Santa Lucia to Bolivian border, Desaguadero.

2.9.21. 162ml over 3 days. Day 1 to Juliaca 40ml. Steady day on the highway to Juliaca. Nicolas has a room booked in town and I go to casa de ciclista, Geovanni welcomes me and I stay a few days to rest as my breathing is shallow and I’m very tired which I put down to the altitude. After resting at Geovannis for 4 days I ride 62ml to Llave then another 60ml to Desaguadero. I find a hotel Cali for a cheap night and the next day armed with my negative PCR test result and my health declaration, I’m upset to find I can’t exit Peru by land. Bolivia is open but Peru will only stamp you out if you have special permission from the consulate or foreign affairs office, like having sick relatives in Bolivia. I try emails and phone calls to the British Embassy and Peru foreign affairs but no joy. I go back to hotel Cali hoping that I get an email reply overnight for permission. In the morning it’s not good news. It’s not possible to cross, so I cycle to Yunguyo, 30ml away to another border. It’s the same story here. The Bolivian side will let me in if I have an exit stamp from Peru immigration. Lots of locals were sneaking around illegally which I could have done, but I didn’t fancy the worry of trying to exit without an entry stamp. Anyway, the Argentina & Chile borders are still closed so my only option would be to go via Paraguay and hope Argentina opens the border soon. After a lot of thought I just decide to accept at this time of uncertainty with covid, I could be waiting a long time for land borders to open in this part of the world. I only have a month left on my visa, So I just make my way to Cusco via Ayaviri, Héctor tejado, El Descanso and Urcos. Go and visit machu Picchu and return to Lima to fly out.

On route to Llave, lake Titicaca in the background
The closed border crossing at Yunguyo
on route to Héctor Tejada
El descanso plaza
Laguna de Languilayo. Route to San Pedro
Route to Urcos
Final leg to Cusco Huaro plaza
Plaza de armas Cusco historic center
Looking down on the historic centre of Cusco from San Christobel.

Arequipa to Santa Lucia.

28.8.21. 5 days 136ml. Day 1, 24ml. I take the road out of Arequipa towards Chiguata. It’s up all the way and the road turns to gravel after the nice little town of Chiguata. After about 7 more miles I find a quiet place to camp off the road among some trees down a track. It’s cold and windy and I don’t sleep much for the cold. 24ml.

Chiguata plaza
Too cold to sleep.

Day 2. 24ml to Tambo de sal. After packing everything up and rejoining the dirt road, it’s up into the Aguada Blanca national reserve. I arrive at Laguna de Salinas, a big salt lake. It’s a great view with pink flamingos and volcan Ubinas in the distance. I reach a small village called Tambo de sal and a kind person let’s me sleep on the floor inside a store room. I don’t sleep again due to the cold.

Into the national reserve
The long dusty climb
Volcun Misti
Laguna de salinas. Volcun Ubinas in the distance
Pink Flamingo

Day 3. 25ml to Pati. it’s a little easier with less climbing and I arrive at a small village called Pati. Struggling with the breathing a little due to elevation of 4,300m and every pedal stroke seems a big effort. It’s only 2.30pm but it’s too far to the next village so I ask again if I can sleep inside and a local points to a house. When I get there it’s a nice lady owner who sets up a bed on some pallets inside and gives me extra blankets to go on my sleeping bag. She makes me a nice evening meal and breakfast and it’s the 1st night of sleep being warm since Arequipa.

Day 4. 32ml to Tincopalca. It’s quite a long climb out of Pati but great views and peaceful. I’m on the Altiplano and it’s 4,750m here. Very desolate but beautiful with more lakes and pink flamingos. I arrive at Tincopalca and I ask at a local store for a room and luckily a family at the next store have a room to rent for 15sol, £3.

Altiplano at 4,750m.
Lots of alpacas
Chilian flamingos
Desolate but beautiful

Day 5, 31ml to Santa Lucia. Better day with less climbing but awful corrugations on parts of the gravel road. Good views of Laguna Chalchura and Saracocha on the way and the local hospedajes are full so I had to pay more for a room at a hotel on the main highway junction. In the evening I met Nicolas again , a cyclist from France, and we rode the 40ml to Juliaca together the next day.

Cañón del pato to Arequipa

1.8.21. 806 miles cycling over 15 days. After cañón del pato I stay in Yungay, then on to Huaraz. It’s a nice city and close by is Huarascán National Park, and the tallest mountain in Peru Huarascán. There’s quite a few tourists here for the climbing and hiking. I stay a couple of nights at Jo’s place a nice cheap hostel with breakfast and a nice garden. Next day I wild camp at Lago Tapara, it’s over 4,000m and I pitch the tent in an abandoned building as I’m guessing a cold night this high. Quietest night for a long time but I couldn’t sleep because of a bad headache. I put it down to the altitude as I never get headaches.

Just over 4,000m here.
Beautiful and quiet.
Hoping it’s going to be warmer in here

After packing up, the headache goes and it’s sunny but cold. When I reach the top at Conococha, it’s over 45miles decent but I had to wear gloves as I was so cold. Next stop was Chasquitambo as it was another 30ml to the next available hospedaje. Next day I reach the Pan American and it’s cold and misty again so I stay at Haucho. Next day onto Chancay, drizzle and fog and up and down all day.
Next morning I have to meet ws host John at 4 so I manage to get a bus with the bike to Lima center. I arrive at Johns place in time and it’s great to speak English again. John’s from England and here working as a teacher. I’m in the center to try and find new chainrings for the front.There’s life left in them but I’m not sure if I could get the parts further on my route through Bolivia. I go to a shop called el piñon loco near John’s apartment and the owner Giancarlo is very enthusiastic about everything bike. It’s only a small shop but he knows his stuff. So I let him do the work and find my new chainrings. He completely striped the bike to the frame, cleaned all the parts, I mean everything, derailleurs, headset bearings, new cables inner & outer for brakes and gears and the bike was like brand new. Amazing and a very cheap price. Next it’s back to Fernando’s for a few days. After getting the 2nd jab at Callao I leave Fernando and head south on the Pan American. 1st night I stay at Mala, then Chinca, and then Ica.

Leaving Fernando’s for Arequipa
Pan American highway
This side of the highway to Ica was new but not opened to traffic yet so I had 50kms to myself & some goats.

It’s good down to Ica with a big shoulder. After Ica it’s sketchy in places. Next stop was Palpa. I had 2 near misses with trucks and the next day I took 3 minivans with the bike on the roof to skip a day of riding to Chala. Then on to La Florida and it was windy and cold today, 57ml. After reaching Camaná I head up to Arequipa, the route is safer with quite a bit of climbing. 1st day to El Pedregal, lots of hospedajes here, and made it to Gran hotel in Arequipa the next day. It’s cheap & near the main plaza. I’m having a few days rest here.

Downhill to Palpa
Long tunnel through the top.
On route to Palpa
Basilica catedral of Arequipa
Arequipa main plaza
On route to Arequipa
Lots of climbing from the coast to Arequipa

Cañón del pato.

1.8.21. 43ml to Yungay. I stay at Hostel O’Neil in Haullanca for the night. This is the start of the route. There’s a climb out around some hairpins above the hydro electric plant but it’s not hard, when it levels out the scenery begins. The route is spectacular, the photos will do the talking.

Lots of unlit tunnels so a light is needed in some.
Looking back, a shame it had to end.

Lima to Cañón del Pato

27.7.21. 365ml to Huallanca. Done over 6 days. It takes me 4 days up the Pan American highway to Chimbote, big miles on this boring route. Every morning it was misty and drizzle and a little cold. From Chimbote I rode 49ml up to Chuquicara, wow, halfway there and the sun appears for the 1st time in a week since I’ve been here and the scenery is better.

Misty drizzle everyday on the Pan American. Not pleasant.
Sand and arid desert up the Pan American.
On the small road up to Cambio Puente.
Sun at last, I stay here for the night in the basic hospedaje
A taste of things to come.

Arrive in Lima

22.7.21. casa de cyclista in Lima owner, Fernando meets me outside the airport and we flag a taxi down to take us to his house. A really kind gentleman with a good heart. A day later Fernando is going for his 2nd covid vaccine and asks me to go along and he will ask if I can get it too. After queuing around the football stadium, we arrive pretty fast and I’m allowed to have my Pfizer 1st jab. They gave me a date of 3wks to return for the 2nd jab. I decide to do a mini tour up to Chimbote and from there return to Lima via the cañón del pato.

Fernando takes me to the center of the city.
Lima casa de ciclista and Fernando
All set for the cañón del pato

Casa ciclista to Palmira.

29.6.21. The land borders are still closed so I decide to go to Cali airport to leave before my visa expires at the end of July. 345mls done over 10 days riding. Day 1, 30ml to Fredonia. Manuel showed me a quiet route so after goodbyes I head towards Jardín. It’s an unpaved route to Fredonia and all the way to Piedra verde there’s quite a few trucks on route to a quarry there but after that it’s quiet. Nice views and I opt to stay in a cheap hotel at Fredonia in the plaza as it’s a steep climb up to the town and it’s getting late. A good day cycling with great views.

Road to Piedra verde
Quiet road to Fredonia after Piedra with great views

Day 2. 36ml to Hispania. Great route to Bolombolo, then 11ml on R60 to exit for Hispania & Jardín. It’s uphill the 26ml to jardin from here so I stay at the roadside hotel at Hispania next to the garage and nip into the town plaza, it’s a nice little town.

Hispania plaza
A beautiful tree on route to Bolombolo

day 3. 22ml. Mostly uphill to Jardín. Raining all morning but the sun appeared at lunchtime. Arrived at the beautiful town plaza of Jardín and a guy came talking to me. He recognised my cycling shirt and asked if I knew Manuel from casa de ciclista. It’s a small world. Well Carlos took me to a cheap hotel and invited me for coffee at his house. A nice guy who runs a cycle touring company. He has mainly clients from Europe. I had a day off to see the town and visit the viewing point up above the town.

Waterproofed up for the rain
Flooded stream on route up to Jardín
The main plaza
The colourful buildings on all the streets
View of the town from above
The view point above

day 4. 32ml. This was a tough day to Riosucio. The road turns to gravel 2ml out of Jardín and it’s 11ml up to the top. It was nearly as slow going down due to the bad surface but I was happy when I checked into the Mirador hotel. Had a day off here as it was Sunday and I felt like a rest.

The road over to Riosucio
I was surprised to see a bus on here

day 5. 50ml to La Virginia. I forgot how easy it was to cycle a full day on asphalt. Great day. 18ml downhill on route and just pulled into a roadside hotel on the main road.

On the climb leaving Riosucio

day 6. 25ml to El Jordan. I had a reply this morning from a warm shower host Jaques & Juli. So I make my way to their farm and luckily Jaques is on holiday. It’s a great place, very quiet and eco friendly. Jaques made a tasty meal but Juli was at a birthday party so I didn’t see her until the morning but she was really nice and they invited me to stay another day but I was going to a coffee farm and had arranged to be there that night so I had to leave.

Jaques & Juli my warm shower hosts

day 7. 40ml to Recuca coffee farm. Well after leaving Jaques & Juli I head to Finlandia, another really nice town. Then on a gravel road to Montenegro, on to Armenia then down towards Barcelona and the coffee farm. Lots of towns have the same name as places in Spain. I arrive at the house of Maurizio. He’s a friend of Nicolos from Bogotá and they rode for 2 yrs together from Argentina back to Colombia. He’s a great guy and the house is next door to the coffee farm and Maurizio lets me take another day off to go on a coffee tasting tour while he’s at work. The coffee tasting was very educational and I took the chance to hand wash my clothes and nip to Barcelona on the bike for some groceries. Great day and enjoyed the coffee tasting. Thanks Maurizio.

The beautiful church on the Filandia plaza
Colourful buildings on the streets of Finlandia
View from the viewing tower at Filandia

day 8. 27ml to Sevilla. Steady day and Sevilla was ok but I rode around for a while trying to find cheap accommodation.

