(September 8 – written by Dave)
I forgot to mention in yesterday’s blog that Nancy got a flat tire about 5k from the hotel. Other than slow us down by about a half hour, no big deal, these things happen. The flat was caused by one of those little stainless steel wires we always get when we share the road with big trucks as we have been on Highway 1 here in Bolivia.
The reason that yesterday’s flat was worth mentioning today is because this morning when we got up today, Nancy’s tire was flat. And as a special bonus, so was my rear tire. Great, before we even started, I had to replace two flat tires. Well at least I had a sink to wash my hands in. I changed Nancy’s tire first then I changed mine. Meanwhile, Nancy made us brekkie. Job done, I enjoyed my coffee and we got ready to hit the road.
Not so fast, in the time it took me to change my tire and eat brekkie, Nancy’s tire had gone flat again. Yup, three flat tires and we had not travelled an inch. Great. There was no sense in complaining, I got down to work and had Nancy’s tire fixed in a jiffy – sadly, I was getting more practice than I wanted. We almost called it a day right there – it didn’t seem like it was going to be our day. And to think, we wanted to get an early start today – we were finally on the road about 8:40.
The ride out of town was kind of crazy. Google maps and Mapsme both routed us on a road where they are building what looks like a new above ground motorway. They weren’t really working on it, rather they had up barricades that meant we had one lane to share with the taxi vans. It was really slow and the pollution from the trucks and vans was pretty bad. We cleared the construction and rejoined Highway 1 near the airport. We now had two lanes but there were more diesel belching trucks now. The air quality actually got worse. We had about 10k of this before escaping the city.
Today was virtually flat the entire time. On our map, it looked like we would be riding along a lakeshore but we never saw any water. There may be water somewhere in the lake but we pretty much rode along a giant salt flat the entire day. We had some tailwinds and some headwinds but mostly we had winds from the right, coming off the salt flats. Traffic was not too bad and we had an ok shoulder most of the day. We were single file all day but at least we weren’t being pushed off into the salt grasses.
We had morning tea on the side of the road and lunch at the town called Poopo – yes that is the real name. I managed to crack a 26 year old front tooth cap eating lunch. Perfect, in the poorest country in South America and I need tooth work done (I think I’ll wait until I get back to Oz). Nancy thought it was a sign that I should get one of local dentists to install one of the ubiquitous silver crowns that many of the locals have. I had a temporary crown on the same tooth 26 years ago when we rode our tandem across the USA for our honeymoon. That crown broke in the Ozarks of Missouri. It is kind of ironic that I do this in places where a missing front tooth is really not that big of deal (Senior editor’s note – I told him he’d fit right in here so he shouldn’t feel self-conscious…).
From lunch it was 25k to the town of Pazna, which gave us 80 for the day. I was ready to pull the plug, kind of tired, bummed about my tooth and sort of over it. Nancy did what any good wife would do when I suggest we might stop – she said “are you serious?”. Ok, message received, buck up and get on with it Dave. We ploughed through the next 50k with ease, or at lease with relative ease. The wind was a bit stronger and more of a crosswind but we weren’t stopping. Or at least it wasn’t going to be me suggesting that we stop. You know, teamwork makes the dream work.
There is only one place to stay in Huari and it is not marked. But we managed to locate the lovely Residencia Huari and good news, they had rooms available. We had to pay an extra $1.40 each to get a shower but that was a bargain after a long day in the saddle. Nancy got the first shower and it was scaldingly hot. I got the second shower, after the gas shower machine stopped working, and it was sort of hot and cold in waves. But we both got clean and are pretty happy to be here, safe, dry and warm, all in for $10 USD.
We picked up some roasted chicken, tomatoes and bread for dinner – which was enjoyed sitting in the sun at the hotel. The folks here are super nice and helpful. And the town is just the right size for us. It has everything we need, except perhaps a bike shop with spare tubes and a dentist, but other than that, it is perfect.
Tomorrow Nancy (the slave driver schedule maker) has another 130k day planned for us. I’m just sure we can ride that far even if our legs are a little tired tonight. And yes, we plan on an early start. I’m off now to check the air in our tires with hopes of not having a repeat of today’s not so early start.