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The Final Leg

Posted by Alex on 3 March 2010

Crossing into Panama with less than 500km to go, we could not help but feel like we were nearly there. Even though the thought of 500km on a bike would have been inconceivable to me just 8 months ago, it truly felt like we were on the finishing stretch; one road, one country and less than a week of riding. Just as fate would have it however, Panama had a few surprises in store for us.

We had been so lucky on our ride down through Central America, with good roads since Guatemala and clement weather throughout, we could only expect this to continue for the last section. Things changed however in Panama, the Interamericana Highway became a busy single lane road with frequent and long sections of roadworks, sharing the lane with large traffic and battling head winds for days at a time. All these, I suppose, were to be expected on a long bike ride but we were also faced with another, less habitual problem, bees. The "Africanised honey bee" was introduced in Brazil in the 1970s and has slowly made its' way up the continent. Unlike its American counterpart, it is extremely territorial and will swarm on any intruder, attacking it until the latter is a fair distance from the hive. Even though we never saw the hive, we were apparently close enough to it to warrant the colonies undivided attention. I suddenly found myself being repeatedly stung on my upper body, all while trying to out run the bees that were now flying at about 35km/h right along side me. A dozen stings later and rather shaken up, we stopped down the road to process what had just happened.

It was an interesting reminder of how exposed one is to the elements when on a bicycle. Riding for the next two days with my mosquito net at the ready, we were both expecting to be swarmed again. The time old saying that "the expectation of pain is worse than the pain itself" proved to be true.

After 5 days of riding in thunderstorms, headwinds and all but friendly bees, we have arrived within 110km of our final destination and are now waiting for the film crew to arrive in Panama to capture video our arrival and celebrate with us what has been one of the most amazing experiences of our lives. Even if the next 100km see us cycling in 50km/h winds under torrential rain on a road in construction, I don't think that there is much that could dampen our spirits and spoil the moment that we have been cycling towards for the last 7 months (as long as there are no bees). 

8 comments. Tags: , , . Location: Playa Santa Clara, Panama, Panama



  • that's why these little suckers are colloquially known as killer bees....

    Posted by suzanne schreve on 09/03/2010 2:48pm (8 years ago)

  • Wow! I am so proud of what you've done... it's been so fun to watch your progress and experience a bit of what you're doing through your writing.
    So glad we got to see you along the way!
    Cheers to a safe finish and can't wait to see all the photos!
    Love, Jill & Family

    Posted by Jill Edgell on 09/03/2010 7:36am (8 years ago)

  • Hey Alex, well done and glad your knee made it all the way, one way or another. Look forward to catching up again and hearing more stories!

    Posted by Cus Rob on 06/03/2010 12:23am (8 years ago)

  • Been really enjoying watching your progress since we saw you at Bad Water Death Valley (I'm one of the guys that gave you food, apples, etc). You're almost there! Way to go. :)

    Posted by Randy Wentzel on 05/03/2010 11:02pm (8 years ago)

  • Good luck guys, enjoy your final ride !!

    Posted by Chris Wady on 05/03/2010 5:01am (8 years ago)

  • i truly enjoyed watching this entire amazing journey. time is elusive...enjoy the finale!

    Posted by deborah hallen on 05/03/2010 4:19am (8 years ago)

  • Awesome guys. I can't believe the odyssey is nearly over! Enjoy the grande arrivĂ©e and remember the taste of that first celebratory beer...

    Posted by Nick Ohly on 04/03/2010 5:52pm (8 years ago)

  • Congrats on an amazing and inspiring journey!

    Posted by Torill on 04/03/2010 1:35am (8 years ago)

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