Sevilla plaza

day 9. 50ml to Buga. Another steady day and Buga was a very busy town. Famous for its church and visitors come here to wish for a miracle. I rode around looking for a cheap hotel but it’s expensive here due to having lots of visitors. I eventually talk with a hotel Meson owner about my trip and he gives me a reduced price room in his nice hotel with its own pool out back. It’s euro 2020 final with England v Italy tomorrow so I take a day off to watch. Tonight was Argentina v Brazil final in the Copa south America and I found a nice little shop to watch it with a beer.

The famous church to wish for a miracle.
Football in the tienda
Hotel Meson with the owner

day 10. 31ml to Palmira. Flat road all the way and this is to be my base for booking a flight, getting a covid PCR test and finding a bike box. The town is ok and I join a gym for a week to break up the boredom. I find a cheap residencia to stay in the center. I visit Cali on the bus one day but it’s a Sunday and very quiet in the center with lots of shops closed. Well my flight is booked but I’ve been to the clinic for my PCR test and it’s festival time so no testing, it’s closed. This is worrying because I fly Thursday 7am and today is Tuesday. It’s supposed to be 24hrs for the result. The nurse said I can have the test at 6am and get my results at 8pm the same day but I just hope this is true or they won’t let me fly without a negative test result.

Palmira plaza
Beautiful Iglesia Ermita in Cali

Casa de ciclista, San Antonio de Prado

17.5.21. Well I arrive here and Manuel shows me around the fantastic place. Again, it’s a place I love, this area is so great. Lots of fantastic routes with amazing views. I can’t explain how good the routes and beautifull views are in this area. Manuel and Marta have a bike shop in Prado with lots of spares and excellent mechanics. There’s a workshop at casa de ciclista with all the tools you need. I serviced my hub bearings with help from Manuel and he showed me how to remove my front chainrings and check the bottom bracket. The accommodation is great and a fully functional kitchen with everything you need. WiFi on site and a shop next door with everything you need. I could live here and end up staying 6 weeks due to the land borders still being closed with covid 19. Manuel is a great character and very funny, and Marta just goes out of her way to help you with anything you need. Next door lives Marcel and Diana and every Friday night he makes delicious pizzas in the outside oven at casa de ciclista. I could go on for ages but I’ll let the photos talk.

Great meal before leaving, Manuel and Marta on the left and Norberto the mechanic from Argentina and Brad who’s cycling around Colombia.

Medellín to San Antonio de Prado

3.5.21. only 12ml. Well I received a reply from warm shower host Luiz and call in for a night before going to stay at Manuel & Marta’s casa de ciclista. When I arrive I receive a warm welcome from Edith and Sofia who are preparing the lovely casita where I will sleep. Well I enjoy it so much at the house of Luiz and Edith that I stay an unexpected 2wks. Beautiful garden with lots of birds and Luiz grows Bonsai trees and cactus. A fantastic place. A big family and too many names to mention but really kind and friendly family and I loved staying here. Thanks Luiz and Edith.

Luis and family
Many varieties of birds in the garden

La Ceja to Medellín

26.4.21. 25ml. 200m straight up from leaving La Ceja. Stopped for a coffee and cake on the way and the lovely lady owner wouldn’t take any money. Colombianos are so kind and friendly. After the 2nd climb it was 11kms all the way down to the center of medellín. I stayed in the center nr parque de Boston for 2 nights then I could visit the museo de memoria and experience the central area. Then 2 nights in El Poblado, a bit expensive here due to it being a little touristic but a very nice safe area. Then 2 nights in Laureles where I met Oliver, from Slovenia, and carlito who is walking all the way from Argentina to Alaska. A fantastic journey he’s having and I loved listening to his stories.

19.4.21. Puerto Boyacá to la Ceja

113ml done over 5 days cycling. Day 1, 30ml to a cheap hotel 4kms before Rio Claro. After saying goodbye to ilmer and Nancy who made another great breakfast and coffee, I head into town to say goodbye to Marina and Nelson. I’m sad to leave after 3 wks here. I go to the small port for the lanchas and get a boat across Rio Magdalena to Puerto Perales, it’s 40p and the bike is free. I say goodbye to Steven the teacher who gave me some Spanish lessons, and his family.  then it’s a quiet road to Santiago Berrío and the main highway for medellín. I check in a cheap hotel 4kms before Rio claro, as it’s a tourist place and expensive.

22.3.21. Bogotá to Puerto Boyacá

203ml Done over 5 days cycling. After riding out of the city with Nicolos showing me the way, I head for Zipaquirá. It’s only 33ml so I arrived early and booked into family haclans hotel for 2 nights as I want to visit the salt cathedral tomorrow. It’s a nice town with a nice town plaza and the catedral de sal is an underground Roman Catholic church built within the tunnels of a salt mine 200 metres underground in a halite mountain.

Zipaquirá
Cycle path on route to Zipaquirá
plaza principal in Zipaquirá
On the way down the tunnel to the catedral de sal
200m underground

The next day I make my way 52ml to La Vega. It’s a good day till I get to El Rosal and the heavy rain started, so it was on with the waterproofs and heaving up the 10ml climb up to 2,400m. When I started the decent down to La Vega I was cold and stopped for a hot coffee and the views were great. In la vega, most of the hotels had swimming pools but I managed to find one for £8.

The heavy rain starts in El Rosal
Beautiful views from the top of the climb.

Stunning views

Next day was 36ml to Gauduas. First 10ml was downhill then it was 16ml uphill. It was a tough climb and at the top, the traffic was stopped for line painting, they let me go through and I had the road all the way down to myself, 6ml of no traffic, bliss. I found a nice place to stay called abuela casa. Really nice place and I nearly stayed another day as the town was so nice.

Just before starting the climb
The plaza at Gaudaus

40ml the next day to La Dorada. First 8ml was uphill on a quiet road and then it was down for 6ml and mainly flat the rest of the way. Dorada was a busy town and I had a few beers in the plaza before bed in a noisy hotel.

On the way to Dorada

Next morning I recieved a reply from warm shower host’s, ilmer and Nancy. He said I could go to his finca, out in the countryside for the weekend if I liked so I got my head down and raced the 42ml as fast as I could as they were waiting for me. I had a great weekend and ilmer’s brother, Nelson, arrived and we went to a little bar to play Tejo. It was a great day and I will always remember that weekend as I also watched ilmer get honey from his bee hives in a proper bee keeping suit.
Ilmer said I could stay a while and so I decided to stay longer in Puerto Boyacá at llmer and Nancy’s house. They are very kind, ilmer teaches English and French and is studying Chinese, so I get lots of advice for learning Spanish. I even watch humming birds every morning in the garden while having breakfast.
I also met David, the street artist who I met 2 months ago in Carmen, He’s here drawing caracatures in the main plaza and we have a few beers in the evenings in our favourite bar teaching each other English and Spanish.

Racing across to Puerto Boyacá
Ilmer & Nancy
Learning about bees.

Having breakfast watching humming birds.

Catching the lancha across to Puerto Perales
Ilmer found a nest at the finca.
Macaws on the road to the finca
David the talented artist.

19.2.21. Landazuri to Bogotá

215ml. 8 days cycling. Day 1- 33ml to Vélez. I knew it would get hilly now but I only managed 33ml today. It was raining when I set off but it wasn’t too cold and I was soon warmed up! The first 26miles was uphill reaching 2,600m. Landazuri sits at 1,100m asl. As far as long climbs go, there’s one at 54ml in Colombia, so this was a little one in comparison. I was cold when I finally reached the top of the climb but the last 6ml was downhill and the sun appeared. I could see Vélez on the way down and was glad to find a room and rest my weary leg’s.

Leaving Landazuri behind
Even the horse is tired

Fantastic views today

Day 2. 17ml to Puente Nacional. I got a reply from a warm shower host not far away and after Mario came to meet me on his bike, we ride to his town and have a coffee and lunch in the beautiful town square and I decide to stay the night. The next day Mario shows me a quiet route over a mountain towards villa de leyva. When we reach the start of the climb we swap bikes and Mario rides my heavy loaded bike all the way up the 10ml unpaved road. He loved it and so did I as it was easier for me on his MTB. At the top, we visit a memorial dedicated to the 1,000 day war of 1902 and there’s a small shelter there, where a kind lady selling snacks, gives me and Mario empanadas and soup, and I decide to pitch my tent and stay the night.

Coffee in the beautiful town square of puente nacional
Happy and strong Mario cycling 10ml to the top of the mountain.
The old station, on route we cross the old Bogotá-puente nacional rail line
Memorial of the 1,000 day war.

My peaceful camp for the night.

After packing the tent and riding downhill all the way down a the unpaved path, I stop for breakfast in Santa Sofía. Then I went to Villa de Leyva, a beautiful old town, the streets and large central plaza are still paved with cobblestones, and many buildings date from the sixteenth century. A man came talking to me called Rob and he was from Oldham. He was living in Tunya and had travelled on a bus to visit the town.

The nice plaza of Santa Sofía
The massive beautiful plaza of Villa de Leyva

The cobbled streets of Villa de Leyva

I spent a while having a coffee and chatting with Rob and find a cheap hotel in the next town called Sáchica. The next morning I received a reply off a warm shower host at Raquirá and Jeronimo was fantastic. I stayed 5nights and even helped him repair a roof on his cousin’s house. He introduced me to el Mano who did voice overs in English and American for advertisements. When I heard him speak, and he did speak the queen’s English, I couldn’t believe he wasn’t an Englishman. He lived most his life in Bogotá as a cycle courier and learnt the English from BBC radio and TV.

Beautiful colourfull buildings of Raquirá with tributes to Nairo quintana
El Mano and Jeronimo took me on the bikes to visit this nice waterfall.

After leaving Raquirá I take an unpaved road to San Miguel de Sema, it was tough. I had to push a lot of the way because it was steep and not a good surface. But after San Miguel, it’s a better road and make it to Guachetá.

Lots of pushing uphill this morning
The beautiful church at San Miguel de Sema.

After Guachetá it’s 33ml to Suesca where I plan to stay. Another tough day on unpaved roads up to 3,000m asl. 5ml short of the town it started to rain hard so I sheltered for a while but realized it would go dark soon so I carried on 3ml uphill then down as slowly as I went up due to the bad road surface and heavy rain. Because it is a tourist town the rooms I found were expensive but eventually I found a cheap hospedaje and was I glad. I was cold and wet, it had gone dark but the room had hot water, the first one for a while. Paved roads all the way to Bogotá now, next night I stay at Guasca and stay a while to look around Guatavita, a nice town on the edge of a reservoir, and get a room just before the rain came. Last 30ml to Bogotá today and a cyclist came alongside me who spoke English. His name was Nicholos and after chatting a while he gave me his number and offered me a place to stay. I couldn’t believe my luck. His house was even in the Teusaquilla area where I was planning to stay. I had to cycle over the mountain 1st, the top is 3,060m, then it’s 6ml down to Bogotá city which sits at around 2,600m. So it’s a little chilly in the evening and mornings. I ended up staying at nicolos’s house for 2 weeks and loved taking his dog, Chester, for walks everyday. I really enjoyed my stay and Nicolos was very kind and a great guy. I loved hearing his stories about the 2 year trip when he cycled all the way up the Andes from Argentina back to Colombia.

Nicolos and Chester
I walked up Monserrate and had fantastic views.
View down to Bogotá city.

Every Sunday is ciclovia, over 120kms of roads around Bogotá city are closed to cars for the cyclists.

11.2.21. Mompoz to Landazuri.

304 miles done over 6days cycling. Day 1 45ml to El Banco. Flat route today but tough in the heat again. Steady and plenty of water stops along the way, town was a little scruffy looking on the river but the hotel was nice called JR hotel. Good panaderia next door with a good breakfast.

nice river view from El Banco

day 2, 12.2.21. 68ml. El banco to Aguachica. No drama again today, flat until last few Kms was a climb up. I didn’t bother going into town and stayed at a roadside hotel just off the exit road. Cheap and quiet and good food in the cafe 100m further back up the road.

Bridge over the river on route.

day 3. 44ml To San Alberto. Got a cloudy start today so it was cooler cycling untill dinnertime. I got to San Alberto and found a nice cheap room. It’s a nice little town and I decide to have a day off and clean the bike and change the chain.

Well a chickens foot in my soup mmm.

