The Price of Reaching Humaita´


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I packed up camp in the dark at 4:30 am and forced a few hundred calories of raisins, granola, cookies, and Tang down my throat for a kick start to the day. I figured Humaita´ is about 75 miles away, there’s no sense making it a two day ordeal, might as well start early!

I knew by the time the afternoon heat set in my pace would have to decrease so every mile I could get out of the way early the better. Considering the previous two days of cycling and the early start I felt pretty good. I had developed a new pain in my left knee to add to the strained tendon in my left hamstring area though. On a positive note, after a few hours my flat road was back again and I could maintain a steady pace without significant pressure on either injury. My morale was high which is very important to making forward progress.

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When I reached Rio Abiaci I added to my breakfast with some fried fish and coke. I had 54 miles to go according to a distance marker planted on the side of the road and my own calculations. I took my time, worked on my tan lines, and stopped for some photo ops.

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Most critters of the Amazon are too quick and skittish to take a decent photo of but this guy stood very still for me. He was probably waiting for the right time to spray venom into my eyes or something.

By the afternoon I was really starting to drag. I began my ritual of an hour of cycling followed by 15-30 minutes lying in the dirt on the side of the road. To make matters worse I hit road construction and my old friend the waffle maker! With only 10 miles left to go I was jarred to the core by the road surface and started walking the bike. I was making 3 mph and Humaita´ seemed a lifetime away.

Then I was put in my place by a 7 year old on a single geared bike. He was riding in flip flops with his little sister on the rear cargo rack just chuggin’ along in front of the waffle machine! I gave him a thumbs up, got back on my saddle, and turned those damn pedals over.

dscn0544By the time I reached 75 miles for the day all I saw in front of me was straight road to the horizon. Shit. Where is Rio Madeira, where is the ferry, where is Humaita´! Like I said before, morale is a very important component to forward progression, and I was out of morale. I made little more than a mile at a time before pulling over, taking off my shirt, and lying in some shade in the dirt. At some point I saw a bend in the road and a sign signally the ferry crossing. It was little more than 300 meters ahead of my but I was forced to the side of the road once again. The heat was just dominating me.

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Humaita´ marks a turning point in the trip for me. From here to Rio Branco, which lies close to the Bolivian and Peruvian borders, it’s a paved stretch that should be easier than where I have come from. From Rio Branco I will make a decision as to how I will proceed out of Brazil and westward.

As I crossed on the ferry I saw fish jumping everywhere and they were being chased by pods of freshwater dolphins that surfaced every few minutes. The water was brown and murkey with absolutley no one bathing but I figured the fishing had to be good here. I’d try my luck later on.

Here’s the price of reaching Humaita´ and 1500 miles of the TransAm thus far:

  • 20 lbs body mass
  • 2 flat tires (only two)
  • 4 kickstands
  • 7 crashes (all at low speed)
  • 2 muscle strains
  • 2 fevers
  • 300-400 liters of water/soda/Tang
  • 2 very ripe saddle soars
  • myriad of scrapes, cuts, bruises
  • roughly 180 hours of pedaling
  • 2 broken racks
  • 1 bout food poisoning (only one, a miracle)
  • 2 bike chains
  • 4 continuously numb fingers
  • 4 continuously numb toes
  • countless hours of doubt

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The below image is from Diario de Amazonia and depicts the Jiahui Indians performing a ceremonial reenactment of first contact with the white man when the TransAm was cut through the jungle by roaring construction vehicles of the Brazilian military.

    10 Responses to “The Price of Reaching Humaita´”
    1. Wow, 20 pounds? I imagine it’s hard to get enough food down with the exertion and the heat. 1500 miles is amazing though! Looking at the map of Brazil it seems much farther along than that. If you find a friendly place, definitely take some down days.

      by Aaron
      on 29. Oct, 2009

    2. That’ll be a nice change of pace to hit some paved road for a while. Should be smooth sailin’ until you hit the Andes! I’m interested to see what route you pick to the coast. Keep us updated!

      by Joel
      on 29. Oct, 2009

    3. That’s amazing. I bet if you put a list of what you’ve gained next to the price you’ve paid, the former would far out number the latter. We’re all really proud of you – you’ve got a following out here at the Monterey Bay Aquarium now!

      by amy gunz
      on 29. Oct, 2009

    4. I have really enjoyed reading about your journey. I am really impressed with the preserverance and strength that you have to continue every day! And your right, one bout of food poisoning is a miracle, I know.

      by Stephanie
      on 29. Oct, 2009

    5. The new Trans-Oceanic route just opened up. It goes from Rio Branco (or a smaller border town rather) to Porto Madalndo in Peru. That could be a sure bet to get through, and it connect the old transcontinental route (the TransAm) with the new (TransOceanic).

      The other route, which has a gap, is to go out to Cuzeiro do Sul and take a short flight to Pucallapa Peru. There are two problems with this:
      1. No idea about the flight service and my bike/gear. They are small planes.
      2. The rains make the road out to Cuz. do Sul impassable much earlier (from any source i have come across November is when you get swamped)

      Dunno, probably will head for the new route, over to Cuzco and go from there.

      by doug
      on 29. Oct, 2009

    6. I have been in Humaita´ for 3 days now. I think I am done with this town though…time to move on!

      by doug
      on 29. Oct, 2009

    7. At a quarter of the way in (seems like over HALF from the progress map), it seems like the journey thus far was in adapting to your conditions and streamlining. While it is a lot to contend with, none of the adversity that you have encountered exceeded your means to traverse it!

      At four kickstands, are the extra couple of pounds essential, or could a rope bridal to hitch your bike to a post or tree serve you better?

      Considering the conditions and daily accomplishments, you are doing remarkably well – just keep an eye on those open wounds so that they don’t become infected, a significant problem in the tropics.

      by Ken
      on 29. Oct, 2009

    8. Doug, listen to Ken about the wounds–infection could be the straw that breaks the camels back. Thanks for all the info and the pics they are great.

      by Mom
      on 29. Oct, 2009

    9. Wow that is some good reading. Happy Halloween Doug! Snap some pics on the plane ride if they can fit your bike. take care buddy

      by mike d
      on 31. Oct, 2009

    10. My brotha! Congrats on reaching this point! Very proud! Keep tough.

      by Yost
      on 02. Nov, 2009

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