Another fine day on the bike
Trip Start Oct 16, 2012
136Trip End Apr 20, 2013
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We got our bikes ready and wheeled them back onto the gravel road. We could see the highway from the road, so knew that we only had a couple of kilometers to cycle to join it. As the end of the National Park approached we could see the highway snaking its way down a huge valley, for miles to come
I made my way down but within a couple of minutes was surrounded by nine dogs. They were all barking and snapping their teeth. I turned around to see that Kory was still at the top of the switchbacks taking photos, but thankfully the dogs were scared off enough by me shouting and waving my arms. The dogs always give us a fright but thankfully they run off when we stop the bikes and shout at them. I waited for Kory to catch me up, as I expected they would try to ambush him to if I gave them the chance. Within a couple of moments we were cycling passed another small house, and they also had a pack of guard dogs, who rushed out to chase us. We shouted at them, and I thought that they had given up, only to realise that one of them had bitten Kory's pannier, and was being dragged along by its teeth rather than letting go. Kory's waterproof, sturdy bag, which had survived numerous bangs and scrapes for the last 12,000km, now had a hole in it. We were both frustrated at the dogs but grateful that it was only a bag that had come off worse for wear.
We continued to whizz down through the valley, only stopping occasionally for photos or to stop dogs from chasing us
We stopped for drinks and an apple and happily continued on through a couple of little towns. By midday we had hoped to be in the town of La Union, but according to our maps we should have arrived there already. So we stopped by the river and ate the left over pasta/tuna from the night before. The sun was shining, we were surrounded by lush, green fields, with small crop areas and could see a small village on the other side of the river. Behind us there was hardly any traffic on the road and we knew that we had more downhill to come. It was a good feeling.
Unfortunately the town came into view within 15 minutes of riding and we wished that we had continued riding to save time. It didn't stop us from wanting another lunch though. We saw a small restaurant with the usual menu of the day written in chalk on a board outside and were soon tucking in to soup, with beef, veggies, chips and rice.
We had made it to the town and now could re-evaluate how much time we had left to make it further along for the day
The road continued to follow the river, but now the valley had opened up a bit and there was some farmland on both sides. We frequently saw shepherds watching over 10-15 sheep, in a small field and it seemed to be to be a rather monotonous job. I'm sure that they may have been thinking the same about us though cycling everyday. We also saw fields of potatoes being harvested by farmers, who would walk along with a pickaxe and loosen the soil and then the wives, children, workers would walk along behind him with a bag and dig with their hands to collect them. Everyone in the valley seemed really excited to see us and waved and shouted greetings. Thankfully the dogs didn't seem to care about us at all, as Kory and I hesitantly cycled passed them.
At this point the road ascended up to a small town, perched at the top of the valley side, overlooking the farmland
The road then gradually dropped back to the level of the river, to a small village called Tingo Chico. The descent was easy and was only slowed by numerous “New Zealand traffic jams”. It seemed to be the time of day where farmers take their animals back in from the pastures and we encountered several flocks of sheep in the road, usually alongside a couple of donkeys and a cow or two.
The village was tiny but we knew that there were a couple of hotels, even if they weren't signposted. We asked a couple of villagers, and were directed to what looked like a mechanics yard. Sure enough they had rooms available, with a separate toilet and freezing cold shower in the mechanics yard. It wasn't exactly what I was hoping for but it felt good to be clean after two nights in the tent.