Saturday, August 2, 2008

Potosi to Sucre

Tuesday 15th July

The road to Sucre is paved and the hostel owner informs me that the 160kms are all downhill, making it an easy days ride. Potosi is 4060 metres, Sucre is 2750 metres so this all sounds reasonable. Dani decides to spend an extra couple of days in Potosi and I leave riding solo for the first time in some weeks.

Throat and nose still clogged with dust from the mine at Cerro Rico, it´s good to ride again and I´m glad not to be taking the bus...



This one is seriously off route...



I relax as the advise from the hostel owner proves correct and I hurtle down the first 50kms, the scenery rugged and beautiful. Valleys are deep chasms gouged from surrounding mountains...



Castellated bridges cross the divide...

}

This descent is 600m of pure cycling heaven, the road a blur of raking corners. The ride is spiced up with the lottery of impatient oncoming drivers overtaking on the wrong side of the road, each blind bend a Russian rouletters delight. I give this truck a couple of kilometers start... and catch him on the bridge with a gravity induced, adrenaline fuelled maniacal grin.



Then something goes wrong. I realise something is not right as I have now descended to a Sucre undershooting 2200 meters. I still have 60kms to go and the advise from the hostel owner is starting to look a little fantastical. I should have known better. Nothing in this country is all downhill, and what goes down, must climb back up - as they say. The climb out of the valley is horrible, and I almost pine for the ripio roads where they cannot build so steep.... almost!

Things slow down to a crawl and the day begins to slide away as I realise this easy days ride is becoming a more difficult 2 days. I begin to do the maths and Sucre will not happen until tomorrow. I start to look for camp spots and drop to a dry river bed for a night under a beautiful clear sky illuminated by the full moon. Oh it´s good to descend as the temperature hovers a few degrees above freezing, a far cry from the minus 20´s at altitude. I drift into a warm sleep, pondering the uphills of tomorrow and vowing never again to trust the advise of a hostel owner.

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