Rest in Cusco

Cathedral and statue in Plaza de Armas in Cusco, Peru

Cathedral and statue in Plaza de Armas in Cusco, Peru

Festival dancers in main square in cusco, peru

Festival dancers in main square in cusco, peru

I arrived in Cusco along ,with my fellow cyclist Knute from Norway, about 6am on Sunday morning after a 10 hour bus ride from Andahuaylas.  We were both really fried when we arrived and just wanted to get some rest.  I described my earlier Peruvian bus experience in a  previous post.  This bus was a double decker, lots of glass, but we were traveling at night.  We were disappointed at traveling through the night as we couldn’t see anything but, as it turned out, what did we know.  I settled into my seat for what I hoped would be about an 8 hour nap.  An older Peruvian gentleman was in the aisle seat next to me and was resting his eyes when I took my seat.  Knute and I had had trouble finding our departure point as they didn’t seem to find it necessary to light the area or post their sign outside.  Each company had their own departure terminal.   We kept asking people and they kept pointing to the left.  Finally someone pointed out that we were now here.  We looked through an opening and sure enough there was a waiting area and several further entrances.  Good.  Nerves settled, we were in time but just.  The bus itself was older but seemed comfortable.  Off we go.  I notice early on that it’s quite warm on the window side of my seat.  The heat had no control and stayed on full the whole trip.  More than a little uncomfortable.  I stepped over my neighbor and checked with Knute – his was stuck on full too.  Nothing to be done, I settled back into the seat.  About a half hour into the ride, one of the crew came by and handed out barf bags to everyone in the bus.  This is not good.  I’m still sick and now they hand me this.  What I discovered is that each ascent up the narrow winding switchbacks in the tall bus leaves your stomach either a few meters ahead or a few meters behind the bus as it navigates those sharp turns.  You just hope you can catch up to it before it heads the other direction or that bag is going to be a real part of your world.  The full on heat only adds to the sport.  Downhills were not as bad for some reason.  On neither was it a good idea to look out and see oblivion on the downhill side.  The buses serving these mountainous routes used to have blackened windows and curtains pulled.  I could see some of the blackened material still there.    Several times during the night the bus had to stop to remove rock from the roadway or maneuver with another vehicle to pass each other.  There were  no passenger  stops for eating or banos.  There was a urination only bano on the bus.  10 hours on a bus is a long time.  Discomfort was just part of the experience – one the Peruvians just seemed to accept as a way of life.  My neighbor in the aisle seat slept the whole way to Cusco.

So, we stepped off the bus relieved that it was finally over.

I took a taxi to  meet JR at a hostel next door to the one Bike Dreams will be using upon arrival. We are located just a block from the Plaza de Armas (main plaza) in Cusco.   Knute dropped off at a hotel he had picked for some “luxury” living while resting here.  JR is a friend of mine from Anchorage, Alaska and is meeting us here in Cusco to bike the rest of the Andes Trail.  He and his wife have been here for two weeks so he could acclimatize and they both could sightsee.  Wife Jeanne got an email announcing her father had passed on and had to return home immediately just a couple of days before I arrived.  JR was a member of the Buck’s Hardware XC Ski Team (Alaska contingent) several years ago.  Some of the Grand Marais team and those up there would ski the Anchorage Tour race then party afterward.    JR and Jeanne had been doing some trekking, traveled to Machu Picchu, and toured the floating islands at Lake Titcaca where they stayed with a local family.  Great experiences.  JR has been an active outdoorsman all his life – biking a big part of that – and is looking forward to this trip.  He is semi- retired from his work as an ER nurse.

One notices right away that this is a different Peru.  More upscale (for this part of the world) restaurants and shops that reflect tourists needs, not locals.  No longer 3 pharmacies on every block or brightly lit Claro phone stores repeated again and again.  Now it’s more cute little shops with outdoor gear, clothing, and tour operators.  But the most startling  thing to my 5 week old Peruvian eyes is the presence of  gringos (white people).  They are seemingly everywhere in this now touristy Peruvian background.  Cameras.  I’m hearing smatterings of English and it’s not our Bike Dreams compatriots.   We have been traveling the back roads and highlands of Peru.  I could count the number of gringos we had encountered on one hand.  Two English bike riders, a couple from Germany, and maybe one or two others in five weeks of traveling in this country.  I have to admit, I was a little taken aback.  Where is my Peru?  Where are my 12 sole entree local cuisine restaurants?  Why are these people accosting me in the street, imploring me to buy this, go there, or give them that?  I’m feeling pushed and shoved  a little.  A little jangled.

