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Having stayed an extra day, everything was ready for us to leave early on our way to Potosí. Some people do it in two days, but with HJ not having cycled much since Brazil, and then she had less weight on her bike, we thought 3-4 days was a more reasonable guess. It all started well, with a lovely downhill, and it wasn’t until the bottom of it that I realised I’d left one of my water bottles at the market. One of the many good things about using PET bottles is that you can just buy another one anywhere, and so it was that I picked up a bottle of orange juice at the exit to town.

All went well, until just before lunch, when one of my front spokes broke. The tune-up that I’d got done in Asunción was seeming less good by the day, they’d failed to adjust the rear brake properly, I suspected that the wobble on my rear wheel – which I forgot about in Sucre – was caused by them, and now a spoke had failed. Thankfully we were just outside a little place that had some drinks and – more importantly – shade which was very good considering the blue skies we’d been riding under.

We stopped for lunch to get out of the sun, very strong up at altitude, and had a group of locals tell us that there was definitely not another town ahead. My map said differently, and I knew there was definitely something in about 20km. We got there, and thankfully there was a toll gate, meaning someone who knew what was on the road ahead. He let us know about a small community called San Sebastian that was at the bottom of the big climb – El Retiro – that we would have to go up the next day. We pushed on, literally at times with HJ finding the climbs a challenge, and got there as the sun went down. There was a small school, and the teacher had no problem with us sleeping in the classroom. Dinner was a hodgepodge of things that the one shop had, and I realised that something that I could use to cook would have been great considering they had little more than pasta.

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