Out On The Bike

Still getting out on the bike and it’s always a struggle to start.

As long as I change as soon as I get home into my cycling clothes, which immediately reminds me of why I’m doing this. Cycling clothes are not forgiving and I’m not even full on spandex, just some capri’s and a cycling top. Still I can see where I need work but it’s getting better. The pants were tight and now they fit!

Armed now with the encouragement that it’s working I fill up my water bottle and often wonder if it would be wrong to cycle with wine? YES YES it would, DO NOT drink and cycle. Do not ask how I know this but trust me it’s a bad idea. Then it’s out the door and a big SIGH as I look at the hill I have to go up. It’s not a bad hill, more of a slow crawl then it flattens out and then there is a bigger hill. The good thing is that this means my ride ends downhill.

This hill I always struggle with, the legs aren’t warmed up and I always think I’m not going to make it, wonder why I’m doing this and debate turning around. In the back of my mind though I know that if I make it through the first part I get a downhill and then pretty flat and as my legs warm up a miracle happens …… I start to ENJOY it!

Once the legs are warm and I’m feeling good, I start to feel cocky like a SUPERSTAR at least until some kid goes speeding by me reminding me that I have a long way to go to SUPERSTAR!  Oh well pedal, pedal pedal and soon I’m at the Glenmore Reservoir which is wonderful to cycle around. I usually go a little later to avoid the children and families but people are pretty good about following the rules of the bike path. Now that I’m gliding along I get to enjoy a wonderful view, one I don’t think I will ever tire of.

First we duck down into Weaselhead and it’s lush and green:

Then back up to the other and more lovely trees:

Then the reservoir and usually there is a sailboat or two:

Lovely views and makes for a really nice ride:

Then I see Heritage Park and the big H, for some reason this makes me think I’m almost home but in reality I’m only just over half way:

Even though I start out begrudgingly I always enjoy it when it’s done and am so glad I got out. Also the flabby is disappearing soon I’ll be a SUPERSTAR in cycling clothes!

Almost home:

 

Running With The Bulls!

Strathmore had it’s 10th annual running with the bulls. You have to be a little crazy to take part bulls are BIG and they can be a little ornery.

It starts out with younger smaller bulls, they gather all the participants (you pay twenty five dollars and for that you get a t-shirt and also get to risk your life) and then they bring the bulls in. They enter the arena and run in a circle, they seem to let them go around three times before they heard them out. The young ones seemed to be focused on just getting this over with and didn’t pay too much attention to all the whacky people waving at them.

There were many people in costumes and dressed up for the occasion. I don’t think I’d like to die dressed up as a cow who was run over by a bull.

If a bull does come near you, you are supposed to climb up on the fence where you are apparently safe. If you don’t make it to the fence tough luck. Watching people scatter and the bulls run around definitely has an entertainment factor and I was rooting for the bulls.

Next they bring in some bigger older bulls who are a little more curious about the people and made a few moves towards some of the crazy participants. Still everybody made it through and the bulls were rounded up and let out.

On the third round they brought in these guys:

They were ornery and made several runs towards people. I think they were pissed at having been disturbed from what ever relaxing they were doing before being called in to run around in a circle to entertain. One guy got body slammed by one of them and although he was okay he was going to have a nasty shiner and some bruises the next day.

The big guys only went around a few times and looked more than happy to leave the stadium.

In the end the guy that got the shiner was proclaimed the winner, of what I’m not sure? How is this judged? It’s an odd thing to watch and I kind of get why you would enter but I won’t be signing up any time soon. There were quite a few OOOOOOOOHHHH and AHHHHHH moments while watching it and it’s possible I would go again. Maybe I like it because it’s tipped in the bulls favour.

Ponies!

Next up at the Strathmore Rodeo was the pony chase? Race?

Not sure what it’s called but it involves three people (they all looked between 12 and 16) holding onto a rope attached to a pony and then they have to get the pony to stand still long enough for one to get on the pony.

Sounds pretty easy right? I mean look at the ponies:

Well those ponies are FIESTY and they don’t want anybody to get on them, let alone ride them. They also appear to be very strong, most teams didn’t get close to getting on the pony before they got away, YAY pony! Yes I was cheering for the ponies. Some of those kids got dragged around and knocked over, the ponies wanted no part of it.

A few teams did manage to get a member on, it seems you only need to get on and staying on is not a requirement. Only one stayed on for more than a few seconds. It was interesting, I’m still not sure what I think of it as entertainment. I’m sure the ponies aren’t in danger of being hurt but it’s not something I would go out of my way to watch again.

