Friday, July 27, 2007

Miles and milestones.

Today was another milestone day for us as we broke our previous one-day record and rode over 480 miles to get from Manaus to Boa Vista.

The plan had been to break this ride up into two days, starting yesterday, but yesterday didn't go quite as planned. You see, after taking care of some business in the morning and having a hearty luncha, we left Manaus ready to drive some 150 miles or so to the edge of a Waimiri indian reserve that can only be crossed between 6am and 6pm. We would get there and camp out near by, wake up early and ride the rest of the way to Boa Vista.

But, unbeknownst to us we failed to make a crucial (and unmarked) left turn right as we left the city limits of Manaus and as a result we ended up driving about 100 miles west, when we were supposed to have been heading north. We only realized our mistake when we stopped at a gas station in a nowhere tiny town and the attendant, a woman in her sixties dressed in a full skirt and blouse with a face lined and wrinkled like a tree bark, one line for every day of hard work she has endured. She took one look at us and decided we must be lost because we just looked so out of place and travelers like us just don't happen to visit this part of the world. So she asked us where we were headed, I said Boa Vista thinking that she would tell us that we were not far, but instead she said, "ah si, va par la" pointing in the same direction we had just come from. When I told Kevin what the wise lady had said, he said "no, she that's not right" and he turned to her, pointed to the same road (going in the opposite direction) and said "Boa Vista?!" as if to correct her or change her mind, and she looked right back at him and said "NO, Boa Vista va par la" and with that she made her point. We had no option other than to turn our dazed and confused selves around and retrace our ride on the road back to Manaus, and to make matters worse we were now in a race against the sunset!

We rode fast and furious for a couple of hours until it finally got dark. Then we slowed down the pace considerably for the sake of safety. We finally made it back to Manaus around 7:30pm. The only hotel visible for miles was a sexy time motel so we elected to stay there. We went to have dinner at a churrasqueria near by, wanting to have a delicious steak dinner but alas, the churrasqueria had no steak so we ate the local specialty: "franginho de leite", a deliciously roasted whole young chicken. After dinner we went back to our motel and turned in for the evening wanting to erase this wasted riding day from our memories and knowing that the next day would be a challenging and long one.

Today's milestone ride called to mind other milestones that have occurred in recent weeks. First, I have stopped wearing my thick leather riding pants every day. Because I have not fallen or dropped my bike the whole time we've been in Brazil, I made the executive decision to either wear or not wear my pants according to the weather and the ride for the day. Kevin protested at first, saying that if anything happens to me he will be held responsible by my mother (and he's right), but he agreed that my riding has improved greatly and therefore I should be able to make this decision. In fact, I do feel that my riding has improved quite a bit. I no longer fear making u-turns, I can comfortably start and stop from inclines, my heart doesn't race when I see a dirt road or a road full of pot-holes, and as I mentioned before, I have not dropped my bike in over two months. I am getting more and more pure joy out of getting on my bike each day and riding as I feel that my bike and I are finally becoming partners instead of adversaries.