Day 4. 64ml to Peroles. Nothing exciting today, found a roadside petrol station that had cheap rooms so decided to stay here. Next day was more of the same, 41ml to Rio Guayabito and another roadside hotel. Road is a little dangerous to ride on when there’s no shoulder because people overtake coming towards you and you are forced to go off the road. Had my 1st puncture for a long time today too!

Off road again as people overtake coming towards you. You have to take care on some roads.

Day 6. 17.2.21. 42ml to Landazuri. I turned off on to a quieter road today heading to Landazuri. I’m starting to do some climbing now as I approach the Andes mountain range. The last 8ml is an uphill climb to the small town of Landazuri and I find my cheapest hotel so far, £3 for the night. It’s got a nice town square and I decide to take a day off as I’m feeling tired after the climb yesterday.

Road up to Landazuri.
Beautiful tree in the town plaza.

3.2.21. Cartagena to Santa Cruz de Mompoz.

169ml. This was done over 6 days. After 4 days spent in Cartagena I’m at last on the bike again. 1st day 44ml. was tough after the long layoff for 10months due to covid. 38° heat and called it a day at a roadside hotel at San Cayetano.

Assembled the bike at Cartagena airport and have a few days in a cheap room to explore.
Beautiful old town Cartagena
Hot and amazing Cartagena
On route to San Cayetano

4.2.21. Day 2, 33ml to Carmen de bolíva. Very hot again, decided to ease up a little, called it a day early due to the heat. Found a nice cheap hotel Vivrab near the town plaza and chilled out watching street artists in the square drawing.

Beautiful plaza of Carmen.

6.2.21. 30ml to San Pedro. After a day off in Carmen, I took an old road via El Salado & Canutalito. Couple of steep climbs on route up a concrete paved road and then after El salido, the route was unpaved but quiet. There had been a murder 2 wks previous with some landowner and there was a military presence around the village but everyone I came across was really friendly. It was a tough day again in the heat and I was glad to reach San Pedro central hotel.

Road to Canutalito

7.2.21. 26ml to Manangué. Wanted to try and make Mompós but the heat was getting to me and it would have been 65ml. So I found a cheap hotel here, big town on the river and and had a few beers.

Manangué sits on a nice river.
Roadside meal on route.

8.2.21. 36ml to Mompós. Steady day and what a beautiful town, I decide to take a day off again at the hostel casa Bella. A beautiful town and well worth a day off here.

On route to Mompós
Beautiful Mompós
Lots of beautiful plazas in Mompós
The scenic river path at Mompós

Casa de Rigo to Heredia.

2.11.20. 24ml. After leaving Rigos house, I do the short 24ml ride to Heredia. I have booked a room on airb&b. Ines is my host and due to the frontera not opening as I thought it would, I spend 3 months here. I was treated like one of the family here and I can’t thank Ines enough for inviting me to spend Christmas with her family. I have been overwhelmed again. No sign of the borders opening so I leave tomorrow, 29.1.21 to fly to Colombia and hopefully travel south to Patagonia.

Christmas dinner with Ines and her family.
A beautiful church in San Jose center
San Jose, a nice park near the train station
Heredia center.

31.10.20. Puntarenas to Mercedes.

36ml. After a nice breakfast from George’s grandmother, me and George set off. He rides 8ml with me to show me the way to route 27 and we say goodbye. Then I exit from route 27 at Orotina for route 3 towards Atenas. On route is the 6ml climb, it starts ok but then it became tough, 16% grade on some bends so I had to get off and push a few times. I finally reach the restaurant at the top but there’s no views because of the cloud. What a shame. I even have to put my lights on because of the bad visibility. I arrived at Rigo’s house and he’s waiting on the street outside. Was I glad to get here! After chatting a while it was time to rest my weary head. Next morning after a fantastic breakfast, I haven’t had bacon for a long time, I take a day off and go to San Jose with Rigo on his motorbike and meet his brother Francesco and collect some homemade biscuits yummy. Then we got caught in a downpour on the way back, so we got a bit wet ha. Then Rigo made some homemade soup which was delicioso.

Great warm shower host, Rigoberto.
Bad visibility on the climb

30.10.20. Nambi to Puntarenas.

60ml. After another great breakfast and café especial de Heidi, I’m sad to say goodbye to such a nice family.

Sad farewell to great tico’s

An uneventful day, but pleasant ride to the ferry at Naranjo. Had to shelter on the way from a massive downpour of rain but apart from that, a great day, so I thought. I arrived at Puntarenas at 6.45pm and it was dark so I was really lucky to bump into 2 local cyclists at the lighthouse. One of them, George, spoke really good English which made things easy for me and I explained I was looking for a cheap room for the night due to an unfortunate event where I thought my bike had been stolen, ( I won’t go into detail here) but typical of Tico hospitality, he rang his mother and next thing, George, his friend and I are on route in the rain to his grandmother’s house who looks after a hospedaje next door and the owner allows me to stay there for the night, free of charge. I’m so glad due to it being 9.30pm and I’m wet through from the rain. Muchas gracias George.

Mi amigo George, A truly great kind human. I won’t forget you.
On route to Naranjo for the ferry
Bike loaded.

28.10.20 Liberia to Nambi.

42ml. I was sad to leave but after a beautiful breakfast and saying farewell to Hugo and Hazel I left for Hugo’s friends house, Heidy and Rafa. Flat most of the way today and I arrived early in the afternoon to a warm welcome from Hazel and Rafa.They make beautiful furniture from wood here and have a beautiful house on site of their buisiness. Heidy made me a coffee and it tasted so good, I drank a full pot, 5 cups. I hope I can sleep tonight. After a tasty dinner of spegetti, I will have a day off tomorrow and go with Rafa and Edwardo to an outdoor race track to watch Edwardo in a cycle race. 5.00am alarm and a great breakfast with Café especial de Heidy. Beautiful vistas on the way to the race circuit near San Jose with a stop off at padres de Rafa. What a beautiful house with a great big garden with beans, coffee, tobacco, bananas and more plants growing. More Great coffee and food from Rafa’s mum before arriving at the race track. After Edwardo’s race in the afternoon we head back and it’s been a long day but a really great experience and I really enjoyed it. Gracias Rafa, Heidy and family for your kindness and looking after me.

adiós Hugo
Heidy & Edwardo
Rafa, Heidy and English speaking niece.
Rafa’s parents beautiful garden
Beautiful spider in the garden
watching the circuit racing
Heidy and Rafa’s beautiful garden.

25.10.20 Balbo’s to Liberia.

After over 7 months waiting at the great Balbo’s restaurant, I got a reply from the WhatsApp cycling group CentroAme Ciclovíajeros, Héctor from Argentina passed me onto Hugo in Liberia with offer of accomodation and help with my route. So a last minute decision to leave a day early and I headed to a casa de Hugo. A great fun guy who’s passionate about cycling. Lots of medals around for endurance races he’s done. When I arrived, I was wet from the rain but after a shower I was welcomed as one of the family. A great cook and made me dinner but I had such great time trying to communicate in my bad Spanish and his English, I stayed an extra 2 nights. The following day he took me to work with him and I had beautiful views of Lake Nicaragua and volcanos, Miravalles and Tenorio, although I couldn’t see the summit for the cloud. Lots of rain up here at Upala and it was a good choice to have a day off from cycling. I had another day off and Hugo had friends close to my next stop over in Nicoya and he arranged for me to stay there tomorrow night. I feel so lucky and blessed to receive more kind hospitality. Muchas gracias Hugo. What a guy.

el gran cocinero Hugo
Pineapple plant
Hugo, amigo mío

15.3.20 Ometepe to Balbo’s.

57ml. Got up early to catch the 7.30am ferry. Got to the dock and boarded only for an over enthusiastic official to tell me I needed to pay the tax fee of less than £1 at the office. I had to take my bike off the boat and it left without me. The next ferry was 9am. I wanted the early start so I could reach Balbo’s at a decent time as my last border crossing took 2hrs. But the Costa Rican border was the quickest and easiest I’ve done since arriving in LA. On the way I stopped for a wee in the bushes, big big mistake. I can’t explain the feeling. I brushed some bush which releases miniscule hairs that make you itch. ITCH, I’ve never known anything like it. I couldn’t cycle it was so bad. I’d to keep stopping to itch every 5mins. Pouring water on my skin eased the urge to itch but as it was around 35° heat I soon ran out. Eventually it slowly relieved itself and I reached Balbo’s for a well well needed shower and wash them itchy clothes. I met Diego and family and they cooked me a nice meal and I had a few beers before retiring to the dorm for a well earned sleep with worn down finger nails from all the itching. The following day it was announced that the frontiers would close at midnight due to Corvid-19. No way I could reach Panama in a day so I spent another night at Balbo’s in order to decide what to do. Diego and his mother agreed I could stay as long as I wanted. I thought that the borders would open soon and I can wait here, thinking maybe a few weeks at most. After 114 days I’m still here. I find it hard to put into words, the kindness and hospitality I have received from Diego and his family. I’m hoping to sit it out until the borders reopen, as I want to reach Argentina. I’m so lucky that Balbo’s has a beautiful big garden full of fantastic nature to see every day. I’m well looked after here and accepted as one of the family. Hopefully this pandemic will end for everyone soon.

 

They bought me a cake and made my birthday really special, Cheers.

Diego found a beautiful turtle in the garden one day.

Lot’s of colourful birds and parakeet’s in the fruit trees around the garden

 

Lot’s of iguanas in the garden

Howlermonkey

 

 

Crocodile in the river below Balbo’s

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46ml. After leaving hostel Azul and the long uphill out of Granada I arrive at Rivas and do a little food shopping before going to San Jorge and catching the ferry to Ometepe island which is dominated by 2 volcanoes, active concepción in the islands north and Maderas volcano in the south of the island. It’s a beautiful place and I stay for 4 nights on the island. I ride around to Santa Cruz after my 1st nights stay at Hostel Caballo and stay at another hostel Los Coco’s on the shore of the ride lake. Then I ride to Altagracia then Moyogalpa. I book in abuelos hostel for 2 nights and I really enjoyed my stay here. After here I will be in Costa Rica within one days ride. Nicaragua was a very nice country although I didn’t see enough of it and I will hope to return again to see more and hopefully hook up with Barry again.

A nice view of the cloud covered Conceptión volcano

Beautiful small church on route around the island

Volcano Conceptión

Island morning life

Arriving at Moyogalpa with volcano Conceptión in the background

Catching the ferry to Ometepe

 

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30ml. A steady day to Granada, a beautiful place that sits on Lake Nicaragua. It’s the oldest town in Nicaragua and home to multiple Spanish landmarks that survived repeated Spanish invasions. I book in at Hostel Azul for 2 nights and have a look around the beautiful town. The next day Barry comes and takes me to see the beautiful lake and up in the hills to his Christian school, he has 2, and introduces me to his lovely Korean wife Suzanna. They then take me to a great viewing spot at Catarina for some photos then it’s back for a meal to Granada. After a nice meal they drop me back at the hostel and it’s goodbye. Was really nice to see him after all these years.

 

Barry and Suzanna

 

View from Catarina viewing spot

Granada cathedral

 

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58ml. I decided to not have a day off and head to Managua and meet Barry Davies, a man from Padiham where I grew up. He was free today so I set off and it was very windy and making it slow going. I turned onto R28 and ran alongside Lake Xolotlán. While I stopped for a break at the lake Barry arrived in his pickup truck which was really handy as I now didn’t have to fight the wind for the last 20mls. Barry took me for the best steak I’ve ever had and we chatted about how his life changed when he was in his 20’s. I haven’t seen him for 40years. It’s an interesting story and it fascinated me. After the meal he took me to town and found me a cheap hotel for the night. I never saw any tourists when I went for a walk and there was armed soldiers on the main streets. There was a student uprising here a while back and not many tourists arrive here now so all the hostels have gone out of buisiness.

 

 

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43ml. Very hot day again but nice sscenery since the border with volcanoes in view along the way. I got to Leon and Marco, the Italian cyclist I met in la Paz was here so I stayed at the Mango’s hostel where he was at. Leon was a very nice town with a big town square and lots of people. I might stay another day and have a good look around.

