17 08 2007

So the story goes on. Riding in “Los Andes” is never flat – surprisingly. I think the road builders knew the concept of contouring, but the land is so bumpy that is just impractical. So from Guamote, the road goes up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down. You get the idea. In one day I rode myself into the ground heading for Zhud, a place I knew there was no accomodation. So I arrived in the mist and cold, and ended up out the back of a store on the floor of a, well, almost a prison cell. But it was dry, warm and meant I didn´t have to camp in the rain. I was grateful. (this is where photos come in handy). Oh, and riding myself into the ground equates to 120km. That sounds pathetic, but if you add the elevation change was 2500m, it gets better. I think that´s a bit like (for Adelaide folks) riding down from Blackwood to Glenelg, up to Mt Lofty, down again, up to Mt Lofty, down again, and back home. With gear. No wonder I was buggered.

The next day I was kinder to my body as my target was Cuenca, only 90km away (or 70, 100 or 198 if you believe the street signs, which to be honest bear only a passing semblance to reality). The only problem was there was a pass at at miserable 3500m in the way. Which would have been fine if the clouds hadn´t converged, the wind sprung up, and rain started. It was 6°C at the top (gotta love gadgets that tell you these things). It wasn´t all that bad really until I could start to feel my feet and fingers. Then it just hurt. But I managed to keep my torso warm, and avoid getting sick. I don´t know if I´ve thanked Tim enough for the leg warmers – they have been in constant use the last few days, and kept me from getting too cold. So thanks again Bro.

So I made it to Cuenca. I think most cyclists head down to the coast from here and make pretty good time across the desert. I´m not decided yet. If the weather doesn´t clear, I may do the same. Otherwise I may try and slog through the mountains for a bit longer. I´ve been on buses across the desert already and realise that it will be pretty dull on a bike. I´ll see how it looks mañana.

Cuenca is a bit weird. A bit like Quito. Another big city where the shutters are closed on a good percentage of shops all day, and everything is closed at about 8pm. Totally unlike what I saw of Peru, but this seems to be a common theme in Ecuador. I´ve walked around, and around. It´s a nice enough place, but there seems to be a lack of tourists at the moment (scared away by the weather perhaps?). I´ll be off again tomorrow (and hence off the internet for another few days). Expect another barrage on the blog when I return to civilisation.



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