I should feel comforted by the presence of people similar to me -I’m a gringo – but instead I kind of resent them as walking into my dream.  Stepping on my stories and squeezing the reality out of them.  I selfishly want the experiences I’ve had through Bike Dreams and my fellow bikers in “our” Peru to remain ours and ours alone.  I don’t want to have an altered Peru; I want an unadulterated Peru.  Apparently I’m still feverish.

On Wednesday about 35 of us from Bike Dreams will spend two days at Machu Picchu.  Cusco was the capital of the Incas and is famous in its own right.  It is a beautiful city, at least the area I’ve explored.   However, the real reason it is so full of tourists is its proximity to Machu Picchu and the beauty and mystery of this magnificent ruin of a once glorious civilization.

I do look forward to this next experience as well.

 

Off to Cusco

All the lady cyclists plus Annelot, leaving Andahuaylas Peru

All the lady cyclists plus Annelot, leaving Andahuaylas Peru

I’m sending along a photo of our lady cyclists along with Annelot, our doctor, which I took this am before all cyclists left for a big day in the mountains.  Ellen, our cook, had already left for the market to do her shopping for tonight’s bush camp at around 4000 meters.  On the advice of Annelot, I am not part of the group today or the next two but have opted to try another bus ride instead.  While I have recovered my appetite  for the most part, things I eat are still not getting properly processed.  She saw no point in going to 4000 meters as I would not tend to heal at that altitude – wants me to give it another day or so before consuming any antibiotics.

Enough of those details.  I leave at 8pm on the bus to Cusco. They say 8-9 hours.  Knute, a fun loving Norwegian, is coming along too.  He has cycled every K as I had before this ailment.  Knute is not sick but is getting tired of biking up and down the mountains and would rather spend extra time in Cusco relaxing and enjoying the city.  We are on a vacation after all.  The bus leaves at 4am and again at 8pm.  The original idea was to leave early and have the daylight to enjoy the sights along the way.  Knute walked down to the terminal with me this am to show me which bus line he had booked on.  There we discovered that since tomorrow am is Sunday, there will be no 4 am departure.  Sometimes, things just work  out in life.  Had Knute not  accompanied me he would not have discovered  this small, but important change of events.  Pretty lonely sitting at the terminal at 33am waiting for a non-existing bus departure.  I would have purchased the 8pm ticket thinking the 4 was full.  As it is we are both leaving tonight.

There has been an all night alarm that rings outside our hotel each night beginning around 2 or so.  I’ve been asking all of our cyclists to eat more chicken but there it was again last night.  Roosters.  Crowing.  Way Too Dsmn Early.  And of course the constant sound of dogs that come with the territory.   And I think that somebody down here must have bought my nephews motorcycle and reinstalled its original muffler system before the cops said anything.  They, too, must get up early.

Well, so do I then.  At least I lay there wondering if I shouldn’t just join in with a few sounds of my own.

You know,, I just heard that damn rooster again.  It’s just a little past noon.  I’m going to ask Knute if he wants to go out for pollo for lunch.

I know that Cusco will be a great place to relax and heal up.  Lucho has told me several times  how beautiful the city is and also described how the older building are constructed with a particular type of stone foundation  that words off earthquakes when  newer buildings succumb.  I will be staying with long-time friend JR, who is joining the group at Cusco for the remainder of the trip.  He arrived there early with his wife so he could get acclimated to the elevation.  She has now returned to Anchorage.  The hostel we are staying in is right next to the Plaza de Armas (the main square) so that will be beneficial too.

Perhaps I’ll get busy enough so you won’t have to see my name in your inbox everyday.