The beautiful Leon

Active volcano on route

On the road to Leon

 

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56ml. Well after leaving my hotel, it wasn’t too long before I reach the border of Nicaragua. 1.5hrs later and I’m through riding on pretty quiet roads and I was hoping to make it to Chinandega. After realising it would be too late and get dark before getting there I looked for a place to camp. I asked a family who were sitting outside their home if they knew a good spot and they said I could camp in the garden next to the house. We talked using Google translate and they were very poor but seemed really happy as they always do. 4 kids, brother and his wife and grandmother all stayed in the same house. After packing my tent in the morning I was given some breakfast and coffee which was really kind of them and said farewell.

Some of the very kind family

Beautiful scenery and quiet route after the border

At the border.

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301ml. This was done over 7days riding. Day 1- 66ml. Well after camping in the garden and repairing the puncture last night I ride to Cuyamel but the ATM didn’t accept my card so I got to Omoa and the petrol station had a ATM that worked with my card so I celebrated with a coffee and milky way. Not a good highway to San Pedro Sula but I find a cheap hotel in the center and decide to have a day off. It’s supposed to be a dodgy place to stay with a high crime rate but it was ok. I didn’t go out at night and it was an ok city, but all the shops had armed guards which is a familiar sight now and one cafe I went in had a sign on the door which was scary.

Day 2. 43ml. To Santa Cruz de Yojoa. After my day off the rain was falling but I put on my waterproofs and hit the road. Another puncture with the thin wire from truck tyres. I eventually reach a hotel and decide to call it a day but after checking in, he comes back with the TV remote and asks why I’m leaving at 6.30pm. Its only a love hotel, so I pack my gear and leave as you have to pay by the hour which makes it really expensive. I have to head off the highway to the next town. After a climb up I again get a hotel which cost too much. Just before I get to the town and I come to estacion bomberos. I ask if I can stay and they gladly say yes and let me sleep in the fire station canteen. Great guys and really friendly. The rain is relentless all night and the next day so I stay another night.

Day 3. 45ml to Siguatepeque. After saying goodbye I head back to the highway and it’s a bit chilly and grey to start but then after dinner it got hot again. It’s uphill most of the way and great views along lake Yojoa. I arrive at a nice town and check into a nice hotel San Carlos.

Day 4. 34ml to Villa de San Antonio. Lot of climbing again today but arrive at a warm shower host, Tulio, a great guy who speaks good English. I meet him in the central park, which is a beautiful little spot and locals are singing and playing music. Great little town and the nicest town square I’ve seen for a while.

Day 5. 45ml to Conception de Oriente. More climbing today along the beautiful and quiet Canal Seco route. Very hot and I call into a village called Caridad but after the municipality trying to find someone to let me stay there was no joy so I headed to the next town Aramecina. On the way a saw a sign se vende cuarto, which I thought meant room, but it said cuajada, which means we sell cheese. Anyway after my broken Spanish he gave me a room to sleep in for £2.20 and the family let me shower and fed me. Really overwhelmed.

Day 6. 40ml to Jicaro galan. Steady day mostly flat today. After leaving the Canal Seco route and hitting the highway where it splits for El Salvador, I stop and change my chain as I’ve plenty of time. I’m heading to another warm shower host tonight but he’s not home till 4pm. I soon have a crowd gathered to watch me replace the chain but they’re all nice and ask many questions and I answer best I can with my shit Spanish. I meet a french cyclist coming the other way just before getting to Juan’s house and he’s also staying there but thinks it’s in the next town as the location is wrong on the warm shower app. Anyway we arrive and receive a warm welcome from Juan who speaks good English. A nice and kind host and we sleep outside in the garage area but was a bad nights sleep due to the ants and mozzies.

Day 7. 28ml. To Choluteca. After goodbye to Kevin the young french cyclist and Juan, I head to the Nicaraguan border. It’s really hot again and due to the intense heat and possibly no where to stay near the border l find a cheap hotel and have an easy day. Honduras was nice and again was full of nice people. I would like to come back and see more one day.

Caridad town square

Along Canal Seco

Canal Seco

The local musicians and singers in San Antonio square

The beautiful church in the town of villa de San Antonio

Great views following lake Yojoa

Staying with the bomberos at Santa Cruz de Yojoa

Sign on cafe door at San Pedro

The beautiful green Honduras

 

 

 

 

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267ml. Done in 5 days cycling. This part of Guatemala was nice. There’s a lot to see in this beautiful country like lake Atitlán and Antigua further down but there’s quite a lot of tourists there and I prefer the quiet and for me, I think that you get a better experience with locals and culture away from the tourist hubs. Also less expensive ha.
Day 1, I ride to Yaxla national park. The road to the park is 11km from the highway and in terrible condition but after paying for the ticket, you can stay as many days as you like and camp for free on the side of lake Yaxhá. A beautiful quiet place with pyramids. Cheaper and quieter than the site at Tikal. After packing my tent away I go 47ml to Flores. A beautiful little town on an island, and I stay in a cheap hostel for the night. A beautiful place to look around and in the morning I leave early for Poptun, not knowing I’ve left my passport on the bed.
I ride 62ml to warm shower hosts Annie and Serge. Annie is German but teaches English and she asked if I could go to the school and talk English to the students. I arrive at the school and enjoy telling my story to the students. Then it’s raining the next day so they kindly let me take a day off and I go and watch Serge play basketball in the evening. After goodbyes the next day I ride 66ml to Rio dulce. I find a hostel called Bruno and they ask for my passport at check in. This is when I panick as I can’t find it anywhere. I ask Annie to ring Flores hostel because I can’t speak Spanish too well and they don’t speak English. Phew they have it and luckily Serge is working in Flores so he picks up my passport and now I only have to get the bus back to Poptun. I have to take another day off and it’s 7pm when I get back to the hostel after having to catch 3 different buses back. After breakfast and packing up I go 62ml just through the border into Honduras. Easiest border crossing yet, thinking I’d been clever spending all my Guatamala money, it all starts to go pear shaped. I soon discover I’ve got a slow puncture and there’s no ATM in the border town. I pump the tyre and arrive at a hotel in the middle of nowhere on the main route, hoping they accept card payment but no. It’s starting to go dark so I ask to camp in the garden and she says yes no problem. Phew more nice kind people.
I liked Guatemala, same as before, you hear stories about it being dangerous but I experienced nothing but kindness off people.

With the students at Annie’s school

Beautiful sundown camping at Yaxla national park

Yaxla pyramid

Beautiful Flores

Great scenery great photo taken by Annie

Annie, warm shower host and English teacher from Poptun

Road to Rio Dulce

Rio Dulce

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188mls. Done over 5 days. I was hopping between the families that give support for overnight stay in Belize. It’s a great support network for cyclists, called CentroAme Cicloviajeros, and is for all of central America. Just like the RACmx group in Mexico. 1st night after crossing through the border into Belize, I stayed at Elden’s house who lives in Carolina, just outside the town of Corozal. Most people speak English in Belize and another language, a mixture of Spanish and English called Creole. It’s mainly flat on the route I took but I had wind every day in the hot humid weather. Next day I had a look around Orange walk town before arriving at Rigo’s family house in Carmelita where I camped in the garden. A great kind family who made great homemade pizza and a great breakfast. Next day I called at Crooked tree wildlife sanctuary and looked around. There’s a beautiful lagoon and it’s very laid back, quiet and beautiful. I would have camped there if I hadn’t arranged to arrive at my next host, Rackel, in Biscayne. But I had no internet to contact her so I made my way there and camped in the garden. Again a lovely evening meal and breakfast. My next day was down to Monkey bay national park. I only called in for route info from Matt, a friend of Jerry’s, but he was so kind in offering me dinner and taking me on a late afternoon canoeing trip to spot crocodiles at night. A great adventure and all for free. I camped on a platform in the beautiful garden of the Monkey bay resort. I really great place. The next day I stayed in the border town of Benque Viejo with another kind host called Gonzola and had a bed for the night. A big house on the side of the river and again a really nice host. Belize was a beautiful place with nice kind people.

Benque Viejo

A beautiful fan Palm at the beautiful Monkey bay national park

San Ignacio.

Camping at Monkey bay resort and national park

Beautiful sundown on the lagoon canoeing with Matt and the Monkey bay resort.

Rigo and his family, my kind warm shower hosts.

Leaving Orange walk town

Over the border to beautiful Belize

Link

Ciudad de carman to Bacalar.
510ml. This was done over 9days cycling. 1st day 61ml and wild camped at the beach. 69ml to Campeche next day. I was in pain. I developed a lump on my arse hole. I stayed in couch surfers house and no pain in morning but the lump is still there. I rode out on the malecon and 40ml to Hecelchakan. Arse started feeling sore again so found a cheap hotel early to give it a rest. Next day I rode 56ml to Umán. After going on Google I decide I have an abscess. Next day I rode 41ml. To Tixkokob. On the way I ride around Merida looking for spare cones for my hubs but can’t find anywhere after visiting 6 shops. I call at the doctor’s who says because of my weak immune system I got an abscess. I get cream and antibiotics. I stay at warm shower hosts Jerry and Connie and have 2 days off to rest my arse. I really enjoyed my stay here and got on well with Jerry and Connie. I was sad to leave. Next day I ride 58ml. To Piste and find a cheap hotel for the night. In the morning I call in to chichen itza pyramid site. What a rip off. No where near as good as San Martin but 5 times more expensive because many tourists from the cruise ships visit so massive price hike. Pyramid of the sun 75pesos, here 500pesos and not as impressive. 58ml. Today to Tihosuko. I ask a guy if he knows a hotel and luck would have it, he spoke English and said no hotel in the small town village but I could sleep on the floor at his house. Happy days. So many kind people on my journey. 52ml to Felipe Carrillo today. Very hot as normal and stayed at a hostel in town. Only me in there so I had a peaceful night. Well I arrive at Bacalar after 70ml today. A nice town on the coast and I meet a Frenchman cycling on my way into town. He shows me a really cheap campsite on the sea and so I stay here for the night before going through the border to Belize tomorrow.

Camping at Bacalar before the border of Belize

Chichen itza

Campeche Malacon

Wild camp on the beach

Pelican’s along the coast

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632ml. This was done in 11 cycling days. Not much to report on my route apart from after my 1st night at a warm shower host in Nativitas, I visited the historic site of Cacaxla and then onto Cholula, site of the biggest pyramid in the world. I stayed in Puebla at another warm shower host, Rosa and Tomas. I had a day off here. After Puebla I jumped on the highway again at Amozoc and took the highway most of the way as it’s safer. I stayed at Palmar de Bravo, then another warm shower host at Córdoba. Alan was a great host and I had another day off here. Got to Tierra blanca but my rear disc caliper fell apart on route so I managed to do a temporary repair. Next was Tuxtepec, another great warm shower family and then a long day to Sayula on the old road. 88ml today. Then 70ml to la venta in the rain and then another 70ml to Villahermosa. Here’s where I fell sick on my day off and luckily my warm shower hosts, Caleb and Pepi let me stay 4 days until I was well enough to leave. I had a new cassette and chain fit here as well as borrowing a cone spanner to tighten my rear wheel hub cone drive side, which I noticed had come loose. Because my immune system was weak I then developed oral thrush and could not eat solids due to the soreness. I made it to Frontera but couldn’t get the right medicine. I did another day to ciudad del Carmen and found a farmacia that had the medicine I needed. Again I was put up by a warm shower host in the hotel Estrella de mar and Francisco also arranged it so I could have another day off to rest here. I can eat again now and seem to be recovering ok.

Outside Estella hotel in ciudad del Carmen thanks Francisco.

Road to ciudad del Carmen

Parque museo la Venta in Villahermosa

Warm shower host Ivan who rode with me to show me the road out, for 8 miles

Beautiful Córdoba city square. Lot of history here

Cholula, biggest pyramid in the world. There’s even a church built on top

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33ml. A steady ride back to Julio’s family house to stay for a week and try and learn some Spanish. I took the quiet roads as I had plenty of time and missed out the highways. A warm welcome back at Julio’s and this gives me an opportunity to try and improve my Spanish and also put in some great photos of the pyramids and MTB mountain Teotihaucan bike club ride.

Julio and his lovely kind family.

Julio guiding us around the trail’s.

With the gang, MTB mountain Teotihaucan bike. Great set of keen cyclists.

