WEEK #85 HOW ARE WE DOING? The first days with Guest Riders!

Whenever I see another tour cyclist (or more) heading my way, I stop for the talk that is going to take place on the road.

“Hi, what’s your name?”
“Where are you going to?”
“Where are you from?”
“How long have you been on the road?”

IMG_5212Not this time though. The two cyclist coming towards me were the new “guest riders”: Lex and Elleke, friends and cycling buddies from Amsterdam coming to join me on my journey south for the next three weeks.
They are both experienced cyclists on the road and really surprise me by showing up all of a sudden, a very pleasant surprise that is. We were to meet in Cochabamba but they just couldn’t wait to get on the bike! They want to get going as soon as possible, and that’s a good sign.
We have a lot of kilometers to cover the next few days, and it’s not going to be an easy ride. First stop after leaving Cochabamba is Sucre, the capital of Bolivia.

After getting the necessary groceries in Cochabamba we make our way out of the city. The weather is good; a crisp blue sky and sunshine, unlike the first 4 days after leaving La Paz, the Altiplano and high mountains were a lot colder, hail, rain and sometimes freezing temperatures…
Due to altitude acclimatising we stopped after about 65km, a nice plateau on the side of the road would be our campsite for the night. The tents are set-up, food is cooked and a small fire is made. The clear sky darkens and then shows us the millions of stars. An occasional “Look! A satellite!” before we head to bed. The first day with the two guest riders has been fun, it’s good to have such company around for the next few weeks!
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The days cycling to Sucre were filled with stunning views, mountains, small villages, local food and lots of kilometers. One part of the road was particularly rough; 80km of non-stop cobble stones made it fairly bumpy and tiring. But even a long and steep climb wasn’t a match for the two  new riders, they were unstoppable!
Unpaved roads, heavy rain, cobblestones and heat, Lex and Elleke have endured a lot in the first few days. But nothing was more exhausting then the fourth day, before arriving in Sucre. 110km of cycling. Up and down. Steep, short climbs and to top it off a difficult road leading to the “white city” which is 30km long, a real test for them. And they passed.

IMG_5145Once we arrived in Sucre it was time for a well deserved shower, cold drink and warm meal to recuperate. The next few days we’ll be meeting other cyclists in Sucre, they’re going North, hopefully they’ll be able to tell us which routes are best through Bolivia, Chili and Argentina.
Next stop for 99%RIDE: Santiago, Chile. A new project awaits!

Please keep following me, Lex and Elleke the next few weeks as we make our way over rough territory in Bolivia.

From Sucre, Bolivia,

Dirk Spits

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