Patience, the Autobus and adventure

Adventure is not something that always has obvious rewards.  It’s not always as Dr John coins in his song “Mos’ Scocious” – in fact I’ve never even known what that means.  But I am certain that he was not referring to experiences like my ride from Ayacucho to Andahuaylas on the auto bus yesterday.  As you have read if you saw my blog yesterday, I’ve been very sick in a hotel in Ayacucho being cared for by the kind staff there while my bike troupe has pedaled on.  The matron of the hotel had come to my room, got the passport copy I always carry with me, and purchased a ticket on the largest type of express bus here for my ride to catch up with everyone.  My first thought was dang, I’m sick, I have diarrhea and an off and on fever, I don’t want to be riding on a bus, I’ll take a taxi.  On second thought tho, it was a chance to experience another aspect of life here.  Most people don’t have cars and depend entirely on buses , cabs, collectivos and mototaxis.  I’m sure there is a lot of ride sharing as well since you see people piled into vehicles in towns as well as on high mountain roads.  I’ll get on the auto bus and enjoy the view.  The English speaking friend the hotel matron had brought in to see me indicated that my ride should be no more than 4-5 hours.  All paved roads he assured me    I took a look at my ticket – there was a departure time but no arrival time.  Not a good sign  but…..who knows how things work here.  Everything went well for me at the terminal.  I was able to find my departure point, there was a bus sitting there and a man standing there looking like he had something to do with it.  “Andahuaylas” I said to him.  “Andahuaylas” he mumbled back to me and indicated I should wait.   I was fortunate that the taxi driver followed me in to the terminal and showed me that I also needed to buy a ! sole stub that is called a boarding fee.  I wouldn’t have had a clue.  The buses themselves are nice, great viewable glass space and comfortable seating.  Bags are put overhead or in the compartment outside on the bottom of the bus.  I kept the pack with my computer between my legs and my other small pack went up above.  The morning was uneventful, I was nodding on and off to sleep – still far from healthy.  It took us over an hour just to clear the city limits of Ayacucho.  I could find a faster cycling route.  As we worked our way up the long winding and twisting switchbacks to higher elevations the baby sitting behind me sensed the change and started to cry; the other youngster three seats back joined in.  There is really nothing to be done, children respond with totally honesty and there is no fooling them that this is normal.  The music on the bus is relentless and constantly cycles playing what must be the most popular songs at this time.  It is loud.  The songs all seem to have the same beat  and melody.  Distracting.  I look at my watch – I still have western habits.  We have been riding for 3 1/2 hours now. I know that we are still far from our arrival city.  We pull into a small restaurant.  Lunch.  Yes, lunch, for an hour.  The idea of food still has no allure for me.  I wait in the bus along with two other guys who have also been sleeping.  The fog and mist is now clearing and the views have been fantastic.  Our bus has been running rough but they must have confidence as no one is looking at anything except lunch.  We will climb and descend several times during the day as we move through the mountains.  Things are green and lush in the valleys,  I see orchards of oranges and limes, vegetables and different fruits I can’t identify on the trees.  The steep sides and drops are much more pronounced while riding on the tall bus.  You can see over every edge.  Not a good place for anyone with a fear of heights.  A different perspective on the same single lane paved roads I have been describing on the cycle.  We travel about a half hour after lunch and the bus stalls.  This is not good.  The crew scurries here and there gathering tools and heading to the bowels of the the machine to get us back on the road.  No mechanic to call, you must be self sufficient.  After bleeding the fuel system for the sixth time and failing to keep it running, I was getting a little discouraged .  On the seventh my patience and that of everyone on the bus was rewarded.  Vroom.. chug chug…vroom…then a rumble and everyone sitting outside found their seats again and off we went.  The rest of the day we didn’t have a lot of speed but at least were moving.  At 2:45 our bus decided to sputter out again.  Out came the tools and back to work they went.  Everyone riding would move outside, find a place to sit down and patiently wait.  I followed suit.  On this second occasion however, one woman laid into the bus crew with a rain of consonants I couldn’t understand but it was obvious that she was breathing fire and they were getting burned.  Soon after we were back on the road again.  At this pace I decided that I wouldn’t arrive till about 8 pm.  That would make it a 12 hour bus ride.  Hmmm.   Started to enjoy the scenery again despite a rolling stomach that was warning me to be careful and an overall tiredness.  At 4 my spell was again broken.  The bus stopped again.  This time the crew was telling us to find rides, it was not fixable.  We all lined up along the roadside – collectivos and taxis passing occasionally.  A few stopped and grabbed luggage even tho they had no passenger room.  A taxi stopped and announced Andahuaylas.  I noticed that no one responded.  I believe the cost was too high for most of the fellow passengers.  I approached him and asked “Cuando Cuesta?”  He said 20 soles.  OK.  A young French guy I noticed drinking a beer and having a cigarette earlier also hopped aboard.  It was then 430.  The driver says 1 1/2 hours to Adahuaylas.  Yes.  The music is loud in the taxi.  Loud.  Incessant.  The same songs I was hearing on the bus.  There had been two passengers in the car when we joined, one of which seemed to be in pain sitting in the backseat with the young Frenchman and myself.  We were careful not to lean into him as we were rolled from one tight corner to the next.  The cab driver seems to be in a much bigger hurry than we are.  We both shake our heads at many of his macho moves.  The young man is traveling by bus through Peru and Bolivia.  He is next heading to the Colca canyon area he describes as being larger than the Grand Canyon and the largest in Peru.  I mention  that the man sharing our seat seems to be in considerable pain.  My new friend confers with him in Spanish and discovers that he has just had an operation.  He asks the driver to pull over and goes to the trunk to his bag to fetch painkillers for the older man.  He gives him his whole supply.  I have a new-found respect for my new young friend.  We arrive in Andahuaylas and am greeted warmly by many of my biking friends.  I have an auto bus adventure to share with you. Nine and a half hours.  First I must sleep.