Beautiful San Martin Iglesia in town

Road into Teotihaucan

Pyramid of the sun

View of the a avenue of the dead and the pyramid of the sun.

Pyramid of the moon

Pyramid of the feathered serpent

 

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242ml. This was done over 5 days.

Day 1, 59 ml. Salamanca to Queretaro. Very busy on the highway today. No replys through the day from warm shower host’s so I end up booking into jirafa roja hostel. I tried also at the fire station and was refused there too. Nice town with an amazing aquaduct. Turned really cold in the evening.

Day 2- 49ml. To El Cazadero. Really cold start today, gloves, Bob hat, and 3 layers of clothes. Lot of climbing and called into a small town to look for a hotel as it was so cold but there wasn’t one. I was about to camp on the outskirts of town when I met a man who spoke English and he asked the town governor who let me stay in the municipal hall as he said it would be safer and warmer than outside. What a relief. I was freezing.

Day 3 – 68ml to Tequixquiac. Took a back road today to miss the highway and after 8ml it turned into cobbles, dirt and gravel. Wasn’t good and slow going. I arrived at Maravillas and was going to change route but met Laura who assured me the road was now sealed and good. So I set off to Michinaloya then Tula to get to my warm shower host at Tequixquiac. Daniel was a great guy who had walked for 5years all the way to south America. He introduced me to his friend Marlon who put me up for the night as Daniel’s home was crowded and noisy. Marlon was a great guy and spoke English and it was a peaceful night.

Day 4 – 33ml to San Martin. Steady day after having coffee in town with Daniel before I left. I made my way to San Martin de las pyramids and my warm shower host Julio. When I arrived, Jeff from Oz was still here so that was good for conversation and Julio was a fantastic host. After a nice evening meal and goodbye to Jeff in the morning, Julio drops me off at the pyramids so I can look around. The pyramid of the sun is the 3rd biggest pyramid in the world. A fantastic site with fascinating history. I stay another day and go out with Julio and mountain Teotihaucan bike club for a ride all day. A great change to be off road most of the day on a MTB. Thanks Julio.

Day 5 – 33ml to Mexico city. Easier than I thought riding into the historic center right in the heart of the city. I arrived at my airb&b for a 6days off treat for myself as it’s Christmas. A great stay over and a fascinating and beautiful city.

Mexico catedral

Mexico city

Pyramid of the sun

On the way to San Martin

Road to San Martin

Road to Tequixquiac

The fantastic aquaduct at Queretaro

 

 

 

 

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69ml. After leaving the hotel I decided to take the 90D and 45D toll roads to the warm shower host, Javier, in Salamanca. Pretty flat most of the way and the highlight of the day was going around a Tequila distillery on the side of the highway just after Penjamo. I got to Javier’s house around 4.30pm and he was a great host. I met his family and we had a peanut butter sandwich and a cup of tea as we talked about travelling. A great guy with a big heart.

Javier, great warm shower host.

Inside the beautiful buildings of the distillery

The beautiful grounds of the distillery

Highway statue just after leaving the distillery

 

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48ml. After goodbyes at Jamay, I make for La Piedad on the 35, and then the 110. The road has a good shoulder on it and the weather is scorching again. It’s mainly flat with the last 15ml getting a bit lumpy. Approaching the town I stop at a motel and it’s only 150pesos but there’s a factory opposite running noisy machinery 24hrs so I decide to carry on. I get a good deal at the cerro grande hotel and it’s not far to Walmart so happy days. Cable TV, first in a long time and decent supermarket for some peanut butter and porridge.

La Barca history museum

La Barca church

 

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63ml. Took a while to clear the city limits and took local roads down to Atequiza, then joined the 35 highway. When I reached Ocotlan, there was a bike path all the way to Jamay. I arrived at a warm shower host and Contrado and his family really looked after me. We went to see the beautiful town square and the malecon and me and Conrado had a couple of beers on the way back. I had a great nights sleep and Conrado made a delicious breakfast. Omar took me back to the malecon in the morning to take some daytime snaps before we said our Adiós. Muchos gracias for your kindness to Estafania and her family. Great warm shower hosts.

Conrado and his son Omar.

Jamay sits on the bank of the huge Lago de Chapala

View from the malecon

Jamay malecon

Beautiful Jamay town square

Riding into Jamay

Link

318ml. This was done over 6 days.

Day 1- 57ml to Escuinapa. After a day off in Mazatlan and sharing the cost of a room with Jeff, a cyclist from the states who speaks fluent Spanish and a great guy, I go down route 15 via El Rosario. It’s a very hot day but mainly flat. I ask the group RACmx if there’s anywhere to safe to stay and they suggest the fire station so I head there and camp in the yard next to where the firemen are. They work 24hr shifts in turn here and are on low pay but are a great group and very kind.

At the fire station

Saying goodbye to Jeff at Mazatlan

Beautiful church at El Rosario

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – 80ml. Another flat day on the road, very hot but I take the 15D toll road as it’s a lot safer with the big shoulder to ride on. I catch up with Helene and Aymeric the French couple and Aussie Jeff at Ruiz and stay at the same hotel in the center of town. 

Day 3 – 43ml. I set off with the gang and it soon starts to get hilly. We take the old road shortly after the rest station on the 15D. It’s a very quiet road and scenic too. Jeff comes past in a pick up truck with his bike on the back so I meet him at a hotel in Tepic where we all stay for the night.

Day 4 – 45ml. Staying on the 15D and another hilly day I make it to a small old town called Jala. A beautiful town square and I meet the mayor who lets me sleep inside the theatre. Very nice and kind people in the town and great street food around the square in the evening.

Day 5 – 42ml to Magdalena. Another hilly day but I’m at a warm shower hosts tonight. He isn’t home until 6pm so I take my time today visit the town square in Magdalena and the French couple Helene and Aymeric are there. They are also staying at the warm shower house. We meet Juan and he makes us a delicious evening meal and a great breakfast in the morning.

Day 6 – 51ml to Guadalajara. Well I visit Tequila with the French couple. A nice town with tequila distilleries dotted around and lots of the beautiful blue Algave plants fill the fields all around this area. The main ingredient for making tequila. On my way to Guadalajara I get a puncture and the French couple turn up just as I start to change the tube and they give me a hand as I now fit a new tyre because the old one has started to break up leaving the metal strands that reinforce the tyre, coming out of the rubber which was the reason for the puncture. We say goodbye and arrange to meet up for a drink in Guaralajara as we’re both having a few days off here. I arrive at my warm shower host and receive a warm welcome from Nicole who is the sister of Alexis, the host who is away in Germany. Nicole is very nice and tells me I can stay as long as I want and gives me a spare set of keys to come and go as I please. I end up staying a week and even Jeff turns up here and stays for 2days. Fantastic city here and loved it here.

A beautiful gorge on the outskirts of Guadalahaja

Even managed 2 nights watching wrestling

On the precinct in town

Such a beautiful city. Guadalajara has so many sites to see.

Guadalajara catedral

One of many fields of blue Algave

Tequila distillery in town

Helene and Aymeric

Beautiful town square in Magdalena

Jala theatre where I stay the night.

Riding into Jala

 

 

 

 

 

 

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15ml. After a long stay at Tuly’s warm shower host in la Paz I’m on the ferry today and there’s also 5 other cyclists who stayed at Tuly’s on the same boat. A Swedish cyclist, Noel, couldn’t get a ticket at the office in town for the 28th as they said it was full but he tried his luck at the counter in the port and got a place on the same ferry. It’s an 18hr crossing and you are allocated a seat in front of a TV screen which plays a stream of movies. You also get 2 meals which were good. In the night you have to sleep in the reclining chair or if you’re lucky enough, you can lay on the floor if you find a free space. 6pm departure and arrived in Mazatlan about 11.30am.i decided to stay a couple of nights there and look around the town which had a beautiful old town area with lots of great cheap food.

Nice sundown view from the Mazatlan Malacon.

Beautiful church next to the old town square

Approaching mainland Mexico

Ferry port at Pichilingue

 

 

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292ml. This was done over 7days and wild camping every night till la Paz. Long stretches between towns of which the longest was 40ml which doesn’t seem long but in the heat of the day, you soon run out of water. But it’s steady away and the camping is nice and quiet if you get far enough away from the highway. Only thing is that there’s lots of cactus spikes all over the floor off road so you have to choose your spot to camp carefully so your air mattress doesn’t develop a leak and be sure to check the tyres for spikes before riding in the morning. We met Joel at Ciudad Constitucion, a warm shower host and we camped at the RV park where we met him and he took us to recharge our data package at Telsel and treated us to good coffee and taco’s for breakfast before leaving. Muchos gracias Joel, a true gentleman. We also camped at San Augustin restaurant, the night before reaching la paz. A small restaurant in the middle of nowhere with a great big garden. A nice family run this place and let us camp in the garden. So more of the same along the road to la Paz with a few big hills thrown in. We arrive at Tuly’s house, a fantastic warm shower host who has hosted 500 cyclists. This kind and warm hearted lady really is a legend. It’s because of people like Tuly, that I keep going. So kind and inspirational for me and a pleasure to meet. Thanks so much Tuly.

Giogio, Tuly, and non Chen, great people in la Paz.

Joel, a great and kind person from Constitucion. Thanks Joel

Tuly, a living legend.

View from the Malacon

The pretty Malecon la Paz

The beautiful la Paz Malecon

Great sunrise

Be careful going to the toilet at night.

1 of many tarantula spiders I saw on the way to la Paz

A beautiful view of a golf course at the top of a long climb

A rare green landscape area on route. Mulege

Lots of vultures through the desert.

 

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98ml. Contacted James who we met at a rest station on route and headed to playa del Burro. It took longer than expected due to a long 40km false flat and more bad wind along the way. Called in at Rosalia, which was a lovely town. Had a puncture, my 1st in 7,000ml so I can’t complain. Me and Nikki had delicious taco de carne in town and chatted to some Canadians, 1 of which was a lad originally from Nottingham, they were on a road trip filming all the way. Found a nice camp spot as we got our 1st glimpse of the Sea of Cortez. The next day we reached James house at El Burro and had another day off as it was so nice there and James made a great tasting cup of coffee.

Beautiful camping at El Burro at James place

Great taco de carne at Santa Rosalia

The road to the Sea of Cortez

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167ml. Another 4days. 1st night we camped next to a police station in a really small place but it was really noisy from the trucks on the highway and dogs barking, cows mooing and cocks crowing lol, oh and even horses neying. Next day we got to Sara, a warm shower host in Guerrero Negro and camped in the garden. It was a little cooler on this day so we cycled out to a lighthouse on the coast on a diet road but it was worth it to chill in the beautiful quiet location and eat some dinner. Another wild camp the following day after the big town of Alvarado Aramburo and stocking up on food/water. Then we got really bad northern cross wind again and the last 10ml to San Ignacio and the nice casa del cyclista, was quite hard going and we was glad to arrive. It was such a much chilled out spot that we took another day off and did some laundry here.

The great Casa del cyclista, San Ignacio

More dusty roadworks

Quiet off road desert wildcamp.

Road to La Paz

Lighthouse at Guerrero negro

 

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208ml. More of the same following highway 1. Mainly wild camping in the desert off the main highway. We was looking for a sheltered spot on a diet road to shelter from the wind and David stopped with his wife and offered us a cold beer, which went down without touching the sides in the desert heat. The conversation then led to him offering accomodation at his remote house on the coast 15miles away. We gratefully accepted and also had a day off. He was a great character, very funny and also very kind, making me and Nikki meals and sharing wine over the table sharing great stories. I was sad to leave the beautiful place he had but he drove us all the way back to the main highway and said a heartfelt goodbye to them both.

Good lad David taking me and Nikki back to the highway

David and Margie

View from the beautiful deserted bay at David’s

Dirt road to David’s isolated house

Long stretches now between habited towns and villages.

