Cycling The Globe

A Cycle Touring Expedition Around The World

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Day 1385, Salo – Tolamayu: On The Limit

Posted by Thomas Andersen Posted on Jul - 05 - 2014

Distance: 32.06 km
Ride time: 5:23:35
Average: 5.96 km/h!
Altitude: 4115 m
Total: 27452 km

As I opened my tent in the morning I enjoyed the amazing views over the mountains. What I didn’t enjoy much was the feeling that my stomach was not feeling good. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been drinking the tap water in Tupiza. Mineral water is cheap, 50 cents for two liters, but I really don’t like to buy and throw away all these plastic bottle. Oh well, it seems like I will have to surrender.

I have map over this part of Bolivia that shows every little town, if there is water and/or a small store, a place to sleep etc. It also mentions the altitude of each town. What I would learn was that my map doesn’t mention what happens in between the villages.

As I had spent an hour of climbing last night I had the idea I was close to the summit. But, the road just kept climbing – now at more than 4000 m.

It took an hour to cover the first 4 kilometers of the day. On the very steep downhills on bad dirt road I couldn’t go faster than 8 km/h. It all made for some very slow progress, much slower than I had though.

As I finally reached a pass I was slowing making my way down the other side. I thought the worst of the climbing was over, but as soon as I hit the low point of the valley, the road started to climb again. I was certainly feeling the effects of the altitude, now above 4000 m. I was quickly running out of breath as the climbs started and I had to take plenty of breaks.

After lunch the crazy climbs continued. I felt weak as I made my way up the slopes in slow motion. The combined effects of the stomach problems and the altitude nearly knocked me out. Yet I kept fighting.

With my limited water I needed to make as much progress today that it would be realistic to make it to Atocha tomorrow. It was hard going. I’m not sure how much I was able to appreciate at the moment, but the landscapes were really some of the more amazing I have been cycling through.

As the sun was setting I reached a small mining settlement at 4115 m. I was happy to see there was a small store where I could buy some much needed water and a little food. By now it was getting cold very quick. I asked a miner, his teeth dark green from chewing coca leaves, if I could put up my tent somewhere – “Yes, anywhere you like” he answered, “but it’s going to be a cold night”. I quickly got the tent up and jumped into my sleeping bags.

As I lay in my sleeping bag my heath kept racing due to the altitude, and I was starting to feel a strong headache as well. I had certainly been right at the limit today. I hope I will be able to make it to Atocha tomorrow to regain some strength.

Categories: Bolivia
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