GUEST RIDER ENTRY: Dogs, diarrhea & cobblestones…

The next three weeks I am fortunate enough to have two friends of mine joining me on the road. The two new guest riders for 99%RIDE are Lex and Elleke, a really fun couple who are also cycling buddies of mine back home in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. They are both enthusiastic road cyclists and will be tour cycling for the very first time. The following weeks they will be writing the blog on the website and let you know what their experiences are, the good and the bad.
So, I am proud to let you read the first entry written by Elleke Claessen. Happy cycling everybody!

Dirk Spits
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Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Lex and I arrived in Cochabamba the day before. It took us 12 hours and a lot of sweat in the, what we called ‘bikram bus’ (the thermometer in the bus said it was 47ºC degrees!) but the beautiful scenery and the odd local bus-habits were more than worth it. Dirk would arrive in Cochabamba today so Lex and I decided to cycle in the direction Dirk would most probably come from to see if we could catch up with him.
And after 25 kilometers we actually saw a skinny guy, with dirty clothes and blond hair fluttering underneath his helmet cycling in the opposite direction. I noticed a big difference between us, with our clean white shirts, milk white skins and (almost) brand-new looking bikes. But all this would change shortly…

Monday, January 26th
Riding on a trekking bike goes SLOW. It is my first time on a trekking bike and accepting the fact that I cannot go up as fast as I would on my racing bike is hard. One way in accepting this was to put my handlebars in a way I could sit on my bike like I do on my city bike back home. It doesn’t look cool but it’s super comfortable.
After about 70 kilometers we found a nice camping spot at an altitude of 3000 meters, we made a bonfire, ate pasta, and watched the beautiful starry sky. It was going to be my first time sleeping in the wild and during the night the idea of some locals with machetes surrounding our tents kept me awake for a long time.IMG_5177

Tuesday, January 27th
What to do when chased by dogs? Today I finally understood how to handle dogs when cycling. Before I would always take a sprint although I knew that would only make them more enthusiastic/aggressive. Stopping was no option because I was just too afraid.
But after having to sprint 3 times within 2 kilometers (uphill) I was so tired of it that I had to find a new tactic. Dirk’s tactic was to yell or stop. So I stopped and shouted something like “puta di madre!” and it actually worked. The dogs, seemingly aggressive, turned out to be pussies. Hell yeah!

IMG_5162Wednesday, January 28th
It’s funny to see how fast you can get used to stuff. Like drinking liters of Coca Cola every day, the smell of your dirty shirt, diarrea, and using sun block at least 6 times a day. But I would never ever have thought I would get used to coble stones. But I did.
Todays ride of 103 kilometers included a 40 kilometers cobblestoned road (the first 40 kilometers of cobblstones we did the day before). Cobblestones are not fun, not uphill but also not downhill. You feel your intestines totally shaking up and hanging loose within your body. Your hands start feeling numb and having to focus constantly on the road is extremely exhausting. You have to find your rhythm (that’s what ‘they’ say). Lex couldn’t find his rhythm, which resulted in some feelings of hatred directed towards the road and putting his middle fingers to the road when we stopped for a break. It helped.

Thursday, January 29th
Feeling like a rockstar while (almost) dying was a totally new experience to me. Today we knew we were going to have a long ride. We planned to start, as early as possible but due to the heavy rain we had to postpone our departure. At 10:00 a.m. we could finally leave our camping spot at the river (altitude 1900 meters) for a ride of at least 110 kilometers to Sucre (altitude 2900 meters). In the first 70 kilometers we climbed about 2600 elevation meters but ended up on the same altitude of 1900 meters as when we started!IMG_5249

The last 30 kilometers we actually gained altitude. Most of the parts were so steep that the feeling of having a flat tire, big rocks in your bag or a dog still stuck with his teeth in your bag pulling you backwards (Dirk actually had this once, haha) was constantly there. At some moments I thought I would fall of my bike but the locals kept “Buenos Tardes-ing” me, kept waiving, and the people in the cars kept honking their horns and waving to wish us luck (probably thinking what the hell these stupid “gringos” where doing cycling here). I felt like a rock star and as a rockstar I climbed all the way to Sucre. At the top we had another Coca-Cola and I noticed that Lex and I looked much more like Dirk.

From Sucre, Bolivia,

Elleke Claessen

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