Wild camping every night in the desert now due to long stretches with no camping

 

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147ml. Done over 4 days. Just taking it easy and enjoying Mexico. Stopped at a mixture of camping places, rest area, church and mission hall. Following the route 1, which is great when there’s a shoulder but not so when the shoulder disappears. But most of the drivers are very good and patient. Been loving the taco’s and food is sometimes really spicy. Alongside the road there’s always the typical Mexican music being played and it feels great to be here. Weather is fantastic, a little hot later in the day but cool when the sun disappears. Camped at a rest station/small roadside stop on the first night and camped in a lovely family’s garden. Then we asked at a church if we could stay in San Vicente and the pastor was so nice and let us stay in a little building. Then a great little camp next to the road called Manantial camp. A little noisy because of the road but a beautiful garden. Last but not least we stayed at Hi mission. Mr Cho has devoted his life to helping Mexican Indians and he kindly let us stay two nights at the mission hall and cooked beautiful meals in the evening.

Mr Cho and his friend with Nikki outside Hi-mission

Dusty stretch of roadworks

Manantial camp

Riding through San Quentin

Palanos rest station

San Vicente church

Nikki my riding companion

 

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35ml. We rode down the 1d freeway for 25ml then came off onto the old road route 1. This was quieter but had no shoulder to ride on. We had an easy day and camped at a very quiet camp off the road but it was great to feel back in nature.

Ix Chel recommend Tito’s taco’s for breakfast. Mmmmm delicious

El Salto camp site.

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38ml. Nikki, who a met at Steven’s, is riding to Argentina like me so we decide to ride together if our pace is similar. Steven takes us 20ml to the border on quiet back roads and bike paths which is fantastic. We say our goodbye’s and thank him for being such a generous host, then through the border we go into Mexico. We have to pay $29 for a tourist ticket valid for 6 month’s as we will be heading into the mainland Mexico after the Baja peninsula. No hassles and straight through the border after filling in a form then we head to Rosarito down the route 1 which is rather busy on stretches so we are glad to arrive. We buy a Mexican SIM card each and head to a warm shower host who Nikki contacted earlier and camp in the garden. In the evening we go out for our 1st Mexican food, taco’s and they are delicious and washed down with a beer and nice sweet pastry for desert. Hola Mexico.

On route south.

Camping in Ix chel’s garden, a lovely kind host who gave us lots of info.

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157ml. Did this over 4 days just getting the feel of being here and found it expensive and hard to wild camp. After the hostel I slept on the floor in a park and had to exit sharpish at 4am due to the sprinklers coming on. Anywhere there’s grass here and the sprinklers come on at night. 2nd night and I slept on the floor again at the side of a factory but even though I was partially hidden, a guy woke me at 1am who didn’t speak any English, wanting a cigarette. Hmmm I didn’t sleep after that thinking he may be back and this time for money. Luckily I got a reply off a warm shower host in Carlsbad, great stuff, then another reply, so I stay for 2 nights in Carlsbad as I have to wait for my tyres ,on order at revolution cycles, to arrive on Monday. So it was with Greg on the 1st night and Jodi the second night who kindly rode 14ml with me to the bike shop the following day to get my tyres, after she had won a gold medal the previous day in a tandem race. Awesome lady. After securing the tyres on my loaded bike I get to San Diego and arrive at another warm shower host, Steven, who accepted my late request. I arrive and meet Nikki who I had met briefly on the road a couple of days previous. We have a few beers and a good chin wag and it already begins to feel exciting for the onward travel.

Steven, great warm shower host in San Diego

Famous Venice beach, California

 

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64ml. After a day off here due to the rain I take the highway and blast down it 20ml till I get off into the 4rivers bike path. A pleasant ride for the last 40ml but it’s Saturday and lots of cyclists on here. Lot of road bikers on carbon frames racing so you have to be careful lol. Coming into Seoul the landscape changes to one of high tower buildings. I come off the path and head into town to bike Nara, a big bike shop well known with foreigners. I buy some replacement brake pads and order a bike box for my onward flight. Then it’s to go and meet Jonhgo at Soho travel who found me a cheap flight to LA. After meeting and thanking him and getting my e-ticket, ESTA printed off I go and check into my airb&b room. I’m here for 5 nights before my flight leaves so a little time to explore Seoul.

Coming into Seoul

Tunnel on the 4rivers path

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well that’s it now for Korea and I’m now on my way to USA. My stats so far are: total mileage after leaving my house on 28/4/18 is 15,906miles or 25,592km. To Baku Azerbaijan: 6,728miles

New Zealand 3,092miles.

Japan: 4,957miles.

Korea: 1,129miles

 

 

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61ml. After packing away my stuff I’m on the quiet scenic old road but at times have to rejoin the highway for stretches. The rain starts as expected due to the 18th typhoon to hit this season. The worst since the 50’s. I decided to get the waterproofs on and blast the 20ml to a jimjilbang which I find on mapsme. The highway is busy but there’s a good shoulder to ride in. You just have to be really careful at the exit and entry sliproads. After reaching the small hamlet I find the jimjibang doesn’t exist. I’m drenched and using Google translate with a local I find I have to go back to next town if I want a room and shelter for the next 2 days while the typhoon passes. I go to the first building that looks like a motel and get a room for £20 which is cheap for here. Happy days, shower and shelter.

Nice views from the highway

Nice quiet old road

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53ml. I ride till 10km before DMZ, then at the rest station you have to hit h a lift as the police checkpoint won’t let bikes through. I got a lift with a nice couple and we went to the unification observatory and then the DMZ museum. After they dropped me back for the bike I took R 46 about 20ml north of Sokcho, to head to Seoul. I had a long 520m climb on the way and it was cold and going dark at the top so I went down to find a camp spot. It was pitch black when I found a small quiet shelter just out of Baekdam on the old road.

In the DMZ museum

Unification observatory

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39ml. After the great breakfast at hotel November I say goodbye to Wei and make tracks. After 20ml I meet Manuel coming the other way and as we are talking, Wei turns up and they know each other so we stop for coffee at 7/11 and after nagging for ages I set off to get through Sokcho to give me a chance of reaching the DMZ tomorrow. I manage to find a camp spot just as night falls but it was a little near the highway so I don’t expect much sleep from the noisy road.

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58ml. Another hard day, the climbs say 7% but I wouldn’t be in the granny ring out of breath if they were lol. Well the weather is good and I’m at a warm shower host tonight. Hotel November. I arrive and it’s a fantastic place. Mr Kang the owner was away travelling but his staff treated me like a king. It was so nice to have a beautiful bed and luxury for a change. The breakfast was fantastic too. I met another cyclist from Malaysia there called Wei, a young lad who’s done lots of travelling. A laid back character if ever I met one.

Beautiful east coast

Korean war memorial

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59ml. More of the same today with the steep climbs and I met an Italian couple on a tandem who have been travelling for 5 years. Nice couple and I was going to camp with them but when we arrived at a camping spot, the toilet was locked and no water so I decided to carry on for a while. It was quite hilly and was dark when I found somewhere to camp.

The Italian travellers

One of many boardwalks

Cycle path is very scenic at times

A flat stretch yippee

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76ml. Hard day with quite a lot of steep, short climbs what just seems to sap my energy. Got to Pohang and then I was on the bike path up the coast. Lots of nice towns up this coast with lots of crab fishing and restaurants. Lots of Statue’s too. I called it a day when I found a nice raised shelter with a toilet with power next to it. Happy days.

Great camp shelter tonight

Take your pick for dinner

Lots of crab restaurant

 

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72ml. Took R 909 to Seo-myeon then down over to Gyeongju. The first thing you see on approach are big buriel mounds. They are all over the gaff. Lots to see here with lovely park areas, dong-gung palace etc. Then I took R 4 towards Deok-dong and a quiet road through Gyeongju national park. Then it’s down all the way to the east coast at Gampo. Now it’s just a case of taking in the scenery and making my way to the top of the peninsula at Homigot. I camped in a shelter right on the coast. A great day.

The most eastern part of the Korean peninsula. Homigot.

The beautiful east coast

Gyeonju national park

Beautiful gardens in town

Burial mounds of sila

 

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72ml. Rain has finally stopped so an early morning start today, trying to make it to a warm shower host, Danny. The roads are quiet and I take the R24, 793 and 730 to Namwon. I have a break here and sons Gimbap to eat as I’ve my 1st decent climb soon. The road is scenic and quiet and as I get to Hamyang, I mail Danny to confirm I’ll make it tonight. I have a tuna sandwich outside a garage and the owner invites me to a table and makes me a coffee. After this it’s a great climb up the 1084 to geochang and call in a shop for some food. Danny is at work till 6 so I wait and chill in a small park for him to arrive. A great guy and he also runs over hills and mountains for fun. He’s doing an ultra marathon in a few weeks, 110km over hilly terrain and his flat has lots of race numbers hung on the walls as well as trophies for winning and top 3 placing at these long distance races. An amazing young man.

Long distance race numbers

Geochang in the distance.

On route to Namwon

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82ml. After a restless night in the park due to the noise from the port, I got on the cycle path of the Yeongsangang river. All the way up to Damyang-eup. I’d followed this path down most of the way with Paul, so I wasn’t stopping for photos along the way as usual. I rode the last 10ml with a cyclist tucked in behind doing a bit of drafting lol. He spoke a little English and showed me a shelter with a toilet nearby. It forecast rain in the early hours so I’m glad to camp under the shelter. In the morning the rain comes and it’s a typhoon on its way so I decide to stay. I visit the bamboo museum and go to an internet café to download my Garmin activities. I’m just going to set off as the rain is light when it changes to heavy downpour and now I’m stopping. I’m in contact with Darna and Janneka by WhatsApp and they suggest to stay till the typhoon passes on Sunday. They send me a link for a 24hr sauna/ jimjilbang nearby so I check in here for 2 days due to the bad weather. Hopefully it’s going to be fine on Monday. Probably won’t get much sleep due to snoring but I’ll be dry ha.

Bamboo museum at Damyang-eup

Path up to Damyang-eup

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168ml. This was done over 6 days cycling anti-clockwise around the island with a couple of side trips to Udo island and the lava tubes. There is a cycle route all around the circumference of the island. After an early rise of 5am, we head to the port for the 9am 5hr ride on the ferry via trips to 5 different banks before I find one with an international ATM.

Day 1 was 22ml to Darak shelter which we thought was a camp spot but realized it was just a stamping booth on arrival there. You can do different routes collecting stamps along the way in a cycle passport and you receive a certificate and medal at the end. This is on the 4 rivers cycle routes. Well the island is beautiful, very busy along the shoreline with nice cafés and restaurants. We decide to camp at a sportsground just off the road and nice and quiet.

Day 2 was 44ml to Daepo-dong. Much of the same today along the coast and steady away. We camp in the grounds of the African museum. Not the best place but was difficult to find somewhere as it’s very touristy around the coast in this location.

Day 3. 38ml to Sinsan-ri. After another early start, Paul is a real early starter, we come to a beautiful Yakchunsa temple. We stop off here to view it and Paul does some gear maintenance on his bike. Changing and fitting a new cable and resetting the gears. The weather is great again so a relaxed pace and we arrive at a small port to camp but a fisherman tells us the sea splashes over the wall, so we follow him and he shows us a sheltered spot right at a fresh water pool that runs into the sea.

Day 4. 22ml to Udo-Myeon. Paul left early this morning to camp and then hike up Mt Hallasan, the highest mountain in south Korea. I ever hear him go and after a few hours cycling I come to another small port, Jongdai with a small ferry in dock and find out it’s going to Udo island so I buy a ticket and take a side trip there. It’s a beautiful island and the speciality there is peanut ice cream. It’s only a small island so I decide to camp after going all the way around and the shelter I want to camp under is exposed and it’s quite windy so I head to one lower down which is more sheltered.

Day 5. 29ml to Hamdeok beach campsite. Got the 7.30am ferry back to a different port this time. Arrived at Seongsan port and went to look at Seongsan llchulbong ( sunrise peak ) A tuffed cone formed 5 thousand years ago by hydrovolcanic eruptions. It’s 180m to the top and I could see the famous women divers from the top in a bay not far away so after here I decide to go and watch the divers, some who are in their 80’s diving to 10m down for fish and seaweed without oxygen tanks. After watching them I take a little side trip to the lava tubes which are tunnels 18m high and 23m wide in places, formed by flowing lava. It also boasts the biggest lava column in the world at 7.6m high. After here I camp at a small campsite at Hamdeok beach. It was quiet here due to the strong wind.

