Friday. Abancay-Chalhuanaca. 100K, 985m climb, 4:53 ride time. Yesterday we climbed for 60K; today it was 80K, mostly at 1 or 2 percent, but we still gained 3000 ft. This type of climb is a bit more perfidious, it just depletes you sneakily. You come to bit of a steeper pitch, call down to the engine room and find the power is not there. I had an additional handicap, as my illness returned and i had very little sleep the previous night, so my recovery from Thursday’s effort was impaired. In short, there was suffering today. Lots of bargaining going on, but mostly grim determination. I was focused on making it to lunch . . . and then the van drove by and Clara cheerily announced that lunch had been moved 15K up the road. Oh cruel fate.
We climbed up,up,up a wide river valley, akin to what you might see in the U.S., except big. Big. This is the Amazon watershed; when we eventually cross the divide we descend into a desert. There are homes, little towns, grazing animals, chasing dogs, people mysteriously walking by the side of the road miles from anywhere, ancient terraces on occasion both abandoned and in use; bridges, fancy and funky, and pulley and cable systems for crossing the river; crumbling adobe brick houses; sharp cliffs and majestic hillsides rising thousands of feet above the river. Peru. What a country!
But eventually, i did make it to lunch, where i collapsed without moving on the grass for about fifteen minutes. This lunch was special, because the setting was lovely. The Paradise restaurant has beautifully manicured grounds, a table on a covered patio and a genial host. most interesting was the trout farm he maintained on the property; our lunch was swimming around half an hour before we are it.
Our hotel turned out to be about 20 K on this side of Chalhuanaca, for which I was grateful because it only took a half an hour more to get there. I was really, really cooked, my head felt twice its size. Of course when we arrived the gate was locked and the place seemed deserted. We were all milling about outside trying to be heard, and the van wasn’t there either, so we stood around for twenty minutes or so until, eventually, a caretaker was roused to let us in. Despite this, it ended up being a pretty classy place. It felt like a rustic ski lodge, or one of those summer resort places along the California rivers, post and beam construction in the main lodge, old flintlock rifles on the wall in the dining room, but nice hot showers and a relatively comfortable bed were the nicest features. It rained that night, so the mornings fresh smells we pleasant.
I was sure I was going to SAG the next day; I even got up in the morning and dressed in my civvies, but when push came to shove, I hadn’t come to Peru to ride in the f-ing van. So, armed with decongestants, antihistamines and aspirin (which I had been using the prior days as well, I set off with a plan to ride station to station until I had to stop.