01 October 2012

Ascent to Suscal

I got on the road from El Triunfo just after 7am and made Conchacay, the last town before the mountains, soon after. It was overcast and I could see them now through the mist, the dark mountains of the Andes. I felt the road slowly begin to grade higher.

After I stopped in Conchacay for a jugo natural of tomate de arbol there was a very steep climb out of the town and into a forest. It was cool and wet and cloudy and as I climbed the clouds became thicker and thicker until finally I could see no more than 50 meters ahead of me. Trucks passed on the road and I wore my yellow rain jacket to make myself more visible.

I climbed and climbed. All I could see was a bit of the road ahead and the darkness of the trees along it. My knees felt good but my legs were tiring. Then I saw an area where the mountain had previously been leveled out for some sort of construction. There hadn’t been any work recently and I scouted the area and saw that I could take the bike back behind a string of mounds off the road and set up camp there. I felt I might have gone further in the day but I did not want to do too much. I told myself this was a first good test of my fitness and my knee and I could see tomorrow how I felt.

It was 2pm when I had the tent setup and camp made and I crawled inside the tent and heated water for a coffee. I ate an apple and some peanuts and watched the clouds thicken. In the distance I could hear cows. I read a little of the Knut Hamsun novel Mysteries and began to feel very tired. But I kept myself awake until nightfall. I planned to awaken early and make the ride to Suscal. I was a little worried I had not gone far enough and perhaps it would be too much for me to do tomorrow. I didn’t have water for two more days of riding. Still, it was wonderful to be back on the bike after a day’s ride and up alone in a tent in the mountains. Water and the distance to Suscal were tomorrow’s problems.


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