We are now in Uyuni, southern Bolivia, near the famous salt flats. Before trying to upload some more photos, or attempting to put into words my experiences of the last seven days, cycling across some quite crazy terrain, I thought I would share some brief thoughts regarding
An interesting concept. Bad in Argentina (distances, altitudes and the like never corresponded between maps, let alone with reality), they are terrible in Bolivia. At least for the part of the country we´ve covered so far. Roads in practice bear zero relation to those on the map - those shown just don´t exist. And let´s not talk about the "real" position of mountains, lakes, passes... The best bet to find out about the route is to ask the guides who drive it all the time. Unfortunately a typical conversation with one person can tell you that the road is totally flat and yet also incorporates a 5,000 metre pass. Within the space of a few minutes. And without the purveyor of information realising the contradiction...
Well at least I knew these would be bad... Having only ever ridden a mountain bike with suspension on anything similar, the amount of sand and gravel and the extent of the ruts came as a bit of a shock initially... Riding a rigid bike, fully laden, through deep sand, mud and gravel and up and down what would usually be described as technical rocky sections has proven frustrating, exhilirating, fun and painful in turn. And it got even more interesting when half of my front rack broke, forcing me to put most of the weight on the back rack, and to use just one front pannier... negotiating the never-ending gravel with my bike so unbalanced just must have improved my bike-handling ability. Surely!
Ratio of tailwinds to headwinds experienced so far: 0.00000000135.
Surly frames are fantastic. The bike is holding up brilliantly, despite the ineptitude of the builder/rider and the difficulty of the terrain. Not true for a couple of other things which I just have to name and shame.
Sealskin gloves - waterproof and breathable. Not. Soaked through within minutes. Never buy them.
Dawes barbag - rubbish. Is it really impossible to make a barbag that doesn´t let in water, and attaches to the handlebars without sagging and interfering with the brake cabling?
Blackburn lowrider rack - looks great, but the frame attachment is horribly weak. Break it at your peril. There is no work-around...
Since these, and many other similar thoughts, have filled far too many of my waking hours, I thought I just had to share them...