Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Caçador, Santa Catarina, Mile 216 November 19, 2010

Greetings from the town of Caçadores, 56 miles south of Uniao da Victoria.  Yesterday night, I was exhausted and very frustrated.  Tonight, I am simply exhausted, which is a great improvement.  Physical exhaustion is, after all, nothing more than weakness leaving the body, which is what I tell some of the larger fifth and sixth graders at school when I am running around the field with them, trying to get them to run at least one lap.

Here, by the way, is a really good map of Santa Catarina.  I started out in the middle, at the top, in Porto Uniao, and followed the green highways down to Caçador.


I was not optimistic this morning.  I figured that, bad as BR 476 was, it was at least a Federal Highway.  Today´s ride would be on Santa Catarina state highway SC-302.  Leaving my hotel, I crossed the train tracks and found myself in Santa Catarina (Bye bye Parana.) and rode about a mile through Porto Uniao before getting on BR-277 (I think that was the number, my map is in my room.) for about five miles, at which point BR-whatever veered off east, and SC-302 started at KM post 0.  A sign informed me that it was 82 kms to Caçadores, 50 to Calmon, and 33 (20 miles) to Matos Costa. To my immense joy, I discovered two happy facts.

1.)  The road had a good, paved shoulder.
2;)  There was hardly any traffic, and big warning signs promising astronomical fines to anyone who drove trucks over 45 tons on this highway.

Very happy, I set off, with a block of rapidly melting ice in my bike´s water bottle, and another, unfrozen, bottle in my camelback.  About ten miles out of town, at Km post 12, I stopped by a little church to drink water, change the batteries in my camera (and through the dead batteries, fittingly. over the fence into the cemetary) and take some pictures of the church.  At this time, the elevation, according to my magic watch, was 2,500 feet, and I was feeling very smug about myself.

What I did NOT know then, but do know now, is that Matos Costa is the highest point in the entire State. 

Within a mile, the road began to climb.  Big deal, I thought, I might end up at 3,000 feet or so, but then I will come back down.  First I climbed to 2,850, then dropped about a hundred, then climbed up to 3,000, dropped another hundred, then went up to 3,250, dropped a hundred, and the cycle continued repeating itself.  Eleven miles and an hour and a half later, I arrived in Matos Costa, at an elevationof 4,020 feet.  I was out of water (I bought more) and beat.  So, I figured, no need to be a hero, I will go on another 12 miles or so to Calmon, and stay the night there.  Calmon turned out to be at 3,950 feet, but I think I dropped down to 3,500 and then climbed back about three times en route.  I got to Calmon at about 3PM, discovered one hotel, one lousy looking restuarant, and no internet places to go kill time.  In the Petrobras station where I stopped to drink a Coke and buy more water, the owner and his wife swore up and down that, from there, it was ¨all downhill¨ to Caçadores, 19 miles further south.  I believed them.

Leaving Calmon, it sure looked like they were telling the truth.  According to my speedometer, I set a new record for speed on this bike, getting up to 44.7 MPH as I dropped down to 3,400 feet over two miles.  Since it was curvy, the speed limit was 70 KMs an hour, so I was, technically, speeding.  This speed involved me coasting; the way the bike is geared, had I pedalled, I do not think it would have made the slightest difference.  Unfortunately, once I got down to 3,400, I climbed right back to 4,000 feet AGAIN, roared downhill again, and then climbed back up once again.  The second time, once I topped out and could see that was all downhill for awhile, I stopped the bike, went and sat in the shade of a tree, and just lay there for about 15 minutes, slowly drinking a bottle of water, and, unbeknownst to me, getting ants all over me.  I was well and truly beat. 

Finally, about 8 miles out of Caçadores, it really did become (almost) all downhill, with only scattered climbs of a quarter mile or so mixed in.  When I got to the turn off into town, I was absolutely dead.  Unfortunately for me, I had one more massive drop, down to 3,000 feet, in store, followed by about a one mile steep climb into town.  Once in town, I could not find a hotel, and finally stopped in another gas station and asked, and they were kind enough to point me UP yet another hill, where I found the place I am staying, for R$40, tonight.  While the guy at the desk was copying information out of my passport, I felt like I was going to pass out, and had to go and sit on the steps for a couple of minutes.  That is how tired I was.  The owner of the hotel walked in, and could not believe it when I told him where I had come from.  He asked me what time I planned to leave tomorrow, asked me if I would mind being interviewed, and told his son (working the desk) to call up the local rag and tell them to come on down tomorrow morning to interview this crazy American.  I hope they do, we shall see.  Since the crazy American is staying at his hotel, this will involve some free publicity, which I do not think ownership is averse to.

Once I got to my room, I took a shower(bliss) and then just lay on the bed for 15 minutes as piece by piece my whole body cramped up.  First my jaw (?), then a leg, then my right foot, which resulted in the interesting sight of my right big toe sticking out at a 45 degree left angle from the rest of the foot, then my back, then the leg again.  What fun.

The hotel is letting me use their computer, free, which is nice of them.  Unfortunately, the computer is so old, it has no USB ports, which I regret because, today, I used the IPOD I brought for the first time, for about half an hour, until the battery died.  It recharges through the USB port. No music for me tomorrow, I guess.  The (borrowed) IPOD is loaded with ¨Rock en Espanol¨, and I was listening to it as I climbed up toward Matos Costa, and, somehow, it got me thinking in Spanish, because when I went in to get a Coke, I asked for a bottle in Spanish (botella, instead of garrafa, big difference), and they immediately asked if I was Argentine, which I empthatically denied.

Now it is off to find dinner.  More reports to follow.

1 comment:

  1. You know, whenever they spot someone wearing long white sox down in Brazil as you are on that pic, I think you'd stick out like a sore thumb, lol!