The last few days from Valle de Angeles to Copán Ruinas has been sheer brutal beauty – coined as brutaful – by Anna, one of our cyclists. It is difficult to explain the enormity of what we have achieved thus far. A few examples might help.
On the 104km ride from Zambrano to Marcalo we climbed 2031km and descended 2155km. This was a little tough but it certainly was a spectacular ride; dipping into the valleys only to rise above the trees and be blown away by the dramatic landscapes below. We cycled in sunbeams, streaking through orange groves and as we ascended the clouds took on some unreal shapes. As we went higher still, the mist rolled in like huge barrels of cotton wool and softly enveloped us and covered us in a fine mist. The Hondurans whistle, whoop and ola! us as we cruise by. Sometimes packs of dogs charge at us. And the potholes in Hondura will eat the Nicaraguan potholes for a snack, anyday.
Some cyclists were cursing our tour leader and another the other staff members who were also the culprits for creating this route, Cristiano Werneck and Michael Coo, as we were bumping along stretches of near non-existent roads. Others simply ate the dirt as they would a giant bowl of chocolate mousse, topped with a huge manic grin. They must all be quite dotty to take so much pleasure from such pain.
On the road from Marcala to Gracias we gained 2099m with a loss of 2503m and a whopping highpoint of 3330 over R115km. Sometimes the road is utterly destroyed and sometimes, like the stretch to Copán Ruinas, the dirt road is so steep that even if you were Lance Armstrong on a super drugging day, you would not be able to cycle to the top. Oh, how we pushed and pushed our bikes only to see another killer hill around the corners teasing us with her “brutiful” curves. One of our previous cyclists, Stefan Schlett, used to charge into the campsite at the end of a tortuous day and yell, “That was orgasmic!” I wonder what he would have said about the last few days. But no matter what we try we cannot break the Doomsday Riders. They come in grinning, smiling and waving. They somersault over speed bumps, like Ruut, get up, dust themselves off, and get back on the bike. It is appropriate to add here that one of our oldest riders is 77!
Joachim Löffel called parts of the road, ‘a torture session’. David Houghton summarised it as, ‘fucking hard’- this coming from a person who EFI’d the 4 months from Cairo to Cape Town: ie: cycled Every Fucking Inch! And as if the roads were not challenging enough, Anna and me had a wanker, literally, stalking us on the climbs and waiting for us to pass by whilst spanking the monkey. The hill was steep and it took us a long time to get by him. It was like a really bad B movie. We tried hard not to laugh. What else can you do? If all else fails, activate your sense of humour. Suzette says parts of the road felt like being inside a Salvador Dali painting. And the tough JJ said he never worked so hard for his dinner. ‘It took me right to the edge,’ was David Jones’ remark. William from South Africa said, ‘the chocolate milk at lunchtime was really good’.
Bring on the rest day in Copán Ruinas