help Patrick win. I ask Diedrick why he isn’t chasing and he responds with they won’t let me win so why would I help. I shouldn’t be shocked that he says such a thing but I think Diedrick is still holding a grudge from the day they crashed. It’s a farewell present to Patrick to which I get silence.
I spot the lunch truck five kilometres earlier than I thought it would be and learn that Patrick did indeed win the stage. I apologise to James that he was out strategised and James as always, takes it with such admirable dignity and with a good hearted response. I do hope he realises that these guys love to chase him down because he is such a dedicated, strong, passionate cyclist. The guy is an ultra marathon runner and is 63 years old. Truly inspirational James is. It also makes me smile that a 34 year old needs a whole support team to catch him on the bike.

Terry’ blog
In any event, we packed the fire engine and headed out of town at 9.15 am. There was huge bunch of riders at the start which is a pretty cool sight to see rolling along the flat roads of Argentina. As I was riding along Joost came up to me and said he wanted Patrick to win the stage. As an old professional cyclist I knew how to do the job and try and help out. I spoke to Rien and Patrick and decided that us 4 would work together and get Patrick the victory before he leaves the tour in 2 days time.
At the end of the ride I spoke to James and Elizabeth who were riding together and both wandering why the group was rolling along without any aggression for the first 20 kms. Both of them thought something was going on. How correct they were. Patrick attacked from the back of the bunch and Joost quickly followed. I sat back as it was my role to keep both James and Alfred in check and follow their moves.
James then jumped out of the bunch and I quickly got on his wheel. He chased really hard and there was no way I was going to come around him and give him a hand in the chase. Alfred the other danger man chased us down and Rien followed him. For the next 5 kms James and Alfred chased as hard as they could to pull Patrick and Joost back into the peleton. Eventually we all regrouped and then there was Patrick, Joost, Rien, myself (the people all working for Patrick) Alfred, Hartmud who was working for Alfred, and James.
With Patrick being protected from the wind and not having to work in the bunch, I decided to do what all cyclists hate and that was when James did a turn and to the back of the bunch I rode really slow as Joost, Rien and Patrick accelerated. This caused myself, James and Alfred to go backwards and be dropped. With James tiring, Alfred took off with me right on his wheel in the chase for the boys ahead. I told Alfred I couldn’t help him and that if he wanted to catch them he would have to do it on his own. James was now disappearing behind us.
After about 20 kms of chasing James came back to Alfred and myself and they both worked hard to peg them back all to no avail. With the fire engine in the distance I knew that we had done our job and Patrick won the stage. It was fantastic to see him with that huge smile on his face. He was grateful for all the work we did for him today but still he had to stick with Joost and Rien who are the 2 strongest guys of the tour.

Michelle from another day….
Our group is the second last to get in; I think it is about 4:30pm. I am very happy to get off the bike. I nearly burst into tears when I am greeted by Joost who says he had an easy day. Him and James raced all day and didn’t even stop for lunch

Washboard roads and sand with scenery like that of New Mexico..

Crazy day of timing two days ago with an uncertain timing point. One cyclist dislocated his shoulder in a fall. A support truck lost a spare wheel and tire never to be recovered on the rough roads. There is always something to be resolved eithe with the trucks or cyclists.

Now in Tupiza we have a much needed rest day. I cleaned the bike and drivetrain, lubed the chain, adjusted the shifting, and switched to a narrower tire for the upcoming pavement.

It is very interesting when you have a mix of cyclists with varying degrees of experience. There are a few who certainly had no idea what a challenge the Andes would present. They have been nicknamed the ¨truck team,¨ because they tend to only ride the easier portions of each stage and ride the truck the rest of the way each day.

Tupiza is typical of most towns in Bolivia where everything happens in its own time. No rush. I´m just sitting on a bench in the shady plaza as it is now siesta time. Very relaxing. I´ll add this post when I am able to find an internet cafe with internet.

It is about 80 km to the border where we finally cross into Argentina. I look forward to seeing how it differs from Bolivia.

Crossing the world´s largest salt flat, the Salar del Uyuni……

We climbed 800m out of La Paz and continued our cycling on the antiplano which is usually just under 4000m. Along the way we encounter numerous villages and pass along side markets. Eventually we camp on the edge of the enormous Bolivian salt flat.

The next day we venture out on the flat with amazement and spent a cool night in a hotel built out of salt blocks. Today we begin the day with a lung burning time trial for a short distance of 7km. My time was 14 min plus. I´m not sure of my placement but I am sure that it was very stressful on my body at that elevation. A longer distance may have surely been a disaster.

Two days here in Uyuni to relax and clean the salt off my bike. I hope the Shimano spoke tool arrives while I am here. Receiving it in Argentina may be impossible.

Antiplano profile.. just below 3800m
Antiplano profile.. just below 3800m
that´s right emu
that´s right emu
lama and so on.. alpaca
lama and so on.. alpaca
lama and so on.. alpaca
lama and so on.. alpaca

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shopping in a small village along a route that we were unsure of..
shopping in a small village along a route that we were unsure of..
stream crossing along the adventure route
stream crossing along the adventure route
small village along our adventure route
small village along our adventure route
bicycle fascination
bicycle fascination
the usual warm welcome in small villages..  Rein and the kids
the usual warm welcome in small villages.. Rein and the kids
fierce storms  hit our bushcamps two afternoons in a row  .....my  tent
fierce storms hit our bushcamps two afternoons in a row …..my tent
cold temps, very high winds and rain soon
cold temps, very high winds and rain soon
James, New Zealand Terry and Barry, Australia
James, New Zealand
Terry and Barry, Australia
common abandoned village... young move to the city and the elderly die
common abandoned village… young move to the city and the elderly die
salt flat track Salar del Uyuni
salt flat track
Salar del Uyuni
lunch stop at volcanic island.. cacti dominate
lunch stop at volcanic island.. cacti dominate
self along route.. using gps
self along route.. using gps
Salar del Uyuni   salt block construction
Salar del Uyuni
salt block construction
French cyclists cycling from Alaska  16 mos out
French cyclists cycling from Alaska 16 mos out
trio continue on to Uyuni stage race began here the next day
trio continue on to Uyuni
stage race began here the next day