And then there were eight - The Not So Long Way Down - CycleBlaze

December 13, 2018

And then there were eight

Ciudad Constitucion to Restaurant Los Pinos

We decided to make the most of the hotel in the morning and hung out by the pool until the midday checkout time. I was delighted to introduce the game of pool soccer to everyone. Tom was the most keen and I played a truly epic game with him that went on for almost as long as a real game of soccer might, with me eventually triumphing 10-8. My reward for winning was a contest with my regular opponent, Dea, where I suffered a 4-3 loss that I can only attribute to exhaustion. Finally Nathan, having managed to block the toilet in their room with toilet paper ("I didn't know I wasn't supposed to put the paper in the toilet") and Ciaran ("we only told you three times") took to the field (pool). This contest got off to a tremendous start when Nathan took a wild swing at the ball straight from kick-off, missed the ball, and rolled right out of his tube and into the pool with a big splash. He then made several desperate and unsuccessful attempts to haul himself back into his tube, as the ball slowly and inevitably bobbed towards his goal, Ciaran having had no need to interfere.

Me showing Tom how pool soccer should be played.
Heart 3 Comment 0
My nemesis Dea showing me how it should be done.
Heart 4 Comment 0
And Nathan showing everyone precisely how it should not be done.
Heart 3 Comment 0

While Tom took advantage of the hotel phone to call the ferry companies in La Paz to enquire about our passage to the mainland the rest of us headed to the supermarket to resupply. After a while Tom arrived and announced that he had pretty much only bad news. We had been hoping to take a TMC cargo ferry on the 17th or 19th of December, but he had been informed that they would not take bicycles. That left us with Baja Ferries, but they were apparently fully booked for their scheduled sailing on the 18th, and the only options remaining to us were the 15th or the 25th. We had just booked and paid for a swim with whale sharks in La Paz on the 17th, and taking the boat on the 15th wasn't really an option for us. Of the others, only Tom was desperate to make it for the 15th, in order to keep up his schedule. But it would certainly be a headache for Dea and I to wait until the 25th, as we'd booked a hotel for Christmas that was on the mainland 350 kilometres from the port of Mazatlan, and Dea was supposed to be taking a bus from there to Mexico City on the 26th. It all made for an unwelcome logistical headache. But we'd read blogs of cyclists turning up at the port in La Paz and getting on the TMC ship, so we hoped we'd still be sailing on the 17th or 19th.

Dea and I rode away first and immediately encountered Vincent and Sonia cycling along the main road out of town, the French couple that we'd met briefly in Mulege. We'd also seen them briefly in Loreto, where they were trying to get their bank card back after an ATM had swallowed it. That had apparently proved successful and they were now continuing south to La Paz themselves. The road miraculously had a good shoulder for a while and we rode along chatting. Before long Tom, Ciaran and Nathan caught up to us and I had my personal best ever record for cycling together in a group, with a total of seven of us now.

Dea, Sonia, Vincent, and Tom.
Heart 4 Comment 0

After I'd taken the above photo I was left as the odd one out with no one to talk to, because Ciaran and Nathan were ahead of us making up a third pair. But when I looked ahead to see where they were I saw not two, but three cyclists, and I sprinted to catch up with them and resolve the mystery as to how we had become eight. It turned out that we had caught up to yet another cycle tourist, this one a young man by the name of Jon who had not long ago started cycling from his home state of Wisconsin on a multi-year round-the-world journey of undetermined length. He had a quiet voice and was wrapped up almost entirely to protect himself from the elements, but I knew we'd get along great as soon as he told me he hoped to do his trip without flying.

Dea, Jon, Ciaran, and Nathan.
Heart 3 Comment 0
Ciaran managed to snap this photo of my new all-time record of cycling in a group of eight, just before Vincent and Sonia disappeared off ahead.
Heart 6 Comment 0

The other guys had been meeting Vincent and Sonia on and off for a while and they knew they often preferred to do their own thing, so it was as a six that our peloton continued. We stopped together for a break at the side of the road, and Ciaran leant his bike up against a retractable walking pole that he carried for just such a purpose. He simply propped it up against the saddle and he had a safe and reliable stand for his bike that he could use anywhere. It seemed like a great idea, right up until the moment it fell over, right into Nathan's bike that was just next to it. This unfortunately led to Nathan's front mudguard becoming bent, and our break was extended as we all put forward our suggestions as to how Nathan could solve the problem, the most common suggestion being to just throw his mudguards away, because they are useless things on the whole.

"Well I think you should just throw it away, but let's ask Tom..."
Heart 4 Comment 0
"Yeah, just throw it away."
Heart 2 Comment 0

We eventually got moving again and rode on. We were aiming for a restaurant that we had heard allowed cyclists to camp for free. At some point along the way I was riding alongside Ciaran and we decided to play Tour de France, with the restaurant, some ten kilometres away, as the finish line. It would be great fun to all race and see who was the fastest cyclist, especially as we had just past Tom and Nathan stopped to pee, and we weren't going to tell them about the race. 

I don't remember exactly how but Jon and Dea were off ahead and when we caught up to them we let them know we were in a race. The heavily-loaded Jon seemed pretty uninterested, but Dea tagged along with us for a while as we maintained a fast pace. Ciaran, bless his socks, was doing all of the work at the front while I sat on his back wheel, with Dea behind me. After a while Dea was dropped and it was just me and Ciaran going for the win with about three kilometres to go. We were really speeding along, so fast that we almost ran over a tarantula as it ran out into the road, somehow passing between our wheels.

It really did seem like a two-horse race, until I looked over my shoulder and noticed that Tom was closing in on us. The man is unbelievably quick, I thought, as the distance between us halved in the blink of an eye. Luckily he slowed to talk with Dea for a moment, but he was soon past her and closing. Ciaran and I were both literally at maximum effort, and Tom made catching up to us look easy. With about a kilometre to go he sailed up to us, Ciaran crying out desperately that "The finish line is the next post just there!" which, unfortunately, Tom beat us to. 

I thanked Ciaran for his efforts and moved out of his slipstream and into Tom's, doing my best to keep on his tail despite the unbelievable speed he was moving at. I could hold on for only so long, before conceding that Tom was simply too good. So good, in fact, that he was able to win a race he didn't even know he was in. 

We reached Restaurant Los Pinos and found a note from Vincent and Sonia saying that they had gone on further to wild camp. So it was the six of us that set up our tents behind the restaurant with the permission of the owners, before going inside for a fun-filled evening of dinner, beer, and riddles. 

Heart 4 Comment 0
Heart 0 Comment 0
This was behind the restaurant, all of the birds in this photo are vultures!
Heart 2 Comment 0

Today's ride: 53 km (33 miles)
Total: 1,311 km (814 miles)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 8
Comment on this entry Comment 0