Day 3: Patillas to Coamo to Ponce

Distance: 58.3 miles
Elevation: 1,450 ft

021_SunrisePatillas.JPGWe started with the sunrise around 6:30. Our host left coffee and fruit.

strava4.pngRoute for the day

023_Flattireon3.JPG
We decided to take Highway 53 across briefly to connect to 3. It was elevated with totally stunning views. The berm was wide and drivers were being very courteous, but there was a lot of glass so Brian got a flat within our first few miles of riding. Police pulled up behind us, but did not speak much english. I managed to explain to them that we were ok just fixing a flat tire. They stayed parked behind us until it was fixed, I think to protect us from oncoming traffic which was really nice.

We biked through Guayama, noticed a bike shop, Papa’s Bike Shop, and stopped in for a flat repair kit. We still had 4 spare tubes but figured it couldn’t hurt. The owner thought our trip sounded awesome and gave us his card and told us to call if we had any bike troubles.

3 through guayana was very narrow.

From Guayama to Salinas I wasn’t a huge fan of the route. We weren’t by the ocean at this point and it was very, very hot. Often times nature preserves prevented us from being able to ride along the coast. We headed north just after Salinas to go to the hot springs at Coamo. We took 154. In retrospect I would have taken 153 out and back. The road was in much better condition. 154 was very bumpy and slightly uphill so it was a really energy suck. Then it turned pretty steeply uphill. It was nearly 100 degrees at this point. We stopped at one point for some cold beverages but it seemed like each km was incredibly difficult. I kept thinking, “I am so hot, why the hell did I come up with the idea to go to HOT springs. It sounds terrible now, but we are almost there so it seems stupid to turn around now.” Right before the springs we descended a lot which filled me with dread about having to climb again after the springs.

025_CoamoSprings.JPGWell, it wasn’t a stupid idea. It costs $3 to go to the Coamo Hot Springs. They have bathrooms where you can change and an outdoor shower to use before entering the springs. The cold shower felt absolutely amazing. Surprisingly the hot springs felt pretty amazing, too. One is really hot and the other is just warm. We spent about 2 hours switching back and forth between the springs. There is a masseuse who does massages for $1/minute. All of the other patrons of the springs were really friendly and there was a lot of laughter every time someone tried the hot pool for the first time. As you can see from the photo we were nestled in the mountains and it was absolutely gorgeous. They also make a huge fresh squeezed lemonade for $3 which was very worth it.

There was also a nice hotel by Coamo. I didn’t check to see if there were any AirBnBs near Coamo but that would be a nice place to stop.

As we headed onto 153 out of the springs we did have to do some climbing, but then it turned into a really fast, fun descent on a really smooth road. We road south to 1 and took that all the way to Ponce. The road was a bit narrow but manageable. We had a bit of a tail wind and made quick work of it. Our AirBnb was near the beach, and we had a hard time finding a route to get there that didn’t involve a highway. We ended up on 12 which was pretty awful, but our host came and found us and led us to his house, and showed us where the bike path was for the next morning.

026_PonceAirBnb.JPGOur host in Ponce greeted us with ice cold Medallas. This is the view from the balcony. He was disappointed we would only be in Ponce for one day so offered to drive us to dinner and take us on a tour of the city. We went and had street food at a boardwalk. I had an empanada with conch meat and we tried pinchos for the first time (meat on a stick). He drove us around downtown ponce and up this very steep narrow hill with an incredibly view of the city. We saw Castillo Serralles, which is now a museum about sugar cane and rum. He also took us to see the parque de bombas, with a statue of a drunken goat. He said the goat was very famous and used to get drunk and smoke cigarettes around town.

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