Day 6. 13ml to Jeju. Short ride back to the port to find the early afternoon ferry back to Mokpo is cancelled and I have to get the later one which arrives in Mokpo at 9.30pm. not good news as it will be dark looking for a camp spot and I don’t fancy the jimjilbang again with all the snoring there ha. Paul is in port after his hike up Mt Hallasan and he is catching the ferry back to Busan. After goodbye’s to Paul and a French couple cycling on their honeymoon, I get my ferry and sleep on the floor in a park not far from the port in Mokpo.

Beautiful sundown from my tent n Udo

 

Camping at the African museum

Yakchunsa temple

My choppy crossing to Udo island

Top of Seongsan llchulbong

Haenyeo, women divers

Lava column in the tubes

In the park near Mokpo port

 

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244ml. This was done over 6 days.

Day 1, 28ml to Pungho-dong. Set off with Paul from Scarborough who I met briefly in Japan and was in Busan at the same time. I stayed in Busan at the grand motel for 4nights and Janneka and Darna was also there for 3nights, so it was great to have company while I was there. Did some shopping, bike maintenance and was treated to meals out by the very kind and grateful ladies for doing some maintenance on their bikes. We said goodbye and later me and Paul set off in the rain.The day wasn’t enjoyable as we were riding on a busy highway to get out of town and ended up coming to a road we wasn’t allowed on so had to go over the wall and down an embankment to carry on and save going back a long way. We found a park just off the road at Pungho-dong to camp for the night. 

Day 2. 46ml to Munsan-eup. Tried to find quiet roads off the highway but seemed to have to go back on the busy highway for stretches. We stopped to look at the phone for navigation when a driver came over to us and offered to show us a cycle path to the next town and buy us a meal. A nice chap who spoke a little English and great timing as we entered the restaurant, the heavens opened for a massive downpour which we missed. We arrived at Munsan at the end of the cycle path and found a little camp spot next to a sports ground.

Day 3. 36ml to Gosa-ri. We reached the Seomjin river bike path today. This was great riding with no cars. Very scenic and found a nice camp spot on a small park with a toilet with power for charging our devices. Happy days.

Nice shelter to camp under.

Nice view

Great scenery today

 

 

 

 

Day 4. 43ml to Saseok-ri. Great day on the river path all day and pulled off for some shopping food supplies at Gwangju. Great cakes at Paris baguette next to the mart that me and Paul got food supplies. Paul eats really healthy and puts me to shame ha.

A snake crossing our path.

 

 

 

 

Scenic bike path

 

 

 

Day 5. 52ml to Seungchon. Much of the same today, great river path following the blue line, nice scenery and a nice shelter to camp under. It’s also cooled down today and dull sky’s which was great. A change from hot and humid.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 6. 39ml to Mokpo. After a good night’s sleep due to the cool night, me and Paul set off for the port of Mokpo. A steady day and spend the night in a Jimjilbang, a kind of 24hr bath house/sauna where you can relax and sleep over in communal areas. It’s ok but for the snoring ha.

Paul from Scarborough. Been travelling for 16month

Oops wrong road

 

China town in Busan

 

 

 

 

Darna and Janneka having a great meal.

 

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238ml. Done over 7 days. Took my time here as the I couldn’t get a cheap ferry crossing until the 4/9/19.

Day 1. To Iwakuni, 27ml. After a good night’s sleep in the hotel it’s pissing down again. All day so I decide to stay at the beautiful park behind the 5 arch kintaikyo bridge at Iwakuni on the Nishiki river. I sleep under a shelter in the park as it’s warm and not worth getting the tent wet and trying to dry out in the morning.

Beautiful kintaikyo bridge

Beautiful park behind the bridge.

 

 

 

 

28.8.19. Due to the relentless rain I take a day off here and the river gets high and catches a few locals out.

 

 

 

 

29.8.19. to Tsuwano, 59ml. Arrive at Tsuwano just before going dark and rain starts to fall and it’s in for the night according to the forecast. So I find a shelter to sleep under and explore the beautiful town with old samurai mansions lining the streets.

Tonomachi street Tsuwano

Beautiful Tsuwano street.

 

Koi carp fill the irrigation canals and was a source of food in case of seige a long time ago.

 

 

 

 

30.8.19. To Mito rest area. 50ml. Another day on beautiful quiet roads following the river. R13 into the R11 to Hagi then the R191, onto the R490 and then the R32 to Mito rest station. Great weather and scenery all the way. I buy some suchi at the supermarket on the rest station and set the tent up. Then the station manager comes over and I ask if it’s ok to camp and he takes me to his house to shower and offers me food which I have to decline as I’m full from the suchi. Really nice couple and so kind. His wife made me some Onigiri, ( rice balls ) for my journey tomorrow. Lawson’s convenience store opposite the rest station so I get milk and cornflakes for my breakfast before going to sleep.

The lovely couple, rest station manager and his wife, who are so kind to me.

The beautiful river at Mito rest station

Koi carp swimming freely in the river below my tent.

Tent pitch at Mito rest station

 

 

 

 

 

31.8.19 To Yoshida kasen park, 23ml. A very short day today, just chilling and taking my time now to Fukuok.

Beautiful shrine at Hagi

 

1.9.19. To Wakamatsu, 29ml. Another short day. Mainly due to the rain again lol. I camp next to a big river and it’s raining again in the morning ha. Like being back home in blighty. I try to dry the tent under a bridge and the fire brigade turned up to do some kind of exercise. Just my luck so they wait patiently while I pack up and make my way to the Kanmon pedestrian walkway under the sea 60m and joins Honshu with Kyushu. ¥20 for the bike (15p) great experience, take the elevator down to the tunnel under the sea and halfway across is the only prefectural border under water in Japan. Then when I get to Wakamatsu you have to take a small ferry across the river, ¥150 with the bike, as bikes aren’t allowed over the bridge here. I then find a park at the side of the R495 on the way out of town.

Leaving moji after the Kanmon tunnel

Kanmon straits

The border under the sea of the Kanmon straits

 

 

 

Day 6. To Tsuyazaki, 30ml. After a restless night, forecast said no rain and at 1am I had to abandon the tent with all my stuff due to the ground flooding, I manage to get the tent mostly dry under a shelter. Bad night with the heavy rain storm but hey, that’s just weather. A little frustrating that the forecast says no rain but today we keep going. The rain stops after dinner and it gets hot with nice sunshine yippee. I follow a deserted bicycle path from Ashiya down the coast to a new rest station where the path ends.

R300 the deserted coastal cycle path.

 

 

 

I take off the bags here and try to straighten the rear derailleur hanger, as I know it’s out of line, and then spend half an hour setting up the gears again which aren’t changing that sweet as before. 

 

Sundown over the Japan sea at Tsuyazaki

 

 

 

3.9.19. To Fukuoka, 20ml. Up early and dry out all my gear completely in the hot sun. I only have 20ml to go so try looking for bike shops on route to purchase new jockey wheels as the center bush on the bottom pulley wheel is really worn and wobbly. I arrive at cycle base Asahi, a big chain store and ask the young lad inside if he has pulley wheels for my deraileur. He has a look and finds 2 what fit and also has the alignment tool for the deraileur so I get that straightened properly and new jockey wheels and wash the bike while I’m there. I book a hotel, my first in 4 months, as the clouds are turning black and I don’t fancy wet gear again on my last night in Japan. I’m glad I did as at 9pm it started raining ha. Well tomorrow it’s goodbye Japan as I’m getting the ferry to south Korea in the morning. What a fabulous country with a kind and friendly people and fantastic culture. I will be sad to leave.

My young bike mechanic friend at cycle base Asahi who helped me out with new jockey wheels on the way to fukuoka.

Goodbye beautiful Japan, on the ferry to Busan

 

 

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158ml. Done over 4days.

Day 1 32ml to Wakayama. Raining hard this morning and got an hrs break from the rain and managed to dry the tent. Only got 3ml and had to shelter under a bridge. Then again had to shelter in a Lawson’s after a few more miles. I followed the R1 cycle route along the river and decided to go to an onsen in Wakayama then look for camp spot as it would have been dark getting off the ferry. Ended up sleeping on the floor under a garage canopy, rained all night

Following the R1 river cycle path to Wakayama

 

 

 

 

Day 2 42ml to Higashimayoshi. After a restless night sleeping on the floor I’m up at 4.30am for the ferry to Tokushima. Chose some quiet roads as best I could and got to a free campsite but it was full of mosquitos so I went back about 6ml to a nice place I passed earlier on the river.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 42ml to Niihama. Nice weather today so I decide to do some bike maintenance. I change front and rear tyres round, as the back is worn down now after 5,000ml, replace the front and rear brake pads and adjust. Clean all the grime and shit from all the cogs, including jockey wheels, and fit a new chain. When I finish all this I set off about 10.30am along R192. Not many alternatives today so a lot of pavement riding. I find a camp spot on a small park next to a hard court football court.

Day 4 42ml to Hiroshima. I’m up at 5.30am but at 6am lots of children turn up for football practice, this happens all the time. Hard to get your head round when you think of back home ha. Bad  day on R11 Today. No alternative but to take this highway. Was busy, heavy with traffic and hated it. I contacted Alan, who I met a few months ago who has lived here 20yrs and I arrange to meet for a beer. I just make the 15.20 ferry from Matsuyama and arrive at Hiroshima port at 18.00. I’m just setting the tent up and Alan talks me into taking a hotel room and pays ¥3000 towards it. Over half the cost. Buys me some beers and I do all my much needed laundry at a coin laundry room then go to a park near the port and have a good chin wag over the beers. Was really great to talk and speak English to someone lol. I haven’t done that in a while. Cheers Andy.

R11 on route to Matsuyama port

 

 

 

 

 

 

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71ml. Fantastic day on the bike. Followed a very scenic river on routes, R368 R166 then onto R16 to Yoshino. From here it was R39 to Gojo. Quite a big climb after approx 30ml but the roads were all quiet and beautiful views all the way. After Yoshino it got a little busy and then after Gojo I picked up the cycle path and camped on the river with a toilet and water next to a sportsground as always.

My scenic quiet roads today

On route today

Scenic quiet roads today

 

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224ml. This was done over 4 days.

Lake Shoji

 

 

 

Day 1 58ml to Fujinomiya. Great day to start with. Kept to the highway R20 to Kofu. Was quiet and down in elevation all the way. By 12.30 I’d done 40ml. Then onto R113 and R358 to lake Shoji and lake Motosu. The climb was approx 11ml and the rain came. On the downhill just past a Michi no Eki the rain came really heavy so I sheltered in a bus stop and helped a Japanese cyclist change his rear inner tube. By the time this was done it was dark so I slept in the bus shelter for the night.

Day 2 53ml to Okabe.

Fuji prefecture manhole cover

Shiraito no taki waterfall on the way.

Mt Fuji

 

 

 

After a restless night in the shelter with the spiders I set off hoping for a break in the cloud to try and get a picture of Mt Fuji. I visit some waterfalls on the way and luckily a photo, not the best because of the cloudy conditions but it’s forecast cloudy for the week so can’t be too disappointed. The rest of today is what I call urban hell. A mixture of pavement and me trying to find quiet river paths and quiet parallel roads. After a good cycle path to the outskirts of Shizuoka, I manage to find a very small park to camp in a small town before Fujieda. Bad sleep though with the humid conditions.

Day 3 53ml. To Kosai.

Nice shrine on route.

 

 

More of the same urban hell today, so not much to report here. Found a small camp spot near a Yamaha factory in a small park.

Day 4 60ml to Taki. Not a bad day to Tahara then onto the short ferry crossing to Toba. I pushed on a quiet road onto R37 and couldn’t find a camp spot so I slept in a doorway near a Lawson’s near Taki. Just before the turning onto R368.

 

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47ml. Woken by the heat from the early morning sun. 1,100m to the top of the pass then all down to Matsumoto. I’m already at 500m so away I go. It’s hot and quite busy with traffic but beautiful scenery. I drop down to Matsumoto and look around the castle grounds. 40min wait to go inside so I just walk around taking pictures.