 

Care in Ayacucho

I am slowly (for my patience in being sick) coming back to life thanks in no small part to the caring staff here at the Hotel Universo.  They have been nothing short of wonderful.  Raps on my door meant soup, tea, and even electrolytes from the pharmacy.  The manager  brought in an English speaking friend to communicate my symptoms and whether I wanted them to have a doctor come to see me.  This type of concern and unselfish friendship has been our experience throughout Ecuador and Peru.  While I am very cognizant of the police escort we received  for the first 150 K’s after entering Peru and that poverty breeds bandits and pocket thieves among other problems – the people in general have been so welcoming and kind that we walk with confidence through all the cities and villages we pass through.  From the brass band in the back of a pickup truck escorting us as we left Riobamba to the people everywhere cheering us on as we bike past them to the good folks in a small village in Peru pulling our big truck out of the muddy ditch to the truck drivers beeping their horns and giving us the high sign as we meet them on the road.  How many truck drivers in our neck of the woods are going to be happy meeting a group of cyclists!  And most of all the everyday common occurrences of friendly greetings and polite answers to our gringo questions of how to get here or there.  Patience.  It’s hard for me when I’m sick but it’s something I see a lot of here.

Another rap on my door.  The manager was just here to arrange my bus ticket for tomorrow.  She is sending a staff person along to be sure I get on the right bus.  I’m really starting to like those raps on my door.  I will remember Ayacucho for such kindness.

Tomorrow I will be in Andahuaylas for a rest day.  We have 4 more tough days cycling in the mountains before getting to Cusco.  I’ll have to decide when I’m ready to ride again since there will be no more raps on my door.

My Luck Ran Out

Through our biking adventures in Ecuador and now most of Peru I have remained relatively healthy.  I had biked every K of the trip,  Last night my luck ran out.  I found myself running a fever, a hacking cough and a bad case of diarrhea .  The weird dreams that come with a fever had me feeling strange.  I had to tell our group that I couldn’t bike today and probably not tomorrow either.  I slept from 830 this am until 6pm this evening when the hotel staff knocked on my door and expressed their concern.  They brought in an English speaking friend who went through my symptoms.  Pretty soon I had chicken soup, tea, and electrolytes from the farmacia.  I will spend the day here tomorrow then hope to take a bus to catch up with Bike Dreams on Thursday.

ayacucho, a city of long important Peruvian history

The city that I am relaxing in today, has a long history of habitation.  At a site just 25K north of here, human settlements dating back 15,000 years have been unearthed.  Indigenous people have occupied this area for thousands of years.  The modern establishment of what is now Ayacucho was established by Spanish conqueror Pizarro in 1540 during the constant rebellion of Manco Inca.  Pizarro called it Huamanga.  When Simon Bolivar liberated the region in  1825 he restored the original name of Ayacucho.  The final battle of the Peruvian independence movement was fought and won against the Spaniards here in 1824.  The region itself is one of the poorest in Peru despite the establishment of the beautiful infrastructure of the city.  In the 1960’s the Shining Path movement was founded by Guzman, who was a philosophy teacher at University in Ayacucho.  It was begun as a socialist/communist movement of the people but devolved into a terrorist type of organization in its struggle against what it saw as a corrupt and unpopular government.  In the end, the Shining Path’s movement was known mostly for its bloody and brutal treatment of the indigenous peoples of the Ayacucho area.  The movement now is mostly involved in narcotics and hasn’t been effective since the capture of its leader, Guzman.

