We had two somewhat uneventful days after leaving Loja. A big climbing day then the next day brought the sun, lower elevations and unrelenting heat. I don’t handle the heat very well. We are heading towards the coast and finding a dry hot headwind as a result. On the ride to Macara, a dusty border town, I was riding with Michelle, the lively Aussie and Hardy, our German journalist. I like to ride with Hardy as he is always willing to stop for a photo or a small break. Michelle is a wonderfully positive person, good to have near when the going is tough. We came to a 600 meter climb and all of us really struggled with the sun overhead and temps hitting 100 degrees. When we finally arrived at our hostel, I felt like a dry hollow shell. I was helped putting my bike in the hotel garage and slumped over the soup someone put in front of me. Hardy didn’t ride for three days, for him the heat of that day was not recoverable without considerable rest. I also had problems with heat and dehydration on the following 127k day.
About 3k past Macara the following day brought us to a river dividing
Ecuador and Peru. 40 riders and two trucks descended first on the Ecuadorian side to get our exit stamps then to Peru to get our paperwork confirmed and passports stamped for a standard 90 days in Peru. We expect to be here for about 40 days. I’ll try to get some photos of this process added to this post. Our entrance into Peru was something of a shock to us all, from the lush bounty of Ecuador to the dry dusty littered towns and byways of our new temporary country. It was a stunning contrast and a wonder that such a line in the sand, so to speak , could create. We also picked up a convoy of police escort vehicles which followed each and everyone of us . It was amazing how they kept track of each one of us whether we were far behind our lead group or just stopped to urinate. They followed us all that day and into our first stop in Peru, the loud and raucous town of Chulucanas. I got a personal escort by a motorcycle policeman for the last 12K and right to the hotel door . Some of our lady riders were escorted to dinner and back again that evening. Our limited (by language) conversations with the police entourage revealed that they were concerned about us. A poor economy in this area has spawned a desperate segment of the population leading to bandits and motorcycle gangs. The police left us
finally last night – apparently we’ve moved beyond their perceived danger. The amount of motorcycles and motorcycle taxis in this country is astounding. We saw few in Ecuador and virtually motorcycle taxis. They are all in Peru. We hardly got any sleep that night as the cycles roared by all night long. The motorcycle taxis are a cycle with a covered seated trailer attached to the back. Very popular here- in Ecuador it was the 3 passenger taxis that one mostly saw.
Today we are in Lambayeque after our first bush camp last night.
The last couple of days, with the ever present head wind, I’ve discovered the advantage of biking in a peloton. A group of cyclists will have a couple of bikers leading the way and the rest grouped behind so that they benefit from the front riders breaking the headwind. The cyclists take turns leading and breaking the wind while the others draft behind. Much more efficient way of moving forward and gives everyone a break from the work until their time in front. This method got me through the 147k day yesterday in the heat and made today’s 73k ‘s much easier.
Today’s town, Lambayeque, is a college town with beautiful parks and a major archeological museum. I just got back from touring it with my friend Terry. I will describe it better in my next post. It’s my first internet connection in several days so will post this now.
No luck posting.
My Aussie buddy Terry won a stage a few days ago. That means that he won the race that day. He doesn’t race everyday but like all the racers here can ‘t help but feel the competition and go when he sees a chance. There are about 10 to 12 people racing led by my roommate James, who is totally focused on the race everyday and is really strong. A Dutchman, Rheine, is probably the best all around cyclist, but likes to enjoy himself. He’ll have a beer or two after the day, and enjoys cycling with people of all abilities in our group. He also is a willing member of the peloton and helps others move through the day. All of the other racers are also team players but James stands out as a focused individual.
Congratulations to Terry! He is a 54 year old retired District Attorney from Australia who has biked all around the world. He’s raced since he was young as well. His buddy Barry is a retired electrician from the same area who used to be a little overweight and smoked cigarettes. Cycling has been a big turn around for his health. He’s very capable of winning a stage also. Barry has done a few other trips with Bike Dreams and the experience shows. He’s 58 years old.