Matsumoto castle

Visited a nice shrine on the way

 

 

 

 

 

After leaving Matsumoto I change route and decide to head to Fuji, it seems such a shame to be so close and not at least try to photo the iconic mountain. Another big climb 1,050m over to Lake Suwa. Some steep bits and raining again on the way but got to Chino and found a school sportsground to camp. Was dark when I got there and not ideal but it will do for the night.

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136ml. Done over 3 days,

Start of R121 and beautiful redwoods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day1 51ml to Gyoda. Take the R121 which is quiet and lined with beautiful redwoods. Gets busy after about 5ml out of Nikko but there’s a good pavement to ride on. All day it’s shelter from rain and riding on pavement, I eventually get to a river path at Meiwa and find a nice camp spot for the night. Was surprised to do so many miles with all the stops and starts.

Day 2- 50ml to Yokokawa.

20ml to start on a quiet river path through peach orchards. I had a few, I must admit they were delicious. Got to Honjo just before a massive thunderstorm and sheltered at a Lawson’s. A mixture of river paths and road from here to Annaka before I start climbing up to Usui pass. I’m stopped on the way up with the police who give me reflective stickers for my shoes and warn me to try and find shelter as a typhoon is forecast to hit the area tonight. I get to a rail station and museum at Usui and 3 ladies shout me over as they speak English and help me by getting permission for me to camp and shelter under a restaurant canopy for the night.

My sheltered camp spot before I pack up early in the morning at Yokokawa

 

 

 

 

Day 3- 35ml. To Maruko.

After a restless night under the canopy being bitten with mosquitos, I set off early but it’s raining again. 9.5ml climb and again it turns to sunshine once over the pass. Very hot day and the Garmin reads 42°. I can’t make Matsumoto as intended because I have another big climb to come so I find a nice camp spot on a river again next to a sportsground.

 

 

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52ml. Not a bad day cycling, had to take R4 for a while but the pavement was good and also found some quiet stretches alongside the highway. Just as I pulled into Nikko the rain started so I managed to find a pitch under the river bridge for shelter. At midnight the rain came hard and started to flood under the bridge, so I had to move the tent. Managed to dry the tent in the morning before setting off during a break in the rain.

Heavy rain

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36ml. Was going to have a day off at the Lake but by 8am I already had 3 family tents around me. More people turning up and I found out that it was a national holiday. It was like cowboys and Indians lol. So the alarm bells rang in my head, partying, noise and no sleep which I was in desperate need of so I packed up at 10am and set off. On the old road and a fair bit of climbing to start with and very hot. I followed the lake for a while and they seemed to be hundreds going to the lake. I dropped down to Shirakawa and found a camp spot on the river. Made some pasta for tea and then try to sleep in the very humid conditions.

Quiet cycle path on the way

View from Inawashiro campsite

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54ml. Woken at 5am with locals starting a baseball game ha. But that was good as it gave me an early start. 5ml on the river path to start with and then a 1,300m climb on the old road over the pass. 3.5hrs in the pouring rain to the pass but on a very quiet road away from the national highway. When I started the decent, the rain stopped and I managed to make it to a free campsite on the Lake Inawashiro just before dark. It was also windy here which was great for a cool night in the tent without the USB fan lol.

Lake Inawashiro

Top of the pass

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38ml. Cloudy with light drizzle to start the day. I followed a river path and was able to keep to rivers most of the day in my direction, alongside peach orchards. I had to help myself to a few of the juicy, big peaches. They were delicious. I got to a 7/11 and camped on a sports ground nearby.

Quiet river roads

Along rivers most of the day

 

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64ml. Quiet roads today until Matsushima then had to follow the R45 again. At Shiogama I took R10 to bypass Sendai and made it to a baseball ground on the river with toilet and water.

Matsushima

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52ml. Back on Honshu now and the humidity is extreme. Glad I got my USB fan for the tent at night ha. Today I go inland slightly to keep me away from the busy R45. At Kesennuma I take R65 then the R456/346. Lot quieter but a thunderstorm appears and I have to shelter in a new Michi no Eki. I find a quiet spot to camp on a river again once the rain has stopped at a small place called Maiya.

Colourful building on the road inland

Goats trying to keep cool in the extreme heat

Damaged building left standing

R45 so busy with construction traffic

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56ml. Off the ferry onto R45. This was ok at first but got busy. Came off when I could on small roads but always had to rejoin the 45. Lots of tunnels and very lumpy. Was a hard day and it was dark by the time I found a small park to camp in at Ofunato. One of the reasons the R45 is so busy is due to the construction traffic rebuilding tsunami/earthquake defence’s as this coast was hit quite bad with the epicenter near Sendai.

Lots of concrete defenses being built to protect against future tsunami.

Off the ferry

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40ml. Rode with Ken this morning after breakfast and we went to Norboribetsu and Hell valley. Nice climb up there in the heat and then a small walk to the viewing area. Smelt like Rotoroa and the rotten eggs ha. Well after the ride back down to Norboribetsu, I said goodbye to Ken and tried to find a camping spot on a river but no luck. I stop at 7/11, get WiFi and discover there’s a campsite 400m above Muroran. So I head up there and it was worth the climb as it’s nice and cool. I take a day off and hike up Mt Washibetsu which had great views vrom the top. Tomorrow I’ll go the last 10ml. to the port for the ferry back to Honshu, so it’s goodbye to beautiful Hokkaido.

Ken the inspirational cyclist. Top man

View down to Muroran from summit

Top of Mt washibetsu

Hell valley

Hell valley

Road up to hell valley

Geyser in Norboribetsu

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74ml. This was done over 3 days just following the coast road. 1st day was to Hidaka with Dan and Ell, 20ml and wild camped on a river. 2nd day 32ml. Another short day due to the heat and did shopping in Tomakomai for a USB fan, which works great, and a groundsheet for the tent. Then found a wild camp spot near a baseball ground in tomakomai. 3rd day, 22ml, short one again to Shiraoi, bought a dry bag and ditched the saddlebag and changed my whole luggage around so this took all morning ha. Wild camp on the side of a lake and met a cyclist called Ken who cycled for 2.5 years in SE Asia, Mexico to Argentina and Morocco and Europe at 65years old. What an inspiration and a great guy.

Wild camp at the lakeside at Shiraoi

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40ml. Another humid night and not much sleep due to a noisy group at it till 3am.

Urakawa museum

Leaving Samani campsite

 

 

After breakfast I’m on the highway heading to Tomakomai. Seems very busy on here today compared to yesterday and already had 2 close passbys from quarry trucks, which is unusual here. No campground on this route for a long way now so maybe a Michi no Eki or a quiet park for camping tonight. Got in touch with Dan and Ell and they was camping at a place 40kms in front of me so I headed for there and had a few beers and chat on a nice campsite up a steep hill.

 

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54ml. After breakfast and packing up it’s another black sky out there but no rain falls and the sun appears after an hour. Lots of tunnels south of Hiroo and the longest was 3mile. But the road is quiet and I take the R34 down to Erimo Cape. As soon as I turn down the 34 I’m hit hard by a strong wind and it’s slow going. The crosswind neatly blows me off twice but after 10ml I reach the Cape. Very misty so hardly any view but I have an ice cream and a rest here. When I set off again now it’s a head wind with 25ml to go. Few ups and downs but eventually I make it to Oyakowafureai beach campsite. At 6.20pm.

Cape Erimo very windy and misty

Surfers on the way

R34 heading for Cape Erimo

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39ml.Up early again today with the sun making the tent like a greenhouse. 5.00am. onto R336 again heading to Hiroo. Quiet road to start with but as I get closer to Hiroo there’s more traffic on the road but not too bad with a good shoulder to ride on. Stop at Hiroo at a brand new supermarket just past 7/11 and stock up on food. As I come out the rain starts so I shelter at 7/11 but the sky is black and I decide to stay at Hiroo campsite about a mile back. It’s 210 yen and in a forest but the toilet and kitchen is superb. Lots of charging points around the kitchen. Only thing is there’s lot of insects to contend with due to being in nature. Never seen as many daddy long legs lol. Struggled sleeping as well as it’s so hot and humid tonight.

On route to Hiroo

Seen a few of these on the road

 

 

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171ml. Nosappu to lake Chobushi.
Did this over 4days.all along the coast road. 53ml to Kiritappu Cape, then a short day 28ml, adjusted my brakes on route to Akkeshi and I met the Dutch cyclists, Darna and Janneka again. Had a day off with them and we sheltered all afternoon and night due to drizzle and fog. Managed to clean all the bike and fit a new chain in the morning. Then after saying goodbye to Darna and Janneka, who made a delicious meal last night and pancakes this morning, yummy, 51ml to Shiranuka and wild camped just outside of town near a baseball ground with a portaloo. Lastly, 39ml to a great campsite at lake Chobushi. I took R1038 and it was deserted. I called down to Otsu on a bike path to try and find a shop but no luck. Glad I had some food with me. The lake was busy with people swimming and picnics but they all left in the evening and there was only 2 more camping. Very quiet night.

Eagle at Nemuro Peninsula

Cape Nosappu

View from the bridge at Akkeshi

Quiet almost deserted coast road

Sundown at lake Chobushi

 

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71ml. Said goodbye to Mel this morning as she headed to lake Kussharo and I’m heading to Nemuro. I headed down R244. It was windy so it was not easy going. I caught up with Joonsuk, a Korean rider I met a couple of days ago and heading the same way. It’s still only 4pm when I reach Nemuro so I decide to go all the way to the Cape. The park I planned to camp in was all open and I would have had to wait for it going dark to set up the tent, but it was cold and I found a rider house  nearby, so I book in there for 1,200 yen. I spotted red crowned cranes and a white tailed eagle on the way today.

Cape Nosappu

 

Eagle

Red crowned cranes

 

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31ml. After the rain all night and most of the morning it’s a late start and Dan and Ell arrived just as we was leaving. Dan was shivering from the cold and the same happened to them, as us yesterday on the climb. Steady day to Shibetsu and arrived pretty early about 3.30pm. great campsite with an onsen and 7/11 within 200m. So it was set up tent, coffee and snack 7/11 then into the onsen for a nice clean up. I made curry and rice for my tea and Mel ate out. We had a few sherberts sat at the tents as we go separate ways tomorrow. A cheeky fox ripped it’s it’ into Mel’s tent and stole some food while she was away and it came back and stole some chocolate while I was sat within a few feet away. It was so brazen and not scared at all. This is the reason you shouldn’t feed wild animals. I learnt from this.

 

 

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23ml. After leaving Dan and Ell me and Mel set off up the 10km climb in beautiful sunshine. About 2 miles from the top it gets cold and wet. Eventually we reach the campsite about 4kms before Rausu and call it a day. My hands take an hour to get feeling back in them. There’s a free hot spring opposite the campsite but after stripping off, I can’t go in as it’s too hot. It rains the rest of the day and all night. 

 

Saying goodbye to Dan and Ell.

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42ml. Rode with Dan and Ell today to the Shiretoko peninsula. Wasn’t a bad road and a nice waterfall on the way. Got to the campsite and set up the tents and me and Mel rode the 14kms up to the Goko 5 lakes. Beautiful place. There’s an elevated boardwalk to the 1st lake which is protected by an electric fence due to so many bears in the area. You can do the full walk at ground level but you have to book the guided group tour because of the bears. Then it was back to the campsite for a few beers and more laughs with Dan and Ell.

Sundown at Utoro campsite

Lots of deer on way back from Goko lakes

View from elevated boardwalk

Goko lakes

Nice waterfall on route to Utoro

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28ml. From Yamabe to here, I’ve left out as I more or less did the route in earlier posts. Me and Mel met Dan and Ell at the 7/11 and camped with them at the lake. They’re both from England and very funny so it was great to sit down and chat with them. In the morning Dan and Ell left early and Mel had a problem with her rear derailleur so we messes about with that for a while and just as we was about to leave another cyclist from England turned up. Pete from Scarborough. He’s been on the road for 14month. Sold all his possessions and decided to cycle the world. Good on yer Pete. So now after finding a bike shop in Abashiri, but they don’t have any rear derailleur, we carry on hoping the old one holds out. We get to a rider house in Shari but it’s also the campground and Dan and Ell are there so another funny night.

Campsite at lake Abashiri with Dan and Ell

Nice waterfall on route between Kamikawa and Sounkyo