When I woke up this morning, I was thinking to postpone the ride out. But Scapulas was not a particularly pretty town and I decided what the heck lets climb the monster. See the first act for the day was a 10km, 1000m climb. Something I would be cautious about on a perfect day, but with my fitness levels being what they were, it would be a miracle if I actually made it, even half way. Ah well, we shall see.
I had a bit of b’fast and headed out around 8:30. I reckon I should have started much earlier to beat the heat, and when I was on the road, the temperature was already hitting up 35C. The river was the start point of the climb and I had to start the day on Granny gear and hitting up a steady 12% grade. It was a bit of a torture to get the bike up such grades for a steady few k’s. The only option was to zone out and try to avoid falling and also avoid the occasional vehicle passing by. Most of the time I’d be zig-zagging on the road to ease the slope, but it was real hard work. By the end of the first hour, I had done 4 km and 400m up.
Well that just meant another hour and a half of slogging, but by the end of the first hour, I seem to have lost the energy in the system. I tried to mentally zone out and not think too much about the climb, but the constant balancing needed to keep the bike upright would bring me back to reality and after another 30 mins and 2 km, I decided to give up. The way I figured it was that there were always mountains along the way, this one was something that was wanting to beat me into submission and I don’t need to overcome every hill. I’d rather live to ride another day.
The views were pretty though and there was a Pentecostal gathering in the place I decided to stop. People were wailing and shouting all around and after 20 mins, I was lucky to get a minivan going my way. Initially I was planning to drop off after this hill, but when the driver mentioned he was heading to Uspantan about 30 km away, I decided I might as well go the distance. And it was a good idea too, After passing Cunen, there was a steep descent and a super steep ascent up to the town of Uspantan.
Once in Uspantan, I looked at my elevation profile and it was a steep descent into the valley followed by a reasonable looking 700m ascent up to San Cristobal. It was about 60 km or so overall and I figured I might be able to ride this one. The descent was scary steep, almost 15% at spots and it made me wonder how the couple of other cyclists made this route the other way around. At times the road was washed away and I’d have to screech to a halt to navigate my way thro the gravel. It was a cautious descent and mid way thro, I decided to stop for a bit of lunch.
See the past few days have been funny. My stomach feels pretty heavy most of the time and I am not sure when I feel hungry. Whenever I do eat, it just makes for a heavier stomach and I’d have to work my way thro to get the energy out of the food. A bit odd for me. Usually I’d be able to eat pretty regularly and keep the system primed, but I suppose I am a few days away from being prime time.
Anyhow, I decided to rest for a while and then headed downhill again. There were a few stiff uphills along the way, but just something to keep the route honest. I eventually reached the bottom of the hill at Rio Chixoy and just as I crossed the bridge, a bit of rain started to spit. The other side of Chixoy would be a completely different route.
The road was gravel and though it was packed well, there was enough loose gravel and potholes to keep the going tough, It was 10% uphill and rain started to get heavier. To add to it, I started to get headwind too. Dang. I had just about 25 km to go and I tried to keep my motivation to keep riding. But after half an hour, I realised I was moving too slow and tried to push my bike, which was faster. However, the rain started to pound harder and I figured it was enough and decided to hail a passing minibus. A 10 minute wait was all that was needed.
I got to the town of San Cristobal Verapaz, which seems like a cute little place and I figured I might hang about for the evening and if needed for a day more. Found a small, clean guesthouse for 30Q and hit the bed.
Route: Sacapulas to San Cristobal Verapaz
Distance: 40 km
Ascent: 1086 m
Descent: 1431 m
Expenses: $ 21.47
Comments: Short day of riding, but real tough.