Day 200: Fuck yeah!

I am not one for milestones, but 200 days is quite a few! The longest yet of the 3 long trips I’ve been on. Not counting the many years spent sitting behind a desk :-p That was a different sort of adventure.

I slept pretty decent and was up at 7. I had some b’fast at the restaurant before I started. When I asked the feller where the next village was, he said 2 km and it was uphill for 3 and most flat after that. My GPS was saying something different, and I trust it more than drivers for sure.

As it would turn out, it was uphill with more than a few false summits for the next 30 km. I was slogging my ass up that hill, guess my legs were really feeling it after the gruelling ride up. I keep it going though and just before the final summit, I stopped for another b’fast. I was careful to stock up my tummy today. It was a nice bit of eggs with chocolate! yummy! I am going to keep drinking chocolate for the next few days.

The way down was a bit too fast and it didn’t last long either. Bummer it was a total of 500m descent after climbing for 1500m (well technically 2500m with rolling hills).Once I got down to 1700m, it was a rolling ride with some traffic into the town of Oaxaca. It got a bit warm and I was ready to stop. The last 20 km was a bit of a hard work and I kept at it and got into the centro. Stopped for some Avena, which is pretty much payasam and a good hit of sugar. I contacted my host in town, Alex who rode into town to guide me to his place. Sweet!

We chatted a bit and I decided to cook some stuff. We walked out for some supplies and I ended up cooking Aloo-Mutter again. Yummy! In the evening, we chatted about a bunch of topics and Alex and his girlfriend were planning a trip thro Central america themselves and I was happy to get some pointers there!

It’s been a few long days on the saddle and am pretty glad to have gotten a nice shower and a bed to sleep in!

Route: Tehuacan to Santa Maria Tecomavaca
Distance: 84 km
Ascent: 990 m
Descent: 1162 m
Expenses: $ 19.10
Comments: I better get ready for the heat. May be more water is in order.

Day 199: Nubes, Te Amo!

That means, “Clouds, I love you!” And Indeed I do. I got up at 7 with the light peeping into my hammock and as I was packing a villages rode past in his gorse with a foal following him cautiously. I was thinking of making some coffee, but decided to hit up the next village instead.

I think I got lucky, which happens pretty much every day on the tour, with my campsite since the route out was without trees and some pretty strong rolling hills added for effect. After 10 K’s or so, I spotted a small restaurant and stopped for some b’fast. After a good grub, I got back on the road. The climb proper was yet to start, but by 20 km point, I had already climbed 500m in the rolling hills and I was still at 600m. Dang.

In the next village, which was my original destination for last night’s camping, I found a restaurant with wifi and I decided to make a stop before the climb. I uploaded the blog, suppose should have eaten a bit, but I was too stuffed from the b’fast. Well, in the day, I would dig deep, both mentally and in my bag for some leftover emergency rations.

The climb was a good one, jumping between 5 and 8% all day long and I’d work hard to keep my ride going. Initially the day was cloudy, but after my second stop, the sun came out and was beating down hard. during some stretches, a nice cloud would block out the sun and that was an intense sense of relief indeed. I guess I better get used to the sun. As I head into the tropics, the trees are starting to bloom, an indication that I am going to head into the summer soon. Down in the valley, I passed many fruit orchards, Mangoes, chikoo, lemons etc. Can’t wait for the mangoes to be ripe, would be nice to pick some on the roads for a quick dose of energy, heh.

The climb was slow going, which is usual for me. The roads were quiet except for a few local mini vans and some farmers riding up and down. I would stop a few times when I spot shelter, but otherwise ti was a day to grind on. Around 4 pm, I realised I was not focussing on the road anymore.I stopped to take stock and realized I hadn’t eaten since b’fast and I was running out of steam. There have been no villages since and so I had to look into my bag for any left over supplies. Luckily, I had some nuts that Kareem gave me when we left Ciudad Valles and I also had some power bars that I got all the way back in Jasper! Heh, talk about conservation. I had been carrying the power bar for 6 months and here It found some good use!

I ate them and the brain started to function again. A bit of climb later I spotted a small restaurant by the side of the road and decided to grab some dinner. Not sure where the next one would be. It was almost 5:30 by now and I had light for less than an hour. So I figured I’d ask the lady if t was ok to sleep. I started with “Desculpe, Es possible para dormir…” and before I could finish the sentence, the lady went, “Si, si”. The Oaxacan’s are alright! A roof to sleep under, nothing more I need!

Route: Santa Maria Tecomavaca to San Juan Tonaltepec
Distance: 67 km
Ascent: 1737 m
Descent: 340 m
Expenses: $ 15.4
Comment: A good bit of climbing in some stunning hills!

Day 198: The heat, the wind, the climbs

I woke up at the Bomberos a couple of times at night and eventually at 7 am. The crew that let me stay was switching after their 2 day shift and a new bunch of people were filling in. I explained to them how I ended up here and they were glad to let me hang about and pack. Bomberos are cool spots to get shelter in a town, that’s for sure.

I rode into the centro for some b’fast and had a sandwich as the blog got updated. It was almost 9 am before I’d start and he day was already looking pretty sinister. But the route was supposed to be mostly downhill and I was to encounter the big climb of 1600m only the next day. How wrong could I be.

Well to be honest, the route was mostly downhill, but the few stiff uphills along the way made me slog my ass off. At times the road was in bad shape and I couldn’t get enough momentum to bomb up the slopes or the uphill would be long enough to force me to work a bit more harder.

