Distance: 86.1 miles
Elevation: 4,006 ft
This was the hardest day of the trip. This was the hardest bike ride I’ve ever done. If I did the trip again I would split this into 2 days. I underestimated the elevation change here. La Vuelta goes from Ponce to Mayaguez on their second day but I noticed Mayaguez was full of casinos and big hotels and decided to stay in Boqueron instead. Unfortunately this had us starting 20 miles farther back. I loved Boqueron and it was worth it, but if I went again I would go from Boqueron to Rincon, and then Rincon to Arecibo.
About 20 miles in we stopped in Mayaguez for breakfast.
On our way north to Rincon we saw a lookout tower and this was the view from the top.
This is the view from the lighthouse in Rincon. There were several food trucks to stop for food and coco frio. Rincon was a very hippie type town. All of the little black dots in the ocean in that photo are surfers. We would have liked to stay longer but we had to climb up a BRUTAL hill right after the lighthouse.
At one point our routing failed us. The La Vuelta probably changed the route for 2016, but we were going off the 2015 route. 441 kept going according to my map, but there was a gate across the road and we had to re-route. Luckily we cut back to 115 and didn’t lose a lot of time.
There was a pretty brutal climb just after Patillas and I fell on our way up. I was trying to give the cars plenty of room to pass and slid out on some loose dirt on the side of the road. Every passing car was incredibly kind and asked if I needed help before moving along.
It was getting dark as we left Isabella. We each had 3 front lights and 3 rear lights. On Calle San Jose there was a really steep descent and I was riding my breaks really hard and kind of terrified the whole way down. As I came around a turn I realized it turned into a really steep uphill, but I was in my lowest gear and I was being passed by a lot of cars. At this point I can downshift but my wrist is still took weak to upshift so the whole time I’ve been reaching over with my left hand to upshift. I didn’t see the uphill coming didn’t have much room for wiggling as I reached over to shift because of the traffic, so I had to get off my bike and walk up the hill. It sucked. After that we got on Calle Amador Brall. This road was my saving grace. I was tired, both of my hands and wrists hurt really bad from falling, and it was dark. But the road was PERFECT. It was so smooth and had reflectors on the side of the white line. To the left we could hear the waves crashing and to the right we could hear the Coqui frogs. I felt very relaxed and calm as we knocked out more miles.
Unfortunately we had to take route 2 to get to our AirBnB in Arecibo. Maybe there was another way but it was dark and late and we were just trying to get there. There was no berm. There were 3 lanes of fast moving traffic. And every once and a while there were those evil storm drains that I endo’d into in Ponce which terrified me. I just tried to stay as far right as possible without going into the storm drain and stay calm and just keep moving forward. we were both completely exhausted but somehow we made it.
Our AirBnb host had been calling to check in on me, and had previously told me he was also a cyclist. He offered to send out a truck to go pick us up since it was getting dark but we felt like we were so close so we struggled on. When we got to the house and I called for instructions about the key he said “You know what? I know you rented the little basement studio, but go ahead and stay in the upstairs part of the house. You guys deserve it and I’m honored to host you.” Well, the upstairs of the house was a freakin mansion. Brian passed out briefly on the marble floor while I enjoyed a shower the size of my living room.
We were both pretty beat up from that ride and very happy to have a shower, a huge bed, and AC. I think that would be the tough part about camping the whole time.