Machu Picchu

Day four we rose earlier, our guide Julio rushing us along. We were first in line at the last check point. When the check point opened we had our passports stamped and headed to the sun gate to watch the sun rise. Or as it turns out watch the fog. It was very cloudy and foggy but we sat and waited for it to clear.  The girls all sitting together. When the fog cleared it was worth the wait, it is a glorious view.

Then approaching Machu Picchu the atmosphere changes. Suddenly there are loads of tourists. All clean and wandering around. You can definitely tell at a glance who hiked there and who took the bus. We were given a tour all around the site and it doesn’t disappoint. Then we climbed the smaller of the two hills that you see in pictures of Machu Picchu.

It is sketchy going up (and coming down) some of the paths are very narrow, with stone wall on one side and a sheer drop on the other. Just take your time, take it slow and you’ll make it. It is worth for the view of Machu Picchu from above and the glorious valley on the other side.

By the end of the day we were happy and tired. We took the train back to Cuzco, drinking beer to celebrate my friends birthday. It had begun with sunrise at the sungate and ended with having beers with new friends. Not a bad birthday! Also when we got back to Cuzco, some others in the group surprised her with a stuffed llama as a gift. She called him spitty after a llama that had spit at one of the ladies in our group.

Spitty now lives with me. My friend moved to London and Spitty just wasn’t going to fit into her luggage. I keep him safe at my home and smile everytime I see him.

Here is Spitty and pictures from Machu Picchu:

Inca Trail Day Three

Day Three I tried to eat breakfast and was feeling okay when we headed out. There are a lot more stairs on day three. I was getting grumpy again and felt horrible. By lunch I managed to eat a bit and thought all I have to do is make it through today. I was drinking lots of water and started to feel much better after lunch.

The afternoon was glorious. I started to feel WAY better, my friend was feeling better, the sun came out and the walk was rolling again instead of steep ups and downs. We were chatting and laughing again. We wandered along, taking our time, looking at the beautiful flowers along the path. The two days before were so worth it for the afternoon of day three. It was amazing, this was everything I had hoped the Inca Trail would be.

At camp there was a shower but the line up was long and I was happy to just relax with a beer. Tomorrow I could have a proper shower back at the hotel. Word on the street was the shower had no water pressure and the temperature unpredictable. I would wait for a good shower.

By the time dinner rolled around I was hungry, even had a beer. The group were all in good spirits, we had done it. Lots of laughing and singing at dinner that night. Compared pictures and stories. We thanked our porters, had an amazing dinner. Chatted into the evening and then went to bed.

Our Porters and Cook, fantastic amazing group:

More pictures from day three:

Inca Trail Day Two

Day two I was tired when I got up but a good breakfast and I was ready to start the day. Day two is much harder, there are stairs and then more stairs and then more stairs and then more … well you get the idea. Also my friend and I were both starting to not feel great. By lunch I managed to eat the soup but not much else, I loaded up on water and we headed out again. By the time we got to Dead Woman’s pass my friend and I were both tired, cranky, not feeling well and wondering why the hell we had signed up for this. That’s the picture at the top, do I look like I’m having fun?

I did learn a lesson though, another guy in our group reminded us to take pictures. We begrudgingly did. Without the reminder I wouldn’t have a picture of Dead Woman’s pass. No matter how you feel when travelling, no matter how tired or cranky you are, no matter if it’s your tenth church or temple in a day. TAKE PICTURES.

So we took the pictures, found a bathroom and headed out again. Now we were going down and my friends knees started to bug her. Then she had to stop for a bathroom break, I wandered up the trail, looking around and not paying attention. Then I heard my name and looked back at my friend clutching her pants and three porters running by laughing. Okay I’m the worst look out ever. I did improve, really I did.

At one point the hikers all congregate and relax and chat at one spot and you can look over and see the porters relaxing and chatting at a place further up. The porters are amazing. As I was walking along earlier feeling sorry for myself in my fancy shoes, with my poncho to keep off the rain and my walking stick. A porter went running by in sandles, soaked and carrying a pizza oven. I’m not kidding. He ran by, smiling and waved hello as he passed. I felt like a total loser, I have a small pack and he has a pizza oven and is happy. Okay one of us had it right.

I asked our guide at one point if the porters make fun of the gringos when they are sitting around together and he just laughed. I’m gonna take that as a YES.

It kept raining on and off and being tired and not feeling well by the time dinner came around I was just tired and cranky. I couldn’t eat much at dinner and was so tired and a little worried about the next day when I got back to the tent I cried, just because. I had been warned before by a girl that had done the trail the year before that this might happen. I thought at the time no way. Yes way, I cried and slept with my touque on.