Between stages 31 and 32**
This was supposed to be a 500 km day, but it seems that was just to get us prepared for a long day stuck in a vehicle. In the event it was closer to 300 km but it still took the better part of 8 hours to get to Agra Miryam.
I was surprised by the country; not the hills and the terrain so much as the lushness of foliage and crops: bananas, mangos and pineapple for sale all along the route it seemed. And very populous, with many villages and houses by the road side more or less continuously. It would have been a hard two days riding, I’m sure; although not hugely long, the hills were steep and unrelenting. Generally a poor road, but that might be a little unfair, as lots of indications of a new or upgraded highway being constructed.
I didn’t regret missing the ride over this section. Even our combi was the target of rock throwing on at least three occasions. The last time TDA put cyclists on this section was two years ago, apparently; it didn’t end well at all.
However, we did eventually reach Agra Miryam and our camp site on the village soccer pitch (doing double duty it seems as a cow pasture). Loads of kids already assembled around the perimeter rope to see the arrival of this travelling circus.
The mood here was noticeably different from further north; much friendlier. A couple of the riders got involved in games... a foot race between Jolien and a couple of local girls, Alice demonstrating her karate kicks, cartwheels by a few others. I think they were amazed that apparent adults would behave in such a frivolous manner. Much fun and more laughter.
We also had a movie trivia contest among the cyclists and some of the TDA crew for the hour before dinner; not sure who the declared victor was, but again, a good end to the long day.
Good night sleep on the soccer pitch. Despite all the hills, and lots of ‘downs,’ we’re still at 2300 m asl so the air cool. The stars remain brilliant with only a sliver of moon showing.
** Apologies for this post being out of order but my trusty blogging assistant Sean has been travelling and missed this one in the long list of less important work related emails.