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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Eating humble pie once again!

Today I fell a grand total of three times, the first one no less than one minute after leaving the Cloud Forrest Hostel this morning! It was a steep slope with deep grooves, loose gravel and a tight left turn, blah, blah, blah, you know the deal! I´d been having such great rides the past week or so, and I was truly happy with the way I had been rising to challenge after challenge on all kinds of different roads under various weather conditions. But nothing brings me back down to novice rider reality than falling in front of an audience of local onlookers and not being able to pick up my own bike without their help. So, after that sendoff, I had a bad feeling in the pitt of my stomach that this was going to be ¨one of those days¨. I tried hard to shake the feeling for the next hour or so, but I felt so angry, humiliated and stupid. Finally, after riding successfully through challenging dirt road mountain terrain for about two hours I was feeling better when we suddenly had to come to an abrubt stop on a banked curve and BAM, over on the side I went again.

The reason we had to stop short was because there was a huge mountain of dirt accross the road demarking the point where a bridge was under construction. Kevin got off his bike to come help me with his usual mix of concern for my well being and puzzlment at my bizzare instability at 0 speed. ¨What happenned?¨ he began, but backed off when he saw the daggers in my eyes. So having agreed not to talk about the second dropping incident of the day we turned our attention to inspecting the makeshift wood bridge that we were faced with crossing if we wanted to continue on our current trajectory. We decided after much consideration that although daring to cross the bridge and take the bikes up the super steep and muddy embankment that immediately followed would make for good video, it was not worth the potential headache should anything go wrong and one of the bikes ended up in the water with Kevin under it. (At this point I´m sure you have guessed that it was Kevin who would have been responsible for riding both bikes accross.)

So, we asked a lady to point us in the direction of the detour that would eventually lead us back onto the road we would have been on had we crossed the river and off we went. The road was muddy and narrow but very manageable. So, it was quite a blow to my already bruised ego and knees when less than 100 yards away from getting back on the main road I attempted to cross a deep puddle by skirting the right side and ended up on my back, with my left foot pinned under the rear tire of the bike and the front tire of the bike tangled in a barbed wire fence. As far as I was concerned it was total defeat. A great picture opportunity too, but to Kevin´s credit, his first instinct was not to reach for the camera but to reach for me instead. He lifted the bike to release my foot and then looked at me with a tender look that told me that he knew just how badly I should be feeling at this point. I took a breath and a moment to compose myself and then proceeded to help Kevin untangle my bike from the barbed wire. We had a bit of a laugh about wether ït would be OK to take a picture the ¨next¨ time I was in that predicament and then continued our ride. The rest of the day went smoothly as we completed the Quilotoa Loop (AKA the Inca Trail) and made it to the city of Ambato.

Here in Ambato we encountered a very nice guy who owns a bike shop when we stopped to ask him if he knew where we could get our bikes washed. He started to give us directions but then decided that it would be easier if we just followed him there. So clearly eager to take a ride he gathered his keys and bike and played guide for us for the rest of the afternoon. First we asked him to take us to a laundromat where they dropped me off so I could wash all our clothes since we were down to nothing clean. Then he and Kevin drove off to find the bike wash. They returned two hours later on a clean bike to gather me and the clean clothes. Kevin and I thanked him profusely after he dropped us off at our hotel.

After taking a hot shower I sat down to inspect the purple bruises developing on my knees and discovered two golf-ball sized bumps sprouting, one on each shin. Ahh, I´ll be glad when this day is over!

1 comment:

Jason said...

Hey you guys--BE CAREFUL!! I am reading the blog with such joy, imagining myself in your position, but all of this falling off of bikes is not fair. Kevin, it is now your turn. It is the least you could do! You've got to maintain equality in this marriage. Now remember, you are on heavy motorized bkes, not lightweight mountian bikes! And the health care system is not so great in some of the beautiful places you are visiting. Also, some of us back here in the States are concerned about your well being. Clara, it is a joy to read what you are writing: a perfect mixture of description, humor, and wit!
All the best,
Jason and Leigh