(February 19 – written by Dave)
Wow, what a day. We were on the road for over seven hours. We only road 66k (41 miles) and we only had one uphill, but it was a doozy of an uphill. In total, we had 46k straight of climbing (28.5 miles) and over 1,900 metres (6,200 feet) of climbing.
For those who never ridden a fully loaded touring bike, imagine that you and your identical twin are riding together on a super light, fast racing bike – a bike that weighs almost nothing. Now imagine that your twin is super lazy and can’t be bothered to peddle, well, that’s what our touring bikes are like. Our loaded bikes weigh just about the same as us and they don’t help us one iota. So today, for more than 2/3rds of our ride, we were hauling us and our lazy identical twins up the side of a mountain. Wow, what a day.
But before more of today’s ride notes, I should comment on last night. We ended up going to the city park two blocks from our hotel for dinner. Even though it was Sunday night, the park was full of families out for the night. There was a band in the bandstand getting warmed up and the restaurants that line the park were doing a brisk trade. We settled into a taco restaurant and got stuck into their El Pastor specials – yum (sorry, I was so hungry I ate it all before I remembered I should have taken a picture). By the time we finished, the band was playing and lot of folks were dancing near the now packed grandstand and surrounds. We had fun watching for a while before retiring to the parkside ice cream parlour. All and all, it was a nice night, good food and lots of local culture to take in.
We slept well in our hotel which actually turned out to be a great place – quiet, clean, toilet seat, no leaks in the shower, clean sheets and towels and good WiFi. Hard to ask for anymore than that really. As we had predicted we were up and out before the buffet was ready this morning – a good reminder to always negotiate that feature out of the room rate if we can.
We were kind of on the western side of the city and had to exit it on the eastern side. The ride was slightly downhill and pretty easy. The taxis and collectivos tried to run us over a few times but that’s par for the course and we were fine so long as we gave way all the time – we know our place. It took us about 50 minutes to exit the city – more time than I thought it would but it was still before 8AM and traffic mostly heading the opposite direction as us.
Exiting the city meant arriving at the cuota (tollway) and the beginning of the climb. I’ve already given you stats about the climb so I won’t repeat them. The climb was not overly scenic – being a newish motorway. The views were nice but not overly spectacular. It was pretty hazy. We stopped at 21k for drinks and again at 34k for lunch. When you are going 6-7kph, progress is slow.
We took our lunch break at a restaurant where the view was actually pretty cool. They had some platforms built up on the edge of the ridge that almost looked like they were ready to fall over the edge – they didn’t. We had a nice break and enjoyed views. We couldn’t get our phone map apps to work at either stop so we kind of had to guess where we were and how much more climbing we had. Nothing to do really but push on.
Finally at about 58k we reached a gap in the hills and caught a glimpse of San Cristobal down in the valley. Boy was that a sight for sore eyes. We both let out little whoops and headed down the hill. Clouds were building over the mountain tops at this point – we feared that we might get rained on, just to top things off. Nancy was patient with me as I checked the phone a few times for directions and we found the hotel pretty easy. The roads coming into San Cristobal are narrow and mostly one-way. It was great to finally get here. It started to rain just as we unloaded the bikes – but only a little bit.
We are staying in the Hotel Mansion del Valle. We are using more credit card points to get four nights here. The first night, tonight, well, we are shattered. Well get this post out, get some dinner and get some rest. And tomorrow we will have no alarm clock!
More later on San Cristobal – right now we know nothing.