QuickPeek: Hot. Short. Gravel. Intense.

After observing how the day got super hot as it progressed, we planned to have an early start today. We were up before 6 and out of the door at 6:20. It was super pleasant at dawn and we decided to ride out the early morning weather as much as we could. So we skipped b’fast and hit the road running.

Around 7, we came to a small town of Santana. It seemed like a military post and we had to go a bit further to the fork in the road to find restaurants. A nice little place was open and serving and we got a pretty decent grub. At the fork, one of the roads went to Puerto Asis, it’s strange to see port towns here, but really this is where one of the tributaries of the Amazon flows and I learnt that one could catch a boat from Puerto Asis and get to Leticia, in the border of Colombia, Brazil and Peru! A long way away. And one could continue on along the Amazon to the Pacific!!! Hmmm, ideas fermenting.

But at the moment, we planned to head to Ecuador and that was the other fork. We rode on the spiffy new concrete road, which was wonderful for the next 10 k’s or so. The terrain was undulating, in the NZ sense, every uphill in the rolling terrain was a bitch to climb. The heat started to intensify and we were sweating a lot as we went along. We had multiple choices for the day. If things had continued to remain well, we might have made it all the way to La Hormiga. But the route had other plans.

After crossing a new bridge, we got into construction zone. Turned out that they build this road in bits and pieces and along this route, long stretches were left out. We rode the rest of the day mostly in gravel road, and a little bit of freshly laid concrete too. But the gravel road dominated most parts. The trouble was that it wasn’t just gravel, it was pretty much boulders the size of my head. Seemed like the just dredged out some river bed and dumped it on the street without any thought of compacting. The result was that I was bouldering most of the time on a loaded bike. My mondial tyre had a bit of bite, but the rear duremes were slipping and sliding all over the place.

All this with 10% grades. The downhills were precarious too, I had to slow way down and nudge myself along to avoid damaging my wheels. It was funny that on such terrain, there is no traction nor momentum. Where stone would be a mini climb and once over it, I’d have to work again to climb up the next one without slipping. Add to it, an intensely hot day with no clouds. Dang, I was pretty knackered.

People along the way we’re super friendly though, we were given water packets by a construction crew and a random passing car. We took numerous breaks to regroup and hydrate and eventually made it to the las Cruce. It was nearly 1:30 and we decided it was good enough for the day. It was w truck stop and since we were early, we managed to get a decent room in the only hotel there. They made decent food too and after a quick lunch, followed by an afternoon nap, the day was over.

Track Notes

Route: Puerto Caiceda to El Crucero (Orito)
Distance: 50 Km
Road: Good till 10 km after Santana. Turned to loose stone road after that and continued till Las Cruce.
Traffic: Light, but tough to negotiate in the gravel sections.
Services: Frequent
Expenses: SG$ 12.95
Comments: Such terrible heat. I was nearly dehydrated.