All we see of this today as we lounge and saunter through its Central Plaza and historic buildings is the beauty left in the wake of all these important times here in Peruvian history.  The city has 33 churches – one for each of Jesus Christ’s years alive.  The oldest one I  came across was labeled 1568.  I saw a group of people lined up this morning to enter an old church as soon as the door opened.  Without the benefit of a short span of time off my feet and into my Wikipedia book, I would have assumed a happy and long history behind the city of Ayacucho.

I thought I would spend a little time introducing you to another of my cyclist friends here, Jurg, our only representative from Switzerland.  Jurg is a lanky handsome man perhaps a little younger than I am. who is a true gentleman.  He is curious about everything and as he wanders here and about, Terry, Barry and I might assume he’s just a little absentminded but the simple truth is that he is investigating details only he has observed with his keen eye.  Jurg has traveled extensively  and biked in places as challenging as Afghanistan, Iran, and several of the other -stans as well as trips throughout Europe and the Canadian Rockies.  He has many stories to tell and I enjoy him immensely.  His patience is only matched by his ever patient wife since Jurg is on this trip for 4 1/2 months and has many others under his belt.  Jurg is an accomplished cyclist as well.  A number of bikers here are racing – Jurg was quite conscious of his daily times as well but a couple of weeks ago he announced that he is no longer wanting to be involved in the timing.  His statement was that he thought no matter what he did he would end up 6th,7th or 8th.  What would be the purpose of that.  Now he is stopping for photos, enjoying coffee breaks and taking the time to satisfy his curiosity along the way.   All I can say is “Good on ya, Jurg.”

I now have 2 bush camp days in a row and really not that much time till we arrive in Cusco on the 16th.  From there we will travel by train, bus and foot power to Machu Pichu (I should learn how to spell it!) where we will spend two days at the site then back to Cusco for 2 more.  Really something to look forward to.  My old friend JR from Anchorage will be joining us there for the balance of the trip.

I’ll try to add a couple of photos to this short post.  After all, this is a rest day for me.

I added a video of our Bike Dreams truck being pulled out by hand by a group of villagers who also engineered the feat.  I couldn’t figure out how to get it to these pages so you will find it on my Facebook page.  It’s worth a look.  See my previous blog for a description.

 

Narrow roads, steep drops and wild rides

Alfred, Diedrick, Kristen and Barry at small having coke, bread and cheese for lunch

Alfred, Diedrick, Kristen and Barry at small having coke, bread and cheese for lunch

Yoost at same lunch - truck delayed

Yoost at same lunch – truck delayed

Michelle by blue church in same village a day before dog incident

Michelle by blue church in same village a day before dog incident

Since I left Huancayo we have had two bush camps and now have arrived in a hotel in Ayacucho.  The roads away from the Pan American highway are narrow, often unpaved, and in the mountains,  have audaciously steep unforgiving edges.  No shoulders and totally unforgiving exposure to a long way down.  For two days we followed such a roadway along a steep river canyon.  The edges are now becoming more routine but when a car or truck comes around a curve and shocks you with its nearness you become more aware of what faces you on the other side of the vehicle.  The rocky canyon walls offer no escape on the opposite side of the track either.  It is quite an experience.  If those were the only obstacles to your safety, you could still be somewhat sedate about your journey as long as you show a certain respect for the risks, but it is compounded by the Latin macho in speed and passing.  If no-passing signs exist, they are not part of the comprehension of the motorist here.  They pass each other routinely with just a honk and a prayer.  Sometimes you are cycling around a corner and suddenly there is a motorist or a bus heading right at you in your lane.  Somehow they seem to avoid each other and you, thank God, because there is little a cyclist can do with the option facing them at that point.  It was on such a narrow roadway yesterday that our own Bike Dreams truck designated for lunch for us met the scene of an accident.  When I biked by, our own people not cycling that day assured us that there were no fatalities and things were going to be all right.  Our own Annelot, doctor with Bike Dreams, found herself a much needed individual for the people injured in one of the cars involved.  The other car’s occupants seemed to be OK.  It was a taxi van and was still drivable.  Due to the narrowness of the road and the curve where it all happened, it was not possible for vehicles to get by.  For the third day in a row we had no lunch on our trip. The  previous day Walter had taken a wrong turn and missed all of us.   Of course the injured took precedence and Annelot was busy with stitches and diagnosis’s. There would be no ambulance arriving in such a place.  Others would have to serve that responsibility.  It was the second mishap in two days and the most serious.  Two days before, our lunch truck was forced off to the side of the road by a passing motorist in a small village.  It was hopelessly stuck in the mud and tipped to the right in a very awkward position.  Our crew was pulling out their huge cable hoping for a truck to come by to help pull Bike Dreams back on solid ground.  We were no obvious help and kept on cycling by as it was raining and we had some K’s to go.  Later, Walter,our driver, told me the story.  There were a group of villagers watching a local soccer game who saw what had happened and came to offer their help.  Walter just shook his head and pointed to the precariousness of the trucks position.  The villagers came up with some ropes, put a few large rocks behind one wheel, connected some of the ropes to the top on the truck and strategically placed others along the side of the frame.  A lot of impromptu engineering.  Then all hands pulled and pushed and sure enough, the huge, heavy lunk of a truck not only found itself back on the road, but also with everything straight and undamaged.  What a community of people.  They are very poor in Peru financially but often rich in unselfish behavior.  When the crew at Bike Dreams offered them candy for their help, they each took only one piece.  Amazing.  At some point I should have a video available of this feat.  One of our non-riders that day took the video on his IPhone.

