I left Ponce on Highway 2 which had become an autopista whilst I was relaxing. There was a nice wide shoulder for me. The choice was that or a very circuitous squiggle of roads well inland. It wasn't a bad choice though the presence of circling turkey vultures was disconcerting. ;-) One choice I did regret was doing a "whee" on the shoulder in an area where rumble strips separated me front the regular traffic. A patch of gravel on the pavement came into view and I had a nervous few seconds as I slowed down as much as I could then released the brakes and lifted myself up slightly to better take the impact of the debris. No harm was done and I continued on. I later found I had been doing about 66 km/h before braking.
I made a mental note to use a traffic lane the next a "whee" came up on an autopista morph of a Puerto Rican highway. The same highways can go from quasi superhighways to narrow streets laid out more than a hundred years ago to winding "jungle mountain" roads. These multiple personalities are typical of Puerto Rico where the speed limits are in miles per hour, but the distances are in kilometers. In much of the Island, addresses are determined by the kilometer signs. For example, the hotel I will be staying in tomorrow night has the address of Highway 2, km 84.6. I am not sure what they do when they change the routing of a road which might shorten or the lengthen the distances from "km 0.0" of a particular highway. A further complication emerged when I saw a series of signs giving conflicting distances!
I left the 2 at Guayanilla. I took the quieter and more picturesque 121, through hills, forests and small cities. At the intersection of 121 and 332, I stopped in a shady spot opposite a plant nursery to check my map. I knew that I was going continue on the 121, but I wanted gauge my progress as well as work out what I would do when the 121 came to an end. A voice called out with an American accent asking me "Why use a map when you can talk to someone?" One of the people at the plant nursery was evidently offended at my "snobby" behavior. Or at least pretended to be.
I rolled on to San Germán (pronounced "San Hermán"). This town was founded in about 1511. Its original location was on the coast, but after a few too many raids by French pirates, privateers and the like, in about 1573, it was moved to its present location. One of its church, Porta Ceoli dates from 1606. I visited the town's museum.
As I was leaving it to go to Porta Ceoli, I was approached by a group led by a fit looking man who I believe was older than my parents. He asked about my trip in unaccented English. He wanted to know if I would be going to the mountain bike race in Boqueron that weekend! His wife(?) revealed that he was a doyen of triathlons and such. She then invited me to spend the night with them! Unfortunately, it turned out that they lived somewhere up in the mountains well out of my way. Nice though. I asked them where a good place to have lunch would be. They directed me to Punto Frio.
It was muy frio inside, almost too cold for comfort in hot weather biking togs. I ordered a turkey sandwich which took a bit too long. I chatted a bit with one of the employees. Just as I was about get up to go, he gave me a desert on the house which took the form of sherbet, sliced bananas and strawberry with a touch of chocolate sauce and some seeds on top. (It was a yuppy place.) The confection went down well.
I rolled along highway 114 which was in need of some weed whacking as the vegetation was encroaching on the roadway. A little before Hormigueros, a car pulled alongside me. The driver called out and asked me if I was prepared to be interviewed!!!
He was involved with an organisation call Mango Cycling (website mangocycling.com) which I understand is a local cycling group. (I have looked at the website a bit but it isn't iPhone browsing friendly.) Apparently, he had seen Leonardo in San Germán and was curious as to who was bike touring as this form of tourism is fairly rare in Puerto Rico. Anyway, he recorded the interview on a tablet computer. He noted that I didn't use a GPS. He asked a question about how I found the roads and the heat. I gave a bit of groan and said I didn't know how the locals coped as I have been finding the heat a challenge. He laughed and pointed out that this is winter in Puerto Rico! I agreed but did add that my body is acclimatized to a particularly cold Montreal winter. He asked about mileage per day. I revealed that I keep track in kilometers, but that I had been doing about 60 or 80 kilometers. He enquired about my reaction to Puerto Rican drivers who aren't used to cyclists. My honest reply was that I hadn't any issues. He then warned me about "rush hour" drivers who supposed to be particularly bad. He (Fidel) took a picture of me (slathered in sunscreen) and said the interview would on the website in a few days.
I feel a bit chuffed!