(August 12 – written by Dave)
I am excited to report that today, I rode the entire distance with the rest of the team – woohoo! I had no stomach issues of any kind and we had a beautiful day riding in the Andes to boot. I know that some of the more cautious readers are thinking, “why not just take a day off”. Well, that’s a great idea but we haven’t really been in a place that was remotely conducive to hanging out. We are riding through some beautiful country and meeting some great people but on my “sick days” we’ve unfortunately been in less than desirable places for napping, reading or even just sleeping. Oh well, the antibiotics seem to be working, perhaps it won’t be an issue going forward. Today was a good day.
We normally have cereal or oatmeal for brekkie but today I wanted something different so Nancy bought me a large drinking yogurt last night. It is really odd here in Peru, in the Andes, they don’t refrigerate yogurt. If you read the labels (which we do), it says that it needs to be refrigerated but the stores just stack it up on the shelves unrefrigerated. Proof that this doesn’t really work came for me this morning when I discovered that my yogurt container was completely bludged out, that it popped when I opened it and finally, the yogurt tasted like sparkling yogurt when I started to drink it. No thanks, not drinking that. How this doesn’t happen to every yogurt that is stored wrong in every store is beyond me – guess we’ll have to ask a local at some point.
Anyway, we found enough for brekkie and were on the road by 8AM. We started with about 12k of uphill to ride but it was not too bad in the cool morning air. Being Sunday, there was very little traffic and the views out across the Andes were great. I got to enjoy some of what I missed out on yesterday. We stopped at the top of the pass for the last of our chocolate panatone cake and to rug up for the downhill.
Seen on the climb – two towns, either that or we made a wrong turn somewhere…
At the top of the downhill we could see Abancay, our destination for the night, but we could also see our road. A lot like yesterday’s road, there was no direct path and we had to zig all over hither and yon just to reach the river at the bottom of the valley. Then we had to ride up river for a few K before reaching a bridge that we could cross and turn back to ride down river. I’m not complaining mind you, the 33k downhill was fantastic – just steep enough to keep you moving good and mostly turns that required very little braking.
Once we got back down river to where we could see the other side where we’d been, we had to start climbing up in Abancay. From the top of the pass Abancay looked to sit “just above” the river but that “just” turned out to be a 15k climb in what now was a very hot and dry river bottom. We had to strip off all the layers we put on for the downhill and get the sunscreen out. Again, not complaining as it was great to ride in just shorts for a while. The altitude here really does affect the temperature. We stopped about halfway up the climb to get some cold drinks and today, we wouldn’t settle for drinks stored on the shelf – we needed cold!
We eventually remounted and rode the last 9k to town. We managed to find our hotel (Hotel Abancay) without too much trouble, other than the odd street closure for construction. Philipp and I checked out the rooms, found them acceptable but wanted a lower price. So we told the manager that we needed to talk to our wives and went back out front. We were just slow enough giving our report that the manager blinked – that is, she feared we were leaving and came out to offer us a lower price. Sold!
It was relatively early and still warm when we finished our shower – we even managed to get our laundry up drying on the roof before heading out to find something to eat. We ended up at a traditional Peruvian restaurant where Nancy had fish and I tried to have “spag-bowl” (spaghetti bolognas for the non-Aussies out there). I was hungry and tired and couldn’t really be bothered reading the menu too closely. See below for my resulting dinner! The sauce is spicy Peruvian cheese sauce – called salsa Huancaína – yum. And the steak was cooked to perfection.
Now for a bit of relaxing and an early night so that we are ready for tomorrow’s ride – starting off, of course, with a nice 33k climb!