I'm in Rio de Janiero after completing Stage 1. of the bike race and my 'around the world' adventure. Here I am at the backpackers writing this blog for the second time because those little twirps at Microsoft who constantly send me up dates of programs( because they've got nothing better to do) have corrupted my Word while it downloaded yet more tripe. Why don't they realise that some people have got productive jobs or other things to do and we don't want to constantly waste time having our computers tied up with time waster's dribble. That goes for virus protection geeks as well.
So my first copy was a literary masterpiece but now that I have to redo it on my notepad, because its all I've got, you will have to put up with a summary.
I would not recommend anyone cycle across South America unless they like a bit of hardship. And I wont be repeating the exercise. So all my friends who procrastinated on whether to join me and feel now that there's something missing from their lives and they would like some adventure and exciting cycling, you can do it on your own the way I did it.
The last 7 weeks have been a cultural challenge, a mental challenge, and a physical challenge. In brief. I suffered from the moment I arrived in Lima on a Friday night in the dark and had to cycle in such strange surroundings into the city to find accommodation. I've never felt so lost and alone as I did for those first couple of days. Looking back I don't know how I got through it. (well I do know. Because I had too.)
Cycling across the Andes was such an achievement but mentally it was tough. Once again alone and facing tough climatic conditions and altitude. Cycling through snow storms really scared the jeebies out of me. I might like riding my bike up hill but I'm no alpine person. Whiteouts and snow while cycling don't go down well with me especially when the only other people around don't speak my lingo, and look like they could survive a Siberian winter without batting an eyelid.
Roll on Bolivia and the 100's of kms that I cycled on rock strewn dirt roads, some of which had been partially washed away in the wet season which had just ended. Riding in hot , dry and dusty conditions only to reach a town to find there's no accommodation, and once again its rice and chicken for dinner. (And I felt lucky getting that). At one point 10kms from my destination that night and having only 40mins light left (averaging 10km/hr on the rough road) I cracked and flagged down the first truck I had seen in 2hrs for a lift. Luckily he couldn't take me as he was full of farm workers and there was no room for Mercian). There were co cars on these roads as the ruts where too deep. I made it in the dark but vowel ed I wouldn't give in again. Physically that was the hardest cycling I've ever done. Trying to get a loaded touring bike through there in one piece was no holiday.
Its funny , I could tell how poor a place was by the rice and chicken meals I could get my hands on. In Peru my chicken was fat and juicy. But in some parts of Bolivia it was more bone than meat. By the time I got to Brazil chicken was off the menu and I could get beef.
But I'm here in Rio, and for the next few days I'd like to replace my tyres, chain and cluster on the Mercian and wash everything I can ready for stage 2. I feel happy to be here but also sad because I know I'm not going home but on to Morocco and more unknowns. But at least I can tell myself that Europe should be more familiar and the cycling more predictable as I've cycled there a lot before.
|Got a New Cluster and Chain.|
The weather as I've mentioned has been perfect. It's the one thing that I've had going for me. But would you believe it, now I've arrived its pouring down. I will wait hopefully a day or two to get sunny pictures of Rio for my records.
There's no Wi Fi here (or those microsoft geeks have screwed that up as well) but will post when I can.(Probably McD tomorrow). Its good to be at the backpackers because finally I can chat in English to some people and explain what I've done. I will be able to celebrate in company. Two people I've talked to so far have been to my home town of Nelson, NZ. A Chinese girl from Hong Kong and Jade Man. I call him that because he is obsessed with Greenstone. Although he shuns that word.
That Mercian of mine is a grubby wee girl. Its always at the end of cycle tours or in this case the end of a stage that I have to sneak her into my room and de-grease and polish her. I have to admit as careful as i am I have managed to get grease on some of the nicest hotel furnishings around. I don't think that the YWCA hotel in Sydney will ever have us back when she dripped on their carpet. In Paris there's a hotel near the Sacre Coer with grease spots all over the carpet that I walked in on my jandels after said bike dropped grease right where I would walk on it. And now in Rio she's marked the wall. I mean how did she manage to do that!
Tomorrow I will continue to look for a bike shop and will post this at MacD. Then I'll throw my travelling companion in her bag (this time at the backpackers) and then into a taxi, and we're off to the airport and on to round two.
Tomorrow is now today and I have had success on the bike shop front after asking a roadie for his advice. He showed me the bike shop and with the help of a bit of sign language I have procured a chain and cluster. I'm pleased with my decision before I left home to go with an 8 speed set up. These parts have been easy to source. But as for the tryes I 'm using (over 6300kms and not a puncture, awesome), from what I've seen of the bike shops so far, I'd have more chance of winning the Bolivian Lottery. Hopefully the tyres will last until Spain.
|Mercian all Clean and Ready to Go.|
Tonight in my room under the cover of darkness I will whip the old cassette and chain off, clean the Mercian, and put my new transmission on.
No luck with Wi Fi. Maybe at the airport on the way out. Ciao.