I stopped at a small village for some fruit juice. The mango season is here and they do have some awesome mangoes in this place, so a lot more fruits and juices are in order I reckon.

I worked for a long while at 1000m and eventually stopped at a village for lunch. They had some rice and eggs and after eating, I figured I’d wait out the sun for a while. It’s been a really hot day, sometimes reaching up to 40c. Usually he hottest time of the day is between 2 and 4pm, so I decided to take a sweats till 4 and crank out the rest of the distance.

The sun got mellow in the evening, but as I got on the road, there was a strong southerly, which would last me thro the night too. It was dang hard work against the headwinds and even when I was dropping down at 7%, I had to work to keep the bike on the road. Even harder in the up hills. I eventually decided tow too just before sunset and started to scout for a hidden spot.

The landscape seemed promising with few trees scattered around, but most places were private and fenced. I took a dirt road and headed into some private land and after looking around, decided to stay at a not so stealth spot. I didn’t expect anyone, but the farmers showed up to do some work, but weren’t bothered with my presence there. I asked for permission me they let me stay. Sweet. Still windy as I write this and hoping it would pipe down in the morning for the big climb.

Route: Tehuacan to Santa Maria Tecomavaca
Distance: 93 km
Ascent: 717 m
Descent: 1720 m
Expenses: $ 13.20
Comments: Stealth hammocking after a long while.

Day 197: Mucho trabajo en la oficina

I planned a early start given that I planned to get to Oaxaca, about 350 km away in 4 days, with climbs. So today had to be a long one. Antonio promised a long downhill to the town or Tehuacan, but he didn’t give me any predictions on the wind conditions.

I had a bit of b’fast and bid farewell to Antonio and his family and hit the road at about 9. It usually takes longer to leave when staying with a family, heh. The initial part was a gentle uphill, but somehow in the morning, the 3% hills felt like they were much harder. I guess I just needed to warm up and after about 30 K’s or so, the road evened out and I got the promised downhill, but at 1%. But the headwind was a bit of a killer all day.

The road was pretty terrible to be honest. Parts of it was being repaved and that meant the traffic was a bit manic in the narrow space available. The views were pretty boring and it smelled terrible the whole way. Seems like this bit has a lot of farms and they use organic fertilisers. The whole way smaller like Shit, literally. On top the day was absolutely scorching and it was indeed a really hard day in the office. Which is what the title of the blog means “Hard work in the office”.

What I didn’t anticipate was the terrible behaviour of the traffic. More than a few times, buses and trucks came within inches of me and I had to keep my nerve and my line to avoid falling over. I even had to take evasive action when a caravan of trucks would fly past me at 90 KmpH in 40 k zones. The bastards, I was planning to rid up a sling shot on my bike to get back at the assholes.

I stopped around 1 PM for lunch at a small town and I had some lovely enchiladas at 30 pesos, Stunning. After lunch, The route was mostly gentle downhill and with the wind turning from head to sidal, I managed to put my head down and crank out the distance. Eventually I got to Tehuacan at 5 pm.

I had scouted a warmshowers host in town, but I suppose I had sent her a pretty late request and hadn’t heard back from her. This a good side town and I figured there must be a Bomberos someplace and I could try my luck. Turned out the Bomberos were in the centre of town and when I got there, it took me just 2 minuted before they offered me a bed to sleep in. Awesomeness. These fellers were really funny chaps and we hung out watching some football on TV.

I took a walk around town and found a place selling food from Oaxaca. I should have eaten food from Puebla, but I was tempted to jumpstart on the hot chocolate and decided to get some Tlayudas and Chocolate con aqua. The chocolate was really good, I suppose I will be eating a lot more of chocolate in the coming days.

It was a pretty blah day, but turned out nice at the end though!

Route: Puebla to Tehuacan
Distance: 123 km (yay!)
Ascent: 281 m
Descent: 839 m
Expenses: $ 13.30
Comments: The heat is on…

Day 196: Meeting Stephan and Ulli!

Was a really relaxing day today. Heh, Nice to take a day off after every couple of days! But it’s been nice here and I had plans to catch up with some old travel mates.

I had a lovely b’fast again, and chatted with Antonio’s family for a while. Most of them are artisans making religious artefacts, and the younger ones seem to be going off of the family business and pursuing different dreams. I suppose it’s similar to most families I know, mine for one. The access to education offers a change for people I reckon. To be honest, I was having a chuckle when I noticed ‘religious artefacts’, reminded me of Frank Costanza :-) The family had been really sweet and we had some nice conversations.

In the afternoon, I decided to go and meet Stephan and Ulli. You might not remember, but I met the couple all the way back in Jasper National park, Canada. Here’s a link to jog the memory! It’s been almost 6 months, but surprisingly we kept in touch on and off.

One might think that there might be mild snobbery between cyclists and motorcyclists, but with Stephan and Ulli, I seem to share the joy of travelling irrespective of the mode of transport. We met up in town and walked around talking about travels and other tales. It was nice to meet them after all this time, funny to think that we met just for about 10 minutes all these months back. Travelling is a strange experience indeed.

Route: Puebla
Distance: 0 km (yay!)
Ascent: 0 m
Descent: 0 m
Expenses: $ 7.00
Comment: Different modes of transport, same soul of the journey!