After leaving Huancayo  we climbed to 4200 meters where it started to rain.  It also gets quite cold at that altitude and the subsequent long descent on paved roadway became quite treacherous with the damp rain.  Bicycle tires, even those such as mine with good traction tread, don’t have much surface on the road and can easily slide out from under you if you are not careful.  Especially on the curves.  So it was a long relatively slow cold descent on the way to the first bush camp at La Esmeralda.  We camped in town at a soccer field the local authorities graciously allowed us to use.  There wasn’t a hotel or hostel large enough to accommodate us in town.  At least we have a level surface for our tents and bathroom facilities next door.  The place where we had planned to camp was too wet from the showers so we were glad to have this option.  The following day was almost a mirrored image of the previous.  We had thought the ride was to be all unpaved but in the two years since Bike Dreams last stop here, the narrow roadway had been paved.  Again we would wind our way down the canyon and again met with rain in the afternoon.  The gods were smiling at us tho as the rain petered out before we reached our campsite on the river bank and  set up our tents.  We did have the unwelcome presence of biting sand flies but they didm’t appear until we had had an opportunity to swim in the river and feel better about ourselves.

Our bush camps, like other camping  experiences whether it be canoeing, kayaking, or climbing, develop into a certain routine for me.  Everything I pack finds its own place in my environment and gets put back in that same place when I am done with it.  One finds that all of these items become precious when you can no longer readily replace them.  Also, you just become more efficient in your movements while camping.  You don’t want to be spending all of your time searching for things.  This routine becomes a big part of the rhythm of your day.  Its simplicity is very soothing.   Putting the tent up and taking it down is done in the same way each day.  When awakening, you have things that happen first and a pattern of what happens next.  Breakfast is at seven and everything is packed and on the truck by eight.  We are then off  cycling.  It’s not a bad life and has many rewards.

I haven’t described our surroundings for some time.  We are still surrounded by mountains, but no longer snow-capped or jagged but rather more like hills and canyons.  It is still late winter/ early spring here and the colors are yellow, brown, gray and the hues of eroding rock.  Much of the hillsides are terraced and often tilled but it is only at the lower altitudes that we see any green.  There were many orchards and fields of green vegetable and fruit tops swaying in the slight breeze today as we made our way down to Ayacucho.  More than half of our route was paved.  Not as spectacular as the views in the Cordillera Blanca, I find myself not stopping as often with my camera in hand.  I think I’m getting a little spoiled here in Peru.  It was a beautiful sunny day today.

There was an incident  today on our ride.  I guess everyday has its excitements.  We had just left our last bush camp along the river near Malocc when a group of five dogs came out of nowhere to attack (chase) Michelle.  She managed to avoid the bulk of them but then the largest one ran right in front of her bike and down she went.  Jurg, my  Swiss friend, and I stopped to make sure she was OK.  Luckily none of us, including Michelle,  was moving too fast  so she wasn’t badly hurt.  If any of you have fallen from a bike, you know how unforgiving the surface is.  Most injuries happen to the hands and knees and that’s exactly where she landed.  Her right knee and right hand took the blows.  Hand injuries suffered in such a way often leave you with a numbing pain that doesn’t tend to go away for some time.  Her knee is very sore but she was able to continue and finish the ride.  We’ve developed a number of strategies in dealing with dogs that I’ve described in a previous blog but sudden unforeseen attacks render those largely ineffective.  You just don’t have time.  The most effective for me is to just slow way down, sometimes stopping, and the dogs just lose interest.