On pace lines and pelatons

The legs on the bike go round and round making
The wheels on the bike go round and round

Depart Puno with a police escort. Originally James and I took off but called back as we were following our written directions, and police had a better route. I felt like a King or maybe Sarah Palin; traffic stopped and we flew on through.

Shortly we were on road south along Lake Titicaca and a peloton formed after a few kilometers, then as road narrowed we went into a nice pace line cruising along at about 27-28 kilometers an our. Toos was out front.

For those not bicyclists a pace line is a line 2 to 3 or more riders following one after the other. The first rider breaks the air and creates a draft for the following rider to follow. When I was a teenager my friend Brent Cook and I would play with techniques and found when really going you could detect the draft effect almost a hundred yards back. For full effect generally one rides with wheels inches apart. It is great and it can increase your speed significantly. The problem is you are inches apart and riders must be aware of each other. The line becomes its own organism.

A peloton is similar except instead of a line, riders not only ride front and back but side to side. This works well with not only headwinds but crosswinds as it protects riders downwind..

Thus was the theme for Puno to Copacobana. The first 20 k was long pace line of maybe 20 riders. Too much traffic, but was nice just cruising alongside the lake. After a bit I figured Theo needed a break and I felt good so I broke from my 3rd or 4th position and went up front, but quickly found myself leaving the pack behind. I had rested up and felt good. Theosophy wife Toos came up and said best to stick to around 27 k. I dropped back although difficult for me to maintain constant speed. Then a little hill came up and those that could did and I felt like my lungs were going to explode. A hill climber I am not. The pack separated into varying pace lines.

A word on the altitude. Even though most have been at altitude for 7-8 weeks it still affects them. There just is not enough air. One person said “I feel good and think I am ok then bend over to tie my shoes and am out of breath”. For myself I feel good but do feel exhausted from little tasks. Like walking up a flight of stairs. Lake Titicaca is at 3810 meters (12,500 feet) above sea level. 40% of the earths atmosphere is below us. The locals have developed over time greater lung capacity and blood counts so they can live here over a lifetime.

At about 25 kilometers I decided some pictures would be great, as carrying my big Nikon today. So again I broke away and sprinted ahead till about 500 meters ahead. I felt like a biathlon, where you exercise greatly then do a task requiring total stillness. I did not catch up the 500 meters I fell behind for 11 kilometers when they stopped for construction. But it was great fun. Made lunch stop about 70 k and 11 am. Flying!

Lunch was about 1/2 hour and time to move on. Buck said he was dropping as first day he had ridden in two days due to illness and wanted to not push too hard, I said I was going to try and keep up with the line again as it was fun. Buck said to ride at my pace and not do more than I can. I thought of Joe, who did the divide and said ride my own ride. A peloton of 6-10 people was formed and great but after my lead I could not maintain and dropped out. I was pooped an decided to just enjoy the day. Stopped and took pictures, enjoying he scenery. Locals out preparing fields for planting sheep llamas feeding at side of road. The traffic had diminished greatly.

It was a great day although I was totally exhausted at the end. 145 Kilometers, cross winds, head winds, severe sun, some hills totaling 745 meters of climbing (2400 feet) and crossing the border into Bolivia all played a part in tiring everyone out.

Peru is done and a rest day in Copacabana, Bolivia.

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Internet very bad here off and on.

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