In a world increasingly preoccupied with throwaway materialistic things; where people are constantly busy earning money to pay for those things, or so their children can have those things;
This is the story of my dreams of travelling the world by bicycle. Because it's there. And because I dont want to die without experiencing the truly important things in life .

A sense of wonder and a sense of adventure.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Live Like a King in Bolivia.

I know in my last blog I said that I didn’t think that Bolivia would be a place I would bring my girl -friend to impress her. Well I think that I may have been a bit premature there.

Last night after a ride that most indicated would be easy (160kms from Potosi to Sucre) because over all the road dropped 1300mtrs, I arrived in Sucre just on darkness at 6pm. The ride was not that easy with the first 80 kms mainly downhill but the final 80km down and then up as the road crossed valley after valley. The land is so convoluted around here that nothing stays going down for long (which I think explains why you see virtually no serious local cyclists). The final 20kms were as usual up a valley and then Sucre is at the top on a range.

Anyway as it was dark and I had promised myself a dawdle of a day that had not materialised I was in no mood to search budget accommodation in Sucre, the capital of Bolivia. I went straight to the central plaza and checked into the nicest looking hotel.

The hotel in fact is so nice that I have decided to stay a day in Sucre and sort myself out a bit. I know the race is on but it’s a long journey and in the end the best man will still win.

So my priorities while I am here are to eat, and eat some more. I have to try to settle my upset stomach as a pizza the night before in Potosi has given me food poisoning again. I’m pretty used to this by now. Whether its bugs or altitude my stomach has had a workout this trip so far. I’ll drink plenty and I’ll check out my bike.

The Mercian hasn’t been cleaned since I started and she’s pretty filthy. But a good oil will do because quite frankly the bike is running brilliantly the way it is and to clean it would just make me and my hotel room filthy.

Talking about the hotel room, check out the pictures. Two nights ago I was sleeping in my tent  map-less  on a dry river bed. Last night I was in a nice Tourist hotel in Potosi but tonight I’m in a diplomat’s hotel on the plaza for…. $50 NZ a night.

So I take it back. Bring your girlfriend to Bolivia check into the most expensive hotel you can find and live like a king. In New Zealand for the same money you will be in a cheap motel eating fish and chips. Here I can even afford to clear the mini bar out because it’s just small change!
Courtyard to my Room.

Tomorrow I hit the road again after sorting out the best way to get out of Sucre. I have to say although the dogs are everywhere in Bolivia and there are some pretty vicious ones in the rural areas that want to shred your panniers, Bolivians love their dogs too. Check out the two on the balcony.

Well what’s happening in the race?

After checking out on the net  I think I can say that although I’m just getting into it, and there’s a long way to go, I think I’m doing ok as I haven’t had any accidents despite dogs, traffic and wickedly dangerous drivers over here, and my bike has been faultless.  I’ve paced myself over the Andes so despite totally trashed lips and a dodgy stomach my body is in fine shape.

I’ve read of fellow competitors having to seriously re-sort poor mechanicals on bikes and having to rest up due to one form of ill health or another.  Others have had accidents and have been forced to bend bikes back into shape or source new ones.

So over all I’m happy with my progress. I’ve travelled only 3000kms so far but the flats of Brazil await me. I’m conscious of the fact that my Visas are set so I don’t want to do big kms just to get ahead and then have to sit back waiting for flights and entry times(nothing wrecks motivation more than to sit back doing nothing for days). I have to be smart about this and balance time off to enjoy the journey and to look after body and equipment with the need to have time up my sleeve for any delays. i.e. dirt roads in Bolivia.

In the end I hope to achieve two things.  A good placing in the race, through interesting and varied countries and an adventure of a lifetime.

I think if I keep my head together and stay focused the race placing will take care of itself as other competitors self- destruct. The route I’ve chosen should guarantee me an adventure. By the time I get home I might have to relearn English though.
One wrecked Face. Toilet & Paper Constantly Needed.

I want to thank everyone that has taken an interest in this to date. I hope I can keep your attention by better detailing my trip as I become less concerned about survival and warm to the adventure.


  1. Nice to read you are doing well Niel. Also good to see a more relaxed approach to the race, hope your planning works out and your bike continues to run smoothly. I know I was glad mine did when I toured NZ, it makes things so much more enjoyable when the transport is working.
    Keep posting the updates they are a very enjoyable read.

    1. Thanks Nick,

      Will post updates whenever I can find WiFi.

  2. Hi Niel,
    Great work keeping it all together. Doesn't really compare to third on my tandem in The Grape Ride with Paul Michel stoking a mere 101km. We are all thinking of you hope you enjoy some easier rides for the next few days. Happy pedalling.

    1. Thanks Mike,

      No it doesn't compare at all to the Grape ride.
      Good to hear that the tandeming is still going strong.

  3. Great to hear you'r in good spirits. Blogs are fantastic. As you said if you keep to your schedule things will come together down the track (and what a track your on). Keep it up Niel, we're with you in spirit. Aaron & Trudy

    1. Thanks for the support. I now think South America may be the hardest part of all this.

      No that's just asking for it. Lets just say so far its been testing.

  4. Good, good, muy bueno

    1. Hola amigo!

      I will never forget South America and will be so proud when I have cycled across it.

      Next time i will bring my Vespa.