Sunday, 15 March 2015

On a day of firsts

Some firsts for the day:
Swam in the Caribbean;
Saw a live wild iguana, as opposed to the much more easily seen road kill iguana;
Snorkeled in the Caribbean;
Tried Medalla Light, a Puerto Rican beer of no particular merit but suitable for hot humid weather; 
Chatted with some Puerto Rican cyclists of the Weekend spandex subspecies;
Had flat tire in my brand new rear tire caused by a large piece glass (I could have done without that one);
This caused me to shop at Walmart for the first time in order to get a second spare inner tube;
Wrote a blog entry in a hammock strung between two palm trees with the Caribbean breaking on a reef to my right.

The peloton of Puerto Rican cyclists passed me with cheery shouts shortly after leaving Fajardo. I caught up with after they had stopped in the shade of an overpass. I chatted with them and asked them to verify which of the several possibilities in sight was Puerto Rico Highway 3. (Puerto Rico has a shortage of proper signage and it is sometimes quite easy to lose ones way. I have been using the map functions on the iPhone a lot.) Anyway, I started to chat in a mix of English and Spanish. They were fairly impressed by what I was planning to do today and warned me about a pass on Highway 3 I would have to face. One of them said it would take me until 5 or 6.

A little later, at about Ceiba, I heard the sound of a loudspeaker. I went around a corner to see a baseball game about to start. It was sparsely attended with fewer spectators than players in the elaborate stadium. I later passed another better attended baseball game. 

I went through a beach town of Playa HĂșcares with some old and quite elaborate old houses (Victorian era). One was a burnt out stone shell, whereas the one across the street was immaculately painted in pink with white trim.

A little around Playa Naguabo, I witnessed a parade of tricked jeeps making a lot of noise under police escort. Thankfully, it was going the other way. Puerto Rico has a car culture that I hope I am undermining by my example and that of large group of ordinary cyclist including lots of kids I saw riding the other way about 10 minutes later. They waved and cheered at everyone in general and I think me in particular.

Not too long after lunch, the Route 3 pass out of Yabucoa valley into Maunabo valley came looming up. There were several blessings associated with it. The first and most important was that an autopista with a tunnel had been built so traffic was relatively light and trucks were banned from it. The second was that the sun was nearly on the other side of the ridge so there was much more shadow than had been going the other way. (I discovered that going down.) Thirdly, there was a roadside drinks stand about two thirds of the way, which is an admirable arrangement. Fourthly, the road rose consistently winding its way up a mountainside covered with luxuriant tropical vegetation complete with lianas handing down. It was not for the faint of heart as there was little in the way of roadside barriers and I was on the cliff side.

The descent was fun though not full blown "whee". Disc brakes would be good here.

Beyond was a small valley with another ridge beyond. Thankfully, Route 3 bypassed it by going next the sea on a cliff road. This had a roadside bar where I stopped and checked my time and distance coordinates. As it was about 2:30 PM, I had less that 9 kms to go and check-in was only after 3 PM, I decided it was Medalla Light time.

One beer later, I ventured forth and found my beach side destination. It was barely past 3 PM so phooey on the cyclists I had met this morning. ;-)


Christopher Oram said...

Sounds great, but do be diligent with the sunscreen!


Bikemoose said...

I have been diligent with the sunscreen, but alas it (SPF 30) wasn't up to the task. I am now using an SPF 50 sunscreen.