It’s been stormy the past couple of days, so the rental mountain bike has been sitting safely underground. It’s been given a thorough trail test in near-perfect weather over the first 8 days of my two weeks here, so any thoughts of it suddenly splitting in half and sending me tumbling over some of the cliffs I’ve been pedaling along have been cleared aside. Thankfully, not every bike you get to ride is a piece of crap. As a little update from home, the store is replacing the frame and wife K has a loaner in the meantime.
The best day was this past Friday, getting out on the road before 7am to arrive at the island’s peak just shy of the 2000-metre level at around 3pm. Along the way I got a bit lost and so had to head downhill several hundred meters to get on the right road again, so the actual vertical climb was quite a bit more than the 2 kilometers. I also misjudged the amount of time it would take to let gravity pull the bike back to sea level, returning at 7:30pm long after sundown. A blinking light back and front was a good precaution along with some warm clothing, because even though it can be close to 30 degrees down on the beaches, up near the top the temperatures plunge and the winds are high.
My favourite trail from last year is even better. At least it was last week. All along the way up I was expecting to be passed by the usual convoy of jeeps laden with the package-tourist daytripper set, tongues clucking and heads wagging as they breeze past imagining the difficulties some people put themselves through. But two hours up the hill there wasn’t even a single car on the road going either up or down. The reason became clear after rounding a corner to face a rock slide blocking the road as it runs along a cliff. I suppose word had already spread and the tourists were on another route somewhere, leaving the whole trail and surrounding countryside all to myself.
I keep hearing the word “dangerous” whenever people find out I’ve been mountain biking alone in the volcanic wilds. Maybe they’re right, but I don’t know if it’s any worse than lolling around on the beach in the pounding sun for hours at a time amid thousands of others all doing the same thing day after day. Some of them look seriously in need of hospitalisation.